Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: all (page 2 of 59)

IRISH LAMB STEW

This is my version of Irish Lamb Stew. And we serve it with parsley dumplings; which is nothing more than a variation on Puerto Rican domplines.  In my version of the stew, I eliminate the browning of the lamb. I just put all ingredients in the pot and let it cook until the lamb is tender. I found that this saves time and gives the stew a flavor all its own.

IRISH LAMB STEW

Ingredients:

4 pounds lamb chuck, cut into cubes
2 carrots, washed, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 onions, peeled and quartered
2 potatoes, quartered (wash but do not peel)
4 whole black peppercorns
1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Instructions:

  1. Place lamb in a stew pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil.
  2.  Skim foam from top. Lower heat and add remaining ingredients. Simmer, covered for 60 to 70 minutes or until lamb and vegetables are tender. Serve with parsley dumplings (see recipe below).
    Yield: 8 servings.

PARSLEY DUMPLINGS

Ingredients:

½ pound flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¾ teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil
Water as needed
½ cup minced parsley

Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper and baking powder.
  2. Beat eggs and olive oil together and add to flour mixture. Stir until blended with enough water to make a soft dough, usually about half cup. Stir in parsley.
  3.  Form dumplings, using about a tablespoon of dough in palm of hand. Drop dumplings into pot of boiling water. Cook until they expand, about five minutes. Remove with slotted spoon. Arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle with additional parley. Place on stew and enjoy.

STUFFED SALMON FILLETS

This is a recipe that I invented at the spur of the moment. I had some fillets on hand and needed a quicky dish for dinner. So, here is my version for Stuffed Salmon Fillets. As noted, I used salmon, but any firm fleshed fish fillets will do. Apart from the fillets, all you need is seasoned bread crumbs, and that’s it. For four regular servings, four fillets is all that’s needed., since the fillets will be cut in have to serve four people. If you have big eaters on hand, then you serve the stuffed fillets for two two people.

For the recipe you can either buy seasoned bread crumbs, or regular bread crumbs that you can season as you like. And that’s what I did. I seasoned the bread crumbs with ½ teaspoon each dried basil, marjoram and thyme. But you can use any seasoning combination you like. That’s the beasty of this dish: you can doctor it up any way you want. For the final touch I baked the whole shebang in a lemon butter sauce. And it came out superb. With some good crusty bread, and some good chilled wine, either a white or light red, it makes for a fabulous repast.

STUFFED SLAMON FILLETS

Ingredients:

4 salmon fillets (about 6 ounces each)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
¾ cup seasoned breadcrumbs (see above)
½ stick melted butter
Juice of 1 lemon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Wash fillets under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3.  Brush fillets with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and oregano. Place 2 fillets in a baking dish (we prefer cast-iron). Top each fillet with half of the seasoned bread crumbs. Top with remaining fillets. Combine butter with lemon juice, and drizzle over fish.
  4.  Place in oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until fillets are tender.  Cut fillets in half and serve  or, as noted above, serve each stuffed fillets for two hearty eater.

 

BAKED TOMATOES WITH EGGS

This recipe is mainly stuffed tomatoes with an egg on top. Nothing  fancy, not hard to prepare, and delicious. We all know about stuffed bell peppers. Well, tomatoes stuffed with bread crumbs mixed with the pulp of the tomatoes and, finally, baked with eggs, is another glorious variant. With a good crusty loaf of bread, nothing could be simpler or more appetizing.

BAKED TOMATOES WITH EGGS

Ingredients:

4 large tomatoes
3 tablespoons chopped onion
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried
1 teaspoon thyme leaves or ½ teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon  fresh chopped marjoram or ½ teaspoon dried
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
¾ cup bread crumbs
4 eggs at room temperature
½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees  F.
  2. Cut out the tops of the tomatoes at the stem end and scoop out the pulp.
  3. Mix about 1/3 of the pulp with the onions, basil, thyme, marjoram and garlic. Add the bread crumbs and fill each tomato about half full.
  4.  Drop an egg into each tomatoes, cover with grated cheese. Arrange on a baking dish and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until eggs are set to a firm softness and the tomatoes are soft but not collapsing.
    Yield: 4 servings.

CARNE GUISADA (Beef Stew)

Our version of beef stew, Carne Guisada is  a glorious example of Criollo cooking. That is, cooking that is native to the island of Puerto Rico  In its Nuyorican transformation, it has resulted in countless variants. I’ve seen recipes where raisins, sweet peas, and even carrots have been added. Some aficionados boil the meat first then add the remaining ingredients. Some folks add beef bones to the stew. Some add potatoes. Whatever method is used, the results are uniformly good. Let me add that this recipe is one of the premier dishes featured in my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America  (Running Press)

The popular  accompaniment to the dish is steamed white rice or yellow Spanish rice. On that, there is no argument. But, of course , we live in more enliven times thus, if desired, you can pair the dish with couscous, quinoa, farro, or even pasta. As noted countless times before, you are only limited by your imagination.

Note that the recipe calls for sofrito, that aromatic criollo seasoning that is also used for flavoring and enhancing a dish. Think of the condiment, garam  masala. that is used in Indian cooking, to achieve the same results. The principle is the same. In one of my early posts (11/08/10) I gave a recipe for sofrito. Basically, it’s a mix of diverse herbs and spices that go into making the thing. Today, you can find sofrito in most supermarkets or specialty stores. You can try the various brands, and I wish you luck. You can cut corners by substituting Sazón accent (Goya makes a passable product); or, if all else fails, substitute a teaspoon of turmeric for the sofrito. Be it as it may, check out the sofrito  recipe from 2010. Nothing compares to the genuine deal.

CARNE GUISADA
(Beef Stew)

Ingredients:

2 pound stew meat or beef round steak, trimmed and cut into1-inch chunks
¼ cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Salt to taste
½ cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon achiote (see above)
10-12 pimento stuffed olives
1 tablespoon capers
1 bay leaf
½ cup water

Instructions:

  1. Wash meat and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  In a Dutch oven,  heavy pot or kettle, heat the oil, add beef chunks, onion, bell pepper, oregano, garlic and stir-fry over moderate heat until meat is brown.
  3.  Add salt, tomato sauce, achiote, olives, capers and bay leaf. Mix and cook for 5 minutes.
  4.  Add water, bring to a rapid boil, cover and simmer on low heat for 1 hour. Serve over white or yellow rice.
    Yield: 4 or more servings.

STEAMED MUSSELS PROVENÇAL

Steamed mussels is a very popular dish in the Mediterranean. To be honest, back in Spanish Harlem, we never had mussels as a dinner dish. We had it in sandwiches, yes, sandwiches. Figurer that one out. It  wasn’t until my early manhood that I enjoyed steamed mussels. And invariably it was Provençal style. That is, infused in a broth with olive oil, garlic, onions, tomatoes, and a host of other herbs. The mussels are steamed in their own juices and served with crusty bread. In the recipe given, we serve them with fresh spinach, braised in the broth in which the mussels are steamed. Another good aspect of this dish is that leftover broth can be used as a base for a cream sauce for fish,  poultry or even steak.

Today we are fortunate that most markets have mussels that come already cleaned. So, you don’t have to spend time cleaning the suckers .But if you are not fortunate enough to get mussels already set, then you will have to go through the ritual of removing all the barnacles, seaweed material and sand from the shells. Then you will have to scrape off the “beards” from the barnacles with a clam knife or any bunt-edged knife. Afterward, you put the mussels in a deep bowl and cover them with cool water. It’s good to agitate them with your hands for 30 seconds or so. Finally you drain them well and discard the water.  You repeat this until the water is clear. Discard any mussels that open  before it is cooked.

Admittedly, the above procedure is a pain in the you-know-what. But, as stated, you’ll probably find cleaned and prepared mussels in most  markets.  Something that makes it all easier.

One of the great things about mussels is that you can use whatever variety of seasonings you desire. In French cuisine, the favorite ingredients are white wine and shallots, that’s it. As for myself,  I like to liven them up with whatever herbs and seasonings I have in the cupboard. So, give yourself and family a treat today. Get some mussels and go at it. It’s a cheap, delicious meal and, apart from the cleaning and preparation, the dish can be cooked in 5-6 minutes.

STEAMED MUSSELS PROVENÇAL

Ingredients:

2 pound fresh mussels
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped onions
1 sweet red pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup crushed canned tomatoes
½ teaspoon saffron threads (optional)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon (or to taste) crushed red pepper flakes
½ cup dry white wine
4 sprigs fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions:

  1. If mussels come in a package, already clean, then proceed with recipe. If not, scrub them, remove beards and barnacles and wash in cold water. Drain well (see above).
  2.  Heat olive oil in a large pot or saucepan. Add garlic, onions and sweet red pepper, Cook briefly over medium heat until wilted.  Stir often and do not burn garlic.
  3. Add tomatoes, saffron, turmeric, red pepper flakes, wine, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 minutes.
  4.  Add mussels and parsley. Cover pan tightly and cook over high  heat until all the mussels are opened., 5 to 6 minutes. Serve immediately with crusty bread.
    Yield: 4 or more servings

 

SESAME TOFU

Once in a while a tofu dinner is called for. Tofu  is that rare ingredient ( a protein) that absorbs the flavor of any herb or spice one may use in cooking. That’s why this recipe is so marvelous. In this case, the prime ingredient is sesame seeds. Just marinate the tofu, then roll in sesame seeds and cook to perfection. Easy, quick and delicious served over steamed rice.

Note, as we’ve mentioned countless times before: tofu should be pressed before cooking. Why? Many tofu preparations don’t require pressing. But if  you are sautéing or shallow frying tofu (or looking to achieve extra crispy tofu), pressing is the best way to remove excess moisture. Pressing also helps create firmer tofu that better holds its shape during cooking and ensures your seasonings won’t be diluted. How to do it? Simple: Take your tofu out of the package and wrap it in a few layers of paper towels, placed on top and bottom.  Place the wrapped block of tofu on the counter or a cutting board, then place something flat and heavy on top. I like to use a cast iron skillet, weighed down with some canned goods, or a heavy book or two. After 30 minutes or so, you can remove and unwrap your tofu. It’s now ready for cooking.

Once the pressing is done, you can proceed with the recipe, and enjoy the best sesame tofu you’ve ever had.

SESAMER TOFU

Ingredients:

2 pounds extra firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely mince
1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger root or ¼ teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup sesame seeds
4 tablespoons peanut oil

Instructions:

  1. Marinate the tofu in a zip-lock bag for 2 hours.
  2. Remove from bag and roll tofu in sesame seeds.. Heat peanut oil in a large skillet or fry pan, and cook tofu in hot oil over medium heat until brown. Serve hot over steamed rice.
    Yield: 4 or more servings.

SEA SCALLOPS WITH TOMATOES AND ZUCCHINI

This recipe is Provençal in origin. Provence is  a region in southeastern France bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. It’s cuisine is known for its spices, especially that mix of thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf. known as “herbes de Provence.” Because of its location, it is also renown for its seafood.  And this is were Scallops with Tomatoes and Zucchini come in; a prime example of Provençal cooking.

Sea scallops are bigger than bay scallops. On average they measure five inches across the shell, and the thick meat they provide can be an inch and a half or more wide. That’s why in most sea scallops recipes, it’s prudent to slice the scallops horizontally. That way, the scallops cook faster and more evenly. For the recipe given, the cooking time for the scallops should be about three minutes total.

The vegetable base here is tomatoes and zucchini. The scallops are pre-cooked then added to the vegetables just before serving. Scallops and vegetables is a seafood dish that traditionally goes well with noodles or pasta. This time around, we paired it with couscous, and it was delicious.

SEA SCALLOPS WITH TOMATOES AND ZUCCHINI

Ingredients:

1½ pound sea scallops
3 small zucchini, about ½ pound
4 small, ripe plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper taste
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
4 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley

Instructions:

1, Halve each scallop crosswise  if ¾inch thick or more. Set aside.
2. Wash the zucchini. Trim the ends of the zucchini and slice thinly
3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet or fry pan. Add zucchini, salt and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes over high heat, stirring and tossing. Remove zucchini to a plate and keep warm.
4. In the same skillet, heat remaining olive oil over high heat and sauté the scallops about a minute. Season with salt and pepper while stirring.
4. Add butter, shallots and garlic. Cook briefly, add tomatoes and  and cook for a minute more. Add the zucchini, lemon juice and rosemary. Cook, stirring, for a minute over high heat. Blend well, and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings.

POLLO ALLA MARGARITA

This recipe I got from an old newspaper clipping years ago, when I was young and spry. The newspaper clipping termed it as “Orsini’s Polla Alla Margarita.” I went online and discovered that Orsini’s was a restaurant on West 56th Street in New York, It was owned by one Armando Orsini  and it had a 31-year run until 1984. Ostensibly, it was a favorite  hang-out in the 1960s of movie stars, celebrities and society people. It’s noted that the place was shrouded in “velvety darkness,” and Mr. Orsini would kiss the hand of his favored female customers.

The restaurant is long gone; but I assume the recipe is from Mr. Orsini’s repertoire. The recipe is very straight forward and it doesn’t give much in terms of the ingredients. For instance, it says “flour for dredging,” “olive oil,” salt and pepper, but it doesn’t give precise measurements. The recipe is for two but, I assume, you can double it for 4 or more.

So, today, eat like you’re a 1960s movie star and are rubbing elbows with the swells. For the record, the dish is delicious and not that difficult to prepare. It makes for a perfect candle-light dinner along with a good wine, red or white, or  even champagne.

POLLO ALLA MARGARITA

2 breasts of chicken, boneless
2 eggs, well beaten
3 tbsp. butter
½ cup white wine
½ cup dry sherry
4 slices mozzarella cheese
flour for dredging
olive oil
Salt
pepper

Coat chicken breasts in flour and then dip them into the beaten eggs. Fry chicken in hot olive oil until done and then drain on a paper towel. In a large pan, melt butter,  then add salt, pepper, wine, and sherry. Stir ingredients for a few minutes over medium heat until thickened. Then add the chicken breasts and place a slice of mozzarella cheese on each of them. Cover the pan and heat until cheese melts and sauce is reduced.
Serves two persons.

KEEMA CURRY

In Nuyorican culture, one of our favored meals is picadillo (pronounced pee-kah-dee-yo). It’s a ground meat stew that has become one of our specialties. I’ve now discovered there is an Indian version of it, Keema Curry. Even with the different spices, the dishes are very similar. Both are meat-like stews containing tomatoes, and served over rice. The only exception in picadillo is that, sometimes, depending upon preference, you may add potato cubes to it. Nevertheless, if you put them side by side when served with plain boiled rice, it’s hard to tell which is the Picadillo and which is the Keema Curry.

KEEMA CURRY

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 teaspoons ground ginger (fresh, if possible)
1½  pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon garam masala
½ teaspoon chili powder
1 cup tomatoes, cored and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2/3 cup beef bouillon
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1¼ cup unflavored yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan or skillet. Add garlic and fry until golden.
  2.  Stir in ginger, beef, garam masala and chili powder. Fry, stirring, until meat is browned.
  3.  Stir in tomatoes, tomato paste, bouillon, salt, pepper, and half the yogurt. Cover and simmer on heat for about 40 minutes or until meat is cooked. Stir in the remaining yogurt and serve over plain  boiled rice.
    Yield: 4 servings.

 

GRILLED KEBABS

This past Labor Day we did what countless other Americans did, we barbecued. In this case, it was grilled kebabs (or kebob, if you want). This is a very straight-forward meal. When we cook kebabs, we brush the meat with an olive oil-cumin mixture. You can also add ground dried chili if you want to spice it up a bit.  In addition, we added some chopped cilantro leaves for garnish.

When we grill kebabs, we prefer lamb; but you can use beef or pork, if that’s your desire. In case you get rained-out, or the weather is not cooperative, the dish can also be prepared by broiling indoors. Either way, have fun.

GRILLED KEBABS

Ingredients:

1 pound lamb or other meat, cut into chunks
1 pound cherry tomatoes or bigger tomatoes cut into chunks
1 green bell pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 large onion, peeled and cut into chunks
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 coarsely ground dried chili, optional
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leave

Instructions:

  1. If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for at least 10 minutes. Heat a charcoal or gas grill. If you are using charcoal or briquettes, be generous, you want a broad fire.
  2.  Thread meat and vegetables alternately on skewers. Mix olive oil and cumin, and brush on the meat and vegetables. Sprinkle with half of the chili and some salt and pepper. Let the kebabs sit while grill heats up.
  3.  When fire is hot but not scorching, place kebabs on grill. Brush them with the olive oil-cumin mix  once or twice as they cook. Grill until they begin to brown and become tender, about 10-15 minutes. Place on a serving  platter and sprinkle with remaining chili. Sprinkle with cilantro for garnish, and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.

 

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