Oswald Rivera

Author | Warrior | Teacher

Category: Cooking (page 1 of 2)

My Culinary Journey

Why do I write cookbooks? Easy enough — because I avidly enjoy good food and drink and I want to share that experience.
 
I consider myself a gourmand, not a gourmet, which means that I know my way around a kitchen but I am not professionally trained. Back in Spanish Harlem when I was growing up, I watched my mother as she prepared the evening dinner, and I discovered that mixing all those things together and spreading them around in a pan was fun. Sadly, in the 1950s and 1960s a male of any age in the kitchen was not culturally acceptable so I found myself fighting collective norms from an early age. Then came my bachelor years and the realization that I was not going to be able to survive on canned spaghetti and Coca Cola. Reality, however, took a decidedly positive turn when my beloved Uncle Phillip, himself a great cook, told me that cooking great meals was the best way to impress a date. “You want to impress some young lady? It’s as easy as pie…make her a great meal.” I ignored his pun and expanded my repertoire.
 
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Sofrito | Spanish Rice

Sofrito is ubiquitous in Caribbean cooking. One could safely say that Puerto Rican cuisine would be wanting without it. It is an aromatic mix of herbs and spices that is a base for cooking countless criollo dishes. This concept can be found in other cultures as well.… Read more...

Pasteles (Part 1)

Pasteles are a singular creation made from common ingredients: root plants stuffed with meat. The meat is usually pork, but it can also be chicken or turkey. At home it’s prepared only on the most special occasions. When I returned home from Vietnam this was the first dish my mother made on honor of my arrival.… Read more...

Pasteles (Part 2)

Pasteles are a singular creation made from common ingredients: root plants stuffed with meat. The meat is usually pork, but it can also be chicken or turkey. At home it’s prepared only on the most special occasions. When I returned home from Vietnam this was the first dish my mother made on honor of my arrival.… Read more...

Avocados for Summer

Yesterday In New York, the temperature reached 104 degrees F.—and that was the mean temperature, not the heat index (which was probably 112-114 degrees). Today, we’re told, ain’t going to be much better. With heat like that, the idea of cooking anything is out of the question.… Read more...

Easter Lamb

Last year, around Easter, I posted this lamb recipe. It’s our favorite in the Rivera family, and it got a good response. So I’m posting it again for this Easter celebration. As noted, then as now, this dish goes well with a good Australian Shiraz, Argentine Malbec, or California Pinot Noir.… Read more...

Stuffed Plantain Balls

I love plantains, especially green plantain, the type that we prepare in fritters called tostones. But you also have ripe plantains; essentially green plantains that have ripened to a deep, dark yellowish color. Some people prefer the ripe plantain since they give a sweeter flavor.… Read more...

Nouveau Grilling

Summer time an’ the livin’ is easy—which means that the grilling/barbecue season is here. But, you know what, kiddies—is it going to be the same old franks, burgers and half-burnt chicken? Now, not that there’s anything wrong with franks, burgers and half-burnt chicken.
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Wok Cooking – Part II (Steaming)


A wok is a perfect tool for steaming foods. The whole idea is to cook food rapidly using hot most air. This cloud of steam evenly cooks the food without need to boil it in water or broth. It’s perfect for cooking seafood since it preserves the delicacy of the fish.… Read more...

Food and Revolution


“A shortage of bread has been suggested as the cause of the fall of
Rome, the French Revolution, and the Russian Revolution of 1917.”
The Story of Bread by Ronald Sheppard and Edward Newton

While doing research on my latest book, which covers the topics of food and war, I was really taken by how food, or the lack of it, can cause social distress.… Read more...

Gourmet Magazine – R.I. P.

After 68 years in publication, Gourmet magazine is calling it quits. The food journal that defined a generation is no more, a victim of the economy and technology. Why leaf through a magazine for recipes when you can get whatever recipe you want with just one key stroke or the click of a mouse?
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