Invented in the 17th century, but popularized after World War II, pressure cooking always seemed antiquated to me. The idea of cooking under pressure evoked dented, sputtering aluminum pots and frayed electrical cords. Pressure cookers seemed a bit unpredictable, and I like my kitchen equipment to be dependable and safe.
In culinary school, pressure cooking never came up in our discussion of proper French technique. And while I’m no purist, I never gave it a second thought.
Perhaps it was my own need to cook the way I was taught. Or maybe it’s my closet-sized kitchen. Any new appliances I consider are subject to an extensive needs assessment and background check. Given that I thought a pressure cooker seemed vaguely hazardous, it was never an option.
But my mindset began to shift couple of years ago. I happened to be working on my computer at home on a weekday afternoon and decided to participate in my very first Tweetchat. The featured guest was JL Fields, and the topic was vegan cooking. Specifically, however, it was about using …dun da-da dunnnn…a pressure cooker.
I was skeptical, but sufficiently intrigued, and during that hour I learned a LOT about pressure cooking. (Well, it was a lot compared to what I already knew, which was nothing). I discovered how versatile pressure cookers are, and what to look for when buying one. More importantly, I began to recognize its many benefits.
Pressure cooking saves time and energy, and foods retain many more nutrients than with other methods. Realizing there had likely been some advancements in pressure cookers in recent centuries, I reasoned using one was no longer a life-threatening proposition. I moved one step closer to considering pressure cooking.
But I stewed about getting a pressure cooker for the next year or so.
Last spring, a defining moment came when I learned that JL was writing a vegan pressure cooking cookbook. This would be my excuse to explore pressure cooking with the support of an expert! And finally, just last week, Vegan Pressure Cooking was released!
I cracked open Vegan Pressure Cooking, along with my new T-Fal Clipso Pressure Cooker at the turn of the year. Setting aside my lingering fears, I started from the beginning.
Any ambivalence disappeared FAST with JL’s friendly, conversational tone and way of putting pressure cooking newbies at ease. Chapter One answers every question I’ve ever had about pressure cooking, including my biggest one: How can I avoid blowing up my pressure cooker? Once I read through this chapter, I felt far more confident and empowered to use my new appliance.
Chapter Two of Vegan Pressure Cooking titled Beans and Grains, got me started with the basics. I first made the Italian Lentils which went really well.
“If all the recipes go like this,” I thought to myself, “then I’m really going to like pressure cooking.”
The next day, I followed up with Vegan Pressure Cooking’s fabulous recipe for Balsamic Black Beans, which I thoroughly enjoyed with several meals over the next couple days.
Buoyed by these easy and flavorful beans, I then decided to try the Basic Quinoa recipe. Again, victorious. I followed the recipe closely and the quinoa was cooked and seasoned perfectly.
I was thrilled knowing how quickly I could prepare delicious staples. I honestly didn’t realize that pressure cooker recipes could be so fresh and tasty! How could I have held these antiquated notions all these years?
Both confident in the recipes and getting the hang of the device, I was ready to move on to sections like like Soups and Stews and One Pot Meals.
I tried the delicious New World Székely Goulash, which is a unique spin on traditional Hungarian goulash. This dish is loaded with paprika, sauerkraut and chickpeas, and made creamy with vegan sour cream. Homey and bursting with flavor, it’s another winner for an easy weeknight meal or bulk cooking. I was thrilled to take it for lunch with me for several days.
Then there are the veggies. Yes, you CAN cook vegetables in a pressure cooker! I don’t always feel like waiting 45 minutes for brussels sprouts to roast in the oven. From Vegan Pressure Cooking’s chapter on Meal Helpers and Veggie Sides, I made the Rosemary and Thyme Brussels Sprouts. They were done perfectly in a fraction of the time. Unreal.
I found myself on a roll, cooking one item after another from Vegan Pressure Cooking. Dal dip? Check. Tofu Scramble? Check. And each recipe contained a totally reasonable and easy-to-source ingredients list. Best of all, the recipes worked, which is no small feat given that according to JL, pressure cooking is not an exact science.
I’ve gotten more use out of my pressure cooker in the past two weeks than some appliances I’ve had for years. And it’s all because of Vegan Pressure Cooking. In fact, its never-fail recipes have helped me integrate this simple and convenient way of cooking into my busy life in a very short time.
Both in-person and in-writing, JL’s expertise and passion for pressure cooking comes through. Whether you’re a newbie or pressure cooking aficionado, Vegan Pressure Cooking’s solid, no-nonsense, flexible recipes will change and evolve the way you think about pressure cooking.
One lucky winner will receive a copy of Vegan Pressure Cooking by JL Fields! To enter, simply click on the giveaway to input your contact information. Then leave a comment below this blog post and share what vegan foods you’d like to make in a pressure cooker. Good luck!
- The giveaway entry period begins 12:00am January 11, 2015 ET and ends 12:00am January 19, 2015 ET.
- To enter, click on the Rafflecopter badge above to enter your name and email. Then leave a comment on this post about what vegan foods you’d like to make in a pressure cooker.
- One winner will be drawn at random and will be notified by email. The winner must respond within 48 hours with their mailing address to claim their prize. Otherwise, another winner will be selected at random.
- The winner will receive a copy of Vegan Pressure Cooking by JL Fields
- The book will be shipped to the winner by the publisher