Steak Sandwiches

_MG_6105Usually when I order a sandwich, I tend to go for something covered in cheese and with a salty-sweet component, or the classic ham & butter combo. But after having steak for dinner one night, we were faced with the dilemma of what to do with leftovers the next day: and what better way to use up leftover steak – admittedly, not a terrible problem to have – than make steak sandwiches? _MG_6106 We also happened to have leftover brussels sprouts slaw which I thought would provide a nice crunchy contrast to the juicy steak. But the real star of the sandwich is the garlickly, tangy aioli – a perfect foil to the crunchy bread and succulent meat. Serve with chips and pickles for an easy dinner or picnic lunch (is it feeling like spring anywhere else? Everyone in NYC is delirious with happiness that it's finally more than 40 degrees)._MG_6112


Steak Sandwiches (serves 2-3)

1 steak (cut of your choice), cooked medium-rare and cut into 1/4-inch slices

1/2 baguette, cut into 2 pieces and sliced in half lenghtwise

Slaw (I used this one with brussels sprouts, but you could also use something like this)

For aoili:

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

If your steak isn't already cooked, heat a cast-iron pan over high heat until searing hot, about 5 minutes. Preheat broiler. Add 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil and heat until smoking, then add steak (well-seasoned with salt) to pan. Cook until there is a nice crust on one side, about 5 minutes. Don't touch it before that. Flip steak, then add 2 tablespoons butter on cooked side. Place steak under broiler, and cook until medium-rare, 5 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes in pan, then thinly slice.

Meanwhile, toast bread. Slather aioli on both sides of bread, then place slices of steak on sandwich and top with a generous helping of slaw. Serve immediately.


Juniper-Spiced Venison with Brown Goat Cheese Sauce

_MG_4924It's always hard to come back after a vacation, isn't it? After several shortened weeks from being in Minnesota and then from the holiday, I jumped right back into work on Monday and didn't really slow down until yesterday afternoon. It was a lovely week though, with an outdoor performance by the NY Philharmonic, a screening of Ferris Bueller's Day Off in my favorite park that included a spontaneous dance party, dinners with friends and, of course, some delicious food. Not a bad way to spend a week in New York, even if it feels like it's 100 degrees. _MG_4907 _MG_4910

Venison is not really what you think of as a summer dish; it always seems more suited to a cozy fireside meal than a summer dinner al fresco. However, when I was home, my dad had some excellent venison that was begging for a special occasion, and we decided that our whole family being together was the perfect excuse to try it. The venison was perfect, especially when we used this lovely recipe from the cookbook New Scandanavian Cooking. If you can't get venison, flank steak would be a lovely substitute. _MG_4911







A couple of notes: gjetost, or brown goat cheese may be hard to find. If you can't find it, a smoked gouda or other pungent cheese would also be good. Additionally, we didn't have any lingonberry preserves on hand, so we quickly cooked some cranberries down with a little sugar, which was just as delicious.



Braised Short Ribs and Polenta

_MG_4109I've been feeling in a bit of a food rut lately. Much as I love sesame noodles, Thai takeout, and Christmas cookies, I was getting kind of bored. Cooking has always been enjoyable for me, but recently I was feeling uninspired and sluggish, reluctant to post anything here because I didn't have anything good to post. Last weekend, however, I decided things needed to change. Freed from  the flurry of holiday parties and December business, January seemed like a good opportunity to start fresh and get back into cooking -- real cooking, not just throwing on some pasta when I get home from work like I'm tempted to do most nights. _MG_4084While it's still cold, I want to make more hearty soups, more winter salads, more creative and inexpensive meals. I want to make pickles and take more time to read and play games, and watch less TV (even though this is the supposed Golden Age of television -- and it's easy to believe with Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones, Mad Men -- I could go on). I want to enjoy my beautiful new-ish neighborhood more, and make the most of these winter daylight hours. _MG_4089Inadvertently, this has become a bit of a resolution post, and I was never a big one for resolutions. Any resolutions to exercise more or eat healthier usually don't seem to last very long, but these I think I can do. And so, I'll begin this year with a simple (but very impressive) recipe for the perfect winter comfort food: braised short ribs that melt in your mouth, and the creamiest polenta with just the right amount of salt. We enjoyed with a cabernet sauvignon, some candles, and a kale salad (have to try to be somewhat healthy at least), and A. told me it was his favorite one yet._MG_4100 _MG_4104

Braised Short Ribs (Adapted from the Bon Appétit Cookbook, serves 2-4)

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 2 to 3 pounds meaty short ribs 2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped 1 medium carrot, peeled, chopped

6 oz button mushrooms, thinly sliced 3 large garlic cloves, minced 1 1/2 ounces prosciutto , finely chopped 1 cup dry red wine 2 cups chicken broth 1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon (1/4 stick) butter, room temperature 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs from crustless day-old French bread 1/8 cup (about) whole-grain Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix 1 teaspoon thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Rub herb mixture all over short ribs. Heat oil in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add ribs to pot and cook until brown on all sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer ribs to bowl.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, carrot, mushrooms,  garlic, and prosciutto to pot; sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pot. Add broth, bay leaf, and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme to pot. Return ribs to pot, meat side down; bring to boil. Cover pot tightly; transfer to oven and bake until ribs are very tender, about 1 hour 45 minutes. Remove from oven. (Short ribs can be braised 1 day ahead. Cool slightly. Refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm slightly over medium heat before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 450°F. Transfer ribs to large roasting pan, bone side down. Remove 1/4 cup mushrooms from pot and finely chop. Place in medium bowl. Add butter and mix with fork to blend. Mix in breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. Spread 1 teaspoon mustard over top of each rib. Spread breadcrumb mixture over top of each rib, pressing to adhere. Bake until topping is crisp and golden, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, spoon off any fat from top of sauce in pot and discard. Boil sauce until slightly thickened and reduced to generous 2 cups, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spoon polenta into bowls. Top with short ribs. Spoon sauce over and serve.

Creamiest Polenta (Adapted from Tyler's Ultimate)

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup polenta or yellow cornmeal

1/3 cup freshly grated Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature

Salt and pepper, to taste

Bring milk and chicken stock to simmer over medium heat in a saucepan. Add polenta and slowly whisk in. Reduce heat to low, and continue to cook until fully absorbed, 15-20 minutes, whisking often to prevent lumps. Remove pan from heat and stir in butter, cheese, and salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Fette Sau

I'm pretty sure that trying to be a vegetarian is an obligatory part of any Wesleyan student's education. And many, I'm sure, succeed. I attempted to be a vegetarian the first semester of my freshman year and was actually pretty successful -- until Thanksgiving, that is. The turkey, ham, and my mom's excellent stuffing were just too much. Ah well. I don't think it was meant to be anyways -- I love barbecue and fried chicken FAR too much to try to give that up. Not that I'm knocking those who do choose to be vegetarian -- I actually quite enjoy tofu and I think that in many cases the environmental impact of eating meat can be too much.

However, this is not a post about the moral implications about eating meat. Rather, this is a post about excellent barbecue, at a marvelous place in Williamsburg called Fette Sau. Not vegetarian friendly -- you literally order meat by the pound. Options are limited, but that's alright with me. All of the meat is smoked for hours on location (a rare feat in NYC), and you can choose from a few options and rotating sides. Go with the brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. Just trust me. For sides, the German-style potato salad is a perfect foil for the smoky meat, and the baked beans are cooked with the burnt pork ends, making them wonderfully smoky and hearty. The meat is served with doughy rolls and the long tables are scattered with various barbecue sauces, including a spicy one and one laced with mustard. Fette Sau (which, appropriately, means Fat Pig in German), also has a great whiskey selection and multiple beers on tap to wash down your meal. Go on a night when you can sit outside, as the four long inside tables are always packed. You'll know you have arrived when you smell smoky, succulent pork wafting onto the street -- and how can anyone resist that?

(Clearly, not me, since I went twice in the span of a week.)