Union Square Cafe has had plenty to celebrate over the past 17 years. In addition to countless reviews and honors, including two three-star New York Times reviews, it has been voted New York City's Favorite Restaurant by Zagat Survey an unprecedented seven times, and has also won four James Beard Foundation Awards, including Outstanding Service, Outstanding Restaurant, Outstanding Wine Service, and Best Chef for chef-owner Michael Romano. Romano was invited to the "Today" show to share his award-winning menu. Here are the recipes.
Yellowfin Tuna Burgers with Ginger-Mustard Glaze
For the ginger-mustard glaze
1/3 cup teriyaki sauce2 teaspoons minced ginger1/2 teaspoon minced garlic1 tablespoon honey1 tablespoon Dijon mustard1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
For the tuna burgers
1-1/2 pounds yellowfin tuna, free of any skin or gristle2 teaspoons minced garlic3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper1 teaspoon Kosher salt1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1/4 cup olive oil4 seeded, fresh hamburger buns1/4 cup Japanese pickled ginger, available in Japanese specialty food shops (optional)
Combine all the ginger-mustard glaze ingredients in a 1-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the glaze coats the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Strain through a sieve and reserve in a warm place until tuna burgers are cooked. Can be prepared up to two days ahead and stored, refrigerated and covered.
Grind the tuna in a meat grinder or chop with a large, sharp knife to the texture of hamburger meat. Do not use a food processor, which will shred the tuna rather than chop it.
Transfer the ground tuna to a bowl and combine with the garlic, mustard, cayenne, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. Divide the tuna into four equal amounts. Using your hands, roll each part into a smooth ball and then flatten into a compact patty.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and sear the tuna burgers until browned and medium rare, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve each burger on a buttered toasted bun and spread with a tablespoon of warm glaze. Garnish the burgers with equal amounts of pickled ginger slices.
Ricotta Raviolini with Mushrooms, Lettuce and Mint
For the dough
1/2 pound all-purpose flour2 whole large eggs3 egg yolksPinch of saltCoarse semolina or cornmeal
For the filling
12 ounces sheep's or cow's milk ricotta, drained in a colander for at least 1 hour1 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus a bit more for toppingKosher salt1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, minced
For the sauce
10 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces2 teaspoons finely minced shallots1 pound wild mushrooms, such as honshimeji (whole), or shiitake (whole caps, or sliced if large), morels (split), or chanterelles (split, or sliced if large) as a substitute, stems trimmed, washed and dried well on kitchen towels2 cups washed and coarsely chopped bibb or Boston lettuce1/4 cup white wine2 tablespoons water
Prepare the pasta according to the master recipe, but using the ingredients given above. After the dough has rested, roll it out, either by hand or machine as finely as you possibly can. Have the dough cut into long, equal-sized rectangles, and keep the rectangles covered with a damp cloth while you work.
Combine the ricotta and pecorino in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the salt to taste, black pepper, and half the mint and blend until well-combined. Adjust the seasoning. Spoon the filling into a piping bag if available, and reserve in the refrigerator.
Have ready 2 round, (not ruffle-edged) ravioli cutters, one with a diameter of 2 inches, the other 1-3/4 inches. Very important: you will be using the non-cutting, or rounded side of the ravioli cutters on the dough! Use a kitchen towel or glove to protect your hand when you press down on the cutting side. With the larger of the cutters, lightly mark one sheet of the dough at even intervals to denote where the filling will go. Remember to use the rounded, reverse side of the cutter, and do not cut through the dough completely at this point.
Pipe or spoon about 1-1/2 teaspoons of the ricotta filling onto each of the circles described on the dough until all the circles you have marked are filled. Carefully place a second sheet of dough onto the first one, and align the edges. Using the smaller of the cutters, again, rounded side down, position the cutter so that the mound of ricotta is centered in it, and press the ring down around the mound, fusing the top and bottom layers of dough Since you are not using the cutting edge, it may take a moment to press and very gently shift the round, edgeless raviolini away from the sheet of dough, but be patient.
Repeat the process for all the mounds of ricotta and then lift the dough scrap away from the closed raviolini. As you complete one sheet of dough, carefully slide or place the raviolini onto a cookie sheet that you have sprinkled liberally with semolina or cornmeal. Continue the process until all the sheets have been finished. Refrigerate the raviolini if you intend to use them that day. If not, pack them carefully (not touching one another) and freeze them for up to 2 weeks.
Bring one gallon of water to a boil in a large saucepan, and add 2 tablespoons of kosher or sea salt. Over medium-high heat, melt about 2 tablespoons of the butter in a skillet large enough to hold all the raviolini. Add the minced shallots and cook until they have softened, without any color at all. Add the mushrooms to the pan, and cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula, until they have begun to soften. Add the lettuce to the pan and allow it to wilt, stirring occasionally. Season the contents of the pan with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, and pour in the wine. Bring to a boil and allow most, but not all of the wine to evaporate. Add the water, and begin adding the remaining butter, piece by piece while constantly stirring, until you have finished all the butter. Do not allow the sauce to come to a hard boil at this point. If the sauce seems like it is "breaking," or the butter is not holding together, add a small amount of boiling water to bring it back. Stir in the remaining mint and adjust the seasoning.
Add the raviolini to the boiling water and cook them for 45 seconds to 1 minute. They should float to the top of the pot. Note that if you have frozen the raviolini, I recommend that you do not defrost them before cooking. Rather, place them for 20 seconds in a microwave oven to defrost the filling, then cook them for about one minute in the boiling water. Carefully drain the raviolini (you might want to cook them in a basket that lifts straight out of the cooking water) and add them to the pan with the butter sauce. Warm the pan over medium heat, then serve the raviolini on a heated platter, topped with extra Pecorino cheese if you like.
Fried Calamari with Spicy Anchovy Mayonnaise
For the anchovy mayonnaise
1 egg, at room temperature4 to 5 anchovy fillets2 tablespoons lemon juice1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley1/2 teaspoon cayenne3/4 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil
For the calamari
1 pound fresh, clean calamari4 cups light olive or vegetable oil1 cup all-purpose flour1 cup graham cracker crumbs1 teaspoon kosher salt
In a food processor, combine the egg, anchovies, lemon juice, parsley and cayenne. Blend until smooth. With the motor running, slowly add the oil to make a mayonnaise. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and refrigerate, covered tightly, for up to 2 days, until ready to serve.
Cut the calamari into 1/4-inch rings. If the tentacles are large, halve or quarter them lengthwise. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Pour the oil into a heavy-bottomed, straight-sided 3-quart saucepan, about 8 inches in diameter. To prevent the oil from bubbling over when frying the calamari, the pan should be no more than one third full. Heat the oil to 360ºF on a deep-fat thermometer. (To check the temperature without a thermometer, drop a small piece of bread the size of a crouton into the oil. It should float to the surface immediately and brown lightly in about 45 seconds.)
Combine the flour and graham cracker crumbs in a bowl. Divide the calamari into two or three batches for easier frying. Toss each batch in the flour mixture to coat evenly. Shake the calamari in a mesh strainer to shed excess coating. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, gently lower each batch of calamari into the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. The cooked calamari can be kept warm in a low oven while you continue. Check your oil temperature (360º) and repeat with the remaining calamari. Serve hot with the chilled anchovy mayonnaise.