Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: sauces (page 1 of 3)

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.

 

 

MUSTARD SAUCE

There’s this old wives’ tale about mustard sauce being too strong for delicate fish dishes. The following recipe puts a lie to that old tidbit. Mustard sauce, if done correctly, can be as fine and smooth as the best velvet sauce. Simply, you just have to be careful in the amount of mustard you put in it.

As noted, the following recipe makes a great sauce for broiled or baked fish, be it fish fillets, fish steaks or a whole fish. Also, it’s quite easy to make. No fuss, no bother.  It’s perfect for a good seafood dinner. By the way, you can also use the sauce for vegetables or even by itself over rice or pasta. The possibilities are endless.

MUSTARD SAUCE

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
¼ cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon mustard, preferably Dijon
½ cup heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter over medium heat  in a small saucepan and add shallots, stirring briefly until wilted.
  2. Add wine and cook about 30 seconds, stirring. Add mustard and stir.
  3.  Add cream and bring to a boil. Cook down over relatively high heat about 3 minutes or until reduced to about ¾ cup
    Yield: About ¾ cup.

SKORDALIA (Garlic Sauce)

Skordalia is Greek sauce that is very versatile.  It can be used as a sauce for fried fish, as a dip, with crackers or vegetables.  It’s prime ingredient is garlic. Thus, it’s rather spicy. In the Rivera clan, that’s not a problem. But, if you want to make it milder, cut back on the garlic; use maybe 3-4 cloves.

The sauce should have a slightly rough texture so it’s best to make it with a mortar and pestle, although a blender or food processor can be used if you don’t blend the mixture too smoothly. Note that the sauce can be made in advance, covered and refrigerated, but bring back to room temperature for serving.

SKORDALIA
(Garlic Sauce)

Ingredients:

5 clove garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/3 cup pignoli (pine) nuts
1/2 pound bread crumbs
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup warm water

Instructions:

  1. Using a stone or wooden mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and salt together to form a paste. Add walnuts and pignoli nuts and pound to a uniform mixture.
  2.  Soak the bread crumbs in water and squeeze out the excess moisture. Add to the mortar and blend thoroughly.
  3.  Continue pounding while adding the oil and then the vinegar. Add the half cup of warm water gradually until you have reached the desired consistency.
    Yield: About 2 cups.

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.

 

 

 

 

GREEK MEATBALLS WITH RICE

One of my favorite ways of preparing  meatballs is how our Greek brethren do it. I have long been a fan of Greek cuisine. They have 3,000 years of history in terms of cooking. We can learn a thing or two from them. So, you can consider this posting as a Greek meal. Simply, it’s meatballs  (keftaides) over rice with fideo (pilafi me fides). The latter dish  is just rice combined with cut thin spaghetti (fideo). Back in Spanish Harlem almost every household would add fideo to their soups. We never thought of combining it with rice (another innovation by our Greek brothers and sisters).

With this Greek dinner I took the liberty of adding saltsa bechamel to the meatballs. Saltsa bechamel is the Greek method of preparing béchamel sauce, that fame sauce attributed to French cuisine (although some historians state its origin is actually Tuscany—but that’s another story). Add some good Greek wine like a Agiorgitiko from Nemea or Xinomavro from Naoussa, and you’ll have a dinner that will transform you to a sunset evening in Athens. Don’t let the Greek wine tongue twisters deter you. An Agiorgitiko is similar to a Merlot. With a Xinomavro, think of a Barolo or Pinot Noir.

For this dinner, I would suggest making the béchamel sauce first. You can set it aside and heat it up again with the main course; then preparing the rice with fideo. While the rice is cooking, you can make the meatballs, which are served drizzled with the sauce.

SALTSA BECHAMEL

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Dash of nutmeg
2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten

Instructions:

Melt butter over low heat. Add  flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir until blended into a consistent paste. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in milk and return to heat. Cook, stirring constantly until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and gradually add egg yolks, stirring constantly. Yield: 2 cups

RICE WITH FIDEO

Ingredients:

1½ cups long grain rice
¾ cup fideo (or crushed vermicelli)
4 tablespoons butter
3 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried chives

Instructions:

Combine the rice and fideo and sauté in butter in a 2-quart pan or pot until golden brown. Add chicken broth and chives. Cover and cook over very low heat until the liquid is absorbed, about 30-40 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve. Yield: 4 or more servings.

GREEK MEATBALLS:

Ingredients:

2 pounds ground beef or a mixture of beef and pork or lamb
1 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped mint or 1 teaspoon dried
1 egg, beaten
¼ cup ouzo or anisette
1 cup flour
½ cup olive oil (or more if needed).

Instructions:

  1. Combine meat, bread crumbs, salt, onion, parsley, garlic, mint, egg and ouzo. Mix well.
  2. Form into meatballs and roll them in the floor. Note that we like our meatballs medium-sized, not small. Place on a cookie sheet and chill for 1 hour.
  3.  Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan  and fry meatballs over medium-high heat until done, about 15-20 minutes. Serve them hot.
    Yield: Makes about 32 meatballs (4 to 6 servings).

 

 

 

 

 

BREADED FISH FILLETS WITH YOGURT

One if my favorite recipes is breaded fish fillets. It’s an easy dish to make, and delicious. Another go-to recipe is fish fillets baked in yogurt (or a combination of yogurt and parmesan cheese). So I considered, why not combine breaded fish with yogurt? In this case, the yogurt is mixed with turmeric. This renders a nice sauce in which to cook the fillets. You’ll be amazed at the result. It is really good. This is a multi-dimensional dish that can be served by itself with some crusty bread, or with rice  or pasta.  Add a light red wine or good white wine, or even beer, and you have a winner.

For this dish you can use any good firm fleshed fillet, be it cod, turbot, halibut,  flounder, monkfish, etc. I would not recommend dover sole. It is just too mild and fragile for this recipe.

BREADED FISH FILLETS WITH YOGURT

Ingredients:

4 fish fillets, 6 ounces each
1 egg, lightly beaten
¾ to 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 cup yogurt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Rinse fish fillets under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3.  Place beaten egg in one dish, and breadcrumbs in another.
  4.  Mix turmeric with the yogurt. The turmeric will give the yogurt a pinkish color. Set aside.
  5.  First, dip fillets in egg, and then in breadcrumbs to coat thoroughly. Place fillets in a greased baking dish. Cover with turmeric-yogurt mix,  and bake until tender, about 25 minutes.
    Yield: 4 servings.

PESTO EGGPLANT

Even towards the end of summer, there’s lots of fresh basil around in every farmer’s market and greengrocer. Naturally, this brings pesto to mind. It happens we also had this beautiful eggplant fresh from a garden. So I got the bright idea of creating a Pesto Eggplant recipe. The result was nothing less than fabulous; and the recipe is given below. With some crusty bead and a good white wine, or light red (like a Bardolino, Gamay, or Valpolicella), this dish is a winner. You can also serve it over your favorite grain (like rise or couscous), or even over pasta. You won’t be disappointed.

PESTO EGGPLANT

Ingredients:

1 large eggplant (about 1½ pounds), washed, peeled and sliced into ½-inch rounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoons fresh leaf oregano, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried

Pesto Sauce

4 cups fresh basil leaves, rinsed
3 cloves garlic, peeled
½ cup pine nuts (or walnuts)
½  to 1 cup olive oil
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions:

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

 

SALMON FILLETS WITH LEMON, TARRAGON AND GARLIC SAUCE

We are fans of salmon, and we are always experimenting as to how to cook salmon fillets in unusual fashion.  Here’s a result from that on-going experimentation: Salmon Fillets with lemon, Tarragon  and Garlic Sauce. Technically, summer is here, so you should find fresh tarragon at your local grocer. Garlic is always in season. Now you have the makings for a great sauce to top that fillet. A quick, easy and delicious entrée. With a veggie or potatoes on the side, some crusty bread, and a good white wine  (or red, for that matter), you have a great repast.

SALMON FILLETS WITH LEMON, TARRAGON AND GARLIC SAUCE

Ingredients:

4 (4-ounce) salmon fillets |
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tablespoon dried

Instructions:

  1. Rinse salmon fillets under cold running water and pat  dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
  2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard,  2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice and tarragon. Set aside.
  3.  Put the remaining  2 tablespoons oil in a cast-iron, non-stick or carbon steel skillet over medium high heat, and heat until the oil shimmers. Cook the salmon fillets flesh-side down for 5 to 7 minutes,  depending on how done you want them. Flip and cook the skin side for 1-2 minutes. Serve with the sauce.
    Yield: 4 servings.

VELOUTE SAUCE

Once in awhile I like to go back to classical French cuisine. In the canon, my favorite are the sauces. Auguste Escoffier, the chef who in the early 20th century popularized French cooking, is credited with categorizing the “mother sauces.” You know of them: espagnole, tomato, béchamel, hollandaise, et al. Among them is velouté sauce which, despite its fancy name, is the easiest to prepare. Velouté sauce is simply broth thickened with flour, butter and stock. Velouté is the French word for “velvety”; and this sauce renders a creamy, delicious miracle that goes well with streamed or pan broiled fish, or even poultry. It can also work as a base sauce that you can enhance by adding other ingredients such as herbs, wine, shallots, or meat drippings and make it into  a gravy. You are only limited by your imagination. Prepare this beauty, and  witness the amazing results.

VELOUTÉ SAUCE

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
Salt to taste
A few grains of peeper
1 cup chicken stock or canned chicken broth
1/3 cup cream

Instructions:

1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Take care not to let it turn brown or burn. Add flour, salt, pepper and blend well with a wire whisk.
2. Add chicken stock slowly, stirring constantly to make sure it’s free of lumps. Bring to a boil, add cream, reduce heat, stirring constantly to make sure the sauce doesn’t scorch the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring, to desired consistency. The sauce should be smooth and velvety. If it’s too thick, whisk in some more of the broth. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
3. Use immediately, or keep it covered in a warm bowl until ready to use.
Yield: About 1 cup.

 

 

 

 

 

ZUCCHINI AND CHICK PEA SAUCE

I’m always experimenting on sauces that I can use with a grain or pasta. This one combines two of my favorite veggies: zucchini and chick peas. And I always want something that’s easy to make. This one fits the bill. Served over spaghetti, as we do it here, it makes for a great vegetarian dish; or even as side dish with your favorite cut of meat.

ZUCCHINI AND CHICK PEA  SAUCE

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
½ pound small zucchini, cut in rounds (do not peel)
½ teaspoon basil, crumbled
½ teaspoon thyme, crumbled
1 can (14.5 ounces) stewed tomatoes
1 can (15.5 ounces) chick-peas, rinsed and drained
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Add onion, zucchini, basil and thyme. Cook, covered, for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2.  Stir in tomatoes, chick-peas and pepper. Cover and simmer 5 minutes or until zucchini is just tender
    Yield: 4 servings.

 

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