Today I took a mental health day. I had no particular reason to take it today instead of Saturday, but I used it wisely to run errands, watch plenty of Anthony Bourdain, and pore over cookbooks in bed all afternoon.
Lately I’ve been getting tired of the boring cooking I’ve been doing… and by that I mean throwing together some pasta with some pasta sauce and calling it a meal. I’ll toot my own horn and say I’m a pretty decent cook, but I’m very limited. I don’t have a big enough repertoire! So, I have a new project.
Today I was inspired by a craving for Cuban food and will bring you one of my favorite Cuban staples: picadillo (fondly known as “Cuban sloppy Joe”)!
Start with the culinary trinity: onions, garlic, and olive oil. Then add salt, pepper, and ground meat (I used turkey since I had it in the freezer).
And now I’ll introduce the other players.
After letting this simmer to become less of a sauce and more of a thick stew, serve any way you want! Or you could even keep it more liquidy and eat it almost as chili! I prefer it as is, on a bun, with tortilla chips, cold, stuffed into empanadas, mixed with cheese in a dip…
Picadillo (makes 4-6 servings)
1 lb ground turkey (or ground beef)
1/2 large onion or 1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 T olive oil (use only 1 if cooking with ground beef)
1-16 oz. can diced or crushed tomato (texture preference)
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional, stirred in at end)
salt & pepper
In a stew pot, combine onions, garlic, and olive oil and sautée until tender, salt and pepper to taste. Add in ground turkey and stir occasionally until all the meat is browned and in small chunks. Once meat is browned, half drain a 16 oz can of diced (or crushed) tomato and add to the meat. Stir thoroughly and then add balsamic vinegar, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, and raisins. Cover and let simmer for at least 20 minutes, longer to achieve a thicker consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste while it simmers, especially if you used canned tomatoes without added salt (like me). Once the picadillo has reached the consistency you like, stir in the almonds (optional) and serve! You can serve it as it is, on a bun like a sloppy Joe, with tortilla chips, in empanadas, with cheese like a dip… the possibilities are endless!!
And did you notice the giant chunk of bread I ate mine with? Yes that’s right, I’ve been baking today, too! This time I’m back with my very own bread recipe, developed from a lot of online research and trawling through cookbooks today.
Buttermilk Wheat Bread (makes 1 loaf)
1 cup warm water
1 packet active yeast
2 T brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
olive oil spray
In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, water, and yeast and let the yeast develop until it is foamy and bubbling. Stir in the butter milk and salt. Combine the flours and mix into the wet ingredients, using a mixer with a dough hook or your hands in the same motion (like me!). Once dough is well mixed, transfer to a floured bread board and knead it, forming a bowl. Spray the same mixing bowl with a little olive oil spray then transfer the dough back to the bowl, covering it with a cloth and letting it rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour. Once the dough had adequately risen, punch it back down and knead it on the bread board with flour again. Transfer the dough to a non-stick loaf pan and make a shallow cut all the way down the length of the bread. Bake in a 350* oven for 30-35 minutes and enjoy!