Sunday, May 25, 2008

Crab Pepper Pot

This is another excellent recipe from Cuisine at Home, a monthly recipe magazine that has simple, and very well spiced meals that are fresh and very enjoyable.  Unpretentious, and one of our current favorites (which is saying something, since we tend to be snobs about this kind of thing).

1/4 lb. Bacon, diced
2 Cups Tomato, chopped
1 cup Onion, diced
1 cup Russet Potato, peeled and diced
1 T Jalapeno 
1 T Garlic, minced
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 dried thyme leaves
3 cups Chicken broth (we only had 2, and added 1 cup veggie broth)
4 cups fresh Spinach, chopped
1 cup canned coconut milk (missed this the first time, but was still excellent)
8 oz (2 cups) Crab Meat
Fresh Lime, Reserved Bacon, chopped Scallions

Saute diced bacon in soup pot (used large sauce pan).  Remove and reserve 1T drippings
Stir in Tomatoes, Onion, Potatoes, Jalapeno, Garlic and Spices.  Cook over medium heat until onion begins to soften (5 minutes).
Add Broth and bring to a boil.  Simmer soup for 10 minutes.
gently stir in Spinach and Coconut Milk, simmer 3-4 minutes
Add crab meat just to heat through (stir as little as possible).
Serve with juice from a lime wedge, scallions and bacon sprinkled on top.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Scott and Linda get a pressure cooker.

So why did that take so long? We invited Shilesh and Nupur over to teach us how to make Southern Indian food (more on that later, honest) and Nupur brought her pressure cooker to make the Dahl for Sahmbar. Very cool if you're a foody. The thing builds up pressure, and releases it in aloud rush. More than that, the Dahl is cooked perfectly in 10 or so minutes. Now if you've cooked Dahl (a cross between beans and lentils) before you know that it's impossible to cook it that quickly, and if you do cook it in a hurry, it is always grainy and disappointing. Not so with a pressure cooker. So we got this one (more to come).

It is a Kuhn Rikon 3.75Qt. model (Kuhn Rikon is the stylish pressure cooker that gadget geeks like me have to get, and I'm sure that just about any pressure cooker will have similar benefits. But, it is beautiful, no? (And it does not shoot loud burst of steam like Nupur's!)

The Second picture show the pressure cooker open, with a black-eyed pea recipe that we made (and cooked to perfection in 15 minutes).

Why are pressure cookers so great?
1) They use lots less energy. You bring the water up to a boil and put the lid on. The pressure builds (a little indicator in the top rises to tell you that its up to pressure) in about a minute, and then you turn the pot to the lowest setting to maintain that pressure. Now, you are in fact boiling the bejeezus out of what's inside but you have the burner set so low that it wouldn't even make a conventional pot simmer.
2) By cooking under pressure, you force the flavor into whatever you're cooking, so not only is the food done more quickly, but it is more tasty.
3) And this is counterintuitive, while you are cooking under hight heat, with pressure that forces flavor into the food, the cooking is much more gently than a full boil would be. Because of this ingredients maintain their integrity much better than they would under conventional boiling/simmering. This made a huge difference in the Back-Eyed pea recipe, where we added some Veggie-chipotle "sausage." Veggie sausages don't have a casing, so veggie sausage can just disintegrate in chilis, and other dishes that we cook by slow simmering. Not so in the pressure cooker. When we took off the lid, the beans were soft throughout, but still had a nice snap to the skin, and the veggie sausages were completely intact. Their chipotle flavor had been forced into the beans in a way that usually only happens after you've put a dish like this away over night, and reheated the following day.

Here's the DRI moment... GET A PRESSURE COOKER!!

If you are a Vegetarian or Eco Conscious, it is a no-brainer. If you eat meat, all I can say is, most of the recipes in the cookbook that comes with the cooker are for some really tasty looking chicken and beef dishes where you are either quick roasting, or making a stew. My guess is that the meat is cooked, and juicy, and absorbs the flavors just like beans and lentils.

We continue to experiment, and every time we need to boil potatoes, or beats (as we did the other night) we do it in far less time than boiling by PCing it. If you've ever wondered, just do it. I can't belive it took us this long.