Category: Recipes

Ham and bean soup in an Instant Pot

Ham and bean soup in an Instant Pot

 

What’s in that bowl?
It’s bean soup!
I know, but what is it now?

That old Benny Hill gag always comes to mind when we make or eat bean soup. A nice bowl of beans, veggies and stock with a little meat added can make a really delicious and nutritious meal. You can use one type of beans or a mixture. And the whole cooking process takes only about an hour, completely unattended.

BobsWe started with Bob’s Red Mill Black Bean Soup Mix. This has about 5 kinds of beans, but no seasonings or veggies: those are on you. It has for many years been customary to soak beans overnight before cooking them. This is supposed to make them more digestible and reduce flatulence. But this is controversial, and you probably don’t need to do it.

Nonetheless, for our first Instant Pot bean project, we soaked them over night. Next time we’ll omit that step and just cook them a little longer. We took two cups of the bean mix and rinsed them off under running water, and then soaked them for 12 hours over night, and then rinsed them. You would need to do this rinsing anyway to remove agricultural debris. The beans will have at least doubled in bulk while soaking.

Then we used them as described below.

  • 2 cups beans, soaked overnight
  • 3 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 2-3 Tb olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peels and chopped coarsely
  • 1 green, sweet pepper
  • 1 cup cubed ham (or more)
  • 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ tsp thyme
  • Salt, pepper
  1. Put the olive oil in the Instant Pot pan and set the pot to Simmer (highest setting)
  2. Add the carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes
  3. Add the onions, celery, and pepper and saute until soft
  4. Add the garlic and saute briefly until you smell the fragrance
  5. Add the beans and chicken stock and mix
  6. Add the ham, parsley and spices and mix.
  7. Close the Instant Pot and set to 25 minutes on Manual. If you didn’t soak the beans, you may need to add 10 minutes, but 25 is probably enough either way.
  8. Allow the mixture to rest 15 minutes before releasing the steam.

Serve in bowls, with crusty bread on the side. Makes around 4 servings.

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Barbecued ribs using an Instant Pot

Barbecued ribs using an Instant Pot

You can make really good barbecued ribs in about an hour using your Instant Pot to cook the ribs, and a gas grill or your oven to brown them. Some people have suggested using cider or apple juice as the cooking liquid in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, but we never found it made much different. Instead, we use a couple of aromatic spices added to the cooking water: garlic and bay leaves.

Barbecue aficionados frown on cooking the ribs until they fall off the bone. They should be cooked but cohesive.

  • 1 rack baby back pork ribs, cut in half
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 2 bay leaves

raw ribs in pot

  1. Place the ingredients in the Instant Pot, seal and cook on Manual for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat your gas grill on high
  3. Release the pressure and take the ribs out and put on a platter to carry to your barbecue grill. Or, place them on a foil lined cookie sheet to put in the oven.

Using a gas grill

half barbecued

  1. Turn the middle burner off, and turn the outer 2 burners to medium. Lay the ribs on the grill over the middle section, and brush with your favorite barbecue sauce.
  2. After 15 minutes, turn, and brush the other side.
  3. Cook about another 15 minutes, or until the sauce begins to caramelize.

Using your oven

  1. Preheat the oven to 375˚
  2. Brush the top of the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce and cook for 15 minutes,
  3. Turn, brush the other side and cook for about 15 minutes.
  4. If the sauce hasn’t become bubbly, put under the broiler for 5 more minutes.

barbecued on platter

Serving

Cut the ribs apart and serve on a platter. (See above.)

Leftovers

Don’t worry about buying too much pork. You can probably do 2 racks at a time if you wanted. And once it is cooled, refrigerate it. The next day, just cut off the pork and cut it up a bit. It makes great pulled pork sandwiches. Just put some on a bun, add some barbecue sauce and heat it up for 30 seconds in the microwave.

pulled pork sammich

hash browns and corn

Easy buttermilk pancakes

Easy buttermilk pancakes

Making buttermilk pancakes is so easy and so quick that I never saw any reason to use pancake mixes.  The recipe came down from my grandmother, written down by my Aunt Elsie, who pointed out that you can remember it as 2-2-2-1-1-1/2.

Here are all the ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Buttermilk (usually 2-3 cups)
  • 1 Tb butter for the griddle

Note that I reduced the baking soda to ¾ teaspoon, to bring out the buttermilk flavor better. If you don’t think this is an easy recipe, watch this video, where I make the batter and make pancakes in less than 8 minutes.  You can too.

You mix the above ingredients to make a “thickish batter,” according to my aunt, and while the amount of buttermilk is up to you, I find that you get taller pancakes from a thicker batter. If you like thinner pancakes that cook a little faster, just add a little more buttermilk. Melt the butter on the griddle at 375 F, and cook the pancakes on the first side until you see a few bubbles. Turn them once and cook another minute or so.

This recipe came from my grandmother, the former Edna Perry, who married John Marshall Neely, M.D. in 1901, when she was 19. She probably brought the recipe with her, making it well over 100 years old. While it isn’t wildly unique, it works perfectly every time.

Sticky Buns: easier and stickier than ever

Sticky Buns: easier and stickier than ever

Sticky buns are a spectacular way to start any morning, and it really isn’t hard to make them if you start with 90  minutes or so free the night before. The result is hot, delicious  baked buns  in the morning that everyone will love. We usually start making the dough about 9 pm, and put the rolls together around 10:15 pm.

There are three parts to sticky buns: the glaze, the filling and the dough. Some recipes suggest a brioche dough, which is delicious, but quite a bit more work. Our dough is a simple yeast dinner roll dough that you let rise for an hour and then form into buns that rise over night. The overall buns are so rich that the kind of dough doesn’t actually matter much.

To make the dough

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 package regular yeast (avoid the rapid rise variety)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups flour (about)
  1. Add the 1/2 tsp sugar to the water and stir in the yeast. Allow the solution to stand until the yeast begins to bubble and foam a bit (maybe 4-5 minutes)
  2. Meanwhile, mix the milk, shortening and sugar, and heat in a microwave for one minute.(The shortening does not have to melt.)
  3. Add 1 cup of the flour to the work bowl of a food processor and pour in the warmed milk. Process until blended.
  4. Add the egg and mix in.
  5. Add the yeast mixture and mix in.
  6. Add flour until you have a soft dough.
  7. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in bulk, about an hour.

While the dough is rising, make the glaze and the filling.

To make the glaze

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 stick (8 oz) unsalted butter, cut up
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter and honey to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.

Pour the glaze into two buttered square 9” pans, or one oblong pan, and sprinkle the pecans over top.

To make the filling

filling i n bowl

  • 4 Tb butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Melt the butter  for 30-40 sec in a microwave, and mix in the sugar and pecans

Assembling the buns

  1. When the dough has risen, punch it down in a floured board, and divide in half.
  2. Roll out each half to a 6 x 18” rectangle and sprinkle with half the filling.
  3. Roll up the dough lengthwise into a roll and cut each roll into 9 slices
  4. Place the slices in the two pans, cover with aluminum foil, and  let rise over night in a  cool place, such as a basement.
  1. In the morning, heat the oven to 375 º F and bake the buns for about 15 minutes, until the glaze is bubbling.

baked

Loosen the rolls from the sides of the pan with a small spatula, and then place a plate over each pan and invert it quickly. This is best done over the sink as some glaze will probably dribble out. The rolls should drop onto the plate.

Scrape any remaining glaze onto the rolls and allow them to cool a bit before serving,

one bun

Makes 18 buns.

Note: The overall flavor of the glaze is influenced by the honey, so be sure to choose a milder flavored honey.

 

How to scramble 2 dozen eggs

How to scramble 2 dozen eggs

You don’t have to scramble eggs a little batch at a time if you have  a large pan. We used a 13-inch All Clad pan to cook ours. The accompanying video shows it in detail.

Start at very low heat, and slowly the stir the eggs. You can go up to low heat if you want, but to make nice, creamy eggs, you want to cook them slowly.

Start with just the eggs, no salt and no milk. You’ll add the butter right away. We used a stick, or 4 oz of unsalted butter in this recipe. Slowly stir the butter into the eggs so it melts. Keep stirring until the eggs begin to thicken. At the end add a hefty pinch of kosher salt, and 3-4 Tb of crème fraiche or sour cream.

Decorate the plates or serving platter with some chopped parsley or chives.

 

Enjoy your breakfast!

 

Soft-boiled eggs and egg cups

Soft-boiled eggs and egg cups

You probably have made soft-boiled eggs for breakfast once in a while. Here is a simpler and more reliable way to get perfect eggs, along with some serving suggestions.

We have found that you can cook a number of eggs at once in a vegetable steamer basket, instead of soft-boiled eggs? Yep, wait and see.

To cook the eggs, let them sit out of your refrigerator for 5 minutes or so, so they aren’t ice cold. Then, put a vegetable steamer basket in a saucepan and fill the pan with water so the water level is just below the basket. Bring the water to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. This only takes a minute or so, because there isn’t much water in the pan.

steamer white eggsUsing a slotted spoon or other long handled spoon, quickly lower the eggs into the basket, and cover the pan.  Let them cook for 6 ½ minutes. Then run cold water into the pan, drain and run in cold water again to stop the eggs from over cooking. Don’t worry, they’ll still be plenty warm.

Now is where international opinions diverge. If you are American, you probably put the soft-boiled eggs in a bowl with some toast, cut them open and dig out the eggs with a spoon, and eat them right away.

Egg cups

If you are British or Australian, or have immediate ancestors who are, you probably serve your  soft boiled eggs in egg cups.  The outrage Brits and Oz people feel about vulgar American soft-boiled eggs can be absorbed here, here and here.  Their point seems to be “Do you just let the eggs roll around on your plate?” and “Where does the drippy yolk end up?”

In the British approach, you put the just cooked egg in an egg cup, cut off the top, and serve the cup on a plate with strips of toast (called “soldiers”) or toast points. No crusts here, of course. We found a few egg cups around.

Our neighbor brought us one made for Fanny Farmer in the 1940s, that originally came with a chocolate egg in it. We also found a nice porcelain one that will hold a conventional hen’s egg, or in the larger part of the base, a duck’s egg.  In fact, if you turn the egg cup over, there is small cup in the base that might hold a quail’s egg.  We also found that there are a number of egg cups on Amazon including 4 plastic ones for about $10.

Egg cups go back as far as 3 CE, where they were found in the ruins of Pompeii, but were distinctly for the ruling classes, until the advent of the railroads, when both British and American shops along railroad lines sold souvenir egg cups at each stop. There were also sterling silver egg cups, intended to be baby gifts, but weren’t too practical as the sulfur in the egg tarnished the silver.

There is also a cute video from Martha Stewart showing a huge variety of egg cups. Apparently they are seriously collectable.

topperSo, how do you open this egg? Experienced egg cup users just flick the top of the egg with a butter knife and cut it open. You can also get an “egg topper,” that will score the top of the egg when you pull on the handle and let go. It may or may not take the top off, but once it is scored, you can lift it off easily. So here they are, with eggs in the cups. And we’ll have to admit, they do look elegant.

 

 

Peeling the eggs

Now, one of the points of the egg cup is to hold the shell still, so you can eat the egg conveniently. But, what about peeling the just-cooked egg and serving it in a bowl with soldiers or toast points? If you cook the eggs in a steamer as we did, you will find that you can easily peel them under cold running water, and still have  a warm egg to eat with your toast.

two shelled in bowl

But, the ultimate solution could be to put those warm, peeled eggs back into the egg cups and eat them that way, dipping toast into the warm yolk. We tried that, and they were delicious!

shelled in egg cups

Thai rice soup with pork balls

Thai rice soup with pork balls

This relatively simple recipe can be done in less than an hour, and makes a rich, filling meal. There are several steps that you can do ahead and none are all that complicated. The original inspirational recipe came from Milk Street, (and is the first one we wanted to actually make). That recipe suggests garnishing the soup with fried shallots. Don’t even try this: it will small up your house for days, and are very hard to keep from burning. You can buy them packaged at Asian markets or online.

The components of this soup are:

  • Jasmine rice
  • Pork balls
  • Soup broth
  • Soft boiled eggs

Jasmine Rice

riceJasmine rice is a delicately scented short grain rice, that you should make first and allow to cool on a plate or baking sheet. You will add it to the soup when the rice is cold, so it doesn’t break up to much when you stir it in. Cook about 1 cup of rice with the package’s amount of water. In our Instant Pot rice cooker, we added 1.25 cups of water and cooked it for only 10 minutes. Open the pot and spread it out to cool.

Soft boiled eggs

eggs coolingSet out 3 eggs. Place a vegetable steamer in a 2 quart sauce pan and fill with water until just below the steamer bottom. Bring the water to a boil, and quickly lower the eggs into the steamer using a slotted spoon. Cover and cook 6.5 minutes. Run cold water into the pan to stop the cooking, empty and add more cold water. Pick up each egg and run cold water on it until no longer warm to the touch. Crack each egg and peel under running water. Set aside the peeled eggs.

Pork balls

  • 8 oz ground pork
  • 1 Tb fish sauce
  • 1 Tb chili-garlic sauce
  • White pepper to taste

pork ballsMix the pork and sauces in a small bowl and make around 10 balls using a small cookie scoop. Put them on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes or so.

Soup broth

  • 3 Tb lard (or olive oil, or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 5 large shallots halved and thinly sliced.
  • 8 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, bruised to release the flavor, or use lemon zest instead.
  • 2 Tb grated ginger root
  • 5 quarts chicken broth (we used some homemade mixed with canned)
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro (or parsley of you are not a cilantro fan)
  • 3 Tb lime juice plus lime wedges
  • 2 Tb fish sauce
  • 1 Tb chili garlic sauce

saute

  1. In a large pot (3 quarts or more) heat the lard and add the shallots and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes
  2. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  3. Stir in the lemon grass and ginger and cook until fragrant.
  4. Add the broth and cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes
  5. Remove and discard the lemon grass.
  6. Add the pork meatballs, and cook through, about 4 minutes
  7. Stir in the rice, and cook until heated through.
  8. Off heat, stir in the fish sauce and chili garlic sauce, the cilantro or parsley and the lime juice.

Ladle in bowls and decorate with the halved soft boiled eggs (cut them right in the bowls), lime wedges, and the optional fried shallots. Packaged onion rings are a good substitute, too!

Serve at once to your admiring guests.

How to hard boil eggs

How to hard boil eggs

Hard boiled (actually hard-cooked) sometimes baffle people who want eggs that are easy to peel. There is so much misinformation out there that making good eggs becomes a huge worry. It’s not.

  • It doesn’t matter whether the eggs are fresh or old.
  • You don’t need to prick the end of the shell.
  • You don’t have to chill them much to make them peel. Just run them under cold water until they aren’t hot any more.

The key trick to making easy-peel eggs is that you start them in or above hot water. We tried all three in this longer article last year. They all work great.

Vegetable steamer

eggs in steamer

For us, the simplest way is to put a vegetable steamer in a pan, and add water till it is just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring the water to a slow boil, and quickly lower the eggs onto the steamer using a slotted spoon.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Then run cold water into the pan, drain it and run cold water in again. Then, refrigerate them until you want to dye them, devil them or eat them.

Instant Pot

eggs in IPYou can make one or two dozen hard cooked eggs at once if you have an Instant Pot or other counter top pressure cooker. Just place a cup of water in the pot, and put your eggs on top of the trivet above the water.  Seal the pot and pressure-cook for 8 minutes.  Do not allow any cool-down time after the 8 minutes as the eggs will continue to cook. Release the pressure immediately, lift out the inner pot and run cold water into it. Rinse and run cold water on them again. They are then ready as above.

Boiling water

You can do this same trick in a pan of slowly boiling water. Bring the water to a boil and then quickly lower the eggs into the water and cook for about 10 minutes. Drain and cool as above.

3 cut open

This photo shows eggs cooked in the vegetable steamer, in a pan and in the Instant Pot 

How to fail

boil failYou can fail and get unpeelable eggs by starting them in cold water whether in a pan or on a trivet. You will also find them slightly harder to peel if you overcook them beyond 10 minutes. The yolks will become quite hard, and the eggs will be less flexible when you try to peel them.

Remember: start with boiling water!

That’s it!  Enjoy your holidays!

English Plum Pudding – using an Instant Pot

English Plum Pudding – using an Instant Pot

Plum pudding is a traditional holiday dessert that goes back hundreds of years. And it doesn’t actually contain plums: just raisins and candied fruit. In the 17th century, “plum” meant any dried fruit. Traditionally, you make it a year ahead so it can age, but even a couple of weeks will do, so don’t worry about getting a late start. You can start another one after the holidays and you’ll be all set for next year, too!

Plum pudding is a steamed pudding, cooked for many hours in a slow oven. We sped this up by using our Instant Pot counter top pressure cooker, to reduce the time to just 2 hours. The recipe we are using is half the original, which makes a slumgullion of pudding, and even then we did it two batches, one in a Mrs Anderson’s Baking  Steamed  Pudding Mold, and a smaller one-hour amount in a small bowl wrapped in foil.

Fruit Mixture

  • ½ lb seedless raisins
  • ½ lb golden raisins
  • ¼ lb currants
  • ½ cup thinly slice citron
  • ½ cup chopped candied peel
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp mace
  • 14 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ lb finely chopped suet (powdery fine)
  • 5/8 cup brandy

Pudding

  • 5/8 cup fresh bread crumbs, (about 2 cups)
  • ½ cup warm milk
  • ½ cup sherry or port
  • 6 eggs, well beaten
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Brandy

Hard Sauce

  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 1 ½ cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 2 Tb brandy or rum

Beat the softened butter in an electric mixer and slowly add the sugar.  Add the vanilla or brandy and served with the plum pudding.

Making the pudding

  1. Blend the fruits, citron, spices and suet in a bowl or jar.
  2. Add 1/8 cup brandy, cover tightly and refrigerate for 2-4 days, adding more brandy each day.
  3. When ready to mix up the pudding, mix the milk and sherry or port together.
  4. Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk/ wine mixture.
  5. Combine the beaten eggs and sugar and blend with the fruit mixture.
  6. Add salt and mix thoroughly.
  7. Put the pudding in a buttered pudding mold or buttered bowls. With the pudding mold we bought, we get about 2/3 of the batter in it. Cover with foil to seal it and keep out the moisture.
  8. Put a cup of water in the Instant Pot, add the trivet, and place the pudding mold on the trivet.
  9. Seal the Instant Pot, and steam on Manual for 2 hours.
  10. Uncover and place in a 250° F oven for 30 minutes.
  11. Add a dash of brandy to the pudding, and store in a cool place.
  12. Repeat with the remaining batter in a small bowl covered securely with foil.
  13. Allow the pudding to age for a week or two, adding a dash of brandy every day or two.
  14. When ready to serve, reheat in the steamer, and unmold.
  15. Sprinkle with sugar, add heated brandy and ignite.
  16. Serve with hard sauce.

flamed

Holiday ‘Indian’ pudding

Holiday ‘Indian’ pudding

Indian pudding is a simple Colonial era recipe made with corn meal, eggs and molasses. While you can bake it, you get a smoother, creamier pudding if you steam it like other puddings. In this recipe, we used our Instant Pot to steam it quickly. You can also follow the same recipe steaming it in the oven I a water bath.

  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups milk
  • ½ cup corn meal
  • 2 Tb butter
  • ½ cup molasses
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp dry ginger
  • ¼ tsp allspice
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup golden raisns
  • ½ tsp vanilla extact
  • 1 tb butter to grease the pan
  • Vanilla ice cream
  1. Beat the eggs in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a 3 quart pan, heat the milk to just under a simmer
  3. Slowly add the cornmeal and whisk it in. It should slowly thicken.
  4. Cook for 10 minutes, whisking to keep the mixture from sticking to the pan.
  5. Remove from stove and add all the other ingredients except the eggs and mix in.

6. Temper the eggs by stirring in a cup or so of the milk mixture. Then add the egg mixture back to the milk mixture and stir it in.
7. Pour the mixture into a buttered casserole dish or cake pan that will fit into the Instant Pot.
8. Wrap the dish securely in foil to keep the water out
9. Add 1 cup of water to the pot and place the wrapped dish on top of the trivet.
10. Cook on the Manual setting for 30-45 minutes.

11. The pudding should be somewhat firm, but may still be jiggly in the center.
12. Let the pudding stand for 15 minutes and then serve warm with a scoop of ice cream.

in bowl

If you like the pudding a bit firmer, chill it in the refrigerator, and scoop out pudding into serving bowls and microwave them each for 30 seconds. (See above) Serve with ice cream.

You can also steam the pudding in a 325 ° F oven, sitting in a water bath for about 90 minutes.