Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Tag: Teaspoon

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.

MUSLO CORNERO A LA CARIBE
   (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. 

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.

 

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.

MONKFISH FILLETS IN WINE-BUTTER SAUCE

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.
   
          

Scallops Cooked in Garlic Butter

Most people I know consider scallops to be one of these “exotic” seafood. Well, they’re not. They’re classified as  salt water clams or the, fancy term, marine bivalve. Whatever fancy term you use, the fact is they’re delicious if properly prepared. In Asian cuisine, Caribbean cuisine, and European classical cuisine, they’re considered a delicacy. Scallops today are found almost everywhere; and they’re pretty easy to cook. The recipe given below is the quickest, most efficient way I know to make scallops.

The two types of scallops we’re most familiar with are sea scallops and bay scallops. Sea scallops are relatively large, maybe 1 1/2 to 2-inches in diameter. Bay scallops are much smaller; and they are considered sweeter than sea scallops. There are other scallops in the repertoire but, for our purposes, bay scallops and sea scallops are what we usually used in  American cooking. In the dish given below you can use either. If the scallops are too large, just  simply slice in half. The scallops are sauteed in butter with garlic. Add some pepper, salt and oregano, and that’s it. Nothing could be easier or tastier. It’s a Nuyorican take on a splendid, classical seafood. This dish is great over pasta. This time around we served it over brown rice.

SCALLOPS COOKED IN GARLIC BUTTER

1 pound scallops, fresh or frozen (if frozen, have them defrosted)
1/4 cup butter
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Juice of half a lemon
Tartar sauce

1. Wash scallops under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. In a large saucepan or skillet, heat butter and garlic on medium heat, about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the scallops to cover the bottom of the pan without crowding. Add salt, pepper and oregano. Cook quickly over high heat, stirring constantly, until scallops are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add lemon juice and cook about 1-2 minute longer. Remove from heat and serve immediately with tarter sauce.
     Yield: 4 servings.

Adobo

Adobo, along with sofrito and achiote, is a magic word to those of us whose forbears hail from the Caribbean. It is an indispensable item in our cuisine. At its basic it’s simply a mix of black peppercorns, oregano and garlic. In the old days these ingredients were crushed in a mortar and the mix was rubbed thoroughly into meat, fish or poultry. That’s still the way it’s done by purists (and yours truly). Back on the block, most people just sprinkled the meat with ground pepper, ground garlic, dried oregano and, sometimes, onion powder, then marinated it in olive oil and vinegar. Others, like my Uncle Phillip, preferred fresh lime juice to the vinegar. And there were no strict guidelines. We all did it by eye measurement and repetition.

Since then, I’ve discovered that adobo is not solely a Puerto Rican or Caribbean thing. In the town of Puebla, in Mexico’s central range, they have a version of adobo that is a paste of ancho chiles, garlic, peppercorns and cumin seeds. And they normally use it when cooking pork. This is interesting, since in some Puerto Rican versions of adobo , they may also add cumin seeds. In my family we didn’t add cumin seeds. We just kep it to the basics.

When I was growing up in Spanish Harlem, no one knew about adobo outside my neighborhood. It was well known in the Dominican enclaves on upper Broadway, but that’s as far as it went. As adobo was popularized by assorted gourmands and gourmets, it was, like all else, commercialized. So that today you can find it in a jar in any store. It’s convenient but, if you want the real thing (and not just something with chemicals and preservatives), you can make your own adobo quickly and efficiently. And it’s far more tasty and healthy than the store-bought stuff. The recipe given below is the one we’ve been using in my family for generations. You can go the traditional method and use a mortar and pestle to grind the ingredients, or  not. Also note that the ingredients can be doubled or tripled, if you want more. Just store the remainder in an air-tight container away from heat and light or in the fridge.    

ADOBO

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper or 8 whole peppercorns, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or three cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon onion powder (optional)

If using fresh peppercorns and garlic, just combine with other ingredients and crush in a mortar. If not, just combine all ingredients in a bowl. Another variation is to heat the salt and peppercorns in a dry skillet on medium heat until the spices are lightly toasted (about 3 minutes). Then combine with the other ingredients and grind in a blender or spice mill. Some say this renders a more fragrant adobo. In the Rivera family we just mix the ingredients and forego the frying part. Your choice; and enjoy! 

Home Made Fish Nuggets

In recent times our illustrious fast food culture had co-opted fish nuggets. They are now selling like hotcakes in every fast food venue. Problem is, though they may be artificially tasty, they suck in that they are very bad for you health-wise. They are chock full of sugar, chemicals and artificial ingredients. In essence, you are ingesting poison. So why eat this crap when you can make tasty fish nuggets at home? That’s right, home-made fish nuggets at very minimal expense and time. You can also make you own dipping sauce as well. With that in mind here’s a quickie, tasty recipe for crunchy fish nuggets with an appropriate sauce.

The recipe is easy as pie: coat the fish with seasoned milk, then dredge in seasoned bread crumbs; bake and serve with a honey-curried mustard dipping sauce. The whole thing takes about twenty-five minutes to prepare, if that. By the way, you can try the same recipe with chicken fillets and have chicken nuggets. It works just as well.

HOME MADE FISH NUGGETS

1/2 cup milk
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/4 pound cod or haddock fillets, cut into 1 by 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or more if you want it really spicy)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Honey-Curried Mustard Sauce:
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons mustard (preferably coarse-grained)
1/2 teaspoon curry powder (more if you want it really spicy)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, salt and pepper to taste.
3. In another shallow bowl or pie plate, mix together the breadcrumbs, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder.
4. Immerse the fish nuggets in  seasoned milk, turning to coat evenly. Then dredge the nuggets in the breadcrumb mixture, coating all sides evenly.
5. Arrange the fish on a greased baking pan (I prefer cast-iron), baking dish or greased foil paper. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until the breadcrumb coating is golden brown and crisp (the fish should be opaque at the center).
6. Meanwhile, prepare the dipping sauce: in a small bowl, whisk together the honey, mustard, curry powder, salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve the fish nuggets with the honey-curried mustard sauce.
    Yield: 4 servings.

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Sautéed Cod with Spinach

One of my favorite seafood is cod fillets. And one of my favored veggies is spinach (I’m like Popeye, I love the stuff). And whenever I get the chance I like to combine the two. It’s a delicious and healthy combo. So here’s my latest creation in that regard. And it has a Asian spin to it since among the ingredients there is soy sauce and ginger. It’s an easy enough recipe: first you whisk up the vinaigrette, then you cook the spinach, roast the fish, and finally serve the mix with the vinaigrette spooned around the spinach. The mild, sweet flavor of the cod is a perfect match for  the spinach and dressing.

SAUTÉED COD WITH SPINACH

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon plus 1 small shallot, finely minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 bunches spinach, washed and dried
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon butter
Salt to taste
4 (6-ounce) cod fillets, about 1 1/2-inch thick, rinsed and pat dried with paper towels
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, and 1 teaspoon minced shallot. Whisk to combine, and set aside.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet or fry-pan over high heat. Add spinach, tossing until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add garlic, rest of minced shallot and butter. Sauté until soften, about 2-3 minutes. Once spinach is tender (about 5 minutes total) season with salt. Set aside and keep warm.
4. Set a large ovenproof pan over medium heat (I prefer cast-iron for this part). Meanwhile, season cod fillets lightly with salt and pepper. Pour remaining olive oil into the pan, and once oil begins to shimmer, lay fillets, flat-side down, into the hot pan. Once a thick golden crust forms on the underside of the cod (about 5 minutes), transfer pan to the oven and roast until fish turns white all the way through (about 4 minutes).
5. Remove pan from oven. Securing the top of each fillet with your hand or a fork, and the bottom with a spatula, gently flip the fillets. Return pan to the oven and roast 1 minute more.
6. Divide spinach among four plates, and top with spinach and fillets. Whisk vinaigrette once more and spoon it around spinach. Or, if desired, you can place fillets on a large serving bowl (or leave it in the pan), top with spinach and pour vinaigrette over and around it. Its your call whether to serve individually or  in separate plates.
    Yield: 4 servings.

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Roasted Turkey Breast

In the Rivera family, roasted turkey breast was one of those special occasion dishes. Mainly we had a whole turkey during the Thanksgiving holiday. Turkey breast was that optional treat instead of the Sunday beef or pork roast. We liked it because our family rendition came out moist and juicy; and the whole thing could be done in about an hour or so depending on the size. Figure it this way: a small turkey breast weighing 3 to 4 pounds requires, on average, 1 to 1 1/2 hours cooking time. A larger breast weighing 6 to 7 pounds cooks in 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours. In all cases, after roasting, always allow the breast to sit 15 to 20 minutes so that the juices have time to be absorbed throughout the meat. So, surprise the family or your significant other for that special dinner. You’ll get deserved applause.

ROASTED BONELESS TURKEY BREAST

1 4-5 pound turkey breast, skin on
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 lemon
3-4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red wine or brandy
2-3 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1. Rinse the turkey breast under cold running water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels.
2. Place the turkey breast on a plate and spear all over with a fork. Drizzle with the olive oil and rub thoroughly with the salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder.  Pat the seasonings well into the skin. Place the breast in a plastic zip-lock bag; and skirt with the juice from the lemon. Shake the bag until the breast is thoroughly coated with the marinade.
3. Place the turkey breast in the refrigerator and let it marinate overnight.
4. Next day, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place the breast on a roasting pan (I prefer cast-iron). Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
5. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, and remove the breast from the oven when the temperature reaches 155 degrees. Cover the breast with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. During this time the internal temperature of the meat will continue to rise approximately 5 to 6 degrees higher. Increasing the temperature over 170 degrees will probably result in a dry and tough turkey breast—and you don’t want that.
6. While the turkey breast is resting, you can make the gravy: put the roasting pan over one of the range burners on medium heat. Sprinkle the flour into the pan juices, stirring for a few minutes. Add the red wine or brandy, and scrape the pan to lift bits that are stuck to the bottom. Cook for a minute or so to burn off the alcohol content. Pour in the chicken broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a simmer, add the butter and stir until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7. Slice the turkey breast on the diagonal and serve with the gravy.
    Yield: 6-8 servings.

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