What’s that lovely, mouth watering picture opening this blog post, you ask? It’s a New York-style cheesecake, made entirely in the Instant Pot, I say. And it’s one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever made. I didn’t believe a pressure cooker could do it, but let me wax rhapsodic for a few minutes here.
As I mentioned in the last post, I recently became one of the 215,000 new owners of the Instant Pot, purchased on Amazon’s random middle-of-the-summer Prime Day sale. I’ve had the Instant Pot for almost two weeks now, and not a day has gone by that I haven’t used it, usually more than once. I will attempt to keep this post from sounding like an advertisement, but in a week where over forty states in the US are experiencing above-90 degree temperatures, I love having the Instant Pot on my counter for cooking that doesn’t heat up the house. You can cook virtually anything in it that doesn’t benefit from grilling or roasting, and even with those, you can often start the cooking in the Instant Pot and finish in the broiler. You can cook more than one thing at once, with proper timing – a sauce in the bottom, a dish with rice, and something else. If you’re making small quantities of something, you just make it in a smaller pot that you stick on top of the trivet inside the larger pot. (My favorite oatmeal recipe works nicely.) There is also a slow cooking function, but right now I’m still obsessed with the magic of pressure cooking, in which you press a button, leave for only minutes, and come back to perfectly melded together flavors that would take hours in the slow cooker.
I’m also learning a lot from the Facebook groups, which are fascinating from the point of view of an anthropologist. There are 90,000+ people now in the regular Instant Pot Community, so you can search for recipes there and see which ones have been successful for other users. There are three vegan sites I get great ideas from for healthy, plant-based meals. And I love reading posts in the Indian cooking Facebook site: a recurring theme seems to be that the measure of the Instant Pot’s success is whether or not you can “take the kiddos to the park” while your dinner cooks unattended.
Pressure cooking is great for when you don’t have a plan for dinner and need to get it all on the table within an hour. It can also speed up weekend cooking, so you can “batch cook” lots of rice or beans, freeze them, make a couple soups or other dishes quickly, and then have them in the refrigerator to eat all week, thus saving you from having to buy lunch out of desperation because you had nothing in the fridge. (I would like to be better about weekend planning during the upcoming school year.) You can cook by steam, too. Below is a picture of some fried potatoes that cook up in no time in the steamer, after which you quickly fry them.
You can even cook cheesecake. I got a hold of a special 7″ cheesecake pan that fits inside the pot, and this weekend I decided to experiment. I first attempted a vegan one, and I won’t post the recipe because nobody in the family would eat it except for me. The crust, which was a nice mix of walnuts, dates, and oats, was really good, but the cashew-based interior didn’t taste anything like cheesecake. So to prove to my family that a real cheesecake could be produced in this magical wonder, I scoured the Facebook groups for the recipes that got mentioned multiple times, and I found this one for New York Style cheesecake. It did not disappoint, with its buttery graham cracker crust and a creamy, tart filling laced with orange and lemon zests. The only things I did differently were to double the amount of crust (but not the amount of sugar in the crust), to use half light cream cheese and half regular, and to use plain, lowfat yogurt as a topping instead of sour cream.
Basically you make the crust, freeze it in the cute little mini cheesecake pan for fifteen minutes, make your filling in the mixer, fill up the pan, lower it into the Instant Pot on top of a trivet over a little water, and seal it. 35 minutes later: perfection. After cooking, the cheesecake sits in the pot for 15 minutes before going into the refrigerator. It was hard to wait overnight for the end results. I went for a long run (advance calorie burning), and got stuck in a huge thunderstorm a couple miles away from my house. My family had to come and get me. I was feeling so grateful for them, for being safe and warm at home while it poured outside, and for the gorgeous, creamy cheesecake that tasted amazing after the whole ordeal. The only thing that could possibly enhance my happiness would be if I could find out where to buy this decal for my Instant Pot.
There have been a few not-so-successful recipes I’ve tried, and I haven’t really experimented with my own ideas yet, because it’s good to get the hang of the IP by following other people’s recipes first, since it doesn’t use as much water as regular stove top cooking. There are a lot of great recipes on the Internet, and I also like this cookbook, Vegan Under Pressure, which I might review one of these days. For now, here’s a pic of the farro salad I made from that book.
Below I’ll link to a few favorite recipes, in order of how much I loved them, mostly so I can come back and find them again myself, and I’ll keep adding to them as I collect them.
New Orleans Style Beans – made with Rancho Gordo sangre de toro red beans. What takes this recipe to the next level is the addition of liquid smoke and pickle juice from pickled jalapeños. Fantastic.
Pasta Fagioli – great Mediterranean, tomato-based flavors, with protein and carbs.
Indian Butter Chicken – this tasted great over rice. I didn’t add the second can of tomato paste or the full amount of coconut milk – and the dish was super saucy. Use at least three pounds of chicken here, since 2 lbs were still drowning in sauce.
Pressure cooker Potatoes – The beauty of this is that you steam the potatoes first, which means they don’t get waterlogged, and then you just dump them in a frying pan for two minutes.