Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Author: Oswald Rivera (page 1 of 65)


I call this dish a frittata. But it can also be referred to as an “egg-bake.” See, in a classic frittata, the thing is baked, usually in a 400 degree oven. In my version, I let the eggs set first, and then broil briefly. I still referred to it as a “frittata.” Though some of my  conservative friends don’t regard it as such. They think of it as an egg-crabmeat bake. Whatever. I’m a fan of crabmeat, and this makes an exquisite dish. As a side, all you need is some crusty bread and a good light wine. Another way we like it, in our family, is over rice. It makes for a marvelous combo.

Before setting in the broiler, you should top the recipe with cheese. By that, I mean sliced cheese. You can use whatever cheese slices you desire,  be it American cheese, cheddar, gouda or other. And, oh, yes, this time around, we served it with that Puerto Rican favorite tostones (friend green plantains).



6 large eggs, slightly beaten
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 (6 oz.) cans crabmeat, drained
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons light or heavy cream, your choice
6 cheese slices of choice
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (optional)


  1. in a large skillet or frypan, heat olive oil.
  2. Add onion and stir-fry over medium heat until onion is soft and translucent.
  3. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  4. Stir in crabmeat and cook until combined. Mix in oregano, salt and pepper. Add cream and cook until eggs are are set (the top should be somewhat firm but not burnt).
  5.  Cover with cheese slices. Place in broiler and cook until cheese melts. Garnish with parsley, if using, and serve immediately.
    Yield: 4 servings.




Thanksgiving is over. Now comes the hard part: what to do with the turkey leftovers. You could make mayo and tomato sandwiches for days. Or you can buck up and make something palatable and delicious with the bird remains. Below we give four recipes that will make your turkey meat leftovers glorious. You can serve each over rice or pasta—like in the Turkey Stir-Fry where it is paired with hot noodles. Family and friends will come over just to have the leftovers. In each case, the portions amount to four or more servings.


Note that this is my version of leftover turkey curry. If you want to add other ingredients like turmeric, cinnamon, cloves or ginger to give it a more Indian or Asian flavor, go right ahead.

1/2 stick butter
½ cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 cups leftover turkey meat cut into 1/2-inch chunks or pieces
Salt to taste

  1. In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook briefly until combined and starting to bubble, about 3-5 minutes. Do not let the flour darken.
  2. Pour chicken broth into flour mixture. Whisk to combine until smooth. Here, you can adjust for thickness: cook, whisking, until thickened, about 5-7 minutes. Or If you want it thinner, add more broth.
  3. Add curry powder and stir to blend. Stir in turkey meat. Add salt and cook until heated, and serve. Some folks like to add yogurt, about ½ cup, to the curry. Your choice.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thinly
2 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 can (14 ½ oz.) stewed tomatoes
1 chicken bouillon cube or 1 packet chicken granules
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups turkey meat, chopped or cut into ½-inch chunks or pieces

  1. Heat oil in a skillet or frypan. Add onions and cook over moderate until and translucent. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  2. Add undrained tomatoes, bouillon cube, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir in turkey meat and cook until bubbling.


2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and sliced into ¼-inch strips
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into ½-pieces (can use frozen but need to be thawed).
2 cups turkey meat, cut into chunks or ½-inch strips
½ cup scallions, chopped into ½-inch pieces
½ cup sliced bamboo shoots
½ cup sliced water chestnuts
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Pinch each of nutmeg and ground pepper

  1. In a large frying pan or wok, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute.
  2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and cook 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. In this case, serve over hot, cooked egg noodles.
    Note that there are no set rules for stir-frying. You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand.


1 cup rice
1 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1  clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon capers
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 cups turkey meet, chopped or shredded
4 cups water

  1. Place rice in 1 cup water and let it soak.
  2. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, oregano, capers and tomato sauce. Sauté over moderate heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Drain rice and add to pot. Stir to combine while gradually adding 4 cups water. Bring to a boil and cook on high heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Add turkey meat, lower heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes more or until rice is tender. Serve immediately.
    Note that this recipe will make a thick soup or stew. If you want it thinner, add more water as desired.


In my family, we’ve always been fans of seafood. In some case, more so that meat. Reason for that goes back to when I was growing up in Spanish Harlem. At the time, fish was cheap compared to meat. This was something that harked back to life in the island of Puerto Rico where seafood was plentiful and meat expensive. That’s not to say that we didn’t like meat. My father always enjoyed  good a good T-bone steak but, when times were lean, it was seafood or shellfish that kept us going. The seafood dishes invariably were fish fillets that were plentiful and cheap in the old Marqueta on 116th street. The Marqueta is gone, but the memories remain.

Through the years I’ve discovered numerous ways to season fish fillets so that it never becomes boring.  Nothing cooks better than fish fillets with a repertoire of seasoning be it criollo seasoning or, for that matter any other herb-spice combination. Below, we give three seasoning recipes for fish fillets so that you can do a variety of dishes to please family and friends. You’ve got the traditional Nuyorican method, an Italian version, and a Greek version. Each has its own spark and verve, and none will disappoint.

In all cases, the fillets should be baked for 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork in a 370 degree preheated oven.


4 boneless fish fillets, about 1¼ pounds
2½ tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
¾ cup and milk
1 tablespoon dark Puerto Rican rum (optional)
Half of a small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 bay leaf
1`/4 teaspoon white pepper
Salt to taste

  1. Rinse fillets and pat dry with pepper towels.
  2. In a small saucepan, combine2 tablespoons butter and flour over moderate heat and boil for 1 minute.
  3. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Add rum at this stage, if using.
  4. Lower heat and add onion, garlic, bay leaf, pepper and salt. Stir together for about 1 minute.
  5. Place fish in a greased baking pan. Pour sauce over fillets, dot top with remaining butter. Bake, uncovered, as noted above.


4 boneless fish fillets, about 1¼ pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh leaf basil, crumbled or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

  1. Rinse fillets and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together olive oil, tomato paste, vinegar, basil, salt, pepper and garlic.
  3. Place fillets on a baking pan and spread seasoning mixture over fish. Bake, uncovered, as directed above.


4 boneless fish fillets, about 1¼ pounds
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh leaf oregano, crumbled or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and black pepper to taste

  1. Rinse fillets and pat dry with pepper towels.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon, juice, oil, oregano, salt and pepper.
  3. Place fillets on a baking pan and spread seasoning mixture over fish. Bake, uncovered, as directed above.



I call this recipe Chinese meatballs. My Chinese brethren refer to it as “deep fried beef balls.” To me, they’re fried meatballs in oyster sauce that we serve with steamed rice; but they’re good over any preferred grain be it couscous, quinoa, farro or noodles.

It’s an easy enough dish to prepare. If you want the oyster sauce a bit thicker you can add a teaspoon  of cornstarch mix with a tablespoon of water. I serve this dish with parboil spinach which must be pressed to get rid of the excess water, thereby allowing the oyster sauce to be adsorbed. With a good wine, red or white, slightly chilled (or sake, if you want to mix cultures), it makes for a marvelous dinner.



1 pound beef (can substitute ground turkey or chicken)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cornstarch
⅓ cup peanut oil or vegetable  oil
1 pound fresh spinach
½ cup water
½ cup beef or chicken broth
½ cup oyster sauce


1. In a bowl, mix the beef with the salt and cornstarch. Shape into small balls about ¾-inch in diameter.
2. Heat oil in a wok, skillet or frypan and cook meatballs over medium heat until deep brown. Note: a deep fryer, if you have one, is good for this.
3. While the beef is cooking, parboil or steam the spinach in the water. Press spinach lightly to remove moisture. Lay the spinach on a warm plate and arranged the cooked meatballs in the middle.
4. Pour the broth and oyster sauce in a small pan and heat briefly. Pour over the meatballs and spinach and serve with rice.
Yield: 4 servings.



As an appetizer and party favorite, I always like deviled eggs. Question: Why are they called “Deviled Eggs?” Well, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term originated in the 18th century to describe boiled or fried spicy, condiment filled dishes. It was eventually used to describe eggs. Now that we go that settled, I decided to experiment with the thing. What if a sauce, say tomato sauce, were added to the eggs? I imagined that would enhance the flavor even more. And that’s what we did. And it worked. Just prepare the eggs as you would normally, and then bake briefly in the tomato sauce.

The dish will make an excellent luncheon or supper served over buttered toast. Or you can pair it with your vegetable of choice. It is especially good with parsley potatoes. Go at it.



6 hard-boiled eggs
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon mustard
3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2.  Halve the hard-boiled eggs and remove yolks to a small bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the tomato sauce, salt, sugar, paprika, mustard and 2 tablespoons of the Worcestershire sauce. Mix well and spoon back into egg whites.
  3.  In a skillet or saucepan. heat remaining tomato sauce with 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce to the boiling point.
  4.  Pour into shallow baking dish or pie plate (10in.) and arrange egg halves on top. Spoon a little sauce over each egg half. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Serve over hot buttered toast with some sauce spooned over  eggs and toast.
    Yield: 4 servings.



CALAMARES CON PIMIENTO (Squid with Bell Pepper)

It always amazes me the reaction I get from my Anglo brethren when the subject of squid as an edible comes up. It’s usually: “Yuk—Ugh–Ick!”—or another negative reaction. And this surprises me. In Latin American, Caribbean and Mediterranean cuisine, squid is something that is treasured. Growing up in Spanish Harlem, we ate a lot of it. Mainly because it was cheap, and nutritious. And I still eat it regularly. Especially now when you can get cleaned and prepared squid in almost any market. Gone are the days when you had to clean the squid, remove the tentacles and mouth from the head;  pull out the innards; discard head and viscera and, finally, wash the inside of the body thoroughly. Yes, a time-consuming task. So, as a result, we eat squid more often, as with this classic recipe, Calamares con Pimento or Squid with Bell Pepper. In  this dish you can use any bell pepper type you like be it green pepper, yellow, red, or a combination of each.

For nomenclature purposes, bell peppers are also known as “pimentos.” In Spanish we call them pimientos. I’m told that in Australia, India, Malaysia, New Zealand and Pakistan they are know as   capsicum. Whatever terminology used, this recipe can’t be beat when bell peppers are coupled with squid. Let me add that when we cook this dish, we serve it over yellow rice. Bur you can pair it with whatever grain you like, be it quinoa, couscous, farro or even pasta. The beauty of this dish is in its versatility.

(Squid with Bell Pepper)


2 pound cleaned squid
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 small onion, peeled and minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
8-oz. can tomato sauce
¼ teaspoon coriander  powder
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large frypan or skillet, heat the oil and add the garlic and onion. Sauté over medium and cook until onion is soft and translucent. Add the bell peppers and sauté for 3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the body of the cleaned squid into ½-inch rings. Add the rings and tentacles (cut up) to the peppers and toss for 2 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and cook for 5 minutes. Add the coriander and salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
    Yield: 4 servings.



I’ve always had a palate for Mexican refried beans. Mainly because it’s not something common to Puerto Rican cuisine. Thus the thought of refried beans has always intrigued me. Which set me to thinking? What if I made my own version  of it? A Nuyorican version? And why not?  So, here is my version of refried beans with sausages. That’s right. I’ve added sausage to it. Basically, spicy Spanish chorizo sausage which is a stable in  our cooking. For the recipe given, you can use any sausage you prefer, even turkey or chicken . I’m not a stickler to any rules here. Use what you like. The idea is to prepare something good and Nutritious.

Another innovation is that we used white beans for the dish. Mexican refried beans usually consist of pinto beans or black beans. I just figured most beans varieties could be refried. So I tried the white beans and they came out great.

In my culture we usually serve beans with rice. My Mexican brethren also serve refried beans with rice. But they also enjoy it with chips or in a burrito. Following that line of thought, this dish is so good that we serve it by itself with crusty bread. And we do not add chili powder like in some recipes. Remember, this is the Nuyorican version (and we don’t use chili powder) but, if you want, go right ahead and put some in while the beans are simmering. Your choice.

Also, you may like wine with dinner; but refried beans is the type of dish that goes great with beer.


1 3/4 cup white beans
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 cup grated cheese of your choice


  1. Place Beans in a large pot (preferably cast iron) with water to cover with water by 2 inches. Cover and let soak overnight.
  2. Next day, drain beans, put them back in pot with fresh water to cover by 2 inches. Stir in garlic, salt, pepper and cumin. Bring to a boil, turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until beans are softened.
  3. Use a colander to transfer the liquid from the beans, but reserve the liquid. Heat oil in the same pot (or a large skillet), add the grated cheese. Mix to combine. Add ¼ cup reserved water from the broth and gently smash the beans with a potato masher or fork until you get the right texture. The beans should have the consistency of soft mashed potatoes. Add more bean broth liquid if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed by adding more salt or pepper.

While beans are cooking, prepare sausage


 2 chorizo sausages, sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
1 small onion, peeled and thinly sliced
Tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried


1.Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté sausage until starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
2.Add onion and oregano and stir fry for 5 minutes more, turning frequently.
3.Add to fried beans. Stir to mix, and serve immediately.
Yield: 4-6 servings

BROCOLI CON SALSA (Sauced Broccoli)

Back in the Barrio, when times were lean, Brocoli con Salsa was a cheapy weekday dinner. Basically it’s broccoli cooked with tomato sauce and spices. Depending on where you came from, it was also called Brocoli Guisado (stewed broccoli). Normally, in our family, we served it with rice. Once in a while we substituted spaghetti for the rice. In the version given below we served it with penne pasta and black olives, topped with grated cheese. Let me add you can substitute any preferred pasta be it noodles or shells. Your choice. The dish makes for an inexpensive and filling vegetarian dinner that even carnivores will love. We’ve come a long ways from Spanish Harlem but this dish, then and now, is a winner. With some crusty bread and a good wine, preferably Chianti, it can’t be beat.

Note that this dish includes that archetypical Puerto Rican flavoring, sofrito. Today you can find sofrito in almost any store or supermarket. It’s become ubiquitous. In our family, we still make it from scratch. If you need a good recipe, you can go to my post of 11/08/10, or my video on Spanish Rice (07/11/14). If all else fails, then substitute 2 teaspoons turmeric and add a chicken bouillon cube to the sauce.

(Sauced Broccoli)


1 bunch fresh broccoli
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
9 whole black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2½  cups tomato sauce
1 tablespoon sofrito
½ cup black olives, halved
Grated Parmesan cheese or cheese of choice


  1. Wash broccoli under cold running water.
  2. Curt off the florets and chop the top half of the stems into small bite-sized pieces.
  3.  Put garlic, oregano, peppercorns and salt in a mortar. Pound with a pestle until crushed. Add olive oil and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add seasoning and broccoli to a large skillet or frying pan. Stir fry for 2 minutes over medium high heat. Add 3 tablespoons water and cook for 3 minutes more or until water evaporates.
  5.  Add tomato sauce and stir in sofrito. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover pan and simmer until broccoli is tender, about 8-10 minutes.
  6.  Add olives, stir to combine, and serve immediately with penne or rice. If using pasta, top with grated cheese.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.


One of my favorite meals is lamb chops. Thus I’m always looking for unique ways to prepare it. Well, it so happens that I still have  some fresh rosemary left from my summer garden. So, I came up with this recipe. It’s really simple: lamb cooked with the aforementioned rosemary,  some parsley, wine and butter. I also coupled it with one of my favorite grains, farro, that high-protein, high-fiber ancient grain that is similar to barley and is very prominent in the Mediterranean diet. I particularly like its nutty flavor and chewy texture. Farro is relatively easy to cook. Just rinse 1 cup farro in cold water before cooking. Add 2 cups water to a pot or saucepan and bring to a boil. Add farro, cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 25 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. As you can see, it cooks just like rice. And like rice, I like to add a chicken bouillon cube to the water or cook it in  chicken broth. Let me add, it goes great with lamp chops cooked with rosemary.



4 lamb chops about 1½-inches thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoon minced fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
¼ cup red wine
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan or skillet and brown chops over medium-high heat. Turn heat to low and cook to desired doneness, about 7 minutes per side for medium. Remove  to a warm platter.
  2. Add rosemary, parsley and wine to original pan. Heat to boiling and reduce slightly. Stir in butter. Return lamb to pan, and coat with sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at once.
    Yield: 4 servings.



Rice and beans, whether it’s Arroz con Habicuelas in Puerto Rican cuisine or Arroz con Frijoles in Mexican cooking, is a common staple. Can’t go wrong with it: rice has the carbohydrates and beans have the protein. An inexpensive,  convenient and healthy meal. Thus I’m always on the lookout for something similar in other cultures. That’s when I came across Greek Style Beans combined with Greek rice, or pilafia. In this case, rice pilaf with onion (pilafi me kremmithakia).

Note that in the recipe given, I use dry white beans, which have to be soaked in water overnight. You can cut corners (and cheat) by using canned white beans but, my friends, it just won’t taste the same.   Go the extra mile and soak the suckers then cook. You won’t regret it.  Also, I topped everything with Greek Kalamata olives. This is optional, but it does enhance the dish.



2 cups small white beans
¼ cup olive oil
2 scallions, chopped
¼ teaspoon coriander powder or dried oregano
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Soak beans overnight and drain. Cover with fresh water by at least 2 inches. Bring to boil, lower heat and cook, covered, over moderate-low heat until beans are tender but not mushy (about 1 hour).
  2.  Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Cook for 10 minutes longer. Serve with Rice Pilaf with Onion (see recipe below).
    Yield: 4 servings.



2 tablespoons olive oil
1¼ cup long-grain rice
2 cups chicken broth or 2 cups hot water  and 2 teaspoons chicken broth granules
½ cup chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup kalamata olives, halved (optional)


  1. Wash rice at least 3 times in cold water and drain to rid it of starch. What in Pennsylvania Dutch country is know as “washing in several waters.”
  2.  Heat oil in a medium-sized pot or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the rice and cook until golden in color, stirring occasionally.
  3.  Meanwhile, heat the chicken broth to boiling. Add the chicken broth to the rice, plus the onion and garlic. Cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed (about 30 minutes). Fluff the rice with a fork, served with the beans and topped with the kalamata olives.
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