Skip to main content

Pressure Cooker - Friend or Foe?

Never thought I would cook pasta in a pressure cooker, until I stumbled onto this recipe. I just got home at 3:30 am from a marathon delayed flight from Aruba and wanted to have a nice home cooked Sunday meal. I really wasn't in the mood for something that took too much time.  This was the perfect recipe. But before I go into that, let me allay your fears of pressure cookers.

I grew up being totally petrified of pressure cookers (thanks Mom). My Mom had one of those old ones where the little ever-threatening thing on top jiggled back and forth-taunting me with every jiggle. That thing could blow at any time.  If she was cooking in that beast, we stayed clear of the kitchen. This is yet another of the fears that she instilled into us as kids. (Since this was a sibling/Mom vacation we also discovered other foibles that she instilled in us - fear of hotel carpets, bedspreads etc and having basically a comment about everything. A few Christmases ago we discovered that all three of us were totally grossed out by feet-live and learn).

So I was always afraid of these monsters of destruction called pressure cookers. But try as hard as I could, I could never make a beef stew as good as the one my mother made in the pressure cooker.  It never had the same taste. I thought that perhaps it was this beast that made the difference in taste and I would have to try to overcome my fears. I started to read up on the modern beast and it was quite a different animal.  The new modern beasts had more safety features and didn't seem to threatened to end my life with a bunch of stew exploding into my face. I hesitantly bought the Fagor 2 by 1. It's a pretty good deal - since you get an 8qt size to make a huge pot of stew and then a 4 qt to make smaller stuff such as kick ass risotto (no arm-tiring stirring required). I have to say the first time I used it, I was a little scared (and I actually read the directions cover to cover). But once you taste the food that comes out of it, you are convinced that you cannot live without this thing. I mean really pasta dinner in 3 minutes! Beef stew in 20 minutes-whose meat is tender with vege that still has some texture and taste left in it.

OK - I'm off my soapbox now about pressure cookers and will talk about this pasta recipe.  I used the smaller 4qt size for this recipe. I'm sure this would work with a variety of pasta - I didn't use the fusilli as suggested (see I don't follow the directions). I also used diced tomatoes instead of puree. Next time I think I might try adding a little red wine instead of the water.
It was a great warming comfort food sort of meal - totally needed that to adapt to this crap cold weather here after the 88 degrees in Aruba. And by the way Mom's pressure cooker never exploded but I do recall hearing about a neighbor's whose did.


Popular posts from this blog

Cinnamon Star Bread

I was very perplexed by this recipe. I could not figure out by the directions how it got into this shape. I understood the twisting part but then was at a loss. The website didn't have a video or pictures - was I just being dense? Well once I cut the dough into the 16 pieces and twisted - DUH - it was a little clearer. I decided to include pictures for those of you that need a visual.

Cinnamon Star Bread (Adapted from King Arthur Flour)

3/4 c warm milk (100-110 degrees)
2T sugar
2 t yeast
4T butter
2 c flour
1 t salt
1/3 c instant mashed potato flakes*
1 t vanilla

1 lg egg, beaten
1/3 c sugar
2T cinnamon

Combine milk, sugar, and yeast in a small measuring cup. Mix well and set aside. Place butter, flour, salt, instant mashed potatoes and vanilla in a large bowl. After yeast is bubbly add to dry ingredients. Mix with dough hook until dough is smooth and soft. (Or mix by hand and then knead by hand until smooth and soft). Place in a greased bowl and let sit for 1 hour or un…

Burnt Cinnamon Simple Syrup

The NY Times Magazine section did a piece on cocktails about two weeks ago and one was calling me-Rhum Agricole Daiquiri. What attracted me here (well besides the cocktail aspect) was the Burnt Cinnamon Simple Syrup. It was easy enough to make, as are most simple syrups, but it was the potential uses.  I started thinking not only daiquiris but why not with Applejack? Apples, burnt cinnamon sounds like a winner to me. Or how about a nice hot cider, with a little rum, and the simple syrup (Guess I'll have to wait until the fall for the cider). On the non-alcohol side-why not use it to moisten a sponge cake - wouldn't that give it an interesting flavor? Or what about a burnt cinnamon ice cream?

Now first for the burning of the cinnamon - it felt a little like I was doing a cleanse to ward off evil spirits. I think that is usually done with sage but if cinnamon works too - so be it. The recipe recommended using a small creme brulee torch to burn the cinnamon sticks - like you do. …

It's Better With Butter

Why would you want to make your own butter? Because it tastes better! And it's easy. All you need it heavy cream, salt, and a mixer-although you can get away without using the mixer. If you are using a mixer, you will need to cover it with plastic wrap, unless you're really into cleaning up splatter. Pour heavy cream into your mixer. It doesn't have to be fresh. It can be close to its expiration date. This time I used 3 cups because I had an open container and an unopened one.
You just whip it for about 10-15 minutes on high. It first looks like whipped cream, then starts to deflate a bit, then starts to get a yellowish hue, until finally you hear a clunk clunk noise and you know you have separated the butter from the buttermilk (boy was that a run on sentence or what?). By this time the plastic wrap is so covered in splatter you can't see into the bowl any longer.

From 3 cups of cream you end up with about 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk. Strain the butt…