No Pressure photoshoot

As the release date for my latest cookbook slowly approaches, I’d like to share a few behind-the-scenes photos from the photoshoot. Note that these are just from my phone, and that the lovely Staci Valentine‘s photos are MUCH better (stunning, really). Can’t wait to share the book with you all in May!

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No Pressure photoshoot

Instant Pot Ultra Thoughts

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I recently received the newest Instant Pot model, the Ultra, thanks to the kind people at Instant Pot HQ. Note that I did not receive it in exchange for a review or any other coverage, I just thought I’d share my thoughts about the Ultra for those that are considering upgrading or are comparing versus an older model. So here we go!

Steam release — There are two major upgrades to the Ultra, and one of them is the steam release. Instead of a single steam valve that you turn to seal or release, the Ultra has a separate button. This is great for two reasons:

  1. You don’t have to touch where the steam is releasing, making it a little safer and less likely to scald
  2. It automatically resets to sealing when you open the lid. Even though I’ve used the IP a bazillion times, I still forget to close the valve sometimes on the old model. The Ultra makes this impossible by closing the vent automatically.

Note that when you press down the button for a quick release, it takes longer to release the pressure than older models. You can force it to release steam quicker by pressure down the button harder, but then you’ll have to stand there the whole time pressing the button.

Cooking Options — The Ultra has even more automated cooking settings, which is all well and good, but I rarely use any of them other than Pressure, Sauté, and Yogurt. But! With the Ultra, you can make some over-arching settings to the whole machine, as well as on a per-use basis. I’m a big fan of these options:

  1. You can turn the sound off. You may not want to turn the sound off, but with the amount of recipes I make in my IP and the amount of beeps it makes (especially the Ultra), sometimes I just want some peace and quiet. Note that it won’t beep at all, even when food is done cooking, so this is not for everyone/all the time.
  2. You can disable the Keep Warm function. I pretty much never use this function and the vast majority of the time I want it turned off, so as to not inhibit the release of pressure or scald delicate items on the bottom of the pot. Unfortunately you can’t turn off the function universally, but you can turn it off beforehand each time you cook something.

Backlit Display and Knob — The most obvious differences are the backlit display (which was already available on the Duo Plus) and a knob that you turn and press to make all selections. The knob takes a little getting used to, but for no specific reason I like it. I think with all of the options on this version of the IP, you need a knob instead of a million buttons to push.

Another Thing I’ve Noticed — In my experience thus far, pressure takes a lot longer to release with the Ultra than the older models. Just keep this in mind when budgeting time for a recipe. I honestly sometimes end up slowly releasing the pressure when I just can’t wait any longer.

All-in-all, the older models still work great, and it’s up to you if the jump in price is worth it. As someone who uses an Instant Pot all the time to test recipes, I’ve very much appreciated the revised steam release and the extra adjustables. But I also still use my old IP all the time. Long live pressure cooking, regardless of what cooker you choose!

Instant Pot Ultra Thoughts

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but it’s for good reason, I swear! I am (drum roll please) writing a new cookbook! It’s another electric pressure cooker cookbook, but with more fun, interesting recipes for those ready to take the next step in their pressure cooker relationship. It’ll have lots of fun flavors and dishes and will incorporate the pressure cooker as part of your functioning, 21st century kitchen.

So in the meanwhile I’ll try to put up a blog post or two, but you’ll be hearing much more from me after the summer. It’s summer anyway, you should be sitting by a pool and reading a thriller-romance, not reading my dumb blog.

Keep an eye out for the cookbook via St. Martin’s Press, due out next spring!

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Pressure Cooker Corned Beef

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I don’t know what’s happening here but I got this from That Dad Blog

It’s that time of year when people eat unnaturally green food and it’s okay! And everyone tries to remember how to make corned beef. No need to worry, I’ve got your back. Below is my recipe for pressure cooked corned beef from my book The Instant Pot® Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Easy Recipes for Fast & Healthy Meals. It’s so easy and great with a mug of beer.

Corned Beef
Serves 8

1 (3 1/2-4 lb) flat-cut corned beef
1 (12-oz) bottle beer
2 cups chicken or beef broth
1 onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
Pepper

Rinse the corned beef and pat dry. Trim off the excess fat, leaving a thin layer behind.

Place the meat in the pressure cooker and cover with beer and broth. Add onion and bay leaf and season with pepper. Secure the lid.

Select Manual and cook at high pressure for 1 1/2 hours and use a natural release.

Let rest before slicing.

Pressure Cooker Corned Beef

Pressure Cooking Black-Eyed Peas

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As a kid I did not like black-eyed peas. I thought they tasted like dirt. My grandpa grew them in his garden, so my grandmother would end up with bags upon bags of them in the freezer. Looking back, I’d kill for those bags of fresh-picked peas.

Since I typically have to settle for the dried variety, I use my electric pressure cooker to make quick magic of the now-loved little beans. I have found some conflicting information about how long to cook black-eyed peas, so I had to do a bit of experimenting. Below is how I make them, along with some ideas for flavoring. Note that if you have a stove top pressure cooker the PSI and cook time can differ.

Black-Eyed Peas in an Electric Pressure Cooker

1 lb of black-eyed peas
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon oil (any cooking oil will do)

Optional but recommended (all or some):
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 onion, quartered

1. Rinse your beans in a colander and pick over them. What does this mean? Sift through the beans and looks for any bad ones (shriveled up and gross looking) or rocks. Yes, it happens.

2. Add the oil, garlic and onion (if using) to the pot of your pressure cooker and select Saute. Once hot, cook for a few minutes and stir until fragrant. Turn off the Saute function.

3. Add the beans, salt, and bay leaf (if using) and stir. Add 6 cups water or, even better, 3 cups stock and 3 cups water. Secure the lid.

4. Cook at high pressure for 8-10 minutes if you think your beans are pretty fresh and depending on how tender you like your beans. Cook  for 10-12 minutes if they’ve been on the store shelf for a bit and depending on how tender you like your beans. Don’t worry, we can fix it if they are not cooked enough.

5. Use a natural release. Once depressurized, check your beans. If they are tender enough, then move on! If not, select Saute and loosely cover. Check every five minutes until they are tender.

6. Drain your beans and flavor them. If they’re going in a soup or you like them plain, then leave them bean (get it??). If you want a little more flavor for your side dish, then see my suggestions below.

Flavor ideas:

  • harissa adds a kick
  • chopped fresh tomatoes, peppers, and onion add fresh flavor and texture
  • cumin, cayenne, and/or paprika add smoky spice
  • a dollop of sour cream and chives gives them the baked potato treatment
  • chopped bacon adds, well, salty bacon
  • chopped fresh parsley adds herbiness and can be used in combination with any of the above flavorings
Pressure Cooking Black-Eyed Peas

Instant Pot Beef Chili

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It looks like this, but without the scary whole peppers

For the most recent edition of Cooking The Simpsons, I tackled Chief Wiggum’s insanity pepper-laden cook-off chili. While recipe testing this crazypants recipe, I kept gravitating toward my Instant Pot. I tend to do that with any soup or bean related recipe. So for those of you who are IP users, here is a classic chili recipe that works great in the all-purpose cooker. It’s not insanity pepper-level spicy, but rather has an easy, low intensity spiciness. Feel free to adjust according to your taste.

Instant Pot Chili
Loosely based on Ree Drummond’s very popular chili recipe
Serves 3-4

Grapeseed, canola, or vegetable oil
1 poblano pepper, split in half lengthwise and seeded
2 medium jalapeño peppers, split in half lengthwise and seeded (leave some seeds if you want it hotter, only add 1 pepper or none if you want it mild)
1 small (or ½ large) onion, diced
1 pound lean ground beef
½ bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

  1. Rub the poblano and jalapeño peppers with a light coating of oil and place them on a pan. Broil, flipping halfway through, until charred on both sides. Dice once cool enough to handle.
  2. Add a glug of oil to the Instant Pot and turn on Sauté. Once hot, add the onion and stir. Cook for a few minutes and then add the beef, bell pepper, and garlic. Break up the meat and stir until the meat is cooked through. Carefully spoon off any excess fat if needed. Add the poblano, jalapeño, chili powder and cumin and season with salt and pepper. Stir and cook one minute more. Turn off the Sauté function.
  3. Add the tomato sauce and 1 can’s worth of water. Stir and secure the lid. Cook on high pressure for 15 minutes and carefully use a quick release.
  4. Stir and add the beans. Cook on high pressure for 4 more minutes and use a natural release. Add more salt and pepper as needed. 

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Instant Pot Beef Chili

Cookbook Update

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In case you missed it, I wrote a cookbook. It was released in April, and has been chugging along quite well. Things really picked up last week when Amazon Prime Day rolled around and they ran an impossible-to-resist deal on the Instant Pot. I guess lots of people buying their new cooker needed a cookbook to go with it, because my book rocketed to the #2 position in all of Amazon books! Pretty amazing and totally weird. Only the new Harry Potter book could best my ‘lil cookbook.

Anyway, if you’re a pressure cooker lover like me or are just getting into it/thinking about getting into it, then try out my book. It’s under $10 with over 100 recipes and it’s getting pretty good reviews. And just to further tempt you, below is a sample recipe from the book. Enjoy!

Eggs in Purgatory With Eggplant
from The Instant Pot© Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook: Easy Recipes for Fast & Healthy Meals
Serves 2 to 4

1 small eggplant, mostly peeled, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, with most of the liquid drained out
1 tablespoon harissa or 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
freshly ground black pepper
4 to 6 fresh eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
4 to 6 thick slices good-quality rustic bread, for serving
hot sauce, for serving (optional)

  1. Toss the eggplant with the salt and spread out onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Let sit 15 to 30 minutes. Take more paper towels and press out any moisture, wiping away some of the salt as you go.
  2. Preheat the Instant Pot by selection Saute.
  3. Once hot, add the oil. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot, for 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
  4. Add the tomatoes, harissa or paprika, and red pepper flakes, and season with black pepper. Stir. Select Cancel and secure the lid.
  5. Select Manual and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes.
  6. Use a quick release. Remove the lid, stir, and select Saute. Crack the eggs, one at a time, into a small bowl, and lower each one onto the top of the bubbling sauce.
  7. Cook, loosely covered, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny, 4 to 6 minutes.
  8. Top with parsley and serve with bread and hot sauce (if using).
Cookbook Update