In which the world of culinary hedonism is explored with a cup and a half of curiosity, a heaping tablespoon of passion and a dash of clumsiness.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Post 110 ~ Finland-inspired fish and potatoes (Alternatively: I used my convection oven and the world didn't end)

So, that's a rather long title.

Just like it's been a rather long time since I've posted. My apologies. Life has this nasty habit of just HAPPENING the moment you turn your back.

Where was I? Ah, yes. Two stories go into the introduction of this evening's dinner:

1.) My parents and I, during the summer break, took a lovely trip to the Baltic. We took an RCI cruise from Denmark to Stockholm, Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Helsinki and had many grand adventures along the way. We were surprised at the fact that the majority of the ports we visited were quite "citified" and so, the food offerings were largely restaurants that seemed to either be chains or restaurants reflecting a different culture than the one we were in (pizza and spaghetti in Denmark?). As it is the nature of a cruise that one visits the ports that are accessible by sea, I am sure that things are different when one ventures further inland, and indeed, our hopes are to return to Scandinavia to journey further into the heartland. But our most authentic "food moment" by far was in Helsinki, where we ventured to a local market, a magical produce/hot food fair, where we were lucky enough to eat our way through the town's culinary joys. We enjoyed salmon, potatoes, vegetables, chowder, even crepes. And the herb that was prevalent throughout in heaping spoonfuls (well, not on the crepes) was DILL. So that's story #1.

2.) I live in fear of my apartment's convection oven. It's a microwave... and an oven. God didn't intend microwaves to get that hot. I used it once, in a past apartment, to make a pumpkin pie, but it found me plastered against the opposite wall the entire time, convinced the apartment was going to explode. If you follow my blog, you know I love to roast, broil steam and bake my food. But alas, I have been using a cooktop for the last three years. No more! I resolved that I would, this semester, the start of Year 4 in Singapore, use my convection oven. And so I did.

Here's what you'll need for tonight's dinner:

~ A fillet of tilapia (I use frozen, because that's what I can get)
~ Lemon
~ Dill (I brought over some freeze-dried herbs that I got at Walmart and LOVE them)
~ Coarse-ground salt
~ White potatoes
~ Snap peas
~ Rosemary
~ Corningware
~ A convection oven and a sense of adventure

I put a fillet of tilapia in a good ole New York Corningware dish (imagine my delight when my new apartment came furnished with cookware from my home state!), and, nostalgic for my summer voyage with my family, added a hefty spoonful of dill. I topped the tilapia with two slices of lemon, some onion, some salt, and some more dill. Then I halved some potatoes (will dice the next time; they did not cook evenly) and added some snap peas. I drizzled EVOO over them, added the remains of some not-so-fresh rosemary I had wilting away in my crisper, and put the whole thing in the Evil Machine.

And I hit "grill." And selected "fish" (the primary ingredient, no?) and stabbed in "0.4 kg" because, well, it seemed a reasonable metric equivalent of a corningware dish with fish, potatoes, peas and seasonings.

And I hit "START."

I couldn't take it. 17 minutes. I went to my laptop and busied myself with tomorrow's class prep so as not to think too hard about what might be happening in the other room.

10 minutes in, and I poked my head around the corner. My kitchen was not, in fact, engulfed in flames. It carried on.

And then it beeped.

In the bottom of my corningware dish was ...

...A beautiful dinner. I put it in for 5 more minutes (then heated the potatoes some more later) and served it with a normally-harsh glass of Singapore-bargain chardonney, but found that the dill and lemon softened the wine, coaxing out its oaky, fruity undertones.

The aroma and flavor of the dill brought back fond memories of my time with my family in the Land of the Vikings just a few short weeks ago, and all was well in my world.

I have, it would seem, conquered my demons. And opened up a great new world of cooking for myself!

Yours in the love of good food, fair wine, and the adventure of life abroad,


The blogger is not an experienced chef. She takes no responsibility for the quality of the meals prepared while following her advice. Use your own judgment regarding cooking times and proper food handling.

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