Tag Archives: chile pepper

Picadillo (Cuban-Style Hash)

PicadilloPicadillo is Spanish for “hash” (or “mince”).  Essentially, this is a Cuban version of the good old American mélange, eaten on its own or used as a filling for empanadas. Spanish influences, specifically Andalusian, are obvious due to the addition of olives and raisins. Picadillo is often served topped with hard-cooked or fried eggs and is usually accompanied by fried plantains.

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Where are my fellow chile heads?!  
Although I love peppers, I’m not one of those crazy people that shoves whole habaneros in her mouth… funny story about that, actually.  
The year was 1993 and I was living in Guadalajara, México.  I was a student at the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara and a group of us were out strolling the Mercado Libertad, which is a huge multi-level market.  It houses everything from food to shoes to flowers.  Here we are, a bunch of 20 year old kids walking around with eyes popping out of our heads.  This was the first time most of us had been on our own in a foreign country.  We happened upon this vendor of chiles.  You know where this is going, don’t you?!  A girl in our group stated that she could handle really spicy food and was going to buy a few peppers.   We tried (in vain) to warn her that these were seriously hot and she shouldn’t pop the entire thing into her mouth.  Let’s just that the afternoon took a turn… to the Emergency Room!   I guess I shouldn’t have said a “funny” story,  just “a story”.

I’m not one to eat a whole habanero, but I do enjoy a little heat.  The kind that makes your lips and tongue tingle, not the kind that feels like someone lit a match on them.   I seem to have a higher tolerance for heat than some, which means that I may not be the best person to ask if something is spicy. We burn through jars and jars of chile paste like it’s going out of style (I assure you, it is NOT). Most of the spicy food we eat happens to be Asian.  Bowls of noodles in fiery broth are my happy place.  Food from Latin America is a close second and for good reason: I’m married to a Texan, I used to live in Mexico and we currently live in Florida.  I chose this particular recipe to share because I love picadillo.  I know, I’m totally selfish.  I make big batches of this delicious filling to make empanadas.  The saltiness of the olives with the sweetness of the raisins is really good.

My very favorite thing about this book is its inclusion of food from around the globe.  I love exploring cultures through food and this book is a peek into how chile peppers really are a global ingredient.  It’s fun to try new recipes and flavors, especially when the recipes are so varied and enticing!  

Below is a short list of some of the 250 recipes you’ll find in this book.  I have my eye on the Spinach and Tomato Dal next…  What would be your first choice?
– Middle Eastern Walnut Dip (Middle East)
– Castilian Garlic Soup (Spain)
– Chinese Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup  (China)
– Paella (Spain)- Tagine of Chicken with Apricots (N. Africa)
– Cuban style hash (Cuba)
– Original San Antonio Chili (US)
– Indonesian-Style Fried Rice (SE Asia)
– Cape Verde Sausage Stew (Africa)
– Spinach and Tomato Dal (Indian)
– Calabrese-Style Fried Potatoes with Peppers (Italian)
– Thai-Style Grilled Chile Salsa (Thai/SE Asia)
– Kimchi (Korea)
– Mexican-Style Tomato Juice – (Mexico)
– Chile-Spiked Chocolate Pots – (French)

Picadillo (Cuban-Style Hash)
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 1 onion, chopped
  2. 1 each - red and green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  3. 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  4. 1⁄2 habanero pepper, minced
  5. 4  cloves garlic, minced
  6. 1 1⁄4 lbs lean ground beef
  7. 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  8. 1⁄2 tsp ground cumin
  9. 1 piece (2 inches/5 cm long) cinnamon stick
  10. 1⁄4 cup  dry sherry
  11. 1 can (28 oz/796 mL) tomatoes, with juice
  12. 1⁄2 cup dark raisins
  13. 12 large pimento-stuffed green olives, sliced
  14. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For Garnish
  1. 2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  2. Finely chopped fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. In skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, red and green bell peppers, habanero pepper and garlic and stir well. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until vegetables are very soft, about 10 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add oregano, cumin and cinnamon stick and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add sherry and cook, stirring, until almost all of the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and juice, and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes. Stir in raisins, olives, and salt and black pepper to taste. Cook until olives are heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Transfer to a large deep serving platter. Sprinkle chopped eggs over top. Garnish with parsley. Serve hot.
Notes
  1. Gluten-Free Friendly!
Tips
  1. You can substitute Cubanelle peppers for the red and green bell peppers if you like.
  2. I have used a habanero here because these peppers are common throughout the Caribbean, and I like the slightly fruity flavor they impart to this dish. However, it may be more common to find picadillo made with jalapeño peppers, even though purists suggest that jalapeños are not used in Cuban cooking. Both chiles do a fine job of bringing heat to this dish, so use whatever is easiest or suits your taste. If you’re using jalapeños, you’ll need 1 to 2.
  3. Instead of garnishing the entire dish with chopped eggs, transfer individual servings to warm soup plates or deep bowls and top each with a fried egg. Garnish liberally with parsley.
Adapted from The Chile Pepper Bible
Pook's Pantry http://www.pookspantry.com/
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This recipe has been reprinted courtesy of The Chile Pepper Bible: From Sweet & Mild to Fiery & Everything in Between by Judith Finlayson © 2016 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold. I received one copy compliments of the publisher. No other compensation was received. Links to the book are affiliate links. 

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A Peck of Pickled Peppers

 

Banana Peppers

My banana pepper plants have been rather prolific and for this I am grateful.  As most of you who are regular visitors to this little space already know,  I went a little overboard in planting.  I have a tendency to overdo things and this was no exception. 

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Spending so many years living in an apartment with zero outdoor space, I may have gone a little crazy when I realized that I could grow some of my own food.  This had been a goal of mine for a very long time (growing food, not going crazy… that ship has sailed).  

I am fascinated by the entire process of planting a seed, taking care of it and watching it grow into something that will actually feed you.  

The very first time I had a banana pepper was on a pizza, my Freshman year in college.  A small group of us had descended on the pizza place next to campus.  We were there under the pretense of “studying” I’m sure.  There were pool tables, dart boards (which I became quite skillful at playing), air hockey tables; all the things one thinks of when looking for an appropriate place to “study”.

Anyhow, there we were and one of the guys went to order our pizza and when the waitress came to the table and set it down in front of us, I noticed that it had peppers on it.  Not wanting to draw any attention to myself, I dug right in but in my head was this little voice shouting “are you nuts?!”. 

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Chirmol

As many of you are fully aware, I have an exploding tomato population.  I went a bit “Little House on the Prairie” thinking I needed to sow all my seeds to get me through the long, hard winter on the farm apparently.  Well, now…  I am reaping what I have sown.   PUN. FULLY. INTENDED.

It’s mass chaos back there.  I think the tomatoes get together in some sort of secret society at night while I’m sleeping, plotting to overthrow me.  One day I may wake up to them all crouched down waiting to pounce (think: Lord of the Flies).  OK, clearly I’ve gone off on a tangent… Continue reading

Thai Chicken Salad

 

Thai Chicken Salad

In my continuing effort to avoid turning my kitchen into the sweltering fires of hell,  I decided that this time I would cheat a little.  Just a little,  and it’s for the greater good.   The heat index is hovering in the triple digits while beads of sweat are pooling at the nape of my neck.  The least entertaining thought at this moment is “let’s fire up the oven”.

Store-bought roast chicken: In the winter months, this would be considered sacrilege… but in the blistering heat of summer, it is sweet salvation! 

As if buying the chicken wasn’t enough, the food processor is going to do the majority of the work!  Yep, this might be the perfect summer recipe.  The amount of work involved barely even registers.  If you don’t own a food processor it isn’t the end of the world, just a bit of chopping & grating.

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Chicken Soup for My Soul…

Last I checked April showers bring May flowers, right?  Well, someone missed the mark on that…  The weather here in New York has been unusual to say the least.  We had 80 degree days in March, freezing temps in April and it feels like it’s been raining for weeks… 

Chilly, gray days make me want a bowl of something good.  I had a quart container of “liquid gold” in the refrigerator that had been giving me the stink eye every time I opened the fridge…  It felt neglected, and rightfully so.  

A few weeks back, I had braised some chicken, strained the liquid and set it aside for another use.  That is liquid gold.  It is intensely flavored, uber-chicken-y goodness and while looking around the kitchen I realized I had almost everything I needed for tortilla soup (otherwise known as Mexican penicillin).

So, with a quick trip to get an avocado and a lime it was time to get cooking…

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