Sunday, January 2, 2011

2011 The Year of MY Pressure Cooking Cookbook

While this blog has been abandoned for quite some time since I am now blogging at my main website, it feels like time to do a little update here about what I have been up to in the pressure arena.

I have been glued to my chair and chained to my kitchen (all in a good way) as I complete the final journey of writing my pressure cooking cookbook. My title is The New Fast Food (TM): The Veggie Queen Cooks Whole Food Meals Under Pressure (or something like that.
The publisher will likely rename the book and that's fine with me.). The book contains more than 100 vegetarian and vegan recipes for the pressure cooker which are suitable for anyone who eats. Before the book comes out in print, I will be releasing an ebook version of it, so keep your eyes and ears open.

What I have learned in the writing of this book that was not evident to me over the past 15 years of teaching thousands of people about pressure cooking, is that the pressure cooking leaders, including my mentor Lorna Sass, Rick Rodgers, Laura of Hip Pressure Cooking and Miss Vickie among others, cannot agree on pressure cooking times. While I find this a bit surprising, I suspect that the reasons that I outline below might make sense of it.

Why the differences in cooking times? Here are my guesses:
  1. We like our food cooked to a different consistency. I tend to like my vegetables al dente, on the firm side, while I like my beans and grains cooked thoroughly but not drowning in liquid.
  2. I prefer to under cook and put my pot back on pressure, if necessary, or cook on the stove top if more time is required. This relates to number 1.
  3. We use different sizes of pressure cookers although that shouldn't really make much difference in cooking times since you don't start timing until your pot reaches pressure, and while the size of the cooker will influence how long it takes to reach pressure it doesn't affect the cooking time although it potentially could. There might be less steam circulating well with 1 cup of rice cooked in an 8 quart cooker than there is in a 4 quart cooker. This is just an off-the-top-of-my-head intuitive guess.
  4. We use different makes and models of pressure cookers. Although I have found very little difference in cooking times among my cookers, which now include Fagor, B/R/K, Fissler, Magefesa and Kuhn Rikon, some of the pots might have better heat retaining properties which cause faster cooking. This is just a guess.
In my mind, a pressure cooker is a pressure cooker, even the jiggle top models that I won't go near. It does a job. With that said, there are differences in the various brands of cookers, most of which are cosmetic but some effect efficiency and ease of use.

I explain it as the difference between driving a Honda or Toyota or Ford (if you want American) and driving a BMW or Mercedes. They will all get you to your destination.

The weight of the pot is a big issue for me. I prefer a medium weight pressure cooker versus a heavy weight one, yet I stay away from aluminum. With that said, a smaller pot that is heavy works as well for me as a medium weight medium sized pot. Most of you don't likely have that choice which is why you need to choose your first cooker to your liking. Once you are hooked, though, you'll likely find yourself ogling other pressure cookers, just like I have.

I will be telling my pressure cooker love story in my book so stay tuned. I am still in love with pressure cooking and what it can do, more than 15 years after starting the process. I hope that I can inspire you to jump into using the greenest way to cook for your health and that of the planet.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2010 The Year of the Pressure Cooker Declares Lorna Sass

My friend, colleague and pressure cooking mentor, Lorna Sass, the Queen of pressure cooking, shared the following blog post for me to share with you. I hope that you will agree that the time has come for the pressure cooker to make its comeback. As I told Lorna, sometimes it takes 20 years for something to become an "overnight" success. This year Lorna has a newly revised and updated version of her seminal book, Cooking Under Pressure. Please read on for what Lorna has to say...

For the Chinese, February 14 will begin the Year of the Tiger. For Mac users, it’s the Year of the Snow Leopard. For me, it’s the Year of the Pressure Cooker.

Just when I was about to give up hope that American cooks would ever give up their paranoia about the dangers of pressure cooking, some very good things began to happen.

Carolyn Russock pressure-cooked her way through the 20th anniversary edition of COOKING UNDER PRESSURE and wrote rave reviews of the 30-minute chicken broth and French-style beef stew, the 4-minute risotto, and the ultra-fast baked beans in a 5-day series for the very popular foodie blog,
Serious Eats. Dozens of comments document the growing number of the people who are pressure cooking on a daily basis and understand that today’s cookers are 100% safe.

The same week, Paula Crossfield wrote
an enthusiastic column for popular online blog, Bitten about how she became a pressure cooker convert. Again lots of enthusiastic cooks wrote in to sing their praises of pressure cooking.

An NPR piece on pressure cooking is soon to hit the national airwaves, and a few other major voices are about to get the word out that pressure cooking is not only safe, but terrific for what I call the four P’s: planet, palate, person, and purse.

Great for the planet because it’s so fuel efficient.

Great for the palate because the pressure-cooker mingles flavors quickly, giving food the soul-satisfying appeal of a long-cooked meal.

Great for the person because even the hurried or impatient cook can prepare healthy food in a flash.

Great for the purse because the pressure cooker is ace at tenderizing tough cuts of meat and cooking whole grains, beans and other inexpensive ingredients in record time.

How does the pressure cooker work its magic? In the vacuum-sealed cooker, water boils at 242 degrees Fahrenheit instead of the standard 212 degrees. At this higher-than-normal boiling point temperature, food cooks in one-third or less the normal time. That’s why many Top Chefs are relying on the pressure cooker to help them win.

I’m no Top Chef in any kind of competition, but last Sunday was so cold out that I was tempted to stay in bed and read. Then hunger struck. I didn’t want to go out and shop, so I decided to devise a hearty pressure-cooked soup from ingredients in my pantry.

In celebration of the Year of the Pressure Cooker, I put on my chef’s jacket and asked The Sweetie to make a video of the process. About 30 minutes later we were eating a mighty fine Curried Split Pea Soup that cost under $8 and made 4 hearty portions.

Take a look at the video and then let me know if you decide to help make 2010 the Year of the Pressure Cooker, all the while eating better, faster, cheaper, and more eco-friendly than you ever have before.

In the first video, I show you how to assemble the ingredients in the pressure cooker and lock on the lid. In the second, I show you how to release the pressure and stir in some last-minute ingredients for a punch for flavor and a fresh finish.

NOTE: Due to my technological inability to put videos on this site, I will refer you to Lorna's original post on her site so that you can see the videos or you can look at the You Tube video directly.

I hope that you'll help convert more people to the joys of pressure cooking. Please leave a comment on this blog if you love pressure cooking and tell me about your favorite dish.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Black Eyed Pea Soup with Brown Rice, Corn and Peppers

The title of this soup doesn't do it justice but if writing this post means that I will delay any longer then this title will stick for now. I haven't posted here in (I hate to admit this) almost 4 months. But you can always check out my other blog where I post more frequently (or less infrequently).

I made this soup on New Year's Eve as a way to bring good luck in the new year. I usually make Jumpin' John (the vegetarian version of Hoppin' John) but decided to do something new this year as we were having a soup and salad dinner for New Year's Eve with a friend. I made Mushroom Barley Soup and this one. They were both quite delicious, and the mushroom soup provides incredible immune-boosting properties but this year I will go for good luck.

I hope that you like this soup. I make it in the pressure cooker, of course, but it can be made stove top. You can substitute other grains such as wild rice (cook longer) or barley for the brown rice if you like. This pretty soup is filling and gluten-free. Add more herbs and spices, to season it the way that you like it.

Black Eyed Pea Soup with Brown Rice, Corn and Roasted Peppers
This soup is easy for to make any time since almost all the ingredients, except greens, are pantry or freezer staples.
Serves 4-6
20 minutes at pressure, quick release, 2 minutes at pressure, natural release

1-2 teaspoons olive or other oil (optional)
1 medium onion, diced
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground cardamom or coriander

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 cup brown rice
4 cups homemade vegetable stock
1 cup black eyed peas, soaked overnight or quick soaked
1 cup frozen corn, not thawed
½ diced roasted red pepper
½ cup chopped nettles or other greens such as kale or collards
1 teaspoon salt
More crushed red pepper, to taste
Chopped cilantro, if you have it

Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes. Add the spices and garlic, and stir to combine. Add the rice and stir that to coat with oil and spices. Add the stock and lock the lid on the pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure. Lower heat to maintain high pressure for 20 minutes.
Quick release the pressure and add the remaining ingredients, up to the salt. Bring back to high pressure for 2 more minutes. Remove the pot from the stove and let the pressure come down naturally. Stir in the salt, crushed red pepper and cilantro.

Note: If you have leftover soup, it will likely get very thick and you might need to thin it with more stock. If that happens when cooking, add stock until soup is desired thickness. I really like thick and chunky soup.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Will Blog for Lunch, Dinner or Breakfast: Quickly in my Pressure Cooker

Some bloggers concoct recipes because they have a keen desire to publish and photograph them. I have a keen desire to eat -- at least 3 meals and a number of snacks a day. Since this is a blog about pressure cooking, I am not going to mention any raw food that I eat, but I do that, too.

Today, I did a take off of one of my own recipes for the pressure cooker: Green and Red Bean African Curry which is a riff on an African Curry recipe that I learned from Shuli and Ronit of Whole Spice, which is where I get the mighty delicious African curry powder.

Today the curry did not contain red beans (kidney) but did have marinated Zesty Lemon tempeh from Lightlife Foods, as well as potatoes. At the end of cooking I added some corn cut off the cob, which I cooked on the cob last night for 2 minutes in the pressure cooker.

The whole dish requires about 3 minutes at pressure. I say about because I used freshly dug potatoes and they sometimes only require a couple of minutes cooking. I do this dish in increments, using a quick release in between.

Here's what I discovered:
  1. I was hungry and I ate a lot of this for lunch.
  2. I prefer to marinate my own tempeh and do not care for the Lightlife but like the Turtle Island brand marinated tempeh better.
  3. The dish really does taste better with kidney beans but I didn't have any, and wanted a protein component.
  4. This curry, like many others, is highly adaptable and many seasonal vegetables could be added or substituted. I thought about adding summer squash or greens but that thought quickly left my head as I started cooking because I was so hungry.
  5. I still love my pressure cooker and what it does for me, and how quickly it does it. I can have a meal in almost no time -- less than 15 minutes from cutting board to mouth.

And that's why I blog -- for meals. If you want the recipe for the African curry, please leave a comment or email me

If you are interested in learning more about pressure cookers or how to use them please visit my pressure cooking website.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pressure Cooking Millet Stuffed Artichokes

Susan from Fat Free Vegan just wrote a wonderful post about Millet-Stuffed Artichokes. What Susan didn't say is that you can cook the millet in the pressure cooker in just 5 minutes at pressure. Read about cooking millet here.

Don't underestimate what your pressure cooker can do for you. It's the most amazing piece of cookware that I own, and use it almost daily. In fact, I just came back from visiting my mother and now she has a pressure cooker, thanks to her daughter (that's me). And I got to use hers. What a joy.

My sisters both have, and use, pressure cookers, too. If you want to help the people that you love eat better tasting and, possibly better-for-them, food buy them a pressure cooker and teach them how to use it. You can watch the beginning of my DVD here or watch my You Tube videos at TheVQ. I am also always happy to answer any questions that you have. You can leave comments here or email me at jill@pressurecookingonline.

Here's to a great PC experience -- artichokes and all.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pressure Cooking Steel Cut Oats

Over at Pinch My Salt people are going ga ga over steel cut oats. And they have to cook them for at least 25 minutes.

I, too, like steel cut oats and in fact Alex of the Facebook group Lorna Sass is my homegirl reviewed my DVD and saw that I have a recipe for a cooked cereal. He asked about cooking steel cut oats. And the recipe for that is the same as any chunky grain cereal.

Take 3 cups of liquid -- I like to use 2 cups water and 1 cup nondairy milk. I add a cinnamon stick or two, the oats or other grain, and a pinch of salt. I lock the lid on my pressure cooker and bring to high pressure over high heat. I set my timer for 3 minutes. When the cooker gets to high heat, turn the heat down and get your timer going.

After 3 minutes, move the pot off the hot burner and let the pressure come down naturally. Open the lid carefully, and add what you like. I like to take out the cinnamon sticks, and add ground flax, raisins, chopped up apple, toasted walnuts or sunflower seeds, and a bit of agave or maple syrup for sweetener. It's a filling meal.
Remember that whole grains (or even steel cut ones) are good for you. If you don't want to make your own and dole it out for daily dishes which is a great idea, you can go to Jamba Juice where they are now selling organic steel cut oats. Unfortunately for me, they cook them in milk but at least they have them. Read more here.

If you like this post you can sign up to get information from me monthly through my newsletter by going to my pressure cooking website.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Getting People Excited About Pressure Cooking

I am just returning from a half-day workshop that I presented to the employees of the San Diego Red Cross WIC (Women, Infant's and Children) office. There's nothing like packing one's pressure cooker in their suitcase, as I did but it worked out just fine. Cooking while on the road, without a kitchen, isn't my favorite thing to do but I can certainly handle it.

I made red and white quinoa, and along with it I made a tempeh dish with dried mushrooms, red and orange peppers, finished with pea shoot sprouts. It was mixed with Drew's shiitake ginger dressing, as a way to get around buying entire bottles of tamari and olive oil. I didn't taste it but it smelled heavenly to me.

Since today was the Great American Meat-Out, I got to showcase vegetarian foods, along with the microgreens and edible flower products from Fresh Origins. I tell you that you haven't lived until you've tried baby orchids which taste something like cucumbers. The Buzz buttons (or at least that's what I think that they were called, were quite interesting for people since they make your tongue tingle.) Tofurky donated the 5 Grain tempeh which was excellent. I don't get it at my store so I was especially happy to serve it.

The topic of my talk was Mindful Eating to Boost Your Energy and Soothe Your Soul. I think that I presented enough ways for people to become more mindful of their eating, along with ways for them to carry it out such as batch cooking, and using the freezer as your pantry. This is one of my favorite ways to make my cooking life easy.

Using the pressure cooker also makes it fast. So no need to buy frozen brown rice when you can make your own.

My biggest hope with the group was that I could help dispel the myths that pressure cookers are dangerous and can blow up, while introducing the group of almost 100 to foods that they'd never tried. I am sure that I did that. The pressure cooking went on without a hitch and my cooker is once again packed in my suitcase, awaiting its return trip to Santa Rosa. (Think 38 pound suitcase, ugh.) I still think that home-cooking is best so give it a try without taking it on the road.