My New Toy

For a long time, I waffled between the desire to have a pressure cooker, and the terror of having one explode in my house. If you you think that is silly, recently a friend of mine was badly burnt by opening his pressure cooker while it was still pressurised. He’s made a full recovery, but not before a week of significant pain and some quite heartless jokes from his ever sympathetic friends.

As luck would have it, a Canadian company has devised an enhanced pressure-cooker-slow-cooker.  It’s my new favorite toy (although not by much, my new oven that doubles as a proving drawer and my purple KitchenAid stand mixer are still high in my affections).

Still, we’ve never eaten so many braised, stewed, steamed foods as we have since the Instant Pot arrived.  The best part?  I can now whip up chili using cheap cuts of meat (beef shin comes to mind!) in less than half an hour.  Here’s the recipe if you’re feeling peckish.

 

  • 500 grams of a cheap cut of beef (shin works fine for this!) – diced
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • splash of sunflower or similar oil.
  • Chili flakes to taste
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin of beans (I like Heinz Fajita beans but use whatever is to hand!)
  • 2 chopped onions
  • 3 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped.
  • [Optional] chopped celery
  • Fresh coriander and sour cream to garnish
  1. Set the Instant Pot to Saute and add the oil.
  2. In a bowl, combine cumin, cinnamon, and flour.  Toss the meat in mixture to coat.
  3. Tip coated meat into the hot oil to sear and brown. (It’ll tend to stick a bit, don’t worry about it.)
  4. Add the chili, tomatoes, onions, and celery if you are using.
  5. Add a little bit of water.
  6. Change to Meat/Stew setting. Change time to 25 – 35 minutes (depending on how small you’ve cut up the meat). Close lid.
  7. Once the time is up, use the quick release method to release the steam.
  8. Remove lid and add the beans, stir through.
  9. Spoon into a bowl with a generous topping of sour cream and coriander.

Serve with boiled rice or flour tortillas.

Special Strawberry Cordial

This is a favorite of mine – the perfect way of capturing summer in a bottle.  It’s a mix of strawberries, lemon, ginger, and vanilla – and a lot of sugar.

Ingredients (makes about 1/2 liter of cordial and 1/2 cups jam)

  • 750g ripe strawberries – washed, culled, and sliced.
  • 1 lemon – slice.
  • a generous glug of good vanilla extract.
  • a large piece of fresh ginger.
  • 500g  white sugar.

In a clean pitcher, put the strawberries and roughly slivered ginger.   Squeeze the lemon slices and add to the pitcher.   Pour all of the sugar on top.

Place in fridge for 12-24 hours.

Drain off the liquid into a clean, pretty bottle that has a good cap/seal.  This is your cordial – serve it over ice and mixed with club soda.

Pour the strawberries into a pot.  If there is any sugar left in the pitcher, add a bit of water and add to the pot.  Bring to a quick boil and remove the strawberry to a jar.  Reduce the syrup by half.  Remove the lemon and ginger and pour the thicker syrup over the strawberries.  Store this in the fridge and serve over ice-cream or yogurt.

 

Aside

I occasionally participate in BzzFeed campaigns to promote products that I really like and recommend.   At the moment, I’m participating in one for Knorr jellied Stocks.   This is a product I use regularly and with winter just around the corner, I thought I’d make my favourite childhood soup and share it with you.  I replace about 1/2 the meat that my mom used to use with 1 packet of Knorr beef stock.  This makes it a healthier, more environmentally friendly dish without requiring any compromise on taste.

My mom used to make the whole thing in one go, but I have trouble with stewed meats, so I’ve had to modify how I prepare them.   If you don’t, go ahead and just cut up the meat and add it (along with the bone/marrow) to your slow cooker without pre-baking.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 thick slices of beef calf (including marrow).
  • 1 large onion, chopped.
  • 3 large carrots, chopped.
  • 1 or two Knorr Beef Stock jelly packs.
  • 1 cup of barley
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped.
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard.
  • 2 bay leaves.
  • 1 teaspoon each marjoram and thyme.

Directions

  1. Roast the meat in a shallow dish until cooked through (meat will pull away from the bone).
  2. Remove from the oven and cut into smallish, bite sized pieces. 
  3. Add hot water to the roasting dish and scrape away the juices then pour the lot into your slow cooker. 
  4. Add all the other ingredients except the barley to the slow cooker and set on low. Cover with water.
  5. Forget about it for a few hours.
  6. An hour before serving, add the barley and set to medium.
  7. Serve hot.

Absolutely perfect for apres ski dinner.

Aside

This is an adaptation of: http://www.food.com/recipe/best-pumpkin-cookies-185445

I’m sure those are very good too, but I was looking for something a bit healthier and that would use ingredients that I had on hand.   

 

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
  • 1 cup pumpkin (see note below if you are preparing your own)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

Glaze

  • 1/2 tub of ultra light Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup of icing sugar
  • a dash of orange flavoring (or whatever you like best).

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Have ready some ungreased baking sheets.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, and syrup together until light and fluffy.
  4. Blend in pumpkin and egg.
  5. In separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices.
  6. Mix flour mixture into butter-sugar mixture.
  7. Drop tablespoonfuls 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.
  8. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until nice and brown.
  9. Remove warm cookies and transfer to racks.
  10. Prepare Glaze: Mix sugar, cream cheese, and orange extract until drizzle consistency. 
  11. Drizzle over cookies once they have cooled. 
  12. Store in airtight container.

2 minute idiot proof creme brûlée

So the challenge with creme brûlée is that it is best when it isn’t fully set, but how do you know for sure if it will be until it’s too late?

The answer is… Don’t bake it.

You can make your own custard for this, but it’s even simpler if you buy ready made thick custard. Fill the appropriate number of ramekins and sprinkle turbinado / Demerara sugar on top. If you don’t have the iron for this, you will need a small blow torch. Apply a thin coat over the custard. Don’t be tempted to put a very thick layer as you won’t be able to caramelise the entire thickness. Burn the sugar until it has liquified.

Return the ramekins to the fridge and serve cold.

Could it be any easier?

Technology, how I love you…

Friends, I apologise: it has been far too long since my last post. A new laptop and a new iPad mean that I’ve been having a bit too much time configuring and reordering data and very little doing any special cooking.

The good news is that my iPad is now blog enabled so I will likely be posting more often.

To make it up to you all I’ll add two new fast recipes for you today. The first is the delightful soup I made for lunch today: fennel & celeriac. Get one of each, chop into small pieces and put in a pot with 1/2 cup of water with a teaspoon each of butter and veg or chicken bouillon powder. Once the veg is soft, zizz until smooth, adding milk if required. finish off with a generous dollop of crime fraiche or yogurt and a generous grinding of pepper.

Enjoy immediately.

Banana and chocolate chip bread and butter pudding

This is a quick and easy dessert that uses up two kitchen perennials: over ripe bananas and slightly stale bread.  I tend to use a two inch deep pyrex dish for this  as I love the cruchy/caramelised topping and my partner prefers the mushy creamy underside.   If you like the topping better, use a shallower dish to provide more surface area.

Ingredients:

  • 2 overripe bananas (I pop bananas in the freezer as soon as they start turning black.  You can peel and slice them straight from the freezer)
  • A loaf of slightly stale bread (I wouldn’t use rye or anything savoury, of course but this works great with just about any bread: raisin loaf, white, whole wheat, panettone, brioche… whatever!)
  • Vanilla
  • Turbinado / Demerara sugar (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • a handful of chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Cut the bread up into good sized chunks (about 1 inch) and place in dish.
  2. Add the sliced up bananas and sprinkle with the chocolate chips.
  3. In a large measuring cup, combine milk and vanilla.   Add butter and microwave until milk is hot enough to finish melting the butter.  Whisk and pour quickly over the bread (you want the butter to be fairly homogeneously distributed).
  4. Sprinkle with the sugar.
  5. Bake in a hot oven (about 180 but that depends on your oven) until the whole thing puffs up a bit and the edges of the bread pieces on top start to darken.
  6. Serve immediately topped with vanilla icecream.  (left overs can be warmed again, or eaten cold)