Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe: 140 New Favorites from New York's Acclaimed Restaurant

Overview

Ask New Yorkers to name their favorite restaurant and they are likely to reply: "Union Square Cafe." Indeed, Union Square Cafe has been ranked the city's most popular restaurant by the Zagat Survey for five consecutive years and has earned many of the food world's top honors, including a James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant of the Year, two three-star rankings from the New York Times, seven Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine, and the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef in New York Award for ...

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Overview

Ask New Yorkers to name their favorite restaurant and they are likely to reply: "Union Square Cafe." Indeed, Union Square Cafe has been ranked the city's most popular restaurant by the Zagat Survey for five consecutive years and has earned many of the food world's top honors, including a James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant of the Year, two three-star rankings from the New York Times, seven Awards of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine, and the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef in New York Award for Michael Romano. What makes USC stand out in a sea of other great New York City restaurants? A simple but rare combination of extraordinary food, excellent wine, and the sort of warm, genuine hospitality one typically finds only in a neighborhood spot. In this new cookbook, proprietor Danny Meyer and executive chef and co-owner Michael Romano share the delicious dishes that have kept their customers coming back for more, year after year. Following the high standards for taste and accessibility set by their award-winning Union Square Cafe Cookbook, Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe offers more than 140 inspired recipes for everything from appetizers, soups, and salads to pastas, main courses, vegetables, side dishes, and desserts. These are the dishes that USC customers have come to know and love, including such favorites as a new version of their renowned Fried Calamari, Salt-Baked Chicken, Bollito di Vitello, Roasted Root Vegetables, and Blueberry-Lemon Meringue Pie.

But, more than simply a recipe collection, Second Helpings is a valuable kitchen resource for anyone interested in elevating his or her cooking to a new level. Michael teaches home cooks how to make their own pasta, create the juiciest chicken imaginable, correctly clean morels, and add new depth of flavor to all kinds of dishes, while Danny offers lively commentary and wine accompaniments for nearly every recipe. With their able guidance, even the most inexperienced cooks can turn out spectacular food with ease and joy.

Second Helpings captures the unique spirit of Union Square Cafe not just with recipes and animated text, but also with original black-and-white images by internationally acclaimed photographer Duane Michals. A longtime friend of USC, Duane has contributed his witty visual stories and restaurant vignettes in an innovative departure from standard food photography.

On every level Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe is a cookbook you'll treasure using again and again. Like the restaurant, it will become a familiar favorite and a trusted source of great food.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
New Yorkers know how to eat well all year: They find a great restaurant with a great chef and then return there every week. In this book, the partners of the Union Square Café -- New York's supreme return-to restaurant -- have given us a second peek into the imaginative kitchen where delicacies are born. Here, Danny Meyer and Michael Romano offer us 140 new recipes featuring their worldly take on Italian cuisine, providing 140 reasons to keep coming back.

Meyer and Romano -- the restaurateur-and-chef team that have made Union Square Café one of the most consistently delicious restaurants in Manhattan -- focus our attention on traditional recipes prepared with flair. For example, in their Steamed Clams and Arugula recipe, the authors suggest using a variation of traditional white clam sauce as a dipping broth for bruschette; in their Olive-Mashed Potatoes, they jazz up a simple starch with olives, juniper berries, and rosemary. Meyer and Romano also add an imaginative touch to an old favorite with Monkfish Scarpariello, which ladles a traditional fennel sausage, sweet pepper, and mushroom sauce over a fresh fish choice.

Illustrated with witty photographs from Duane Michals, Second Helpings from Union Square Café is an appealing, fun book with delicious dishes to try. Meyer and Romano also include a handy guide to locating less common ingredients, along with informative notes on preparation. It's the perfect addition to a cookbook library glutted with books that are either too traditional or too trendy: Meyer and Romano offer a new-friend zest to their old-friend recipes, and bring us back for more. (Jesse Gale)

Publishers Weekly
In the follow-up to the original Union Square Cafe Cookbook (which won a Julia Child Award for first book), Meyer and Romano offer more pleasant fare from the landmark New York restaurant where they are owner and chef, respectively. Many of these dishes are new interpretations that use classic Italian ingredients: Cornmeal-Crusted Ricotta Fritters are served with an anchovy dressing, and Fris?e Salad with Bottarga and Grapefruit makes piquant use of Italy's pressed fish roe. Some non-Italian flavors infiltrate here and there as well: Chili and Sage-Rubbed Salmon is Southwestern in style, while Saut?ed Shrimp Goan Style relies on cinnamon, cumin and other spices from India. Recipes which are divided into traditional chapters such as Appetizers and Main Courses are split approximately down the middle between complex projects that require a good deal of time in the kitchen (e.g., Zucchini Fazzoletti, homemade pasta with a pureed zucchini sauce) and relatively simple preparations (like Roasted Cauliflower with Tomato and Green Olives). Desserts like Fig and Walnut Crostata and Blueberry-Lemon Meringue Pie are appropriately rustic-modern, and wine suggestions for each dish are a nice touch. These recipes aren't filled with hard-to-find, exotic ingredients (aside from bottarga, which has cameos in a few), nor do offerings such as Michael's Garlic-Lemon Steak or Striped Bass with Tomato-Caper Sauce jolt the palate with surprising new sensations. The phenomenal, ongoing success of the Union Square Cafe itself proves just how appealing even simple and familiar foods can be when prepared with high-quality ingredients and adapted to American sensibilities. Duane Michaels provides b&w photos thatnarrate peculiar stories of hypothetical dining experiences in the restaurant. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
For the last five years, Union Square Caf has been voted the most popular restaurant in the New York City Zagat Survey; it has a national reputation far beyond Manhattan, and the Union Square Caf Cookbook has sold more than 80,000 copies. Here, owner/proprietor Meyer, who has opened several other successful restaurants, and longtime chef Romano offer more favorite recipes from their menu: Crabmeat-Artichoke Tortelli, Soft-Shell Crabs with Tomato Nage, Sage-Fried Rabbit, and other contemporary French/Italian-inspired dishes. Desserts are homier and comforting, e.g., Caramel Baked Apples and a selection of all-American cookies. Some fans of the restaurant will find the mini photo essays that run through each chapter amusing, while others will just find them silly. Recommended for most collections. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060196479
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 858,767
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Danny Meyer, a native of St. Louis, opened his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe, in 1985 when he was twenty-seven, and went on to found the Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes some of New York City's most acclaimed restaurants: Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Maialino, North End Grill, Blue Smoke, and Shake Shack, as well as Jazz Standard, Union Square Events, and Hospitality Quotient. Danny, his restaurants, and his chefs have earned an unprecedented twenty-five James Beard Awards. Danny's groundbreaking business book, Setting the Table, was a New York Times bestseller, and he has coauthored two cookbooks with his business partner, Chef Michael Romano. Danny lives in New York with his wife and children.

Michael Romano joined Union Square Cafe in 1988, preparing his unique style of American cuisine with an Italian soul. In 1993, Michael became Danny Meyer's partner. Under Michael's leadership, Union Square Cafe has been ranked Most Popular in New York City Zagat surveys for a record seven years. The restaurant also received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant of the Year. Michael has coauthored two cookbooks with Danny Meyer, The Union Square Cafe Cookbook and Second Helpings. He is the recipient of numerous nominations and awards, including the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef in New York City in 2001, and in 2000, he was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America.

Danny Meyer, a native of St. Louis, opened his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe, in 1985 when he was twenty-seven, and went on to found the Union Square Hospitality Group, which includes some of New York City's most acclaimed restaurants: Union Square Cafe, Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Maialino, North End Grill, Blue Smoke, and Shake Shack, as well as Jazz Standard, Union Square Events, and Hospitality Quotient. Danny, his restaurants, and his chefs have earned an unprecedented twenty-five James Beard Awards. Danny's groundbreaking business book, Setting the Table, was a New York Times bestseller, and he has coauthored two cookbooks with his business partner, Chef Michael Romano. Danny lives in New York with his wife and children.

Michael Romano joined Union Square Cafe in 1988, preparing his unique style of American cuisine with an Italian soul. In 1993, Michael became Danny Meyer's partner. Under Michael's leadership, Union Square Cafe has been ranked Most Popular in New York City Zagat surveys for a record seven years. The restaurant also received the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant of the Year. Michael has coauthored two cookbooks with Danny Meyer, The Union Square Cafe Cookbook and Second Helpings. He is the recipient of numerous nominations and awards, including the James Beard Foundation's Best Chef in New York City in 2001, and in 2000, he was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food & Beverage in America.

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Read an Excerpt

USC's Fried Calamari, Part II

Serves 4

The idea for this recipe came to us by accident while we were preparing to cook Union Square Cafe's original fried calamari for a group of Italian food journalists at a culinary exposition in Verona. Though we had faxed ahead to assure that all of our ingredients would be on hand (the only one they said they couldn't provide was graham cracker crumbs), unaccountably, someone had forgotten to stock our kitchen with vegetable oil for frying. With just over an hour to go before our fried calamari appetizer was to be served, we went on a mad hunt throughout the convention hall, begging each artisanal olive oil producer to part with a half-liter bottle of prized extra-virgin olive oil. After a remarkable show of typical Italian generosity, we had filled our basket with about 18 very good bottles of oil, and one by one, we poured them into a large kettle, in which we proceeded to fry our calamari. They had never been better.

Unlike our original recipe, these require no graham cracker crumbs. Instead, they rely on excellent olive oil for flavor, and club soda to guarantee an unbelievably light, tender texture. They're perfectly wonderful with a sprinkling of sea salt and fresh lemon juice, or you can serve them as we do, atop some romaine leaves lightly dressed with anchovy vinaigrette. The key to success with this dish is to cook the calamari in small batches; if the pan gets too crowded, the coating won't be as crisp.

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh, cleaned calamari
2 cups club soda or seltzer
4 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2cups all-purpose flour
Kosher salt
2 lemons, quartered

Instructions:

  1. Cut the calamari crosswise into 1/4-inch rings. If the tentacles are large, halve or quarter them lengthwise. Put the calamari into a medium bowl, pour in the club soda or seltzer, and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
  3. Pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed, straight-sided 3-quart saucepan, about 8 inches in diameter. The pan should be not more than one-quarter full, or the oil may bubble over when the calamari are frying. Heat the oil to 325 degrees F on a deep-fat thermometer.
  4. While the oil is heating, put the flour into a bowl. Remove a small handful of calamari from the soda and put it into the bowl with the flour. Toss to coat the calamari with the flour. Transfer the calamari to a mesh strainer and shake lightly to shed excess flour. Slide the calamari into the hot oil, and stir gently with a slotted spoon to separate the rings. Fry until the coating is crisp and very lightly colored, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels. Sprinkle immediately with salt. Keep the cooked calamari warm in the oven, uncovered, while you continue frying. Check and maintain your oil temperature and repeat with the remaining calamari. (You'll need to do several batches.) Serve hot with lemon quarters.


    Michael's Garlic-Lemon Steak

    Serves 4

    This straightforward and delicious recipe is Michael's very favorite way to prepare steak. Perfect for summer entertaining, it's a great example of combining the highest quality ingredients you can find with a simple preparation to achieve memorable results. Steamed broccoli and Italian Fries (page 249) are good accompaniments for the steak. You'll note the recipe calls for fleur de sel, a delicate and sweet French sea salt that is increasingly available in gourmet shops.

    Ingredients:

    4 boneless Prime or Choice strip steaks, 1 to 1 1/4-inches thick, trimmed of all fat (8 to 10 ounces each)
    4 garlic cloves, peeled and split
    Freshly ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons finest quality extra-virgin olive oil
    2 teaspoons fleur de sel, coarse sea salt, or kosher salt
    2 lemons, halved

    Instructions:

    1. Put the steaks on a plate large enough to hold them in a single layer. Rub each side of the steaks all over with a fresh garlic half, and leave all the garlic on the plate with the steaks. Season both sides of each steak with a generous coating of freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle the oil over the steaks and turn them to coat completely with the oil. Cover the plate with plastic wrap and let the steaks marinate at room temperature for at least 1 or up to 2 hours.
    2. Preheat a grill, grill pan, or barbecue until very hot.
    3. Sprinkle the steaks on both sides with the salt and grill 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or according to your taste. (To make a crisscross pattern on the steaks, place them on the grill so that they lie diagonally across the grates of the grill. Cook 2 minutes. Then rotate the steaks 45 degrees on the same side and cook for 2 more minutes. Turn the steaks over and repeat on the other side.) Squeeze lemon over each steak and serve hot.

      Second Helpings from Union Square Cafe. Copyright © by Danny Meyer. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Recipe

Steamed Clams and Arugula
Serves 4

This is a kissing cousin to the traditional recipe you'd use to make a "white clam" sauce for pasta. We've adopted it as a sensational accompaniment for garlic-rubbed toast and peppery arugula. Once you've scrubbed your clams, the recipe is a breeze to prepare, and we recommend serving it as a rustic late summer or early autumn appetizer. For added richness, whisk a tablespoon or two of sweet butter into the broth just before serving.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic, plus 2 cloves, split
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1/4 cup white wine
32 littleneck or 24 cherrystone clams, well scrubbed
4 (1-inch) slices of sourdough, whole wheat, or peasant bread
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
4 firmly packed cups arugula, trimmed, washed, and dried
1 tablespoon sliced fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

  1. Combine the oil, shallots, garlic, and Aleppo pepper in a pot large enough to hold all of the clams comfortably. Stir gently over medium heat without browning the ingredients, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and clams, cover, bring to a simmer, and cook until the clams open, 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside.
  2. While the clams are cooking, grill or toast the bread until golden brown. Immediately rub each piece of toast with a garlic half. The garlic will "melt" into the bread and give it an intense flavor. Transfer the bruschette to a serving plate, drizzle the tops generously with extra-virgin olive oil, and set aside.
  3. Arrange the arugula among 4 bowls. Remove the clams from the broth with a slotted spoon and divide them evenly to top the arugula in the bowls. Return the broth to a simmer, stir in the herbs, and immediately pour over the clams and arugula. Serve the bruschette on the side, to be dipped in the herb broth.
Olive Mashed Potatoes
Serves 4

When we introduced this riff on the mashed potato theme, some of our guests thought we had finally gone too far -- until they tasted it! These potatoes are perfect with lamb, and they'll enliven chicken, turkey, rabbit, and most any fish as well. To pit the olives, place them on a cutting board, cover with wax paper, and give them a gentle pounded with a meat mallet. The pits will be easy to remove. Save any leftover olive paste in a jar, covered with a thin layer of olive oil, and refrigerate. You can stir the paste into spaghetti all'aglio e olio, mix it with fresh goat cheese, use as a topping for grilled salmon, or use as a sandwich spread with mortadella, arugula, and mozzarella.

4 cups Mashed Potatoes
1 cup pitted Gaeta or kalamata olives
2 packed teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
3 juniper berries
1-1/4 teaspoons anchovy paste
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  1. Prepare the mashed potatoes; remove from the heat, cover, and set aside.
  2. Combine the olives, rosemary, thyme, juniper berries, anchovy paste, and olive oil in the bowl of a mini-food processor or blender and process or chop to a chunky paste. Do not puree. Alternatively, combine the olives, herbs, and juniper berries on a cutting board and chop to a paste; stir in the anchovy paste and olive oil.)
  3. Stir 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the olive paste and the parsley into the warm mashed potatoes over low heat and cook, stirring, until piping hot.
Monkfish Scarpariello
Serves 4

This is Union Square Café's variation on pollo scarpariello (chicken "shoemaker's style"), long a fixture on the menus of New York's Neapolitan Italian restaurants. In our recipe, we've exchanged the more traditional chicken for monkfish, but have retained the tangle of sweet peppers, fennel sausage, and mushrooms. Monkfish is a lean, meaty fish that works particularly well here since it can withstand a good sauté without toughening in texture. A big bowl of steamed broccoli or sautéed broccoli rabe, and a platter of Italian Fries would make terrific accompaniments.

1 small red bell pepper
1 small yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
8 pieces monkfish, 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick, cut across the bone and trimmed of all dark skin (about 2 pounds total weight)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 ounces fresh sweet fennel sausage, cut on the diagonal into 16 thin slices
2 cups cleaned and thinly sliced white or cremini mushrooms
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar (preferably Italian)
1-1/2 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 cup Basic Tomato Sauce or good-quality store-bought sauce
1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

  1. Roast and slice the peppers: Spear the peppers with a kitchen fork or skewer ad hold them over an open flame until charred all over. Place the charred peppers in a paper bag or in a covered container until they are cool enough to handle. This step facilitates removing the skin.) Rub off the skins (never run them under water, which washes away the flavorful oils), cut the pepper halves into 1/4-inch-wide strips and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the monkfish with 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Transfer the fish to a plate and reserve.
  3. Add the sausage to the skillet and cook until browned on both sides, about 2 minutes. (Reduce the heat as needed to keep the skillet from burning.) Toss in the mushrooms and cook along with the sausage, stirring until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the peppers and stir in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, stir in the vinegar, stock, and tomato sauce and bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper.
  4. Return the fish tot he skillet along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Cover the skillet and simmer gently, basting the fish occasionally, until it is just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the monkfish to a warm serving platter. Return the skillet to the heat ad reduce the liquid until it thickens to a sauce consistency, about 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the sauce, mushrooms, peppers, and sausage over the fish, sprinkle with the chopped parsley, and serve immediately.
Copyright © 2001 by Danny Meyer & Michael Romano
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