Cover of The New Brooklyn Cookbook

Title: The New Brooklyn Cookbook
Author: Melissa and Brendan Vaughn
264 pages; Hardcover $40.00 US
Publisher: Willian Morrow/Harper Collins NY NY 2010
Reviewed by, Erin Carlman Weber, December 2010

The review--- The New Brooklyn Cookbook is a compilation of food, stories and photos that provide a sketch of Brooklyn's culinary renaissance. Thirty-one of the borough's restaurants share their inspirations, startup tales and recipes, making the book an appealing read and manual for entrepreneurial foodies and adventurous home cooks alike.

Some recipes are simple-papardelle with roasted tomatoes, zucchini and rosemary from Aliseo Osteria del Borgo doesn't call for much more than that-while others are insanely involved, at least for the casual home cook. Take the Five Leaves burger, a tempting if unlikely pile that counts pineapple, pickled beets and harissa among its 17 ingredients. While most recipes fall somewhere in between on the complexity scale, the regular appearance of semi-obscure ingredients throughout makes this volume well-suited to dauntless hobby cooks with time to trek to Asian markets for kimchi, Middle Eastern grocers for ground sumac and specialty butchers for boar bacon.

Directions for Convivium Osteria's spinach and sheep's milk ricotta gnocchi with Asiago cheese produced tender, rich and nuanced little dumplings, even with the substitution of cow's milk ricotta when the sheep version proved difficult to locate. An attempt at The General Greene's salt and pepper pork ribs with spiced yogurt sauce was less successful. Even after dialing back the amount of salt in the brown sugar rub, the finished product was disappointingly over seasoned. Two and half hours in a low-temperature oven produced exquisitely tender meat, though, and the tart, lemony, sumac-seasoned yogurt sauce would have complemented a less-salty version of the dish well.
All of the featured restaurateurs share an uncommon, devoted approach to their craft, and an inspiring taste of the culinary creativity that set the Brooklyn food scene in motion is in the pages of this book.

Recipes tested---
Spinach Gnocchi
As addictive as these gnocchi are, not even the man who makes them wants to eat more than six or seven at a time. "Sometimes customers complain that there's not enough gnocchi on the plate," says co-owner Carlo Pulixi with a sigh, who, being a traditional and highly principled Italian chef, has strong feelings about portioning and other such non-negotiable rules of his country's cuisine. "We just feel that with this richness, in not something you wanted fill your stomach with. If someone says something, we make another plate, free of charge. But I don't want to give them more than we give. l don't feel it's right."Spinach and Sheep's-Milk Ricotta Gnocchi with Asiago / CONVIVIUM OSTERIA

1. To prepare the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spinach and cook for four or five minutes, or until tender but not mushy. Drain in a colander and use the back of a wooden spoon to force out any excess water. Wrap the spinach in a clean dish towel and wring out any remaining water. Spread the spinach on a dry surface. When it is no longer steaming, transfer it to a large bowl. Add the ricotta and mix with a fork until well combined. Add the eggs, bread crumbs, 1/4 cup flour, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and salt. Mix until smooth.
2. Place 1/2 cup flour in a shallow dish, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, and lightly flour the parchment. Using two tablespoons, shape the mixture into ovals. Dredge the gnocchi in flour to coat, then tap off any excess. Place the gnocchi on the baking sheet and refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. When you are ready to cook the gnocchi, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, prepare the sauce Combine the Asiago, milk, and heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat Whisk until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
4. Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the gnocchi to the sauce pan with the sauce. Gently toss to coat, cooking for 30 seconds. Divide the gnocchi and sauce among bowls and garnish with additional Asiago.


For the gnocchi
1 1/2 pounds organic spinach, stems removed, coarsely chopped
1cup (1/2 pound) sheep's-milk ricotta or well drained whole-milk ricotta*
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup unseasoned fresh bread crumbs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 teaspoon coarse salt
For the sauce
3 tablespoons grated Asiago cheese, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
*If using whole milk ricotta, wrap the ricotta in cheesecloth, gather into a ball, tie, and drain over a bowl in the refrigerator overnight.

Five Leaves Burger with Grilled Pineapple, Pickled Beets, Sunny-Side-Up Egg, and Harissa Mayonnaise / FIVE LEAVES

Yes, this recipe sounds like the work of a drunk person, and it may have been. "It's an especially great hangover cure," says Kathy Mecham, an Aussie who owls Fives Leaves with her husband, Jud Mongell. But against all odds grilled pineapple ring? it totally works. "Its something we always missed, being in New York." Mecham says of the sloppy sandwich, an Australian import. So we decided to do a similar burger, but using high-quality ingredients, Note that the pineapple should be prepared the night before.

1. Place 4 pineapple rings in a large heat-proof glass or stainless-steel bowl. In a medium nonreactive saucepan, combine the vinegar, honey, coriander seed, peppercorns, olive oil, mustard, and ginger. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Pour the mixture over the pineapple cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.
2. Combine the harissa, mayonnaise, and lime zest and juice in a small howl and set aside.
3. Prepare the grill for cooking or heat a ridged grill pan over medium-high heat until hot. Remove the pineapple from the marinade and grill for 2 minutes per side.
4. Season the beef with salt and pepper and form into 4 burgers. Grill the burgers, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, about 5 minutes total for rare or 6 minutes for medium-rare.
5. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Lightly brush the cut side of the buns with butter and grill for 1 or 2 minutes. Spread the harissa mayonnaise on the grilled buns.
6. In a nonstick pan, melt the remaing 2 tablespoons butter over medium-low heat. Break each egg into a small bowl and add it to the pan. Gently fry the eggs until the whites are set (sunny-side up), taking care not to break the yolk.
7. Place a burger on the bun and top each burger with a pickled beet slice, grilled pineapple slice, and sunny-side up egg.

1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rings you will need 4 rings for this recipe
2 cups seasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
2 heaping tablespoons peeled and thinly sliced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon prepared harissa (we like Dea Harissa Hot Sauce)
4 tablespoons prepared mayonnaise
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 pounds ground beef chuck, preferably grass-fed, not too lean
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butler, divided
4 ciabatta buns
4 slices prepared pickled beets
4 large eggs