Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: miscellaneous (page 1 of 2)

ROSEMARY-OLIVE FOCACCIA

When the precooked package pizza crust came out years go, it was a game changer. Now you could have ready-made pizza without the bother of having to make pizza dough, which was a challenge in itself depending on the ingredients used.  This was a quick, easy solution to a common problem. I became an instant convert and, ever since, have been  making all types of pizza toppings. My favorite is the classic Pizza Margherita with fresh basil, home made sauce,  olive oil  and cheese. But I’m constantly experimenting.

I am also a fan of focaccia, the flat oven-baked Italian bread product similar to pizza dough. In Italy, focaccia is served as an antipasto, appetizer or a sandwich. My favorite focaccia dish is Focaccia  al Rosmarino or simply, rosemary-olive table bread. Then inspiration struck: why not use the same ingredients with ready-made pizza crust? The result is my version of Rosemary-Olive Focaccia. Admittedly, a  shortcut process. The only difference with the recipe is that focaccia is usually made in the form of a big square or rectangle. In my creation you get regular pizza slices.

ROSEMARY-OLIVE FOCACCIA

Ingredients:

1 ready made pizza crust (like the Boboli brand)
3 tablespoons olive oil
¾ cup (or more) grated Parmesan cheese (can use Asiago or Romano cheese, if desired)
6 Kalamata olives (or any black olives), pitted and quartered
4 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into strips
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
Fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Rub 1 tablespoon olive oil over top of pizza crust. Sprinkle with ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Place in oven (in an oven proof pan) and bake until cheese begins to brown.
  3.  Arrange olives, sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary and garlic atop pizza crust. Sprinkle enough remaining Parmesan cheese to cover lightly. Drizzle with remaining olive oil
  4.  Continue baking until cheese melts and crust is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven, cut into slices and serve.
    Yield:  servings.

HANGOVER CURES FOR THE NEW YEAR – AGAIN

My brain is melting into my feet.”
—Mel Brooks

 

New Year’s Eve is upon us, and I celebrate by posting my famed Hangover Cures For The New Year once more. Believe me, folks, I’ve been though it.  So here is my treatise, again.

New Year’s revels have been with us since the beginning, and so have hangovers cures. The ancient Romans recommended eating deep fried canaries as a sure-fire cure. The ancient Libyans quaffed a mixture of sea-water and wine. The ancient Greeks recommended eating sheep’s lungs. The ancient Chinese swore that eating horse’s brains was the cure. In the 1800s in the U.S. it was thought that soaking your feet in mustard would do it. Among our Irish brethren it was thought that burying the person up to the neck in moist river sand would generate a cure.

Today in Mexico the national cure is menudo, a broth made of boiled tripe. In Haiti, it’s sticking 13 black-headed pins in the cork of the bottle you drank from that will deliver you from the hangover. In Puerto Rico, at one time, it was said that rubbing a lemon under your drinking arm would be the cure. In Poland, it is still recommended that drinking pickle juice is a good remedy (I would think twice about that one). A more modern cure among scuba divers is taking a blast from an oxygen tank. Some say a steam sauna is the best way to get rid of a hangover. But what if you don’t have access to a sauna?

My experience with hangovers comes from my wild and misspent youth when I was known for more than my share of imbibing. The following remedies are what I consider to be tried and true options, as far as the primordial hangover is concerned.

1. Drink plenty of fluids. Booze dehydrates you. Replenish your system with fruit juices and water. Orange juice with its vitamin C content is especially good.
2. Take a hot shower. This relaxes constricted blood vessels and tense neck muscles.
3. Avoid caffeine. It dehydrates you more. Drinking black coffee will probably make you sicker.
4. Tray good ole Alka Seltzer the next morning. Avoid aspirin, Tylenol or Ibruprofen. Aspirin is a blood thinner, and just like alcohol it can intensify the affects of a hangover. Tylenol (acetamoniphen) can adversely affect the liver. Ibuprofen can cause stomach bleeding.
5. Sweat it out. Exercise the toxins out of your system. But beware that too strenuous exercise may dehydrate you more. I do a series of breathing exercises from our Kung-Fu Wu-Su system called 8 silk weaving. This is marvelous for easing a hangover.
6. Pop some vitamins. B vitamins (especially B6) help the body metabolize alcohol. B vitamin supplements also provide a boost of energy. Vitamin C helps detoxify the body naturally, reducing the affects of the poisons in your system.
7. Ginkgo Biloba (ginkgo seeds) is considered a good herbal remedy since ginkgo contains an enzyme that speed up the body’s metabolism of alcohol.
8. Drink skullcap tea made from an herb (skullcap) that eases withdrawal from the alcohol. It can be found in capsule or tablets in health food stores. I like skullcap tea sweetened with pure, raw organic honey. Believe me, you’ll feel better in an hour or so.
9. Another good tea drink is peppermint. The mint contains antioxidants which is a natural stomach soothener and digestive aid.
10. Ginseng tea or ginseng root (steeped in hot water) soothes the stomach and helps with stomach troubles (endemic to hangovers). I prefer Korean Panax ginseng tea (which contains fructose).
11. Which leads us to the next cure, fructose (or fruit sugar), which speeds the body’s metabolism of alcohol by 25%. Or try putting some raw honey in your tea (it’s more than 40% fructose). Recall that among old time bartenders the favored hangover remedy was just honey in hot water.

If nothing works you can always try the time honored “Hair of the Dog.” That is, having a shot on booze, preferably gin or vodka. Something about the blood stream dealing with the new alcohol and thus ignoring the old alcohol, and the hangover in your system. For the record, I have never tried this, and I don’t think I ever will. And then there’s offering prayers to Saint Viviana, patron saints of drunkards and, concurrently, hangovers.

But my best hangover cure of all is simply, rest, peace, and quiet. Just sleep it off.

That time of year again; and again I post my famed Hangover Cures for the New Year.  The post is based on research and experience.  Believe me, friends, I’ve been through it.  My wild and misspent youth speaks for itself. I no longer indulge in New Year’s Eve festivities. I’ve had enough of those days. In fact, in one memorable New Year’s Eve party, I was thrown out a window—but that’s anther story  Be t as it may, for those who still over-indulge, here is my treatise—again.

BORICUA MINT JULEP

In the summer, in Vermont, the place alive with fresh mint. It grows on the side of the road, in most gardens and woods. Apart from cooking with it, I also use mint when preparing that  southern favorite, a Mint Julep. Most of us know of the Mint Julep as a drink associated with the Kentucky derby, where it has been served since 1938.   To everyone it is known as a bourbon-based cocktail. Guess what? It wasn’t always so.  Do your research and you’ll discover that the true mint julep was a “morning tonic” that Virginia gentlemen imbibed in the 18th century. It’s ingredients were rum, (yes,rum), water and fresh mint.

Being Puerto Rican, I am a partisan of rum. Thus, when I prepare a mint julep, that is beverage that I use. The reason that bourbon replaced rum in the Republic is that Senator Henry Clay who, before the Civil War, was known as the “Great Compromiser” for his efforts to evade that catastrophe, became a walking billboard for bourbon. He came from Kentucky and he avidly promoted his native product, which he substituted for the rum.  It is noted that he introduced the bourbon version to Washington  D.C., at the famous Willard Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue.  Advertising like that can’t be beat.

No, I have nothing against Henry Clay, great patriot that he was. I just prefer the traditional rum version. Used with dark rum, it has a more refined, mellow taste. I cal it my ” Boricua Mint Julep.” Check the recipe given below, and judge for yourself. And, always, please drink responsibly.

BORICUA MINT JULEP

Ingredients:

12 fresh stemmed mint leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
2½ ounces dark rum
cracked ice
Fresh or carbonated water
5 or 6 sprigs fresh mint for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a tall Collins glass (10-14 oz), gently mix the 12 mint leaves with the sugar and 2 teaspoons of water.
  2.  Pack the glass with ice and fill with rum and equal parts water.
  3.  Garnish with the sprigs of mint so that the tops are about 2 inches above the rim of the glass. If preferred, you can serve with 2 short straws.
    Yield: 1 Boricua cocktail.

 

 

QUICK PIZZA MARGHERITA

Who doesn’t like pizza? We all do.  Because it’s probably the healthiest fast food there is.  Today’ recipe mirrors that with the quickest, most delicious recipe that you can make at home in a jiff.  Historically, it’s the oldest pizza dish there is. So, you’ll be making not only a delicious dish, but one filled with history. Pizza Margherita  traces its origin to the late 18th century. It was popular in Naples by the 1830’s. It was the typical Neopolitan pizza made with tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oil. It’s still the most popular pizza style in the region.

And you can make it at home with no effort at all. I like convenience, so the trick is to use ready made pizza crust like the ones made by the Boboli brand. Which can be found in most stores these days. They carry thin crust, original pizza crust, and 100% whole wheat, which is the one I prefer. But, if you have the time, and desire, you can prepare your own pizza crust.

This is the recipe that I saw prepared in countless bistros in Napoli. I tweaked it a bit in that I added garlic for more oomph. You can skip the garlic if desired. It ain’t fancy. There’s no pepperoni, anchovies, chicken, pineapple rings as in so-called Hawaiian pizza, or any of that stuff.  Most important of all, it’s home-made. So, forget Domino’s, Pizza Hut,  Little Caesar’s, et all.  This is the original. The genuine product as served in Naples.  It won’t disappoint.

QUICK MARGHERITA PIZZA

Ingredients:

1 Boboli pizza crust (I prefer whole wheat)
¾ cup marinara sauce, home made or store bought
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup (or more) thinly sliced mozzarella cheese
1 package basil leaves, rinsed and pat dry with paper towels

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Place the crust on a pizza stone, tiles, or large sheet of aluminum foil. Pour the sauce over the crust. Using the back of the spoon, spread it evenly over the surface, stopping about ½-inch from the edges.
3. Sprinkle the garlic over the sauce; and drizzle the olive oil over the pie.
4. Spread the mozzarella slices over the sauce; and scatter the basil leaves on top. Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes (or until the cheese is bubbling).
Yield: 3-4 servings.

 

 

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. One example is the Indian mix called garam masala which is also used as a base flavoring. Or kimchi, the fermented cabbage condiment, so popular in Korean cooking. The word sofrito is a generic term that has no correct English translation. “Frito” in Spanish means fried. Sofrito could be taken to mean stir-fried. Although this would not be entirely accurate. As the recipe shows, sofrito can be whipped up in a few moments’ time in a blender or food processor. And it can be stored in a closed tight jar the refrigerator for three to four days or, in the freezer compartment, indefinitely.
Continue reading

Cooking with Garlic

Back in January 2010 I did a post on the wonders of garlic, inclusive of a recipe, Chicken with Garlic Sauce, which called for 12 garlic cloves in the ingredients. That’s right, twelve. Now, you’re saying to yourself, Twelve garlic cloves? This Rican is crazy. And, yes, guilty as charged—for garlic. I’ve decided to revisit this wondrous perennial. One can never go wrong or tire of garlic. It was use as a medicinal herb in Ancient Egypt. Greek warriors ate garlic before a battle (it increased their physical strength). Slaves ate garlic while building the pyramids since it enhanced their endurance. Think of that the next time you see the movie version of The Ten Commandments while Charlton Heston and company struggle to erect the pyramid tomb of Sethi.

It’s common knowledge that garlic promotes cardiovascular health. It has a high Vitamin C content, and prevents the accumulation of LDL (bad) cholestteral in the arteries. But more, it can reduce the chance of developing common cancers like breast and colon cancer. So, what’s there not to like about it? Yeah, I know, you’re saying, How am I gonna kiss my significan other after eating garlic? Get over it. If she or he doesn’t like it, get another partner

Cooking with garlic is the easiest thing. Crushed, chopped, minced or roasted, it gives a marvelous flavor and depth to any dish. A little garlic goes a long way, but a lot of garlic, to my mind, is better. Yes, I am a fanatic when it comes to the glorious bulb. But, as the following recipes show, garlic can enhance any dish, transforming it into a softer, sweeter, nutty-like rendition. And, you’ll never have to worry about vampires invading your home.

GARLIC BUTTER

Combine one stick melted butter with 3 cloves finely minced garlic over medium heat until the butter absorbs the garlic. Stir in one teaspoon chopped parsley, and that’s it. Great for eggs, omelets, brushed on bread or warm biscuits; or spread over steamed or baked fish, or cooked chicken. Even a juicy steak will benefit from garlic butter.

GARLIC OIL

Heat 1/2 cup sunflower oil in a small pan. Add 3 cloves crushed garlic. Cook, strring gently. for about 5 minutes until garlic is lightly golden. Do not let garlic burn or it will turn bitter. Cool, strain, and use oil as a flavoring or for frying. Very popular in Asian dishes.

GARLIC SAUCE

This is very popular in Greek cuisine. In a blender or food processor, blend 4 cloves garlic, crushed; 2-3 slices bread, soaked on water, 1/2 cup olive oil; juice of half a lemon; 1 tablespoon white vinegar; salt and ground black peppper to taste. In some recipes they add 1 cup mashed potatoes for greater consistency. Your choice. This sauce is great with cold or hot meat or fish dishes. If you like it stronger, you can add more garlic.

GARLIC POTATOES

2 pounds Idaho or Yokon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, washed and scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch
   wedges
6 tablespoons olive oil
5 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme or tarragon

1. Place potato wedges in a pan with about 1&1/2-inch water. Bring water to a boil, cover, lower heat and steam until wedges are very tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a large pan or skillet, heat 5 tablespoons olive oil over low heat. Add garlic and sauté unitl golden, about 5-6 minutes.   
3. Add potatoes and thyme (or tarragon) to pan or skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about a minute more. Drizzle with ramianing olive oil and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.

OMELET WITH GARLIC

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
6 eggs, beaten
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 cup mushrooms (button, shitake, or portobello), thinly sliced
1/2 cup grater cheddar or Swiss cheese

1. Heat oil in medium non-stick pan or skillet over moderate heat. Manwhile, mix salt and pepper with eggs. Add to pan and cook until top begins to set.
2. Add garlic, mushroons, and cheese. Place a lid on the pan to help the top part of the omelet to cook.
3. Starting from the edge of the pan, use a spatula to fold one-third of the omelet toward center of the pan and cointinue until the omelet is roll-shaped. Cook for about 1 minute more; and slide the omelet off the pan onto a serving platter.
    Yoeld: 4 servings.

SHRIMP WITH GARLIC SAUCE

1 pound medium sized shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Lemon wedges for garmish

1. Combine shrimp, olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl or a large ziplock bag. Stir to conbine, cover (if using bowl), and marinate in the refrigerator overnight or, for at least 4 hours.
2, Heat a pan or skillet (I prefer cast-iron) on medium heat. Add butter and, when sizzling, add shrimp. Cook until pinkish red. More garlic can be added, if desired, during cooking (but don’t let the garlic burn).  Serve with lemion wedges
    Yield 3-4 servings.
Note : This dish is great with steamed white rice.

 

Hangover Cures for the New Year: Revisted

My brain is melting into my feet.”

—Mel Brooks

It’s that time of year again, kiddies. New Year’s is just around the corner; and you know what that means: the perpetual New Year’s eve hangover. Yes, New Year’s revels have been with us since the beginning, and so have hangovers cures. The ancient Romans recommended eating deep fried canaries as a sure-fire cure. The ancient Libyans quaffed a mixture of sea-water and wine. The ancient Greeks recommended eating sheep’s lungs. The ancient Chinese swore that eating horse’s brains was the cure. In the 1800s in the U.S. it was thought that soaking your feet in mustard would do it. Among our Irish brethren it was thought that burying the person up to the neck in moist river sand would generate a cure.

Today in Mexico the national cure is menudo, a broth made of boiled tripe. In Haiti, it’s sticking 13 black-headed pins in the cork of the bottle you drank from that will deliver you from the hangover. In Puerto Rico, at one time, it was said that rubbing a lemon under your drinking arm would be the cure. In Poland, it is still recommended that drinking pickle juice is a good remedy (I would think twice about that one). A more modern cure among scuba divers is taking a blast from an oxygen tank. Some say a steam sauna is the best way to get rid of a hangover. But what if you don’t have access to a sauna?

My experience with hangovers comes from my wild and misspent youth when I was known for more than my share of imbibing. The following remedies are what I consider to be tried and true options, as far as the primordial hangover is concerned.

1. Drink plenty of fluids. Booze dehydrates you. Replenish your system with fruit juices and water. Orange juice with its vitamin C content is especially good.
2. Take a hot shower. This relaxes constricted blood vessels and tense neck muscles.
3. Avoid caffeine. It dehydrates you more. Drinking black coffee will probably make you sicker.
4. Tray good ole Alka Seltzer the next morning. Avoid aspirin, Tylenol or Ibruprofen. Aspirin is a blood thinner, and just like alcohol it can intensify the affects of a hangover. Tylenol (acetamoniphen) can adversely affect the liver. Ibuprofen can cause stomach bleeding.
5. Sweat it out. Exercise the toxins out of your system. But beware that too strenuous exercise may dehydrate you more. I do a series of breathing exercises from our Kung-Fu Wu-Su system called 8 silk weaving. This is marvelous for easing a hangover.
6. Pop some vitamins. B vitamins (especially B6) help the body metabolize alcohol. B vitamin supplements also provide a boost of energy. Vitamin C helps detoxify the body naturally, reducing the affects of the poisons in your system.
7. Ginkgo Biloba (ginkgo seeds) is considered a good herbal remedy since ginkgo contains an enzyme that speed up the body’s metabolism of alcohol.
8. Drink skullcap tea made from an herb (skullcap) that eases withdrawal from the alcohol. It can be found in capsule or tablets in health food stores. I like skullcap tea sweetened with pure, raw organic honey. Believe me, you’ll feel better in an hour or so.
9. Another good tea drink is peppermint. The mint contains antioxidants which is a natural stomach soothener and digestive aid.
10. Ginseng tea or ginseng root (steeped in hot water) soothes the stomach and helps with stomach troubles (endemic to hangovers). I prefer Korean Panax ginseng tea (which contains fructose).
11. Which leads us to the next cure, fructose (or fruit sugar), which speeds the body’s metabolism of alcohol by 25%. Or try putting some raw honey in your tea (it’s more than 40% fructose). Recall that among old time bartenders the favored hangover remedy was just honey in hot water.

If nothing works you can always try the time honored “Hair of the Dog.” That is, having a shot on booze, preferably gin or vodka. Something about the blood stream dealing with the new alcohol and thus ignoring the old alcohol, and the hangover in your system. For the record, I have never tried this, and I don’t think I ever will. And then there’s offering prayers to Saint Viviana, patron saints of drunkards and, concurrently, hangovers.

But my best hangover cure of all is simply, rest, peace, and quiet. Just sleep it off.

The Rap Against Merlot – Why?

Recently at a local wine shop, while perusing for some favorites, I came across a Merlot that was on sale. By sale, I mean, an actual SALE. Bottles were going for $4.99. I said, What? $4.99? This must be some mistake—and who would buy this stuff?  Probably it’s a Chateau East River Plonk 2015 that’s as tasteful as urine. I reasoned the owner of the store just wanted to get rid of the leftover Merlot in his cellar. After all, who drinks Merlot these days?

That is true. “Mer—lot” (as the guys back on the block once called it) has gotten a bad rap lately. And to which I must admit I had fallen victim to. In my circle, high or low, most acquaintances do not drink that much Merlot anymore. It may have to do with changing tastes, fashion, new lifestyles, whatever. It wasn’t always so. Back in the, seventies, eighties, and even into the nineties, Merlot, I recall, was a popular wine to drink. Along with Chardonnay, it was the go-to varietal most people cotton to whether at a party or a restaurant. Then, as suddenly, it fell out of favor. People (and  by that, I mean mainly Americans) began discovering Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and, most recently, Malbec. Merlot became the also-ran. “Sophisticates” began spurn it. To be honest, it didn’t help that winemakers (mainly from California), impress by the initial demand for Merlot, began flooding the market with wine of inferior quality. But the final nail in the coffin came with the release in 2004 of the movie Sideways. It it, wine snob Miles Raymond, played by Paul Giamatti, in one of the movie’s key scenes, goes into a diatribe on Merlot: “If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving. I’m not drinking any fucking Merlot!” I have to admit, I stopped drinking Merlot after that.

Now, here I was faced by this $4.99 ogre. I said to myself, This must suck a big one if they’re selling it for five bucks. Then I noticed that it came from Chile, not California. It was a Carta Vieja 2013 Merlot from the Loncomilla Valley—which is one of central Chile’s great viticultural regions. It has some of the better vineyards around and makes great quality wines. I figured, How bad can this wine be? As I discovered later, it happens to be the second most popular wine from the Loncomilla. I decided to buy it. If nothing else, I could use it as a cooking wine. Imagine my surprise when I tasted it. The wine had flavors of plum and raspberries. It was full and balanced, and expressive on the palate with notes of vanilla and caramel. Wow! Not bad for an East River plonk.

I began to rethink my conception of Merlot. If a cheapo could be this good, imagine what a higher premium Merlot could be like?—even from California. I started out seeking various offerings. And  again, was pleasantly surprise at Merlot’s pedigree. I began with Chile again, with the Los Rosales Chapel Vineyard Reserve 2010 Merlot from one of the oldest estates in Chile. A fabulous wine, silky and smooth with a spicy aroma and fruit-filled finish. Then on to the Patriots 2009 Merlot from Chile’s Maipo Valley, floral with fruit aromas and a velvety taste that goes great with a juicy steak. Then on to California with a Pinegrove 2010 Merlot from Sonoma: aromas of plum and dark cherries and flavors of fine fruit, cinnamon and vanilla. Also from the same county, Sonoma Vineyards 2010 Merlot: full-bodied, smooth, strong and rich. I also discovered that Washington State has great Merlot’s—like the Bergevin Lane Entwined 2011 offering: rich with ripe cherry and plum flavors, and lots of oak which gives it a floral spice. Finally, from Argentina (where Malbec is king), the Schroeder Estate 2012 from the Patagonia region. It’s smooth and easy on the tongue with aromas of anise and fresh mint. The taste, as with any great Merlot, is soft and silky with hints of dark berry. It is considered one of the top two or three Merlots from anywhere in the world.

Listen, I’m not asking to go out and buy top of the line stuff. It’s not needed. A good, reputable wine merchant will guide you to a moderately priced Merlot that will make you rethink your view of this choice wine. Forget about the “sophisticates” with their noses in the air. Give Merlot another try. Who knows, you might be lucky enough to come across a $4.99 bargain and your world may change yet again.

Salud! 

Sofrito with Pasta

These days, almost everyone interested in cooking knows about sofrito. It wasn’t always like that. When I was growing up, the condiment was hardly known outside of Hispanic and Puerto Rican enclaves in East Harlem and the South Bronx. My Anglo friends had never heard of it until I mentioned it to them. My Mexican friends stated they had their own version of sofrito, But that’s as far as it went. Then with the culinary explosion that enveloped America from the 1970s on, sofrito was popularized. This aromatic mix of herbs and spices, used as a base for countless Caribbean dishes, became the darling of innovative cooks everywhere.

As I  demonstrated in my video on the topic (7/10/14), sofrito is an easy mix to conjure up. In my culture we use it for flavoring stews, casseroles, soups, meat, poultry, seafood, you name it. However, I got to thinking: what about combining it with one of my favorites—pasta? Has it even been tried? In recent years the talk has been about “fusion cuisine.” Well, what would be more daring than sofrito with linguini, or rigatoni, or penne, macaroni— whatever brand of pasta you like, be it strand or tubular?

So recently I set myself an experiment, and decided to combine sofrito with a pasta type. In this case, perciatelli. I love perciatelli. It looks like spaghetti but it’s slightly chunkier, more like a cable than a strand. As my father woulds say, “It’s a manly-man pasta!” No angle hair in this family. Not that there’s anything wrong with angel hair or other fine pasta. Just that perciatelli (like fettuccine) sticks to the ribs. Anyway, if you don’t want percialtelli, use whatever pasta suits your taste.

Naturally, in all of this, the main ingredient is sofrito. And a basic recipe for sofrito would include 1/2 cup parsley or 12 whole leaves recao (a small green stemmed  herb found in Hispanic, Oriental, or Indian markets); 1/2 cup of cilantro; l  medium green bell pepper, chopped; 2 cloves garlic. crushed; 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped; and 1/4 pound sweet chili peppers (also known as aji dulce–but they’re sweet, not hot and spicy. They’re sold loose by the handful or in 1/4 or 1/2 pound packets. A 1/4 pound packet contains about 12 peppers). Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor, with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and puree until it has a smooth, sauce-like consistency. This will yield about 1 1/3 cups of sofrito. You can store the sofrito in a closed jar or container in the fridge for 3-4 days, on in the freezer compartment indefinitely.

SOFRITO WITH PASTA

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup sofrito
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound ground beef, turkey, or chicken
1 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch sticks about 1-inch long
1/2 cup water or chicken broth
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 pound perciatelli (or any other pasta—your choice), cooked according to package directions
2 tablespoons fresh, chopped parsley

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or pot. Add sofrito and tomato paste, and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, about 2-3 minutes.
2. Add ground beef or poultry and cook until meat loses its red color (5-7 minutes). Again, stirring frequently to break up any lumps in the meat.
3. Add the zucchini, stir to mix. Season with salt and pepper. Add the water or chicken broth, cover, and simmer on low heat for 20 minutes. Check periodically: if the meat becomes too dry, you can add more water or chicken broth.
4. Add the cooked pasta. Stir to combine, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.
    Yield: 4-6 servings. 

Sofrito: Spanish Rice Video

Check out the new video:

Older posts

© 2022 Oswald Rivera

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑