Your cooking and food prep secrets ....

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Unless i'm making risotto or pilaf, i boil rice like i boil pasta, plenty of boiling water.  I find this washes off the excess starch and is way easier to calculate and you can't get burned rice stuck to the pan if you get distracted!  It comes out separate and i guess fluffy (not sure what fluffy means in rice, but if you don't want the grains to stick together, then don't use the reduction method! 
 
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Why? I have a pressure cooker, haven't used it in the past 10 years.
That's too bad.  Pressure cookers are fast, efficient, and somehow manage to get the best out of whatever is in them--all the things a cook should be.  Once one is experienced adapting recipes to the pressure cooker there are all kinds of benefits.

For example take Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon recipe that is all the rage since the debut of that movie my girlfriend made me watch.  I'm not going to clutter this page with a long recipe but it calls for a whole bottle of red wine, and about the same of beef stock and must be cooked for at least three hours.  This could be done in the pressure cooker in an hour using less than half the liquid.  Any machine that gives me free wine is alright in my book.
 
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But we're still talking about a machine that essentially stews or braises everything. That cuts down on a lot of possibilities.

Within that context, too, there are benefits to low and slow. While I'm sure that boeuf bourguignon made in a pressure cooker tastes pretty good, I'm just as sure it doesn't taste quite the same as one made the traditional way.

On the other hand, if you're happy because it provides "free wine," then deep six the pressure cooker and get a slow cooker. That same recipes can be made in one of those machines using  a total liquid of about a cup.

So, the progression would be: Julia's recipe, using a bottle of wine. Pressure cooking, using a half bottle (your figure).  Slow cooker, using a half cup of wine.
 
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As I said whenever possible.  I'm not suggesting trying to bake a cake in it.  Its my weapon of choice for things that are braised, boiled, steamed, etc.  I live in Wisconsin where these methods are arguably more appropriate given the seasons, but I'll use it once in a while in the summer as well.  My love of octopus is what got me using one in the first place.

In theory a slow cooker shouldn't save any less liquid than a pressure cooker.  Both are sealed albeit a pressure cooker is much tighter.  A pressure cooker regulator allows out the minimum amount of high pressure steam and the weight lid of the slow cooker does the same with much lower pressure steam (unless intruders in your kitchen lift the lid every hour to steal carrots and potatoes.)

My real issue is that a slow cooker is just that... slow.  I had roommates in college who used a slow cooker a lot.  Maybe I just don't premeditate my meals enough but starting my dinner the same time I start my morning coffee is a turn off.  A pressure cooker is good for many of the same things and something appeals to me about cooking with such efficiency.  I know gas is cheap but after years of pressure cooking the coolness just hasn't worn off on me.
 
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(unless intruders in your kitchen lift the lid every hour to steal carrots and potatoes.)

/img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif
 
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I believe it's an excerpt from Lewis Carroll's "The Walrus and the Carpenter". I prefer "Jabberwocky" myself.
 
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"'O, oysters come and walk with us,' the Walrus did beseech.  'A pleasant walk a pleasant talk along the briny beach...'"

Yes, from The Walrus and the Carpenter, itself from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872, by Lewis Carrol.  No, not Leo G. Carroll nor J. Carrol Naish neither.
   
Walrus or Jabberwocky?  No need to choose.  Ab definito, I like anything I cared enough about to memorize and vice versa.  Even if it's bad and I should know better.  And that goes double for Robert W. Service. 

BDL
 
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I prefer "Jabberwocky" myself.

Well, snicker-snee me vorpal boy.

or maybe it was Leo G. Carroll.    

As in "Topper In Wonderland."

I think we're beginning to show our age.
 
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As I said whenever possible.  I'm not suggesting trying to bake a cake in it.  Its my weapon of choice for things that are braised, boiled, steamed, etc. 
Yeah I don't like it. I mean, I used to use it a lot. But as my culinary skills have grown, I've found less and less use for it. I don't always need things to be ultra fast. In fact I like them slow. I don't mind having a braise take hours, and IMO it tastes better when it does. It also allows me to adjust for seasoning or flavoring throughout the cooking, or for example to remove smaller pieces that may have cooked faster before the end of the cooking, or to check on the thickness of the cooking liquid, etc etc.


While I'm sure that boeuf bourguignon made in a pressure cooker tastes pretty good, I'm just as sure it doesn't taste quite the same as one made the traditional way.
 
Definitely agree with you on that. 
 
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Is this any relation to comic strip BC with "Clam's have legs!"

"....and this was odd, because you know, they haven't any feet!"
                                                                                  ibid
 
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I don't judge anyone who chooses to use a pressure cooker.  They definitely have their uses and I have one but can't seem to find a use for it.  When I braise food or make stocks I feel that the food shouldn't be agitated.  It should cook calmly without a hard boil.  I also need to be able to check on the food while it cooks.  Maybe I'm wrong but I feel food stresses out too much in the pressure cooker. 

Also they scare the crap out of me.  I'm afraid it will explode.
 
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Yeah I don't like it. I mean, I used to use it a lot. But as my culinary skills have grown, I've found less and less use for it. I don't always need things to be ultra fast. In fact I like them slow. I don't mind having a braise take hours, and IMO it tastes better when it does. It also allows me to adjust for seasoning or flavoring throughout the cooking, or for example to remove smaller pieces that may have cooked faster before the end of the cooking, or to check on the thickness of the cooking liquid, etc etc.
The first chef I worked for loved them, nearly every pot in his kitchen was a pressure cooker.  He was from Chile but worked on cruise ships before making it to Illinois so its clear how pressure cookers became his favorite--all that elevation change.  We used to say that working in that kitchen was like cooking with a metrognome.  There was always a pressure cooker rocking away hypnotizing all the cooks and setting the rhythm of the kitchen.  Like any other cooking technique an intuition develops.  There's nothing not to like.  If the lid comes off its just a normal pot anyways.  I've slapped the lid on mine for as little as 5 minutes before pulling the regulator.  You can never have too many techniques right?

I don't judge anyone who chooses to use a pressure cooker.  They definitely have their uses and I have one but can't seem to find a use for it.  When I braise food or make stocks I feel that the food shouldn't be agitated.  It should cook calmly without a hard boil.  I also need to be able to check on the food while it cooks.  Maybe I'm wrong but I feel food stresses out too much in the pressure cooker. 

Also they scare the crap out of me.  I'm afraid it will explode.
I've never seen whats going on in there but in theory its just a normal boil at a higher pressure/temperature.  Its more stressful looking on the outside than the inside.

I hear you there.  I've seen a few safety valves blown off in my day.  Messy.
 
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Soak rice in water overnight (or as long as possible). It makes it really fluffy when cooked & particularly important if using brown rice. And wash it. Oh please God, wash the rice! I've lost count of the people I've met that don't wash rice. Maybe it's an Australian thing?


 

Oi! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif  Please not to besmirch this wide brown land.....just kidding.  But hey, I don't wash the rice either, and I get it fluffy by just a rapid boil in lots of salted water for 9 mins (this is long grain white rice), then a drain and rinse (ok so in a way I do rinse) under really hot running water in colander colander - serve as soon as possible

I agree on the towels, you can never have too many.  We moved a while back and in that time I've lost a stack of them - planning a trip to get some more soon.

My (not so secret) tip would be that when cooking with tinned crushed tomatoes, always add a dash of sugar.  Helps lessen the acidity,
 
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My real issue is that a slow cooker is just that... slow.  I had roommates in college who used a slow cooker a lot.  Maybe I just don't premeditate my meals enough but starting my dinner the same time I start my morning coffee is a turn off.  A pressure cooker is good for many of the same things and something appeals to me about cooking with such efficiency.  I know gas is cheap but after years of pressure cooking the coolness just hasn't worn off on me.
 
If a slow cooker is going to put you off your coffee, assemble all the ingredients the night before, bung it in the fridge, then pull it out to set to cook on slow for the next day, while you enjoy that coffee /img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif

Pressure cookers most defintely have their uses, quicker cooking and saving on gas/power being a big one in my opinion. Not that I have one.  But they are intimidating (although the new ones are much safer than in the long long ago)  and you can't check the food while its cooking.  My mum used to use them all the time for stews and curries.  Both our parents worked long hard hours, so had limited time to do a slow cook. Slow cookers didn't exist here then. 

This was before any of us could cook a full meal.  It got pensioned out after that - we had 6 of us kids fighting actually to cook the meal - mainly so we didn't have dish washing duty!
 
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I've never seen whats going on in there but in theory its just a normal boil at a higher pressure/temperature.  Its more stressful looking on the outside than the inside.

I hear you there.  I've seen a few safety valves blown off in my day.  Messy.

 
That's my point, when I braise or make soup I don't want a boil at all.  I think boiling these foods ruins them.

I can see their use when wanting to make beans though.  They take forever to soak and cook sometimes.
 
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My (not so secret) tip would be that when cooking with tinned crushed tomatoes, always add a dash of sugar.  Helps lessen the acidity,
My secret tip is to taste the tomatoes before adding sugar.  Different brands and different tomatoes have a different acidity and tartness, so to arbitrarily add sugar could make the resultant sauce or dish too sweet.
 
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kuan

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S+P your salad greens.

If you are going to let it sit out for a bit, brush the presentation side of your cut terrine with some clear wine aspic.  /img/vbsmilies/smilies/surprised.gif   Is that even a tip? /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
 
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Leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, and celery can be crisped by LIGHTLY trimming the base of the crown and put into a luke-warm water bath for about 3-5 minutes and then placed crown side up (top down so water will drain out) in a collander in a bowl and covered with plastic in your fridge for at least an hour.
 
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We've all burned nuts and seeds when toasting them, cuz it's too easy to get distracted and forget them.

My solution: Heat a skillet until it's very hot, as you would for searing. Turn off the heat. Add the nuts, seeds, or spices and toss until they turn color and release their aroma. Immediately transfer to a prep bowl.

Haven't once burned any since going to this method.
 
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