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
- Set the Instant Pot to Saute and add the oil.
- In a bowl, combine cumin, cinnamon, and flour. Toss the meat in mixture to coat.
- Tip coated meat into the hot oil to sear and brown. (It’ll tend to stick a bit, don’t worry about it.)
- Add the chili, tomatoes, onions, and celery if you are using.
- Add a little bit of water.
- Change to Meat/Stew setting. Change time to 25 – 35 minutes (depending on how small you’ve cut up the meat). Close lid.
- Once the time is up, use the quick release method to release the steam.
- Remove lid and add the beans, stir through.
- Spoon into a bowl with a generous topping of sour cream and coriander.
Serve with boiled rice or flour tortillas.
A few days ago, we dined at Cail Bruich. As a wee starter, they served a lovely little veloute that was just perfect for the weather we’ve been having in Glasgow. I was eager to attempt a recreation and mine came out slightly different but equally delicious.
- 1 tsp butter
- 500g of celriac, finely diced.
- 1/2 can of chestnut puree
- 1 generous splash of vegetable bouillon stock or a stock cube
- Splash of double cream or whipping cream
- salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste.
- 1 tart apple, such as Bramley.
- In a pot, melt the butter.
- Add the celriac and allow to soften slightly (it’s okay if it becomes slightly golden, but not brown).
- Add chestnut puree, seasoning, and stock, then cover with water.
- Bring to a boil and simmer until celriac edges become slightly softened.
- Zizz until smooth. Mix in cream.
- Peel and chop apple into tiny dice just before serving. Add a heaped teaspoon of apple (about one quarter of a small apple) to each bowl before serving. Pour in soup.
- Serves four.
The weather in Glasgow at the moment is horrendous. Strong winds, cold rain… and grey skies that make it seem dark by two in the afternoon. Last week we even had hurricane force winds.
Given that weather, all I really want to do is curl up in front of the fire with a warm, hearty bowl of soup. When I was a kid, mom always started supper with a soup in the winter (and sometimes in summer). The game for us kids was to guess the ingredients.
If you are trying to lose weight, or ensure you get your 5 a day, then soup is an excellent way to achieve those goals. You can easily make a soup using just vegetables and with very little fat or carbs, while increasing fibre intake.
This week, I made a very nice soup that I wanted to share:
- 1 butternut (or other) squash, halved and seeded.
- 1 onion, quartered.
- 2 carrots
- 1 red bell pepper, quartered and seeded.
- 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 cup of tomato juice
- seasoning to taste – I used cayenne pepper, paprika, celery salt, and nutmeg.
- Arrange the vegetables on a baking tray.
- Bake vegetables in a medium oven until the edges become dark.
- Remove from oven and remove the peel from from the pepper and the squash.
- Put all the vegetables and seasonings in a blender with the tomato juice.
- Liquidize. (you may need to add a bit more tomato juice to get the desired consistency)
- In a pot, heat the soup once more to the desired temperature.
- Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a piece of rustic bread (if desired).
Roasting the vegetables gives them an earthier flavour and allows you to soften the onion and the squash without adding water for a richer flavour.