November 2012 COTM: Union Square Cafe Cookbook -- Main Courses; Vegetables, Side Dishes, Condiments
Main Courses 131 - 214
Vegetables, Side Dishes, Condiments 215 - 266
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You know, I've struggled with the to-soak-or-not-to-soak dilemma for years, and am still not 100% decided. On one hand, it is said that by soaking your beans overnight and then discarding the soaking water, the indigestible sugars that can cause 'discomfort' are poured away. The other method, though, the quick-soak (boil a few minutes, turn off, soak for an hour, dump cooking water) loses serious colour and flavour by tossing the darkened water, also keeping the digestive issues at bay but sacrificing taste.
I made a batch of red silk beans the other day with the quick method, while keeping the soaking water this time, and my beans (refried in this case) were hands-down the best batch I'd ever made, richer in both colour and flavour. Since I rarely have the foresight to soak my legumes ahead of time anyway, I think this will become my standard method.
Also, I never really notice a discernable difference in reduced cooking time, soaked or not.
Found this thread, too. Everyone's opinions differ.
PARSNIP PANCAKES, from The Union Square Cafe Cookbook, p; 240-1.
And also on:
Chose to make these last night, motivated by two things: first, my desire to cook from this month's COTM and secondly, by this month's Dish of the Month topic: "Savory Pancakes." (A version of this review also appears on that board.) I probably would never have thought to make parsnip pancakes but I'm so glad I did! They were delicious and easy. I set them up a bit ahead of time and refrigerated them. Once cooked, they easily "held" in a slow oven for 15 minutes. Mr. G in particular loved them, as did all our dinner-guests.
Basically these are a variation of classic potato latkes. Very simple to make. You slightly precook whole parsnips, grate them, and combine them with grated onions, an egg and some flour. Season the mixture with a pinch of cayenne, nutmeg, s & p, and then form into 3-inch "cakes" and sauté gently in olive oil and butter till nicely-browned. The pancakes hold their shape and are easy to fry--the recipe cautions to cook them "slowly and carefully" to reduce the risk of smoke and/or spattering, and that's what I did. Worked fine.
The parsnips make them just slightly sweet but not overly so. The directions say they could be served for brunch, topped with apple sauce and creme fraiche/sour cream. We loved them for dinner as an accompaniment to a very flavorful and "saucy" oven-roasted halibut dish (Roasted Halibut, Pugliese Style, "Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe" p. 116.) I didn't technically "need" another starch to accompany this one-dish recipe, which includes sliced potatoes, but I wanted to try these pancakes and I'm glad I did. The slight sweetness and crisp crust of the parsnip pancakes complemented the acidity of the artichoke/lemon/wine sauce of the halibut recipe, and also sopped up the sauce beautifully.
All-in-all, a very satisfactory dish!
MAMA ROMANO'S BAKED LEMON CHICKEN, Union Square Cookbook. p. 172.
My notes for this say: "Nice, homey, flavorful dish, which makes a lot of broth: either reduce it before serving, or serve in wide shallow bowls with good bread or another starch to sop up the juices."
I've read reviews of the Union Square Cookbook which emphasize that the recipes therein create food that is tasty and cosy. That's a perfect description for this dish. Very tasty, not complicated, delicious and fresh and comforting on a chilly autumn evening.
S & P seasoned chicken pieces are dredged in flour, sauteed in olive oil until richly golden brown, then reserved while thinly-sliced onions and garlic are slowly browned in the same skillet (fat poured off.) Thyme sprigs are then spread over the contents of the pan, and the chicken pieces are laid on top with a seeded slice of lemon on each. Chicken stock is then poured into the (oven-proof) pan and the juice of one lemon is added. Bring all this to a simmer, place covered in a 400 F oven. After 15 minutes, remove cover and continue to cook the chicken, basting occasionally, until chicken is tender and nicely browned. My robust chicken pieces took about an hour to become tender; I'd check sooner if your pieces are smaller.
Very simple, and you could make it even simpler by leaving the skillet covered in the oven, which means you wouldn't need to baste it so often.
The chicken turns out to be moistly-tender and very savory. The recipe worked well for a family birthday dinner. The directions just say "1 3/12-pound chicken, cut up into 10 pieces." I had four big blowzy bone-in "Jane-Mansfield" chicken breasts, which I cut in half again for eight generous pieces. I left the skin on for flavor and to keep the breasts moist, but you could remove the skin. I also browned the various elements and set up the dish ahead of time, only adding the chicken stock before baking.
All in all, a rustic but well-received dish, whose sum is greater than its parts. The lemon-thyme-garlic-onion flavors are so nice baked together with the chicken. It could become a stand-by, both for family and for informal entertaining. I also really like that the instructions in this cookbook are so clear.
Made this one tonight. It was good but not something that I'd rush to make again unless I had chicken, onions, and lemon and needed to come up with a dinner.
Took me a couple of hours from start to finish but I was doing other things like feeding the animals, doing the dishes, vacuuming, etc. along the way.
This isn't a bad recipe but not something that I'd rush out to recommend to others.
HERBED POTATO SALAD WITH BACON AND SCALLIONS, Union Square Cookbook, p. 264.
Also available at:
This is a simple recipe, though it has several ingredients. These include: new potatoes, garlic cloves, fresh rosemary and fresh thyme sprigs, plus black peppercorns, salt, red pepper flakes, plus slab bacon (to roast and cut into slices) and scallions, AND the ingredients for a vinaigrette: EVOO, red wine vinegar, chopped parsley, and s & p to taste. The potatoes are scrubbed, cut into eighths, and simmered till tender but not mushy with the various herbs and seasonings. Cool and leave in the liquid. Meanwhile thickish bacon slices are roasted until crisp on a 375 F oven, and then cut into 1/4 inch pieces.
1/4 cup of the potato-liquid is reserved; then the potatoes are drained and combined in a bowl with the sliced scallions and bacon pieces. The reserved liquid is then mixed with the vinaigrette ingredients and poured over all. Serve.
The simmered potato wedges are flavorful on their own, but of course the bacon, scallions, and vinaigrette make a very nice salad. I combined all but the bacon pieces a few hours ahead to mellow the flavors; then I drizzled a bit more red wine vinegar and EVOO over the top because the potatoes had absorbed quite a bit of the original dressing. A pleasant and fresh-tasting version of potato salad.
Herbed Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions, Pg. 264
We made this recipe to go along with the Herb Roasted Chicken on page 170 and liked the combination very much. For the salad I used new fingerling potatoes but had to adjust a couple of the ingredients according to what I had at hand: 1 t dried rosemary instead of a fresh sprig, 2 t dried thyme instead of fresh, and used 2 T red wine vinegar instead of 1 1/2 as called for.
Goblin described the precess so well I don't have to repeat so I'll just say we liked both the technique and the flavor of the potatoes at the finish. All those herbs and spices contributed their magic with the bacon bringing in the crisp and salty notes.
Herbed Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions, p. 264
A random EYB search (looking for ways to use my huge bunch of spring onions) led me to this recipe, which I had completely forgotten about. It turned out I had all the ingredients on hand, so I decided to give it a go. I won't repeat the prep steps. Suffice it to say that we enjoyed these potatoes. As with other recipes in this book, the prep is a bit more fiddly than I ideally like. But, also as with other recipes in this book, the profusion of fresh herbs adds a wonderful complexity of flavor, so the extra effort is not wasted. I added the bacon but I think the salad would be just as good without it. Also, the flavors of the salad deepened as it sat, so I would recommend making this one a bit ahead if you have the time.
And I am just kicking myself for pouring the leftover cooking liquid down the drain! I think there is minestrone soup in my future later this week and the potato cooking liquid would have been perfect for it.
Herbed Potato Salad with Bacon and Scallions
I also found this on EYB, and saw your note, so decided to make it. Since the process has already been described, I'll just add a few observations. I liked the technique for cooking the potatoes, keeping just at a simmer, so they don't get knocked around in the pot. They came out with a good texture.
I saved an extra cup of the potato liquid, just in case I thought the salad needed moistening later. It didn't, and I ended up tossing the leftover liquid, but I too, was thinking this would be good to save. It came out nearly clear, like a good stock, and had a nice flavor to it. Next time I will save it.
I also made this a couple hours in advance. It holds really well.
Anyway, I liked this just as much as everyone else. Absolutely would repeat.
Hashed Brussels Sprouts with Poppy Seeds and Lemon, p.226
I should have followed the recipe more carefully, then I might recommend this one. The sprouts should be sliced quite thin -- 1/8 inch, and tossed with lemon juice. Cooked then with olive oil, poppy seeds, garlic, white wine, and salt and pepper, they stay green but soften. I like Brussels sprouts, so just chopped them into maybe 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces. I think much smaller slices would have soaked up the flavors better. Instead of hashed vegetables I just had sprouts with an odd coating of (fairly flavorless) poppy seeds. I took the picture as cooking had just begun.
It sounds like a good idea to "hash" these with oil/butter, garlic and wine, but I don't get the poppy seeds. We had these with beer brats and smashed potatoes.