Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | June 21, 2017

The Sunday Breakfast: Taking It Easy


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By Ernest Barteldes

 

Having a hectic schedule and not getting enough sleep is part of pretty much everyone’s life in a big city, and that is certainly what Renata and I go through on a daily basis – we wake up early, I make coffee and pack a hastily made sandwich for breakfast, which we either enjoy while riding the Staten Island Ferry or once we actually get to work.

But weekend – especially Sundays – are markedly different. Away goes the weekday rush and a lazier, relaxed approach kicks in, and then I try to make something special: a hearty and tastier breakfast that includes fruit and something creative that we eat while sleepily watching a TV variety show called CBS Sunday Morning – a guilty pleasure featuring mostly older reporters that do long pieces on various themes, including the profiles of actors and musicians, curiosity pieces like the popularity of some kind of food (the segment on Hawaii and SPAM being one of my all-time favorites) or some human interest piece. Though politics is sometimes featured, it is mostly a light-topic show, which is a good escape from the hard news we get on a regular basis (incidentally, it precedes CBS’ Face the Nation, their own politically centered Sunday show).

So it is in this lighter spirit that I look for recipes that can only be enjoyed by taking one’s time – both during the preparation and also eating – preferably in bed.  A recent dish I found on my giant tome of recipes from the dearly departed Gourmet magazine consists of ham serving as a cup for eggs and mushrooms that is quite simple to prepare: place ham slices in a muffin pan, add a mix of mushrooms, shallots and sour cream to the bottom, top with eggs, bake for a few minutes and voila – you have a delicious and nutritious Sunday breakfast.

Here is the original recipe, which I made cut in half: it’s not like I have so many people to feed on Sunday!

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Baked Eggs and Mushrooms in Ham Crisps

Source: Epicurious

Ingredients:

Ingredients

3/4 lb. mushrooms, finely chopped

1/4 cup finely chopped shallot

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons crème fraiche or sour cream

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon

12 slices Black Forest or Virginia ham (without holes; 10 oz.)

12 large eggs

Garnish: fresh tarragon leaves

Accompaniment: buttered brioche or challah toast

Special equipment: a muffin tin with 12 (1/2-cup) muffin cups

 

Preparation

 

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook mushrooms and shallot in butter with salt and pepper in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring, until mushrooms are tender and liquid they give off is evaporated, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in crème fraiche and tarragon.

Fit 1 slice of ham into each of 12 lightly oiled muffin cups (ends will stick up and hang over edges of cups). Divide mushrooms among cups and crack 1 egg into each. Bake in middle of oven until whites are cooked but yolks are still runny, about 15 minutes. Season eggs with salt and pepper and remove (with ham) from muffin cups carefully, using 2 spoons or small spatulas.

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | June 15, 2017

The 2017 Puerto Plata Report: Costambar, Santiago and Jarabacoa

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | May 23, 2017

At the 2017 International Food Festival at 9th Avenue, New York

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | April 25, 2017

At the 5th Annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo


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By Ernest Barteldes

The annual New York Hot Sauce Expo has become a bit of a tradition for us – I first went during the 2015 edition on my own but have convinced Renata to come along with me for the last two editions. This time we got there on the very last day of the event. Like in previous years, it was quite crowded with a mix of curious locals and intense hot pepper enthusiast. On stage some kind of competition was going on – there are several contests going on for the duration of the event, going from pizza and chicken wing eating tournaments and some involving pro bartenders.

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We got there in the early afternoon on Sunday and went on to taste some the samples made available there.  We started with Long Island’s  Murph’s Bloody Mary Mix – a delicious recipe that comes both in mild and spicy. The “hot” version does not burn that much, and it is quite flavorful. I was disappointed not to see Ed Currie, the creator of the Carolina Reaper there – I had the pleasure to get my mouth severely burned by his pepper – awarded by the Guiness Book of Records as the hottest chili pepper in the world.

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This year, however, I was looking for flavor, and we got what we came for – among our purchases was “Dia de Sol,”  a delicious Portuguese-style sauce from Nebraska’s Volcanic peppers – a mild concoction made with peri peri peppers, red peppers and garlic (among other things) that serves as a great topping for omelets or meats. From them we also got Jamaican Holiday, a sauce made from yellow scotch bonnet peppers – quite hot.

Other highlights included Upstate New York’s   Baron’s Caribbean Hot Sauce, a blend based on habanero peppers and little else – flavorful but with one heck of a kick later on, and Torchbearer’s Pshycho Curry – a mild to hot curry sauce that I plan to use very, very soon.

The only sour note was the fact that Florida-based Tahiti Joe’s  – a producer I used to admire – decided to politicize his brand by creating  “Hillary Not For President” and a”Trumped-Up for President” sauces. I questioned him about it, and he gave me the usual Trump supporter schpiel about the emails and Benghazi and how Trump is the second coming of Jesus.  His choice to bring those “options” to Brooklyn had consequences – his table was pretty much empty when I stopped by – it is clear that hot sauce and politics don’t mix (I was surprised not to have seen any “Feel The Bern” sauces anywhere – missed opportunity?.

Apart from this two-minute incident, I must say it was once again an enjoyable afternoon. We stocked up with quite a few bottles, which should last us until next year’s edition.

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | April 9, 2017

Easter Traditions: Poland and Brazil

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | March 29, 2017

Eating in St. George, Staten Island


 

By Ernest Barteldes

When I moved to St. George in the early 2000s, there were few dining options worth writing home about.  There was the Polish Place on Corson Avenue, a so-so Mexican restaurant, a dreary Irish pub, Cargo Café and Ruddy & Dean, a steakhouse on Richmond Terrace  and little else – though it is one of the most diverse neighborhoods on Staten Island,  that did not reflect its eateries at the time – although there have always been plenty of shops that cater to the different ethnicities that live in the area.

That has changed quite a bit over the years. Though some closed – The Polish Place went out of business in 2012 and Cargo Café changed ownership (but not much of its menu), being renamed 120 Bay Café around that time. However, many other places have popped up over the years offering many different options not only for locals but for visitors who happen to wonder off the Staten Island Ferry from time to time.

Here is a partial sampling:

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View from The Outdoor Tables at River Dock Cafe

The St. George Ferry Terminal itself has now many options  – ranging from a simple pizza place to New York City’s only Dairy Queen, but for a better meal check out River Dock Café, a full service restaurant with a varied American-style menu.  They also have a nice full bar and a range of appetizers, my personal favorite being the fried Calamari rings, which are served with a crispy breading.  During the warm months they have outside seating with a view of the harbor.

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Outside Jimmy Steiny’s 

Walk up Hyatt Street towards The St. George Theater, where Jimmy Steiny’s pub offers a limited menu and a nice atmosphere for drinks. Years ago the space housed a horrible dive bar, but the regulars include lawyers and civil servants from the nearby courthouses.  Further up the street is Enoteca Maria, a well-regarded Italan restaurant with a daily menu that changes depending on who the chef for the evening is – so depending on when you go the flavors can vary dramatically.

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Outside Enoteca Maria

Also nearby on Stuyvesant Place is Chang Noi Thai, a newer restaurant already discussed on this blog, and across the street is our go-to pizzeria, A&S Pizzeria.  Although I can easily order from them using the Slice App (more on that someday), I actually enjoy walking over, ordering a pie and waiting while enjoying a bottle of Polish beer – which they keep in stock  since many Polish immigrants stop there for a drink on a regular basis. Also notable is Beso, located between Stuyvesant and Richmond Terrace, where they serve impressive Spanish meals – it’s the kind of place you can go on a very good date or to impress your mom when she visits.

A recent addition  is Sabor de La Isla, a Puerto Rican restaurant located  where our favorite now-defunct Mexican restaurant used to be.  We haven’t checked it out yet (we plan to do so very soon) but from what I hear they are doing quite well, and the reviews have been quite positive. And I cannot end this post without mentioning Flagship Brewery, Staten Island’s own microbrew – which is walking distance from any of the eateries mentioned here.

In conclusion, St. George is slowly becoming a foodie-friendly area. Sure, it has not come to the level of other areas of the island, where you can find some of the best European-themed places in town – but we are definitely getting there.

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | March 13, 2017

Restaurant Review: Thai on Staten Island

Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | March 5, 2017

Learning Polish Cooking A Dish at a Time: Salmon Kulebiak


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The Polish Food Truck in New York

By Ernest Barteldes

It is interesting how you can stumble into things at times. I was doing some research on Lenten customs around the world after someone asked me about how Lent- the forty-day period of fasting and prayer observed to a higher or lesser degree by Roman Catholics around the world, and as I went through different pages I came across a recipe for Kulebiak, a Polish pie made with rice, eggs, onion, dill, salmon and puff pastry that was described as commonly served not only during this period but also during the Christmas Vigil, when Poles abstain from red meat until after midnight on Christmas Day.

Investigating further I discovered many other recipes – including a meat-free version that included mushrooms and cabbage instead of fish. I asked Renata about it but she was unfamiliar with it, so I am assuming (correct me if I am wrong, please) it is a more regional delicacy – there are several dishes made in different regions that don’t exist in other regions. For instance, I have never seen oscypek – a unique kind of smoked sheep milk cheese – outside the country’s southernmost region.

The curiosity about Kulebiak got the best of me and I decided to try it out for our Friday dinner – those who follow this blog are aware of the fact that whenever Renata and I stay in Fridays I make a fish-based meal, which stems from the old Catholic tradition of not eating red meat on that day of the week. The ingredients were quite easy to find (I mostly shop at Trader Joe’s, where you can usually find things other supermarkets don’t usually stock) and quickly assembled it – which wasn’t hard at all – a myth that goes around a lot is how labor-intensive Polish cooking can be (more about that in some other post).

When Renata got home, she immediately commented on how the smell of the food was all over the apartment – and we set out to try it with a simple green salad on the side. I paired the Kulebiak with sauvignon blanc (which I purchased with the intent of pairing with the dish).

The result was surprising: the blend of the ingredients worked just right, and the puff pastry complemented by locking in the flavors and also giving its own unique feel. This will certainly be in our rotation, and I cannot wait to try out the other varieties.

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Salmon Pie – Kulebiak z Lososiem

Source: In Ania’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 400 g salmon
  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 2 tbs chopped fresh baby dill
  • 2 tbs lemon
  • 200 g cooked rice
  • half of a large onion
  • 450 g puff pastry
  • salt and pepper
  • egg for egg wash

 

Instructions:

  1. Chop the onion finely and fry on couple of tbs of oil until tender.
  2. Add cooked rice, baby dill and lemon juice. Give it a good stir and take off the heat.
  3. Chop the eggs finely and set aside.
  4. Cut the salmon in bite size pieces.
  5. On the lightly floured surface roll out half of your puff pastry a bit, you want it around 2 mm thick. Line your pie dish with the puff pastry and transfer the rice.
  6. Even it out, season with salt and pepper and then arrange the salmon. Season with salt and pepper and lastly put the egg layer and season as well.
  7. Brush the edges with egg wash to seal the pie.
  8. Roll out the second half of the pasty and cover the pie, cut some holes or prick with a fork before baking.
  9. Brush the top with an egg wash and bake in preheated oven to 200 degrees Celsius (400F) for 45 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if browning too much.
  10. Let it cool down a bit and serve.
Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | February 20, 2017

Going Veggie on Weekends – without sacrifice

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