Thursday, December 29, 2011

Party Food for New Year's Eve and beyond, from Valerie Aikman-Smith's "Salt"

We all use salt in our cooking, but how often have you thought creatively about salt? Salt is more than just, well, salty. In the cookbook Salt: Cooking with the World's Favorite Seasoning, Valerie Aikman-Smith presents salt beyond the shaker, using unusual salts (like the sel gris and truffle salt called for below) in recipes that extend to cocktails and desserts as well as entrees and appetizers.

Valerie Aikman-Smith is a food stylist and writer based in Los Angeles. She trained in her native Scotland and started her cooking career working at Greens in San Francisco and the legendary Chez Panisse in Berkeley. Valerie then turned to food styling for film, television, commericials, and print. Valerie's talents mean that the photographs (by Jonathan Gregson) in this cookbook are as gorgeous as the recipes are delicious.

For the Fissler Foodies' New Year's Eve party we are planning to serve Valerie's Corsican Fried Olives and Gold Potato Crisps with Truffle Salt. For both of these recipes we will use the Fissler Pressure Pan Set, which comes with a deep fry basket, making it very easy to lift the crisps and olives out of the hot oil.

Corsican Fried Olives
Recipe courtesy of Valerie Aikman-Smith

This is a recipe that you end up sharing with all your friends because they are so divine. One bite: that’s all it takes. It’s fun to use both black and green olives.

40 pitted medium to large green and black olives
4 oz/115g goats cheese at room temperature
1 teaspoons herbes de Provence
Zest of 1 orange
1 egg
1 tablespoon of flour
1 cup/2oz/56g of panko or coarse breadcrumbs
2 cups/16fl oz/500ml of vegetable oil.
Sel de Gris to sprinkle

You will need a pastry bag with a small nozzle.
Deep frying thermometer

In a bowl mix together the goats cheese, herbs and orange zest until smooth.  Put the cheese mixture in the pastry bag and set aside.
Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl and set aside.  Put the flour on a small plate and the breadcrumbs on another.
Take the pastry bag and pipe each olive until full with the cheese mixture.
Dip each olive in the flour, then the egg and toss in the breadcrumbs until well coated.
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan until the oil reaches 350F/180C on a deep frying thermometer. If you don’t have a deep frying thermometer test the oil by dropping a breadcrumb in, it should turn golden brown in about 20 seconds.
Fry the olives in batches until crispy and golden brown about a minute.  Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle generously with the sel de gris and serve.

*Panko are coarse Japanese breadcrumbs but if you can’t find them use regular.

Gold potato crisps with truffle salt
Recipe by courtesy of Valerie Aikman-Smith

Potatoes, truffles and salt are a match made in heaven.  The real trick to this recipe is to slice the potatoes wafer thin: a mandolin is a good tool for this.  Use a gold potato like Yukon Gold or Yellow Finn.

6 small/1lb/500g Yukon Gold potatoes
Vegetable oil to fry
Truffle salt

Deep Fat fryer

Wash and dry the potatoes.
Thinly slice the potatoes and put to one side.
Heat the oil in the fryer until it reaches 350F/180C.
Fry the potato slices in batches.  Drain the potatoes on paper towels.
Place the drained potato crisps in a bowl and sprinkle with the truffle salt, toss and serve.

To test if the oil is hot enough, drop a breadcrumb into the oil and it should turn golden brown in about 20 seconds.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Turkey in Fissler’s Blue Point Pressure Cooker

Did you cook your Thanksgiving turkey in the oven? That’s what I did every year for a decade. This year, our oven was on the fritz and I was worried that the entire Thanksgiving dinner could be ruined if it failed in the middle of cooking. I have often heard that meat cooked in a pressure cooker is incredibly tender, so I decided to take a risk and make the turkey on the stove-top. Eventually, I made every dish on the stove and avoided the oven all together.

Turkey Recipe:

1 turkey

Scoops of stuffing to fill the cavity

4 cans chicken broth

The 12 lb turkey didn’t fit into my 6L Fissler Blue Point Pressure Cooker whole. No problem! I used my Fissler Profession Boning Knife to take off the sides from the leg through to the wing, and cooked the turkey in 2 batches.

I put the legs and wings into the Blue Point Pressure Cooker and added 2 cups of chicken broth. The lid of the Blue Point feels very secure, and as I swiveled the top on and locked it in place, I knew there was no danger of anything going wrong (exploding is my biggest fear!) On medium heat, I cooked the legs and wings for 40 minutes. While it was cooking, I made stuffing.

The Blue Point Pressure Cooker is surprisingly quiet while cooking. When I opened the lid, much of the liquid had been absorbed into the meat and it was incredibly tender.

I stuffed the cavity of the remaining half of the turkey with stuffing made from Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing with dried Bing Cherries and cranberries, almonds and cubes of Fuyu persimmons.

I placed that into the Blue Point Pressure Cooker, added 2 cans of chicken stock and brushed the top with butter.

I cooked it on medium heat for 45 minutes. After taking the turkey (minus legs and wings) out, there were enough drippings in the pan to add to the Pumpkin Sage Gravy. The turkey was deep honey brown and looked great! I was surprised that pressure cooking a turkey added as much color as it did. Besides being in pieces, it looked and smelled like a turkey right out of the oven! With a smaller turkey, whole chicken, or if I had used the 8L Blue Point Pressure Cooker (mine is 6L), I could have cooked it all at once.

The stuffing inside the turkey was much moister and more delicious than the rest of the stuffing. Next time, I might just cook all the stuffing in with the turkey. I used the turkey drippings to make Pumpkin Sage Gravy (it's incredibly delicious!) Here's what the drippings looked like:Add Image

The meal was a huge success! Two out of Five diners said it was the best Thanksgiving dinner they have had and we all agreed that it was the best turkey I have ever cooked.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Julia Child's Braised Red Cabbage!

It's the time of year for hearty winter vegetables, especially those in the cabbage family. Red cabbage is a favorite of mine, but the traditional method, like the one in Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking", calls for five hours of cooking time. I just don't have that kind of time so I figured that this recipe was a perfect candidate for converting to the speedy pressure cooker. Plus, here in Southern California, it doesn't really get very cold, so heating up the kitchen for five hours is more stifling than cozy. I also cut back the calories from the original recipe by leaving out the bacon but if you want to leave it in, go here for the instructions from the original recipe. Here's my pressure cooked revision of Chou Rouge a la Limousine (Braised Red Cabbage with Red Wine and Chestnuts).

1 carrot thinly sliced
1 medium onion sliced
2 T butter
1 medium head red cabbage, quartered and thinly sliced
1 tart apple cubed
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 bay leaves
6 cloves
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups red wine (as Julia says, "good, young red wine: Bordeaux, Macon, Chianti)
2 cups stock (you can use any type: veggie, chicken, beef)
approximately a dozen peeled, cooked chestnuts cut in half or quarters (You may be able to find these canned or jarred)

Using a pressure cooker without the lid, saute the onions and carrots in butter for about ten minutes on medium heat. Add cabbage and continue stirring and cooking for ten minutes. Add everything but the chestnuts and bring to a simmer (this is the step shown in the photo). Place pressure lid on and bring to high pressure. Lower heat but maintain high pressure. Cook for one hour. Release pressure. Add chestnuts, simmer for five to ten minutes. Check flavor and add more salt to taste. If you feel it needs a touch more acidity add a few tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Great with sausages, turkey, mashed potatoes or any old-fashioned winter meals.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pumpkin and Meat Stew Recipe cooked in the Pressure Cooker

This is a delicious recipe that I found on Fissler's International newsletter. There's nothing better than savory pumpkin dishes when the season is right. They are hearty, inexpensive, so satisfying and the color is gorgeous!

You can make this in any Fissler Blue Point Pressure Cooker and adjust the recipe to fit the size of your pot. This recipe fits great in my 6.0 L / 6.4 qt pot. The Blue Point Pressure cookers are perfect for making soft, melt-in-your-mouth pumpkin dishes- perfect for the harvest season!

1 Hokkaido squash, ie medium-sized pumpkin (1–1.2 kg/2–21/2 lb)
1 tbsp peanut oil, 250 g
9 oz minced pork
1 tsp salt, 5 tbsp soy sauce
8 tbsp sweet rice wine (mirin)
200 ml/7 fl oz water
1 tbsp cornflour
1–2 tbsp water

Preparation time: 45 min

Cut the squash in half and cut off the stalk. Remove the filaments and seeds, rinse and pat dry. Cut the squash into 3–4 cm/11/4–11/2 in chunks.

Heat the peanut oil in the pressure cooker, add the minced pork and fry while stirring to prevent it from sticking together. Add the chunks of squash and fry briefly. Season with salt, soy sauce and rice wine, then add the water.

Close the pressure cooker, following the instructions. Bring pressure up to cooking level 2 (speed setting) and heat the pan over high heat. As soon as the second ring appears, start the cooking time of about 5 minutes.

Depressurise, following the instructions, and remove the lid.

Mix together the cornflour and water and add to the squash and minced pork mixture to thicken it. Season to taste with a little salt.

The Japanese rice wine (mirin) is only used as a seasoning while cooking. On the other hand, warm sake is drunk to accompany the food.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Veggie Queen's e-cookbook Guides You on Your Path to Quick Pressure Cooked meals!

If you are still on the fence about the value of a pressure cooker, invest $12.95 in Jill Nussinow’s e-cookbook, The New FastFood™: The Veggie Queen™ Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in Less than 30Minutes. Jill, a registered dietitian, known as The Veggie Queen™ presents all the information you need to help you select a pressure cooker (size, pressure settings, lock top), the advantages of pressure cooking (speed, ease, energy savings, taste, nutrition) and of course, dozens and dozens of delicious recipes.

I was especially pleased to find instructions on pressure cooking some unusual grains such as the Ethiopian grain teff and Italian farro. I think my favorite section though, is the dessert chapter. The pressure cooker is usually not the first kitchen tool you think of for dessert, but you would be amazed at the sweet treats that it can produce. Jill includes ten dessert recipes that are totally satisfying yet super healthy because of the grains and fruits that are their foundation.

There are some intriguing ideas presented here on why pressure cookers are more popular in Europe and why some of the best pressure cookers are manufactured there. Jill presents the theory that the availability of fast food and processed foods in the U.S. made the speed of pressure cooking less necessary. Europeans, without those “conveniences” took to pressure cooking more readily, to solve the problem of getting meals on the table quickly. And because pressure cooking was always more popular there, European cookers were manufactured to higher standards, with better materials (steel instead of aluminum) and with more innovations (spring valves instead of “jigglers” to release pressure). German pressure cookers by Fissler, such as Fissler’s Blue Point, are a good example.

So, visit Jill’s website (where you will find some preview recipes) and get a copy of The New Fast Food™ and then find the right pressure cooker from Fissler!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Is time spent in the kitchen, hard on your feet and legs? WellnessMats to the rescue!

The Fissler Foodies spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Not because we have to, but because we love to. We cook to live and we live to cook. Sometimes we pull out the portable CookStar Induction Pro and cook with friends at the dining table. But even that means prep time standing on the hard kitchen floor. When we were given a WellnessMat recently we wondered why we hadn't thought of getting one before. WellnessMats are polyurethane mats that are medically proven to promote proper circulation and reduce fatigue. 
We are kind of into the technical side of things, so we rather enjoyed reading this explanation of why WellnessMats work the way they do: "WellnessMats feature a remarkably elastomeric and resilient core, that offers 50% more cushioning than other mats in the category, making them dramatically different from other anti-fatigue mats on the market today. Advanced Polyurethane Technology (APT) allows WellnessMats cushiony core to permanently bond with the abrasion, stain, and microbial resistant outer layer.  Called cross-linking, the polyurethane molecules permanently bond through a process called thermosetting.  What that means is that the mats will never delaminate and that the unmatched comfort and longevity of all WellnessMats are permanently locked into every fiber." 
Okay, thank you WellnessMats for the high tech details. What we can tell you from personal experience is that our legs and feet immediately felt better when we were standing at the counter or washing dishes. Sometimes we even walk through the kitchen just to stand on it!
You can get your own Wellness Mat through Williams Sonoma, Frontgate, Chefs and hundreds of specialty retailers across the country, as well as at the WellnessMats site. They come in different sizes, colors and surface patterns to match your kitchen and your cookware.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Real Madrid celebrates Spain in Los Angeles with chef Jose Andres at SLS Hotel!

One of the perks of being a Fissler Foodie in Los Angeles is getting invited to fancy foodie events. Yes, it can be hard to tear us away from our own kitchens, but when it involves a special appearance by the world champion soccer team and food from one of the best chefs on the planet, we’re willing to put away the pressure cooker for a night. On Monday we attended a fantastic party at the SLS hotel given by The Spanish Tourist Office to celebrate Spain and particularly the capital, Madrid. MC Drew Carey introduced the guests of honor; the incredible athletes of Real Madrid, winners of the 2010 Soccer World Cup. Team members, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Iker Casillas, and Karim Benzema mingled with athletic icons from other sports, like Laird Hamilton and Gabrielle Reece, Lindsey Berg, Kim Glass, Kenneth Faried and Jeff Adrien. And it wouldn’t be a party in LA without Hollywood film stars like Gabrielle Union, Camilla Belle, Olivier Martinez, Jessie Williams and Scotty Granger who were joined by Spanish counterparts including Paz Vega, Jordi Molla and Elsa Pataky. You can see a sweet video of Real Madrid players talking about what they love about the home city of their team at: and at 1:05 they start to talk about Spanish food, especially tapas! So, of course, tapas was the food we celebrated with that night. Jose Andres, the James Beard award winning Spanish chef of Bazaar, the restaurant at the SLS hotel, created an incredible array of tapas, from foie gras cotton candy, manchego cheese, gazpacho, jamón con tomate, tortilla española, huge pans of paella and luscious apricot flan and chocolate lace lollipops for dessert. If you want to create tapas at home check out one of Jose Andres’ cookbooks. He has written several cookbooks including the companion to the PBS series, Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen and Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America. We ended the night with a glass of cava (the Spanish bubbly) and a toast to Spain for its fabulous food and a culture that celebrates the pleasure in life.

Photos courtesy of Thomas Raab Photography.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Mushroom Gravy using a juicer and pressure cooker!

I was in Colorado last week and it the weather was unbelieveable. Generally the Front Range area gets very dry summers, but for some reason this summer was riddled with monsoon storms every afternoon! The rains brought out mushrooms in abundance. If you have been following this blog you will see that I love mushrooms and look for them wherever I go. Driving down Nevada Ave in Colorado Springs, there were clusters of some form of Agaricus lining the median so I stopped off and gathered them by the armloads! It turns out they are “salt-loving” Agaricus Bernardii and grow along the roadside because of the salt they use to melt the snow. The grocery-store Button mushrooms are also a form Agaricus, but these are about 3-10 times the size, largely mature underground and have a brownish-grey cap that is often cracked-looking. Please don’t use my descriptions as your only form of identification. Mushrooms can cause severe gastrointestinal distress or even death, so please do your own thorough research before eating anything.

That being said, Agaricus Bernardii are not only safe to eat but delicious! They have a fantastic perfume-y rather than earthy scent. The only problem is that there was too little time to eat them all! Before serving to friends and family, I always eat a small quantity of a new mushroom first, wait, eat a larger quantity and only after my stomach feels fine will I offer them to others. I cleaned them thoroughly using my Skrub’a Veggie Gloves and after the first 2 full meals there was still a pound of stunningly gorgeous mushrooms left over. How to save them? Dry them? Sautee and freeze them? Neither of these normal preservation techniques is highly recommended for Agaricus in general, so I had to be creative. I know…Mushroom Gravy!

Here are the ingredients:

1 pound Agaricus Bernardii mushrooms

1/3 cup dried Morel mushrooms

3 T fresh Thyme

1 t fresh Rosemary

2 t chili powder

2/3 cup onion

2 T Safflower oil

¼ cup butter

¼ cup white flour

9 cloves garlic

3 cups chicken stock

Salt and black pepper to taste


I had some dried Morels, so first off I reconstituted them using hot water. I also kept the cup of mushroomy-water to use later.

Using my Hurom Slow Juicer I juiced all the mushrooms and the onion and even the herbs, as you can see in the photo below. It’s really so much more than just a juicer! Juicing allows the mushrooms to be pulverized (I added both the juice and the pulp) so that the gravy remained textured yet smooth.

Until now I had never used a pressure cooker. Honestly, they scared me a little! But I felt safe to use my Fissler Blue Point Pressure Cooker because for one it’s quiet (like the Hurom Slow Juicer!). Also it has safety valves that allow steam to escape instead of causing the pot to explode. And Fissler makes it so easy to use that I was actually excited to try it. I had heard great things about pressure cookers cutting cooking times down significantly and because mushrooms are very difficult to over cook, this seemed like a great recipe to experiment with.


On medium heat, I made a roux in the open-top pressure cooker using the Safflower oil, butter and white flour (heating the oil then slowly adding in the flour so that it doesn’t get lumpy). Then I added garlic and browned it. After that I added in all the chicken stock, mushroom and onion juice and all the pulp. I stirred it up, closed the lid and let it go.

I shook the pot once in a while to keep it from sticking to the bottom. After 5 minutes I turned down the heat to low and let it cook for another 5 minutes. I took it off the heat, allowed the steam to escape and waited until the Fissler Blue Point Pressure Cooker unlocked, letting me know that it was safe to take the top off. It’s really a great feature that it doesn’t allow me to open the top until it had cooled down enough.

The mushroom gravy tasted savory and delicious. We will use it on steak tonight! And the rest I can freeze and the mushrooms will be preserved with all their juices and flavors intact.

If you end up with a bumper crop of mushrooms, I highly recommend making gravy in your Blue Point Pressure Cooker. It was so easy to use: I put everything in and instead of standing over the pot stirring, I had the freedom to clean the entire kitchen while it cooked, saving time and energy. I can't wait to use it again!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hurom Slow Juicer

I can’t tell you how thrilled I am with the Hurom Slow Juicer. I literally have 4 other juicers in my cabinets right now: one vintage aluminum citrus press, one electric rotating citrus juicer, one super heavy duty Champion Wheatgrass juicer, and one Breville Juice Fountain. I actually adore the vintage aluminum citrus press, even though it takes a lot of arm strength when I am squeezing lots of lemons. If friends come over, they might chose to use the electric citrus juicer, but it’s too slow and awkward for my taste. The Champion was my Mom’s and I don’t think she has taken it out of the cabinet for over a decade- it’s just too heavy! The Breville came in handy before I really got serious about juicing, but it was always a mess to clean and left me with a glass of only half juice with a thick foamy layer over the top.

I’m proud to say that I have entered the new millennium of juicing. The Hurom Slow Juicer is the first of its kind: an upright masticating juicer. It presses the juice from the produce (like a mortar and pestle) rather that using centrifugal force to spin and chop the produce into minuscule pieces and then separate the juice from the pulp. You can see in the Demo Video how different it is from the typical high-speed juicer.

So here’s why I like it so much better. Firstly, it’s quiet. It’s kind of embarrassing to admit but I have always been scared by loud appliances (like vacuums for instance). It really does make a difference by lowering my state of agitation. Secondly, I don’t end up with a glass full of foam! I get well-integrated whole juice that looks and tastes better. Thirdly, it’s much easier to disassemble and clean than my Breville. And lastly, I can make any kind of juice- including citrus juices!

You may have inferred that I like my citrus juices (since I have 2 citrus juicers). The reason I have to have separate citrus juicers is that the Breville, or any similar centrifugal-force juicers, can’t juice citrus. Well, I guess it could, but you end up with chopped up bits of seeds making the juice very bitter. As long as you peel the citrus, the Hurom Slow Juicer is a whiz!

I haven’t tried it yet, but it can also make nut and soy milks, so for anyone who is lactose intolerant, this would be a huge benefit. And this is super cool: you can then take that natural soy milk and press it through a cheese-cloth to make tofu! How cool is that? The Hurom Slow Juicer is really like a multi-use kitchen appliance for making sauces, ketchup, marinates and whatever else you think of. I just made a marinade for baked tofu using primarily soy sauce and sesame oil, but for added flavor I juiced some ginger and onions, and for a gorgeous color I added fresh beet juice.

One of my most stunning discoveries is that the Hurom Slow Juicer can juice pulpy fruits like papaya and strawberries. The old Breville would make a total mess of papaya and it would gum up the juicer so much that it was a nightmare to clean. Also I could tell that it wasn’t really working because the pulp was so watery that very little juice was actually produced. Now with my Slow Juicer I can drink all the healthy digestive enzymes that a papaya has to offer.

This brings me to the next point that I really should have included in the why I like it so much. It’s not as tangible as my other points but it’s pretty significant. The Slow Juicer is so named because it uses far fewer RPMs than the Breville-style juicers. That means you save energy. Also, the produce doesn’t become heated (and thereby pasteurized) which kills important healthy enzymes. In nutritional tests, the Slow Juicer was statistically significantly higher in vitamins A and C. This also means that it’s the best juicer for raw foodists.

I’ll have to blog about my baked tofu once it’s actually baked (it is marinating overnight right now), but I would like to finish with a few of my all-time favorite healthy juice recipes:

1. Equal parts carrot and papaya (it’s really that simple and delicious!) In the photo I added beet juice to give it a lovely color.


½ lb carrots

1 large Fuji apple

About ¼ cup beets for color

1 Tbs ginger


1 Fuji apple

6 strawberries (you can leave the green top on!)

Whatever greens you have in the garden in about the same quantities as the strawberries

1 small peeled lemon


¼ fennel bulb

1 Fuji apple

¼ lb carrots


2 Meyer’s lemons (peeled)

2 Tbs agave syrup

2 oz Crown Royal whiskey

Serve over ice

…ok, maybe it’s not the most healthy recipe but what a great use of citrus!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Free Pressure Cooking Events in Downtown Seattle on Saturday, June 18th!

Hey Seattle Foodies! Learn from pressure cooking expert Laura Pazzaglia of as she prepares four fabulous recipes in Fissler BluePoint pressure cookers on June 18th in Seattle. Events will be held at the headquarters of the popular cooking website Two sessions will be offered, at 12:00 noon until 2:00pm and 3:00pm until 5:00pm on Saturday, June 18th. Events are free and open to the public but preregistration is requested by contacting Kerry at City Kitchens at by Friday the 17th. Attendees will meet at City Kitchensgourmet cookware store at 1527 4th Ave, Seattle, WA 98101, which is adjacent to the headquarters of All event attendees will be eligible for a special discount at City Kitchens.  

Laura will demonstrate the following recipes, using Fissler Blue Point pressure cookers. The Fissler Blue Point, available in six sizes, provides incredible cooking versatility for a wide range of cooking applications, while ensuring total safety:
Caramelized Apple Crumb Cake:
Ligurian Lemon Chicken 
Prosciutto Asparagus Canes
Zucchini cups on Tomato Bed

About Laura Pazzaglia and
Laura Pazzaglia, comes from a career of directing technology projects at large software and new-media companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. Five years ago she chose to stay home with her newborn and eventually moved to Austria where she discovered pressure cooking, and then Italy where she now resides.
When she couldn't find the recipes she wanted to cook she started to develop her own. Her website,, is a campaign for fast, modern, healthy, energy-efficient recipes. With clear directions and vivid step-by-step photos takes the fear out of pressure cooking and injects it with inspiration.
Laura’s personal goal is to get those who are just cooking, pressure cooking!

Allrecipes, the world’s largest social network of food and entertaining enthusiasts, receives more than 35 million annual unique visits from users who share and download recipes, reviews, photos, personal profiles, and meal ideas.
For more than 10 years, the Seattle-based site has served as a dynamic, indispensable resource for cooks of all skill levels seeking trusted recipes, entertaining ideas, everyday and holiday meal solutions, practical cooking tips and food advice. As the fastest-growing independent food Internet site, and part of the Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. Food & Entertaining Division, Allrecipes provides insights into the kitchens and cooking passions of home cooks everywhere. For additional information regarding Allrecipes, please visit 

About City Kitchens:
City Kitchens is known as the “one-of-a-kind store for cooks, since 1988”. It is one of the finest independent cookware retailers in the country, featuring the very best housewares, kitchen gadgets and cooking tools in a beautiful store in the heart of downtown Seattle. Visit for more information.

About Fissler cookware:
Fissler is Germany’s finest manufacturer of quality cookware, with a specialization in pressure cookers since the turn-of-the-century. A constant innovator in the field, Fissler’s expertise in pressure cookers has led to the Fissler Blue Point line which contains the safest and easiest to use pressure cookers on the market. For more about Fissler, visit

Monday, May 9, 2011

Morels in a Balsamic reduction with aged Gouda over Tricolor Israeli Couscous

I love mushrooms. I love gathering them, cleaning them, cooking them and most of all, eating them. I just returned to California after a week in Ohio. The last day there, I found myself with a free afternoon in the Columbus Area. Everyone kept telling me that there was a bumper crop of Morels in the area due to tons of rain. Morels are the king of mushrooms. They are the easiest to identify and one of the most delicious varieties that I’ve ever found with a nutty flavor and a meaty texture. Wild horses couldn’t hold me back! I headed off to the woods and after 2 hours of searching in the rain, through muddy bogs, encountering barking dogs, near fallen logs, (the rhyming there was totally unintentional ;-)) I ended up with about 3 pounds of gorgeous Yellow Morels.
After a thorough cleaning I pulled some ingredients together to make a meal. The result was sauteed Morels in a Balsamic reduction with aged Gouda over Tricolor Israeli Couscous.

  • Couscous:
  • 1¼ cup water
  • 1 cup Tricolor Israeli Couscous
  • 1 Tsb butter
Using my Fissler Solea pot I brought the water to a boil. Then I added the Tricolor Israeli Couscous butter and salt. I cooked for 8 minutes stirring occasionally. 
Then I got started on the Morels.

  • 6 Tbs butter3 cups Yellow Morels cleaned and broken into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup red
  • wine
  • 2 Tbs Vanilla Fig Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Shredded aged Gouda cheese
I melted the butter in the Fissler Solea pot then added the garlic and the mushrooms. After the mushrooms had cooked for about 4 minutes, I added the wine and the Balsamic. The mushrooms cooked for another 10 minutes, while the liquid in the pot reduced down. One great thing about mushrooms is that you can’t cook them for too long! They don’t dry out like meat does with over-cooking, nor do they fall apart over time. However, like many other varieties of mushrooms Morels are poisonous raw so cooking thoroughly is important.
I love using the Solea pot because the clear lid lets you see how cooking is progressing and it is convex so it drains the condensation back into the pot. If you want to reduce the liquid and make the sauce more condensed you can set the lid upright on the edge of the pot to allow steam to escape. I kept the lid upright for part of the time to allow some reduction to occur.

When the sauce had cooked down, I scooped the mushrooms out and laid them over the couscous then topped it with grated aged Gouda cheese.
They were delicious!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

24 Hour Restaurant Battle with Scarpetta's Scott Conant!

The Fissler Foodies visited chef Scott Conant’s Scarpetta Beverly Hills, at the gorgeous Montage hotel, for a viewing party for season two of Scott’s Food Network show 24 Hour Restaurant Battle. We had a live split-screen experience with Scott the restaurant host in his incredible Scarpetta open kitchen and Scott the TV host on the big screen. 24 Hour Restaurant Battle pits two teams of aspiring restaurateurs whose challenge is to create a menu and a restaurant from scratch in 24 hours. Because they are competing, the contestants produce some pretty interesting dishes, walking a fine line between daring, and occasionally questionable ingredient choices, and tried and true crowd pleasers. The best recipes get posted at the Food Network site, so you can try them at home. Scott’s got some of his own recipes at his site. Our favorite taste at the viewing party was Scott’s steak tartare on house-made potato chips. We thought of making it at home, but we may just go back to Scarpetta for that!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Classic Tortilla Espanola for a not-so-El Clasico

Like a lot of things in life, the excitement and anticipation that preceded the four “El Clasico” soccer games between Barcelona and Real Madrid that were scheduled over a three week period gave way to… exasperated resignation, I guess. Maybe it’s my fault as a fan for expecting a glorious soccer display between two of the most talented teams in the word, and not realizing that a grudge match in which a battle of will was more important than the on-field product, was inevitable. As they say, familiarity breeds contempt, and the matches were less about a display of skill and more about, well, contempt.
And so I settled into my couch on Wednesday to watch the first leg of Barcelona and Real Madrid’s match up in the UEFA Cup semifinals with high hopes for a match that finally carried importance between the two rivals. Their second match of the season ended in a chippy draw that didn’t have too much significance outside of pride, since Barcelona pretty much locked the La Liga title, and their third meeting in the Copa del Rey final saw Real Madrid finally overcome a Barcelona side that was just indifferent enough to start their backup goalkeeper. That didn’t stop Real Madrid players and fans from celebrating for all it’s worth. But Wednesday's UEFA semifinal was the most meaningful since their first meeting in January, a 5-0 destruction of Real Madrid that was simply breathtaking. Even my brother, who’s not much of a soccer fan and was forced to watch with me, was amazed by the display of soccer beauty. “That is one of the best teams I’ve ever seen in any sport” he said of Barcelona.
So yes, I was excited for Wednesday's match as it would guarantee the full motivation of both Barcelona and Real Madrid (despite some injuries that removed some stars like Iniesta and Ricardo Carvalho from the equation). I hoped that maybe Barcelona would forge another piece of artwork to their already exhalted reputation (though I won’t call them the greatest team of all time as some have said). Or I was hoping that maybe Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho, aka the “Special One”, who enhanced his already inflated reputation/ego by stopping Barcelona last year in the UEFA Championship with Inter Milan, can once again prove wily enough to solve this year’s Blaugrana with the ingenuity and overwhelming talent of the Galacticos at his disposal.
Instead, we got a rather dull display in the first half where Real Madrid predictably let Barcelona keep the ball and do as they pleased in the back half of the field. Barcelona never really mounted a great attack outside of a couple of shots, both out of taxing patience and because Real Madrid’s five defenders did a great job choking off attacks. So what excitement that actually happened came in the second half in the form of a high-leg tackle by Pepe which led to a red card, Mourinho being escorted to the stands after a vigorous protest, and finally, toward the end, a pair of goals by Lionel Messi. I guess you can count the protests and conspiracy theories from Real Madrid afterward as excitement too (complete with an opinion from no less than MLS hopeful Chad Ochocinco). Outside of the second goal, none of it was exactly artful. But this match was fitting in a rivalry that was mostly about Real Madrid’s willingness to slow the game to a crawl, Barcelona responding to that strategy by um, whining, flopping galore, and even more whining after matches from both sides. I blocked out 3 hours in the middle of the day and even preparied a Spanish-style meal to watch yesterday’s game. I probably won’t be as excited for the last “El Clasico” of the year. Although the probable match up between Barcelona and Manchester United in the UEFA Cup Finals should be EPIC.
But yes, I went through the trouble of making a Tortilla Espanola to get myself in the spirit of Spanish soccer and “El Clasico.” The soccer might not have been that great, but the food was tasty, at least.
I should note that the Fissler 12" non-stick Protect frypan will make a HUGE tortilla, since most recipes are for a 9" pan. The quantities in this recipe are larger to reflect the larger size. The only trick is finding a dinner plate large enough to easily invert a 12" tortilla.
Tortilla Espanola
8 large eggs
4-5 russet potatoes
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
2-3 cups of olive oil
white pepper
3 sprigs thyme
1. Peel potatoes, cut in half lengthwise, and cut into 1/8” thick slices and dice onions into medium-sized chunks. Combine the two and salt for seasoning.
2. Heat about a cup of olive oil and garlic on medium-high. When the heat is hot enough for a piece of potato to sizzle in the oil, add potatoes and onions. There should be just enough oil to cover most of the vegetables. Be sure to adjust the flame so the potatoes don’t brown. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and reserve.
3. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and add salt, pepper and thyme. Whisk to combine.
4. Fold the potato-and-onion mixture into the eggs.
5. Heat the Fissler 12" non-stick pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil, just enough to coat the surface, over medium heat.
6. Pour the egg-and-potato mixture into the pan and level out with a spatula.
7. When the edges start to set, run a spatula around so some of the uncooked egg gets released to the side.
8. When the tortilla is set at the edges, shake the pan to make sure it’s loose and not sticking to the pan.
9. Get a dinner plate and place over the tortilla (use an oven mitt as the plate will be hot). Flip the pan upside-down so the plate is now on the bottom and the tortilla rests on it, and quickly slide the inverted tortilla back in the pan.
10. Cook until the tortilla is cooked through, about 3 more minutes.
I also tried Ferran Adria’s short-cut version of the tortilla, where potato chips are substituted for actual potatoes. It cuts the cooking time to just 15-20 minutes. since you don’t have to peel and cook potatoes. This does leads to a spongier and thinner tortilla, but it’s tasty in its own way and infinitely more convenient to prepare. Just crush 5-6 oz. of potato chips and soak in the egg mixture for about 5 minutes before adding other ingredients (I added piquillo peppers and ham). Then you cook it like a normal tortilla.

This is a traditional Spanish side salad that pairs well with the tortilla.
Membrillo salad
6 oz. arugula
marcona almonds
manchego cheese
1 tbsp. membrillo, or quince paste
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
olive oil
white pepper
1. Soften the quince paste in the microwave for 30 seconds.
2. Combine vinegar, salt and pepper with quince paste.
3. Slowly whisk in olive oil until you get a dressing. It should take about 2 parts olive oil to 1 part fig paste. Season to taste.
4. Pour just enough dressing over the arugula and almonds to coat, and toss with tongs.
5. Shave cheese over the salad.
Leftover tortillas are often used for bocadillos, or simple, yet very traditional Spanish sandwiches. It consists of little more than bread, tomato water, olive oil and whatever you fill the sandwich with.
1 Spanish bread or baguette
leftover tortilla Espanola
1 tomato
1 clove garlic, sliced in half
olive oil
1. Slice the bread length-wise. Toast the bread, cut-side exposed to the heat, in an oven or over a grill for a few minutes.
2. Use the cut side of the garlic to rub all over the toasted side of the bread.
3. Slice tomatoes. You can either rub the tomato on the bread and just use the water, which is traditional, but I like the actual tomato slices in the sandwich.
4. Cut and arrange tortillas on the bottom half of the bread. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with tomatoes, if you want, and the top half of the bread.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

Whole Wheat Matzoh Balls in the Pressure Cooker

Matzoh balls take at least half an hour to cook, but you can reduce the cooking time by more than half in a pressure cooker. I used Streit's Whole Wheat Matzo Ball Mix to make the job even faster. Matzo balls in chicken soup are, of course, a special Passover holiday dish (April 18th and 19th this year) but they are delicious year 'round. Just follow the directions on the box of matzo ball mix and cook for twelve minutes instead of 30. The lower picture shows them just after dropping in to the boiling chicken broth in the Fissler Blue Point Pressure Pan. After this picture was taken I put the pressure lid on, allowed the pressure to rise, lowered the heat and waited 12 minutes. Then I released the pressure and opened the lid. The upper picture shows the finished matzo balls.A sprinkling of chopped fresh dill makes a nice finishing touch in the bowl.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Win a Fissler Magic Smooth-edge Can Opener with Cooking Light!

You'll never go back to your old can opener after trying the Fissler Magic Smooth-edge Can Opener. It cuts the top off of a can around the outside without leaving a sharp (and dangerous) edge, and the lid can then be reused in case you don't finish the contents of the can. Win one by entering the Cooking Light Spring Home & Gift Guide Sweepstakes

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Giant Squash and the Perfection Knife

I met my match in the form of a 3-pound spaghetti squash.

You see, I’ve been exceedingly creative in the time since I moved into a temporary apartment in Washington, DC. I’ve been repurposing everything, adapting the Goodbye Detergent! Original Spaghetti Scrub into a mushroom brush, using my Hurom Slow Juicer box as a printer stand and converting a display cabinet into my pantry, among many other imaginative solutions.

But my resourcefulness couldn’t conquer this beastly squash. More specifically, there was nothing in my kitchen that could cut it – literally and figuratively. Most of my premium kitchen gadgets are packed away in storage or on a “to buy” list as housewarming gifts to self once I’m settled for the long term. Premium knives fall into this category, so I’ve been scraping by (eek, bad pun) with less-than-stellar cutting tools. They could barely scratch the surface of this tough-as-nails squash. There was only one thing left to do: call in the heavy artillery. Fissler knives to the rescue!

Like a kid on Christmas morning, I joyfully unpacked a shipment of Fissler knives and prepared to accomplish the mission. The squash was a worthy opponent, but the Perfection Chef’s Knife flexed its macho muscle and powered through the squash.

The dirty work done, I proceeded to cook the squash in the Fissler Blue Point Pressure Cooker and had a hearty side dish for several days.

Needless to say, the moral of the story is that sometimes there is simply no substitute for the proper equipment. Quality really does make a difference.