Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pressure Cooker Pot Roast

If you've been reading my blog, you know I'm about Pressure Cooking now. I'm just loving it. It still blows my mind how fast things will cook and yet the taste is still what you are searching for.

Have you ever slow-cooked Spaghetti sauce for instance for hours? You know delicious it is, the flavors so well blended together, the velvety sauce? Ya know? TEN minutes in a slow cooker!

But today, we are tackling an American Sunday Staple. Pot Roast.

For a pot roast we generally use a cheaper cut of meat, which then requires a longer cooking time (hours) in order to break down the meat and have it become tender. It's ok, because we usually add potatoes and carrots and cook them right along with it, so it all comes out tender with a form of gravy already made. Delicious.

In a pressure cooker? 45 minutes! And some of the best gravy I bet you've had. Check it out.

Ingredients and Method:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 3 lb chuck roast
1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped (I like chunks of onions in my gravy)
1 package brown gravy mix
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 package italian dressing mix
1 can beef broth
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
1 beef bouillon cube
salt and pepper to taste
12 small red potatoes, halved
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves

Turn heat under Pressure Cooker to medium and add olive oil. Sprinkle roast on all sides with salt and pepper. Place into cooker and brown all over, about 10 minutes per side.

Add onion, gravy mix, ranch dressing mix and italian mix , beef broth, paprika, worcestershire sauce, garlic, and beef bouillon cube all over the roast in the cooker. The pressure cooker will distribute everything just fine.

Turn heat to high, let liquids come to a boil, and then seal the pressure cooker. Wait until a steady stream of steam is being emitted, and immediately turn to medium low, and begin timing 30 minutes from this point.

After 30 minutes of a steady stream of steam from the cooker, remove from heat and run cold water over the cooker until pressure recedes. Open cooker, and add bay leaves, carrots and potatoes to the liquid surrounding the roast.

Place cooker back on stove and bring to high heat and a boil. Seal cooker with cover, wait until it's emitting a steady stream of steam, turn to medium low and time for 15 more minutes to continue cooking the roast and cooking the carrots and potatoes perfectly.

After 15 minutes, remove from heat, and let cool down naturally. Remove cover.

If the "gravy" is not to your liking or too thin, remove the roast and vegetables, and stir in 2 tablespoons corn starch dissolved in 4 tablespoons water, and stir in over medium heat until gravy thickens....

Let roast rest on a cutting board for 15 minutes, and slice and serve with potatoes, carrots and gravy.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cauliflower Swiss Cheese Soup

There's a bakery here in Seattle close by my work called Macrina's Bakery. They offer a wide selection of all types of breads, sandwiches, rolls, pizza and desserts and pastries.

One of the things I discovered though, for lunch is their soup.  Their soups are so, so good. Last week I had a bowl of Cauliflower Swiss Cheese soup that was delicious.

I cobbled together a recipe and made it and it came out surprisingly close to the one I had at Macrina's. Give it a try if you're looking for a hearty, cheesy soup to warm you up.

Coming soon, I hope, is two more soups I tried there. One is Beet and Apple soup and the other is Curried Butternut Squash soup.  Both were just delicious.

This recipe is done in a pressure cooker, my newest toy. But you can prepare in a standard pot. Just adjust the cooking time until the cauliflower is very tender so it and the other ingredients will blend well.

1 sweet onion, chopped
2 peeled and sliced carrots
2 sliced celery stalks
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chicken broth
1 package frozen cauliflower
1 cup milk
pinch of red pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In pressure cooker over medium heat, add olive oil and saute onions until they begin to soften and turn translucent. Add garlic and saute for 2 minutes more. Add celery, cauliflower, carrots, chicken broth, thyme, and red pepper.

Turn heat to high, seal pressure cooker, and wait until it comes to 15 p.s.i. (When the steam vents continually) Turn down to medium to low (just so steam gently vents) and time for 12 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool down slowly. Remove cover and using a hand blender, or a regular blender, blend until all vegetables are liquefied.

Return to stove and turn heat to low, and add one cup of milk and swiss cheese. Cook, stirring until milk is incorporated and cheese is fully melted.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with parsley and enjoy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sweet Potato Carrot Soup

Allright! It's officially Autumn. I know because I live in Seattle, WA and it's freaking raining on me like 4 times a day.

But, I have to admit, a lot of the time, I don't really mind the rain. I like waking up, and it's still dark, and raining outside, and the sounds lull me back to sleep.

Ever walked through a gentle rain? Like mist? It's refreshing.

And the cool snap in the air? I like it.

Know the other thing I like this time of year. SOUP! Hearty, tasty soups.

I've posted Crockpot Yankee Beef Stew, Crockpot Split Pea Soup, Black Bean Pumpkin Soup, etc. and I personally believe they are all post-worthy.

But this soup I made today, adapted from the ubiquitous All Recipes, is the best ever!

And here's why, Pressure Cooker. Yup, made this soup in FIFTEEN minutes! Let it cool, dollop of sour cream, and it was soooo good. And the beauty of the pressure cooker, (as I'm learning to use one, see my earlier posts) is that it cooks with steam instead of heated ambient air, or convection heat so it not only cooks faster, but retains nutrients, and flavors and spices, and blends just like it was cooked for hours. I'm amazed.

Do you like thick, nutty, naturally sweet soups, with a tang, and a slightly unidentifiable delicious taste to it, and a bit of a bite? The kind you remember having eaten?

Then make this soup. I'm not joking. It's that good. And if you don't believe me, read the ingredients.... Yeah, kind of intriguing..... Allright, I'll stop, here ya go....

Ingredients and Method:

2 tablespoons butter
1 large sweet onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (rounded)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (rounded)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (rounded)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (rounded)
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 14 oz can chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled, and chopped into chunks
3 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
salt and pepper
sour cream for garnish and finish
parsley for garnish

Melt butter over medium heat in pressure cooker and saute onions until they soften. Add all
the spices and saute with onions until they warm and release their fragrance. Add broth, water, sweet potatoes and carrots.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper.

Turn heat up to medium high and bring to a boil, cover and seal pressure cooker and wait for cooker to come up to pressure. (i.e. steady venting of steam from valve)

Turn down to medium low and begin timing for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and let it cool until pressure is totally reduced.

Process in batches in food processor or hand blender.

Taste and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with spoonful of sour cream and parsley for garnish.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can use a slow cooker. Saute onions and spices in a pan as directed above. Add to slow cooker with balance of ingredients. Cook on low for 6 - 7 hours until vegetables are very tender. The rest of the instructions remain the same.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Popcorn Ice Cream

I know. Dull picture. There are some things you just can't photograph well. And this is one of them. Popcorn Ice Cream. Who EVER heard of Popcorn Ice Cream. I certainly hadn't. But here's what happened.

The internet food group/ad group I belong to is Food Buzz. They had a "Community Dinner" affair in my town of Seattle and invited me to go. It was wonderful. Gourmet dinner at Spring Hill restaurant. Turns out, the restaurant was SIX blocks from my house. Who knew? I've driven by it a hundred times probably. Anyway,

I met food bloggers from area, drank wine with every course, had some wonderful great inspirational food, and then came dessert.

The dessert was a layered peanut butter and chocolate brownie, but coupled with a scoop of, you got it, Popcorn Ice Cream!

I was skeptical, just as YOU are right now reading this, but listen, it was INCREDIBLY GOOD! It was creamy ice cream, but with an explosion of salty and buttery popcorn in every bite!

I was blown away.

So, I searched the internet, found a recipe, (at Hungry Like The Duck) made it at home this weekend, and it was just as good if not better. You have to try this. No, I'm NOT joking, try THIS!

Oh, and for those of you who say, well I don't have an ice cream machine, it doesn't matter. I don't either. I just froze it fully in dishes and it was fine. The ice cream machine gives it a lighter texture and "airyness" but, just let it sit for ten minutes before you eat it, let it soften, and it's great. Besides, why pay $40.00 for a machine you'll use twice a year for a couple of years, and then move, and it never get's unpacked?? LOL

Here's my thought, whip up some homemade Popcorn Ice Cream in the morning, let it freeze all day, then rent the kids and/or family a movie, and serve this..... and blow THEM away too.

Oh, and best of all, it's soooooo easy! Here's all you do....

2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 quarts salted, buttered, popped popcorn
1/2 teaspoon salt
Sea salt for sprinkling

Beat eggs and sugar together until well combined. Pour into large kettle. Add milk, cream and salt. Turn heat to low.

Meanwhile pop one bag of microwave buttered popcorn. Open bag, pour entire contents into ice cream mixture, and stir to combine.

Turn heat to high, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. As soon as it reaches a boil, turn off heat, and let the popcorn steep in the ice cream mixture for one hour.

Strain popcorn and ice cream mixture through cheesecloth into a bowl. Enclose the top of the cheesecloth with your hands and squeeze thoroughly to capture as much ice cream mixture as you can.

If you have an ice cream machine, follow the instructions for that. If you don't have an ice cream maker, just pour into appropriate sized dishes, sprinkle with a fair coating of sea salt and freeze thoroughly.

Remove from refrigerator, let defrost for 15 minutes and serve. Try to fight the urge to rent a movie.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pressure Cooker Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs in 10 minutes and it tastes like it was slow cooked for hours. I'm not joking.

A deep, tangy and robust taste, sauce as smooth as butter, and the most tender meatballs one can make I think.

You can slow cook this same recipe for hours and if you do. Save half the sauteed onions and half the spices to be added during the last hour of cooking. Slow cooking tends to flatten the taste of spices and such and reserving half and adding late in the cooking cycle will "brighten" the taste once more.

That being said. Use a Pressure Cooker. I admit I just bought one and am learning to use it myself, but this recipe came out so good, I would recommend you have to try the pressure method. It may very well be the only way you make spaghetti sauce from now on.

Ingredients and Method:

1/2 package frozen italian meatballs (I found a full package to be too many)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 14 1/2 oz cans diced tomatoes with juice
2 8 0z cans tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1 large sweet onion
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon basil
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Pour olive oil into pressure cooker, and bring to medium heat. Saute diced onions until they soften and start to become translucent. Add garlic and continue to saute for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the balance of the ingredients to the cooker. Tomatoes, paste, sauces, wine, spices, and brown sugar. Pour the meatballs right in. Even frozen will work fine.

Turn the heat up, uncovered, and stir until the sauce begins to bubble vigorously. Place the top on the cooker and seal, still on high heat. Leave on high until it begins to steam continuously, then immediately turn to medium low, just enough to have a constant gentle flow of steam escaping for the cooker.

Begin timing the 10 minutes once you turn the heat down as explained above. When the time has elapsed, quick cool the pressure cooker by running it under cold water.

Uncover, and what I like to do is, is turn on a gentle low heat, and let the sauce bubble gently while I prepare the pasta, and bread, and salad or whatever you are serving it with. It's done, but a little gentle further cooking never hurt a spaghetti sauce.

Ladle spaghetti sauce and meatballs over freshly cooked pasta and top with Parmesan cheese, or my current favorite, Parmesan Reggiano.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Currant Oatmeal Scones

Do you like scones? I sure do, and every time I make them, I think, "Why don't I make scones more often?"

I particularly like this recipe because it contains oatmeal which makes for a nice hearty and tasty crumb. With only a bit over 1/3 cup sugar, it's just slightly sweet too. It's also the perfect recipe for you to put in whatever fruit you might like, such as raisins, currants, cranberries, raspberries, etc.

Adapted from Joy the Baker website. Thanks Joy. Great scone recipe!

1 egg
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold butter
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/3 cups oatmeal
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup currants
Brown sugar for dusting

In a mixing bowl beat eggs together with sugar then mix in buttermilk. In a separate bowl cut in the butter into the flour. Use a pastry cutter, or your fingers until the flour and butter are the size of pebbles.

Add the oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Mix in the flour/butter mixture until incorporated. No need to overmix. Fold in the currants or whatever fruit you are adding.

Place parchment paper on cookie sheet and use an ice cream scoop to drop balls of Scone dough onto sheet about 2 inches apart. Dust with a coating of brown sugar.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes until golden brown.

Let cool a bit and serve slightly warmed or at room temperature.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Pressure Cooker Rice Pudding

So I went and bought a Pressure Cooker. I've never cooked with one so I'll be playing around with it and trying different things which you'll see blogged in the upcoming weeks.

Here it is. Presto 8-Quart Triple Clad Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker.

The very first thing I made was Old Fashioned Rice pudding. I remember eating Rice Pudding as a child, usually prepared by my Grandmother on her old cast iron stove, and cooked all night long. Then served warm, with a bit of melting butter and sprinkled with cinnamon. Creamy and delicious.

Guess what? I cooked rice pudding in the Pressure Cooker in EIGHT minutes and it was so, so good! Creamy and delicious, and "just like Grandma's"

I spooned it into bowls and dusted some of the bowls with cinnamon and the rest with nutmeg.

So if you've got a pressure cooker gathering dust somewhere, break it out, dust it off and try making this easy recipe. You won't be disappointed. (Recipe is from the Presto pressure cooker cookbook)

1 T Butter
1 cup long grain white rice
1/3 cup plus two tablespoons sugar
1 cup water
2 cups milk
1/2 t salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup cream or evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter in cooker and pour rice in and cover totally with butter.

Add the sugar, milk, water and salt.

Pressure cook for 8 - 9 minutes at 15 p.s.i. Don't begin timing  minutes until the cooker is fully up to pressure and constantly emitting a gentle stream of steam.

In a bowl mix 1 egg with 1/4 cup cream or evaporated milk and 1/2 t vanilla.

Temper egg mixture by adding a bit of the hot rice mixture and stirring. Repeat several times at least. Then mix the egg mixture into the pot and cook (uncovered) until it just begins to bubble a bit.

Let cool slightly and dust with cinnamon or nutmeg. A touch of whipped cream would be perfect.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Slow Cooker Cuban Pork Shoulder (Pulled Pork)

Pulled Pork! Who doesn't like a pulled pork sandwich with Barbeque Sauce, or perhaps also some coleslaw? (North Carolina Style) I've even made pulled pork enchiladas which were out of this world.

But let's face it, it's a hassle to make right? Lot of work? Pain in the butt? (no pun intended)

NOPE! It's really easy. That's what a SLOW COOKER is for.....!

And to boot, this recipe is absolutely delicious! And it's interesting in that you can just make the pork, and serve it with whatever sauce you like, OR, take the drippings from pan, add a few ingredients, reduce the sauce and bake it into the pulled pork. I did this, and amazingly, ate the pork just that way, with no additional sauce, it's THAT good.

Give it a try. You'll thank me. Well, some of you will thank me. Most will make it, enjoy it, and never tell me. But that's ok. I'll know anyway.

Adapted from: Foodie with Family.

5 - 6 pound pork shoulder (Bone-in is tastier)
1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
8 peeled cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon oregano
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup broth (chicken, beef, or vegetable)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup lime juice

Pour the olive oil into the slow cooker and spread around evenly.

Place the pork shoulder, fat side up, into the slow cooker. Toss in the peeled garlic cloves.

Sprinkle the roast with the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, and cumin. Pour the lime juice and broth around the roast, and pour or spoon the frozen orange juice concentrate onto the top of the roast.

Cook on high for 1 1/2 hours, turn heat down to low and let cook for 12 hours. Check the pork and make sure it is pull-apart tender. Turn off cooker and let cool down and then place to roast in the refrigerator to chill all night long. If your cooker doesn't have the stoneware insert, just place the roast in a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Reserve all the liquids.

The next day, remove from refrigerator, place on cutting board, and remove all the exposed chilled fat from the pork and discard. (And the bone if bone-in)

The meat will be easy to pull apart. Use your fingers or two forks and completely separate the pork. At this time you can also chop it with a knife to make more concise pieces.

Now, it's Decision time...... you are done, and could now use the pork in sandwiches, slather with sauce(s), cook in enchilada's or whatever.....

Or, take the next step...... which is to do the following: (Check it out, it's kinda cool)

Drain the reserved pan juices through a strainer or cheesecloth and pour the liquids into a sauce pan.

Add two tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried mustard

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until sauce is reduced by 75%

Place pork in a 9 x 13 casserole dish and pour the reduction sauce all over the pork. Cover with tinfoil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

I found the pork to taste SOOOO good with this baked in marinade that I didn't even use any other sauce when eating it.