Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: all (page 1 of 56)

LAMB SHOULDER ROAST

In the Puerto Rican cooking pantheon one of the most renowned dishes is Pernil or Roast Pork Shoulder. It is a holiday treat usually served with rice and pigeon peas. Recently we had a lamb shoulder on hand, and the idea occurred to prepare it the same we do pernil; and it came out great.

Since this is lamb and not pork, I tweaked it a bit by adding herbs that would enhance the natural flavor of lamb. Also, I added assorted vegetables along with a broth that contains either red wine or rum. The red wine gives it a milder flavor, the rum gives it a sweeter flavor, your choice. Still, the recipe adheres to our Nuyorican tradition. So, if you want that special dinner, this is it. Family and guests will love you for for it.

LAMB SHOULDER ROAST (Nuyorican Version)

Ingredients:

Lamb Shoulder Roast, 3½-4pounds
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into slivers
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh chopped marjoram or1 teaspoon dried
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
½ cup red wine or dark rum
3 onions, peeled and cut into wedge
3 zucchini (yellow or green or a combination of both), cut into ½-inch chunks
½ cabbage, rinsed, patted dry and cut into wedges
bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed and patted dry

Instructions:

  1. Wash lamb under cold running water, and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  With a sharp knife make various slits in the fat and meat of the shoulder. Stud the slits with garlic slivers.
  3.  Sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper. Combine 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and turmeric and brush the lamb with the mixture.  Season with the oregano, dill and marjoram. Place in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  4.  Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive  oil in a large skillet or fry pan. Sear lamb over high heat on all sides.  Lower heat to medium, pour in wine or rum. Bring liquid to boil, cover and simmer (on medium-low heat) for 45 minutes. Arrange  onions, zucchini and cabbage around lamb and simmer, covered, for another ½ hour. Stir in spinach and cook 5 minutes more.
    Yield: 4 servings.

WILD MUSHROOM SAUTE

I came across some wild mushrooms recently, and decided to do a sauté with the suckers.

Wild mushrooms are a variety of mushrooms that are not cultivated commercially, but are gathered in the wild, such as morel and chanterelle. They have a strong earthy scent and more flavor than cultivated mushrooms. Their mild, peppery taste is prized by chefs. They are excellent when sautéed and are often paired with pasta dishes.

The recipe given is quick and easy; and it takes less than 20 minutes to prepare. This time around we served it with couscous and it made for a great vegetarian meal that even meat lovers will love.

WILD MUSHROOM SAUTÉ

Ingredients:

3 teaspoons olive oil
1 shallot, peeled and finely chopped
3 cups wild mushrooms, washed. cleaned and sliced
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
½ cup chicken broth
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet or saucepan. Add shallot and cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add mushrooms, thyme, oregano, and sauté for about 30 seconds.
  2.  Add chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes or until mushrooms are softened.
    Yield: 4 servings.

Salmon Salade

Yep, another salad. Hey, it’s still hot out there. This time we have salmon salad (I call it ‘Salmon Salade’ to give it a continental twist—even though the salmon comes from a can). A very simple rendition, this one. Just take favorite herbs, mix it with mayo and mustard and that’s it. With a crusty loaf or even over rice, quinoa or pasta, it makes for a fine summer dish.

SALMON SALADE

Ingredients:

1 (14-oz.) can wild caught Alaskan salmon
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon mustard, preferably Dijon
1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill or ½ teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro or ½ teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon chopped onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup olives (either black olives, Kalamata olives or pimento stuffed olives)
Salad greens or fresh spinach leaves
cherry tomatoes for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, mix salmon, mayo, mustard and herbs. Stir in olive oil and olives.
  2.  Place salad greens or spinach on a serving platter and top with the salmon.. Garnish with tomatoes (and peach slices, if desired) and  serve.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.

 

 

SALADE Ὰ LA CRÈME

 

Global warming is still with us and our eating habits have changed accordingly. More nutritious light meals is the norm, and the recipe given today reflects that fact. A classical salad dressing that enhances any veggie combination. What we offer is Salade à la Crème. A basic translation would be ‘cream salad.’ Simple enough: combine pepper, salt, red wine vinegar, cream and olive oil, and serve over greens or any vegetable of your choice. In this case we opted for zucchini, tomatoes and smoked turkey on a bed of spinach topped with stuffed Spanish green olives,. You can add, change or modify the ingredients to suit your palate. As I’ve said times before, you’re only limited by your imagination.

SALADE Ὰ LA CRÈME

Ingredients:

1 (5-oz.) package fresh spinach
3 zucchini, washed and sliced thin
18-20 cherry tomatoes, slice in half
1 (7-oz.) pack turkey breasts (smoked or oven roasted)
1/3 cup pimento stuffed Spanish olives, sliced in half

Salad Dressing:
4 teaspoons red wine vinegar
5 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Rinse spinach under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels or salad spinner.
  2. In a salad platter, arrange spinach in a circle. Add zucchini and garnish with tomatoes. Layer with turkey breasts and stuffed olives
  3. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, cream, pepper and salt. Beat with a whisk for 20-30 seconds. The mixture should be creamy and foamy. Add olive oil and mix with a spoon to blend. Drizzle dressing over salad and serve.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.

CUCUMBER SALAD

It’s been a hot, gruesome summer in most places and the idea of cooking over a stove is anathema to most, even with air conditioning. The Cucumber Salad recipe we have today will improve the situation. It’s a chilled cucumber salad, no fusing with cooking. Now, some  would never consider cucumbers for a salad dish. Cucumbers are normally relegated to a sometime appetizer, if that. This dish transforms it to a savory lunch or even main course for a hot humid day. It’s perfect with lots of bread. You can garnish it with tomatoes or eggs or anchovies, or  whatever else is available on the cupboard. Take a bite out of summer with this easy and unique cucumber salad.

CUCUMBER SALAD

Ingredients:

3 cucumbers
Salt to taste
1 quart sour cream
fresh finely chopped dill, about a 3 tablespoons or as much as you want
Juice from ½ lemon

Instructions:

  1. Peel cucumbers and slice thin. Add lots of salt, place in refrigerator and leave there to chill until serving.
  2.  Mix dill with sour cream.  Stir in lemon juice. Place in fridge till just before serving.
  3.  Tale cucumbers and drain extra water from dish. Mix cucumber with the sour cream dressing and serve.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.

 

 

 

 

 

GRILLED SALMON WITH CAJUN SPICE MIX

I am a fan of Cajun cooking. Have been since the first time in my youth when I first heard Hank William’s ode to Cajun eats, the song  ‘Jambalaya.’ A little history first: ‘Cajun’ cuisine originated with the Acadians, French settlers who immigrated to Canada in the early 17th century and lived in what is known today as the Maritime Provinces, primarily Nova Scotia. Their cuisine, at the time, was inspired by rural French cooking. Then, in 1755, after refusing to swear allegiance to the British crown, most of them were deported to Louisiana, where they set up roots again and incorporated into their cooking most of the ingredients found in the South, which included crab, oysters, crawfish, bell peppers, and spices such as black pepper and cayenne. Add to that, influences from Spanish, Native American and African-American cooking, and you have the mix of Cajun cuisine today.

Cajun cuisine can be very spicy or mild, depending upon the ingredients and how much you use. For instance, in the recipe given, I prefer a hot, spicy rub. My wife prefers it mild. So, again, let your palette be your guide. I make enough spice mix to last me for a while, and leftovers can be stored as you would any spice or salad dressing.

Also, the recipe calls for a dry rub. I tweak it by adding olive oil to the salmon. I find it enhances the flavor.

GRILLED SALMON WITH CAJU N SPICE MIX

Ingredients:

4 salmon fillets, about 8-9 ounces each or 4 salmon steaks, about 1-inch thick
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
1 tablespoon celery seed
5 bay leaves
3 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon died oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Wash fillets or steaks under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  In a mortar, crush peppercorns, cumin seeds, mustard seeds. Crumble the bay leaves with your fingers and add to mortar. Crush it until it mixes all together. If you have a large mortar, add paprika, cayenne oregano and thyme. If not, then mix everything in a small bowl.
  3. Season the salmon with the spice mix, and then brush with olive oil  Heat grill to medium , about 370 degrees to 400 degrees F. Grill salmon on each side until seared and golden. If using fillets, cook skin side first for 4 minutes. Turn and cook 4 minutes more. Note that both  sides should show grill marks. If using salmon steaks, grill 4-5 minutes per side. Grill the salmon over direct heat with the grill closed. Remove  from heat and serve with lemon wedges, if desired.
    Yield: 4 servings.

GRILLED LEG OF LAMB

This recipe could be called grilled half leg of lamb since that’s what I used this time for the lamb. I happened to have a half leg on hand, and it seemed a perfect summer day for grilling. Let me add that, in the recipe given, you can also used a butterflied leg of lamb. Let’s say 4-pound butterfly leg.  Note that when grilling the lamb, use indirect heating so that it doesn’t char and the interior cooks to perfection.

GRILLED LEG OF LAMB

Ingredients:

Half leg of lamb, about 2-2½ pounds
1 cup dry red wine
2 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Wash lamb under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels
  2. In a bowl,  whisk together the red wine, garlic, rosemary, mustard and olive oil. Put the red wine mixture and the lamb in a greaseable plastic bag.  Turn the bag several times to be sure all the lamb is coated with the liquid. Refrigerate overnight.
  3.  Preheat the grill to indirect heating. If using coals, arrange them in a circle, leaving the middle empty. If using a gas grill,  light the burners on one side of the grill.
  4.  Remove the lamb from the bag and discard the leftover liquid. Generously season the lamb with salt and pepper.
  5.  Place the lamb on the grill away from direct heat, either in the center of coals or on the opposite side of the grill. Close the lid. Cook the lamb until a thermometer registers 140 degrees F. in the center of the meat, or to desired doneness, about 10 to 15 minutes per side.
  6.  Remove lamb from the grill and let it rest on a serving platter for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with favorite grilled vegetables such as zucchini and/or potatoes.
    Yield: r4 servings.

ENSALADA DE HONGO Y ACEITUNAS (Mushroom and Olives Salad)

Simmer time is salad time, especially when the thermometer rises and the thought of turning on the stove is anathema to most mortals (even with air conditioning). Following that vein, here is a quick Nuyorican salad that was popular back on the block. If you like mushrooms, this salad is it. Simply, it’s mushrooms mixed with pimento stuffed Spanish olives and herbs. With a crusty loaf of bread and a light wine (or light red, if that’s you preference) it’s a luscious summertime lunch or dinner.

ENSALADA DE HONGO Y ACEITUNAS
(Mushroom and Olives Salad)

Ingredients:

1 pound mushrooms of your choice, washed and thinly sliced
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 teaspoon fresh chopped cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme or ¼ teaspoon dried
Black ground pepper to taste
½ cup pimento stuffed Spanish olives
1 bay leaf
Lettuce or spinach leaves for salad plate

Instructions:

  1. Place mushrooms in a bowl. Add olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, cilantro, thyme and pepper. Mix well.
  2. Add olives and bay leaf. Toss to blend and refrigerate for ½ hour.
  3. Discard bay leaf and make a bed of crisp lettuce or spinach on a serving platter. Spoon mushroom olive mix on top.
    Yield: 4 servings.

SALMÓN EMPANADO (Broiled Salmon)

This recipe is one of the easiest ways to prepare salmon, be it salmon fillets or salmon steaks. It was immensely popular with our family when  I was growing up back on the block in Spanish Harlem. It is also very versatile in that if you want to cut corners even more, you can skip the bread crumbs given in the recipe and broil the salmon as is with the condiments. But I like the crunchiness the crumbs bring to the dish.

It should be noted that I broil my salmon fairly close to the heat source, about 2-3 inches. Thus the initial broiling time is cut down to no more than 6-7 minutes. It should also be noted that this is one of the recipes included  in my first cookbook Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Running Press).

Ingredients:

4 salmon fillets, about 6 ounces each
(Note: if using salmon steaks, they should be about ½-inch thick)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tablespoons Puerto Rican rum, light or dark (your choice)
½ cup light bread crumbs

Instructions:

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2.  Rinse salmon fillets and pat dry with paper towels.
  3.  Brush both sides of fillets with olive oil. Place in a slightly greased broiler pan (we prefer cast-iron).
  4.  In a small bowl, combine  butter, salt, pepper, garlic, rum and bread crumbs.
  5.  Put half of bread crumb mixture on top of salmon (skin side), and broil  2-3 inches from hear source for 3 minutes.
  6.  Carefully turn over salmon with a spatula. Put on the remaining crumb mixture. Broil 4 minutes longer.
    Yield: 4 servings.

SAUCED CUALIFLOWER AND SPINACH

I happened to have some cauliflower and spinach on hand. So, what to do with it? I thought, how about cooking the suckers in a nice sauce? And the dish came out superb.

This is what I call a one dish meal. I find it’s best cooked in a wok. If you don’t have a wok, then a large skillet or frypan will do. It’s a simple enough project. Just make a nice white sauce, add the cauliflower and seasonings (inclusive of turmeric), cook some more, then finish with the spinach. The dish can be served over rice, quinoa, farro or pasta of choice. This time around we combined it with Israeli (or pearl) couscous. It made for a fabulous vegetarian meal that even carnivores will love.

SAUCED CAULIFLOWER AND SPINACH

Ingredients:

Half a stick butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken or beef bouillon
2 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 head cauliflower cut into florets
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups fresh chopped spinach

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in wok or skillet over medium heat. Add flour and stir until smooth. Add chicken bouillon and cook, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes until it makes a creamy sauce. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  2.  Mix in cauliflower florets, salt, pepper, oregano and turmeric. Cover and cook about 10 minutes or until florets are fork tender.
  3. Stir in spinach and cook 2 minutes more. Serve immediately over couscous or preferred grain.
    Yield: 4 servings.

 

 

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