Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Tag: Tablespoon (page 1 of 3)

Easter Lamb (with Pineapple)

Here we are again, the Easter Holidays. Time to break out the big Easter ham or, in our case, the lamb. In our family, lamb was it for this particular occasion. It was made Puerto Rican style with lots of spices so that it tasted more like pork than anything else (we did the same thing with the Thanksgiving turkey).

This time around, we’re going to try something different: leg of spring lamb with pineapples. It’s a really neat and easy dish to make. Perfect it you’re lucky enough to procure a New Zealand or Australian leg of lamb with its tender and more delicate flavor. I find these variations the best—unless you’re near a farm that raises lamb on  premises. You can find lamb in the frozen meat section of your supermarket, or Caribbean markets where you may be able to find it fresh. Whichever, you can’t go wrong with this dish. Just right for one of the most important and oldest of Christian festivals.


1 leg of lamb, about 5 pounds
2 cloves garlic, sliced into small slivers
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 can (1lb. 4-oz) pineapple chunks

1. Wash leg of lamb under running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. With a sharp knife, make small slits throughout the lamb. Insert the garlic slivers into the slits.
3. Brush the lamb with the olive oil. Sprinkle all over with the oregano, salt and pepper. Place in a covered dish, or wrap tightly in aluminum foil. Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour, or better yet, overnight.
4. Place lamb in a  roasting pan, and roast in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour.
5. Pour undrained pineapple chunks over lamb. Roast 1 1/2 to 2 hours or more depending on desired degree of doneness, basting frequently.
    Yield: 8 servings.

Cod Fillets in Mushroom Sauce

Fish fillets and mushrooms. A classic combination. All combined in a perfect sauce that adds that magic to a dish that even those who don’t like seafood will find irresistible.


4 cod fillets, about 6 ounces each
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
White pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano  or 1 teaspoon dried
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup dry white wine


2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup hot chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon turmeric
6-8 ounces fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced thin
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 egg yolks

1. Washed cod under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Let stand 10 minutes; then season with salt, pepper, and oregano.
2. Heat butter over medium flame in  a large fry pan or skillet. Add fish and brown well, about 5 minutes on each side.
4. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more. Stir in the parsley, and add the white wine. Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove cod fillets to a preheated platter and keep warm, but reserve pan drippings.
5. For sauce: Melt butter over medium flame in a saucepan. Stir in flour, pour in chicken broth and reserve pan drippings. Add white wine, stir in turmeric, and reduce heat to a simmer.
6. Add mushrooms to sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.
7. Add lemon juice. Remove a small amount of sauce and blend with egg yolks. Return to sauce and stir thoroughly until heated through—but do not boil since the yolks will curdle (and you don’t want that).
8. Pour sauce over cod fillets and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.


Lamb Shanks Caribbean Style

This recipe is from my first cookbook, Puerto Rican Cuisine in America (Hachete Books). It could be considered the Puerto Rican version of Osso Buco. Only difference is that Osso Buco is braised lamb shanks. We use regular lamb shanks; then the shanks are browned and simmered. The usual first step in Osso Buco is to dust the shanks with flour and then brown. The final step is the same: slow cooking until done. Now, no one says you can’t braise the lamb in flour, as in the Italian version. My mother would cook them both ways. Just that it’s easier in the Caribbean version.

The dish is normally served with yellow rice and pigeon peas (arroz con gandules – see post of 12/01/14 for a pretty good recipe). This time around I served it with the old standby, mashed potatoes.

   (Lamb Shanks Caribbean Style)

4 lamb shanks (about 3 1/2 pounds)
Juice of 1 whole lemon
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup olive oil
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 bay leaves

1, Rinse lamb shanks and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper
3. Heat olive oil in a heavy kettle or Dutch oven. Add lamb shanks and brown evenly over moderate-low heat.
4. Add tomatoes sauce, onion, garlic, oregano, cilantro, and bay leaves.
5. Cover and simmer on low heat until tender (1 hour). Remove bay leaves and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings. 

Fish Fillets with Mushroom Ragout

I didn’t discover this concept of ragout (pronounced “ragoo”) until my early manhood. I went to a restaurant on the west side of Manhattan and asked what is this “rag-out” thing. My friends corrected me as to the pronunciation, and we ordered the thing. Subsequently, I learned that “ragout” comes from the French verb ragoûter, which roughly translates “to stimulate the appetite.” It’s mainly a seasoned, thick stew of meat, poultry or fish which may or may not contain vegetables. To confuse you more, ragu, also derived from ragout, is a popular dish in Italy’s Bologna region and is served with pasta. It’s main ingredients are ground beef and tomatoes, with some onions, carrots and wine wine thrown in.

The dish given below is a traditional ragout made with fish fillets and mushrooms. In the recipe I use perch fillets. But you can substitute cod, haddock, turbot, or any light firm-fleshed fillets. For the mushrooms, I use the oyster variety; but you can use cremini, shiitake, chanterelle, or a mix of mushrooms. Now, some people may add cream to their ragout. I’m told by a diehard, utterly traditional chef that never may you add cream to the ragout. It is “sacrilege,  sacré bleu!” I’m not fascistic in my cooking, so, if you want to add cream, or anything else you think will improve the flavor, go right ahead. The subject of good cuisine is to constantly experiment. That’s the real joy of cooking. Also, and this will drive the traditionalists nuts, this is my Latino version of the dish. Muchas gracias.


5 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound oyster mushrooms, washed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 small shallot, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped dill
4 6-ounce fish fillets
Salt and black ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried
1/2 cup hot water

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet or fry pan (I prefer cast-iron). Add mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 4-5 minutes.
2. Add garlic, shallot, and 1 tablespoon butter. Cook until garlic and shallot are softened, about 1 minute.
3. Add chicken stock, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half and slightly viscous, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in vinegar and cook another 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in dill. Cover, and keep warm.
4. Wash fillets under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and oregano, patting seasonings into the fish.
Place fish in a roasting pan. Add water and 1 tablespoon butter. Bake until fish is tender, about 10 minutes.
5. Place fillets in a serving dish, spoon mushroom ragout over fish, and serve.
   Yield: 4 servings.  

Punjab Eggplant

I’m an eggplant aficionado. This is most obvious in my prior posts on the subject: Tuscan Eggplant (2/6/15), and Prized Eggplant Recipe (2/20/10). That means I’m always on the lookout for new and innovative eggplant dishes. Recently I was at the neighborhood deli getting my bagel with whitefish when, pursing the store shelves, I happen upon a package of something called “Punjab Eggplant.” It had a nice looking picture on it, and a caption that claimed it was the easiest thing to make: just heat and serve. I thought, why not? In retrospect, I should have listened to my wife who always cautions me about buying processed, pre-cooked stuff. But, being a hard-head, I didn’t listen. I bought the stuff, took it home, and heated it up.

It was terrible! It had this metallic aftertaste that just clung to my tongue. The thing was awful.

I decided then and there that I would make my own Punjab eggplant. It couldn’t possibly be as bad as the store-bought thing. So I queried my Indian friends as to how to prepare the dish. This being the age of the internet, most said, Go on-line, see what you can find. I did just that and came upon a plethora of excess information on Indian eggplant, baingan bharta, burtha bharta, baingan ka bharta, and a host of other arcane trivia that boggled the mind. Generally speaking, “Bharta” refers to a type of North Indian cuisine where ingredients are chopped or mashed before or after the dish is prepared. Punjabi Bharta is Eggplant Bharta prepared in this way. I finally found an acquaintance who gave me a reasonable recipe which I tweeked here and there to come up with the dish given below.

Thus here is my version of Punjab Eggplant, using fresh ingredients, no chemicals, and it sure as hell is better tasting that the packaged stuff. I’m informed that, traditionally, this dish is served with steamed white rice. It makes for a great vegetarian meal.


1 large eggplant
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 green chili, chopped
Salt to taste
Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (about 1 tablespoon)

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Wash the eggplant under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Pierce eggplant in 4-5 places with a sharp knife or fork. Rub with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and bake eggplant until soft, about 30-40 minutes. You can tell the eggplant is soft because it will start to cave in on itself once it’s done. Cool, peal the skin, and chop up the flesh, then set aside
3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until they start to crackle and turn golden brown (be careful not to burn the seeds).
4. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, turmeric, coriander, chili, and salt. Cook for 2 minutes.
5. Add eggplant to skillet and cook for 5 minutes more. If the moisture evaporates or it gets too dry, you can sprinkle a little water on it. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.
   Yield: 4 servings.

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.


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.


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.


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.


2 pounds Idaho or Yokon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, washed and scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch
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.


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.


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.


Grilled Pork Chops

Grilling season again. And pork chops are a natural for this type of cooking. In this recipe we’re using pork loin chops. They’re real meaty, and with this zesty marinated recipe, real tasty. I’ve added fresh mint to the recipe for that extra zing.


4-5 loin pork chops (about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds) 
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
3 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme leaves
1/4 cup fresh chopped mint
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Wash pork chops under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
2. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl. Mix well.
3. Prick pork chops on each side with a knife or the tines of a fork. Coat both sides of chops with marinade mixture, rubbing well  into the meat. Place in a covered dish and let stand at least 2 hours in the refrigerator for flavors to develop.
4, Start a charcoal or wood fire or preheat a gas grill. Fire should be moderately hot.
5. Grill about 10 minutes per side or until done.
    Yield: 4 or more servings.

Soy Sauced Chicken

One of the standard dishes in Cantonese and American Chinese cuisine is soy sauced chicken. It’s facility for easy cooking makes it a very popular entrée. In the traditional preparation all you need is chicken, usually cooked whole, soy sauce, sugar, scallions and (sometimes) sesame oil. The cooked whole chicken is then cooled and cut into bite-sized pieces.

In my family, we’ve evolved another way of cooking this dish—the Nuyorican way. First of all, we cut up the chicken and season it with spices native to our palette. It makes for a slightly different dish from the traditional norm, but just as tasty and enticing. Served over plain steam rice or (if you wish) buckwheat noodles, it’s a great main course.


1 fryer chicken, about 2 1/2 pounds, cut into serving pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons olive oil 
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons water or dry white wine
2 tablespoons honey
4 stalks scallions, washed and chopped
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Rinse chicken pieces under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Place chicken in a bowl with the garlic, pepper, oregano. Rub seasoning well into chicken pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Mix well to combine. Cover and set aside for 15 minutes.
3. In a wok or pan (I prefer cast-iron), add water or wine, scallions and honey. Add the chicken. Cover and cook on medium heat. The heat should be strong enough to bring the mixture to a boil, bubbling around and over the chicken but not too strong as to evaporate the liquid too quickly.
4. Turn the chicken pieces 2-3 times. If sauce gets too little in quantity, add no more than 2 tablespoons additional water (or wine).
5. After 25 minutes, pierce chicken with a knife or fork. If no pink juice comes out, the chicken is done.
6. Remove from heat, add sesame oil and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.

Monkfish Fillets in Butter-Wine Sauce

Monkfish is an ugly looking fish. It has short, stubby face that reminds everyone of some prehistoric being. Yes, it looks unappetizing—but it is delicious! When I’m at a fish market, being it New York’s Chinatown or some other fish monger joint, I’m always on the lookout for monkfish. Not only does it taste good, but another benefit: it’s fairly inexpensive. Why? You guessed it—people get turned off by its looks.

I usually cook monkfish whole, either steamed or in baked in the oven. Lately I came in possession of some monkfish fillets. And I wasn’t disappointed. It’s as scrumptious as any delicacy. To compliment its sweet, mild flavor (some call it the “poor man’s lobster”), I decided to cook it in a simple wine-butter sauce. The result was heavenly. In this recipe you can use fresh, thawed or frozen fillets. But it goes without saying, if you can get ’em fresh, you’re ahead of the game. Also, I prepared it in my own seafood rub. Think of it as adobo plus. It gives bit of tang to the fillets, but does not take away from the overall flavor.


1 to 1 1/2 pound fresh monkfish fillets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon caraway seed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh chopped lemon peel
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons butter

1. Rinse fish fillets under cold running water, and pat dry with paper towels. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil with herb ingredients. This is the seafood rub.
3. Pat or brush both sides of fish fillets with the rub.

4. Place in a heated skillet (I prefer cast iron), and cook over medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes or until fish is browned. Turn fillets occasionally to keep from sticking.
5. Add wine and butter, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for 2 minutes, Uncover and cook about 1 minute more, just until fish is opaque and sauce is reduced.
6. Serve with potatoes combined with greens, or pilaf rice.
    Yield: 4 servings.

Black Sea Cucumber – Odessa Style

Once in a while I get a hankering for a vegetarian meal. Then I usually stir-fry greens: broccoli, spinach, green beans—the usual suspects. I add onion and garlic, and my favorite Nuyorican spices: oregano, pepper, recao, etc. and serve it over rice or some such grain. Recently, I deviated from my norm. I whipped up Black Sea Cucumbers, Odessa Style. I acquired this recipe years ago—and I can’t recall from where. I’ve never been to the Black Sea region, or Odessa, which is in the Ukraine. I have no conception of their cuisine, but the recipe is termed “Odessa” style. Thus I assume it is a Ukrainian or Russian variant. Now, there is something known as the Black Sea Cucumber, or Lollyfish, which is a species of marine invertebrate. But this has no relation whatsoever to the vegetable cucumber. So, how this dish, which uses average cucumbers, came to be called Black Sea Cucumber – Odessa Style, I have no idea. If somebody out there knows the origins of this dish, let me know.

The recipe is fairly easy to prepare. And it can be served as an appetizer. But, as noted, I serve over it rice, couscous, or pasta. It makes a great veggie meal. If you want to follow in the Odessa vein, forgo the wine and serve it with a good chilled vodka. Make believe you’re one of the Romanovs, vacationing in the Black Sea and dining on this dish—before the Revolution, of course.


8 average cucumbers
1 large onion, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup mushrooms, washed and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 1/2 cups beef broth or stock
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
Salt to taste (preferably sea salt)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon caraway seed (optional)

1. Peel and slice the cucumbers. Place them in a pan or pot with cold, salted water to cover. Let stand 1 hour to firm them up.
2. In a large pan or skillet, heat the butter. Add the onion, mushrooms and garlic, and saute until the vegetables are lightly browned.
3. Drain cucumbers and add them to the onion pan.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the beef broth, tablespoon butter and flour; and thicken slightly, working into a smooth roux. Add to the pan, and simmer over low heat until the cucumbers are tender (about 4-5 minutes).
5. Season with salt and cayenne; and add the sour cream. Increase heat and bring gently to a boil. Add a sprinkling of caraway seed, if desired, and serve.
    Yield: 6 servings.  

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