Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pressure Cooker Vegetables in 3 minutes

OK, I caved in and decided to pressure cook the vegetables... after some recent experiments that went very very right, I decided to go through my fridge, see what was there and cook them in the pressure cooker, see what happens...

I have a new pressure cooker, this one:

and I absolutely completely highly recommend it!!

Here's the results:

Everything cooks in 3 minutes! HAHAHAHA  SERIOUSLY!  

I'm not kidding, it's weird but everything I found today cooked perfectly in 3 minutes:  I don't think it was clear but I quick release all the vegetables :D

I put cut up carrots on the trivet, over some water and locked and loaded for 3 minutes.  PERFECT!
*I tossed the carrots with a little of the water, a blob of butter, salt, pepper and tarragon and put over high heat until they were lightly glazed and put them aside, covered, they reheat beautifully.

I threw the brussels sprouts from Greenling.com on the trivet, over water (the carrot water once it had cooled) and locked and loaded for 3 minutes.  PERFECT!
*I tossed the sprouts in some bacon fat heated over pretty high heat and tossed them around so they got some bacony goodness and some brown bits then put them aside, covered, they reheat perfectly!

I cut up 3 broccoli heads (with stalks) and threw them on the trivet, over water (the brussels sprout/carrot water, once it had cooled) and locked and loaded for 3 minutes.  PERFECT!
*I simply put the broccoli in a covered container, I will reheat lightly later, also a great do ahead veggie.

I cut up a head of cauliflower, with stalk, and threw it on the trivet, over water (the brussels sprout/carrots/broccoli water) and locked and loaded for 3 minutes.  PERFECT!
*I put the cauliflower in a container to reheat later, I will save some of it and make a bechemal to do cauliflower cheese tomorrow or another day.

Here's some action and some beauty shots:

All the dishes started like this:  trivet over about 12-16 oz of water and a little salt.  
*I cooked these vegetables one after the other in the Nesco electric pressure cooker.  I did allow it to cool between uses as I prepared the vegetables.  I did add a little water each time to keep the level just below the strainer/steamer/trivet

Then prep your vegetable of choice and toss them on the trivet/steamer:
LOCK AND LOAD THREE MINUTES ON HIGH PRESSURE.  Perfect veggies, tender crisp and ready to either eat, chill or doctor up and save.
I tossed the sprouts in bacon fat and shushed them around a bit then put them aside, covered for later.
or broccoli:

or cauliflower:

Go cook yourself some veggies... FAST!  This HAS to be better than boiling or blanching, there's no evaporation and the veggies taste so very very much like themselves this way!  plus, it's THREE minutes!  I saved all the water and will use it to make gravy with the roast chicken drippings later.  Yeah, look at me planning ahead ;)


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Quick spinach and lemon pasta lunch

As you're aware, my new passion, my local farm box from Greenling, arrived today.  I have it delivered every 2 weeks.  That makes me happy.

I looked through the box today and found spinach, lemon, and oregano,  I had olive oil, garlic, tomato and pasta.  Sounds like lunch to me!

There's no recipe, it's a method so there's only one version, the long winded with loads of pictures version: 


1/2 box of pasta (I used Barilla angel hair, broken in half - don't judge)
large handful of fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 tomato, seeded, chopped
zest of half a lemon
juice of that lemon
olive oil
butter (seriously, we can't NOT have butter, you don't need much but use some!)
a little chicken stock or water
1 large garlic clove (sliced paper thin in my new favorite garlic slicer from pampered chef)
salt, pepper, nutmeg (nutmeg and spinach are best friends, always use them together)

Put a large pot of heavily salted water on to boil.

Grab your NEW favorite IKEA non stick frying pan (365 series, look how there's no scratches and it's about a year old) and heat up some olive oil and a good blob of butter
Arrange your beautifully chopped up food on the island for quick grabbing.  This is my garlic slicer, i love this thing.  Just drop the garlic in and twist and paper thin slices come out the bottom.  Yeah, it's a good buy.
Fry the garlic lightly then add zest and lemon juice and then the chopped tomato.
Grate in some fresh nutmeg, spinach and nutmeg are complete best friends, each is better for being near the other.  All the time. Drop in a branch of fresh oregano and shush it around a bit.
I'm not terribly patient waiting for water to boil and too lazy to find the lid so this is my speeder-upper regiment.  Drop the pasta into the boiling water and cook for about 3-4 minutes.  Do not overcook it! Before you drain any pasta, ALWAYS grab some of the cooking water, it's starchy and salty and it's a much better option mix into any sauce or to use to make anything into a sauce, just always do this.
Look at this yummy sauce, almost together!  This is going to be good. TASTE it, if it's too dull, add more lemon, if it's too acidic, add some pasta water.  Add some wine, add some stock, it's your dish! Drop the drained pasta into the sauce and then top with the chopped spinach.  Toss around quickly, the heat from the pasta cooks the spinach and the pasta absorbs all the olive oil, lemony juices.  MMMMM.
Toss around for a minute and plate it up!
Freshly grates parmesan cheese for Connor and some fresh oregano leaves. I had cut some homemade bread thickly, buttered and sprinkled garlic powder on it and toasted it.  Mmmmm.  Rather nice looking lunch for two in about 10 minutes.
Here are the random beauty shots:
This says success to me! 

It's a quick, easy, light lunch and with just a few super fresh ingredients and it's absolutely delicious.  
Go make yourself a quicky bowl. 


LOCAL FARM BOX DAY! and some bread alchemy

Just some chit chat from me for the moment:

YAY! it's local farm box delivery day from Greenling, Austin! I was so delighted about my box last time and the whole experience and the fact you don't have to sign your life away in blood. I am equally as thrilled that three people signed up as a direct result of my waxing poetic and cooking with the bounty that arrived on my front porch. Oh yeah, I like that.

I have dutifully put my neon green box on my front porch and am waiting for delivery man to swap my sad empty box out for a happy, delicious, full, box. I'm going to try not to ambush him on the front lawn this time, yeah, I'm sort of scary like that. Again, I have not gone on their site to see what's coming today. I think it takes all the fun out of it. Isn't mystery the thing?

Speaking of mystery, I am also going to start receiving a "nibble box" from Graze this week. Husband signed me up for a healthy snack to be delivered weekly. I'm very excited and figure anything I'm not delighted with will merely be combined and dipped in chocolate... that's my idea of a healthy snack! I'll blog the results of the weekly box. Hopefully it'll be fantastic, I have reasonable faith at the moment but then I'm full of the fresh fruits and vegetable delivery spirit at the moment and may be looking through pale green colored glasses :-)

I have to say that I have noticed that people are starting to take my recommendations to heart. I know a number of people who went out and bought the Nesco pressure cooker that I own, bought the pampered chef garlic slicer solely on my recommendation. If the Graze thing works out, I know a couple of people who want to jump on that band wagon as well. I am rather enjoying the fact that I have an every growing online presence as well a voice that is being noticed among the small circle of cyber foodies who come to stop here. I also like that I stopped at least 2 purchases of the Cuisinart Hard Anodized pans based on my experience with their quality as well as their shoddy public customer service, it's only a 600 dollars I stopped (and I do realize that doesn't put a dent in a company of their size) but in my mind, it mattered. I'll keep my eyes open for cool things and certainly report my findings. I think we all need to stick together here and use our money, time and energy wisely. I don't mind taking the lead here at all.

Today, I have a new experimental version of my crusty Italian boule rising. I usually just toss everything in the mixer but last night, I looked at my original "recipe" and took out a 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water and 1 tsp of yeast, combined them and covered it and left it on the counter. This morning, I noticed it had risen about 2 inches above where it started but then had deflated before I got to it 9 hours later. Feeling brave, I added the rest of the ingredients I usually do, mixed it until it was a soft dough and put it aside to rise on the counter. I also used cool water instead of slightly warmer than room temperature. In my mind, I will develop more flavor from the starter/bigga/poulish whatever you call it in your neck of the woods. It may also become a lifeless blob that does nothing, I'll let you know.

I have reasonable faith will get this right, eventually. Luckily, I have a willing group of victims who are willing to test, test, test the food I deliver to them. I am pretty happy with the other breads I've mastered. I think they all taste separate and distinct. Unlike the store bread, even the "artisan" stuff that all tastes the same, has the same internal texture but merely the outsides look slightly different. I want DIFFERENT. I want my ciabatta, my baguettes, white sandwich bread and bolillo and Portuguese rolls to be different from each other, I think they are. Once I nail this Italian crusty boule thing, I'll be dancing in the streets.

I am delivering today's boule to a friend to test while we go on our way to Book Club (for teens) later today. I'll be itching for the report.

I'll report back after my green box delivery... with pictures, and my meal list based on what I see. We will do like last time, I'll do a list of what I think I'll be making then will post the dishes separately, all tagged with Greenling.

9:40 am! It's HERE!!! THE BOX IS HERE!!

WEEEE!  *yeah, I'm really this excited.  I am going to list my plans for the food here.  I'll blog the specific recipes when I do them and then will link back here.  All this is off the top of my head as I open...

I open and VOILA!  It just smells fresh and clean, let's dig through...  Ooooh, an oregano plant?!  cool! There's beautiful fresh spinach in here.  I'll eat some in today's salad and I'll put the rest in filling for some fresh pasta I'm going to make and roll into mini lasagnas.  NEW plan, I'm doing pasta for lunch, with olive oil, garlic and lemon and i'll chop half the spinach in. Yummy!

Brussels sprouts, ah, my favorites.
Last time, I cooked them in the pressure cooker and kept them in the fridge and tossed them in a little bacon fat when I wanted them as a side or just threw them in whatever I was cooking as a delicious addition.  I will do that again this week with them. 3 minutes on high over water in the pressure cooker, rinse, and put in a ziploc in the fridge.  YAY!

Oranges and meyer lemons.  I'll use a little zest and juice from both for a vinaigrette today.
I will eat 2 of the oranges ;)
I will use one orange to make the orange/lemon buttermilk pie minis that I experimented with and mastered.
I'll make lemon curd (recipe on the blog but I'll redo it with these) and fill the tart shells I made and froze a couple of weeks ago.

Chard, I love it.  It'll be chopped and sauteed and eaten with the chicken thighs and rice I'm doing tomorrow
Kale:  I'll make kale chips.  Toss lightly in olive oil, salt and pepper and into a hot oven for about 15 minutes.  Delicious snack!

Lettuce, oh look, still with roots.  Avocado!!  FABULOUS!
I see a greens (and thin red onion) salad at lunch, with a lemon/orange vinaigrette from some of the orange and lemon above and the avocado

Cauliflower.  Wow, it's a beauty.  Super quality.  It'll be steamed (in the pressure cooker) and then become cauliflower and cheese.  I'll make a bechamel, add some grated old Irish cheddar I have, drape the cauliflower, add bread crumbs and bake it until it bubbles.  It's a great satisfying meal.  I'll blog the long form of course.

So, here's this week's haul.  Bounty from the local garden.  All beautiful, fresh, clean, healthy and exactly the quality I'd pick at a farmer's market.