Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Taste of Native American Cuisine

Last week, people sat down to Thanksgiving dinners that ranged from traditional to contemporary, feasting on foods that reflect early American cuisine. (As an aside, this is an interesting peek at a turn-of-the-19th-century menu, via the New Yorker and Mark Twain.)

Before there were thankful Pilgrims, there were Native Americans. At the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, you can get a taste of indigenous cuisine (or, more accurately, a modern interpretation thereof). Acclaimed Mitsitam Café is a radical departure from the typical museum cafeteria, featuring native foods of North and South America. As stated on its website, “Mitsitam” means “Let’s eat!” in the Native language of the Delaware and Piscataway peoples.

Bison with wild mushrooms, root vegetable salad, wild rice and cranberry crumble was tasty, hearty and satisfying.

To learn more, see the complete description, fall menu and cookbook on the café website.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hash Browned Potatoes!

I've discovered recently how incredibly fast and easy it is to make hash browns in a non-stick pan. Most of us think that cooking anything in the morning is too much work, when it's so easy to pour some cereal into a bowl. But the small amount of effort that goes into this is truly rewarded by a delicious, hot, crispy potato treat. And it's healthy too! You'll need a non-stick pan like the Fissler Protect pan, plus a box or flat grater and a nylon turner (don't use metal utensils on non-stick surfaces).

Easy hash browned potatoes

2 russet potatoes
1 Tbsp oil or butter
salt and pepper to taste

I start out by peeling the potatoes but you can make this with unpeeled potatoes too. Next step is to shred the potatoes against the shredder side of the box or flat grater.
Add oil or butter to the pan (or substitute a generous coat of cooking spray) and heat over medium high heat. Squeeze excess liquid out of shredded potatoes (discard liquid or save for soup) and spread potatoes over bottom of pan all the way to the outside edge. Thickness should be not more than half an inch. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. To ensure that the second side gets browned nicely you can spray the top with some cooking spray (remove pan briefly from heat when doing this) before flipping. After the first side has browned, in five to seven minutes, carefully flip the whole thing over using your nylon turner. You may have to do this in two sections. Cook for another five to seven minutes over medium heat. That's it: you're done. Great with a fried egg which you can cook at the same time in a second non-stick pan.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Pressure Cooker Soups for Winter Warmth!

Check out this article with three great soup recipes from our friends at http://www.hippressurecooking.com
The author provides five tips that will help you make soup quickly and successfully in a pressure cooker like the Fissler Blue Point.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day of the Dead Mole Poblano! In the Vitaquick pressure cooker!

Certain things came together recently, pushing me towards conquering one of the recipes that has always been one of the great culinary challenges: making mole poblano. The Mexican stew made with chocolate and chiles is infamous for having many tedious steps. But I was given a package of Kekua Mexican chocolate and a mole poblano recipe (this is the authentic Mexican chocolate used in cooking). And I heard Diana Kennedy (the "Julia Child of Mexican cuisine") interviewed on NPR recently about her new Oaxacan cookbook. And finally, I was also gifted with a bottle of Mar Azul chocolate flavored tequila. That wasn't going to go into the mole but I knew it would make a nice after-dinner drink following a mole poblano feast. On top of that, it's turkey season, the traditional main ingredient of mole poblano (though there may be more chiles than turkey in the dish). And finally, today is Dia de los Muertes, the Day of the Dead, celebrated in Mexico to remember the deceased, which seems like an appropriate time to prepare a feast food like Mole Poblano.

I took a few steps to make the preparation of my mole easier. The first was the use of a pressure cooker to cook the turkey. This cut the cooking time in half and kept the kitchen from getting hot and steamy. Since I'm the main Fissler Foodie I was able to get my hands on a preview model of the new Fissler Vitaquick pressure cooker that will be available in the U.S. in the spring of 2011. It's a deep pressure cooker with plenty of room for a big dish like turkey mole. Another shortcut was using store-bought roasted peanuts, so I didn't have to pan fry them. I also used canned, fire roasted tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes. The best thing I did to make the preparation of my mole easier was simply reminding myself of what I'd read on many websites and in a number of cookbooks: that every Mexican cook has his or her own recipe for mole. There is no exact list of ingredients that must go into mole poblano. If you follow this recipe and you can't find every type of chile, or you have nutmeg instead of cloves, or you use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, or you use pecans instead of peanuts, it will still be mole poblano. It will just be YOUR mole poblano instead of mine.
My mole turned out not to be as difficult as I thought it would be and I had a huge sense of accomplishment when it was done. It came out great!

Fissler Foodie Mole Poblano

2 turkey legs
2 turkey thighs
2 Tbsps olive oil or coconut oil
1 can crushed or whole tomatoes (14 ½ oz)
1 can (7 oz) chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 quart stock (chicken or vegetable)
6 dried mulato chiles
10 dried ancho chiles
8 dried pasilla chiles
1 cup brown sesame seeds
2 Tbsps coriander seeds or cumin seeds
1 cup raisins
1 cup peanuts or almonds
1 white dinner roll (French bread type) crushed
1 fried corn tortilla (a tostada) or a handful of tortilla chips (optional)
2 red bell peppers cut into one inch pieces
3 cloves garlic
½ cup coconut oil
1 tsp cinnamon powder
½ tsp cloves
½ to 1 tsp anise or fennel seeds or star anise
2 tablets Kekua chocolate, each broken into four pieces
¼ cup sucanat or brown sugar

1. Prepare your ingredients by slitting the chiles with a knife and removing and discarding seeds and stems.
2. Toast sesame seeds in a dry pan until very lightly browned. Add coriander and anise seeds (or substitutes) and continue stirring and toasting for a few more minutes until browned. Allow to cool (this can be done the day before). Process in food processor with S blade until finely ground. Set aside.
3. Process tomatoes and chipotle chiles in blender until smooth.
4. Heat oil in the pressure cooker over medium heat without lid. Brown the turkey pieces in the oil on all sides. Remove half the fat, then add tomato/chipotle mixture. Allow to simmer until reduced (about twenty minutes, while doing step 5).
5. Put one cup water into food processor with S blade.
Heat frypan with half of the coconut oil. Fry chiles in batches until lightly browned. After each batch throw fried chiles into food processor. When you have finished frying chiles, add the rest of the coconut oil to pan and fry raisins. Remove and add to food processor. Process until well ground up. At this point, add sesame seed/spice mixture to food processor. Continue processing. If your peanuts or almonds were roasted when you bought them, add them to the food processor. If they are raw, fry them in the oil until lightly browned, then add to processor and process. Fry crushed bread roll. Throw in remaining spices (cinnamon, cloves). The bread will absorb the oil in the pan. Add crushed bread to processor along with, tortilla, bell pepper and garlic cloves. Continue processing. Add water as needed to produce a smooth paste.
6. About twenty minutes into step 5 you should add the stock to the pressure cooker with the turkey and tomato mixture, bring to a boil, seal with pressure lid and bring to high pressure. Reduce heat and cook at high pressure for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and release pressure. Remove lid.
7. Turn heat back on and continue simmering. Add chocolate. Add half the mole. Allow to simmer and thicken. Balance flavor with sucanat/sugar and a little salt. At this point, taste and decide if you want to add the remainder of the mole, for a stronger, richer stew. If you decide not to add the remaining mole, put the rest in the freezer for future use. Continue simmering for another fifteen minutes or up to half an hour.
Serve with rice and/or tortillas and a salad. And for dessert; a glass of chilled Mar Azul chocolate tequila. If you can't wait until after dinner for a glass of this tequila, serve it as a cocktail on the rocks, mixed half and half with tequila reposada (aged tequila).