Spring in Umbria! April 2013
Winter & Spring Forward!

Happy Valentine's Day with Pressure Cooking!

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What to cook on Valentine's Day? That is a question that many of you will probably never ask because more than likely, you are taking your Valentine out for a romantic dinner at your favorite restaurant!

This year I find myself in a very lucky position to actually not cook for hundreds of ravenous, hungry diners in a restaurant. I will actually get to cook just for 2! Of course, we are smack in the middle of winter. Although, in Northern California today, temperatures are expected to reach 70 degrees.

Last summer, I finally made the leap or, the step back to the past and purchased a Nesco pressure

cooker.

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I will admit, that I find myself using it at least once a week and sometimes more. I am cooking, everything from pork shoulder and leg of lamb, to lamb neck, shanks, wild duck ragu, vegetable ragout, blackeyed peas & colloard greens, ribollita, white bean & sausage soup, Korean BBQ short ribs, zindfandel braised short ribs, flageolet ragout, bolognese, and more. This can be done to create a one pot dish or, it can be used for sides & accompaniments. Often, I will save leftovers that can be frozen in neat little containers and re-heated when in a pinch for time. I have yet to be disappointed with the results. In fact, I have been utterly amazed at how simple, effective and delicious everything turns out. I will say, there is a little prep time involved but, no more than what you would normally do when preparing your recipe. The real savings is in the total time, due infact to the very quick cooktimes achieved through cooking under pressure. Normally, most meat braises assuming it is a cut to be cooked on the bone, can take as little as 3 hours and go to 5 in a 300 degree oven. I used to cook my beef short ribs over night in a low temp oven at 190 degrees for 15 hours! IMG_0398

The pressure cooker can deliver deliciously tender and moist short ribs in roughly 45 minutes of cooktime(not total time which includes any prep), and around 1 hour 15 minutes of total time. Amazing!

I grew up going to my grandmother's house for Sunday suppers which often included chicken & dumplings or something else cooked in her pressure cooker. While it was always delicious, I was terrified of the contraption that was on top of her stove, hissing and whistling, and always seemed on the verge of blowing the place up! It is because of those child hood memories that on the dark side, created my fear of pressure cookers and on the bright side, gave me a fondness for the delicious treats that come from them.  The pressure cookers of today, are by far less intimidating, I guess that can be said for many things now, and are really well designed. My model is the Nesco PC6-14  4-in-1 Digital 6 quart. Yes, digital! You simply select your time, set it, and walk away. I thought that this would not only be a great Valentine's gift for the chef in the house but, it could also buy you time to enjoy your evening more without having to tend to the oven & stove so much! wink wink;) Now, what should I serve for dessert?

Wishing you and your loved one a Happy Valentine's Day!

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