Posted in Kitchen Tips

Pressure cookers-like slow cookers, but fast

Pressure cookers can be designed either for regular stove top use, or as a plug in appliance.

How does a pressure cooker work?
A pressure cooker is a sealed pot with a valve that controls the steam pressure inside. As the pot heats up, the liquid inside forms steam, which raises the pressure in the pot. This high pressure steam has two major effects:

  1. Raises the boiling point of the water in the pot. When cooking something wet, like a stew or steamed vegetables, the heat of your cooking is limited to the boiling point of water (212°F). But with the steam’s pressure now the boiling point can get as high as 250°F. This higher heat helps the food to cook faster.
  2. Raises the pressure, forcing liquid into the food. The high pressure also helps force liquid and moisture into the food quickly, which helps it cook faster and also helps certain foods, like tough meat, get very tender very quickly.

The extra-high heat of the pressure cooker also promotes caramelization and browning in a surprising way — we’re not used to food caramelizing when it is cooking in liquid. But the flavors created in a pressure cooker can be really deep and complex — unlike regular steamed foods.

http://www.thekitchn.com/a-primer-on-pressure-cooking-193715

Considerations, depending on what type of cook you are:

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Tefal  neo 5 – includes steam basket

Stove top – need to monitor it just like regular saucepan cooking.

Made from stainless steel.  Should last a lifetime (rubber seals may need replacing in the distant future).

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Electric – can be controlled run by timer and preset temperature settings.

Most have non stick inner pots, though you might find stainless if prefer.  Unlikely to last as long as a stove top model.

Takes up bench space which may, or may not be limited in your kitchen.

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I have a regular stovetop one as mentioned in Legumes, Starch and Farts 101 but I can definitely see why people might be drawn to electric.

I can’t imagine cooking without one now.

Add what you are cooking, bring to point where pressure is indicated, then turn stove down low, just enough to keep the pressure up, while not enough to burn the pot or its yummies within.

You can’t just take the lid on and off a pc like a normal saucepan. You first will need to remove it from the heat source, then release the pressure valve.  If you are in a rush, you can run a bit of cold water over the side of it.

If you open it while there is still a bit of pressure, your lentils will be on the floor, man.

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Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

  • If you start with well-soaked chickpeas or beans, tip off soak water then cover with boiling water, they should be cooked to perfection in about 15 minutes (instead of imperfection after 40 minutes.  Brown rice and buckwheat, same time and technique, but no soaking required.
  • Turn the temperature down low and you can do ‘slow cooked’ dishes…fast.
  • Great for making winter soups with soup mix in them.  Also pumpkin/potato soup.  Cube the vegies and add some boiling water with flavouring of your choice.  Seal up and check after 15 mins, should be well done.  Add green stuff at the end or it will go yellow.  Partially blend with a stick mixer (if you have one).to create a variety of textures, otherwise just use your normal blender…be bloody chqdefaultareful the lid doesn’t come off though, when blending hot stuff like this.
  • Learn ‘the curry secret’…basically make curry sauce by blending a few old things out of the bottom of your fridge (carrots/capsicums-seeds and all, mushrooms/zucchini/tomato/apple/pumpkin/ginger) etc) together with water, tomato paste, spices and coconut cream or cashews (optional) and cook this gently in your pc as the curry sauce, along with whatever is to make the ‘bits’ in the curry…cooked chickpeas, potato, vegies etc (Before adding the sauce to your pc you might like to fry a few whole spices coriander,cumin, fennel, cardamon seeds, curry leaves etc( in oil first and leave them in there when you add the sauce.) Improve the final taste with the judicious addition of salt and coconut oil.hqdefault_001.jpg
  • Use the steam basket to cook vegies while your rice is cooking, or just cook them over a couple of centimetres of water.  Use this water to make gravy or in soup or something.
  • Make cauliflower mash…steam a cauliflower until it is nursing home texture, then blend with seasoning of you choice, great for potato dodgers.
  • Pasta (and gnocchi) cook much quicker in a pc.  Because we all know that vegetarian food = pasta, right kids?!

 

 

So be nice to your pressure cooker,

learn what it is capable of

and

hopefully, it will be very nice to you in return!

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Posted in Health

Legumes, Starch and Farts 101

  1. How to appreciate farts for what they represent to your body’s health.
  2. How to minimise farting when there is no dog around to blame.
  3. How to best enter the wonderful world of beans and legumes.
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Starchy Carbs
Research suggests that starchy carbs, not a meat-heavy diet, advanced the human race.  They provided the fuel to grow and power our energy hungry brains.
Many of our starchy friends also contain fibre which is a type of carbohydrate that our upper digestive system can’t digest …fibre turns into really good food for (usually)good bacteria lower in our intestine.  These are the foods can really ratchet us up to 11.  I’m looking right at you, jerusalem fartichokes.
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Of course legumes also have this reputation too, and in some cases justifiably so, but there is one common  hidden veggie that may be giving legumes a worse reputation than they deserve…read on to find the possible culprit…!

1 Think of farts as good bacteria burping ‘thanks’ after a great meal.

15-18 pop offs a day is pretty average.  More or less will depend on what you have eaten and who you have partying in your gut. 

Purna Kashyap, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic: Eating foods that cause gas is the only way for the microbes in the gut to get nutrients. If we didn’t feed them carbohydrates, it would be harder for them to live in our gut.”

And we need to keep these colon-dwelling critters content.  When they gobble up food — and create gas — they also make molecules that boost the immune system, protect the lining of the intestine and prevent infections.

And the more fibre you feed these friendly inhabitants, the more types of species appear, studies have found. This bump in microbial diversity has been linked to a slimmer waistline.

Most gas made by the microbiome is odorless. It’s simply carbon dioxide, hydrogen or methane. But sometimes a little sulfur slips in there.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/04/28/306544406/got-gas-it-could-mean-you-ve-got-healthy-gut-microbes

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2. So you definitely want to eat farty foods regularly for health, but there may be times that social convention overrides their health benefits, so here are some tips

  • You may like avoid these foods for 24 hours before critical times
  • Gas producing oligosaccharides are apparently water soluble.  Soak dried pulses in a large amount of water and use the water on the garden.  Maybe change the soak water midway through. 
  • When eating, chew carefully to maximise what is digested higher up in the digestive system.  Saliva is an important part of digestion and the smaller pieces are also more thoroughly broken down.
  • Try taking  digestive enzyme supplements before, or along with starchy meals.
  • Fart in the face of social convention…it is just another means of controlling individuals via herd mentality anyway!

The amount of oligosaccharides in legumes varies, so certain kinds of beans may make you gassier than others. Lentils, split peas, black-eyed peas, mung beans and adzuki beans are relatively low in oligosaccharides, while garbanzo, kidney and black beans contain average amounts. Soybeans, navy beans and lima beans are fairly high in oligosaccharides, and widely considered the most “disagreeable.” Avoid Boston baked beans and other sweetened beans if you’re prone to gas, as the added sugar in these dishes is another source of gas.

http://woman.thenest.com/body-adjust-eating-beans-13468.html

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  • Finally don‘t just blame the legumes! Most foods that include legumes also include ONIONS.  My partner always said that onions made him fart, but to my peril I never believed him.  I do now.  There is heaps of info on the interweb about this.  Leave them out of legume dishes and you might be pleasantly surprised.

 Whenever you add more fibre to your diet, your digestive system usually goes through an adjustment (that may include increased bum humming) before you find your body copes better with fibrous foods. Don’t give up, legumes are wonderful…cheap, tasty, healthy and easy. Really.

3 I get it, legumes are wonderful. How to prepare them?

Quickest: Red split lentils are the earth’s gift to the unprepared.  Just wash them and cook, no soaking required.  Dhal Tadka, bolognese and lentil soup are great ways to use red splitsters.

Quick: You can speed up the soaking and cooking process of other critters in three ways…

  • Soak in boiling water – this brings the soak time down from overnight to a couple of hours, especially useful in winter time.
  • Add bicarb soda to the water.  About  1 tsp at the time of cooking.
  • Use a pressure cooker – today is my sister’s 40th and my gift of one to her inspired this topic.  I bought her a Tefal Secure Neo 5 as on special it is a ‘reasonable’ price, gets great reviews and includes a steam basket.  Mine is an old banger from the op shop for $5, it does a great job, so go second hand if you can find one.  Red split lentils in a pressure cooker… now that’s fast food!

Less quick,  good if you don’t have a pressure cooker, also has other benefits:

  • Try and soak from the morning, a day, or even two before.  This way you get the added advantage of the pulse beginning to germinate or ‘activate’.  Green split peas are like little rocks without a good soaking.  Start with the water warm and cover with water to more than double the dry height of soakees.  In cold climates, leave in a warm place to soak. (Like on top of the fridge).

You will get the best results though with a pressure cooker, so here is my handy guide.

Use legumes in hommous, nachos, tacos, soups (miso, pho etc), salads, curries, stir-fries, process chickpeas into ‘mince’, make felafels from green (frozen/fresh) broadbeans  etc

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All I am saying, is give peas a chance.

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