Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Author: Oswald Rivera (page 1 of 74)

MEAT PIE

I  call this recipe a Meat Pie although it’s not a pie in the traditional sense. Basically it’s braised beef with a sour cream topping. I know, it’s a weird combination. Yet the result is delicious, and something out of the ordinary. Take a chance on it. You won’t be disappointed.

Let me add that, for the health conscious you can substitute ground chicken or turkey for the beef given in the recipe.  Impress everyone in your circle with this one.

MEAT PIE

Ingredients:

I pound ground beef
3 tablespoons olive  oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 pound ground beef
½ teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or ¼ teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 (16 oz.) container sour cream
1 packet Sazón Goya or Sa-són Accent
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced in half

Instructions:

  1.  Heat olive oil in a frypan or skillet over medium heat.
  2.  Add onion and cook until soft and translucent, Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.
  3.  Add ground beef and cook, stirring, until well browed.
  4.  Stir in oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.
  5.  In a bowl, mix sour cream with the sazón. Layer the sour cream mix over the beef. Place in a broiler and broil 4 minutes (do not burn).
  6.  Garnish with hard-boil eggs sand serve .
    Yield: 4-6 servings.

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TURMERIC RICE WITH FRUIT

 

TURMERIC RICE WITH FRUIT,

In the Middle East, combining rice with fruit  is a hallowed tradition. Recently, I decided to experiment with this concept, and came up with my own variation: Turmeric Rice with Fruit. In this version, for the fruit I added apricots, raisins, and dates.  It made for a real tasty meal.

This is s fun dish for any occasion. Also, note that in this recipe you can add more or less dried fruit to taste. The  dish goes well as a side to beef, pork or chicken. Or as a veggie meal on its own So, liven up your taste buds today. Family and friends will savior this one.

TURMERIC RICE WITH FRUIT

Ingredients:

1 cup rice
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ cup raisins
½ cup dried apricots, chopped
½ cup dates, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 teaspoons fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
3 drops tabasco sauce
1 bay leaf
1½ cups water
Salt and ground black pepper to taste

  1. Wash rice at least three times under cold running water to rid of starch.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a pot or saucepan. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring until wilted and onion is soft. Add rice, raisins, apricots, dates, turmeric, thyme, tabasco, bay leaf, water, salt and pepper. Stir to mix. Bring to a boil. Cover pot tightly and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until rice is tender.
  3. Discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Distribute the remaining butter throughout the rice. If not serving right away, keep rice covered in a warm place until it’s served.
    Yield: 4 servings.

BACALAO CON HUEVOS (Codfish with Eggs)

Salted cod or bacaloa, is a popular dish in Nuyorican cooking, even to this day, at least in my family. We still eat it frequently with rice. It all goes back to life on the island of Puerto Rico. Salt cod, at the time, was an inexpensive item, easy to find. It was cod packed in salt as a preservative. So, it didn’t’ need refrigeration. Thus, in bygone days, it was available everywhere, not only in the Caribbean but throughout the Mediterranean basin. And, to this day, it’s popular in Spanish, Portuguese, Greek and French cuisine; and prevalent in such far flung places as India and Canada.

As noted, salt cod is high in sodium content. That means it has to be prepared before cooking. This is simple enough: soak the cod overnight in cool water. Drain, then place the cod in a pot or pan of boiling  water to cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes. This removes all traces of excess salt. Finally, drain the cod and, when cool, peel any skin and bones. Then flake so that it is ready to cook. Let me state that most salt cod today is packaged already peeled and boned so, at least, that part of the procedure is taken care of.

Thankfully, the Rivera family has perfected  an easier method to desalt cod. In this case, you place the cod in a pot or saucepan with water to cover and let it stand 20 minutes. Then drain the cod, remove the skin and bones (if not already done), place fish in a skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. This method is quicker than the overnight soaking bit. But, we’re not done yet. The recipe given also calls for achiote,  which is simply cooking 1 tablespoon annatto seeds (found in most supermarkets in 8-oz. jars), in ½ cup olive oil, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Lastly, straining the oil  into a glass jar or container. The achiote gives the recipe a lovely bright orange-red color and distinctive flavor. If you pressed for time, you can substitute a packet of Goya Sasón or Sa-són Accent mixed in with a tablespoon of olive oil.

Yeah, I know you’re thinking, preparing this dish calls for a lot in terms of time and patience. But, my friends, believe me, it’s well worth it. Once you add the eggs to the codfish, you have a dish suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner—and one you will go back too time and again.

BACALOA CON HUEVOS
(Codfish with Eggs)

Ingredients::

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 pound salt cod, prepared for cooking (see above)
3 tablespoons achiote (see above)
6 eggs, lightly beaten

Instructions:

  1. Heat oil in a large frying pan or skillet. Sauté onion and garlic until onion is tender and slightly brown.
  2. Add flaked codfish and achiote coloring. Cook for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add beaten eggs. Sauté over low heat until eggs are scrambled.
    Yield: 4 servings.

WHITE BEANS, GREEK STYLE

This is a wonderful bean dish that goes well with any grain, be it rice, couscous, quinoa or farro. It also compliments pasta, as we did this time around serving it with orzo, that type of pasta that looks like rice but is actually made from whole grain semolina.

I like cooking beans from scratch. Which means you have to soak the beans overnight in cool water to cover by at least 2 inches. When soaking beans, you can cover the pot, but it does not  have to be refrigerated. Then drain beans and cook as directed. If pressed for time, you can go the quicky way and use canned beans. It’s time efficient, but it will not give you the same flavor and texture. Your choice. Whichever way you prepare it, the recipe given makes for a great veggie dinner.

WHITE BEANS, GREEK STYLE

Ingredients:

2 cups small white beans
¼ cup olive oil
4 scallions, rinsed and chopped
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 large clove garlic, peeled and pressed

  1. Soak beans overnight. Drain, cover with fresh water by at least 2 inches. Bring to a boil, and cook beans over moderate-low heat until almost tender but not mushy (about 1 hour).
  2. Add rest of ingredients and mix well. Lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until beans are completely tender. If water dries out, you can  add more water as needed to complete the process.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.

ARROZ ROJO CON PESCADO (Red Fish with Rice)

 

Back on the block, this was one of those cheapie dinners that got us through the lean times.  Rice was one of those common staples that we had frequently, and saffron was the ingredient that gave it color and flavor. But saffron, now and then, was expensive. So we would use tomato sauce  and, when times got really bad, tomato juice in lieu of saffron. Fish was also another cheap and natural accompaniment to the rice. The result was a delicious dinner we all enjoyed—regardless of economic circumstances.

In this dish, we would we would poach the fish and then combine it with the rice.  So it ended up as a one-dish meal that was great to behold, and marvelous.

ARROZ ROJO CON PESCADO
(Red Rice and Fish)

Ingredients:

2 cups rice
1¼ cups tomato juice
¼ cup water
1 pound halibut or any form-fleshed fish (cod, haddock, flounder, etc.)
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
2 strips lemon peel
4 whole black peppercorns
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
10 oz. package green peas, cooked to package directions
Paprika

Instructions:

  1. Wash rice at least three times in cold water and drain to rid it of starch. What in Pennsylvania Dutch country is known as “washing in several waters.”
  2. In a heavy kettle or pot, mix water and tomato juice and bring to a roiling boil. Add rice, cover and simmer on low heat until liquid is absorbed (about 20-25 minutes).
  3. Meanwhile, rinse fish under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Place in a skillet or pan, add 2 cups water, bay leaf, lemon peel, and peppercorns. Bring water to a boil, cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 7-10 minutes or until fish is opaque.
  4. Remove fish from pan and cut into bite-sized pieces. Toss with the rice and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Place rice in a serving dish or platter. Make a well in the center and put in cooked green peas. Sprinkle lightly with paprika and serve.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.

BRAISED BRISKET

 

This is as recipe that I prepared for Passover. Some of our Jewish friend had invited us over to partake in their ritual Passover feast. Only requirement was that we each bring a dish; and I was entrusted with the brisket. Let me state that this is my own brisket dinner recipe and it has a Nuyorican spin to it. I add such ingredients as oregano and sofrito, that aromatic mix of herbs and spices traditional in Puerto Rican cooking. If you don’t have sofrito, you can use a packet of either Goya Sazón or Sazón Accent. This is a slow cooked meal and, blessedly, it was a hit with everyone.

So, here it is one, my  Nuyorican version of Braised Brisket. Let me add that this dish is for that special occasion, and it does take time and patience; but the effort is more than worth it.

BRAISED BRISKET

Ingredients:

 4-6 pound brisket (preferably first cut)
¼  cup olive oil
1 tablespoons dried oregano or to taste
1 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
3  whole onions, peeled and sliced thinly
10 whole cloves garlic, peeled and squashed with your palm, the side of a knife or a cleaver
3 bay leaves
1 cup water (beef or chicken broth can be substituted)
¼ cup red wine (preferably dry not sweet)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon sofrito

Instructions:

  1. If frozen, thaw brisket. Rinse under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2. Drizzle with olive oil, season with oregano and thyme, and brown brisket in a skillet on both sides.
  3. Place half of the chopped onions, 5 of the garlic cloves and the bay leaves in the bottom of a Dutch oven or large pot
  4. Place brisket on top of the onions and garlic.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together the water or broth, wine,  black pepper, paprika, turmeric, and sofrito. Pour the water and spice mixture into a skillet and heat over medium heat until  hot and bubbly, using the liquid to deglaze the pan and loosening brown bits gently from the bottom of the skillet with a spatula. Pour the contents of the skillet into the brisket pot.
  6. Top brisket with the remaining sliced onions and garlic cloves. Cover and cook on medium-high heat until liquid steams. Lower heat to medium and cook until fork tender (about 2 hours). Tenderness will increase as it cooks, so take it out when it’s tender to your liking. Most people like it very tender but not so soft that it is falling apart. You want it firm enough to slice but tender enough that the edges shred with a fork.
  7. Remove brisket from the pot and let it rest on the cutting board fat-side up for 20 minutes. Then cut the brisket into thin slices against the grain.
  8. Meanwhile, mix together 2 tablespoons cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and stir into the liquid in the pot (after removing bay leaves).
  9. Once sauce is ready, return slices to the pot and mix with sauce. Heat the meat slices on medium heat until sauce is hot, bubbly and thickened around the meat (around 5-8 minutes). Serve sliced brisket hot with sauce.
    Yield: 8 or more servings.

STIR FRIED ZUCCHINI

This is one of the easiest recipes to prepare; and makes for a satisfying  veggie dinner. This is not an Oriental stir-fry. This is a Nuyorican stir-fry. The traditional accompaniment to this dish is rice. In this sequence, we paired it with couscous, and it came out just fine. It desired, you can serve it with potatoes or with pasta. The possibilities are endless. This dish uses a minimum of ingredients, You have the usual Nuyorican touch: olive oil, garlic, onion,  oregano, ground pepper, etc. Also,  we added roasted red peppers for extra flavor.

STIR-FRIED ZYCCHINI

Ingredients:

2 zucchini, washed and slice into small rounds (do not peel)
¼ cup olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and slice into thin rounds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon fresh chopped thyme leaves or ¼ teaspoon dried
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 (7-oz.)  jar roasted peppers, coarsely chopped

Instructions:

  1. In a large skillet or frypan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
  2. Stir in the zucchini, oregano and thyme leaves, and sauté until the zucchini is just cooked though and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and ground pepper.
  3.  Add roasted red peppers and stir to combine until heated.  As noted, serve over rice, couscous, potatoes or favorite grain.
    Yield: 4 servings.

ALBONDIGAS GUISADA EN SALSA (Meaatballs cooked in Sauce)

 

We all are familiar with meatballs, especially when paired with spaghetti.  In Nuyorican cuisine we also have our version of meatballs, or Albondigas Guisadas en Salsa i.e. Meatballs Cooked in Sauce. Most of the time we serve this dish with rice or potatoes. In some recipes, a lot of what we call criollo items are added such as pimentos (sweet bell peppers), Spanish olives, chili peppers, cilantro, etc. In the version given below, we keep it simple: stewed in tomato sauce.

This recipe calls for beef. You can substitute ground pork or lamb. If you’re health conscious, you can use ground turkey or chicken. Whatever  meat you use, it’s a very delicious dish.

Note that in this recipe we include sofrito, that aromatic mix of herbs and spices common to Puerto Rican cooking. In this blog, back in 11/08/10, I posted a sofrito recipe. You can also access a sofrito video I did on 07/10/14. If that’s too much of a bother, you can just sauté 1 teaspoon of turmeric in 2 teaspoons olive oil and add to the recipe. Or simply substitute a packet of Goya Sazόn or Sa-zόn Accent, an ingredient you can find these days in most supermarkets.

ALBONDIGAS GUSISADA EN SALSA
(Meatballs Cooked in sauce)

Ingredients:

1½ pounds lean ground beef
8 whole black peppercorns
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 cup bread crumbs or cracker crumbs
1 egg lightly beaten
½ cup flour
Vegetable oil for frying (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons sofrito (see above)
1 cup tomato sauce

Instructions:

  1. Place meat in a bowl.
  2. In a mortar, crush peppercorns, garlic, oregano and salt. Blend in olive oil and vinegar.
  3. Add spices to the meat, along with bread crumbs and beaten egg. Mix thoroughly.
  4. Form meatballs into balls. (Note: we like large meatballs. I mean the size of Spauldings.  If you’re more conservative in your tastes, you can make the meatballs spoonful size).
  5. Coat balls with flour.
  6. In a large skillet, heat vegetable oil, add meatballs and cook evenly over medium-high heat until brown (about 10 minutes). Cover, remove from heat and set aside.
  7. In a small saucepan, sauté the sofrito over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Lower heat, add tomato sauce and simmer, covered, about 5 minutes,
  8. Return meatballs to stove. Add tomato sauce and cook over medium heat, covered, for 15 minutes.
    Yield: 6 servings.

NUYORICAN PASTA FAZOOL

We all know of Pasta fazool, that popular dish of pasta and beans traditionally served as a  soup. Normally, the beans used are cannellini, navy beans, or great northern beans; although I’ve come across variants where elbow macaroni or ditalini may be substituted. Recently, I had some canned white beans on hand, plus some bucatini pasta. So I made my own variation, adding some common Puerto Rican ingredients we have in our cooking. That being the case, I call this dish, Nuyorican Pasta Fazool. And it is not as soupy as in the traditional Italian version. I made it more of a sauce, to which I added spinach, which  I paired with the bucatini. Note that for this variation, you can use whatever string pasta desired, be it spaghetti, linguini, fusilli or even fettuccine.

With some crusty bread and a good red wine (or white, if preferred) you have a new take on an old favorite. And, yes, you can imagine where this is going. Add hoisin or soy sauce to the beans, and served over Asian noodles and now you have Chinese (or Japanese or Thai) Pasta fazool. You probably think, this is getting crazy here. But doesn’t the thrust of cooking involve innovation and experimentation?  As I ‘ve stated numerous times: let your imagination rule.

NUYORICAN PASTA FAZOOL

Ingredients:

1 pound (16 oz.) package bucatini or favorite pasta
1 bunch fresh spinach, about 1 pound
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 (15.5 oz.) cans white beans, drained
½ cup water
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 packet Goya Sazόn or Sa-zόn Accent

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Cut off the thick stems of the spinach and discard. Rinse the spinach in cold running water to make sure it’s clean, and shred it in pieces with your hands.
  3. In a large pan or pot, heat oil on medium heat. Add garlic and cook briefly, stirring until just golden.
  4. Add the beans and  the ½ cup water. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Add sazόn and cook about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the spinach and stir to combine. When the spinach has wilted, place cooked pasta in a serving dish. Top with bean/spinach mixture and serve.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.

SAUCED TOFU

I call this recipe Sauced Tofu. Normally we would use oyster sauce or a soy sauce variant. This time we made our own sauce from scratch. The dish has  all the Boricua herbs we use in our cooking, so you could also call it Nuyorican Tofu.  Whatever name you give it, you won’t be disappointed. We also paired the dish with spinach and Chinese noodles; and we mixed it all in a wok. If you don’t have a wok, just cook the sauce in a large pan then add the cooked noodles  or favorite pasta to it.   And, if you prefer, you can pair the sauced tofu with rice. The possibilities are endless. It makes for a great vegetarian dinner. That’s what makes this dish so unique.

As mentioned in prior posts, it’s a good idea, even with extra firm tofu, to have it pressed before cooking.  Pressing the tofu squeezes out extra moisture, making it firmer and dryer which means you get a wonderfully crisp exterior when you cook it. Let me add,  if you’re using tofu as is, it doesn’t require pressing; but if you are sautéing or cooking it in a sauce, pressing is best. It also holds its shape better during cooking and ensures your seasonings won’t be diluted.  Pressing tofu is no big deal: wrap the block of tofu in a paper towel and put it on a large plate; then put something heavy such as a frying pan on top, weigh it down further with cans and jars, and leave for 30 minutes. The tofu will be about two-thirds its original thickness, and less than a ¼ teaspoon of water will have been removed. That’s it, now you can go on with the recipe.

SAUCED TOFU

Ingredients:

1 block tofu (usually between 14-16 ounces)
1 bunch fresh spinach, about 1 pound
16 ounce package Chinese noodles or favorite string pasta
Half a stick butter
¼ cup flour
1½ cup water (can substitute chicken or vegetable broth)
Salt and black ground pepper to taste
¼ cup dried oregano
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 packet Sazón Goya or Sa-zón Accent

Instructions:

  1.  After pressing (see above),  rinse tofu under running water and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into bite-sized pieces, about ¼-inch.
  2. Cut off the thick stems of the spinach and discard. Rinse the spinach in cold running water to make sure it’s clean, and shred it in pieces with your hands.
  3.  Cook noodles according to package directions.
  4.  Meanwhile, in a wok, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and stir to combine.
  5.  Add water or both and thicken, stirring constantly, into a sauce. You can add more water depending upon how thick you want it.
  6.  Add salt, pepper, oregano and garlic. Stir in sazón.
  7.  Add pressed tofu pieces and spinach.  Mix well until heated. Add cooked noodles, stir to combine and serve immediately.
    Yield: 4 servings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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