Braised Beef Sandwich

In hot summer months, normal people tend to prepare foods that don’t require too much time standing near a stove top – colorful salads, easy pastas, perhaps seafood. I, on the other hand, had a hankering for braised beef this week. As I stood sweating in the kitchen, I became fully aware this was more of a winter preparation, but then I figured if I put the finished product into a sandwich, it would make it more weather-balanced.

In the end, I was happy with my braise and loved the flavors of the resulting sauce, which I had made by combining homemade chicken broth, a bottle of red wine, diced red onion, loads of garlic, and a bit of tomato paste and brown sugar, along with various herbs and spices. I used London Broil, which is usually cooked quickly (hence the name) to prevent drying out, but after about three hours in a simmering pot, it was tender and full of the surrounding flavors.

To make the sandwich I used a mini baguette I had found at Costco a while back. The instructions on the bag mentioned that the baguettes could be individually frozen for several months, and then reheated in the oven as needed. The process is perfect, it’s like having freshly made bread every single time.

The addition of avocado was a no-brainer because if I have it on hand, I put it in everything, especially sandwiches.

I also knew I wanted something tangy so I sliced up some red onions, blanched them quickly, and then left them to soak in a hot mixture of rice wine vinegar, sugar, minced jalapenos, and a pinch of cinnamon.

I loved this braised beef sandwich. The crusty bread stood up to the moist and savory meat, and the pickled red onions and creamy avocado added even more texture and flavor. I think I’ll be making this meal every season from now on!

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White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ve had an unopened bag of white chocolate chips in my refrigerator for some time now and I finally got around to using it in these cookies, as well as some dried cranberries and pecans I had on hand. I used a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe for the dough because I love the buttery, brown sugar flavor. I really liked the combination of the sweet white chocolate, the tart cranberries, and the crunchy pecans. Next time I make this cookie I plan to overload it with the mix-ins so it’s chunkier.

Gran Electrica

Mexican
5 Front Street, Brooklyn
(718) 852.2789
Website

This Saturday I joined a couple of friends in Brooklyn for eating, drinking, and gallavanting. We met up in Dumbo and headed over to Gran Electrica for margaritas and tacos. The restaurant is spacious and consists of multiple rooms as well as a big backyard area with loads of tables, so we chose to sit outside to take advantage of the unusually Spring-like mid-July afternoon. We shared a crab tostada and an assortment of meat tacos (beef brisket, carnitas, and tongue). The food was prepared well and really flavorful, and the tamarind margarita that I drank was tart, sweet, and refreshing.

By early evening, we had ended up in another part of Brooklyn and finished our day off with some excellent handmade ice cream at Ample Hills Creamery (which I had first sampled at Choice Eats 2012). Their salted “crack” caramel flavor is crazy good.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I’ve always loved carrot cake, especially if it’s topped with a thick, tangy cream cheese frosting. Since I’m a fan of cakes that come in cup form, I made my first batch of carrot cake cupcakes. For the cake I used this highly-rated recipe, but substituted the 1 1/2 cups of white sugar with 1 cup of light brown sugar. They came out sweet, but not too sweet, and very moist. Next time I make these I might increase the amounts of pineapple and coconut flakes in the batter. For the frosting I creamed together cream cheese, butter, confectioners’ sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Homemade frosting really is easy and better than any store-bought version. As great as the cream cheese frosting was, these cupcakes also made a great breakfast treat without anything on top.

Tertulia

Spanish
359 Sixth Avenue
646.559.9909
Website

The kitchen at Tertulia is partially visible from the rear dining room, and on my first visit there I was sitting directly across from it. Line chefs, dishwashers and waitstaff swarmed around elbow to elbow in a constant frenzy of activity. Most, if not all, of the hot foods were being cooked to order, and this was evident in the delicious dishes that arrived on our table. The only disappointments for me were the Iberico ham, which would have almost been worth the hefty $25 price tag if it had been sliced better (they weren’t the paper-thin slices I was anticipating), and the fishy deviled eggs, which were way too salty, and had a texture like it had been sitting out for a while. On the upside, the hamachi crudo was fresh and excellent, and the crispy potatoes were addictive. I can’t wait to go back and try more of the menu.

Acorn-fed Iberico ham

Clockwise from top left: Smoky deviled eggs, giant grilled prawns, crispy potatoes, hamachi crudo, and tortilla

A slice of lamb leg, cooked medium, and topped with a light gremolata, tomatoes, and fingerling potatoes. $21 and easily enough meat for at least three people.

Apple cake with rum raisin ice cream. The cake was buttery and warm with spice and the rum flavor in the caramel and ice cream was great.

Chocolate and coffee ganache tart, topped with almond slivers, sea salt and a huge dollop of whipped cream. This was terrific.