All posts filed under: Ramblings

The glass is half full | DadCooksDinner.com

What Can I Use Instead of Wine?

A question about my Pressure Cooker Beef Short Ribs recipe: Could I just leave the wine out if I don’t want to use alcohol or should I replace it with another liquid? If so, what is best? Some people can’t (or won’t) use alcohol in their cooking. I’m not one of them, but I understand where they’re coming from. I don’t want to get my guests blitzed by making beef stew, you know? I do use alcohol in my recipes, usually wine or beer. Sometimes hard cider, particularly with pork. I’m going to refer to “wine” from now on, because it is my go-to cooking alcohol, but everything I that follows applies to beer and cider as well. Also, this is pressure cooking specific – that’s what the original question was about – but the basic ideas apply to all types of cooking. Can I boil off all the alcohol? For my pressure cooker recipes, I always boil the wine for a minute before locking the lid, to simmer off some of the alcohol. Alcohol …

Removing a refrigerated fat cap | DadCooksDinner.com

What if I Don’t Have a Fat Separator?

After last week’s talk about draining ground beef, I have a follow up fat question. Reader Lysandra asked about the fat separator step in my Pressure Cooker Pot Roast recipe: What can I do if I don’t have a Fat Separator? I have three suggestions…maybe four: How to remove fat if you don’t have a fat separator Skip the defatting step. Who’s got time to let fat settle? Dump everything in a serving bowl and go. I do this more often than I’d like to admit, especially on busy weeknights. Let the pot settle, then skim. This is the old school method. Fat is lighter than water, and if you let everything settle, fat floats to the top of the pot. Do what they do in professional kitchens – get out a big spoon and start skimming. (In professional kitchens that is a large part of the saucier’s job – skimming the fat off of their sauces as they simmer.) I can scoop out a lot of fat this way, but it takes patience and a …

Drain Ground Beef? Why? | DadCooksDinner.com

Do you drain ground beef? Why?!?

Q&A with a Commenter on my Quick Chili in an 8 Quart Pressure Cooker video: COMMENTER: I’m surprised you don’t drain your ground beef. DadCooksDinner: What? Why in the world would you do that? COMMENTER: To drain off the fat. After cooking. Everyone does it. If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you jump too? Every now and again I get asked “Why don’t you drain your ground beef?”. I was surprised the first few times I was asked. I had never heard of such a thing. Do I drain my ground beef? No! Why would I? Sure, it may get rid of some of the fat. But I want that fat in the recipe – fat is flavor. Speaking of flavor, I’m not just draining fat. I’m draining all the juices that escaped the meat – that’s even more flavor down the drain. If you worry about fat, buy leaner ground beef. “Ground Beef” is usually 70% lean, 30% fat. Maybe I could understand draining that. But, why not buy 80% lean ground chuck instead? …

DadCooksDinner T-Shirt in Black | DadCooksDinner.com

The New Theme Is Here! (And…T-Shirts!)

As you probably noticed, my new theme went live! Thanks to Jasmine and Chris at RXVP, I have a new design, logo, and color scheme. We’re still cleaning up the details and a few messes. (I apologize about the weird right-shift on Tuesday’s email – that should be fixed. And, if you were looking for last week’s Thermoworks Smoke Gateway writeup, it is back online.) In honor of my new look, I’m trying something new – blog swag – a limited edition run of t-shirts and coffee mugs. Want to proudly display your love of DadCooksDinner, and my new Pressure Cooker icon? You can order from my Teespring storefront: https://teespring.com/stores/dadcooksdinner [Teespring.com] Men’s t-shirts are available in black and white, Women’s t-shirts are in black and purple, and the coffee mugs are in black and white. If you want one, don’t delay – they are only on sale for two weeks. The sale ends September 29 at 11PM EST. And, yes, I am mainly doing this to get my own t-shirt and mug. If you order one, …

Working on a recipe video | DadCooksDinner.com

Nine Years of DadCooksDinner

The other day, my friend Judy said that Fall is the real start of the new year. “That’s it!”. She’s absolutely right – I think it’s the rhythm of the school year – but I always treat Fall as when I start new projects. (New Years Resolutions are for when those projects aren’t going so well…but that’s another story.) So, it’s appropriate that my blog anniversary is in late August. Specifically, August 20th, 2008. DadCooksDinner started when I posted a recipe (and I use the term “recipe” loosely) for Chipotle en Adobo Puree. It’s 2017 now – holy cow – and I’ve been writing here for 9 years. I’ve know I’ve been doing this for a while, but 9 years? That’s a lot of recipes. 2016–2017 recap As you probably noticed, I leaned into pressure cooking even more over the last year. This has been good for the blog, from a traffic standpoint; the Instant Pot is a cultural phenomenon, and pressure cooker baby back ribs, chicken legs, quick chili, and New York cheesecake are …

Theme Moving Day

If everything goes according to plan, as you read this we’ll be moving my blog to its new theme and color scheme. If not, I’ll be shaking my fist at the computer gods, and we’ll be trying again in a week or so. Wish me luck! [Update 2017-08-27: And…not this week. Darn. We’ve rescheduled for the week after Labor day. So, stop back in two weeks to see what’s up…)

Electric Pressure Cooker Tote Bags | DadCooksDinner.com

Electric Pressure Cooker Tote Bags

Question from a reader: Have you tried a pressure cooker carrying bag? Years ago, I bought a slow cooker that came with a travel bag. I used it a lot, especially for potlucks and my annual chili cookoff at work. Now that I have an Instant Pot, my pressure cooker is gathering dust in the cabinet…but I miss having that travel bag. So, when I got this question, I went over to Amazon to see what was available. I found two pressure cooker tote bags: the $30 Pressure Chef, and the $40 Quick & Carry; I ordered them both to see what I thought of them. (The things I do for my readers…like order more stuff from Amazon. Quick & Carry Travel Tote Bag The Quick & Carry is the fancier of the two bags. It has a main central pouch for the pressure cooker, with a zipper around the lid of the bag to lift the cooker in and out. It also has two zippered accessory pockets – one on the top of the …

Pressure Cooker Red Pepper Hummus | DadCooksDinner.com

The Case of the Missing Inner Pot

The cook at our house cooked rice in the instant pot, but since the stainless container was soaking in the sink from the previous use, the cook didn’t remember there was a container to put it in first! So it went directly into the bottom of the InstantPot. I’ve managed to get most of the burned and uncooked rice out of the InstantPot, but there are a few rice kernels inside. I removed the bottom of the InstantPot and was able to get more of them out this way also. Oil was used along with the water in the cooking process. – Commenter Treva Oh, Treva, I know exactly how this feels. Years ago, I was teaching Tim how to pressure cook his favorite side dish – black beans. This was a while ago – I think we were still using my Instant Pot Lux, or maybe my Cuisinart Electric Pressure cooker. Anyway, I showed Tim how to sort beans, and had him set up on the counter next to the kitchen sink. The pressure …

Sugar in Grilling Rubs? Doesn’t It Burn?

A question from reader Brian: “Why does every recipe I see for grilling rubs contain so much brown sugar, which burns nearly immediately on the grill? It doesn’t seem to add any real sweetness that I can sense, in the same way that I can tell where the salt, cayenne or paprika influences the taste. Seems odd to think that burnt sugar would be something I’d want to add to my ribs or chicken, and that the sugar is better left to sauce that you add after cooking.” I got this question from reader Brian (by way of my old friend Geoff) in a Facebook message. My reply to him turned into a rant, and then this post. I’ve warned against sugar and grilling in a couple of recipes, but never put my thoughts in one place on the blog. So, here’s my response: Brian, you’re right – grilling rubs with sugar in them are not a good idea. Sugar will burn, and I try to avoid it in rubs that are going over direct …

New York City | DadCooksDinner.com

The Big Apple (Road Trip Week 3)

New York City was hot, noisy, dirty…and full of energy, people, and fun things to do. We went to the top of the Empire State Building at night, and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on a gray and overcast day. We toured the Whitney museum and MOMA, piloted remote control sailboats in Central Park, and visited the somber memorial for 9/11. We enjoyed street cart kabobs and chili dogs, modern Sichuan at Café China, flat whites at Birch Coffee, the fried yard bird at Red Rooster Harlem, prosecco and rosé at Eataly, pop up food trucks on Broadway, table side guacamole at Rosa Mexicano, and a last day in the city breakfast at Balthazar. Now, after weeks on the road, we are relaxing on the shores of Lake Erie. I love traveling – but sometimes I need a vacation from my vacation.

Thank You for the Maine Suggestions (Road Trip Week 2)

Thank you to everyone who gave me suggestions for Mount Desert Island, Bar Harbor, and Acadia national park. We had a fantastic time, even if the hike up the north ridge of Cadillac Mountain almost finished me. Favorites from the trip Lobsters, lobsters everywhere! Lobster rolls were on the menu no matter where we went. My favorite meal was the whole steamed lobster and mussels at Thurston’s Lobster Pound…but it was hard to go wrong with any of the seafood choices on Mount Desert Island The Island Cruise with Bass Harbor Cruises was the highlight of the trip. I learned a ton about lobster fishing, the islands of Downeast Maine, and got some fantastic photos of the seals lounging on the rocks. Highly recommended. Popovers at Jordan Pond restaurant in the park. Unfortunately, it was raining when we visited, so the view from the terrace was gray with low cloud cover. The popovers made up for the dreary view – they were massive and airy. Thanks again to everyone for the food suggestions. Once again, …

Amazon Prime Day 2017 – Instant Pot Deals?

Looking to buy an Instant Pot? Heads up! Amazon has had great deals on the Instant Pot Duo the last two years on Prime Day, their annual “Christmas in July” sale. [Update 8:46AM EST: It’s the Instant Pot 8 Quart Duo on sale – if you want one, hurry on over to Amazon!] Why am I telling you this? Because, today is Amazon Prime Day for 2017. I’m in Downeast Maine with only a hint of cell phone coverage, so I don’t know any details, but… I have a feeling there will be deals on the Instant Pot today. (And, if we’re lucky, on the new Instant Pot Plus). Check out the current prices below – I’ve got the list prices, so you can check if a good deal is available: Instant Pot 6 quart Duo (Regularly $99) Instant Pot 6 quart Duo Plus (Regularly $119) Instant Pot 8 quart Duo (Regularly $129 – NOW $89!!) Also, I am an Amazon affiliate – any purchases made through my Amazon links support DadCooksDinner at no extra cost …

Selections from Marche Jean-Talon - collage of asparagus, rotisserie chicken, and mixed berries | DadCooksDinner.com

Thank You for the Montreal Suggestions (Road Trip Week 1)

Thank you to everyone for the road trip suggestions! Montreal Smoked Meat was every bit as good as advertised, Poutine got mixed reviews (I loved it, the kids…not so much), and my French is every bit as bad as ever. Favorites from the trip (So Far): Everyone recommended a visit to Schwartz’s Deli for the smoked meat, and I’m sure it is fantastic, because there was a line out the door, down the street, and around the corner. We needed lunch, not a 2 hour wait, so we had to switch plans. We went to Snowdon Deli instead, and were able to walk right in and start eating our Montreal Smoked meat sandwiches. (Picture at the top of the page) It was worth the trip – very similar to corned beef or pastrami, but the smoke gives it a little something extra. I’m a sucker for farmers markets, and Marche Jean-Talon is a good one. The central vegetable market is surrounded by a sea of specialist food places. I loved wandering around, seeing what was …

Montreal and Maine Suggestions? (East Coast Road Trip 2017)

DadCooksDinner is on the road again! My day job gives me a month long sabbatical every five years. It’s that time again, so I’m using it to take a trip out East. I have two teenagers and a pre-teen. (How did that happen so fast?) So I think this is our last chance for a while to take a big family road trip. I’ve never been to Maine, so we are heading there to spend a week at Acadia national park. We’re going by way of Montreal for a few days (my wife’s request), to Maine, and then driving down the east coast to New York City (the kids request.) After that, we’re heading to my family’s cottage on Lake Erie, to hang out by the beach until the end of the month. Why am I telling you all this? Two reasons: Posting will be spotty for the month of July. I have some posts ready to go, but not enough for the whole month, and posting three times a week is probably not going …

Fagor Lux and Instant Pot Duo | DadCooksDinner.com

Throwback Tuesday: Revisiting Favorite Instant Pots

What’s that? It’s supposed to be #ThrowbackThursday? Whoops… Last week was crazier than usual – planning for an extended vacation, a couple of big birthdays (Happy Birthday, Dear!) and a health scare in my family. (Get well, Matt!) I didn’t have the time – or, more importantly, the focus – to work on a new recipe post, so I spent the time cleaning up a few things that have been bothering me. Some of the work is behind the scenes – there’s a blog redesign coming! – but some of it is updates to my Which Pressure Cooker Should I Buy and Instant Pot Frequently Asked Questions posts. If you are a newer reader, and haven’t seen those posts, head on over and check them out. They are two of my most popular posts, and they answer a lot of the questions I get. If you already read them, here’s a summary of the two big changes: My favorite pressure cooker is now the Instant Pot Duo 60 Plus. It pushed my long-time favorite, the …

Grilled Chicken Kebabs With Italian Salsa Verde | DadCooksDinner.com

What Recipes Are You Looking For?

What recipes are you looking for? I avoided Pressure Cooker Beef Brisket for a long time – but, eventually, reader questions pushed me to try it out. And…why did I wait so long? Sure, it’s not Franklin BBQ, but I loved the brisket (and leftover brisket enchiladas…mmm…), and, even better, the post is doing really well online. Time for me to stop ignoring the obvious, and ask you, my readers: what other recipes are you looking for? What would you like me to try out? Sure, I’ve got my own list that I’m working on. But I like to, y’know, actually write stuff that you want to read. Now, I can’t promise anything soon. I’ve got a some posts in the can, and I’m going on a month-long trip to the East Coast with my family this summer. (July is is going to be a black hole – I’m trying to get ahead of it.) But I’ll try to work the best ideas that come up into my schedule. So, let me know in the comments: What recipes do you want to see …

Instant Pot Lineup | DadCooksDinner.com

Update on Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker

A few months back, I threw a question out to my readers: are you using your Instant Pot as a slow cooker? Is it working for you? Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker? [DadCooksDinner.com] When is Low too Low? The answers I got back were…not encouraging. It’s working for some of the commenters, but most people are having problems with it. The most useful tip was: Instant Pot’s slow cooker “Low” mode equals a regular slow cooker’s “Keep Warm” mode Instant Pot slow cooker “Medium” equals slow cooker “Low” Instant Pot slow cooker “High” equals slow cooker “High” Using those settings, I tested my Instant Pot Duo 6 quart and 8 quart models with my favorite Slow Cooker Shredded Pork recipe, and the non-pressure lid. I got good results in Medium=Low and High=High modes, so it can work as a slow cooker for some recipes. But…there were still a lot of comments (and I mean a LOT of comments) about slow cooking failures in the pot. So many that I couldn’t just say “hey, it works for me” – it’s obviously not working …

Gnawing on the bone - Tomahawk Ribeye | DadCooksDinner.com

Memorial Day Cookout 2017

Thick steaks, thin pork chops, sausages, chicken on a spit, cheeseburgers? What’s your plan for Memorial Day? To give you some inspiration for Memorial Day, here are some of my most popular grilling posts. Me? Right now, I’m leaning towards the rotisserie chicken…but those massive tomahawk steaks are also looking good… Grilled Tomahawk Steak – long bone ribeye, reverse seared. Looking for a steak to shock and awe your guests? This is the massive hunk of beef you’re looking for. Basic Technique: Grilled Sausages – I grill sausage starting with indirect heat, then finishing over direct heat to crisp it up. That cooks the meat all the way through, without flareups, and gives me a bit of a browned crust. Perfect for any type of sausage. Grilled Thin Pork Chops, Quick Brinerated – What to do with thin pork chops? Marinade them in a salty, flavorful brinerade, then grill them on one side to maximize the crispness without overcooking. Rotisserie Chicken with Knob Creek Maple glaze and Drip Pan Potatoes – My desert island meal? Rotisserie chicken with drip …

Exploring Sous Vide book cover | DadCooksDinner.com

Cookbook Roundup Spring 2017

The spring cookbook crop this year is…weak. I’m used to a wave of grilling cookbooks that I can’t wait to buy…so many that I don’t know how I’m going to read them all. Not this year; the only barbecue book that really grabs me is from Mike Mills and Amy Mills of Apple City Barbecue. Here are the books I am looking forward to: Amazing Food Made Easy: Exploring Sous Vide by Jason Logsdon Friend of the blog Jason Logsdon turned his Sous Vide course into a cookbook – looking for a deep dive on Sous Vide cooking? This is a great place to start. Grocery: The Buying and Selling of Food in America by Michael Ruhlman My favorite food writer talks about grocery stores…from the viewpoint of Heinen’s Fine Foods, a semi-upscale local grocery chain in my original home town of Cleveland, Ohio. This book checks all the boxes on my “must read” list. Plenty by Diana Henry Speaking of favorite food writers… Diana Henry is my favorite English cookbook author, and she’s back …