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GREAT BIG PRESSURE COOKER book by BRUCE WEINSTEIN and MARK SCARBROUGH REVIEWED

The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book
By Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
Published by Clarkson Potter
512 Pages Paperback

About Book: The ultimate in pressure cooker books--with recipes for breakfasts, soups, mains, grains, vegetables, and desserts--each adapted for stove top or electric models.

The old-fashioned pressure cooker has been rediscovered by modern home cooks, both for its quick-cooking powers (dried beans are perfectly soft in 35 minutes; risottos are tender in 20 minutes) and for its ability to infuse foods with intense flavor (carrots become sweeter, meat more savory). The Great Big Pressure Cooker Book has recipes for every device, stovetop and electric, no matter the manufacturer. Whether you're seeking an adventurous array of spices, found in dishes such as Cherry Chipotle Pulled Chicken or Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Pineapple and Ginger, or pure comfort food, like French Toast Bread Pudding or Classic Pot Roast and Potatoes, you'll find the perfect recipe--each labeled by level of ease--to feed your family. This is the only pressure cooker book you'll ever need.

REVIEW: I was interested in reading about how there are two types of pressure cookers and how this books’ recipes accommodate both types of cookers. That is the unique thing about this book. I found it funny when the author said, “We Americans think about cooking in one of two ways: fast or gourmet. We either want dinner on the table in record time or we want to spend a leisurely afternoon preparing a 4-star meal with friends and family…with a stovetop or an electric pressure cooker, we can create a weekend-worthy pot roast on a weeknight in minutes…Both will tast as if they’ve braised all day. In fact, the intense pressure in the pot helps return complex flavors, as well as a wide range of natural sugars that don’t break down as they do during long braising.

I like the fact that these recipes use real ingredients to bring the most flavor to the meal, the veggies are scrip not mush too! I appreciated learning about how a pressure cooker works and what foods do best in it. He talks about 5 benefits to using the pressure cooker that go beyond mere speed. He mentions that it’s very important to FIRST Read the instruction booklet to your pressure cooker. They are all different. They talk about how to use a pressure cooker but each one is a little different. The second thing he tells readers to do is to Follow the RECIPE…the author states, “with a pressure cooker recipe, you’ve got far less play. Sure, you can alter herbs, double garlic or swap out minor flavorings. But you can’t wily-nilly omit 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Even that small amount maybe crucial to creating the right amount of steam and pressure in the closed pot.”

I laughed when he talked about the “NervousNellie: type of pressure cooker person. He says, “Some ancient relative of yours had a pot that blew her to OZ and back.” (I had heard of this and hesitated to use mine) He states that the equipment has changed. “Modern pressure cookers have two basic safety features to dispel these fears. 1) There’s a pressure release valve or mechanism on the lid 2) There’s a rubber gasket around the inside rim of a heavy lid.

He talks about the Doubting Thomas personality. “I should try it again.” Not sure it will work. The author states to take “full advantage of this book and your cooker – we list the following 1) the effort required for the recipe (not much, a little or a lot) 2) The level of the pressure *usually high – but sometimes varies between cookers: Example low for stove top and high for an electric. 3) The time under pressure 4) the release method 5) the number of servings and Testers notes for each recipe.

They talk about The Culinary Apostle – this person brought the book for new and innovative recipes. Recipes are grouped together by specific cuts of meat or types of produce…along the way, we’ve offered substitutions so that even some of the more inventive recipes remain within a weeknight reach.

Section on Recipe Know-How – They explain what these terms mean and how the process works. 1)Browning 2)Scrape up the browned stuff on the bottom of the pot 3) Lock the lid onto pot 4)Bring the pot to high (or low) pressure 5) Reduce the heat 6) set the timer 7) release the pressure. I also appreciated the section on Basic Trouble-shooting and safety tips.

There are full color pictures in the middle of the book; about 20 of the 500 recipes listed. There are many recipes I’d like to try in this book starting with BREAKFAST. There’s Apple Maple Oatmeal, Apple, Ham & Grits Casserole, French Toast Bread Pudding, and Sausage Gravy.

In the SOUPS Section: Hamburger Soup, Ham and Corn Chowder, Taco Soup, Chicken Soup, Turkey, Rice Soup with Lemon and Sate, Shrimp Bisque (my favorite), Broccoli Cheddar Soup, Buttery Cauliflower Soup, Chunky Potato and Celery Soup, South Western Pinto Bean Soup, Parsnip Soup and Buttery Shallots and Pecans

MEAT Section: Sloppy Joes, Meatballs with Orzo, Artichokes and Tomatoes, Top Round with Bourbon, Bacon and Potatoes, Chipotle-Braised Beef Brisket and Butternut Squash, Classic Pot Roast and Potatoes, Corned Beef and Cabbage in Spiced Cider, Cola-Infused Beef Ribs, Pork Chops and Buttery Apples, Several other pork recipes that sounded yummy. Then there is a section on LAMB, VEAL and RABBIT (I don’t know that I’ll be brave and try these recipes Grin)

There are Several in the POULTRY Section I want to try like; Chicken Thighs with Olives and Lemons, Chicken Thighs with Figs and Cinnamon, Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Drumsticks, Creamy Curried Chicken and Pasta, Chicken Breasts in a Dijon Cream Sauce; Chicken and Asparagus Stir Fry, Maple Dijon Wings and Sesame Wings.

Several Turkey Recipes looked good in the TURKEY, GAME HENS and DUCK Section such as Turkey Sausage and Macaroni Casserole, Easy Turkey Chili and Turkey Breast with Mushroom gravy. In the FISH and SHELLFISH Section I’d like to try the Shrimp Risotto, Steamed Salmon with Garlic-Citrus Butter; Claims with Linguini, Creamy Lobster Casserole.

In the VEGETABLES, BEANS and GRAINS Section There were many I’d like to try. I appreciated the fact that there was a list of vegetables before the recipes that showed the different cooking times if you just wanted to steam these veggies.

Then there was the RICE and GAIN Section. Delicious sounding recipes in this section such as Saffron Basmati Rice, Brown Rice Pilaf with Cashews and Leeks, Kamut and Kale; Kaumt with Pears, Artichokes and Parmesan.

The Dessert section was surprising. The desserts I’d like to try are Chocolate pudding, Pumpkin Pie Pudding, Rice Pudding, Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, Ricotta Lemon Pudding Cakes, N.Y. Style Cheesecake, and Chocolate Cheesecake.

I’ve had my pressure cooker for many years; hardly used it. I’m looking forward to plunging into these recipes I know will help me get accounted with using this tool that will help me get meals on the table in a healthy fashion. It’s a win win for me and my family. Thanks to the authors that put this together. It’s an exciting mix.

I received a free copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for my honest opinion. There was no obligation to give a positive review. I'm a tell-it-like it is kind of person. This holds true to my review.

Nora St Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins! www.bookfun.org
The Book Club Network blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com
Book Fun Magazine www.bookfunmagazine.com

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