Friday, January 29, 2010

Cold Weather Pressure Cooking

Pressure cooking or cooking under pressure? Could she keep the kitchen ceiling free of her Yankee Pot roast?

My first memory of a pressure cooker harkens back to childhood when our family lived in Alaska. My Mom expanded the culinary horizons for our family cranking out jams, jellies, pickles, canned veggies. She even canned what seemed to be oceans of salmon. I seriously do not remember too much about the experience except for the hiss of the Pressure cooker steam & the caution we used when it was in operation. It was a large affair which held several quart jars & a pressure gauge on the top which led me to believe I would surely never have need for something so complicated when I was an adult.

I was well into married life when I found out that pressure cookers could save time & had many more uses beyond home canning. When my husband bought me a pressure cooker I was excited & more than a little cautious. I heard tales from my husband's Grandmother & Aunt of exploding pressure cookers & was told of kitchen disasters that made the women of the family fall silent. I seriously wondered if they were challenging me or guessing I would become too overwhelmed to use my new cooker. I wondered what if anything I could make with such a frightening kitchen instrument? I had visions of food exploding from the steam vent or an entire roast blown to bits on my kitchen ceiling. I discussed pressure cooking with my mother & soon realized I could certainly handle the challenge. After all the first commercial pressure cooker in the U.S. made a debut at the New York World's Fair in 1939, it was made by National Presto Industries. I had a Presto Pressure cooker, how difficult could it be? I eventually found the meats I prepared were more tender while the time I could spend cooking was reduced. I ultimately became a fan of cooking "under pressure". While I still use my pressure cooker for steaming the perfect artichokes or the yearly Corned Beef Roast on Saint Patricks Day, truth be told it does sit collecting dust much of the time. I felt challenged this week to make an entire meal with my pressure cooker. I craved French Onion Soup when the latest Mid Winter storm blew across the United States. I also thought I could get my husband to try a new rice pudding recipe as well (he is not a big fan of rice pudding). I found a recipe by Giada de Laurentis for Chocolate Rice Pudding. While Giada's is a stove top version & mine uses different Chocolate, it was a great starting point from which I could come up with the Pressure Cooked Mexican Chocolate Rice Pudding.

Pressure Cooked Mexican Chocolate Rice Pudding
2 cups whole milk + 1/4 cup reserved for later
1 cup water
1 cup Arborio rice
2/3 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest (from 1 tangerine)
1 teaspoon vanilla, Mexican La Vincedora vanilla
1/2 of 1 3.1 oz round Mexican Chocolate, either Ibarra or Abuelita brand**
1/2 - 4 oz Special Dark Hershey's Baking Bar, melted
1 egg, beaten

Melt butter in cooker and pour rice in and stir rice to cover totally with butter.
Add the sugar, 2 cups of milk, water & ground Mexican chocolate which has been finely ground. (see below) Put cover onto the pressure cooker, keep at medium heat.
Pressure cook for 8 minutes at 15 p.s.i. Don't begin timing the 8 minutes until the cooker is fully up to pressure and constantly emitting a gentle stream of steam. Please check Pressure cooker directions & or refer to Pressure Cooker Safety

In a small bowl mix 1 egg with 1/4 cup whole milk and 1 t vanilla.
Temper egg mixture by adding a bit of the hot rice mixture and stirring. Repeat several times at least. Then mix the egg mixture into the pot and cook (uncovered) until it just begins to bubble a bit.
Stir the orange zest into the mixture. Add the melted Hershey's baking chocolate and stir until well blended. Allow the mixture to cool for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Spoon the rice pudding into serving bowls. This is delicious served warm or cover and refrigerate for 2 1/2 to 3 hours and up to 1 day ahead. Maybe garnished with whipped cream or fresh orange zest.

I actually use a coffee grinder to grind my Mexican chocolate into a fine powder for this Rice Pudding.

**Break 1/2 of the hard round Mexican chocolate & break apart with a large knife, then put into food processor/grinder & blend the chocolate into a fine powder. This type of Mexican Chocolate is found in a octagonal or round cardboard box in Latin grocery stores. It is hard & comes in individual round cakes.

Surely everyone has a favorite restaurant they order French Onion at or a much loved recipe but even this soup can be improved upon in the Pressure Cooker. This French Onion soup has Fresh Ginger & Herbes de Provence, Pressure cooking cuts work & time down to less than 30 minutes for a bowl of one of our family favorite soups.

Pressure Cooked French Onion Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 cups thinly sliced Spanish Onions
2 cloves garlic, sliced very thin
1 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon fresh grated Ginger
1/2 cup dry sherry
5 cups beef stock or broth
sea salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
Sliced Baguette rounds toasted, 2 per bowl

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic. Saute for 5 minutes. Add herbes de provence, ginger, dry sherry, and 2 cups of stock.

Cover and bring to high pressure over high heat. Lower the heat to stabilize the pressure. Cook for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat. Let the pressure release or drop by using the quick release method. Make certain you review Pressure Cooker Safety methods before cooking with a pressure cooker
Unlock and remove the pressure cooker cover.
Add the remaining 3 cups of stock and bring to a simmer. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Ladle the soup into heatproof bowls. Float 2 baguette rounds on top of soup and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
6 servings

For anyone new or newly returning to Pressure Cooking I recommend Gina Steer's "The Pressure Cooker Cookbook", very good selection of recipes & techniques.


My Little Space said...

Hi Dee, thanks for stopping by my blog earlier and nice to meet you. Pressure cooker is a good cooking companion indeed. Especialy in making stew or braised meat! Saving lots of time and of coz the meat is so tender and nice.

My Little Space said...

Btw, you've a beautiful blog here. I'll try to scroll around after this. Have a great weekend. Cheers!

Dee said...

My Little Space, I think we often forget about pressure cookers however when we were living in Mexico I used it to tenderize more than one piece of Carne! I am a a big fan of Spanish cuisine & love your blog:)

Angie's Recipes said...

I love to use pressure cooker to make the stew, soup, rice, and many others, but didn't realize that I could use it to make chocolate pudding....amazing!

Lorna said...

Glad you dusted off your "pc." You might enjoy my books or blog:

The chocolate rice pudding sounds very good.

Kate said...

Hi Dee...

I'm glad to see you're back blogging. I love reading your recipes and they get me craving spicy foods, even when I'm reading this in the early morning!

My mom used a pressure cooker to make corned beef for St. Patricks day, I remember. I also remember that it scared the living daylights out of me and still does...but boy did it make yummy corned beef!

Heavenly Housewife said...

I have never used a pressure cooker. I know its silly, but i'm scared. I am told they work wonders. Great recipes and fabulous post.
Have a great weekend.
*kisses* HH

History of Greek Food said...

Ι still remember my grandmothers saying "Step away from the cooktop!" Their pressure cookers had the bad habit of blowing up, so the contents ended up on the ceiling.
Though I have a pressure cooker myself, I don't use it often, not because of the fear factor,but because I prefer the slow cooking.
However, now you are tempting me.
Thanks for the chocolate rice pudding! :)

Katherine Aucoin said...

I remember my mother using a pressure cooker to cook fresh veggies but haven't used one myself. Looks like they're back and I'm interested in trying my hand at using one.

This recipe is over the top. I now know how wonderfully chocolate compliments the flavors you used.

theUngourmet said...

Great info on pressure cookers! I'd love to try this recipe, it reminds me a little of my grandmother's chocolate gravy!

Chef Aimee said...

My mom always used a pressure cooker when I was growing up and I definitely miss having one. There was actually something comforting about hearing the steam hiss when she was making dinner! Thanks for sharing this. That rice pudding looks divine.

The Cooking Photographer said...

Dee I've never used a pressure cooker, but I've heard you can do all sorts of things in them. I love what you've done here. Even rice pudding! It looks great.


Anonymous said...

I still need to get a pressure cooker! Both the pudding and the french onion soup look amazing!

Teresa Cordero Cordell said...

Hey there Dee. How's it going? I've never used a pressure cooker in my life. I have terrible memories of my mother using one. Stove top and slow cooker is fine with me. Love the chocolate rice pudding. I made some a while back and evryone thought I was crazy to make a classic (rice pudding) with chocolate. But it is delicious. I also like your idea of grinding the Mexican chocolate with a coffee grinder. I usually use a rubber mallet! :)

Jill said...

I'm terrified of pressure cookers...even though I realize they are much safer than they used to be.