The New Fast Food: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in less than 30 Minutes is the cookbook you just might have been waiting for. Author Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, calls herself The Veggie Queen on numerous videos on youtube as well as on her own websites (see www.youtube.com/TheVQ). She has been teaching courses on pressure cooking since 1996 and has been a McDougall chef since 2002. In this cookbook she shares what she has learned about pressure cooking and offers recipes or general directions for grains, beans and other legumes, vegetable dishes, soups, stews and other main courses, and desserts.
Did you think pressure cooking has been replaced by microwave and convection oven cooking? Guess again. The pressure cooker can cook some things much faster than they can be cooked any other way, and with less attention.
But what about the danger? Newer pressure cookers have safety features that make explosions almost impossible. If, however, you have the old style “jiggle-top” cooker you can still use it safely. Just follow basic rules.
If you are interested in seeing what this magic pot can do for vegan cooking but you don’t really know anything about pressure cookers, Nussinow provides more than enough information. The first three chapters are all about the cooker: what it’s good for, how it works, choosing a cooker, when you have a need for speed, taking care of the cooker, troubleshooting, adapting regular recipes (including crockpot recipes), how long different foods take to cook. You don’t need to read all three chapters before you can open your pot, however. Just check the basics and try your first recipe. You can always go back with specific questions.
The recipes. The Veggie Queen offers detailed information on and recipes for grains, beans, vegetables, soups, stews and other main courses, and desserts. These recipes take us far beyond anything offered in the manual that comes with the cooker. She also provides an interesting discussion of “potatoes, the glycemic index and the pressure cooker,” which explains why different cooking methods change the glycemic index of a food, and why potatoes are not bad for you. Some highlights from my own forays into this book:
Risotto: you can indeed make risotto in a pressure cooker. It is easy and fast. The texture is not exactly like what you’ll get if you cook it on the stove, constantly stirring, but it’s more than palatable.
Rice, plain: It’s faster and easier to cook rice in a pressure cooker than in a rice cooker. The texture is different, moister, but it doesn’t burn on the bottom. A nice compromise.
Vegetable broth: This has become my go-to method for making veg broth. The basic recipe calls for the plain jane veggies that tend to be inexpensive and whose flavors blend well: carrots, onions, garlic, leeks, celery. I followed the recipe the first time. After that I simply used what I had on hand that is suitable for broth, including bags of frozen pulp from my juicer, added water and cranked it up. Five minutes under pressure. The advantages of making your own broth: cost, taste, and the ability to make it salt-free.
Black bean soup: I threw this together in minutes and had it done in time to take it to my sewing class potluck one Tuesday morning. It was perfect. Just had to offer lemon slices.
Split-pea soup: In the old days we were told never to make split-pea soup in the pressure cooker. It’s okay now. More than okay. I didn’t need to use the hand blender to get it smooth.
Artichokes: What was it…four minutes? Four artichokes. Mine were rather small so they were a little overdone.
Chickpea curry*: One of the best recipes I tried. Fast, just a few ingredients, and really delicious.
Other vegetables: I made “Big Thyme Broccoli”. It was overcooked. I don’t know how it could have been done without overcooking, really. Garlic mashed potatoes: operator error here. The recipe said to use “4 medium potatoes”. I wasn’t sure what “medium” meant so I added more. Didn’t have as much liquid for the amount of potato as I should have. Still tasted good, even if a little bit browned.
Notes about the package: Every recipe starts at the top of a page, making it easy to find, copy, and use the recipe. There are many photographs throughout, but they are all generic: photos of fruits, vegetables, grains, beans. No photographs of actual dishes cooked in the pressure cooker. I would very much have liked to see that instead. There are appendices at the end of the book, providing additional information on various foods, cookers, and techniques. Ms. Veggie Queen also offers a “bonus” cookbook for those who purchase this one. The bonus is a pdf file containing additional pressure cooker recipes by well-known vegan cooks. *The chickpea curry is from this bonus book.
Recommendation: This book should be an indispensable part of any vegan cook’s library. It gives you what you need to get on the road to fast, healthy pressure cooking. I hope that future editions will include photographs of some of the dishes.
Side note: I found the information on electric pressure cookers a bit negative. I have both types and find that I use the electric one while the other sits in a cupboard. Some of us find that the convenience of the timer makes all the difference.