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/dd15Jan-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