Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Quick Pickled Vegetables in your Instant Pot (or other electric pressure cooker)

In today's edition of What crazy thing is Donna cooking? we have some quick-pickled vegetables courtesy of a new cookbook that showed up at my door.

The book is called How To Instant Pot, so obviously it's taking advantage of that particular brand of cooker, but these recipes should work for pretty much any electric pressure cooker. There might be some differences in terms of what buttons the cooker might have, but that's also true among the Instant Pot cookers.

So, yeah, it's a cookbook specifically for electric pressure cookers.

The first thing I tried from this book was risotto. Which was kind of silly because I've made risotto a bazillion ways already, so there was nothing to be surprised about here. Risotto cooked in a pressure cooker is good, but it's not as good as other methods where stirring is involved.

So ... I decided to give the pickled vegetables a try. Pressure cooking makes sense to jump-start the pickling process. And it sure as heck was quick.

The recipe called for either carrots or cucumbers or both, but I didn't have any cucumbers and I didn't have enough carrots. So I started rummaging in the crisper and pulled out a cauliflower. I figured it would work, since cauliflower is about as dense as carrots, and it tastes good pickled.

The process worked, so I'm pretty sure I'll do this again, but I think I'll adjust the tartness. For eating as a snack, these were pretty tart (yeah, I'm weird - I eat pickles as a snack) so next time I'll try a ratio of 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 water or even 1/4 vinegar to 3/4 water.

Also, this basic recipe could be tweaked a zillion ways, by adding some hot peppers or chili flakes, or by adding some garlic, turmeric, or even some herbs.

But that's the great thing about quick pickles. Since these aren't meant to be canned, you can mix and match flavors in a whole lot of different ways, and still get a good result. You know, to your taste.

I'm actually thinking I might use this technique to make a spicy pickled cauliflower recipe that I'm quite fond of.

Quick Pickled Vegetables
Adapted from How to Instant Pot by Daniel Shumski
Makes about 1 quart

1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt or pickling salt
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 pound carrots, peeled, trimmed, and cut into 2-inch pieces (I cut mine a little smaller) or a combination of vegetables you like

Place the vinegar, water, sugar, peppercorns, and mustard seeds in the inner pot of the pressure cooker and stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Add the vegetables and stir.

Put the lid on the pot and lock it. Set the vent to closed. Set the pressure to high, and set the timer for 1 minute. Yup, that's it. Just one minute.

When the cooking is done (a bit more than a minute, since it takes time to get to pressure), turn the vent knob to release the steam and when the pressure has been released, remove the lid. Transfer the vegetables and liquid to whatever container you're going to use. Mine fit well into a 1-quart canning jar.

Allow the vegetables to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled. The flavor will continue to develop over the next few days, but you can use these as soon as they're cool.

I received this cookbook from the publisher at no cost to me.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Toasted Milk in your Instant Pot (or other electric pressure cooker)

There was more ... but I used it!
A bunch of people in a group I'm in were talking about a recipe on Serious Eats for toasted cream, and it got me curious. I wanted to try it right away, but I didn't have any heavy cream in the house.

And since I had just gone shopping, I wasn't planning another shopping excursion soon.

See, I'm trying to cut back on shopping. For a lot of reasons. None of which matter here.

So there I was, with this recipe nagging at me, and I had no heavy cream.

But I had plenty of milk.

Since I have way to many kitchen gadgets, I had both options for toasting the milk - either sous vide for 24 hours or pressure cooked for 2 hours.

Having the patience of a gnat, I opted for the pressure cooked version.

There are two other options. Either with baking soda or without. The baking soda increases the browning of the milk. I decided to add the baking soda, to get the maximum effect.

Just in case the recipe didn't work, I cooked just one cup instead of a pint. I mean, milk isn't expensive, but I still didn't want to waste any.

Oddly, the Serious Eats recipe suggests using a 12-ounce canning jar, but all I had were pints and half pints. Since I wanted to leave some head space in the jar, I opted for the pint jar with 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda. Since there are only two ingredients in this recipe, it's pretty easy to scale. You'll need 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda per cup of milk (or, if you're using their recipe, cream) or 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda per pint of milk, if that's easier to measure.

But, seriously, since the baking soda is optional, you could leave it out or use a tad less and it's not going to ruin anything.

The result was interesting. The color of the milk was surprising, and it also made me think that the milk would be sweet. Like caramel. But it wasn't. It just tasted more complex. Toasty.

I tried the milk in my morning coffee, and something very interesting happened. The milk tasted a whole lot richer, like I had put half-and-half in my coffee instead of whole milk.

I haven't tried the milk in anything else yet, but I have plenty of ideas.

Toasted Milk

1 or 2 cups of whole milk
1/8 teaspoon baking soda per cup of milk (optional, but recommended)

Place the milk in a pint canning jar along with the baking soda. Make sure there's some head space above the milk. Use less milk if necessary, or use two jars. Stir well to combine. Place a standard canning jar lid on, finger-tight. You don't want it completely tight, since the air needs to escape during the cooking.

Place a rack in your electric pressure cooker (like an Instant Pot or similar brand) and add about an inch of water. Or eyeball it to just below the rack.

Add the jar. Or jars. Seriously, after you try it, you're going to make this by the quart.

Put the lid on, close the vent, set the pressure to high, and cook for 2 hours.

Let the pressure release naturally, then remove the lid and carefully remove the jars. Make sure you don't set them on a cold surface, like a granite counter. I usually put them on a towel or a wooden cutting board. Let them cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Use this like you'd use any milk - for coffee or other drinks, or for baking.

And yes, if you want it even richer, use heavy cream. For details on why this works, check out the Serious Eats explanation.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Summer Corn Soup from Healthyish #AbramsDinnerParty

Yes, I know it's not summer.

I got Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt as part of my participation in the Abrams Dinner Party, where I'm getting a bunch of cookbooks from that publisher.

When I looked through the book, the corn soup sounded really good.  And I love corn any time of the year.

Fortunately, the recipe doesn't require fresh corn (although it would probably be better with fresh summer corn), so I grabbed frozen corn and I was good to go.

This is meant to taste like Mexican street corn, with lime and chilies and cotija cheese, and that's pretty much what it was. Except it was very very smooth. Except of course the corn garnish and the cheese.

Oh, an if you're wondering why it's kind of orange, that's from the chili powder.

So there we go.

This was also super-simple to make, so it gets bonus points for that. The one glitch I had was that I didn't like the texture I got when I blended it with my stick blender, so then I transferred it to my Vitamix blender to get it smoother. Silky smooooooth.

Summer Corn Soup

Adapted from Healthyish by Lindsay Maitland Hunt

1 stick unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoons chili powder
8 cups corn kernels from 8 cobs or the same amount frozen
2 russet potatoes (about 2 pounds) peeled and cut into 3/4 inch pieces
8 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
4 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (I forgot to buy this, so I skipped it. But it would be a good addition)

Heat the butter in a large pot (keep in mind you're going to be adding all that stock) over medium heat. Add the onions, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring often until the onions are translucent and soft.

Add the garlic, cumin. and chili powder and cook for about 30 seconds, until it's fragrant.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the corn for garnish and add the rest to the pot along with the potatoes and stock. Cover, bring to a boil. then reduce to strong simmer. Cook, stirring as needed, until the potatoes are completely soft.

Puree the soup (I suggest using a blender, but be careful when blending hot soup!) Stir in the lime juice and an additional 1/4 teaspoon salt (or salt to taste at this point, keeping in mind that the cotija cheese is salty.)

Serve the soup garnished with the cheese, cilantro, and corn kernels. Add a grind or two of pepper, too, if desired. Serve hot.

This reheats really well, so it's fine to make extra!

I get free cookbooks and swag for participating in the Abrams Dinner Party, but I am not paid to participate.