By Ernest Barteldes
As I have written previously, Christmas has become a bit of a private affair for Renata and me for reasons I have previously discussed. This year was no different – we planned what we were going to make and prepared everything accordingly.
On Saturday before the Holiday we had a social engagement, so it was impossible to go to the usual Polish shop here on Staten Island. Since we were going to be in Manhattan, I decided to check out Polish GI Delicatessen , a small mom-and-pop shop in the Lower East Side that has an impressive array of products in spite of its size.
There I bought concentrated beetroot juice, two containers of uzska, two containers of vegetarian pierogi, two bottles of Zwiec beer, one smoked sausage (kielbasa), a box of marinated herring for Renata’s layered dish and also a box of chocolate covered marshmallow sweets that have become favorites of ours. The cost was quite high compared to what I have previously paid on Staten Island, but it was definitely worth it since the quality of the product was very good. It was quite crowded there, with a mix of Polish-born and other patrons quickly getting their orders and leaving.
Over the weekend I bought salted codfish, potatoes, eggs, black olives and olive oil for a traditional Brazilian dish commonly served at Christmas (recipe below) and also some steamed beets for the salad for the evening, another Polish specialty commonly served at Easter Sunday but some of a staple at home.
On Wednesday before Christmas Eve I put the salted fish in water to remove the salt (the process is quite long – you have to change the water every few hours to make sure the excess salt is out. As I prepared the fish Renata made her layered dish, and for dessert I baked a vanilla wafer and coconut cake – a recipe that is both simple and delicious.
It was a great time without any stress – we feasted, exchanged gifts and on Christmas Day we continued eating the food after I returned from playing mass at Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Lower Manhattan – something I hadn’t done in a very long time
Recipe: Brazilian-style Baked Codfish
2 lb. salted codfish, soaked overnight to remove salt
1 lb. potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1-inch slices
½ dozen large eggs
14 oz. seedless black olives (1 can, drained and rinsed)
About 3 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 F. Boil eggs, peel and slice. Boil potatoes until al dente. Boil fish for about 10 minutes, and shred. Layer potatoes, fish, olives and eggs and cover with generous amount of olive oil. Bake, covered for about 30 minutes and serve immediately. As an option, top with sliced tomatoes and leave in oven for another 10 minutes