Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: all (page 2 of 56)

EASTER LAMB (Greek Style)

Here we are: it’s Easter again. In the past I’ve done various posts for Easter, all featuring the traditional Easter Lamb. I’ve done a post on lamb Nuyorican Style (03/29/10); a lamb shanks version (03/28/13); and Easter Lamb with Pineapple (04/13/17).

This time we’re doing Easter Lamb Greek Style. Just like back on the block, lamb is the traditional dish among Greeks and Italians. This recipe I got years ago from a Greek friend. Just another way of preparing a very popular dish, and a very delicious one.

EASTED LAMB (Greek Style)

Ingredients:

1 leg of lamb, 6-7 pounds
2½ tablespoons lemon juice
1½ tablespoons salt or more to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper
1½ tablespoons oregano
1 large garlic clove, peeled and slivered
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 large potatoes, cut in quarters, or 18 small ones
1 cup hot water
4 large carrots cut into chunks about ½-inch thick
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced

Instructions:

  1. Night before, wash lamb and place on a large sheet of aluminum foil to cover lamb (may have to use 2 sheets). In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oregano. Rub this mixture well  over meat. With a  knife, cut small deep slits on top and bottom of lamb. Insert garlic slivers in each slit. Then brush with a mix of the turmeric and olive oil. Place lamb in the fridge and let it marinate overnight.
  2.  Next day, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash potatoes and drain (do not peel).  Set aside. Place lamb in a roasting pan, fat side up and bake, uncovered, 20 minutes. Add water, carrots and onion. Lower heat to 325 degrees and continue roasting 3 hours. Turn meat.
  3.  Sprinkle potatoes with remaining lemon juice, salt, pepper and oregano. Arrange potatoes around lamb and continue roasting until potatoes are browned on all sides and meat is tender. Arrange lamb on a large serving platter and surround with potatoes and carrots. I’m told that in Greek cuisine this dish is served with plenty of green salad.
    Yield: 6 servings.

SKILLET SALMON

This is one of the easiest ways we know of cooking salmon: simple roasting in a skillet. In this case, a cast-iron skillet. You can try it in a non-stick pan or other, but it won’t be as good. Something about cast-iron develops the flavor.

This recipe renders  salmon fillets that are rich, crisp and juicy with a minimum of effort; and the cooking time is minimal.

SKILLET SALMON

4 salmon fillets, about 6-8 oz. each or one 2-pound large fillet, cut into 4 portions
Salt and black ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
Lemon wedges for garnish

  1. Heat oven to 500 degrees F.
  2. Rinse fillets under cold running water and pat  dry with paper towels.
  3.  Generously season fillets with salt and pepper. Set a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until it starts to smoke. Add oil to skillet and immediately lay in salmon, skin-side down. Cook 30 seconds.  Remove skillet from heat and place it in oven. Cook until medium-rare, 5-6 minutes, or 1-2 minutes longer for medium-cooked. Do not flip salmon or move it in skillet until cooking is complete.
  4.  Remove skillet from oven and use a large spatula to transfer salmon to a serving platter, skin-side up. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.

 

FRIED EGGS IN PEPPER RINGS

This is a simple quick meal that is a novel way of doing fried eggs: cook them in pepper rings. You can use whatever bell pepper desired, be it green, red or yellow. The color combination is up to you. The dish can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner, your choice. For breakfast you can add the usual bacon as an accompaniment. For lunch, you can pair the eggs with French fries. For dinner, we prefer to serve the egg rings over rice. You can call this recipe a multi-purpose meal.

Note that you may have to cook the eggs in batches. Even with a large skillet you can cook about four pepper rings at a time. If, by chance, you have a skillet that can accommodate more, then more power to you.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
2-3 sweet peppers of your choice of colors
8 eggs
Sprinkle of salt and pepper
Sprinkle of dried oregano

Instructions:

  1. Wash peppers under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Slice crosswise into ¼-inch rings, seeds removed.
  2. Warm butter in a large skillet until butter sizzles. Add three or four pepper rings, spread out, and crack an egg into each and cook until set. In our crowd we like well-cooked eggs, so we don’t mind if the yolk gets broken. But, if you prefer a soft yolk, be gentle so it stays intact. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and oregano, then flip over with a spatula and cook just until set on the other side.
    Yield: 4 servings.

SCALLOPS ON A BED OF SPINACH

This is a simple recipe that contains scallops (which we love) and spinach. Yes, spinach. I know, think of the old Popeye cartoon: “I’m Popeye the sailor man, I’m strong to the finish ‘cus I eat my . . .” You know the rest. I like spinach. I even liked it when I was a kid back at PS 75 in Harlem. And, believe me, I got hassled by my peers because of it. Kids are not supposed to like spinach. Well, some of us do.

You will note that for this recipe, we used frozen spinach. But, if you can get fresh spinach, you can use it as well. In this case, use 1-2 pounds fresh spinach, washed and trimmed. Steam the spinach for 3 minutes and drain. Then chop and toss with butter.

What makes this recipe good is that it’s a spur of the moment thing, and it works with any variety of greens, be it spinach or broccoli, or even okra. You can serve the scallops with any vegetable you want. With some crusty bread, a good wine (white or red), it’s superb. If you want to mix it with rice, quinoa, couscous or noodles, it’s still a definite winner.

Ingredients:

4 (10-oz.) packages frozen spinach
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds sea scallops, rinsed and patted dry
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
½ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Instructions:

  1. Cook frozen spinach according to package directions. When done, toss with the butter and keep warm.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add scallops and sauté for 1½ minutes on each side. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and balsamic vinegar, and braise for 3 minutes.
  3. To serve, place spinach on a warm serving platter. Arrange scallops on top and spoon some cooking juices over them.
    Yield: 6 servings.

LEMON-ONION SALMON

LEMON-ONION SALMON

This is one of my innovations. I had some salmon steaks on hand plus some good fresh red onions (also known as Spanish onions). I decided to combine the two; and the result is given below. I find that red onions have a sharper flavor than common yellow onions. That’s what makes them great for this dish.

Served with a grain like rice, quinoa or couscous, the dish is a winner. It’s also great by itself with good crusty bread, potatoes or a side vegetable.

Ingredients:

4 salmon steaks (about 8 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 medium red onion, peeled and sliced thinly
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Rinse salmon steaks under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels
  3. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper. Place in a baking pan or dish (we prefer cast-iron). Drizzle with lemon juice and top with onion slices.
  4. Place in oven and bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
    Yield: 4 servings.

EASY CHICKEN BAKE

This recipe has been in my family for ages. And it’s one of the easiest ways we know to prepare chicken. It’s quick and fast. Only the baking time is an issue. Yes, the recipe uses canned soup. I know, purists will howl. But, sometimes, the best dishes are the most simple; especially if they use the most convenient ingredients.

This time around we served the dish with couscous. Any grain will do, be it rice or quinoa. You can also serve it over any kind of pasta, and it’ll still come out great. So, whatcha waitin’ for? Get to it.

EASY CHICKER BAKE

Ingredients:

1 broiler-fryer chicken, about 2½ pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black to taste
½ cup dry sherry
1 chicken bouillon cube (or packet)
1 can  (10½ ounces) cream of chicken soup, undiluted

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
  2. Rinse chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into serving pieces. Place in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Let stand 15 minutes to develop flavors.
  3.  Heat sherry and chicken cube in a small saucepan over low heat  stirring until cube is dissolved. Add soup and heat.
  4.  Place chicken pieces in a baking dish or pan (we prefer cast-iron) and pour soup mixture over chicken, covering each piece.
  5.  Place in oven and bake for 1½ hours or until chicken is tender.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.

PESTO EGGPLANT

As most of us know, pesto sauce (or pesto alla genovese) is a sauce that combines pine nuts, olive oil,  garlic, salt, lost of fresh basil and Parmagiano or Pecorino cheese. The sauce can compliment almost anything. But how about eggplant? Which set me to thinking, Why not our beloved eggplant? The result is the dish given below. An experiment that turned out delicious. Even in Genoa, the city that invented pesto, they would appreciate this combo.

PESTO EGGPLANT

Pesto Sauce:
(Makes 2 cups)

4 cups fresh basil leaves
3 cloves garlic, chopped
½ cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of ground black pepper
½ to 1 cup olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a food processor, combine basil, garlic, pine nuts, salt, pepper, and ½ cup olive oil. Process until a paste is formed. Slowly add additional oil (if needed) in a steady stream, and cheese. Pulse several times more. Don’t forget to occasionally stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor.

EGGPLANT

1 large eggplant (about 1½ pounds),  sliced into ½-inch rounds (do not peel)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

1, Preheat oven to 400 degree F.
2. Drizzle olive oil over eggplant slices. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Arrange eggplant in a large greased baking pan or dish (we prefer cast-iron). Note that if the dish is not large enough you may have to layer the eggplant slices to accommodate all.
3. Bake until brown and tender, about 35 minutes. Top with pesto sauce and bake 5 minutes more.
Yield: 4-6 servings.

 

 

 

 

TOFU WITH BEANS

I like tofu and I like beans. So, in the following recipe, I’ve combined the two. Most of us are familiar with pasts fazool,  or pasta fagioli, which combines beans and pasta, usually small shells, ditalini or even orzo. I guess this would be tofu fazool or tofu fagioli. In my old neighborhood we’d probably call it Tofu con Habichuelas. Whatever. It’s simple to make and utterly delicious.

I don’t usually use canned beans. The flavor just does not compare to beans conjured up from scratch. I acknowledge that it’s easy just to open the can and use. However, if you’re a purist like me, dried beans (in this case, black beans) are best. But you can use whatever bean type preferred.

For dried beans, here’s the drill: Place 2 cups beans in a colander, and rinse under cold running water; place in a kettle or pot  with water to cover by at least 2 inches (do not use hot water); let it soak in the fridge, ideally, overnight; put in a heavy pot or kettle with water to cover, again  by about 1 inch, bring to boil; cover and cook over moderate-low heat until beans are tender (about 1 hour). Note that, during cooking, if water is absorbed or water level runs low, you can add more water, Then cook as you would in the recipe given. Again, if you want to use canned beans, more power to you.

The other thing,  when cooking tofu is it should be pressed prior to cooking. This a technique used to remove moisture and make it easier to cook Normally, even with extra firm tofu, if it is too wet it can break up during cooking. Also, unpressed tofu will not absorb flavor as well, and will not have a good texture. To press: Wrap tofu in a few layers of paper towels; place a cast iron or similarly heavy pan on top, balancing it so that it stays level; wait about 30 minutes and you’ll get at least ¼ cup to ½ cup excess liquid that you’ll discard; remove weighted object; unwrap tofu and cook as instructed.

This time around, I serve this dish with tostones (fried green plantains); but you can serve it with rice or other grain (like quinoa or couscous).

Ingredients:

Cooked beans, as instructed above, or 2 (15.5) oz. cans black beans
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt  and ground black pepper to taste
1 (14 oz.) package extra firm tofu, pressed

Instructions:

  1. Place beans in  a heavy-duty pot or large skillet. Add tomato paste and cook over moderate-high heat, stirring, until paste has dissolved and is on longer in clumps, about 4-5 minutes. Add rest of ingredients, stir and cook, covered, over  medium heat for 10 minutes.
  2.  Stir in tofu, cook another 2 minutes and serve.
    Yield: r servings.

HAM SKILLET DINNER

This is one of those spur-of-the-moment dinners that, amazingly, comes out right. If you got a ham steak and want something different and delicious, this recipe is it. This is one of those family dinners that is simple, and stick to the ribs. What more could you want? All you need is ham, onion, potatoes and chicken broth. If desired you can add some frozen vegetables to it like green peas or green beans. You are only limited by your imagination.

This meal goes great by itself with some crusty bread or with rice (or your favorite grain like, let’ say, couscous). With a hearty red wine like a chianti or cabernet, or a white, if that’s your preferences, you’ve got yourself a feast.

HAM SKILLET DINNER

Ingredients:

I large ham steak, about 1-inch thick, preferably maple and sugar cured
3 tablespoons butter
2 medium potatoes, washed and sliced thin (do not peel)
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced thin
Salt to taste
Pinch of pepper
½ cup chicken broth

Instructions:

  1. Heat butter in a large frying pan or skillet. Add ham steak and brown on both sides.
  2.  Add potatoes, onion, salt, pepper and broth. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 20 minutes, Cut ham steak into 4 portions and serve  with potatoes and onions.
    Yield: 4 servings.

 

 

RED COOKED MEAT

The Culinary Historians of Ann Arbor (CHAA) is an organization of scholars, cooks, food writers, nutritionists, collectors, students, and others interested in the study of culinary history and gastronomy. They publish a quarterly, Repast, which is a treasure trove of information on culinary history. The Spring 2021 edition contained an article, ‘How Chao and Chiang Changed Chinese-American Cuisine.’

The article featured a recipe by Buwei Yang Chao who, in 1945 published her pioneering work, How to Cook and Eat in Chinese (New York, John Day Co.). The Book introduced refined and authentic Chinese food to American readers. It included a discussion of red-cooked meats, which are large pieces braised in soy sauce,. wine and spices.

I was unaware of red-cooked meat until I came across this gem.  As noted in the title, this one is a very plain dish, easy to prepare and renders a delightful meat entrée (in this case, pork) that served over steamed rice, is a definite winner.  Be aware that for this recipe, the only modification I made is that I used chicken broth instead of water in the ingredients. I also added chopped fresh scallions. Either way, you can prepare the recipe as is, or enhance it any way you see fit.  Tradition is great, but innovation (in some cases) ain’t so bad. Also, the recipe doesn’t say anything about servings. I would figure 3-4 pounds of pork is enough for 4-6 servings.

So add a touch of history to your cooking. It won’t disappoint, and will leave family and friends hankering for more.

RED-COOKED MEAT PROPER: PLAIN

For this type of Red-Cooked Meat, the order of preference of cuts should be fresh bacon, fresh shoulder, fresh ham, pork chop.

3-4 pounds pork                                                                 1 tsp. salt
1 cup water                                                                            4 slices ginger
3 Tbsp. sherry                                                                              (if you can get it)
½ cup soy sauce                                                                    ½ Tbsp. sugar

Wash meat, cut into 1- or 1½-inch cubes. Put meat and 1 cup water in a heavy pot and use big fire. When it boils, add sherry, soy sauce, salt and ginger. Cover pot tight and cook over very low fire for 1½ hours. (In case of pork chop, use only 1 hour here.) Then add sugar. Again, over low fire, cook ½ to 1 hour. Test meat (for doneness by inserting a fork or chopstick).

 

 

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