Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | April 10, 2014

Welcome to Brazil, puny American hot dog!!!

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | April 2, 2014

Cooking With Sardines + Pasta Con Sardo

While I was growing up, I only ate canned sardines with a side of toast or crackers – it was something I recall my Brazilian grandfather like to do while drinking beer at home. Later in life when times were lean (as they often tended to be during my 20s) I would make them with scrambled eggs over rice – but only recently did I discover that yes, the humble canned fish easily found next to tuna, pink salmon and anchovies is quite versatile when used creatively.

In spite of their reputation of “poor man’s food,” sardines are actually very good for you because they are rich with omega-3 fats (the kind that are good for you) and calcium. Though a staple in supermarkets around the country, Americans have consumed less and less of them, and recently the last U.S. cannery (in Maine) shut down for good in spite of Chefs’ attempts to reboot their image.


I rediscovered sardines through Renata, who does appreciate them. She routinely enjoys them like my grandfather did – served cold with bread and a side salad – once I made them heated with sautéed onions and she was shocked and later surprised with the result. But I still didn’t really cook them with anything until last November when I came across a recipe called “locrio de pica-pica” while searching for traditional Dominican dishes to cook at home (Renata and I have visited The Dominican Republic several times but somehow I never learned much about their food save for mangu, mofongo and the tripe-based mondongo). It is basically sardines in hot sauce cooked with rice and mixed vegetables which I adapted by replacing one can of the hot kind with one can of sardines in tomato sauce, which tasted milder but also way richer.

This spiked my curiosity, and I began searching online for other ways I could use them on a more regular basis. I was surprised at my findings – there are countless options out there, ranging from traditional recipes from Western Europe to more contemporary creations served as breakfast, hours oeuvre or as a main meal. One instant favorite was “Pasta con Sardo,” a simple Sicilian recipe in which the fish is cooked with garlic, olive oil and parsley and served over pasta – quite delicious and really easy to make.

Pasta con Sardo

Source: AllRecipes

1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 (4 ounce) cans sardines packed in
olive oil, drained
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
additional Parmesan cheese for serving


1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti, and cook until al dente, or 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, and rinse under cold water. Toss with 1/4 cup olive oil, cover and keep warm.

2. Place another 1/4 cup olive oil in a skillet, and heat over medium heat. Stir in the garlic, and cook just until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sardines, and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the bread crumbs and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. If necessary to give the mixture a crumbly texture, stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil. Stir in the parsley and pepper, and remove from the heat. If desired, serve with additional Parmesan cheese

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | March 22, 2014

Travel Report: Jamaica + Rice and Peas Recipe

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | March 9, 2014

Here’s to Mexican Food!!!

Before we begin this story, let it be said that Taco Bell is definitely not Mexican food. What they do is inspired by Tex-Mex recipes, but for some reason folks tend to think they had “Mexican” food once they go to the franchise. Authentic Mexican cuisine is worlds apart from tacos or quesadillas – the country’s culinary is incredibly rich, bringing together the traditions of the natives of the land (Maya, Mixtec, etc) and those of the Spanish settlers who came to the region over five centuries ago.

I first discovered their cuisine when a Mexican restaurant opened in Praia de Iracema, then the Bohemian destination of my Brazilian hometown of Fortaleza (I have heard the area has made a comeback recently – I have to find out when I go there again). I don’t remember exactly what I ordered back then, but I was hooked – I loved how they mixed sweet and salty flavors seamlessly – I mean, whoever heard about adding chocolate sauce to chicken?

Contrary to belief, not all Mexican dishes are spicy – for instance, the aforementioned chicken mole (in chocolate sauce) does take some pepper but it’s only a hint. Quesadillas are often served at breakfast in a corn tortilla so the level of spiciness is close to none. Tortas (sandwiches) only take hot peppers if you ask for them – it is definitely not a rule.
When Renata and I visited Cancún in 2012, we had the opportunity to sample much of the local fare – not only at our all-inclusive resort but also when we went around town and during our visit to Chichen Itza national park. It was hilarious when our group went to a restaurant on the way to the pyramids, some picky Americans were wondering what was being served, and I was glad to help out, since I was already familiar with most dishes.

Here on Staten Island we have two very good Mexican restaurants (there are others, but these are close to home) that we check out whenever we can – Fiesta Poblana (31 Corson Ave,347-855-2668) , a small place with about ten tables with a nice menu that includes many traditional dishes, and also Maizal (990 Bay St, 347- 825-3776), which is a bit more upscale and also has a creative streak that includes chicken cooked with tequila (Pollo al Patron) and a very nice margarita menu.

So next time someone invites you to try the food made south of the border, don’t resist – go ahead and give it a try, it will surely be an unforgettable experience.

Veracruz Fish
From Univision Delicioso

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 (6-ounce) tilapia fillets or other white fish fillets
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes with juice
1 Anaheim chile, stemmed, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 cup pitted and halved green olives
1/4 cup capers, drained


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium saute pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the fish fillets on both sides with salt and black pepper, to taste. Saute the fillets until they are opaque and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a glass baking dish where they fit snugly.

In the same saute pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, Anaheim chile, bay leaf and oregano and bring the pan to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and let the sauce simmer until the chiles soften, about 6 minutes. Uncover the pan, add the olives and capers, and cook until the flavors combine, about 4 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the sauce over the fish in the baking dish. Bake until the fish is heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, discard the bay leaf and serve

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | February 24, 2014

Variety is a Must + Breakfast Omelet with mushrooms, peppers and cheese

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | February 13, 2014

On Ethnic Foods + Hawaiian Ham over Rice Recipe

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | February 8, 2014

Getting Spicy + Thai red curry with tofu

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | January 31, 2014

Thinking about picky eaters + pasta ala matriciana

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | January 25, 2014

Fortaleza Dinner (or Lunch) Party memories + Farofa recipe

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