Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Chaco Chicken Chili

One last night with Pat Dailey's The Best Pressure Cooker Cookbook Ever. Tonight we had Chaco Chicken Chili (p75). The headnote suggests it can be make with leftover turkey, and Thanksgiving turkey from the freezer did the job.

Start by soaking a mixture of beans overnight. I used kidney and black beans because that's about all I found that would do. Sauté a chopped onion, two minced garlic cloves, and a couple of jalapeños (shh, mine were red instead of green). Then add a diced red bell pepper (in this case, mine was green), chili powder, ground cumin, and dried oregano. Stir for a minute, then add a can of diced tomatoes, a 12-oz bottle of beer, chopped cooked chicken or turkey, and the drain beans. (The recipe also called for some brown sugar, but I quailed at the idea of adding sugar to a chili.)

Close 'er up, bring to pressure, and cook for 15 minutes at pressure. Longer would have been better, since some of the beans were still a bit crunchy; not inedible mind you, but not the soft texture that that should have been. Taste and season with salt and cayenne. Chopped cilantro can be stirred in at serving time, but there was none at the store last week.

I come from the no-tomato school of chili-making, but this was a pretty darn good in spite of that.

I've learned a lot about cooking with my new pressure cooker in the last month and still have some recipes to try. I never did find a quick dessert, but that may be a fairly vain quest. We've especially enjoyed some of the stew-y things, like this chili and Madhur Jaffrey's recipes, where so much time is saved. We weren't too pleased with the bone-in chicken dishes. Some of them had very nice sauces, but the meat texture and flavor left a bit to be desired. Of all the books I looked at, I think Pat Dailey's The Best Pressure Cooker Cookbook Ever. and Victoria Wise's Pressure Cooker Gourmet will be the ones that stay on the shelf.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Now let's see what February brings. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Smothered Beef

Back to Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking for tonight's dinner. Our main dish was Smothered Lamb (or Pork or Beef) (p31). This is one of the few main dishes from this book that I've not yet made. Tonight I did the beef version using the pressure cooker.

This dish can be make with lamb, pork, or beef. I chose beef because we don't eat that much, and it's easy to find at the grocery. Cubes of beef for bourguignon (I think they're shoulder) are available with the pre-cut meat, so I don't have to ask at the counter. (As are cubes of pork shoulder. But there's nothing similar for lamb.)

Preparation starts by mixing the beef cubes in a large bowl with an onion, some ginger, a tomato, some cilantro (all finely chopped), a pair of green chilies cut into fine rings, ground turmeric, garam masala, ground cumin, yogurt, tomato paste, and salt. Then heat some oil in the pressure cooker and sauté four finely chopped cloves of garlic till golden. Stir in the seasoned meat*. Close the pressure cooker and cook at pressure for twenty minutes for beef. (Lamb and pork cook for only fifteen minutes.) Reduce the pressure quickly, remove the lid, and cook uncovered until the sauce is thick, stirring occasionally. Add lots of freshly ground black pepper, stir, and serve.

* Jaffrey has you add a half cup of water if you're cooking without the pressure cooker. I was worried about the lack of liquid, so I added a slog (maybe a short half a cup) of water. I ended up boiling that off at the end, so I expect I worried for nothing.

Cooked without the pressure cooker, this would have taken an hour and half. Again, we were impressed by such a delicious dish in such a short time.

(That's Jaffrey's Stir-Fried Cabbage with Fennel Seeds (p88) on the side.)

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

This week in the kitchen

Monday/30-Jan-17: Dinner was Indian beef from the pressure cooker and Stir-Fried Green Cabbage with Fennel Seeds (Q&E, p88). I burnt the onions a bit for the cabbage dish, but we took those out and it was still good.

Putting stuff up in the Ivar shelves, I discovered we have another mouse friend. This one seems to like cascareccia pasta. I have a box and a cellophane sack of these, but neither seems to have an opening, so this is puzzling. Set a trap.

Tuesday/31-Jan-17: No sign of mouse friend this morning.

Off to finally get a haircut today. Very unhappy with result. Might be six months before there's enough hair to cut again, if I don't die of pneumonia in the meantime.

Dinner chili from the pressure cooker.

Wednesday/1-Feb-17: No shopping today, probably not tomorrow either. We had a clear-out-the-fridge dinner, kind of my standard, pasta with broccoli, the unused bit of cooked turkey, some roasted red bell pepper strips, some chopped black olives, all made into a sauce with pyramid goat cheese. Pretty good. Mini magnums for after.

Thursday/2-Feb-17: Horrible haircut. First time in public, ugh.

Dinner was cheese enchiladas with Mama's Spanish rice and my guacamole. Nothing else needed. (When I made the meal plan today, I forgot about leftovers. Have to make a quick adjustment in the morning before we go shopping.)

Friday/3-Feb-17: Finally did our shopping today.

Dinner was half recipes of Kerala-Style Fried Fish (30MinInd, p65), Spiced Beets (30MinInd, p88), and Coconut Rice (30MinInd, p100). The fish was merlan (whiting, perhaps) instead of flounder. Very tasty marinade/topping of puréed onion, garlic, ground coriander, cayenne, pepper, lemon juice, salt (a trifle too much), and grapeseed oil. Then dredged in flour and fried. Wasn't very pretty, but was delicious. The beets and rice we've had several times already. All were delicious. Then some store-bought pots de crème, also very good.

Saturday/4-Feb-17: Wild storm last night with very high winds. We were without electricity for over three hours, and for about 10 minutes some time later. Internet didn't come back till 21:30. Went early to the doctor this morning for walk-in visits, but he wasn’t there; no notice on door. Luckily I have another week of med left; I thought I had only a couple of days.

Early main meal today, partly to avoid the possibility of needing to cook in the dark. We had Pork Soup with Hominy and Peppers (HowTo, p43), which is a variation on a supper soup. For the spice I used Chris’s fancy chili powder. Kind of blah we thought. Fixed at the table with chipotle tabasco. Some individual Haagden-Dasz ice cream cups for after.

Sunday/5-Feb-17: I'd planned to make pasta today when Ed got home, but he had leftover soup for lunch and didn't feel like that. So we had a big salad instead (very big, because they only had very big sacks at the shop this week) and that was our meal.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: yes for January, no for February; #4 BREAD: no for January, no for February

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Carrot Bisque with Vodka and Chervil

Dinner again from The Pressure Cooker Gourmet, by Victoria Wise. Today we had Carrot Bisque with Vodka and Chervil (p31). This, I think, is the kind of thing the pressure cooker excels at.

Start by sautéing a finely chopped onion in some butter. Then add four large, peeled and coarsely chopped carrots, some arborio rice, salt, freshly ground pepper*, chicken stock (Thanksgiving turkey stock again), and water. Close up the pressure cooker, bring to pressure over high heat, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for five minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the pan sit for ten minutes before releasing the remaining pressure. Letting food continue to cook while the pan sits off the heat is a new technique for me; I've seen in a couple of recipes lately.

* When I made this today, I was sure the recipe said black pepper, and that's what I used since the black pepper grinder always at hand. The only criticism I had of the finished soup was that the black flecks were too visible. Now I read again and see it actually says "freshly ground pepper, preferably white." It would be good if I could learn to overcome my expectations and read properly!

Purée the soup, then stir in a tablespoon of vodka and a tablespoon of chopped chervil. That's all there is to it. The soup was so simple, it's really hard to believe how good it was.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Friday, January 27, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Quick Chicken with Garlic, Tarragon, and Red Wine

For today's pressure cooker meal, I turned to The Pressure Cooker Gourmet, by Victoria Wise.

Wise says that variations on this recipe appeared in her second cookbook and in her microwave cookbook. For this book, she turned it into a pressure cooker recipe. And it's decidedly a winner, so quick and easy it can be on the table within fifteen minutes.

You start by heating oil in the pressure cooker. Then you add boneless chicken thighs, salt and pepper them, and toss in the oil. (My thighs were skinless also; I used about 250g/8.8oz for two people, a half recipe.) Then you add a bunch of big garlic cloves halved, tarragon (dried or fresh), and one cup of red wine*. Close the pressure cooker and bring to pressure over high heat, about two minutes. (I see now that I misread this and cooked it for two minutes after coming to pressure; the dish did not suffer.) Then lower the heat to medium and cook two more minutes. Then remove from the heat and let it sit for two more minutes. Now release the pressure. Put the thighs on a serving platter (I put them directly onto the plates), then reduce the juices over hight heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in a chunk of butter and pour the sauce over the thighs.

* Because I was making a half recipe, this should have been a half cup of red wine. But the minimum amount of liquid in the pressure cooker is one cup. So I used the full amount and we had leftover sauce at the end.

This sounds so simple, but it was extra delicious. The only thing I might do is mash the garlic cloves to make the sauce smooth. Those melting soft half cloves were really nice.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Chocolate Pudding

I'm hoping to find a recipe for a fast and easy dessert from the pressure cooker. Tonight we had Chocolate Pudding (p205), from Patricia Phillips' Pressure Cooking is Pleasure Cooking. This was tasty, but more cake-like than pudding-like, and not definitely not fast to assemble.

The "pudding" is made very like a cake. First you cream together butter and sugar*, then add a beaten egg. Dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa) are sifted together. These are added alternately with milk.

* Because this is is a U.S. cook book, I cut the sugar from 3/4cup to 1/2cup. This is one of the few times when reducing the sugar wasn't actually necessary.

The batter goes in a buttered mold; I used the middle of my three nested Pyrex bowls. This is covered securely with aluminum foil. As advised in one of my pressure cooker books, I also used a long strip of folded foil placed under the bowl to help lift the bowl from the cooker.

This is cooked for 15 minutes at no pressure, just the steam escaping from the exhaust. Then for 25 minutes at pressure. Finally, you let the pressure drop of its own accord. A very cake-like "pudding" emerged.

Topped with a bit of cream, this was pretty tasty.  Not the pudding I expected from the title (if not from the ingredients and procedure), but still good.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Malay Curried Pork and Potatoes

More from Pat Dailey's The Best Pressure Cooker Cookbook Ever. Tonight there was Malay Curried Pork and Potatoes (p88). I seriously doubt this dish was anywhere close to authentic Malaysian, but it was still tasty.

First you make a finely chop shallots, garlic cloves, ginger, and lemongrass (thank you, staff blender) to make a paste. Fry this in the pressure cooker along with some red curry paste, sugar, ground cardamom, and cinnamon. Turn the heat up, add the pork and brown it. Then add some chicken stock (still working on that Thanksgiving turkey stock) and coconut milk. Close the pressure cooker, bring up to pressure, and cook for twelve minutes.

I served this over rice; this was probably a starch overload.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

This week in the kitchen

Monday/23-Jan-17: There was curried pork from the pressure cooker tonight, served with rice and some carrot coins cooked with ginger slices and topped with lemon juice. Two little piggies ate all of a dish that should have served four.

Tuesday/24-Jan-17: We ate lunch out today. Nothing further happened in the kitchen.

Wednesday/25-Jan-17: Shopping today.

Dinner was Papillote de Cabillaud aux Olives Vertes et Citron Confit (VPG). (Haven't been able to find this online.) That's cod (on sale this week) with green olives and preserved lemon baked in a packet along with some sliced zucchini. Ed thought it needed a picture. Pretty good it was. Think I'd chop the lemon (finely) and the olives (coarsely) if I were to do this again. Then a salad. And some mini magnums for dessert.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/26-Jan-17: Early meal today because we're going again to Limoges for a bit of culture. We had a half recipe of Eendenborst met Knoflook-Walnotensaus (AH; web). (I couldn't find this on the Allerhande site, but did find the same recipe.) The recipe called for four 150g duck breasts; I could find one under 500g. So I got about 400g of aiguillettes; those are the filets of "needles" from the back of the breast. For the sauce I used significantly less than half the amount of walnut oil asked, since it seemed like quite enough already. I made this too salty, but when it was spread over the duck, or mixed with the broccoli on the plate, it was fine. For dessert, we had chocolate pudding from the pressure cooker.

Friday/27-Jan-17: Early dinner today so we could go to a move. We had an extra yummy dish of chicken from the pressure cooker. I served this over tagliatelle, with hand-gesneden snijbonen as a side. We finished off yesterday's chocolate cake-not-pudding, although it seems like more than we had last time.

Saturday/28-Jan-17: Another movie today, another early dinner. We had soup from the pressure cooker and tuna salad sandwiches. All good.

Sunday/29-Jan-17: Oops, I forgot to soak beans for tonight's dinner, so had to rearrange the next days before shopping. Which is OK in a way, because I now have an appointment Tuesday afternoon and what I planned to make might not work too well.

Tonight we had an early dinner, a half recipe of  Caramelized Cabbage & Pasta (Pickford, p54; cookbooker). Better when jazzed up with some tabasco. Mini magnums for dessert.

There was supposed to be a pressure cooker dessert with pears for this, but the pears aren't ripe yet, so that will get skipped.

Yogurt on overnight.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 BREAD: no

Friday, January 20, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Saag Gohst

Tonight's dinner didn't come from a dedicated pressure cooker book, but from Madhur Jaffrey's Quick & Easy Indian Cooking, which has several meat dishes that can be hurried along using a pressure cooker. This is one of my favorite Indian cooking books because everything can be done fairly quickly (within about thirty minutes), but a few of the recipes are quick only if you use the pressure cooker.

Tonight's dinner was Saag Gosht—Beef or Lamb with Spinach (p36). This is a dish I've made before, also with lamb, but without the pressure cooker. Tonight the one-hour cooking time without the pressure cooker was reduced to only 15 minutes under pressure, making it very fast for stewy dish with wonderfully tender meat.

I defrosted frozen spinach early in the day. To start the preparation, you whiz a coarsely chopped onion, two inches of ginger, and six to eight cloves of garlic. I used my staff mixer for this (what a wonderful gadget!), but a food processor would work fine. Spices are added in two groups, and I prepared these next. One dish with three bay leaves, ten cardamon pods, eight cloves, and four inches of cinnamon stick, another with salt, ground coriander, ground cumin, and cayenne.

Start by heating oil in the pressure cooker over high heat. Add the bay leaves and friends, stir, then add the onion mixture and cook over high heat for five minutes. Then stir in the meat (1-1/2-inch cubes of lamb), spinach, two cups of water, and the rest of the spices; cover and bring up to full pressure. Lower the heat so that it's PSSCH-ing along merrily and cook for fifteen minutes. Reduce the pressure quickly, then bring the contents to a boil again. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes, until the sauce is a bit reduced and thickened. I called it a one-dish meal served over rice. Yum!

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Afterthought: I very much liked that the pressure cooker saved forty-five minutes of cooking time for this dish, and will definitely look at similar recipes. It occurred to me later, though, that the house didn't have the wonderful smell of an Indian dinner, either during and after the cooking.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Ravioli with Gorgonzola and Sage Cream

Back to The Best Pressure Cooker Cookbook Ever again for an easy dinner, Ravioli with Gorgonzola and Sage Cream (p104).

The recipe asks for fresh cheese- or meat-filled ravioli. This week I found some ravioli filled with bacon, ricotta, and mozzarella (a new product), which seemed to cover both bases. The ravioli is cooked two minutes at pressure with chicken stock (still working on that Thanksgiving turkey stock), a minced garlic clove, and rubbed sage. (I used some chilly sage from the garden, finely minced, rather than stuff from a jar.) Release the pressure, remove the lid, add some cream, and boil uncovered till the liquid has slightly thickened, about two more minutes. Then reduce the heat, add some crumbled Gorgonzola and grated Parmesan and stir for a few minutes till the cheese has melted. Serve with extra Parmesan.

This was very tasty, but I'm not sure the using the pressure cooker added much to the experience. I could have cooked the ravioli in a regular pot and it would have been done in close to the same time. Nevertheless, it was a tasty main course. 

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Tuna Steaks with Sweet/Sour Onion Relish

We're back to The Best Pressure Cooker Cookbook Ever, by Pat Dailey. This was shopping day, so we had fresh fish. For tonight's dinner there was Tuna Steaks with Sweet/Sour Onion Relish (p64).

First you marinate half-inch thick tuna steaks in a mixture of dijon mustard, and orange juice, with pinches of tarragon, salt, and cayenne. While the tuna is soaking up flavor, sauté an onion in half-inch wedges and a small red bell pepper in half-inch strips in a bitter butter. When the onion starts to brown on the edges, stir a slog of balsamic vinegar with a tiny dab of honey. Then add orange juice and white wine. Lay the tuna steaks on top of this mixture, sprinkle with a bit of salt and cayenne, close the pressure cooker, and put it over high heat.

The instructions say to cook at pressure for 2-1/2 minutes for a slight pink center or 3 minutes for full cooked. Our steaks were fully cooked at 2-1/2 minutes, which is a shame, since we both like our tuna, not even pink, but red in the center.

The relish/sauce for the tuna was really tasty, the sweet of the cooked onions, bell peppers, and balsamic vinegar came together very nicely. I don't think I'll subject any more tuna steaks to the pressure cooker treatment, but I'd definitely consider making this sauce, maybe just in a skillet, to go with tuna steaks from the grill.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Monday, January 16, 2017

This week in the kitchen

Monday/16-Jan-17: Dinner was a halfish recipe of Seared Scallops with Citrus Ginger Sauce (CL; web). Easy enough and pretty good. Served with rice noodles. And, vaguely Alice Chen's Ginger Green Bean Salad (HomTravels, p58). The green beans at the shop last week were pretty ugly, so I got some of the beans that snijbonen are made from, haricots coco in French, can't remember the English name. Sliced them up and used like bits of regular green beans. This was easy and quite tasty. We finished off the Peach Pudding for afters. I'm stuffed.

Tuesday/17-Jan-17: The one thing I needed to do before going to the ENT early this afternoon was do start the crockpot for dinner. What did I forget to do until I was walking out the door? Yes, start the crockpot. So Ed did it, and fairly successfully. He got the recipe assembled, in the crockpot, crock set to Low, but forgot to turn on the transformer and didn't notice that the crockpot didn't get warm. (The switch is a bit touchy, so you always need to check that it gets warm.) I got home, expecting to smell good cooking, and there was nothing. Anyhow, it was cooked on High, and we had Slow Cooker Mongolian Beef (web; cookbooker) with rice and some steamed broccoli for dinner. Very good it was too. Mini magnums for dessert,

Wednesday/18-Jan-17: Shopping today. Dinner was tuna from the pressure cooker served with parsleyed buckwheat crozets and steamed broccoli. Mini magnum for dessert.

Yogurt on overnight.

Thursday/19-Jan-17: Somehow I looked at my meal plan and made Saturday's dinner tonight. That was slipping a big gear! So tonight we had ravioli from the pressure cooker. Followed by an enormous salad. No dessert needed.

Friday/20-Jan-17: A late start this morning, while I finished a book. Then a late lunch, and an even later dinner. But it was delicious. We had Indian lamb and spinach from the pressure cooker over plain rice. For dessert, there was a half recipe of Caramelized Apples with Pistachio Cream (Q&E, p122). Didn't whip the cream or use the pistachios, but it was tasty nevertheless.

Saturday/21-Jan-17: Early dinner today, so I could iron in the evening. I made a half recipe of Potato and Leek Gratin (VC4E, p282), which was good. And then a big salad. And then some mini magnums for dessert.

Sunday/22-Jan-17: We lunched out today. Some fruit for a snack later.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 3
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 BREAD: no

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Peach Pudding

Dessert from the pressure cooker is an intriguing idea. I have marked a couple of recipes to try this month. Tonight I used one of my earliest pressure cooker cookbooks, Pressure Cooking is Pleasure Cooking, by Patricia Phillips.

I made Peach Pudding (p203). I didn't do the best job of this but it was quite tasty if not pretty. First of all, I neglected to butter the mold, so the pudding didn't come out in very good shape. 

And, I was a bit rushed putting it together and omitted the sugar and salt—oops. We served sprinkled a bit of brown sugar on at the table and it was fine. We used so little sugar that I'd guess that the sugar in the recipe could easily be reduced by half.

This pudding is quite easy to assemble. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. (I just stirred these together, overlooking the sugar and salt in my haste.) Cut in some butter. In a smaller bowl, beat two eggs lightly and add milk. Stir this into the flour mixture, then stir in sliced, canned peaches. Pour into a buttered mold. I used the middle of the three nested Pyrex bowls. It was slightly fuller than the 2/3 full recommended, but this turned out not to be a problem. Tightly cover the mold with aluminum foil. Place on a rack in the pressure cooker, add five cups of water, and close it up. 

A new technique to me, the pudding cooks for 15 minutes with no pressure, just letting the steam escape. Then you add the regulator or turn it to full pressure and let the dish cook for 30 minutes. Release the pressure quickly, remove the foil, and let the pudding stand before removing it from the bowl.

This is the pudding just out o the pressure cooker, which is in the sink on the right. On the left behind you can see the foil and the lid to the cooker. 

Since I neglected to butter the mold, the presentation wasn't pretty, but you don't eat the presentation, do you? It was very tasty. Two of us piggies ate half of what should serve 6-8.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Friday, January 13, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Chicken with Leeks and Mustard Cream Sauce

Tonight's pressure cooker dinner was again from from The Best Pressure Cooker Cookbook EverChicken with Leeks and Mustard Cream Sauce (p32). This was similar, but different, to the Garlic Lemon Chicken I made a week ago.

Again, I made a half recipe, with four thighs standing in for half a chicken. I did use all the leeks (I had some needing to be used) and made a whole recipe of sauce.

This recipe starts with browning some diced smoked bacon in the pressure cooker. I used smoked lardons, which are easier to get in France (and have a bit more "chew" since they're thicker). Remove them from the pan when they're done and brown the chicken pieces. Set these aside as they're done. Then soften a couple of chopped shallots in the pan, adding some white wine and dried rosemary after a minute or so. Boil the wine till it's reduced by half. Return the chicken and bacon to the pan, add chicken stock (actually Thanksgiving turkey stock tonight), and scatter one-inch segments from two leeks over the chicken. At this point you might cover the pan and put it all in the oven for half an hour or forty-five minutes. With the pressure cooker, you close the pot, set it to the lower pressure, put it over high heat to bring it to pressure, then cook for ten minutes after it gets to pressure. Release the pressure, and remove the chicken and leek, covering them to keep them warm. Whisk dijon mustard into the sauce (I thought some grainy mustard might be nice instead) and boil until the sauce has reduced by about a third, two to three minutes. Add a good slog of cream and boil until the sauce has thickened, about three more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve over the chicken.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Papillotes de Poisson aux Petits Légumes

Today was shopping day, so tonight there was fresh fish. In several of my pressure cooker books, there are similar recipes for fish cooked en papillote in the pressure cooker. Somehow cooking fish in a pressure cooker seemed a bit of a strange idea to me, so I wanted to see how it went.

I decided to use the recipe from the recipe book that came with my new pressure cooker. The photo on the cover is actually the photo used for Papillotes de Poisson aux Petits Légumes (p7), although it seems different in some particulars. The ingredients do not include star anise or celery or olives. But, what the heck, the point of this recipe is that it's really a technique and you can do whatever you want with it.

For each person you need a filet of fish (I used lieu noir) and about 50g of vegetables. I'm sure I had more than that amount. I included grated carrots, zucchini cut in strips, and a chopped shallot. I tossed these together with salt and pepper and a bit of a Tunisian spice mix from the cabinet. For each serving, make a bed of veggies on a piece of parchment paper. Lay a piece of fish on the veggie layer, sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Seal up in packets. (I use staples to close them, which is not very elegant, but works.) Put the packets on a steamer over three cups of water in the pressure cooker. Close it up, bring to pressure, and cook for eight minutes. Release the pressure and serve. 

I cut away the top part of the paper from each packet and then slid the fish onto the plate. In the photo you can see one unopened packet and one where the top part has been sloppily cut away. 

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Monday, January 9, 2017

This week in the kitchen

Monday/9-Jan-17: I'd planned to make a Vietnamese Crab Omelette (Solomon1, p335; cookbooker), but there wasn't a can of crab in the pantry. (I just assumed one was there and didn't check before shopping—lazy me.) So that turned into a Tuna Omelette instead. But it was still good. Worth doing again properly. As a side there was a half recipe of Thai Cucumber Salad (Cost, p143 cookbooker), which was good and went quite well with the omelette. I finished off some ancient mango sorbet from the freezer for afters, sharing a bit with Ed.

Tuesday/10-Jan-17: Oops, realized I didn't have enough mushrooms for tonight's planned dinner, so made a quick change. We had Curried Penne with Shrimp (365OneDish, p49; MC). Added peas along with the shrimp to make it truly one-dish. Good stuff. At the boulanger this morning I bought another Three Kings' Cake, so we had quarters of that for dessert. Ed got the token so got to wear the crown.

Wednesday/11-Jan-17: Shopping today. Dinner was fish from the pressure cooker served with mashed potatoes. For dessert, we finished our Three Kings' Cake.

Thursday/12-Jan-17: When I ordered some polenta and other Italian stuff a few weeks ago, I noticed they were selling taleggio also and it wasn't too expensive. Tonight it became part of Mushrooms, Potatoes, and Melting Taleggio (web). Good it was. Unfortunately both of us are regretting we ate all of what was supposed to serve four. Along with some steamed broccoli. No dessert needed at all.

Friday/13-Jan-17: Chicken from the pressure cooker tonight, served with garlicky mashed potatoes made with pyramid goat cheese. That was all.

Saturday/14-Jan-17: Put shrimp on to marinate this morning (or maybe it was early afternoon). For dinner there was a half recipe of Orecchiette with Cauliflower, Shrimp, and Red Pepper Oil (365Pasta, p169). Had wanted to do this with romanesco broccoli, which has been at the store lately. But not this week. So plain old cauliflower. I absent-mindedly cut up the whole cauliflower, so I roasted half of that. Used some multi-color shells for the the paste. I think the romanesco and pink shrimp and white pasta would be pretty. Mini magnums for dessert.

Sunday/15-Jan-17: For the third time in just over a week, we've had chicken thighs substituting for a whole chicken for dinner. This afternoon we had a half recipe of Podvarka—Chicken and Sauerkraut (TLVienna, p23). I used grapeseed oil instead of lard. Since it was "fresh", I didn't rinse the of sauerkraut. I used a red jalapeño from the freezer for the chili. Served with some boiled potatoes. It was good.

For dessert there was peach pudding from the pressure cooker.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 5
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 BREAD: no

Friday, January 6, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Risotto with Porcini

Continuing with my home-grown Pressure Cooker Month, our main meal today was Risotto with Porcini, from Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure (p154), by Lorna Sass. The recipe says it serves six as an appetizer and four as a main course. I halved the recipe as a main course for two and that was a good portion.

This is another book I've had around for a while and, I discover, have actually used few times already. I have a couple of other books by Sass and my memory is that while they have some good recipes, she is afraid of spicy food. That's okay as long as you know. 

While dried porcini (cêpes) are soaking, slice up some leeks and garlic. When the mushrooms have soaked, left them from the liquid, rinse, drain, and chop coarsely. Pour the soaking liquid through a fine-meshed sieve, then add enough vegetable stock to make some more than twice the volume of rice you will use. (For my half recipe, I used 3/4 cup arborio rice and 1-3/4 cup liquid.) Sauté the leeks and garlic briefly in olive oil, then add the rice along with some dried oregano. Stir to coat the rice with the oil, then add the porcini-stock liquid and some salt. Close the pot, bring to pressure, and cook at high pressure for five minutes. 

I discovered that the sound my new rocker-less pressure cooker makes when it's at pressure is more like PSSS to my ear than PSCHHHT, so today's cooking went off much smoother than yesterday's without any burning action. The risotto was perfect.

One of the nice things about this risotto is that it's on the table in way less than 30 minutes with minimal effort. The first bit of the cooking is the same as a regular risotto, but once you've added the rice and oiled it down, you just add all the liquid, close the pot, and let it cook. That part is done is less than ten minutes where I wasn't standing there stirring in the stock ladleful by ladleful.

N.B.: A couple of people have expressed Fear of Pressure Cookers on yesterday's post. I have to admit I used to fall into that category, mostly, I expect, because I didn't grow up around one. They seemed a bit scary. Probably my mother had the same problem. On the other hand, Ed grew up with one and, when I met him, about the only cooking he did was pressuring vegetables into submission. His original pressure cooker is the we've recently retired.

I've learned that there's really not much that can go seriously wrong when you're pressure cooking. Modern pressure cookers (certainly all those from the last half of the 20C) are equipped with a plug that relieves the pressure if it should get dangerously high (which can happen if there's not enough liquid). No explosion, just a (rather startling) Pow! as the little rubber plug hits the ceiling. We've actually had this happen. 

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cookbook Countdown: Garlic Lemon Chicken

About a year ago, we retired our old pressure with its warped bottom, and replaced it with a more modern one. For one reason or another I've hardly used this in the last months. I'd already planned to declare January Pressure Cooker Month and cook from my assortment of pressure cooker cookbooks. The lovely folks who run Cookbook Countdown were reading my mind when they suggested participants could cook from one or many cookbooks each month. So here I am, leaping in with my many.

To start off my month of pressure cooking, I chose Garlic Lemon Chicken, a recipe I collected from EAT-L in 2000. (Yes, it's been languishing in a stack for quite a while.) The recipe from The Best Pressure Cooker Cookbook Ever, by Pat Dailey (p34). The person who contributed the recipe recommended the book, so I bought myself a copy.

The result was very tasty and easy to assemble. Because there are only two of us and I didn't want to deal with leftovers, I made a half recipe with four largish thighs standing it for half a chicken. These are first browned in the pressure cooker. Then you add some small red potatoes, a lot of minced garlic, some dry white wine and chicken stock, the juice of a lemon, dried oregano, and a big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. To be sure I had enough liquid for cooking, I used the full amount of liquid.

From this cookbook, I learned that chicken is best cooked at the lower pressure of your pressure cooker. Our old cooker didn't have that option, but now I can do this. The chicken takes 16 minutes at the lower pressure or 12 minutes a high pressure.

This being a new-fangled rocker-less pressure cooker, I haven't gotten hang of recognizing when it's up to pressure. The instructions say it makes a steady PSCHHHT (that's French) when it's up to pressure. I didn't especially notice a change from no noise to PSCHHHT, so I started timing a bit late. After a bit we both noticed the start of a burning smell, so I released the pressure. The chicken and potatoes were fine, but the sauce was a bit burnt on the bottom of the pan. It still tasted fine, if just a bit smoky. The chicken was perfectly cooked with a nice texture and taste.

I'm looking forward to trying out some more pressure cooker recipes and to getting the hang of hearing the PSCHHHT at proper time.

January starts a new year with Cookbook Countdown. Why don't you choose a book, or two, or more, from your cookbook shelf and join in?

Monday, January 2, 2017

This week in the kitchen

Monday/2-Jan-17: Tonight's dinner was a half recipe of Sausage-&-Quinoa-Stuffed Zucchini (web; cookbooker), which was pretty good. For a starter, I used up some magret fumé, laying the pieces out with slices of avocado, and a little pile of some shredded lettuce, all topped with a bit of vinaigrette. Pretty good. I had some fromage blanc topped with sucre de canne for dessert; Ed had a mini magnum.

Tuesday/3-Jan-17: Worked on the meal plan and list today, plus putting pressure cooker recipes into the spreadsheet. Still have a couple more books to add.

Oscar showed up this afternoon covered in blood. Missing his collar; bunches of holes in his right front leg; a claw ripped off his right rear paw. Off to the vet, who thought the holes in his leg might be buckshot! But not worth xraying to find out for sure since the treatment is the same. Because his kidneys are failing, he can't have painkillers (steroids), so he'll just have to tough it out. He's leaving bloody footprints all over the house.

Dinner started out to be Spaghetti with Parsley Pesto and Sausage (web), but I hadn't paid attention to exactly how much parsley was needed (5 cups), so was notably deficient in that area. Instead I used up my broccoli to make the pesto. Wasn't great, wasn't bad. For dessert we had pieces of a three kings' cake, but neither of us got the token. Tomorrow!

Yogurt on overnight.

Wednesday/4-Jan-17: Shopping today.

Dinner was Chili-Rubbed Salmon with Avocado Salsa (web). It wasn't bad. Served with polenta.  Ed had his piece of three kings' cake for breakfast; I had mine for dessert. And got the token.

Oscar is still leaving bloody footprints. We're finding more little holes in his body. Still can't imagine what happened.

Thursday/5-Jan-17: We've recently had another mouse visitor, a little one, who caught herself in the trap we'd left set for months. We found her dead, although she hadn't been dead too long. This afternoon I cleaned the middle section of shelves, where she seems to have been busy. Tossed a bunch of out-of-date stuff while I was at it. This little mouse liked vital gluten and made quite a mess breaking into that package. Shelves down I found an enormous mess, including peanut skins. Haven't discovered where the peanuts came from.

Tonight's dinner started with Leeks Vinaigrette (Essential, p217; cookbooker), which was tasty and quite simple to make. Our main dish was chicken from the pressure cooker. No dessert for me; Ed had a mini magnum.

Friday/6-Jan-17: We had our mail meal early today, a risotto from the pressure cooker. Then a big salad, using the leftover vinaigrette from yesterday's leeks. I had a mini magnum for dessert.

Saturday/7-Jan-17: Dinner was a half dose of Tunisian Meatballs (web or web).  (This is actually from a cookbook I don't have, but might need to get one day. I've seen only very good comments about it.) This dish was super. I made it with ground beef. You make the sauce and the mixture for the meatballs early in the day, then fry up the meatballs and simmer them in the sauce when you're ready to eat. I served with what I think are Israeli couscous, with a bitter butter, some golden raisins, and a dash or cinnamon, as suggested. Yum.

Yogurt on overnight.

Sunday/8-Jan-17: Dinner was a halfish recipe of One-Skillet Chicken Pot Pie in Just 30 Minutes (web). I used cooked chicken from the freezer, turkey stock instead of chicken, carrots I cut and boiled myself along with frozen peas. Dumplings on top. We were full.

Progress on goals
This week: #1 BACKLOG: no; #2 VEG/FISH: 2
This month: #3 PASTA: yes; #4 BREAD: no

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Kitchen goals old and new

Kitchen goals for 2016

Well, I finished my Foods of the World project, enjoying much of it, but did fairly abysmally with the rest of my 2016 goals.
  • Backlog — Started out okay with this, but rapidly ran out of steam. I need to either get busy or get tossing before we're buried in recipe clippings. I have picked up random handfuls of recipes from stacks around the house and thinned them out severely, but need to work on the stacks and binders by the cookbooks most of all.
  • Veg/fish meals — In 2016, I averaged three vegetarian or fish meals per week. Have done better, but three meets the goal. A bit handicapped for this year since Ed was prescribed to eat more beef to get his hemoglobin up.
  • Pasta — Only made pasta once this year. 
  • Bread — No good here either. I did re-start the Craftsy bread project, but didn't get far. One more time with that.
  • Foods of the World — Yay! Finished this 3-year project.
After saying I wouldn't, I've joined another only cooking group where I have to write posts frequently. This rather conflicts with a life goal of spending less time at the computer. I've used Cookbook Countdown to help with finishing the Foods of the World projects. Now I can move on to other cookbooks, so it might be useful to continue. My posts are usually minimal.

Another issue is whether to continue with this blog at all. Since I haven't come up with a better way of recording what I've been cooking, I'll muddle on for another year. Last year I stopped getting printed copies of the blog, and got PDFs instead. These are searchable, so they can be quite handy.

Kitchen goals for 2017

I think for 2017, I'll just keep with last year's goals, except for the Foods of the World. Participation in Cookbook Countdown is optional, but fun and useful.
  1. Backlog — Spend at least one hour each week on reducing my recipe clipping backlog and working out how this can be contained. Stacks and notebooks all over the house (living, dining, bedroom, office, anyplace else) should be reduced to a single, maintainable, usable system. My weekly menu planning routine should include reference to the backlog.
  2. Veg/fish meals — Still aiming for at lest three vegetarian or fish meals per week.
  3. Pasta — Make fresh pasta at least once a month.
  4. Bread — Make real bread (non-ABM) once a month. Doing the Craftsy bread course would be a plus.