The I Love My Instant Pot Cooking For One Recipe Book– a Review

It’s hard to find decent small batch cookbooks. When you add a specialization like small batch cooking in your Instant Pot, it is almost impossible to find decent cookbooks. Way too many small batch cookbooks are just thrown together to cash in on a trend rather than provide useful recipes for those who cook for just one or two. So I am excited when I find a a small batch cookbook for a specialization, like pressure cooking, that I actually like and would incorporate into my daily meal rotation.

What I like about it:

  1. It has decent sized portions. I don’t know why but a lot of small batch cookbook authors assume you have an appetite the size of a pea. I don’t know about you, but I am a big girl with a big appetite. I don’t want to eat dinner then an hour later want to eat a meal again.
  2. The recipes don’t rely on processed ingredients. While some recipes have processed ingredients most don’t.
  3. The recipes have complete and accurate ingredient lists and directions. You would think that would be a given in a cookbook but I found, often it
  4. There are a good variety of recipes. It isn’t just one basic recipe with a dozen slight variations.
  5. The food tastes good.

What I don’t like:

  1. A lot of times the recipes call for a partial use of a canned ingredient, like 2 tablespoons of black beans or 4 tablespoons of tomato sauce and there is no chart or index telling us what other recipes use those ingredients. This can lead to a lot of wasted ingredients.
  2. I disagree with some of the things presented in the opening chapter. Things like the 3 quart Instant Pot is too small to cook anything but single portions and side dishes. If you know me even a little bit through this blog, you know I use my 3 quart Instant Pot for everything, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert and it is, more often than not, more than a single serving.
  3. I am not sure why the author uses dried onion flakes rather than fresh, chopped onion. I subbed fresh, chopped onion for the dried flaked onion in several recipes and it worked just fine so feel free to use whatever you have on hand.

On the whole, I like this cookbook and would recommend it if you like using your Instant Pot and need a little small batch inspiration. I bought both the cookbook and the ingredients to try the recipes with my own money and I didn’t receive any compensation from the author or Instapot for my review. All opinions in this review are my own.

Kimchi Beef Stir Fry

Holy crap! Tonight after work I had to go out and buy a replacement charger for my Surface tablet. Are they made out of gold or something? I was not expecting to pay 89 dollars for the dumb thing. However, since about 90 percent of what I do in my spare time, including this blog, is computer related I bought it anyway

It is a good thing I have a lot of quick, easy and relatively cheap meals planned for the next couple of weeks.

Kimichi Beef Stir Fry

From I Heart Umami

16 oz Napa cabbage kimchi

1/2 lb ground beef

1 TBS olive oil

2 large cloves, minced

3 scallions, chopped, white and green parts seperated

1 tsp toasted sesame oil

3 TBS kimchi juice, or to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

sprinkle of sesame seeds, for garnish

Use a strainer to drain the kimchi over a small bowl. Use a spoon to press as much juice out of the kimchi as possible. Set the juice and drained kimchi aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Saute the kimchi for 1 minute. Spread the ground beef over the kimchi. Add 1 tsp toasted sesame oil over the beef and cook until cooked through. Add saved kimchi juice and salt and pepper, to tasted. If desired, garnish with the green parts of the scallion, additional toasted sesame oil and sesame seeds before serving.

Korean Style Stir Fry Sauce

One of the things I love about my home town is there a lot of ethnic grocery stores in the area. There are several Asian markets, a European market, an African market, an Indian market, a Balkan market and probably even more I don’t know about as I know about most of the markets by word of mouth or through one of my explore the city walks.

I love spending time walking up and down the aisles, looking at stuff and picking new stuff to try. Sometimes, I get lucky and find an absolute treasure like this Tea Masala, that makes a Masala tea exactly like the one I love at my favorite ethnic restaurant, the Himalayan Yak. Other times, I don’t get so lucky and bring home Durian flavored cookies. If you never heard of Durian, it is a fruit that supposedly tastes delicious but smells like something rotting. It is bad and I just had cookies. I can’t imagine what a whole fruit smells like. But by far, I have had more positive shopping experiences at ethnic markets then bad ones. Trying new things is always a chance no matter where you shop.

My current favorite ingredient that I bought at the Asian market is Gochujang, a Korean hot pepper paste. This ingredient was way outside my culinary comfort zone because I am a hot spice wimp. The first time I used Gochujang in a recipe I was expecting it to blow the top of my head off like a scotch bonnet pepper. Instead, it has a pleasant heat and earthiness that I really like.

I found the recipe for this simple stir fry sauce by googling easy stir fry sauces. I was so excited to try it Because I love a good stir fry sauce and it did not disappoint. I don’t know how authentic my vegetable choices were to Korean food, I used Bok Choi, green beans and white mushrooms, but it was delicious.

A Few Tips For Shopping At An ethnic market:

  1. Be respectful. You are going to see things in ethnic markets you don’t see in your average grocery store. The words yuck, ick, or that’s disgusting should never leave your mouth. Just move on to the next thing or leave the store. This shouldn’t even need to be said but after watching two people throw an absolute fit because they couldn’t find “American” food in an Asian market I guess it does.
  2. Google and Google translate are your friends. You won’t know what a lot of the items are on the shelves, although some will be very familiar. Google products to find out what they are. Snap a picture of the ingredients or directions if they are in another language and run them through Google translate to see whats what.
  3. Step outside your culinary comfort zone and try something new. Some of my favorite things to cook with like Furrikake, Gochujang and Kimchi, have all become my favorites because I just picked them up and tried them. I had no idea what to do with them at first. I just googled the item for recipes, picked one and tried it. It has lead to many really enjoyable meals.

Korean Style Stir Fry Sauce

2 1/2 TBS Gochujang (Korean hot chili paste)

1 1/2 tsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 1/2 tsp sugar

1 1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp Gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)

In small bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well

Instant Pot Bison Roast

On Saturday I went to the Farmer’s market with my friend, Steph. I wasn’t planning on buying anything. I just needed to get out of the house for awhile. Of course that meant I came home with a Bison chuck roast and about 5 pounds of yellow baby potatoes. I have never eaten Bison before, much less cooked it so I had no idea what I was going to do with this roast. Why do I do this to myself?

As always, when I have an ingredient I haven’t cooked with before, I search the internet to see the possibilities. This time the internet failed me there just aren’t many people posting Bison meat recipes on their blogs. So I decided to crowdsource some ideas from a tea group I belong to on Facebook. What does Bison have to do with tea? Absolutely, nothing, but the group is a supportive community that posts about everything not just tea. I got some great information and links to information.

One of the links was to a site called Rock River Bison that had a recipe I adapted using what I had on hand as I didn’t have the specific rubs they used in the video. I had decided to use my pressure cooker before I saw the video. Bison is very lean so it overcooks and dries out easily. You need to cook it low and slow in in the oven or crockpot for hours to prevent that or use a pressure cooker that makes it more difficult to over cook. I didn’t have hours. I was hungry now so pressure cooker it was.

It was so worth the wait. The meat was very tender and juicy, not dry at all. It would be very easy to adapt this recipe to use other sauces and spice rubs. How about teriyaki sauce, 5 Spice powder and rice vinegar or salsa, taco seasoning and apple cider vinegar?

I added a little sauce to some of the shredded meat and served it over a bunch of the baby yellow potatoes I baked. I have also served the shredded meat and sauce over pasta lot in a sandwich like the picture.

Instant Pot Bison Roast

Adapted from Rock River Bison

2-3 TBS of your favorite meat rub, I used Primal Palates BBQ Rub

1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce, I used 8.5 oz bottle of Primal Kitchens Classic BBQ sauce

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 lb Bison chuck roast.

If your pressure cooker has a saute setting, set it to high and let it preheat. If it doesn’t have a saute setting, heat a frying pan over high heat. While the pan is heating, cut your roast into steaks, season both sides with the whatever spice rub you are using. When your pan is hot add a little oil and sear the roast on both sides.

Add the seared roast to the liner of the pressure cooker. Add more spice rub to the meat and use your hands to coat the meat evenly. Add your BBQ sauce and vinegar. Close the lid and turn the vent to the closed position. Set the pressure cooker to high pressure and cook for 45 minutes. When the meat is done cooking. Natural release until the pin goes down. Remove the Bison to a plate and shred with two forks.

Spicy Coleslaw

This stack of new to me cookbooks is making me so happy! They are all by my all time favorite cookbook author, Mark Bittman. I have been cooking from his various incarnations of How To Cook Everything for over 20 years. I have made literally, dozens of his recipes of over the years and many of those recipes have made it to my favorites list. One of my cooking goals is to have every cookbook Mark Bittman has ever written. Adding these cookbooks to my collection gets me really close to accomplishing that goal.

I made a BBQ Bison roast last night and needed a quick and easy side dish so I made this coleslaw from one of my new Mark Bittman cookbooks. This is not your typical Midwest coleslaw recipe as there isn’t a drop of mayonnaise to be found. Instead Mark Bittman uses a basic vinaigrette to season and sauce the coleslaw. Its a refreshing change from the waterlogged, stodgy coleslaws that I grew up with.

You can use any type of cabbage here. I had some Napa cabbage so that is what I used.

Spicy Coleslaw

Adapted From How To Cook Everything The Basics

1 TBS Dijon mustard

1 TBS Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 1/2 tsp sugar

3 cups cored and shredded cabbage

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 cup scallions, chopped

salt and pepper, to tast

Whisk the mustard and vinegar together in a small bowl. Slowly, whisk the oil into the the vinegar/mustard mixture. Once the oil is combined add the sugar and whisk until dissolved.

Combine the cabbage, peppers, and scallions, toss with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.