As a busy mama of four I am becoming somewhat of a kitchen-gadget guru. My schedule is such that I need all the help I can get. My latest purchase was an ice-cream maker, so expect a lot of frozen-treat recipes this summer! But my most useful, can’t-do-without gadget (if it can be called that) is my pressure cooker. It's not one of those fancy digital ones that you find at Macy's and other super stores. No, it's old-school style which I find just lovely because not only does it do the job, it conjures beautiful memories of Brazil and Morocco where if you visit someone before lunch you will likely hear the gurgling sound of a pressure cooker working in the kitchen. For those of you unfamiliar with this magical machine, the pressure cooker reduces cooking time for most foods by about two-thirds! Another benefit of pressure cooking is that if you are using meat, it always turns out quite juicy and tender. However, most importantly for me is that my tride-and-true pressure cooker will churn out the tagines that my Moroccan husband loves in a mere 20 minutes!
But we will have to leave my husband’s tagines for later. Today I wanted to talk about something I absolutely love, rice. Plain rice, Paella, Risotto, Arroz con Pollo, Biryani, Fried Rice, Rice Pudding - you name it, I like it. So while my husband enjoys his tagines with bread, I always make some rice for me and of course for the kids. So here is something you might not have thought about before, a super-fast, middle-of-the-week risotto cooked in the pressure cooker that you will be able to make in no-time, 10 or 15 minutes. And, of course, what better end to a beautiful spring dinner is there than fresh fruit in the form of a simple gelato that can also be made really fast with the help of an ice-cream maker. My four treat-loving children are quickly becoming this new kitchen gadget's very own fan club.
Pressure Cooker Risotto with Spinach and Goat Cheese
Adapted from Cook with Jamie by Jamie Oliver
The original recipe had wine but with keeping Halal I replaced this with apple juice. My chicken stock already contained salt so I did not add any more salt to the entire dish. Also, I didn’t use any butter in an attempt to create a lighter week-night dish and I honestly don’t think it sacrificed the taste at all. However, add both to your liking if you wish.
Serves about 6 as a side dish
½ cup Onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 ½ cups Arborio Rice
½ cup apple juice
3 ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
4 oz goat cheese
About 8 oz spinach (I used frozen and it was fine)
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste
Heat oil in a frying pan, add garlic and nutmeg (optional), cook until lightly soft. Add spinach and cook moving around in the pan until wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Chop spinach finely or pulse it in a food processor. Set aside.
Heat oil in pressure cooker. Add onion and cook stirring frequently until they begin to soften. Stir in rice, coat with oil and cook until edges become translucent. Stir in apple juice and let it dry a bit. Add 3 ½ cups of broth, scrape any browned bits sticking to the bottom of the cooker.
Lock lid in place and bring to high pressure over high heat. Reduce the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 4 minutes. Release pressure according to manufacturer's directions. Remove lid.
Bring pressure cooker (uncovered) back to medium high heat and stir vigorously. Boil uncovered, stirring every minute, until mixture thickens and rice is tender but still chewy, about 3 minutes. If mixture becomes dry before rice is done, stir in more broth (about ¼ to ½ cup) as needed.
Turn of the heat and stir in the parmesan and the spinach to risotto. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if needed. Cover and let it sit for about 2 minutes, fold in 2/3 of the goat cheese.
Serve with remaining crumbled goat cheese on top and some lemon zest if desired.
Barely adapted from 500 ice creams, sorbets & gelatos by Alex Barker
This is an easy gelato recipe. The important thing is to get the custard right and chill it completely before using. You could let it chill for hours or overnight, but I prefer to use the ice bath method described below to make the process faster from beginning to end.
2 ½ cups light cream
5 egg yolks
½ cup superfine sugar + 3 Tbsp (separated)
3 ½ cups hulled and chopped fresh strawberries
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp (alcohol free) vanilla extract
Heat the cream until it is beginning to bubble, and then cool slightly.
In a large heatproof bowl, beat the egg yolks and ½ cup of sugar until thick and creamy. Beat the cooling cream gently into the eggs.
Put the bowl over a pan of gently simmering water and stir with a wooden spoon until the custard just coats the back of the spoon, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from heat.
Fill a large container with ice and water and place bowl into the ice bath to let custard chill (see notes).
Puree the strawberries in a food processor with the remaining sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla extract.
When the custard is completely cooled, stir in the strawberry puree until well blended. Pour into ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s directions or into a freezer container and use the hand-mixing method*.
Stop churning when it is almost firm, transfer to a freezer container, and leave in the freezer for at least 15 minutes before serving.
This gelato is best eaten with 1 month. Take out 15 minutes before serving to soften.
*I am including two hand mixing methods and you can choose the one you think will work best:
Basic hand-mixing method according to Alex Barker:
Before combining ingredients chill them completely. Use a freezer container big enough to pour the mixture as to allow space for mixing it. Before placing lid on container it is best to cover with plastic wrap or waxed paper as to freeze more evenly. After leaving the mixture in the coldest part of freezer for 1 hour, use a fork to scrape the frozen ice cream in from the edges, and then whisk mixture to a smooth, even texture. Cover the container again and return to the freezer for another hour. Repeat this process, once or twice more at least, until the ice cream is smooth and nearly evenly frozen. Then cover and leave it to freeze completely.
Hand mixing method according to Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver’s method differs from Alex Barker method in that it calls for taking the custard from the freezer every 20 minutes and whisking or beating it with a spoon until it forms into ice cream, about 2 hours.