By Ernest Barteldes
The only thing I actually enjoy about the colder months of the year is that I can freely use my oven to bake and roast – something that is simply impossible during the summer, when the intense heat combined with the humidity basically force me to concentrate in making dishes that don’t expose me to excessive heat – so grilling is basically what I do on the hottest days of the year.
Strangely enough, this didn’t affect me as much when I was living in Fortaleza, where temperatures are often close to 30 C (about 88F). I guess the humidity is not as bad there, and there is always a bit of a breeze – at least when it comes to Fortaleza. Either that or I had grown so accustomed to the heat that the oven did not affect me.
Baking and roasting makes not only for healthier dishes, but it also gives the amateur cook a chance to make more unusual ingredient combinations that would never work with a frying pan, a toaster oven or even a microwave. I have never heard of stove-top lasagna, for instance (I am sure someone has figured out a way to do it, but I digress). Also, once the dish is in the oven, I don’t really have to worry much about stirring, checking on water, oil or anything like that – it is quite a low-maintenance effort in most cases, and of course baked and stewed dishes taste after they’ve been refrigerated overnight.
Among my personal favorites are Hawaiian chicken, which is basically chicken breast roasted in a thick sweet and sour sauce made from pineapple juice, soy sauce, ketchup and brown sugar. I also love baking lasagnas and of course eggplant parmesan, which is meatless and utterly delicious if made right. Lately, however, I have been discovering new ways to cook fish, and via Latin American websites I have found many interesting ideas using seafood – something I usually either stew (like in the case of my personal favorite, fish moqueca) or grill.
One personal favorite is fish in “Polish” sauce – a simple recipe that is not really part of the traditional canon of Renata’s native land – you simply broil the fish and later add a simple sauce made with butter, boiled eggs and dill. It is quite delicious, and goes great with a side of potatoes. I am not sure why the recipe has that name – I guess it is because of the dill – a common ingredient in that country’s cuisine.
Fish in “Polish” sauce
1 Lb. flounder or other firm fish
2-3 tablespoons of melted butter
2-3 large eggs, boiled and chopped
Fresh dill, chopped (to taste)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice
Line an oven proof dish with aluminum foil. Add the fish and brush with a little of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Turn on broiler and broil the fish until done (no more than 10 minutes). In the meantime, mix remaining butter, lemon, dill and chopped eggs. Remove the fish from broiler and transfer to serving dish and pour sauce over it. Serve with boiled baby carrots and mashed potatoes.