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Frugal soup OR playing with a new pressure cooker

I recently bought a second hand pressure cooker quite cheaply. I played around today making a frugal soup and learning how to use the cooker. It turned out g...

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Comment by Dave Riley on June 11, 2017 at 20:48

At the moment I'm cooking outback on the veranda because our kitchen is being renovated. So I cook on a BBQ and a $30 camp stove.

A few menu challenges on offer but I reckon a wok is not much without the heat underneath and my gas fired camp stove offers that.

(Only just bought it because of the kitchen changes).

Indoors, woking isn't very exciting at all on my electric. Not really stir frying.

Tragic really.

Maybe I'm blaming my tools but if you are stir fry noodles prone you do need to go real hot underneath, right.?

Comment by Janet Fong on June 11, 2017 at 19:58
I'd like to write a note about the Chinese wok I use at home, the same type my mother uses and probably her mother too. It's an unassuming iron wok I bought from Chinatown 20 years ago for about $20. As long as I dry it over fire after cleaning, it doesn't stick and it doesn't rust. It's light enough for tossing food ( not that I would do it). I've used Tefal, Fissler, stainless steel, Teflon coated, Ceramicontrol, Jamie Oliver, I invariably come back to my favourite Chinese wok to do stir fries.
Last year my mum had to retire her wok cause she scrapped a hole through her wok after 60 years of service.
Comment by Dave Riley on June 11, 2017 at 18:06

I use the pressure cooker several times each week. That and two different sized fry pans, a steep walled pot that takes a steamer top and a baking thingy I use in the oven.

I'm having a throw out of a lot of hardware very soon as I'm in this sort of essentials mode.

The tool you know is the tool you can trust...

Of course we're very much into stewing -- like in tagine type food -- but I'm finding I can PC and then add the veg to suit texture and times.

Since it is Ramadan , consider a classic Ramadan soup that begs pressure cooking: HARIRA.

Here's the DIY:

Now there are a few really great soups in the world (says I)  -- Vietnamese Pho, Italian minestrone, most Chinese noodle soups,Japanese Dashi based soups with noodles cooked just right...and Harira.

Oversight: classic Chinese West Lake Soup.

Comment by CHERYL SLAPP on June 11, 2017 at 17:52

Janet if you ever feel like cooking elsewhere my kitchen is always available, you can almost walk to my place.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on June 11, 2017 at 17:44

Tonight I am doing 30 minute pea and ham in the pressure cooker.  The meat should fall off the bones (hock) and I don't need to pre-plan and soak the split peas. 

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on June 11, 2017 at 17:42

I think we are going to have to book you for a chinese cooking class Janet. 

Comment by Janet Fong on June 11, 2017 at 17:07

On the subject of soup, just thought I'd share a photo of my Chinese hairy melon soup I made 2weeks ago.

I made my own chicken stock and filled each melon half with other goodies to 3/4 way up , then steamed for one hour. We drank the soup and ate the melon afterwards. I left the melon to grow on the vine to the size of the bowl's interior. This is a popular Chinese delicacy but homegrown honestly has superior taste. 

The trick is to scrap the skin with a knife and not to peel the hairy melon with a peeler. The green part is the tastiest and the most nutritous.

The weather has gone crazy, I was still harvesting hairy melons last week. ie. almost winter.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on June 11, 2017 at 14:20

Looks good Dave.  

At 12 minutes, the pressure cooker also makes the quickest pumpkin soup ever.

Comment by Dave Riley on June 11, 2017 at 11:29

I wrote recently about the delights of tomatilloes -- husk tomatoes..

I then came a upon this delightful recipe that deploys them generously : Pressure Cooker Chile Verde.

How much chile is up to you but I used my Turkish Pepper Paste to very good effect.

if you don't have tomatillo on hand -- a likely occurrence -- use green tomatoes.

But in the PC: how easy is that?

I also use tomatilloes to 'dilute' tomatoes in a stew up.

Here's a shot of some of last year's tomatilloes so you know of what i speak:

Comment by Dave Riley on May 6, 2017 at 1:21

Well there you go. Texas, rice and beef with olives.

I've never cook rice in the PC as I have my own stovetop techniques for plain and pilafs -- but using the PC surprised me.

2-3 minutes on steam -- then turn off.

Similar to my usual approach --after soaking and washing the grains -- but the seriously enclosed  space meant that the steam was more reliably used.

I'm a finger stirrer type to measure the fluids/rice mix.

Of course after a head of steam you follow slow release protocol.

As an aside: you know how you cook a meal and sometimes don't want to bother with pots and pan clean up? My lazy man approach is to leave leftovers in the PC until morning as pressure cookers also function as autoclaves (as used in some countries)-- in effect, sterilizing their contents.

So you are much less likely to poison yourself with a PC dinner if left overnight.

Further to pro and con--it is worth while pointing out that if you PC over heats the first thing to start protesting is the wiggly valve at top. This is a gauge you can remove to release the steam quickly.You also use it to judge the steam build up as it makes a noise and may rotate. I manually lift it a little to judge steam build up.If it releases steam I'm away.

Now my PC is not gonna blow up ever as I have a very sensitive ceramic cook top ... but if the valve were to fall off due to overwhelming steam pressure it 'could' crack the ceramic when it fell. Mind you the psi would need to be huge and I'd have to be in a drunken stupor somewhere about but that's the ONLY CONCERN I've had with my delight. These valves don't whistle but the steam can be loudly protesting its existence as they spin around keenly. But on my stovetop gauge of 1-9 I'm usually cooking at 1 or 2 --sort of steam simmer. I may go up to 5 or 7 or 8 to get up a head of steam initially,like Casey Jones, but then I turn it down and time the cooking from then on.

As I say: never burnt a dish. Pressure cooker fears are based on a lot of paranoia from the fifties.

If you think you have too much steam built up just move the PC aside from the hotplate to cool somewhat. Adjust you temp and continue cooking.

Removing the valve may release steam quickly but you put your fingers in danger of being burnt as the steam geyser erupts. So move the pot aside and let it cool a bit in its own good time before returning it to (a lower) heat.


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