September 26, 2016 · 3:21 pm
Ratatouille, or a veggie stew of Provence, is versatile and delicious. Originally French, it gets its flavors from Herbes de Provence, a distinctive blend of dried herbs that typically include savory, lavender, marjoram, fennel or tarragon, oregano, thyme, and rosemary .
I’m still playing around with pressure cooker recipes, and this dish is ideal for HASTY TASTY MEALS UNDER PRESSURE (my work-in-progress). It’s also great for meat-free Mondays (or whatever day you want to go vegetarian). When I make ratatouille early in the week, I divide it into batches for weeknight meals. I add chicken and noodles for a chicken veggie stew, or broth and cannellini beans for a quick pasta fazool. I serve it as a stew over rice or puree it as a sauce and serve over pasta with fresh-grated Parmesan cheese.
Note: For my readers who live in higher elevations, keep in mind my elevation here in Florida is about 100 feet. You will need to add cooking time if you live above 2000 feet.
Yield: 8 cups
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small eggplant, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced in ½” pieces
- 1 cup crimini or white mushrooms, sliced
- 1 28-oz. can tomato puree
- 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 6-oz can tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp. dried Herbes de Provence
- 1 tsp. Kosher salt
- Fresh cracked pepper to taste
- (optional) fresh basil
- Heat olive oil in pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat.
- Add onions, peppers, and celery. Saute 2-3 minutes.
- Add garlic and Herbes de Provence. Stir until fragrant.
- Add eggplant, carrots, and zucchini. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Add all other ingredients except optional fresh basil. Close cooker lid and bring to pressure.
- When pressure is reached, lower heat but maintain pressure. Cook for five minutes (electric models set for eight minutes).
- Remove from heat. Allow pressure to drop on its own. (May take up to 25 minutes)
- Carefully open cooker and ladle contents over bowls of rice or pasta, if desired. Garnish with a fresh sprig of basil.
Ratatouille stores well up to three days in the refrigerator. It freezes well and keeps for 4-6 months in the freezer.
September 23, 2016 · 3:49 pm
We love chili around our house, any variety. Beef or turkey, with or without beans, with or without pasta, with or without corn, Cincinnati-style or Tex-Mex chili, mild or mouth-blistering, we’ll eat it. I like to make chili with a cooked-all-day flavor that takes only an hour. It can be done! All you need is a pressure cooker.
I’m currently at work on my new cookbook, HASTY TASTY MEALS UNDER PRESSURE, experimenting with all our favorites using a pressure cooker. Mine is twenty years old, and has all the safety features missing from earlier models. But newer cookers are available now, including the electric models that have push-button selections and timers. I haven’t tried one yet, but my friend swears by hers.
Here is my latest version of chili using the pressure cooker method. You certainly can use canned chili beans and cut the cooking time, but cooking from dried gives me more control over my ingredients. However, I use canned corn if fresh is out of season (after rinsing and draining).
Don’t want to use a pressure cooker? No problem. Adapt the recipe for your slow cooker and cook on Low for 6 hours, or until beans are tender.
Hasty Tasty Chili
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1 pound ground lean meat or turkey
- 1 pound dried pinto beans (I make an assortment of pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, and red or pink beans)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tablespoon chili seasoning (I use Bloemer‘s brand)
- 1 10 oz. can Rotel® diced tomatoes and green chilies (Pick your heat level)
- 1 16 oz. can tomato sauce
- 1 15 oz. can whole kernel corn or 2 cups fresh corn kernels (Optional)
- 1 bay leaf
- 32 oz. filtered water (or replace some of the water with a bottle or can of beer)
- Kosher salt
- Spray inside of a six-quart/liter pressure cooker pot with cooking spray. Preheat over medium.
- Add meat, stirring occasionally to brown. When meat starts browning, add the onions and garlic.
- Stir in chili seasoning.
- After rinsing and inspecting dried beans for any debris, spread the beans over the browned meat mixture.
- Cover the beans with the contents of the can of corn (optional). Add the filtered water and bay leaf (be sure beans are completely covered with liquid).
- Close pressure cooker, increase heat to medium/high, and watch closely for it to reach pressure. When pressure valve jiggles, lower heat to the lowest setting possible while maintaining pressure. (Most models emit a low hiss when at correct pressure. If your cooker makes a lot of noise, lower the heat)
- Once cooker reaches pressure, time for 40 minutes.*
- Remove from heat and allow pressure to drop on its own, approximately ten minutes.
- Carefully open the cooker (watch that steam!) and check beans for tenderness. They should be a bit firm at this point. Add the contents of the cans of Rotel and tomato sauce. Stir, close cooker, and bring back to pressure.
- Cook an additional 10 minutes under pressure. After pressure drops on its own for 10 minutes, release pressure and open the cooker.
- Test for seasoning and add salt to taste. Stir and serve with your choice of toppings.
*Pressure cookers vary by model. You may need more time if your cooker is 10 psi instead of 15 psi. As you use your cooker, you’ll learn to judge its cooking time. Just remember, it’s easy to quick-release pressure, check your food, and then return to pressure for additional cooking time. Also, the new electric cookers take the guesswork out of timing.
(For my readers who live in higher elevations, keep in mind my elevation here in Florida is about 100 feet. You will need to add cooking time if you live above 2000 feet.)
September 18, 2016 · 9:30 am
I’m always scouting ideas and recipes for covered dish dinners, whether it’s for a church social or a party. I want to contribute food with universal appeal yet healthful. Here’s one such recipe: Chili Beef Casserole. It’s reasonably low-fat, and the whole grain pasta is “smart-carb.” The chili seasoning gives it a Tex-Mex flavor. Choose your heat level based on the Rotel® you buy. We prefer medium, but you can choose either mild or hot.
CHILI BEEF CASSEROLE
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. chili seasoning
- 8 oz. dried whole grain pasta, cooked al dente
- 1 10 oz. can Rotel® tomatoes and green chilies
- 15 oz. can tomato sauce
- nonstick cooking spray (Pam®)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- In a large skillet (sprayed with Pam®) over medium heat, saute the onions until softened.
- Add the ground beef and brown, stirring frequently.
- Add the garlic and chili seasoning and cook for 30 seconds, just enough to “bloom” the spices.
- Add Rotel® and tomato sauce. Reduce heat to low and cover skillet.
- Cook just until the mixture is warmed through.
- Meanwhile, spray a 10″ X 14″ baking dish with Pam®.
- Spread the cooked macaroni into the baking dish.
- Pour meat mixture over the macaroni. Gently toss with tongs.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top, tent with aluminum foil (do not allow foil to touch the cheese), and allow cheese to melt. Serve.
- To make ahead, you can cover and refrigerate after step 8. Add the cheese right before heating, and cook the next day in a 350° preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Note: I’ve made this dish with lean ground turkey, and it’s delicious. 😉
September 11, 2016 · 1:45 pm
Carrots are a root vegetable. Carrots are nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive (even the organic ones). They typically are colored orange and contain carotenes (B, A, Z), lutein, and zeaxanthin. Carrots are rich in fiber, too.
If you think carrots are tasteless, perhaps you’ve been served carrots boiled to death in water. My mother-in-law says my carrots are the best, better than any restaurant. What’s earned me such high praise? Want to know my secret?
Two rules: One, buy good carrots. Pass up those baby cut carrots and buy whole organic carrots. (Bunny Love is available where I shop, and they are organic) Second, don’t let your carrots touch water while cooking.
Three methods I use to cook carrots, depending on time restraints: One, I steam over low heat in my waterless cookware (KitchenCraft, 360 Cookware by Americraft, or similar brands). No water. Just gentle, slow cooking. Takes about twenty minutes. Two, pressure cook for four minutes under pressure in a basket above the water. Do not submerge carrots in water! Water leaches out flavor and nutrients. Occasionally, I stir-fry carrots with other vegetables in very little oil in a hot skillet.
Preparing carrots takes only a little time. Peel or scrub, depending on your preference. I let appearance be my guide. If the peels look fairly clean, I scrub them with a vegetable brush and leave them on. If not, I peel.
Slice in similar size pieces for even cooking. I like cutting diagonally but any slice style works. The smaller the size, the shorter the cooking time.