Sunday, February 28, 2016


Best Blog Tips

I was very happy to be asked to review Jill Nussinow's brand-new book, "Vegan Under Pressure", especially because I had recently purchased a new Instant Pot IP-DUO60.  Jill's book "The New Fast Food" has been a wonderful introduction to healthful, quick, easy and delicious vegan pressure cooking, and I found her cooking time charts the most accurate of many that I had perused.  (No more mushy beans!) So, I was excited to see the new book, which had the addition of information on pressure cooking in the increasingly popular Instant Pot.

The book is colorful, with a very pleasant layout and colors that are easy on the eye. In Chapters One and Two, Jill leads you by the hand as you embark on your first encounter with a pressure cooker-- whether it be with an old "jiggle-top" version, a modern stove-top version, an electric pressure cooker, or the Instant Pot (which is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker/porridge maker, steamer, yogurt maker, warming device, and it has a sauté/browning function).

I have had some experience with all of those types of pressure cookers over the years and my mother used a pressure cooker sometimes (though I wasn't really paying attention at that point in my life), but I still benefited immensely from reading the introductory chapters. I use all sorts of cooking methods in my  kitchen, but find that the pressure cooker or Instant Pot is a great tool particularly for vegans.  It makes quick work of cooking your own beans from the dry state, and cooking whole grains and homemade vegan soups and stews.

In Chapter One, Jill first explains how the pressure cooker can not only save you time, but also fuel, calories (most of Jill's recipes are very low in fat), and nutrients (and water, if that's a concern-- you don't need much for many types of food); how it differs from a slow cooker; how a pressure cooker actually works; and the history of pressure cooking.  

She also shares how to choose a pressure cooker, the most important features to consider, using stovetop cookers on different types of heat sources, and whether or not it's a good idea to have two pressure cookers; and what size or sizes you might need. 

(Observation: I think it would be a great idea to purchase this book before you buy a pressure cooker rather than afterwards, because all of the above information is so important to know ahead of time.)

In Chapter Two, Jill gives you the basics of how different pressure cookers work; what a pressure cooker can do; and everything you need to know about timing;  each step of the cooking process; adjusting recipes for electric cookers; adapting slow cooker recipes to the pressure cooker; and notes on vegan ingredients.
Chapter Three is a whole chapter on making your own seasonings-- yay!  Subsequent chapters have mouth-watering recipes for Grains; Beans; Vegetables; Soups; Main Courses; Burgers, Patties, and Savory Cakes; Toppers (Sauces, Fillings, and More); Appetizers; and Desserts (Yes!).

The appropriate chapters have really helpful "At-a-Glance" cooking charts for Grains and Rice, Beans, and Vegetables.  And, I have to tell you-- I've used charts from other books and ended up with over-cooked food.  Jill's charts are much more realistic and accurate.
**I am now a big fan of steaming potatoes in the pressure cooker/Instant Pot, using Jill's timing chart. You put 1/2 to 1 cup of water (I use boiling water from my electric kettle to speed things up) into the pot, add the steaming basket and pile in the potatoes-- peeled or not, whole or cut.  Diced potatoes for making fat-free hash-browns under the broiler take 2-3 minutes; large chunks of potatoes for a mash take about 5 minutes; whole large potatoes take about 10 minutes; and so on.  This saves alot of fuel (and water) compared to boiling or even steaming potatoes in the usual way on a stove, and you preserve nutrients.

Enough said! On to the recipes I tried...

I chose the following three recipes from the list of recipe choices the publisher gave me partly because of the ingredients I had at my disposal (I live on an island and can't run to a well-stocked store whenever I want), and partly because the recipes appealed to me and seemed appropriate to the season. I used the Instant Pot for all of them

I look forward to trying many of the other recipes in Jill's new book as the seasons roll on.

Sassy Sesame Tofu with Sweet Potato, Carrots, and Sugar Snap Peas 
(Photo by Bryanna Clark Grogan)

My Notes on this recipe: 
A quick, easy, colorful and tasty meal-in-a-bowl with steamed brown rice or, perhaps, cooked noodles.  Jill's method of cooking the tofu in some of the flavorings so that it absorbs flavor is a great idea. Jill's Sweet and Spicy Red Pepper Sauce recipe is in Chapter Three, but I didn't have all the ingredients, so I used a combination of Thai Sweet Red Chile Sauce and Sriracha Sauce instead.  You can add more Sriracha at the table if you like it really spicy.

Sassy Sesame Tofu with Sweet Potato, Carrots, and Sugar Snap Peas
Serves 4
This crowd-pleasing recipe is a simple and delicious way to prepare tofu, which gets firmer under pressure and absorbs the flavors of the cooking liquid. It cooks very quickly. It’s best to cook the sugar snap peas on low pressure for just a minute so they don’t become mushy. The sweet and spicy sauce at the end makes it even more special. Serve this over any type of rice or other grain.

2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 medium yellow, white, or sweet onion, sliced from top to bottom to equal about 2 cups
1 carrot, peeled and cut on the diagonal into ½-inch pieces
1 cup diced peeled sweet potato
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 to 2 tablespoons tamari [I used 2 Tablespoons-- BCG]
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
⅓ cup vegetable stock
2 cups sugar snap or snow peas, cut in half
2 tablespoons Sweet and Spicy Red Pepper Sauce or Sriracha [I used half Thai Sweet Chile Sauce and half Sriracha-- BCG]
2 tablespoons tahini, optional, for a richer dish [I didn't add this--BCG]
2 tablespoons chopped scallion, for garnish

1. Heat a stovetop pressure cooker over medium heat or set an electric cooker to sauté; add the sesame oil. Add the onion, carrot, and sweet potato and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the sesame seeds and sauté another minute. Add the tofu, tamari, vinegar, and stock.

2. Lock the lid on the cooker. Bring to high pressure; cook for 3 minutes. Quick release the pressure. Carefully remove the lid, tilting it away from you.

3. Add the peas and lock the lid back on. Bring to low pressure; cook for 1 minute. (If you do not have a low pressure option, lock the lid on and let sit for 2 to 3 minutes.) Quick release the pressure. Remove the lid, carefully tilting it away from you.

4. Stir in the pepper sauce and tahini, if using. Garnish with the remaining 1 tablespoon sesame seeds and the chopped scallion and serve.

Variations: Use broccoli florets or 1-inch pieces of green or wax beans instead of the peas. Cook at low pressure for 2 minutes with a quick release.

Text excerpted from Vegan Under Pressure, © 2015 by Jill Nussinow. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


4 C’s Warm Rye Berry Salad; Photo © Lauren Volo.

My Notes on this recipe: 
The rye is chewy and even a little sweet-- I found it very pleasant and a great match with the cabbage and caraway/mustard flavoring. Instead of dry-sauteing, I cooked the  onion and cabbage in a covered Pyrex casserole in the microwave on High for 5 minutes, then just dumped them into the Instant Pot with the soaked rye berries, caraway seeds, bay leaves, and stock.
I would like to try this with farro or oat groats, which probably would not need to be soaked first.

4 C’s Warm Rye Berry Salad
Serves 4 to 6
This hearty salad tastes great but has very simple ingredients, including cabbage, caraway, carrots, and chives. If you’ve never cooked rye berries before, you might be surprised by their firm texture and amazing flavor. You can also make a salad with other whole grains such as farro, Kamut, spelt, wheat berries, or—if you want it to be gluten-free—whole oat groats.

1 cup chopped red or yellow onion
1½ cups chopped red cabbage plus 1½ cups thinly sliced red cabbage
1 cup rye berries, soaked overnight and drained
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 bay leaves
¾ cup vegetable stock or water
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard [not the sweet kind--BCG]
1 tablespoon date or maple syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 medium carrot, grated (½ to 1 cup) 
¼ cup chopped fresh chives [my chives are still small, so I used sliced scallion greens-- BCG]
Salt, optional
Lots of freshly ground black pepper

1. Heat a stovetop cooker over medium heat, or set an electric cooker to sauté. Add the onion and the 1½ cups chopped cabbage and dry sauté until the onion starts to look translucent. Add water by the tablespoon as needed to prevent any sticking.

2. Add the rye berries, caraway seeds, bay leaves, and stock. Lock the lid on the cooker. Bring to high pressure; cook for 25 minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you.

3. Carefully remove and discard the bay leaves. Transfer the grain mixture to a large bowl and let cool until almost room temperature. Once cool, drain and discard any remaining cooking liquid.

4. Combine the mustard, date or maple syrup, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Add the dressing to the cooled rye.

5. Stir in the sliced cabbage, carrot, and chives. Add salt (if you like) and pepper to taste. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Taste and adjust seasonings before serving.

Text excerpted from Vegan Under Pressure, © 2015 by Jill Nussinow. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.


Orange Scented Beet Salad: Photo by Bryanna Clark Grogan

My Notes on this recipe:  
This is the first time I have cooked beets for a salad after simply scrubbing them before slicing-- usually I peel them first, or I roast them in foil with the skins on and then peel the skins off under running water.  Simply scrubbing them well (I used a new stainless steel scrubber) is a brilliant idea!  Another brilliant idea is cooking the beets in some of the flavoring elements (orange juice, vinegar, orange zest) that would ordinarily go into the dressing, which would be added to the beets after cooking.  With Jill's method, the beets are infused with some of the dressing flavorings as they cook. Genius!

Orange Scented Beet Salad
Makes four 1-cup servings of beets plus 1/2 cup greens
Cooking beets has never been easier. They become so tender that you don’t even need to peel them if you don’t want to. It’s best to use young beets that are no more than 3-4 inches in diameter.
3 minutes high pressure; 10 minute natural pressure release

1 1/2 pounds beets, about 6 medium 
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (zest oranges before squeezing) 
2 tablespoons cider vinegar 
3 large slices orange zest 
2 tablespoons Sucanat or brown sugar 
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 
2 teaspoons orange zest 
2 green onions, sliced 
2 cups spicy greens like arugula, mustard or a mix, washed and dried [I used kale because that's what I had in the garden--BCG] 

1. Scrub beets. Remove tops, stems and tails and cut in half. Then cut into ¼-inch slices. 

2. Put the orange juice, vinegar and the large slices of orange zest into the cooker. Add the beet slices. Lock on the lid. Bring to high pressure.  Cook for 3 minutes. 

3.Let the pressure come down naturally for 7 minutes, then release any remaining pressure.

4. Open the lid, tilting it away from you. Remove the large pieces of orange zest. Stir in the Sucanat and mustard. 

6. Remove the beets from the cooking liquid and transfer to a bowl.  Let cool for at least 5 minutes. 

7. Mix the orange zest and green onions with the beets. Pour the liquid from the cooker over the beets. 

8. Spoon one quarter of the mixture onto one half cup of spicy greens on individual salad plates. 

9. Or, you may chill the beets, without the zest and green onions, and let sit in the liquid for a day or two.

10. Right before serving stir in the orange zest and green onions.

Excerpted from VEGAN UNDER PRESSURE, (c) 2016 by Jill Nussinow. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Happy Pressure Cooking!

1 comment:

omlet said...

hmmm….an interesting recipe – i’ve got to try this one!