Yellow Split-Pea Soup (Pressure Cooker)

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I recently read an article about a pressure cooker that did more than your usual pressure cooker and it was invented by ex-Nortel workers from Ottawa.  Well now that was enough for me to look into it a little more.  When I saw there was a model that did yogurt I thought, wonderful!  You see I make my own Greek yogurt and I do it in my very old crockpot with the heavy inner pot.  So I looked online and saw that the model 60 was the right size and price so I purchased it from an Amazon seller (not the Instant Pot company).

It arrived very quickly and after I opened it realized that there was no recipe for Greek yogurt.  When I looked more closely I realized there were two versions of the model 60, the other one was the one that cooked the yogurt.  Now this led me to a crisis.  Do I return it and wait or keep it?  Two things changed my mind, the first being that the shipping charges I would have paid in the end for the buying, return and rebuying would be about $80, and the other when I saw how to make yogurt in the other version was not a whole lot different from how I make it now.  The only difference was it cooked in 110 degree heat in the pot on the stove instead of in a big heavy pot wrapped in a towel in the oven with the light on for heat.  I kept the model I had and began experimenting.

I love Habitant pea soup (French Canadian Pea Soup).  So I modified a few online pressure cooker split-pea soup recipes to be what I thought it should be.  So here it is!

French Canadian Yellow Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon, raw, cut into small pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 piece of celery, chopped
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 8 cups chicken broth
  • 1 bag of dried yellow split peas (454 grams)
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • salt to taste
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Set the pot to Saute, add the olive oil and the chopped vegetables.  Let them saute for a couple of minutes, stirring. Remove from the pot and set aside. Add the chopped bacon and cook.  Leave the bacon grease in, it adds flavour. Take about a cup of the broth and deglaze the bottom of the pan so there’s nothing stuck to it. Return the vegetables to the pot. Add the rest of the broth.  Rinse the peas and add to the pot. Add the bay leaves, salt and pepper to taste. Note:  for the liquid be sure not to fill more than half of the pot if using the pressure setting.

Close the pressure cooker, set it for Soup for 20 minutes.  Once it has cooked let it depressurize on its own (about 10 minutes). Release the steam. Mash about a cup or two of the peas in liquid to a mush, return to the broth if you like it thicker. Stir and serve.  Enjoy with buttered bread or buns.  Delicious!

This makes about 4 to 6 servings.

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Vermont (macaroni and cheese) Recipe

vermont uncookedcooked vermont Vermont is what we call a macaroni and cheese recipe that I adapted from a web page for Vermont visitors. It uses Vermont sharp cheddar. I don’t, I like to use Tex Mex or Nacho shredded cheese. It also had too much butter to be healthy so I changed it to be a little more to our tastes. The basic recipe is below. I also add things depending on my mood. Some add ins include tomato, spinach, or peas. The picture shows a version I made with diced stewed tomatoes and some of the milk replaced by tomato juice from the canned tomatoes, and with fresh spinach leaves.

The recipe serves 4 as a meal, 6 as a side.

Use a 2 quart (2 litre) casserole dish, no lid.

Ingredients

2 cups (500 ml) elbow macaroni
1 to 2 cups (250 to 500 ml) shredded cheese for the topping
Paprika

Sauce
1/4 cup (62.5 ml) olive oil
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt
1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) ground black pepper
1/4 cup (62.5 ml) flour
1 3/4 cup (437.5 ml) milk (I use 1%)
1 1/4 cup (312.5 ml) shredded cheese (I use Tex Mex or Nacho blend)

Cook the macaroni, adding vegetables (not tomatoes) to the pot if you wish. This will cook about 10 minutes, with 5 minutes to bring the water to a boil (15 minutes total).

While the macaroni is cooking, pour the olive oil in a sauce pan and add the salt and pepper. Heat the oil on medium-low for a minute or so (don’t let it get so hot it’s smoking). Add the flour and stir until the mixture is smooth (my dad used to call this the “rue” when making gravy – hint: this is also how you make gravy).

Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the milk, stirring the whole time. If you are adding diced tomatoes and juice this is when and where you do that. When it is stirred in and smooth return the pan to the heat, and gradually increase the heat to medium-high, stirring constantly. When it is thick and bubbly, remove from heat and stir in the shredded cheese.

At this point the macaroni should be ready to drain. You should check the doneness of the macaroni as you are cooking the sauce as it’s better that the macaroni be a little under-cooked than over cooked. Drain the macaroni and put in the casserole dish. Pour in the cheese sauce and mix well. Sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese over the top, amount based on your taste.

Cook in a 375 degree F / 190 celcius oven for 25 minutes. At 25 minutes, remove from oven, sprinkle with paprika and return for 5 more minutes. This is done when it’s bubbly and the top is nicely browned.

Total time to make is approximately one hour. Don’t ask me how many calories this has. I don’t want to know. 🙂

vermont on plate

Baked Beans Recipe

baked beans

Making baked beans is a bit of an art – what’s crucial is the sauce and that is very much dependent on personal taste. I’ve tried several recipes and found the answer was simply to take the one that most suited my taste and adapt.  My main complaint about bean recipes are they are too sweet, or alternatively, quite bland.  So I took the recipe from the back of a Webster’s Farm Soldier Bean bag.  Webster’s Farm is a Nova Scotia company, and solider beans, as far as I have seen is a maritime peculiarity.  I haven’t seen them anywhere else and when my children were small when we went to the cottage in New Brunswick in the summer we would always come back to Mississauga with a few bags of soldier beans. So, for the uninitiated they are a large meaty beans.  I normally use Great Northern Beans because they are also large meaty beans, just a little more available and less expensive.

To make baked beans the first thing you need to do is to soak them.  Pour the beans into a collander, rinse them off and check there’s no rocks or other debris.  Place the beans in a container large enough to cover them with water and to allow for swelling as they absorb the water.  I usually put the beans in the large pot I’ll be cooking them in.  Cover the beans with at least two inches of cool water.  These will need to soak overnight; check midway if you can to ensure that they don’t need more water – also, draining and replacing the water half way if you can will reduce the gassy effect of beans somewhat.

When the beans are done soaking, rinse and then put them back into the pot and cover with cool water, leaving 2 inches of water above the beans.  Bring the beans to a boil – keep an eye on this, bean water gets this weird foam that boils over if you’re not careful.  When the beans are boiling, scoop off the foam, reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Cook until the beans are cooked, firm but not crunchy; try not to overcook as that will make the beans a little mushy.  This cooking part is usually about 45 minutes but I have had to simmer for a couple of hours – it depends on the soaking time given.  Once you add the sugar and the vinegar later on, the beans will not get any softer so keep that in mind. A tip from the beans package says that if you remove a bean from the pot, blow on it and the skin cracks it’s almost done.

When the beans are the right firmness, drain and put them in the container you will be cooking in.  More on the how of cooking is after the sauce recipe.

Sauce

4 tsp (20 ml) dried mustard
1/2 cup (125 ml) brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) molasses
2 tsp (10 ml) salt
1 tsp (5 ml) maple syrup
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pepper
1/4 lbs (113 g) salt pork or bacon (I don’t put this myself – could also put roast beef)
2 tsp (10 ml) vinegar
1 cup (250 ml) tomato ketchup or tomato sauce
1 large onion

Combine all the ingredients except for the onion in a bowl and add 2 cups (500 ml) warm water. Pour over the beans. Chop the onion and sprinkle over the top of the beans. Top off with enough water to have 2 inches or so above the beans (not more than that – less if you want less sauce).  If you want a little heat, try adding a tsp or two of chili powder or Tex Mex powder.  An hour or so before the cooking is done, take a cup of the beans and mash them then add them back to the pot to thicken the sauce.  Do this to the amount of thickness you prefer.

Cooking choices: these can be cooked on top of the stove (bring to a boil, bring down to low and simmer, covered for 4 to 6 hours); in a crockpot (cook on high for 4 – 6 hours); or baked in the stove at 300 degrees F/150 degrees celcius for 4-6 hours.

This can also be done in the Instant Pot with either fresh or dried beans. I prefer to soak the beans overnight so they aren’t so hard but you could follow the bean softening instructions for Instant Pots. Once your beans are soft you cook the bacon and onion on saute, deglaze the pot with a bit of the sauce (or water), add the beans to the pot and cook on manual for 25 minutes with 15 NPR. If the beans are too hard cook for 5 or 10 minutes longer depending on how soft you want them to be. When done put on Saute and mash the cup of beans and stir back in, then saute until the sauce is your desired thickness.

Saving for later: what I love about these “weekend beans” is that I can freeze them in meal sized containers and use them throughout the month. I will make a pot on one weekend and it often last two or three weeks frozen before it’s time to make another pot.

New Brunswick Brown Bread

NBBrownBread   There’s nothing like home made from the oven bread.  I have a bread maker that I use often, this bread though is an old family recipe that I haven’t figured out how to translate to bread machine.  On the other hand, sometimes it’s just fun to punch and roll out tension on a floured kitchen table with a big ball of dough.

About this bread:  New Brunswick brown bread is a little bit like Boston brown bread but somewhat lighter.  I have never found it anywhere other than here in New Brunswick, and it is even difficult to find to buy it so I’m sharing a recipe that my mother-in-law literally dictated off the top of her head one summer evening at the cottage while she made her own loaves.

So far the last five or six times I’ve made this recipe it’s worked perfectly so my little fine tuning seems to have worked.  Try it yourself and you just may be like me, making it faithfully at least once a week.  It’s our little New Brunswick pleasure 🙂

Oat mixture:

1 1/2 cups boiling water

1 cup old fashioned oats

2 tablespoons shortening

2 teaspoons salt

Yeast and bread:

1 package (1/4 oz = 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast

3/4 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)

1/2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1/4 cup brown sugar

4 3/4 to 5 1/4 cups all purpose flour

melted butter or margarine (optional)

Combine the 1st four ingredients (water, oats, shortening, salt) in a medium sized mixing bowl. Cool to 110 to 115 (to me that’s just a bit warm on the inside of the wrist). In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Sprinkle with sugar. Add molasses, brown sugar, oat mixture and 3 cups flour. Mix well. Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a large greased mixing bowl. Turn once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. Punch down dough. Divide in half; shape into loaves. Place in 2 greased 9x5x3 loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 – 45 minutes. Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks. If desired, brush with butter. Yield: 2 loaves.