Adapting Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker
Once you know the basic steps for operating your pressure cooker, you're ready to explore the plethora of diverse vegetarian and vegan recipes in this book, or create your own. Adapting recipes written for a stovetop or oven is easy, even if they contain meat. Just remember these four tips for easy adapting.
Know Your Cooking Times
The first step in adapting a recipe to a pressure cooker recipe is determining the cooking time of your main ingredient. Depending on the ingredient, cooking times will vary dramatically and should always be researched before you start. For example, a few stalks of asparagus are not going to take nearly as long as one cup of dried black beans, so be sure to check. There are several online resources that list the cooking times for almost all common ingredients used in American cooking.
Some Techniques Should Be Avoided
Once you have determined the cooking time of your main ingredient, think about which steps of your recipe are best suited for a pressure cooker and which should be completed in the oven or on the stove. Some techniques should be avoided in a pressure cooker. Deep frying is one of them.
Every pressure cooker comes with a recommendation for the maximum amount of oil you should use in the pressure cooker and that amount should not be ignored. Typically the quantity is small, about ¼ cup, and will not allow for frying. Be sure to read your instruction manual to find out the maximum amount of oil for your appliance.
Also, remember that the size of your pressure cooker will impact which recipes you can prepare in it, so make sure that a recipe will work for your appliance before you get started. Don't let this scare you away from trying to adapt your own recipes however, because there are many techniques that are appropriate for pressure cookers. Try boiling, steaming, braising, and even baking.
Flavors Don't Change
Now that your cooking times and techniques have been determined, move on to the fun part — flavor. Certain preparation techniques enhance flavors. Think of how pine nuts develop their rich nutty flavor after you toast them in the oven, or sauces come to life after they have been simmered over low heat for hours on end. Knowing how to prepare each ingredient can enhance the flavor.
As you prepare the dishes in this cookbook or adapt other recipes for your pressure cooker, make notes about which ones you, your family, and your friends preferred and don't rely on your memory. If you think a recipe in this book would benefit by adding a bit more seasoning, then note that in the margin. Making notes and writing down your version of recipes now will make future experiments in the kitchen even easier.
However, the basics of combining flavors will not change just because you are using a pressure cooker. For each of the recipes you are creating you should consider how much fat, salt, acid, sweetness, and herbs are needed to bring the best results. Typically, this will not be very different than if you had prepared the dish on the stovetop or in the oven instead of in your pressure cooker, so there is no need to stress over how a pressure cooker will change your flavors.
You've heard it before: Practice makes perfect, and cooking is no exception. The first recipe you adapt for a pressure cooker probably won't be a masterpiece, but if you experiment you might get there.
Adjust the cooking times, techniques, flavors, and types of recipes you are preparing in your pressure cooker until you reach optimal results, and just have fun with it!