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Cooking Picadillo, Flan & Mojitos @ Serenbe

Media coverage is priceless. They say any press is good press. Sometimes I want to conjure up something so outrageous and unlike me, just to to have my publicist ring my phone off the hook with interview yays or nays.

I’m still debating! Any ideas?

Well, while I wait for a phone call from Conan O’Brien, I get local phone calls. In August, Daily Candy featured my Private Chef business and highlighted this blog! They were interested in a certain twist. The editor called and asked if we could include that I’ll give salsa lessons after we do cooking lessons! Well, Yeah!! As soon as the piece hit, my phone started ringing off the hook; all while I’m trying to get started on the CBS Better Mornings Labor Day taping! You can see all the mango goodness I cooked here (with the incredible assistance of Don over at Mr. Orph’s Kitchen).

One of the phone calls was from Harris & Clark, a General Store owned by a really nice young couple, Anissa & James. They wanted me to come and teach a 2 hour cooking class and give salsa lessons, two Sundays ago. The caveat, they were located in SERENBE. I’ve heard of this place, but hadn’t really looked into it much. I had considered it for a cooking show taping after a good friend mentioned it last year. As my life goes, I back-burned taking a trip to the community, especially when I heard it was 40 mins. south of Atlanta.

SERENBE is a made up word that reflects serenity. The community is about 900 acres made up of art galleries, the General Store, 3 restaurants, single family homes, condos, horse stables, a farmer’s market and a super sexy Inn. The philosophy behind the development of the reclusive enclave is organic and sustainable living. How perfect. Although as I was driving to the GS, it felt kind of Stepford wive-ish…

Not my kind of lifestyle, but I found value in it. Actually, in my own neighborhood, full of yuppies, I found out a male lawyer was sneaking in the pool with a single female neighbor. Yup! And he got caught by the wifey! What a dork. D.R.A.M.A.!

So in the simple pleasure of stepping on my stage, I taught my class in this $750k, 70’s-4 story, LA-style home, with a huge pool in the front of the house, on the 2nd floor (I think I’ll move in now), and answered questions. I did a mostly pressure cooking style menu: picadillo, which I’ve blogged about before, fresh black beans, flan and mojitos. Oh those mojitos!! I have a new one for you on Sunday! I even surprised myself!

Let’s talk about picadillo. It’s simple, colorful and even healthy if you buy the lean beef chuck. It’s a dish from from the Orient region of Cuba and something you’ll find cooked very often in every Cuban home. I had a boyfriend call it “sloppy Joe” once and I almost broke up over it. You just don’t say things like that. Especially when sloppy joe’s are just that, sloppy, lacking color and true flavor. IMO. Anyway, like most Cuban food, this stuff tastes better the next day and should never go to waste! We typically eat it over or next to white rice with black beans. But if you love spaghetti and have little time to cook, this is something to seriously consider! Mix this into your noodles and you’ll never go back to ordinary beef for your pasta! I promise! It has everything you need: tomato sauce, olives, raisins (give it a very surprising sweet taste), garlic, pepper and continue reading the recipe below for everything!

Take a look at the slide show below where you’ll see me teach how to make picadillo, caramelize sugar for a beautiful flan, and all other goodness in the pressure cooker! I swear the pressure cooker is the best cooking utensil ever invented!

The class went so well I landed 2 gigs for the holidays and got invited to come back this weekend to teach another 2-hour class in celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month! If you live in the Atlanta area and are interested in attending the class or just in need of an out-of-city experience, visit Harris & Clarks’ website here:


My 30 Minute Meal, What!?

I Love Beans, All Kind of Beans

A Lesson in Pressure Cooking

Carne Con Papa

*Update: Harris & Clark is not longer in business.

Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.

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Serves 4-6


  • 2 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef or turkey
  • 6  garlic cloves, crushed and minced
  • 1 tsp. salt (add more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. Black pepper
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 8 oz. tomato sauce
  • 1 medium Spanish onion, diced
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup white potato, peeled and cubed (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dry white cooking wine
  • 1 tsp. Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Spanish olives stuffed with pimento
  • 2 tsp. Capers, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup raisins


In a large skillet add cooking oil and cook beef or turkey over medium heat, about 5 minutes. While cooking, break up meat using a wooden fork. Season beef with salt, pepper, oregano, and cumin. Stir well to combine. Add tomato sauce and stir. Add vegetables, dry whilte cooking wine and vinegar. Stir and cover skillet. Maintain heat on medium and cook for an additional 20 minutes until meat is cooked. Add olives, capers and raisins and stir. Reduce heat to low and cook for 5-7 until raisins soften. Stir once more. Adjust for salt.

Chef’s notes:  If beef appears to become dry while cooking, add ½ cup water or broth.

29 thoughts on “Cooking Picadillo, Flan & Mojitos @ Serenbe

  1. I was wondering about that place when you told me about teaching there. I Googled it and it looked kinda interesting.

    Congrats on the new gig AND the landing of more classes.

    Oh…I have a pressure cooker on the way!

  2. Congrats on the gig–another rising food blogger star! That picadillo looks great, too. I’ve never made it, but I think I’ll have to now

  3. Ok, note to self… it is NOT a sloppy joe… jk.  I’ve heard people get into fights over types of chocolate chips in cookies, so I guess I’m not surprised.  Some things just can’t be compromised.

    Congrats on the show and the upcoming ones… you’re really cookin 🙂

  4. Huh, I’ve heard of and seen picadillo before but I’m not sure if I’ve ever had it. Is this a Spanish dish as well? I think I might have had it when I studied in Spain…

  5. Stepford wivish.  Heh.

    You just keep truckin’ along, Bren.  Your dedication and ability to constantly stretch yourself for others is amazing.

    The picadillo sounds wonderful, and something Steve would be totally open to, so even better.  And it’s another Cuban dish I can try, yay!  White rice and black beans seem like the obvious perfect accompaniment, so I will do that.

    By the by, I am often last to comment on your posts because for some reason your site (comment box) is not very compatible with Firefox, which is all I use at work.  Sorry to always be late to the party!

  6. Don: you and Beck should really take a weekend off and go down there; you’d love it! it’s so wonderful.
    Courtney: you must buy one! it’s the best thing ever.
    Cathy: the place was extraordinary. i’ll share pics next time.
    Peter: ur too sweet. and i like being called “darling”! 🙂
    Mike: you know it sweetheart! try the ‘dillo!
    Adam: thank you! i’d never date someone that would dare say such stupidity to me!
    Luis: already did
    Cynthia: thanks woman
    Alexandra: a resto in Philly? do you know the name?
    Chefectomy: all day, every day!
    Marie: thanks marie… imma need an assistant real soon. oh wait, it’s already that time.
    Nick: no, it’s not Spanish. It’s a Cuban dish…
    Nuria: i love love love Spanish food.
    Melissa: make it for Steve and i promise he’ll l.o.v.e it… ant it’s so funny that black beans and rice is our staple, but is so simple. but, but, but, so darn good. if i could afford to eat rice everyday, i’d do it just to have beans!

  7. Hey Bren!  Just wanted to drop by and thank you for the A-MAZING Cuban cooking lessons at our bachelorette party and the salsa dancing lessons.  All combined with your *sparkling* personality made the whole night too much fun!  🙂 

  8. This sounds delicious!!  I know what I’m having for dinner tomorrow night!!  Thanks!  That’s one less thing for me to have to think about tomorrow!!  This is what I love about your blog!!  Keep the recipes coming!!

  9. What a great menu for a dinner party.. I haven’t been able to find something that is easy AND different for a family get together. My favorite part to try about this is the mojitos! Can’t wait.. I’m sure all these flavors go amazing together. Kudos for the fantastic recipes.

  10. Picadillo is one of my favorite cuban dishes. Great job on scoring 2 gigs from this event. From the pics it looks like you guys had fun.

  11. What about the optional potato? I’m guessing it goes in after browning meat and before covering the dish to cook.

  12. Oh boy. I am going to be cooking Cubano dishes this weekend! Yummo! Keep posting them. The flavors in this dish are amazing.

    Thanks Bren 😉

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