I've always been working on my cooking. In the 80's, it was Chocolate Chip Cake, Lasagna and Tuna Fish Sandwiches with Avocado and Sprouts. In the 90's I got turned on to cooking with a wok and pressure cooker. Pressure cooking short grain brown rice became a staple. In the 2000's, I started getting into Indian Cuisine. I've amassed a nice collection of recipes that I have posted on my food page (the menu). I'll write on this page about some of my discoveries and techniques in the kitchen.
There is a subtle thing going on with this recipe. I read a whole book on this technique by a Chinese woman. She talked about how all her meals revolved around this technique. Here is how it goes:
Rinse the rice in water 2-3 times and drain. Put the rice, water and salt in the pressure cooker and put the lid and rocker on. I use a 4-Quart Presto Stainless Steel pressure cooker and only use it for making rice. Put the heat on high to bring it up to pressure. When the rocker starts rocking, lower the heat to low or just above low. Just enough so the rocker continues to rock. Then keep the heat on for 20 minutes. Then turn the heat off and let it set for 10 minutes. Then take the rocker off to release the pressure.
If you let it cook a little longer than that, you can get it so the bottom gets a little crunchy. It can really have a nice nutty texture to it. I make up a batch of this and put it in the fridge and then have it with my oatmeal in the morning. This is how that works:
Bring the water to a boil. Add the oats and the salt. Reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the water is almost gone and it starts to crackle. Add a big scoop of the cooked short grain brown rice and mix it in. Serve with a pad of butter and a teaspoon of brown sugar.
I like getting the white rice imported from India for my curries in the evening. Here is how I do it in the pressure cooker:
Rinse the rice and drain. Add the rice, water and salt in the pressure cooker and put the lid and rocker on. Put the heat on high to bring it up to pressure. When the rocker starts rocking, lower the heat to low or just above low. Just enough so the rocker continues to rock. Then keep the heat on for 3 minutes. Then turn the heat off and let it set for 10 minutes. Then take the rocker off to release the pressure.
On most Saturday afternoons I find myself doing some prep cooking for the week. I often make soup stock. It's a good way to use up the older vegetables and save some money and packaging that comes with buying soup stock. I usually do something like this:
In a large pot, add the oil and turn the heat on to medium high. Add the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the celery and carrots. Mix it up and the put the lid on to braise for 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and other vegetables and braise with the lid on for another 2 minutes. Add the 4 quarts of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer with the lid on for almost an hour. Strain the vegetables out with a colander and discard the vegetables. I take the extra effort and do another strain with a fine screen. Add the salt and paprika. Pour into mason jars and put in the fridge. Makes about 3 quarts of vegetable stock.
This is one of my main recipes that I did myself. Making good Butternut Squash soup is simple. I slice the Butternut Squash in half lengthwise and take the seeds out. I put it face down in a casserole dish. No need to oil or season it. Preheat the oven to 320 degrees. Put the dish in the oven. No need to cover with foil. It's face down so it will steam itself. Cook for 50 minutes and then turn the heat off. Leave it in the oven for another 20-30 minutes. Take it out of the oven. You can even leave it on the counter for hours. It'll finish its cooking and get nice and soft.
Then scoop out the squash into a medium saucepan. Add one quart vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Add 1 tsp Salt, 1/2 tsp Paprika and 1/4 tsp Fine Ground Black Pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes. Put the soup in a blender and puree. That's it. Serve with a salad.
Rice and vegetable stock are a good foundation. My cooking really expanded when I started studying recipes. I would go downtown to Powell's Books and browse through the cooking section until I found a book that had a recipe that really turned me on. My philosophy is that if I can get just one good recipe out of a book, it's worth the cost of the book. If I get others, that's a bonus. I've found two Indian cookbooks that are jam packed with good recipes:
My Butternut Squash Soup was inspired by Kurma's Pumpkin Pie recipe. The technique for cooking a ghord. The subtitle for 660 Curries is "The gateway to Indian cooking." I've noticed that the combinations of spices and vegetables is fairly delicate. I love how most of the curries in the book are cooked with water instead of coconut milk. It's got a lot of meat recipes in it, but there are so many recipes that it works great for vegans and vegetarians.
Popping mustard seeds like popcorn is about the best thing ever for a chef. Once you take the lid off, there is this wonderful aroma. Then you add an onion to it and stir fry. I love starting a meal like that.