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Instant Indian Cookbook Review

Indian cooks have discovered the Instant Pot and how well it works for Indian cuisine—it can be used to cook everything from rice to yogurt to complex layered meat and vegetable dishes. There are at least 10 Indian Instant Pot cookbooks on Amazon at the moment, and I suspect there are more e-books out there on the topic as well. There are also a ton of blogs that focus on Indian recipes made in the Instant Pot.

I recently purchased an Instant Pot but had never used it. I tried it out with a recipe from Instant Indian: Classic foods from every region of India made easy in the Instant Pot! By Rinku Bhattacharya. The recipe I chose was Cozy Butter Chicken. The instructions for this dish were incredibly clear, so much so that I was able to make this dish without having ever used the Instant Pot before. The author points out that timing is an issue “You need to factor in the time it takes to come to full pressure, the actual pressure cooking time, and the time for steam release. I have accounted for the complete cooking cycle by noting a total time needed with all my recipes.” But that was the problem I had with the recipe which states:

TOTAL TIME: 40 MINUTES
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Sauté Time: 15 minutes
Pressure Cook: 10 minutes
Pressure Release: 10 minutes

I found that this does not include the time it takes for the Instant Pot to come to full pressure, and an accurate time for pressure release. It took almost another 10 minutes to reach full pressure and over 15 minutes to release naturally rather than the stated 10 minutes. That is a considerable amount of additional time.

Cozy Butter Chicken
Cozy Butter Chicken, on the right according to the instructions and on the left with the sauce reduced 

The other issue I had with this recipe was that the finished dish was incredibly watery and the chicken was somewhat overcooked and falling apart. The sauce did not resemble the thick creamy sauce I know from having had this dish in the past. I spent almost another 10 minutes reducing the sauce in a saucepan. Once I did, the sauce and the dish were absolutely delicious.

I struggled with the decision to purchase an Instant Pot because I really don’t have room for it. But I thought perhaps I would be able to replace my rice cooker and my pressure cooker with it. But I found it took longer for the Instant Pot to come up to pressure than it takes my old pressure cooker, so I’m not sure that it will replace it after all. The biggest convenience factor to making this dish was the built in timer which allows you to set the cooking time. I also like that it has settings for things like yogurt and rice.

So would I recommend the Instant Pot and using it for Indian Recipes? Probably, but I will need to do some more experimenting.

Disclaimer: A pdf of this book was given to me for review purposes


Salted Toffee Shortbread

Good shortbread cookies are always buttery, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture that keeps you coming back for that second bite. They tend to be simple cookies with short ingredient lists, where the butter is the star of the show. That doesn’t mean that you can’t add extra flavors to your favorite shortbread recipe, of course, and that is exactly what I did here. This Salted Toffee Shortbread has a classic buttery shortbread base, but is studded with sweet toffee bits and topped with a sprinkling of coarse salt.

To make the shortbread, cold butter is cut into a mixture of flour, sugar and salt. I prefer to combine the ingredients in a food processor so that the butter can be very finely chopped into the dry ingredients, resulting in a very even-textured shortbread. The food processor also makes the prep for this recipe take less than a minute! If you don’t have a food processor, you also can cut the butter in by hand, but be sure to get it as fine as possible.

The shortbread mixture will be very crumbly when the butter has been incorporated and the mixture will look very dry. Don’t worry, as that is exactly how the shortbread is supposed to look! Simply stir in the toffee bits, then pour everything into your prepared baking dish and spread it into an even layer over the whole base of the pan. Next, firmly press the mixture down and pack it evenly (use your fingers or the bottom of a glass). Sprinkle the shortbread with the coarse salt, then score it lightly into pieces using a sharp knife. Scoring the dough before baking will allow you to cut it more easily once it has set.

This shortbread is similar in style to Walker’s shortbread, meaning that it the pieces are a bit taller and more tender than some other shortbreads. I really enjoy this style because it almost melts in your mouth as you eat it. If you like your shortbread to be extremely crisp, you can pack the shortbread base into a 9×13-inch pan and bake until lightly browned. The shortbread should still be scored before baking to ensure that you can cut it apart without crumbling the cookies too much.

Salted Toffee Shortbread
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup finely chopped toffee bits
1/2 tsp coarse salt, for topping

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar and salt. Pulse a few times to blend.
Cut butter into large chunks and add to food processor. Whiz for about 1 minute, until dough has a very sandy and starts to clump together. Remove from food processor and stir in toffee bits. Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Use a flat-bottomed glass to press down the dough firmly, creating as smooth a surface as possible.
Score dough lightly with a sharp knife, marking 4 rows by 8 rows of shortbread pieces. Dock the dough with a fork, if desired. Sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake for about 35 minutes, until shortbread is very lightly browned all over and is set.
While the shortbread is still hot and still in the pan, use a sharp knife or a bench scraper to cut shortbread all the way through along the lines you scored prior to baking. Allow shortbread to cool completely in the pan once it has been cut.
When cooled, shortbread pieces should break apart very easily. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 32 pieces.

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5 Easy Korean Side Dishes by Erica


Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer

Instant Pot is a smart Electric Pressure Cooker designed by Canadians aiming to be Safe, Convenient and Dependable. It speeds up cooking by 2~6 times using up to 70% less energy and, above all, produces nutritious healthy food in a convenient and consistent fashion. Instant Pot Duo is a 7-in-1 programmable cooker, it replaces 7 kitchen appliances as it has the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker & warmer. 14 built-in smart programs (Soup, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Sauté, Steam, Rice, Porridge, Multigrain, Slow Cook, Keep-Warm, Yogurt, Pasteurize & Jiu Niang) cook your favorite dishes with the press of a button. A 24-hour timer allows for delayed cooking. Automatic keep-warm holds the temperature of the food until you serve it. Instant Pot generates almost no noise and leaks no steam. It traps all the aromas in the food without heating up the kitchen. The 3-ply bottom stainless steel inner pot is extremely durable and leaves no health concerns associated with non-stick coatings. The slim body design has lid holders for both left and right handed users. The brushed stainless steel exterior is finger print resistant. Its elegant and durable design makes it easy to clean and pleasurable to use for the years to come. Instant Pot Duo uses the latest technology with an embedded microprocessor, which monitors the pressure and temperature, keeps time and adjusts heating intensity. The cooking programs have been lab-tested hundreds of times for optimal effect. These greatly improve cooking result and maintain consistence. Instant Pot is carefully designed to eliminate many common errors that could cause harm or spoil food. It passed the stringent UL certification giving you uncompromised safety and peace of mind and protects you with 10 proven safety mechanisms and patented technologies.

Product Features

  • For families, 4-6 people
  • 7-in-1 Multi-Functional Cooker–Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer.Instant Pot Duo is a smart Electric Pressure Cooker designed to be Safe, Convenient and Dependable. It speeds up cooking by 2~6 times using up to 70% less energy and, above all, produces nutritious healthy food in a convenient and consistent fashion.
  • Large, easy to use control panel with 14 built-in Smart Programs, Dual pressure, Automatic keep-warm and 3 temperatures for saute and slow cook
  • Delay cooking time up to 24-Hours; Manual setting up to 120 minutes of cook time
  • UL and ULC certified with 10 proven safety mechanisms; Highly energy efficient and kitchen friendly
  • Include 3-ply bottom stainless steel cooking pot, stainless steel steam rack with handle & manual and recipes in English and French


Alison’s Peach Chutney Recipe

I met Alison McQuade 15 years ago. She wanted me to try her chutney and invited me to meet her at a local wine bar. At that time she was on the verge of quitting her day job and becoming a full time artisanal food producer. While to this day she doesn’t describe herself as a cook, she has mad skills when it comes to chutney. She is also quite a wonderful person and we quickly became friends. 

Over the years I have bought McQuade’s Celtic Chutney to give as gifts, made recipes using her various varieties of chutney and been an all around fan of her products. Faced with a box full of peaches this year supplied to me by the Washington State Stone Fruit Growers, I knew I wanted to make chutney but couldn’t imagine just turning to any old recipe. So I called on Alison for some guidance. Her recipe uses weights, so if you don’t have a digital scale, please use this as the excuse to buy one, they are not expensive and are essential for baking. The one I currently use is a SmartWeight model that cost less than $20 and displays pounds, ounces, grams and milliliters. You’ll note the chutney is in Ball jars for gifting, and the company that produces them makes a donation to Feeding America for every package purchased (up to $150k). 

Alison has a keen sense of what flavors will go together and balancing heat, acidity and sweetness. Her chutneys are always chunky, fresh tasting and highlight the fruit. They are not goopy, gloppy, too sweet or sour and always have just the right amount of zing. This peach chutney is particularly wonderful. It uses a mixture of different vinegars and classic spices, fresh ginger, cinnamon and allspice. If you’re wondering how to use chutney, it’s terrifc with cheese of course, but also on sandwiches, with stews and curries on sausages or chops, or mixed in chicken salad. Honestly I could eat it straight out of the jar with a spoon! 
Note: This recipe makes 3 pints, but you can easily use 6 half pint jars if you prefer. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled if you want to make a bigger batch. 
Alison’s Peach Chutney 
Makes about 3 pints
Ingredients
2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
800 ml apple cider vinegar
200 ml malt vinegar
400 gm brown sugar
Knob ginger peeled and grated, about 2 Tablespoons
1.5 kg ripe but firm peaches, about 3 1/2 pounds
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons allspice 
180 gm golden raisins
Instructions
Fill a canner with water and bring to a boil. Add the peaches to the water and cook for about a minute then transfer the peaches using a slotted spoon to a boil with cold water. Peel and coarsely chop the peaches and set aside. Place the jars in the canner and boil for 10 minutes. 
In a large stock pot combine the onion, vinegars, sugar, ginger, salt, cinnamon and allspice. Bring to a boil then simmer, stirring occasionally until reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Add the peaches and stir occasionally, adding golden raisins after about 15 minutes, continue cooking until tender and jam-like about 30-40 minutes total. Chutney will thicken further after being processed. 
Lift the jars out of the canner, pouring the hot water back into the canner. Ladle the chutney into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. After filling the jar, release the air bubbles by inserting a narrow silicone spatula or similar tool between the chutney and the inner surface of the jar. Place the rims on top of each jar and loosely seal with the bands. Carefully place the jars back in the canner and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from the canner and let rest overnight, you may hear the lids pop. Store for up to one year. 
Enjoy!
Disclaimer: A special thanks to Alison McQuade for helping with the recipe. Peaches were provided to me as part of the canbassador program by Washington State Stone Fruit Growers and to Ball Home Canning for the jars. This post includes one affiliate link. 

AmazonBasics 12-Piece Colored Knife Set

An Amazon Brand.

Product Features

  • 12-piece colored knife set includes 6 knives and 6 matching knife covers; Knives include: paring knife, utility knife, Santoku knife, carving knife, chef’s knife, and bread knife
  • Durable stainless-steel blades effectively hold a sharp cutting edge for safe, efficient use
  • Unique color-coded system for quick knife identification and to reduce the risk of cross-contamination during food preparation
  • Nonstick color coating helps prevent food from sticking to the blade for faster, easier cutting
  • Ergonomic handles promote a secure, comfortable grip; Matching blade guards protect blades and allow for safe storage in a drawer


Flat Brew Coffee Spread Espresso, reviewed

Anyone that is a regular reader will know that I am a coffee lover. Not only do I pair baked goods with it all the time, but I also frequently incorporate it into my dishes. More often than not, coffee comes in a liquid form, but the Flat Brew Coffee Spread is a unique spreadable way to get a little caffeine fix. This product is almost like ganache, but made out of coffee instead of cacao, and it can be a treat for a real coffee fan.

The spread is made with sugar, cocoa butter, cream, butter and plenty of coffee. It is nearly black in color. Ganache is made with cacao, cocoa butter (though those two ingredients are often listed simply as “chocolate”), sugar and cream/butter. Getting the coffee to come together smoothly with those other ingredients is no small feat, yet the spread is silky smooth and melts onto your tongue almost like a traditional chocolate ganache! It has a deep and intense espresso flavor that is not particularly sweet, though there is enough sugar in the mix to bring out some of the fruity and chocolaty notes in the coffee. It is rich, packs a serious coffee kick and it doesn’t quite taste like anything else I’ve had.

I think that this spread is delicious, but unlike Nutella or sweeter spreads, it may be too potent for you to want to eat more than a small spoonful straight out of the container. Instead, consider spreading it on toast, pancakes, waffles or using it to sandwich two soft cookies together. It can also be used as a dip for breadsticks, fresh fruit or crisper cookies, such as biscotti.  I picked mine up at a specialty kitchen store, but it is also available online. If you’ve tried it or have a favorite use, be sure to share in the  comments!

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Just a French Guy Cooking: Easy Recipes and Kitchen Hacks for Rookies

French Guy Cooking is a YouTube sensation. A Frenchman living in Paris, Alexis loves to demystify cooking by experimenting with food and cooking methods to take the fear factor out of cooking, make it fun and accessible, and charm everyone with his geeky approach to food.

In this, his debut cookbook, he shares 100 of his absolute favorite recipes – from amazingly tasty toast ideas all the way to some classic but super-simple French dishes. Along the way, he shares ingenious kitchen hacks – six ways with a can of sardines, a cheat’s guide to wine, three knives you need in your kitchen – so that anyone can throw together great food without any fuss.


Easy Peach Jam Recipe

I’ve made peach jam several times, thanks in part to an annual delivery of peaches courtesy of the Washington Stone Fruit Growers, but I continue to look for ways to simplify the canning process. Standard peach jam recipes call for a lot of sugar and some powder or liquid pectin. The result is good, but can be a bit on the sweet side and a little rubbery. My preference is for a softer jam with less sugar and frankly less fuss. I wondered if there might be a way to make jam without bothering with the tedious job of peeling peaches? It turns out, there is. 
The key to this recipe is the peels. Lemon peel and peach peel are high in pectin and so if you cook the peaches with them, you won’t need to add any additional pectin. I started with a recipe from A Sweet Spoonful, but the main difference was I skipped peeling the fruit and used the lemon peel as well as the juice. I added some slices of fresh ginger in my first batch but I didn’t find it added much flavor so I’m skipping it. You could certainly add some powdered ginger, candied ginger or even scraped vanilla bean if you like. 
This jam is in between jam and preserves. It has some skin in it, but it’s silky smooth and doesn’t detract from the texture or flavor of the peaches. The pureed skins add a pretty rosy tint. How much you puree is up to you, I estimate I pureed about 1/3 cup or so. Note: You could can this in half pint or pint jars. I used  a combination of both. 

Easy Peach Jam

Makes 2 1/2 pints
Ingredients
4 pounds washed peaches, pitted and cut into chunks, about 8 cups 
2 cups ganulated sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Lemon rind from one lemon, cut into large pieces
Instructions
Fill a canner with water and bring to a boil. Place the jars in the canner and boil. Put a small plate in the freezer so you can test the jam later. 
Place the peach chunks in a large non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice. Don’t stir–just let the sugar sit and macerate, this helps to release the natural juices of the fruit. Allow to sit at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
Add the fruit along with the lemon peel to a large pot and bring to a boil. Using a potato masher mash the peaches. Continue stirring the peaches as they cook, using a wooden spoon. After about 10 minutes skim as much of the peels out of the pot using a slotted spoon and puree them in a blender then add them back to the pot. Remove the lemon peel and discard. Continue cooking until the mixtures thickens, about another 20 minutes. Test the thickness by placing a teaspoon full of the jam on the chilled plate and let it rest for about 30 seconds. Run your finger through the dollop and if it stays separated where your finger was, it’s thick enough. 
Lift the jars out of the canner, pouring the hot water back into the canner. Ladle the jam into the jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. After filling the jar, release the air bubbles by inserting a narrow silicone spatula or similar tool between the jam and the inside of the jar. Place the rims on top of each jar and loosely seal with the bands. Carefully place the jars back in the canner and process/boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the canner and let rest overnight, you may hear the lids pop. Store for up to one year. 
Enjoy!
Disclaimer: Peaches were provided to me as part of the canbassador program by Washington State Stone Fruit Growers and to Ball Home Canning for the jars. 

A braised version of Charsiu (the one I make for the kids most often right now)

I think almost every child likes charsiu (also spelled “char siew”), aka Chinese barbecued pork. There’s something wonderfully delicious about the combination of juicy, tender pork and the salty-sweet and very umami charsiu sauce. It’s something that my own kids, especially my son, absolutely loves. It’s highly addictive when done right. And I add that caveat because there are just as many horrendous, dry versions of charsiu sold in hawker centres all over the island as there are wonderfully plump, tasty and moist versions. The absolutely worst ones feel like cardboard, have artificially colored pink exteriors and unappetising grey flesh. I feel sorry for any person whose first taste of charsiu was one of these substandard and frankly embarrassing versions.

A well-made piece of charsiu is a thing of beauty. The pork should have flavour. It should be moist and have a little bite (meaning, it shouldn’t be too tender). I’ve played with a wide variety of charsiu preparation and cooking methods over the years. For a significant period, my preference was to use sous-vide techniques in the process. But more recently, and mostly because I was never 100% satisfied with the texture of the sous-vide charsiu, I’ve gone back to more basic styles of cooking.

Several foodies (online) have advocated a braising method in which you cook your pork in a wok, allowing the liquid it is cooking in to reduce until it finally becomes a sticky caramelised coating for the meat. I tried out a few online recipes but didn’t like the results. Not only did the meat come out overly sticky (which made it a mess to handle) but cleaning pots and woks in which you’ve reduced caramelised sauces is a real bitch.

But I liked the idea of braising the meat. Especially when you can add aromatics to make the liquid and the meat that much yummier. So, I tried braising the pork, letting it cool in the braising liquid, and then basting it in charsiu sauce, followed by a short but super hot turn in the oven. After a few iterations, I think I’ve come up with something that works well. Based on the family’s reactions, it appears to be a winner with kids and grandparents alike. I’ve found that the braising time greatly effects the texture of the meat. The best charsiu should have some bite. So if you braise the meat too long, while the pork can come out nice and tender, it will also fall apart… which isn’t particularly what you want. An hour seems to be sufficient to cook the pork nicely and still provide some nice resistence when you cut it as well as when you bite into it.

I’ve also taken to making my own charsiu sauce. I tend to avoid both commercial charsiu and Hoisin sauces these days and instead prefer to whip up my own concoction (which is admittedly very adjusted to my specific palate). Of course, it helps that I have a very well stocked pantry, courtesy of the superwife. That means if I want to use fermented soy beans I have multiple options to choose from. I make my sauce and use it as marinade and in the cooking process, and then use it again, with honey added, for the final roast.

The recipe is below. While this takes considerably less time than other charsiu recipes I’ve posted previously, it is by no means a quick dish to make. You’ll want to block off a few hours for this the first time you make it. And, since we all have different tastes, as always you should adjust the seasoning and ratio of the various ingredients for your own tastes.

 

The post A braised version of Charsiu (the one I make for the kids most often right now) appeared first on Chubby Hubby.