Cuban Picadillo is basically a sloppy joe without the bun. But picadillo has a little more pizzazz, thanks to the sweet and piquant flavor combination of raisins and olives simmered with ground beef and tomato sauce. Picadillo is home cooked comfort food, the type of easy weeknight meal that we love.
The ingredients in Cuban Picadillo are a reflection of its history. Peppers, tomatoes and olives can be traced back to Spanish colonization. The blending of sweet and acidic ingredients is also a big part of Caribbean cuisine.
When I spotted this recipe on one of my favourite blogs - Skinny Taste, I knew I had to give it a try. A bonus was that it also provided an excuse to dig my new crock pot out of the box.
This recipe makes a lot - we had two meals out of it and froze 3 containers for future use. You won't mind at all though because it is just so darn good!
Crock Pot Picadillo
2 1/2 lbs 93% lean ground beef 1 cup minced onion 1 cup diced red bell peppers 3 cloves garlic, minced 1/4 cup minced cilantro 1 small tomato, diced 8 oz can tomato sauce 1/4 cup alcaparrado (manzanilla olives, pimientos, capers) or green olives 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp garlic powder 2 bay leaves kosher salt and fresh pepper, to taste
Brown meat in a large deep skillet on medium-high heat; season with generously with salt and a little pepper. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat up into small pieces. When meat is no longer pink, drain all the liquid from pan. Add the onions, garlic and bell peppers to the meat and cook an addition 3-4 minutes.
Transfer the meat to the slow cooker, then add tomato, cilantro, tomato sauce, 1 1/4 cups water, alcaparrado (or olives) then add the spices.
Set slow cooker to HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 8. After it's ready, taste for salt and add more as needed. Discard the bay leaves and serve over brown rice.
I've always heard concerns raised about the gasses created by cows. I had no idea that it was this bad!
Gassy German cows blamed for barn explosion
BERLIN (AP) — A herd of dairy cows nearly lifted the roof off their barn in central Germany when methane released by the animals caused an explosion.
Police in Hesse state said in a statement that a static electric charge apparently triggered the detonation, and a spurt of flame, on Monday at a farm in Rasdorf. The roof was slightly damaged and one cow suffered light burns. No people were hurt.
Police say 90 cows are kept in the shed and it wasn't clear why quantities of methane had built up. Bovine belching and flatulence releases large quantities of the gas.
Yesterday was the day set aside by the UN on which the world remembers those affected by the Holocaust.
It seems fitting to head back to Berlin on Travel Tuesday to view another of the memorials to Holocaust victims that the German government has built over the past 10 years. In 2008 the German government unveiled a memorial to gay men killed in the Holocaust, set in Berlin's central Tiergarten Park, opposite the Jewish Holocaust Memorial.
The memorial consists of a four meter-tall block of concrete with a small window on one side. Through the glass, visitors can see a black-and-white film of same-sex couples kissing. An inscription says, "A simple kiss could get you in trouble."
In front of the memorial lay a bouquet of roses left by a previous visitor.
The Holocaust's impact on the Jewish population of Europe is better known than the fate of gays under the Nazis, but Hitler's regime was profoundly homophobic, and gays were relentlessly persecuted. In fact, homosexuality was persecuted to a degree unprecedented in history.
In 1935, the National Socialists issued an order making all male homosexuality a crime; the provisions governing homosexual behavior in Section 175 of the Criminal Code were significantly expanded and made stricter. A kiss was enough reason to prosecute. There were more than 50,000 convictions. Under Section 175, the punishment was imprisonment; in some cases, convicted offenders were castrated. Thousands of men were sent to concentration camps for being gay; many of them died there. They died of hunger, disease and abuse or were the victims of targeted killings.
Lately when I open the freezer a lump of something cold, and heavy 'jumps' out at my feet. I know it is a sign that I am buying too much or not cooking enough or a combination of both. I blame my mother for the former - I was raised in a household where the mantra was 'if something was on sale for a good price STOCK UP!' Here is how it works - when I spotted ground turkey for 0.99 cents a package (yes, 0.99 cents!) I bought 10 packages. It mattered not that I didn't need nor do we often cook with ground turkey it was a good deal so I stocked up.
Mom blames this tendency to hoard food on being raised in the depression.
She was born in 1940!!!
Unfortunately I blame it on a strong hoarding gene which runs through the family. In me it manifests itself in two full freezers, a pantry bursting at the seams, and supplies of food wherever I can find space. If I ever have a busload of folks show up at the door just before dinner I'll have no trouble putting a hot meal in front of them in an hour or so.
Back to the turkey.
Annoyed that the package of turkey almost broke my toe, I decided to thaw it out and use it up. Because it was cold, dark, and dreary I decided to use it in something that would be warm and comforting.
I'vemade a number of turkey casseroles in the past but wanted to try something new. I found this recipe on Simply Recipes - my go to blog for tasty things to cook. I liked that it wasn't the usual 'open 3 cans of soup and dump all sorts of stuff into a pot' sort of casserole. This casserole is a step above those. Because of this it takes some extra steps to get ready but do not fret, it is worth every bit of the effort!
Turkey Noodle Casserole
12 oz egg noodles 1/4 cup unsalted butter 2 cups sliced shallots or thinly sliced onions 2 cups diced celery 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/3 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine 1 1/2 cups of milk 1/4 cup cream 2 cups chicken or turkey stock 2 teaspoons dry tarragon 2 Tbsp whole grain mustard 3 cups coarsely chopped cooked turkey 6 ounces grated Gruyere cheese Salt 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 2 Tbsp lemon juice 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 1 Tbsp melted butter Freshly chopped parsley for garnish
Preheat oven to 375°F. Start heating 4 quarts of water for the pasta. Add 2 tablespoons of salt to the water (1 Tbsp for every 2 quarts of water).
Melt butter in a large, thick-bottomed pot (5-quart) on medium heat. Add the shallots and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook over low heat, stirring for about 3 minutes.
Put the noodles into the boiling water you've heated. Follow the package directions and cook the noodles for 2 minutes less than the range given on the package. The pasta should be a bit firmer than al dente. So, for example, if the package instructions say bring to a boil and cook for 6 to 10 minutes, add the pasta to the hot water, return the water to a boil and cook it for 4 minutes. While the pasta is cooking continue on with the recipe.
Into the saucepan with the butter, shallots, celery, and flour, add the dry vermouth and let bubble for a minute. Then stir in the milk, cream, and stock. Add the tarragon. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for about 5 to 8 minutes.
During this time the pasta will be ready. Drain it and rinse it with cold water to stop the cooking.
Add the grated cheese and mustard to the pot. Stir until the cheese is melted. Add the chopped cooked turkey to the pot. Add salt to taste (depending on if you are using salted stock or not, or salted butter or not, that could be no added salt to as much as a teaspoon).Add freshly ground black pepper.
Now it's time to add the cooked pasta to the pot. If the noodles have stuck together, rinse them in the colander with a little water to separate the noodles from each other. Add the noodles to the pot with the turkey. Stir in the lemon juice. Adjust seasonings to your taste. Transfer the mixture to a buttered 3-quart casserole.
Sprinkle with panko and drizzle 1 Tbsp melted butter over the top.
Bake the casserole in the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it is bubbling and the top is golden.
Just before Christmas I found something in a store that I have never seen in Canada before - Guanciale. It is likely that you're sitting there thinking 'what the heck is that?'
Guanciale is an Italian cured meat product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. Its name is derived from guancia, Italian for cheek or pillow.Because it's largely fat, guanciale has a more seductive pork flavor and delicate texture than cured meat that comes from the belly pancetta, which is a common substitute, though the flavor isn't the same).
Guanciale is traditionally used in classic pastas, like spaghetti all carbonara and bucatini all'amatriciana.
With this coveted ingredient in hand I decided to whip up some Bucatini all'Amatriciana. This classic sauce takes its spiciness from black pepper and dried chiles and its depth of flavor from guanciale. It is commonly associated with Lazio and Rome, but is actually from the town of Amatrice, which was just over the border into the Abruzzo before Mussolini redrew the maps.
This was easy to make and tasted amazing. I know the recipe is not traditionally Italian (it would have no garlic in Italy) but if you can't be in Italy for dinner it is not a bad substitute.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 4 oz. thinly sliced guanciale, pancetta, or chopped unsmoked bacon 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 3/4 cup minced onion 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 28-oz. can peeled tomatoes with juices, crushed by hand Kosher salt 12 oz. dried bucatini 1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino (about 1 oz.)
Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add guanciale and sauté until crisp and golden, about 4 minutes. Add pepper flakes and black pepper; stir for 10 seconds. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, until soft, about 8 minutes.
Add tomatoes, reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season with salt; add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 9 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
Add drained pasta to sauce in skillet and toss vigorously with tongs to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water and cook until sauce coats pasta and pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. (Add a little pasta water if sauce is too dry.) Stir in cheese and serve.
The next memorial we saw was located immediately in front of the Bundestag.
This row of slabs (which looks like a fancy slate bicycle rack) is a memorial to the 96 members of the Reichstag who were persecuted and murdered because their politics didn’t agree with Chancellor Hitler’s. They were part of the Weimar Republic, the weak and ill-fated attempt at post-WWI democracy in Germany. These were the people who could have stopped Hitler. So they tried…and they became his first victims.
Each slate slab memorializes one man: his name, party, and the date and location of his death — generally in a concentration camp. They are honored here, in front of the building in which they worked.
This only accounts for the elected National leaders who were murdered by the Nazis. It would be a mistake to think that this was the limit of Nazi attacks on the opposition.
The remnants of the Communist and Socialist parties and members of the trade unions actively resisted the Nazi regime. Especially in the early years of the Third Reich, political prisoners were a significant portion of the concentration camp inmates. At the end of July 1933, about 27,000 political prisoners were being held in concentration camps in "protective custody." During its twelve year existence, Dachau was always a camp for political prisoners.
The idea of a central memorial to the Jews murdered by the Nazis was first proposed in 1988, when German Jewish journalist Lea Rosh founded a group to support its construction and to collect donations. But a year later, the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was busy with the tasks of rebuilding and reunifying the two Berlins and the two states.
The idea was proposed again a few years later, and a resolution was passed by the Bundestag in 1998 to erect the memorial. This time, its completion was delayed by bureaucratic hassles, disagreements over concept and design, and opposition from many Germans.
In June 1995, the plan of Christine Jackob-Marks (a large sloping concrete surface with the names of the victims chiseled in) was declared the winner, but Bundeskanzler Helmut Kohl rejected it.
A plan by Peter Eisenman, a New York architect, emerged as the winner of the next competition in November 1997. In June 1998, the Bundestag decided in favor of Eisenman's plan, modified by attaching a museum, which Eisenman would also design.
Construction of the memorial began in April 2003. In October 2003, it was discovered that the German company Degussa provided some materials for the memorial and construction was halted - because a daughter company of Degussa had produced the Zyklon B poison used to murder people in the Nazi gas chambers. After some discussion, construction was resumed one month later, with continued involvement of Degussa.
On December 15, 2004, the memorial was finished. It was dedicated on May 10, 2005, as part of the celebration of the 60th anniversary of V-E Day. It opened to the public on May 12, 2005.
The memorial consists of about 2,700 concrete slabs ("steles") arranged in a grid pattern covering 19,000 square meters. The steles are 2.38m long, 0.95m wide and vary in height from 0.2m to 4.8m. The ground slopes unevenly. Visitors are encouraged to walk between the steles; the memorial can be entered from all sides and offers no prescribed path.
This feeling of groundlessness or instability which one feels as soon as you enter the memorial is thought to be an attempt to evoke the experiences of the Jewish victims of the Holocaust; visitors can wander through the stelae until they reach a disorientating claustrophobia, unsure of where they are and how to get out.
We left the snow behind and headed to California for a long weekend of fun. We shoppedm toured wineries, tasted olive oil, met up with good friends, and ate some wonderful food. I can't wait for slow bowl 2009.