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Instant Pot Living - Delicious Lasagna in 45 minutes · 22 April 2019 by colin newell

Instant Pot Lasagna 2019

I have been a fan of good pasta since I was eating solid food. My mom made me spaghetti and meat balls when I was still in the high chair and I have photos of yours truly eating this dish with my bare hands!

I have evolved a bit in the intervening years and, for me, the delight in eating tomato based pasta dishes has never waned.

We have been using the wonderful Instant Pot for almost a year now and finally got around to attempting a lasagna.
This recipe did not disappoint – and my thinking now is: Why make a huge batch that you invariably need to freeze when you can cook one up that is good for one big family meal or (in our case) enough for 2 with several servings left over.

Let’s dig in!

Ingredients

1 lb ground beef
8 oz ricotta cheese
1.5 cup mozzarella cheese – divided in half
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese – divided in half –
1 egg
Italian spices – Oregano and Basil
Salt and Pepper to taste
No-boil lasagna noodles
1 jar pasta sauce
1/2 box thawed spinach

Prepare spring-form pan with tin wrapped around the outside and oil spray the inside.

Brown the ground beef (salt and pepper to taste)
Combine all of the ricotta, half of the mozzarella and parmesan cheese, egg, and the spinach. Mix it together.
Take dried lasagne noodles, breaking into suitable shapes to fit bottom of spring-form — this your first layer.
Open jar of pasta sauce.
Put enough sauce to cover first layer of noodles (1/3 of jar)
Take two ladle fulls of ground beef to spread over your layer of pasta sauce.
Take 1/2 of the egg cheese mixture and place on top of the meat layer.
Repeat sequence again: Noodles, sauce, ground beef, cheese mixture.
Add last layer of noodles and pasta sauce.

Take the rest of the cheese mix left over and place on top.
Create a “hood” of aluminum foil (oil sprayed on the inside – so cheese doesn’t stick…)
Add 1 cup of water to bottom of instant pot.
Place springform pan in silicone sling.
Lower sling onto Instant Pot trivet.

Set to high pressure for 20 minutes. Natural release for 11 minutes.
Remove from instant pot – put on baking sheet – remove tin foil hat – broil for 5 minutes to brown cheese.

Serve with garlic bread and/or Caesar salad. Serves 6.

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Culinary designs for living - Making caramel sauce - warning, it's dangerous! · 17 March 2019 by colin newell

Caramel Sauce - there are hazards

Caramel sauce is awesome on cheesecake. This entry is specifically written for the previous blog entry.

Note: Making caramel sauce at home uses few ingredients but you are in immediate danger of serious or life threatening injuries if you do not exercise caution when making this recipe. Pay attention!

Some warnings and best practices: Do not use a heavy iron pot for this task. You want a pot that absorbs and dissipates heat fast. Do not use an iron or heavy enamel or ceramic pot that holds onto energy and releases it slowly. The process of making caramel can get out of control really fast. You want a cooking pot or saucepan that releases its heat quickly.

Wear safety glasses and if you are using a candy thermometer, wear heat proof gloves or mitts. Candy burns are extremely dangerous and can result in permanent scarring.

Ingredients

  • 1 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp. butter, cubed

In a small, thin, conductive saucepan over medium heat, add sugar and salt and cover with water.

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring every so often until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high and cook until you achieve a deeply buterscotch-copper colour in the mix, without stirring, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Using a candy thermometer (and I hope you do) you want it to reach 350° F.

Once caramel is a deep copper color, turn off heat, remove from heat source (Oven mitts on!) and immediately stir in cream and butter. Mixture will bubble up so be very, VERY, careful!

Let cool slightly in pan, then transfer to a container to cool completely. You can keep the caramel sauce in the fridge for around one week – as if it won’t be used up within a day!

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Culinary designs for living - Instant pot salted caramel cheesecake · 17 March 2019 by colin newell

Salted caramel Instant Pot Cheesecake 2019

I don’t rant much about kitchen appliances. They are all tools and they have a job to do. Few tools, however, are true time and energy savers. The Instant Pot (a digital pressure cooker no less…) has been a revolutionary game changer in our busy little kitchen. We’ve made pastas, BBQ ribs, hot and spicy South Asian creations, cajun classics like Jambalaya, healthy breakfast standards like steel cut oats and eggs (any style) and a very passable risotto! Finally whipping up a delicious and creamy classic New York style cheesecake has been the crowning achievement for the Instant Pot. Here’s how you can do it too!

The recipe for the caramel sauce (which is one of the toughest steps) will be featured in the very next blog entry

Some tips to make the perfect Instant Pot cheesecake

  • Pre-baking the crust will make it crisper and crunchier than freezing.
    • In order to avoid lumps in your batter, ensure that all of your ingredients are room temperature.
  • Take the cream cheese, sour cream and eggs out of the refrigerator at least an hour before you plan to start.
    • Mixing is key to a perfectly smooth cheesecake free of air bubbles and cracks.
    • Do not overmix! 30 seconds of mixing tops per step!
    • Mix on low speed, and add the eggs in one at a time.
  • A springform pan or round cake pan with a removable bottom works best
  • If you line both the bottom and the sides of the pan with parchment paper, you should be able to get that perfect, smooth look along the outside of your cheesecake.
  • The size pan you choose will depend on the size of your Instant Pot. An 8″ pan works well with the 8-quart, while a 6″ to 7″ pan is perfect for the 6-quart.
  • Wrap a sling made of foil around the pan to make removal easier. Fold a long piece of foil in at least thirds, lengthwise. Place the pan in the middle of the foil strip and pull up over either side. When placing the pan on the trivet in the inner liner, make sure the ends of the foil sling are sticking up over the sides.

    Ingredients and process

The Cheesecake:

  • 28 graham crackers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 farm fresh eggs
    Graham wafer - the secret to great cheesecake!

The Crust – Spray your 7-inch springform pan lightly with cooking spray.
Cut a piece of parchment paper in a circle to fit the bottom of the pan, then spray with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the graham crackers, white sugar and butter, and mix well.
Press the mixture firmly into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. I used a whiskey glass – flat bottom – very handy.

Bake at 350F for 13 minutes. Remove and set aside.

The Cheesecake mix
In the bowl of your stand mixer, blend the cream cheese and sugar until well combined. Don’t exceed 30 seconds.
Add in the sour cream and mix until smooth. Don’t exceed 30 seconds.
Add in the flour, salt and vanilla, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Don’t exceed 30 seconds of mixing!
Add in the eggs, then mix again until just smooth. At this stage, don’t over mix the batter. 30 seconds per step!

Pour the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust.

Water - the key to cheesecake success!

The Instant Pot Process
Pour 2 cups of water into the bottom of the Instant Pot. Place the trivet that came with the pot into the bottom. Cut a piece of aluminum foil the same size as a paper towel. Place the foil under the paper towel, then put the springform pan on top of the paper towel. Wrap the bottom of the pan in the foil, using the paper towel as a barrier.

Next, take another piece of foil about 18 inches long folded into thirds lengthwise. Place this under the springform pan, and use the two sides as a sling to place the cheesecake into the pot. It will also make it very easy to remove the cheesecake from the Instant Pot when it’s done.

Once the pan is in the Instant Pot, secure the lid and press Manual.

Adjust the pressure to high and set for 35 minutes, ensuring that the vent value is in the closed position.
Cook the cheesecake in the alloted time, and when finished, allow the pressure to release naturally.

Remove the cheesecake from the pot using the sling you prepared, and place on a wire rack to cool the cheesecake for an hour.

Cover the cheesecake in the pan with foil, and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

When ready to serve, top the cheesecake with the caramel sauce (recipe coming) and sprinkle with sea salt.
Using a butter knife, loosen the sides of the cheesecake from the pan and release the sides of the pan. Expect cheers of applause from the folks lucky enough to be sampling your cheesecake!

Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

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Instant pot living - General Tsao chicken · 27 January 2019 by colin newell

I am a sucker for tasty ethic cooking – whatever it might be. This fairly liberal interpretation of General Tsao Chicken in the Instant-Pot is a good example of one of those dishes. It is cheap to make. You can make it quickly. You can feed a large horde with just one or two Instant Pots. Dig in. Enjoy!

read more of the article

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Winter is coming - Instant Pot Broccoli and Cheddar Soup · 10 November 2018 by colin newell

Instant Post Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This time of year I really enjoy hearty vegetable soups – on dark and dreary late Fall and early Winter weekend evenings, there are few things more satisfying that healthy and filling wholesome vegetable soup. This new Instant Pot recipe feels like it’s destined to be a classic.

Ingredients
3 Tbsp Butter
2 tsp Olive Oil
1 small Onion, diced
1 large Carrot, shredded (about 1 cup)
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Coarse Salt
1/4 tsp fresh ground Nutmeg
2 cloves Garlic, pressed or minced
2 cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth, low sodium
1 1/2 lbs Broccoli Florets, fresh (chopped-shredded, about 6-8 cups)

Roux To Thicken

1/4 cup Flour
1/4 cup Butter

To Finish
6 oz Cheddar Cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 oz Monterey Jack Cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
2 cups Half and Half

Instructions

Gather all ingredients, and prepare all of the vegetables, and shred the cheese. It’s easier if you have it all ready to go.

Turn on the Instant pot’s Sauté setting.
Add the butter and olive oil when it heats up. Then add the onion and cook for a few minutes.
Add the grated carrot and cook for a minute to soften.
Add the pepper. paprika, salt, nutmeg, and garlic. Cook for a minute, stirring.
Add the broth, and stir.

Add the broccoli, but don’t stir. Put the lid on and lock it in place. Set the steam release knob to the Sealing position.
Cancel the Sauté function.

Then press the Pressure Cook/Manual button or dial. Then the + or – to select 5 minutes (High Pressure).

When the cooking cycle is over, let the pot sit undisturbed for 5 minutes (5 minute Natural Release).
Then Quick Release the remaining pressure by turning the steam release knob to the Venting Position.
Turn off the pot.
If you want a creamier consistency, use an immersion blender. I like the slightly more rustic finish.

Mix the flour and butter together in a microwave safe dish and microwave for 15 seconds. Then mix very well until it is smooth.

Turn the Sauté setting back on and mix in the flour/butter mixture and stir until it starts to thicken.
Add the cheeses and stir in. Cancel the Sauté function and add in the half and half. Stir well.

Taste and adjust salt, if necessary.
Serve with some nice sourdough or cheese bread/buns.


Colin Newell is a resident of Victoria B.C. Canada and an active member of the Canadian Media Guild – he enjoys cooking and talking about it.

Enjoy some audio tracks from the brilliant local talent of Jeff Albert… Lonely Love

If the Ocean was Whiskey

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Fresh Tomato Basil Pasta · 25 August 2018 by colin newell

Fresh Tomato Basil pasta with Balsamic crema

It’s a sure sign of summer’s forward motion towards fall when the garden baskets fill with cherry tomatoes and basil plants bow under the weight of their own bounty.

This simple pasta dish is vegetarian/vegan and is a delight paired with a voluminous red white.

Ingredients –

Fettuccine for pasta – fresher the better.
Olive oil
Cherry tomatoes – around 1 cup or so. Halved.
1/2 cup chopped basil (Fresh!) – and chopped fresh garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
Chili flakes
Balsamic crema
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-reggiano cheese

Process

Put on salted water for pasta (enough for two people…)
Heat a saute pan with two tablespoons of olive oil.
When heat achieved (medium) put in 3/4 of the halved tomatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper (heavy on the pepper)
Saute for around 2 minutes – then add heaping tablespoon of chopped garlic and a sprinkle of chilli flakes to taste
Stir for another minute or so and add a 1/4 cup of white wine.
Turn heat down to low medium.
Take half of the chopped basil and throw it into the saute pan. Mix or stir. Cook for 2 minutes.
Drain the pasta.
Add it to your Saute pan. Mix to combine. Add 3/4 of the cheese and the remaining basil. Mix to combine.
Divide between two plates and garnish with remaining cheese.


Colin Newell is a Victoria resident and coffee lover who appreciates simple dishes served with love… and wine…

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