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on 25 September 2012
I remember the hissing, rattling, frightening pressure cooker we had when I was a child which was used for steamed puddings and ham on occasions so although intrigued I was wary of using pressure cookers again. Recently there's been a lot of talk about the new style modern pressure cookers and how quiet they are and how time saving they can be. I learned via Twitter that this cookbook had been published and decided to purchase a pressure cooker and it at the same time. All I can say is "life changing!". If, like me, you love to eat well, enjoy cooking in general but sometimes find the rush to cook at the end of a busy day stressful or if you're a fan of dried beans but always forget to pre-soak them in time then a pressure cooker is for you. And if you want a cookbook that helps you pull together a great tasting meal in minutes then this is the cookbook for you too.

So far I've cooked 'Quick Chicken Supper for Two', 'One-pot Lentils with Sausages', 'Basque Squid Stew', 'Caponata', followed numerous instructions on cooking chickpeas, vegs and wild rice among others. I simply cannot wait to try some of the more unusual recipes like cheesecake and chocolate pots. I found this cookbook to have really clear instructions, well-laid out pages and very easy to use. Catherine explains recipes calmly and offers tips and alternatives. It really has taken the pressure off (pardon the pun) preparing an evening meal. So, do yourself a favour, buy a pressure cooker and this cookbook. Highly recommended.
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on 25 October 2012
Summary: This is an exceptional cookbook that is packed full of helpful tips for family cooking as well as an outstanding guide to using the pressure cooker. Even if you already own an extensive range of books on pressure cooking, if you have a nagging feeling that you could achieve more with pressure cooking, you need this one. I've used a pressure cooker for more than 30 years and have read a fair number of books dedicated to them but I've never learned so much as I have from Catherine Phipps' cookbook.


For some people, it seems that pressure cookers were always destined to be disregarded as a cooking device because of (generally unfounded) reservations about their safety and difficulty in using them properly (what was the proper amount of hiss and rock that indicated it was up to the desired pressure?). And now, with the ubiquity of microwaves, they're discounted because another time-saving device is readily available. Modern pressure cookers have lots of safety features and it's easier to judge when they're up to pressure and from when the recipes should be timed. Catherine Phipps gives a good overview of them along with helpful advice about appropriate sizes and other useful equipment and utensils. Just reading about how she discovered pressure cooking and developed her enthusiasm for what they represent in time-saving, fuel economy and, above all, as a technique for improving food preparation, gives the reader a strong hint that pressure cookers are rarely used to their full potential.

Reading it is like spending time in the kitchen with a very knowledgeable friend who not only demonstrates a dish but enlivens it with a personal story, offers some insight into an ingredient or mentions the impact of one element on the cooking time of another (eg, tomatoes on sardines) then suggests variations to suit other budgets, palates and dietary preferences and tops it off with time-saving shortcuts.

Like slow cookers, pressure cookers can provide flavourful food for people with erratic schedules: all too often, however, they yield uninspiring, dull-coloured, over-cooked, yet, somehow still tough food that sinks the heart as well as the stomach. Catherine Phipps understands this and, where appropriate, advises softening or sealing some items in advance of pressure cooking, or interrupting the cook to add ingredients at just the right time so that they don't over-cook.

The range of recipes is eclectic and meets the needs of cooks who want to try something different while still being able to feed a family (no mean feat). There are the typical but good recipes for stocks and poached chicken that you expect in a pressure cooker book, along with bacon and onion suet roll and some excellent bean/lentil stews.

I started using the absorption method for some pasta in sauce dishes after reading about it in Rosa Tidy's Pasta Book so was pleased that Catherine Phipps gives recipes and guidelines for how this technique can be adapted and improved further for pressure cooking.

I was delighted but very surprised to see recipes for rose petal jelly and lemon curd among the more usual preserves and intrigued enough to try them both, with excellent results (both are simple and good).

Catherine Phipps' recipes for both vegetables and fish/seafood were new to me and make excellent additions to the repertoire. I've made the confit tomatoes, roasted garlic, caramelised endives, roasted red peppers and cumin spiced potatoes several times and still can't quite believe how easy and quick these are for so much flavour (and no need to turn the oven on to roast the garlic or peppers which keeps the kitchen cooler and saves fuel).

Because the preserves and vegetables had been so successful, I suspended my misgivings about cooking fish and seafood in the pressure cooker and tried Catherine Phipps' en papillotte fish and the Basque squid stew. I was very pleased with both and will summon up the courage to try out her Greek octopus salad in the future.

I now eat eggs more regularly as I'd previously no idea that they're so well suited to pressure cooking. This is not just a case of using the pressure cooker as a faster way to produce something but an improved way (the Scotch eggs recipe advises you to steam the eggs at low pressure to achieve a runny yolk and just set white and this is well worth adapting for other recipes).

Thanks to Catherine Phipps, I've learned new information about pressure cooking and that it's suited to a greater variety of foodstuffs and dishes than I realised and this has extended my range of practical meals for the working week and other, more frivolous, occasions. I look forward to cooking my way through the recipes I haven't attempted yet.
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on 4 January 2013
I bought a WMF pressure cooker on this author's advice, there is a great section about choosing a pressure cooker which you can read with the 'take a look' feature on Amazon. I bought the book alongside the pressure cooker and It's a great cookbook.

The start of the book goes through all the basics you need to know about pressure cooking, and all the equipment you need, it's mostly things you will already have but it's handy to know how these things will be used.

I've tried a few of the recipes so far and they have all turned out perfectly. I was sceptical about making risotto in a pressure cooker, mine usually takes a good 50-60 minutes from start to finish. The cooking time for this recipe is only 5 minutes and it was by far the best I've ever made, really creamy with loads of flavour. The dhal had great consistency and flavour too (another meal that usually takes me an hour) but only 12 minutes in a pressure cooker.

The thing I like most about this cookbook is the amount and variety of recipes. I cook a lot so I can see how this book will be a good tool in converting some of my own recipes for the pressure cooker, and also recipes from other books. It also helps you to get away from the idea of only using the pressure cooker for stews and braises, and has far more creative recipes than I expected.

All in all, I just can't wait to cook more things from it.
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on 6 September 2012
I have so far cooked 3 dishes from here - the tarka dhal, chocolate pots and caponata (albeit without the anchovies) and all have turned out delicious. I love dhal, and I think Catherine's is probably now my favourite version. I am intrigued by the one pot pasta dishes, as that is something I have never even considered before, and the simple instructions to make dishes like hummus or even dulche de leche, show once again what a versatile beast the pressure cooker is.
Catherine eloquently explains how she has arrived at her recipes and guides us on a journey to cook simply, cost-consciously and hopefully deliciously. At a time when people have less and less time to cook the speed of pressure cooking is a welcome surprise.
As a non-meater, my only request would be that Catherine writes a vegetarian version. I can't wait to pre-order it!
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on 25 September 2012
I have always had a pressure cooker, and always a Prestige HiDome old fashioned one with weights. I had one with my mum at home, I had another as my own as a wedding present some 30 years ago, and I replaced that last year as the handle had fallen apart. But always the same one. Now I am wishing that I had read Catherine's book first before buying that last one, I would have got a nice shallow wide one, which would have made a lot of her recipes easier to do.

And there are a LOT of recipes and tips that I want to try in this book. I was amazed at the things I would never have thought of cooking in a pressure cooker - vegetables, fruit for cakes, fruit for marmalade (I admit I do that, but didn't realise that I was cooking the fruit for too long, now I have cut the time back) in addition to the steamed puddings, soups and casseroles I have always made. Now that the price of gas and electricity is on the up and up again, it is even more important to save fuel, and this book will make that enjoyable as well as necessary.

Production also is nice. I like that the book doesn't have a jacket. I seem to spend a lot of my life taping torn jackets together, so this wipe clean board cover is much more convenient.

A recommended buy.
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on 20 March 2013
At last, a pressure cooker recipe book that is up-to-date and written from a UK standpoint, i.e. uses weight. Most on Amazon are from the US, so you end with measures in US cups and the like.
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on 18 April 2013
As a 'throw it in the pot' cook, I wouldn't have known where to start without some clear guidance on the nuances of pressure cooking, so this book has been invaluable. The writing style is accessible, often drawing upon the author's personal experiences of different cuisines, but married with the precise details and timings essential for this mode of cooking.

As a novice, and being a little wary at first, I started with some basics, such as brown rice and garlic mashed potatoes, before progressing, through dhals and risottos, to some of the book's more adventurous combinations. Every dish I've tried has turned out perfectly and the recipes are easy to scale up or down from the 'serves four' standard in the book. There are also occasional tips on variations and additions to the main recipes. As a vegetarian, I thought I might be limited, but there are dedicated sections for "Beans and Pulses" and "Rice, Grains and Pasta", as well as for vegetables, soups, starters and desserts. I've even modified some of the meat and fish recipes without too much difficulty.

In summary, this book is a wonderful collection of recipes by someone who is clearly inspired by food, and for a practical and inventive guide to pressure cooking I doubt it could be bettered.
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on 9 July 2013
I am new to pressure cooking - why it has taken me, a keen cook, so long to discover it I have no idea - and I have bought a few cookery books to help me get used to the basic principles. This is the only one that I would recommend. The general instructions are solid but, more importantly, the recipes, in themselves, are delicious and as incentives to try out a new technique, inspirational. In my old age I have become very interested in energy saving and thrift. A pressure cooker will save you a lot of time and a lot of fuel. It will enable you get the best out of cheaper cuts of meat which then rival expensive alternatives for taste and flavour. And, you can eat tasty, nutritious food in no time at all. One of my family's favourite meals is from this wonderful cookery book and is a brew of lettuce, bacon and peas which I knock up in under six minutes start to finish. For me, this is a must-have piece of kitchen equipment. Chuck out your microwave, buy a pressure cooker and rediscover flavour.
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As a child the pressure cooker was something to be fearful of, perhaps in part due to its angry hissing and funny noises, in part due to this reviewer's mother regaling tales no doubt heard from friends about wayward pressure cookers and the damage they can cause.

Is it any wonder that this reviewer has tended to keep away from this fairly versatile kitchen appliance in subsequent years? It seems that the author had the same type of fears and concerns. Maybe this book will change things for you also?

In essence this squat, compact hardback book has 150 different recipes of all differing types that are designed for the pressure cooker. Cooking rices and pasta within 10 minutes, tenderising cheap cuts of meat in just 20 minutes and flexible cooking without tiresome preparation are all things cited by the book as reasons to embrace the pressure cooker. After reading the excellent introduction and explanation of the whys and whatnots of pressure cooking, this reviewer at least felt a bit more at ease, a bit energised, a bit more open to try (again) this mysterious art.

The recipes are split into fairly logical sections - soups & stocks; starters, snacks & savouries; meat; poultry & game; fish & seafood; beans & pulses; rice, grains & pasta; vegetables; puddings and finally preserves. Each chapter starts with an overview of its own, tailored to pressure cooking. Plain language is used, on the whole, for the various recipes and they are relatively easy to follow, with the caveat that you are having to learn a different way of cooking at the same time.

It would have been nice for each chapter to have had its own index (or the recipes listed in the front index) to aid navigation. A little more internal signposting might make this book a bit more navigable overall. Similarly a simple listing of the estimated preparation time and cooking time would have been a great help here - it is amazing just how many cookbooks tend to ignore the obvious small things that can make a difference. Similarly there is no portion sizing displayed. The photographs, or should it be said the few photographs that accompany the recipes, are very good and embracing but each recipe should really have its own illustration. It is a miniature shop window for the recipe after all and this is no bargain basement book where costs have needed to be cut to the bone.

In some ways this book leaves the reviewer confused. It is a good book, it encourages you to try something new and there will be a lot of benefits once you master it. However it perhaps gives a slightly overly-false impression of just how easy it is, perhaps by virtue of the excellent, but more involved recipes. A few more quick, basic and simple recipes to help get you more experienced would have been in order.
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on 5 October 2012
There must be a case for having a pressure cooker in the kitchen rather than a microwave, as you can do "real cooking" in a pressure cooker rather than just re-heating in the microwave. You lose almost none of the liquid content of a recipe, so stews and casseroles stay very juicy. I was excited at the prospect of the one-pot pasta meals, and have cooked the meatball and pasta recipe, which turned out exactly as expected, and was delicious.I added a drizzle of cream, and chopped parsley before serving.

The cheesecake looked a bit like scrambled eggs on opening the cooker, but it "calmed down" as it cooled and tasted very good. I shall do that again. The wipe-clean cover is a huge improvement on dust jackets, which always look tatty after a few years. There are many many excellent ideas in this book and I am so pleased with it.
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