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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2000
Without any doubt, this is by far my favorite cookbook. Every recipe I've tried worked brilliantly. Although I'm quite an advanced cook, the recipes would not be too challenging for the novice. The directions are clear and easy to follow, and nothing is left to chance.
My favorite recipes include: Brussel Sprouts, hashed with poppy seeds and lemon; banana tart; braised lamb shanks with garlic and herbs; potato and artichoke frittata; roast peppered rack of venison; and the awesome mashed yellow turnips with crispy shallots.
Finally, I must mention what a helluva nice guy Michael Romano is. On one occasion I had to ask Mike for some advice about the timing of food preparation for a rather elegant dinner party I was preparing for 12 (all of the recipes came from the book). Not only did Mike return my call, but he seemed genuinely interested in not only the problem, but solving it.
Only criticism -- why isn't there a second book??!!
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
I probably would violate some copyright law if I put the short and simple recipe for Bar Nuts into this review, but I'm really tempted. They are far and away the most delicious little snacky to have around when guests arrive. Once you've provided them to your friends, they will insist you bring them to every future gathering. And make them right as folks arrive: the aroma that perfumes the whole house is intoxicating, and the nuts, hot out of the oven, disappear really, really quickly, so make plenty.
Damn, they're SO GOOD.
Okay, the rest of the cookbook is a winner, too. It was given to me as a gift from a friend who visits NYC frequently and dines at this restaurant, so, ta-da, I have a 1st edition sighed by both Meyer and Romano, owner and executive chef. The cooking is a beautiful mingling of French, Italian and other Mediterranean cuisines.
Lots of great photos to help with presentation.
Yumilicious, especially the Bar Nuts. Don't forget `em!
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47 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 1999
I usually avoid restaurant cookbooks because the recipes involve hard-to-obtain ingredients and time-consuming preparations. But The Union Square Cafe Cookbook is that rare exception: not only do the recipes actually taste like the dishes in the restaurant, but the ingredients are readily available at your all-purpose grocery or gourmet deli, and the preparations are user-friendly. Fresh ingredients, simply prepared in unusual combinations. A gem.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
There is no need to justify writing a review of a recently published book. For an older book, I always try to find something new to say which other reviewers may not have touched on. In the case of this book and it's companion volume `Second Helpings' by the same authors, about the cuisine of the same Union Square Café, that rationale is simple. Almost all of the recipes successfully fit my criteria for buying celebrity chef / restaurant cookbooks. That is, almost all of the recipes are accessible to the experienced home cook living in the northeast United States and offer resources for making their cooking more interesting.
More specifically, both volumes enrich my repertoire of Italian dishes without the need to invest in many autre ingredients. They make very good use of their 160 recipes (a magic number which seems to be the de regeur count of dishes in this type of book) without adding a large number of the usual, and usually unnecessary list of recipes for kitchen staples. They are here, but their number are kept to a reasonably small number. If I really want to make a primo veal stock, I'll check out the CIA cookbook.
My rating of five (5) stars is based entirely on comparing this book to similar, recently published books by Daniel Boulud, Tom Colicchio, and Emril Lagasse. For books of this type, the lion's share of the value is in the effective presentation of the recipes, and in this task, the authors excel. They make the small point of placing all the ingredients prep work with the ingredients list. The more one reads recipes in other books, the larger this point becomes. This practice would be on my short list of style tips for recipe writing.
There are very few black and white photographs, and I find that I do not miss the large color rotogravure look. Pages of text provide much more value. I also don't miss the wine parings, as this is only useful to a very limited audience.
Good value for the money.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2002
The Union Square Cafe Cookbook is a keeper. I refer to it frequently for ideas. All the fish dishes are simple and delicious. Mama Romano's Lemon Chicken is a favorite of mine. I like to fix it for the family - it's a wonderful homey dish. It's also good for a casual supper with friends. The cocktail nuts are a staple at my annual Christmas party and everyone always asks what's in them. I've never eaten in the restaurant, but the book makes you feel like a regular. I look forward to cooking out of their new book which just came out.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 2, 2002
On one side: less complex than Martha Stewart - you don't have to travel to India for your spices, or own your own farm - the grocery store will do.
On the other side: more into the fine dining category than one of my other favourites - Jamie Oliver, the Naked Chef.
The recipes are great using fantastic fresh ingredients. The presentation suggestions and the wine suggestions lift it up a level. It's the perfect entertaining cookbook for dinner parties.
It's for the type of cook who knows how to make their own stock and sauces (If you use *anything*-helper it's not for you) but it's not as hard to coordinate as say, the Grand Diplome Course meals.
I borrowed this book from my mother and can't return it! I'll have to buy my own now!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2003
This is a very good cookbook. The penne with asparagus and red peppers recipe is more than worth the price of this book. We make this recipe for dinner parties all the time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2013
I have never eaten at the restaurant and have no personal affection for the authors, but I was attracted to this book by all the positive reviews. I have made about half a dozen recipes and none has been better than mediocre. The black bean soup is so bland and textureless that I had to scrounge my kitchen for add-ins to make it palatable. The baked lemon chicken is also bland. The method for the polenta yields a pleasant texture but the milk flavor is overwhelming and it would make a very poor accompaniment to poultry. I made the bar nuts twice, thinking that all the rave reviews were an indication that I did something wrong the first time. I did not. They were not very good the second time either. I am going to try the penne with asparagus and peppers and if it isn't any better than the other things I've tried I will be donating this book to the Goodwill.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 11, 2011
I am replacing an old copy of this cookbook because it is a FANTASTIC cookbook - one of my favorites. The recipes are delicious! While there are a number of ingredients the directions are easy. The food combinations are excellent! I highly recommend this book. I am replacing it because my old one fell apart. I am hoping I won't have the same problem this time!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 2009
When looking for inspiration without the Thomas Keller like effort this is where I go (along with Second Helpings which is Union Square's second cookbook). I have made dozen of the recipes and they have all worked. I love the Bar Nuts!! The binding is now falling apart but that may be more from it's usage than poor construction.
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