Thursday, May 29, 2014

Eggplant - Kale - Broccolini Melange with Jade Pearl Rice (No Added Fat)

We stopped by the mid-week farmer's market on the way home and got some nice produce, including green garlic, fingerling potatoes, eggplant, and baby leeks. My daughter was hungry when we got home and wanting some organic ramen noodles; I prepared them without the flavor packet and served her seitan, kale, carrot, toast with homemade strawberry jam, and cantaloupe.

For my wife and me, I made a mélange of eggplant, kale, and broccolini in the Instant Pot. I made a side dish of creamy Jade pearl rice, and served tomatoes with hemp seed.

  • Baby golden beet root, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
  • Small unpeeled organic eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • Stalk of broccolini, cut into 1" lengths
  • Bunch kale, leaves hand torn from stems (stems composted) into approximately 1" squares
  • 8 ounces seitan strips cut into 1 1/2" lengths
  • Organic green garlic. I had a big 3' or so stalk that I brought home today from the farmer's market. I trimmed out the darker green leaves and saved half the remaining length of the stalk. I cut the bottom half of the stalk into 1/4" slices and diced the bulb into 1/4" cubes. (Three cloves of diced garlic would substitute fine.)
  • (Optional) Okra, sliced into 1/2" pieces, stem end removed. I only add this as I had five small okras left and wanted to use them up, but the dish would be fine without.
  • 10 baby carrots cut into 3/4" lengths
  • 1/2 t salt ( reduced sodium garlic pepper Koyo brand ramen noodles (sea salt, mushroom powder, onion and garlic powder, sugar, garlic, chili pepper, ginger, black pepper, black sesame seed, green onion, kombu powder
  • 1c boiling water (boiling water reduces the time for the Instant Pot to come to temperature, but room temperature water can certainly be used)

  1. High pressure cooking time for small intact beet roots is 11-13m, broccolini 2-4m, greens like kale 3-6m, and eggplant chunks 2-3m. Since I used chopped beet, I thought that we would be good with a 4m cooking time. I put all of the ingredients into the Instant Pot.
  2. I closed the instant pot, keeping the steam release valve in the off position, as normal, and set a manual time of 4m cooking under high pressure.
  3. When the pot was done, I turned it off. To hasten dinner's serving, I put a damp towel on top of the instant pot. When I was ready to serve, I carefully let out remaining steam by slowly turning the steam release valve on, mixed, and served.
I also made some Jade pearl rice. It is made in a 1 : 1 1/2 ratio over 20m. I like to add a vegan bouillon cube, but we're out. I put in a stainless Saladmaster pan a bit of red onion and sautéed with no added fat for 2 or 3m till somewhat clear, then added maybe a teaspoon of finely chopped ginger, stirred for a half minute, then added the rice and water (and, if I had it, I'd have added a vegan bouillon cube). I brought to a boil then simmered, covered, for 20m.


Dinner was nutritious and good. But the pressure cooking homogenized the flavors. In particular, the  eggplant, broccolini, and okra had little flavor. The beet and carrot were good. The seitan somehow had lost some flavor.

Dinner certainly was more than acceptable, but I think it could have been tastier. We added some hot sauce at the table, but that didn't help that much.

Ideas for the future

I should have added seitan at the end and just had it warmed and not cooked. If I really want to cook with so many vegetables, perhaps a better approach is to puree some or all and make a soup. Or I could cook the eggplant, broccolini, and okra a little bit less, not cook the seitan, and also add some finely chopped raw onion in just before serving.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Okra and Kale Stew with Madagascar Pink Rice and Corn-off-the-Cob with Sweet Onion (Almost No Added Fat)

My wife and daughter camped locally last night. I don't like camping, but joined them for a potluck dinner that they and other area vegetarian families put together, then came home to my more comfortable home :-) .

All of us like okra, but I don't cook with okra often. My wife brought some fresh okra home from the store, and I thought that I would use my Instant Pot to pressure cook it. The pot does much more than just pressure cooking and can also, for example, sauté - and it comes up to heat very quickly. One should be able to duplicate this recipe by sautéing in a stock pan and then cooking, covered, on low heat for probably 15m or so. This is what I did.

  • Half small or medium sweet (e.g., Vidalia - but yellow okay, too) onion cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 4 ounces tempeh cut into 3/8" cubes  3-4m medium sauté
  • 1/2 c marinara sauce
  • 1/2 c water
  • 30 spears okra (just over a half pound), halved lengthwise and tough ends removed
  • 1/8 c bell pepper
  • 6 baby carrots, cut into thirds lengthwise
  • 6 leaves kale (I used lacinato but any kind is okay), leaves roughly hand torn into approximately 1" squares with stems left for compost
  • App. 1/2 teaspoon lemon sage leaves
  • App. 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • App. 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • (Optional) Hot sauce to taste

  1. Into the Instant Pot, I put the onion and tempeh, then I turned the pot on in standard sauté (i.e., medium) mode.
  2. The pot heats up quickly; within a minute or minute and a half, I could hear the onion sizzling. I then stirred frequently for about 3-4 minutes till the onion was getting clear. The tempeh was starting to stick.
  3. I turned the pot off and put in the marinara sauce (2g fat per half cup - hence I list this recipe as "almost no added fat") and stirred, releasing any of the stuck tempeh.
  4. I added the water, okra, bell pepper, carrot, kale, lemon sage, salt, and pepper, and stirred.
  5. I closed the Instant Pot. Okra takes 2-3 minutes cooking time on high pressure; I set the pot to cook for 3m on high.
  6. When the pot was done, I turned it off. Ideally, I'd let it release pressure naturally over about 10-15m, but we were ready to eat after maybe 5 or 6m, so I slowly let a little pressure out intermittently with the release valve over a minute or so (I wanted to be sure not to suck any tomato sauce out of the valve; this has not at all been a problem for me) till the pot was depressurized and would allow the top to be removed.
  7. I stirred and served, adding some hot sauce at the table.
I also made Madagascar pink rice (1 part rice to 1 3/4 parts water simmered for 20m; I usually add a vegan bouillon cube, but we are out right now) and corn-off-the-cob. After I roasted two ears of corn on an open gas flame, I stripped the kernels and added juice of half a lime, a pinch of salt, and a bit (I used the rest of the onion, though I knew it was probably too much - 1/8 or 1/4 of a small sweet onion would be good, cut into a small 1/8" dice ideally) of onion.


Wow, the stew was very good! My wife felt that this was one of the best okra dishes that I have served. I quite enjoyed dinner. It's fun cooking under pressure - most of the time is just chopping and assembling ingredients, and the cook time itself is just a few minutes.

Ideas for the future

I should have added a bit of garlic, maybe 2 finely chopped cloves, when I added the okra and the other ingredients. A little jerk seasoning could work well, though I didn't want to go that route since I was also cooking for my spice-averse daughter. I wonder what this dish would be like with black, Great Northern, pinto, or other beans, with or without the tempeh.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Artichokes with Broccoli (waterless cooking), Tempeh with Spinach, Mixed Brown-Wild Rice (No Added Fat, Waterless Cooking)

Tonight, I had the idea of cooking artichokes, an interesting vegetable that we all love. I enjoy cooking whole baby artichokes (steaming, boiling, or sauteeing), steaming regular artichokes is fun but time consuming (to prepare and to eat), and I love prepared grilled ArtiHearts, but we only get them once in a while.

But I've never cooked them in a waterless way, putting them in a high quality pan like my Saladmaster stock pans with no added fats or liquids, closing the lid, and heating on medium till warm enough to cause a vapor seal to vibrate, then reducing the heat to low to keep the seal from vibrating and thus cooking the vegetables in their own juices at low temperature. Here is what I did.

  • 1/4 medium sweet onion cut into 1/4" cubes
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1 14 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts (in water, not marinated in oil)
  • App. 1/2 t rosemary leaves, halved
  • Pinches of salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 or 3 ounces of tempeh, chopped to 1/4" cubes
  • Medium shallot cut into small spears approx. 1/4" x 3/4"
  • App. 3 ounces baby spinach leaves, washed
  • App. 2T coconut aminos (or low sodium soy or tamari sauce)
  • App. a teaspoon of lemon sage leaves

  1. I put the artichokes, broccoli, and onion into a 1 quart Saladmaster stock pan, covered, and put the pot on medium. Within about 4 or 5 minutes, the pan's vapor seal began clicking, indicating that the vegetables were up to temperature. I then reduced the heat to low till the clicking stopped.
  2. I cooked for about 10 minutes at low, then turned the heat off.
  3. The artichoke hearts were softened; I mixed in the rosemary, salt, and pepper, and served.
While the artichokes were cooking, I prepared the tempeh in parallel, as well as the mixed wild and brown rice blend (1 part rice to 2 parts water [plus vegan bouillon cube, but I was out of the cubes, so omitted] cooked for 45m - I used my Zojirushi rice cooker). For the tempeh, I used a well seasoned cast iron pan with no added oil and did the following. 
  1. I heated the cast iron skillet on medium heat for half a minute or so, then added the tempeh, stirring occasionally for about 2 minutes.
  2. I added the shallot and cooked, stirring, another 2 or 3 minutes or so. The tempeh was starting to show a bit of browning, and the onion was clarifying.
  3. I added the spinach and stirred occasionally, cooking for another 4 minutes or so, until the spinach cooked down.
  4. The tempeh was now surprisingly browned with no added oil! This is something I've struggled a bit with, but maybe the secret is just this - using cast iron instead of stainless steel. True, the little bit of oil that I use to season the pan probably gets very slightly introduced to the food, but it's got to be a trivial amount. Almost magically, nothing stuck until the spinach was appropriately cooked down, then a little sticking began, but I turned the heat off to stop the sticking and cooking.
  5. I transferred the tempeh and spinach dish to a bowl, mixed in the coconut aminos, and kept warm in a toaster oven at low heat until ready to serve.
  6. I mixed in the lemon sage and served.


Wow, we all loved dinner. I was amazed at how good the artichoke hearts were. I don't usually like the taste of canned artichoke hearts so much, but this cooking technique teased a lot of flavor out of the hearts. The spinach is a natural combination with the tempeh, and the rice went well with everything.

Ideas for the future

I would love to experiment with other ingredients cooked waterlessly with canned artichoke hearts, such as maybe beet or carrot. Some separately prepared corn mixed in to artichoke prepared this way may be interesting.

My Instant Pot can prepare rice under pressure in much less time than other ways of making rice, but right now I am thinking that I'd like to keep my Zojirushi for brown rices that take more than 20-25m to cook. I want to soon make brown rice in the Instant Pot and see how it compares.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sauteed Herbed Tofu, Pasta (for my daughter and myself only)

My wife wasn't eating with us, so I decided to cook with tofu and make a simple meal for my daughter and me. I put just a little bit of oil (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) in a cast iron skillet and sauteed some herbed tofu with onion and bell pepper, and served topped with some tomatilla salsa. Pasta and local lettuce completed the meal.

The tofu was so good! I haven't cooked tofu like this in years - it's simple but so tasty. I wish that my wife could more easily digest tofu.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Baked Potato (pressure cooked), Massaged Kale with Smoky Tempeh (No Added Fat)

I know that baking potatoes is fast in a pressure cooker, and wanted to try cooking a regular sized Russet baking potato. Massaged kale is tasty, and I thought that I would make kale with smoky tempeh. Here is what I did.


  • Juice of half lemon
  • Head of kale, leaves roughly hand torn from the stems (stems composted) into approximately 1" squares
  • 1/8 small red onion cut into thin (approx. 1/4") half moon slices
  • Smoky tempeh, sautéed with no oil till warm and gently browned then cut into approx. 2" pieces
  • Approx. 1/4 t salt (to taste)
  • Approx. 1t hemp seeds
  1. Into a medium mixing bowl I put the lemon juice.
  2. Handful at a time, I took the kale squares, dipped in the lemon juice, and massaged in my two hands, squeezing for maybe 10 or 15 seconds till the leaves darken and compress.
  3. I mixed in the onion, tempeh, salt, and hemp seeds, and served.
I found several recipes online for using my pressure cooker for baked potatoes, each of which called for putting the potatoes raised up from the floor of the pot and onto a trivet. The one that I followed called for pressure cooking for 15m on high with 2 cups of water (still below the surface of the potatoes).  A steaming recipe calls for 1/2 cup of water and a 35m steam, and another steaming recipe calls for 2 cups of water and a 15m steam time.

When I put the scrubbed potatoes into the pressure cooker, I thought that I would experiment with what the kale stems and some garlic would be like. I normally compost kale stems or sometimes use them in a soup stock or with a sauté. My theory was that possibly the kale stems would be tasty when pressure cooked, and that garlic would roast and become a soft gel with much more nuanced flavor. I threw in the stems as well as a few cloves of garlic; I had cut the top 1/4" or so off the garlic but left the paper-like covering otherwise on.


Dinner was good! I quite liked the baked potato, though another minute of cooking would have been okay for a bit more doneness. The salad was very good. Massaging kale takes away bitterness,

The kale stalks were not very good - we just composted them. But the garlic - wow! Just like oven roasting, I squeezed the garlic easily out of the skin and served it atop the potato, though it could also have done well with the salad.

Ideas for the future

I have known about massaging kale for some time, especially through my friend and cookbook author Nava Atlas. It takes bitterness away and makes kale, already tasty, even more enjoyable. I demonstrated a massaged kale salad with seitan at my Whole Foods Market demonstration the day before yesterday (Monday May 19, 2014) but I don't massage kale often at home - I need to do this more regularly! I also love the easy way of roasting garlic that I now know, and hope to use this more commonly. I'd like to try out the other ways of cooking baked potatoes in the near future.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pressure Cooked Tangerine Seitan, Greek Potato Salad, Jade Pearl Rice (No Added Fat)

I have recently been thinking of preparing seitan in the pressure cooker, perhaps resulting in more strongly infused marinade flavors. Yesterday, I was a guest chef at the local Whole Foods Market and did a demonstration on seitan (I should post the 5-page handout that I created). There was chopped seitan leftover that they sent me home with, and I used it as a base for tonight's dinner. I was going to make brown rice noodles, but my daughter wanted the same Jade pearl rice that I prepared at my demo.

  • 3 cups seitan, chopped to about 1/2" cubes
  • 2T fennel root, chopped to 1/4" cubes
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 1/8 medium red onion cut into 1/4" half moons
  • Juice of one tangerine
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Half dozen basil leaves


  1. In the Instant Pot pot, mix the seitan, fennel, garlic, onion, and juice and let it marinate for at least an hour and preferably overnight.
  2. Uncovered but with the pot in the electric pressure cooker, turn the Instant Pot on in sauté mode and select "High" heat. The pot will come up to heat within 2 minutes or so.
  3. Saute on high for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally (start timing once steam escapes).
  4. Turn off the Instant Pot program.
  5. Add the water and basil, then program the Instant Pot for 3m at high pressure.
  6. When done, let the steam release naturally (allow about 10-15m), stir, and serve.
This recipe can, of course, be duplicated in other pressure cookers. If no built-in sautéing is possible, then just sauté in a separate pan before pressure cooking.

I would have liked to have added some jerk seasoning and ginger, but for my daughter's sake, just sprinkled jerk seasoning on top as I served. I also made Jade pearl rice (1 part rice to 1 1/2 parts water and a vegan bouillon cube, brought to a boil then simmered for 20m over low heat). I served a prepared salad that I purchased from Whole Foods, Greek potato salad (containing potato, sweet potato, cucumber, onion, kalamata olive, parsley, garlic, yeast, tahini (sesame seed and no additional oil), lemon juice, liquid aminos, vinegar, and oregano).


My wife really enjoyed dinner, as did my daughter. I thought that it was good, but should have tried to get the seitan more crisp. Perhaps I should have marinated the seitan in a separate bowl and reserved the marinade when I did the saute, adding it back in slowly as the seitan may stick to the pan. Also, a bit of crunch would have been welcome, such as chopped bell pepper added to the finished main dish before serving. The pressure cooking softened the seitan; I should experiment with how the seitan would do with a longer (say, 4 or 5m) pressure cooking time.

Ideas for the future

I would like to continue to experiment with pressure cooking seitan. It was a success today!

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Pasta with Vegan Sausage (for me only)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese with Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts (for Kiddo and Daddy only) (1820)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

French Lentils with Zucchini and Sweet Potato

I had very little time to prepare dinner tonight, so of course thought of my Instant Pot electronic cooker. Here is what I did.

  • About a cup of French lentils
  • A little over a cup of zucchini diced to 3/8" cubes
  • 2 small sweet potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2" cubes (I used one white and one purple sweet potato)
  • 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • Broccoli stalk (not florets) cut into 1/4" cubes - approx. 1  cup
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 12 basil leaves cut into 1/4" strips (chiffonade), reserving half
  • 2 1/2 cups boiling water (regular water could be used, but boiling shortened the time for the pressure cooker to come to heat)
  • Approx. 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  1. I put all the ingredients, except half the basil, into the pressure cooker. Though one reference I commonly use suggests 15-20m cooking time under pressure, I know that lentils can get too mushy and this seemed just too long a time - sure enough, Miss Vickie, well-known pressure cooker recipe author, has a table that made more sense, recommending 7 minutes.
  2. I covered the pressure cooker and set it to cook for 7 minutes under high pressure.
  3. I let the pressure cooker come down to temperature gradually, then gently let out remaining steam (I would have let it take its time - probably about 10m - but had a bit of a rush, so let it go just 5m). I mixed in the remaining basil and served, adding some hot sauce at the table.
I served this with a whole grain bread topped with tomato and basil, as well as some carrot.


My wife enjoyed the dish. I thought it was good but probably the least interesting meal that I've made in my Instant Pot, needing more flavor.
Ideas for the future

Some onion, ginger, and jalapeno would be good to enhance the flavor. The texture of the dish was too uniformly soft; I wonder if some eggplant would be good and maybe adding some fresh onion at the end.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Seitan with Broccoli, Zucchini, and Carrot served with Jade Pearl Rice and Chopped Salad (No Added Fat, Waterless Cooking)

Today, I decided to do some more waterless cooking with my Saladmaster 3 quart sauce pan. It's fun using the vapor valve; the basic idea is to preheat the pan, add ingredients and cover, and let moisture build up till the valve jiggles, then cook on lower heat.

I made a seitan and vegetables main course. It doesn't require a Saladmaster, and can be cooked in other quality pans without oil, but may need some liquid to prevent sticking - and the liquid would evaporate away some nutrients. Here is what I did.

  • Medium Vidalia or other sweet onion cut into 1/2" thick half moons
  • Broccoli florets cut from 2 heads - approximately 2 cups of florets
  • 3 large crimini mushrooms, sliced to 1/2"
  • 8 ounce package of cubed seitan
  • 1 carrot cut into 3/8" slices
  • 1/2 large zucchini, cut into 1/2" slices and then quartered
  • 4 large basil leaves, cut into 1/4" ribbons
  • 4 more large basil leaves, diced to 1/4" pieces
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
  • Salt to taste (start with 1/2 teaspoon)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste (try 1/4 teaspoon)
  • Last one
  • 1/2 t black sesame seed per serving

  1. Preheat a 3 quart Saladmaster sauce pan over medium-low heat, covered, for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add all the ingredients except the seitan, ginger, second set of basil leaves, and sesame seeds to the pan, cover, and increase heat to medium-high till the Saladmaster vapor valve starts to click (it took me about 5 minutes).
  3. Reduce the heat to a low simmer (the valve shouldn't click) and cook for about 20m.
  4. Turn the heat off, open the cover, add the seitan and ginger, and re-cover. The seitan doesn't need to cook but just be warmed.
  5. After at least five minutes when ready to serve, open the pan, mix in the second batch of basil, salt, and black pepper, and serve, sprinkling black sesame seed atop each serving.
I also made some creamy Jade pearl rice (1 part rice to 1 and a half parts broth [water and a vegan bouillon cube] simmered for 20m), adding a little red onion to the finished rice. A chopped salad completed the meal.


We enjoyed dinner! The vegetables tasted full with their own flavors. It's fun cooking waterlessly. We love Jade pearl rice, and the salad was good.

I might have enjoyed the seitan and broccoli a little crispy in texture. I think that cooking uncovered would have resulted in slight crispiness.

Ideas for the future

I had forgotten, but should have also added a little garlic at the beginning of the main dish. Ginger also would go well, but my daughter doesn't like ginger.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

20140511 Broccolini and Tempeh cooked waterlessly (No Added Fat) (1952)

I have been using my InstantPot almost daily to get to know it. I do love it, but I also love my premium Saladmaster cookware. In a sense, they are both healthful cookware but from somewhat different perspectives. As food is heated and liquids added, nutrients can leach out (that's why it's usually good to drink water that vegetables have cooked in). Pressure cookers go to high temperatures, but they are sealed so nutrients are generally maintained. Waterless cookware like Saladmaster creates a vapor seal between the lid and the pot, allowing low to medium heat cooking with no added fat like oil and minimal added liquids like water or broth to extract nutrients.

Several friends have been interested in the Saladmaster equipment, so yesterday I hosted a dinner party where a representative came to my house and made a vegan meal for us, showing off the pots. I was reminded that little liquid is needed, so I found and modified a broccoli and tempeh recipe that illustrates this. Here is my modified recipe.

  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup coconut aminos (or reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari)
  • 1t champagne (or other) vinegar
  • 3 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • 6 ounces (most of an 8 ounce package) of tempeh cut into 3/4" or so cubes
  • 1/2 cup red onion, diced to about 3/8" cubes
  • 1/4 bell pepper cut into about 3/8" cubes (I used green but wish that I had a red one for color)
  • Bunch broccolini florets (broccoli would have worked fine)

  1. I began preheating a small (1 quart) and a medium (3 quart) Saladmaster sauce pan on low-medium heat for about 3-5 minutes till water sprinkled atop dances across and then steams away. I have never preheated my Saladmaster pans before and it was nice to hear a sizzle when I added ingredients. This dish could be made in another good quality pan, preferably stainless steel.
  2. While the pans were warming, I made the marinade by mixing in the coconut aminos, vinegar, and garlic and added the tempeh cubes, gently mixing it all together to coat the tempeh.
  3. I added to the larger warmed pan the onion, bell pepper, and broccolini and kept the cover slightly ajar (I'm not sure why the recipe didn't call for covering the pot and then, when it reached temperature to jiggle its vapor valve, dropping from medium to low heat), occasionally removing to stir the vegetables. I cooked for about 12-15 minutes to evenly cook and gently brown - the vegetables cooked well and didn't stick to the pan.
  4. To the smaller pan I added the tempeh, leaving excess marinade behind. I shaked the pan and cooked the tempeh, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes, till evenly light brown. The tempeh did stick a little after a while; I added the bit of marinade left about a minute before turning the heat off, and that helped clean up a little. I soaked the pan and used the powder that the company provides to relatively easily clean up the pan.
  5. I mixed the tempeh into the vegetables and served.
I had also made some Madagascar pink rice and served leftover salad from yesterday's party.


The food was good! My wife really liked the tempeh dish and said that the vegetables indeed had a more full flavor. I really liked the tempeh itself and was pleased that I have finally found a way to get some reasonable browning to tempeh without adding fat. I liked the main dish but not as much as my wife did!

Ideas for the future

I would like to try this approach to cooking tempeh again, and maybe apply it to seitan. I'd not let the pan get stuck on again but would put small amounts of marinade or maybe broth next time as sticking begins. I am delighted with how easily the vegetables cooked without added liquid, but am guessing that the processed tempeh is probably more tightly holding on to its nutrients than the vegetables might be, so a little bit of cooking liquid for the tempeh is probably not an issue. Black sesame seeds would top this kind of a  main course well.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Early and Uncaptured Jade Pearl Rice with Fingerling Potatoes and Corn; First Attempt at Strawberry Jam underway

I don't have a picture of today's dinner because - well, did we have one dinner? My wife, daughter, and I went strawberry picking (and brought home about 18 pounds of 'Sweet Charlie' and half a pound of 'Early Glow' varieties) shortly after my wife finished working. I knew we'd be back late, so hurriedly put a dish together (thanks to the Instant Pot for enabling "fast food"!) that I served as a snack - but it ended up being my wife's dinner (I ate a bit more later).

All I did was put into the Instant Pot a bit (maybe 1/2 cup) of Jade pearl rice, a vegan bouillon cube, a half dozen fingerling potatoes cut into 3/4" or so lengths, and maybe 1/8 cup frozen corn kernels, and cooked in 6 minutes of high pressure. It was good! I served it on small plates with crackers and tomato slices.

I've never made jams or jellies, but have been thinking of giving strawberry jam a try in my pressure cooker. I found online a strawberry freezer jam recipe that looked good and which I used as a base for experimentation. I also found a low sugar freezer jam recipe and a strawberry and honey recipe that I could replicate with Bee Free Honee.

Here is what I am doing with the first recipe. I used a pint mason jar to measure. Into the Instant Pot bowl I put:
  • 3 pints hulled strawberries, with medium sized ones halved and large ones cut into maybe fifths
  • 1 1/8 (I was trying a ratio of 1 : 3/8, or a bit under half as much sugar by volume as strawberries) pints sugar (I had to go out to buy sugar as we don't typically have it in stock)
  • 1 tangerine, peeled and segmented, with segments cut into quarters
  • 1/2 t of finely diced ginger
  • About 5 mint leaves, roughly hand shredded
  • Maybe 3T of port
I mixed then used a potato masher to gently press the strawberry into a bit smaller pieces. I'm letting it all sit for about a day, and then, according to the recipe, I plan to:
  • Use the sauté feature (which I've not used yet) of the pressure cooker to bring the mixture to a boil for 3m, stirring frequently and avoiding splashes
  • Close the lid and cook under high pressure for 8m. It's important to realize that the jam could be sucked into the pressure release valve, so I will then give the pot ample time to come down in pressure to minimize that chance, which would require more careful cleanup.
  • Back in sauté mode, I will bring the mixture back to a boil for another 3m, stirring.
  • I'll turn the Instant Pot off and occasionally stir till the mixture comes to room temperature; setting will complete when the jam is well chilled in the refrigerator.
It should be good!

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Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Seitan and Rainbow Chard with Green Garlic, Steamed Purple Potato, Corn-off-the-Cob with Jerk Seasoning (No Added Fat)

My daughter and I visited the local farmer's market today and came home with a few items, including a huge (well over 4' tall!) green garlic stalk. My wife was out and I knew that it would be a while till she and I could eat and my daughter was hungry, so I made a simple dinner of red beans, arugula, baby bok choy, and whole wheat English muffin pizzas for my daughter. That allowed me to properly spice tonight's meal just for my wife and me.

I continue to be excited about the ease, versatility, and power of my new Instant Pot electronic cooker, and used it first to prepare a potato (I loved the fingerlings I prepared a few Tuesdays ago) and then make a main course with rainbow chard that I had purchased yesterday.

Chopped greens like chard take 3-6 minutes to cook in the Instant Pot under high pressure. I have been thinking of experimenting with pressure cooked seitan in and of itself, and will do that soon. For today, I thought it would nicely accompany the chard. Here is what I did.

  • 8 ounces seitan cut into roughly 1" x 1/2" strips
  • Bunch of rainbow chard, stems removed and cut into approximately 1/4" slices and leaves hand torn into roughly 1/2" squares
  • About a 4" length of green garlic, cut into 1/2" slices. If using regular garlic, try 1 or 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 1t ginger, finely diced
  • (Optional) 2t jalapeno, sliced into 1/4" pieces
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2T onion chopped to 1/4" cubes
  • 1/2 salt (or to taste)

  1. I put all the ingredients except the salt and onion into the Instant Pot. I had already made the potatoes (see below), but started with fresh water, and not the water that had steamed the potato (the water had discolored, as to be expected).
  2. I closed the pot and set it up to cook on high pressure for 6m.
  3. About 10m after the pot was done, I carefully let out the remaining pressure, opened the pot, mixed in the salt and onion, and served.
I also tried cooking a medium sized purple potato in the Instant Pot. I found a recipe that called for steaming 12-15m, but the potatoes were smaller than Russet potatoes, so I used an 11m steam time. I put 2 cups of water in the Instant Pot, put in the steamer insert, and put the washed potatoes on top of the steamer. I closed the pot, selected the steam mode, and dropped the time to 11m. The machine did a combination of steaming and pressure cooking; about 10m after it was done, I slowly released the steam and opened the pot.

I roasted two ears of corn on the flame of my gas burner, stripped the kernels, and added a little lemon juice and jerk seasoning. Cilantro flowers completed the presentation.


The potato was good, though it could have been a bit softer. My wife and I enjoyed it, but I'd add on another minute or two next time, and stick with the 12-15m range for medium or large potatoes. As for the corn, how could fresh corn not be good?

We enjoyed the main course! I was impressed with the texture and flavor of the whole dish. The seitan was softened, as I would expect it would be in pressure cooking. The dish could have used a bit more jalapeno and just a tad more fresh onion, and could have been even more nutritive by including perhaps another green like kale - but it was also just fine as is.

Ideas for the future

I definitely want to work with seitan in the pressure cooker, perhaps trying to come up with a version of one of my signature dishes, jerk seitan. It's so easy to integrate greens with the Instant Pot that I should continue to experiment with a variety of greens.


Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Brussels Sprouts with Black-Eyed Peas, Carrot, and Baby Golden Beet, served with Brown Rice Noodles and a Salad of Heirloom Tomato atop Baby Arugula, garnished with Cilantro Flowers (No Added Fat)

We are lucky to have a new organic vegan restaurant (all raw) opening just a few miles from our house, Cafe Love. There was a pre-opening dinner that we went to this past Friday, where they served chips and salsa, watermelon gazpacho, fennel and orange salad, portabello enchiladas, and dulce de leche torte with strawberries. The enchiladas were probably the best gourmet raw food dish that I ever had! They were served with cashew cheese, arugula flowers, an excellent mole sauce, and cashew sour cream. Yesterday, we went to their grand opening and came home with dinner, plus some cilantro flowers.

Today, I had a meeting but hated to miss cooking again. I decided to try the timer function of my Instant Pot, and set it up with a time delay so that I could serve dinner soon after returning home! Here is what I did, keeping in mind that Brussels sprouts take only 3-4 minutes to cook under high pressure - and that's uncut sprouts!

  • About a dozen and a half Brussels sprouts, cut into halves
  • One carrot cut into 1/2" slices
  • Baby beets cut into 3/4" cubes. I only had two small baby beets but would recommend using four medium sized ones. I have a preference for the golden beets, but either could be used.
  • Three scallions cut into 1/2" lengths
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • (Optional) 1t (or to taste) jalapeno pepper, cut into 1/4" cubes. I omitted this so that my daughter would eat the dish, but a bit of heat would, I think, enhance the dish.
  • 1 cup of water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Small whole beets normally take 11-13 minutes to cook under high pressure, but by cutting the beet to 3/4" cubes, I thought that I would more or less match the 4 minutes that I planned to have for cooking under high pressure. I put the steamer insert into the Instant Pot and put all the ingredients except for the Brussels sprouts, salt, and pepper into the pot, letting the ingredients mostly fall through the steamer.
  2. Because the Brussels sprouts were larger and recommended to cook on top of the steamer basket and not directly on the hot pot surface, I could now add them and they stayed off the bottom of the pot.
  3. I programmed the pot to cook under high pressure for 4 minutes.
  4. When it was done, I waited about 10 minutes till the pressure had slowly reduced and took the top of the pan off, then added the salt and pepper, stirred, and served.
I served the vegetables with brown rice noodles topped with black sesame seeds (good calcium source) and a little coconut aminos (soy sauce would also work). A salad of baby arugula and heirloom tomato garnished with cilantro flowers from Cafe Love completed the plate.


As usual, the Instant Pot really did a great job on the vegetables. Though they could have used a bit more spice, the main course was great, and dinner was enjoyed by all.

Ideas for the future

I would probably add a bit of hot pepper were I not cooking for a young child. The vegetables could have been a little more crisp; I might cook a similar dish again in 3 1/2 minutes. An optional sauce would be fun to try. Miso could be a base or, for an interesting sweet-savory combination, perhaps a raspberry or other fruit could be incorporated. But dinner was quite good with no changes required!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Kale, Sweet Potato, and French Lentils with Madagascar Pink Rice and Guacamole

For dinner tonight, I wanted to use up a head of fresh kale. I decided to use my Instant Pot and try making a kale - lentil - sweet potato dish. Here is what I did.

  • Three cups packed kale leaves, hand cut from the stems to about 1" in size
  • Two green onions cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups French lentils
  • Two medium sweet potatoes (I used one purple and one white) cut into 3/4" cubes
  • Vegan bouillon cube
  • 2 cups water

  1. Under high pressure, French lentils take 15-20m, kale takes 3-6m, and cubed sweet potato takes 7-9m to cook; I am still new to pressure cooking and am thinking that I should cook ingredients together that need about the same amount of time. But I thought I'd try cooking this combination of ingredients at the maximum time (15m for the lentils) and assume that the other ingredients would be fine, just soft. So I put all the ingredients in my Instant Pot, selected the manual program, and ran the pot on high for 15 minutes.
  2. I let the pressure slowly (about 10 minutes) come down, then opened the pot and served with Madagascar pink rice (1 : 1 2/3 or 1 : 1 3/4 rice to water ratio, cooked with a vegan bouillon cube for 20m) and some guacamole (avocado, Meyer lemon juice, rosemary, garlic, shallot, green onion, salt, and pepper).

I was correct that I should have better matched ingredients based on their time for cooking. The lentils were barely done (the chart that I used said 15-20m, but I'll try 16 or 17m next time), and the potatoes overdone; the other ingredients were fine being very soft.

The taste of the lentil dish was acceptable but not up to what I usually make.  The guacamole, as always, was very good, as was the rice.

Ideas for the future

I will be more careful putting ingredients together with similar cooking times in the pressure cooker.