If you followed along with my cookbook review series, you know that I recommended Cold-Weather Cooking (one of my all time favorite cookbooks) a while back to you. You may not know that Sarah Leah Chase herself shared my review on Facebook and message me on Instagram. I think I now know what "fangirling" is. I mentioned that I came across Chase's book from an Ina Garten recommendation, and this week's book choice comes from the same list.
The Union Square Cafe cookbook has been a fantastic addition to my cookbook collection. I tend to gravitate toward books meant for the home cook that produce wow worthy but approachable meals. The Union Square Cafe Cookbook includes favorite recipes from their storied establishment. I have made several recipes from the book and each time the result has been something truly restaurant quality.
If you want sophisticated restaurant dishes that you are able to recreate at home, this is an excellent starting place. It also includes two recipes that have become an annual tradition for me!
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About the Author: Daniel Meyer is a restaurateur in New York City and Michael Romano a chef. Together they own The Union Square Cafe. The restaurant is known as much for its impressive wine list as its food has become an iconic dining destination in New York.
The Book: The Union Square Cafe Cookbook is by Danny Meyer and MIchael Romano. It is published by HarperCollins Publishers. I have the 1994 edition so that is what I will be reviewing here.
What I love about it: The Union Square Cafe Cookbook is filled with over 160 recipes from Meyer and Romano's restaurant. The restaurant's location near the Union Green Market means they benefit from deciding seasonally what to cook, but the book itself is laid out by menu (Appetizers, Entrees, etc). However there is a lot of seasonality to the recipes, you can tell they draw on the best ingredients in the season they are cooking. As a result, I can find something that fits perfectly with whatever time of year I am cooking.
The recipes are elegant and restaurant quality, yet simple to make. Care has been taken though to adapt the recipes for home cooks. I have to say cooking from this book was the first time that I made a meal and said, "wow that could be from a restaurant."
As a wine lover myself, I also love that they recommend wines to pair with the recipes. They are known for their wine list and since wine can truly impact the taste of a meal, it's nice to have a guide. It has opened me up to trying new combinations and helped me to craft the perfect dinner for a special occasion.
Overall this book is approachable yet sophisticated. The food is recognizable but with an elegant twist. I can see why Ina recommended this book.
In addition to the wine recommendations with each recipe they provide a wine list at the end, as well as a source list for ingredients (it may be out dated now especially with the internet, but I liked having everything listed in one place).
Roast Breast of Veal with Spinach, Mushroom and Rice Stuffing
Braised Oxtails with Red Wine and Onions
Ratatouille-Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms
My favorite recipes:
I've linked my posts on each of these recipes as well.
Bar Nuts: These are my go-to for parties that I'm hosting and attending. They are warm, spicy, sweet, and the perfect snack while having cocktails. I do put my own little twist on them. I also love to jar these up for gifts at Christmas as an alternative to the many jars of cookies that people receive.
Pumpkin Risotto: I make this every Halloween while we await trick or treaters. It's got the cheesy comforts of risotto but has a savory flavor that is difficult to describe but absolutely delicious. It definitely has the feeling of a treat you would get at a restaurant. I'm sure it will become a seasonal favorite for you too!
Seared Rib Steak With Rosemary and Arugula: This was the first recipe that I cooked out of this book and one of the first dishes that I made for this blog. I had been wary of cooking red meat at home save for pot roasts and stews. I followed the recipe exactly and it resulted in a restaurant quality steak dish. It gave me the confidence to learn how to cook all kinds of steaks properly and we now regularly enjoy all cuts of meat at home.
The next recipe I'm trying? Mama Romano's Baked Lemon Chicken.
I love going out to eat, I don't think that will ever change, but this book truly allows you to create restaurant dishes at home in an easy to understand way. It is a great addition to any collection and you will find yourself reaching for it whenever you want to make a special meal (or you know just because it's Wednesday)! Do you have a favorite restaurant cookbook?