Instant Pot beef stew. 2/3/2018

My mother always made beef stew in a pressure cooker so I have never been afraid of them even though I ended up cooking in one until it was dry and all the food was burnt up inside. I have always owned a pressure cooker and used it sometimes for beef stew or stuffed cabbage. When the Instant Pot came out I was interested in its ease of use and cleanup. It is also much quieter than the hissing pot that used to be on my stovetop.

In the Instant Pot that I got for Christmas we have made lamb chili (good, but a little watery), white and brown rice (worked perfectly), meat sauce for spaghetti (needs work), and now beef stew. The beef stew came out really really tasty.

Beef stew made in an Instant Pot

We bought a small boneless chuck steak that John cut up and browned using the Sauté function. He also browned the mushrooms. We loaded in carrots, onions, garlic, celery, and small new potatoes. We added a can of diced tomatoes, a cup of red wine, and enough beef stock so that it was visible but not covering everything. The Pot did its Pressure Cook thing for 18 minutes and then we let the pressure fall of its own accord. John thickened the gravy with a potato starch slurry and we adjusted the seasoning with my secret weapon, fish sauce.

The meat texture was amazingly soft and full of flavor. The stew was so good that we ate practically the whole thing!

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Do-overs. 1/31 & 2/1, 2018

I tried to improve on two dishes this week. I wanted to make them easier or better. I had mixed results.

I decided to make my tomato and ground beef spaghetti sauce in the Instant Pot. Recipes I read said you could get that hours of simmering taste in about 15 minutes. I browned the 12 oz. of ground beef I had. I figured I would make enough for two meals. The recipe said I was supposed to use 2lbs. but that seemed like too much to me. I sautéed onions and garlic, added oregano, fresh basil and parsley as well as pepper flakes and tomato paste. For liquid I added 2 cans of diced tomatoes and a cup of chicken sauce enhanced with some fish sauce for umami. The sauce came out okay but was missing  a robust meat flavor. That was probably the result of not enough meat. If I am going to tinker with the recipe I need to keep the proportions consistent.

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Spaghetti with meat sauce

I also redid the spicy Thai basil with eggplant and tofu. I threw out the leftover globe eggplant and found Chinese eggplant at Whole Foods. It worked much better. The whole dish was less bitter although I might have overdone the soy sauce a bit.

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Spicy Thai basil eggplant with tofu served with brown rice

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Shrimp in a saffron Pernod sauce. 1/30/18

Until recently we have eaten lunch at the Kenwood Restaurant when we were wine tasting in the Sonoma Valley. The food was good but the clientele seemed to be getting older and older – not really a sustainable business plan. The last time we were in the area we noticed that the restaurant had closed.  Sadly we are left with only a copy of their wonderful shrimp dish, Shrimp in a saffron Pernod sauce.

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Recipe for shrimp with saffron in Pernod sauce

Mostly what is required here is skill and patience in chopping things up. We had this covered since I love to chop things up. John loves to cook stuff.

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The sauce cooking on the stove with collard greens and corn in the foreground

An additional ingredient which we needed was rice.  Instant Pot was to the rescue. We used the Pot with a ratio of just a tad over 1:1 rice to water. Since we were rinsing the rice there was plenty of water. Heat up the Pot, pressure cook for 10 minutes, let the pressure drop naturally and voila, rice done. I also prepared some collard greens and corn as a side dish.1B64D5BB-7795-4B60-BF76-E1BD88C58181

The shrimp cooked with the finely chopped vegetables in the Pernod sauce over the rice was quite delicious!

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Shrimp in a saffron Pernod sauce over rice with collard greens and corn

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Vegetarian pasta and vegan spicy Thai basil eggplant with tofu. 1/29/18

Having had quite a bit of animal protein last week, I started out this week with a vegetarian and a vegan dish. Actually the pasta was only vegetarian because I added some fish sauce and grated some parmesan cheese on it so the pasta could definitely be vegan as well.

Since I was making a quick sauce I started with a jar of spaghetti sauce and enhanced it. To the plain sauce I added parsley and basil, red wine, and pepper flakes.  It tasted too sweet to me so I added some fish sauce to give it a more savory flavor.

Spaghetti with tomato sauce

The second dish was our attempt to replicate our favorite Thai dish, Spicy Basil Eggplant with Tofu. It is really pretty easy to make. You stir fry the components and then you add the sauce and it’s done. Our problems with it came from too spicy fresno chiles and using globe eggplant instead of Chinese or Japanese eggplants. We are going to have a redo later in the week and in the meantime I will find the correct types of eggplant.

Spicy Thai basil eggplant with tofu and brown rice

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Moo, cluck, moo. 1/27/18

We made some more chicken and a couple of beef dishes last week.  The steak we really like is a prime ribeye cap. They sell it at Costco and it comes tied up like a pinwheel of deliciousness. John makes it in the immersion circulator to 125F and then slaps it on the hot grill to get a nice brown crust on the outside. It is so delicious! Along with the steak we split a baking potato that I microwaved first to get it cooked through and then it joined the steak on the grill. I score the potato halves and then put garlic, salt, and olive oil on the cut side. Finally I steamed some broccoli along with some celery and onions.

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Ribeye cap steak with grilled potato and broccoli

We also had a second chicken dinner.  Usually I like to try to keep things more varied but the chicken that I had on Monday was chicken parmesan and the second chicken is what I would call our traditional chicken dinner which entails a chicken breast made in the immersion circulator, mashed rutabagas made in the instant pot, steamed broccoli and a packet of chicken gravy. It is fun to cook with all our cooking toys!

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Chicken breast with mashed rutabagas and broccoli

Lastly I made meatloaf which John had been craving. I especially like a cold meatloaf sandwich so everyone is a winner. I was pretty lazy with the rest of the meal going for a frozen spinach soufflé that Stouffer’s makes and Oreida crispy tater tots.

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Meatloaf with spinach and tater tots

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Chicken Monday change-up. 1/22/18

Spent the weekend getting home from Utah. Our daughter fixed dinner ahead of our arrival so it was not until Monday that we started cooking again. Since Monday is our chicken day, it was a no brainer as to what we were going to take out of the freezer, but how to prepare it?

Since we had leftover penne from the dinner our daughter made, we decided on chicken parmesan. Along with the chicken and the pasta I made zucchini with onions and garlic. The secret for getting mon-mushy zucchini? Cut it up and salt it so that some of the water drains out of the slices.

Chiicken Parmesan with penne and zucchini

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Pasta, fajitas, burger, all American!

Notice that I did not use All-American. Why? Because all these foods are mainstream American fare. What a boon to get up each day and decide what type of cuisine you want to eat and then run out to your local grocery store for the easily available ingredients. I could have added curries, sauerbraten, or Mongolian beef and still be talking about American food! Things have come along way since I was a kid!

Among the dishes that we have prepared this week are –

Spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic toast

It was so nice to reach into the refrigerator and pull out the sauce that we made last week – minimal work!

 

Shrimp fajitas with enhanced brown rice

I admit to using a packet of fajita seasoning. I also used the last bit of brown rice from last week enhanced with frozen corn, onion, and red bell pepper. Some Mexican spices kicked up the flavor.

 

Beef burger with salad

I do love a burger. John grilled this one after seasoning the meat and adding a pinch of baking soda to keep the meat juicy.

We are going to be heading home soon so cooking is done for this week. It was an enjoyable all American week.

 

 

 

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