Tag Archives: Vegan Cooking

Pressure!!

I celebrated a birthday recently, and my hubby got me this shiny Fagor Pressure cooker. (Okay, so it’s a different kind of “shiny” than some ladies like to get, but I did ask for this!) We’ve all heard stories about exploding pressure cookers and canners, and I don’t know many people who own them or use them on a regular basis. After doing some research, I picked out this Fagor Futuro 6 Quart Pressure Cooker and put it on my wish list. I also asked for a traditional, omnivore-based, cook book to get a feel for how to use the thing. It only took me about half an hour of reading to realize that it is not exactly rocket science to use, and I was ordering a couple of specific Vegan oriented cookbooks for more help.

My mom didn’t use one because she was afraid of them–and, with good reason. Miss Vickie’s Big Book of Pressure Cooker Recipes starts with an in-depth history of pressure cookers and exactly why there are a couple of generations of Americans who have missed out on this fabulous cooking tool. Basically, pre-WWII pressure cookers were reliable and used in almost every American kitchen. During the war, they became highly prized items and not easily available as most metal was being turned into airplanes and weapons rather than cookers. After the war, a huge glut of cookers hit the market as weapons manufacturers sought to create something more appropriate for the post-war American market. It is these post-war cookers that were manufactured in haste and without due diligence that created exploding and unreliable cookware. Bad designs and poor manufacturing together made a couple of generations wary of the whole process and pretty much killed the market for them in in the states.

In Europe, however, there was no such glut on the market, and the pressure cooker has been in consistent use. And for good reason. They save time and energy. The moral of the story is to not trust a pressure cooker you don’t buy yourself unless you absolutely know the source of manufacture and quality. Making sure you follow the basic safety rules clearly laid out in every cookbook and that comes with the cooker should ensure safe cooking.

My first project was to find something super easy to try out. I picked beets. What is better than cooked beets? Cooked beets in 15 minutes! Okay, maybe you don’t like cooked beets, but for people who cook them regularly, you know it takes a good 45 minutes to an hour with regular stove top methods. In case you missed my guest blog post at Full Circle Farms,click here for a delicious beet salad recipe.

So, maybe beets don’t float your boat. I get that, and if you read the blog post I linked you to above, you’ll see I didn’t always like them either. But, I had this new toy, and I wasn’t about to just stop with a few beets and call it a day. Along with the salad, I decided to try my hand at a recipe on the DVD demo that came with the cooker–a risotto. I thought I followed the directions to the letter, but it turns out there are some things to learn when it comes to using a pressure cooker. As you can see with this photo to the left, there was some sticking going on with the risotto. I wasn’t about to admit defeat so much as try to figure out why it didn’t come out just like it had in the video. The risotto off the top of the messed up parts tasted fine, though, so we still had dinner in…uhm…eight minutes? Or something close to it anyway. It turns out that I needed to reduce the heat even lower on the cooker once it had reached pressure. I let it stay up too high and sticking ensued.

So, here’s the thing that I find magical about pressure cooking. It takes so little time to cook things that it is almost hard to believe. Each time I close the lid and turn on the timer, I have this sense that there is no way all the food I just closed in there can really be ready to eat. And, yet, over the course of the last couple of weeks, I have made steel cut oats in five minutes, Thai sticky rice in seven, Christmas Lima beans in eight, and Adzuki beans in eight. I haven’t used it every meal, so that’s all I have right now, but I see a whole lot of experimenting coming my way.

(For my Vegan friends, I highly recommend The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less than 30 MInutes and Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure. Both books have quick charts on pressure cooking a huge variety of grains and beans as well as veggies. They both have plenty of recipes to try out and lots of advice on transferring tried and true recipes to the pressure cooker.)

1 Comment

Filed under Cooking

Cooking from the Garden

Roasted beet risotto!

Yesterday, the hubby and teen went off to geekgirlcon , leaving me at home with the younger child who wanted nothing to do with dinner planning. I was lazy enough that all I really wanted to do was stay home and finish the last couple of episodes of “Hell’s Kitchen.” I really don’t know why I got into it as much as I did. Morbid curiosity? It certainly was not Gordon Ramsay’s less than charming treatment of the contestants. As a pretty decent home cook, I find the mechanics and cooking challenges interesting–the drama less so. There were times where I was thinking I know more about some aspects of cooking than a lot of the contestants and mildly daydreaming about being a contestant. I have no desire to run a kitchen other than my own, and the made for TV reality drama would likely send me cowering under my bed with a pillow over my head crying from the stress of it all. My brief hubris about my own superior skills in a kitchen would quickly be squelched by the reality that I would have no idea what to do when faced with a hundred hungry customers.

After watching Paul (my favorite from the start) win the competition, I was faced with the “what’s going to be for dinner” personal cooking challenge of the day. I did not want to go to the store, so I started rummaging through the pantry and eying the garden. My ennui about dinner wasn’t lifted by what I saw out there–lots of kale, beet greens (and beets), some peppers, and a few other things I can’t identify from the kitchen window. Pulling a cookbook off the shelf, I thumbed through it until I saw a recipe that included beets, of which there are plenty. We had onion, beets, garlic, and parsley–all from the garden. The rice, wine, and broth are things I keep on hand. I tossed the beets in the oven, curled up with my son on the bed with the iPad and watched Thor with him while they roasted.

The active work in the dish is about half an hour once you have everything assembled. Roasting the beets ahead of time is probably the thing you have to remember when prepping the dish. It turned out to be very bright and attractive as well as rather tasty. The non-vegan dairy eaters in the family added generous gratings of parmigiano cheese. I added a bit of my favorite balsamic vinegar for that little bit of tang, and it was deemed something worthy of repeating. Even the nine-year-old boy had two helpings.

Roasted beets, cut into cubes.

Roasted Beet Risotto
from Vegan Italiano by Donna Klein

3-4 Medium beets, washed
4-5 cups vegetable broths
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teas salt
freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley

Heat oven to 375 Deg F.
Wrap beets in foil and place on baking sheet. Roast 45-50 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven, unwrap and set aside to cool. Peel off skin and cut into cubes. Set aside.

Bring broth to simmer in pot. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned (2-3 minutes). Add the rice and garlic and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth and continue stirring and cooking until absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until each addition is absorbed into the rice. At about 15 minutes after you’ve started adding liquid, add the beets to the rice mixture with more broth. Continue adding broth and stirring until the liquid is all absorbed and the rice is tender but firm to the bite. (You may or may not need to use all the broth.) Stir in parsley and serve. (413 Cal for 4 servings, 17 g protein, 1 g fat, 65 g carbs, 5 g fiber)

Leave a comment

Filed under Cooking, Uncategorized