February 24, 2011

Don't Have a Hissy Fit

There was violent shaking and a constant hissing and I remember my grandfather shouting "she's going to blow!"  Of course this is what he said every time my grandmother used her pressure cooker.  As a child I didn't know whether to believe him or not.  The lid never did blow off the top but I was always very careful about being in the kitchen whilst the pressure cooker was on the stove.

About six months ago I purchased a pressure cooker from Costco.  I had every intention of opening it right away and learning how to use it to make some delicious soups, stews, and corned beef, just like my grandmother did.   Something always seemed to hold me back and the box was placed back in the cupboard.

Finally I took the plunge by taking a class taught by Alyssa Moreau called Cooking Under Pressure.  This non-credit class took place at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific, located in the Kapiolani Community College. It was a hands-on class and we were encouraged to bring our own pressure cookers so that we could get to know them better.  I was going on a date with my pressure cooker!  The other great thing about the class was that we were going to make four dishes - Kabocha-Hominy Stew, Sweet Potato-Corn-Kale Soup, White Bean Stew with Salad Greens on Top, and a Double Mushroom-Barley Soup.  After a brief demonstration of the dishes by Alyssa we were ready to go.  We split into kitchens and worked in teams so that we could complete all of the dishes in four hours. All of the ingredients had been allotted to us but we were responsible for the peeling, chopping, and measuring them. It was a blast and we were able to bring home the dishes we cooked, as well as the left-over ingredients so that we could get some additional practice at home.

The kitchens.

Our instructor Alyssa Moreau.

The recipe I am featuring in this post is the Kabocha-Hominy Stew. Since I had the additional ingredients from the class I decided it would make a great dinner, with a nice loaf of crusty bread on the side.  The only changes I made were to some spinach at the end and, although the original recipe called for cayenne to be added at the end of the cooking time, I didn't want any additional heat so I left it out.  I have never tried hominy before but I liked it in this stew. If you don't care for it feel free to substitute a can of corn in this recipe.  This recipe was provided by the Alyssa and so I am not sure if it is one of her recipes, or if it came from a cookbook.

After taking the class I can honestly say that I am no longer afraid of my pressure cooker.  Our instructor, Alyssa, also recommended the book Cooking Under Pressure by Lorna Sass.  I have requested it from the library so I can take a look before buying it.  I also did a quick web search and found that Lorna Sass has her own blog called Pressure Cooking with Lorna Sass.

Kabocha-Hominy Stew
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups kabocha, chopped into 1 1/2 inch chunks
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 (15oz) can hominy, drained
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour (or corn flour)
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 cups of spinach
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • salt
  • pepper

  1. Mix flour and water together to make a slurry.
  2. Dry toast the cumin in a saucepan.  Remove from pan.
  3. Heat oil in the same pan and add the cumin seeds, onion, and honey and saute until onion is lightly browned.
  4. Add chili powder and garlic to saucepan and cook for a few minutes.
  5. Add the onion mixture, kabocha, and hominy to the pressure cooker and cover with broth.
  6. Place lid on pressure cooker and bring up to pressure, then reduce heat to maintain pressure and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Take off heat and release pressure.
  8. Uncover and add in the flour slurry and stir until the stew is thickened.
  9. Stir in the bell pepper, spinach, and cilantro and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  10. Season with lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Makes about 4 servings.

Recipe courtesy of Alyssa Moreau - Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapiolani Community College.


  1. I don't know what Kabocha or Hominy are but it looks really good! I use my pressure cooker for cooking legumes, much quicker, but I, like you were, am a little afraid of it and don't really understand!! Will check out the recommended blog, thanks!!

  2. You know I've never heard of hominy before and so I must look this out. It sounds wonderful. Sounded a great class and your photo is just beautifully presented. Fun title: true that the hisses are scary, especially when you steam off at the end! Have a great weekend.

  3. Great recipe! I bought a pressure a couple years ago and have only used it a few times - I keep thinking I'm going to blow my head off, so thanks for this recipe! Beautiful bowls.

  4. I love those soup bowls! Lots of people are off-put by hominy, but I actually really enjoy it so I'm sure I would love this soup!

  5. This soup looks fantastic. I have never used a pressure cooker before. How much different/more convenient is it from a slow cooker?

  6. @this designer cooks

    The difference is in the cooking time. For example the kabocha squash in this recipe was cooked in about 5 minutes. Beans that have soaked overnight can be cooked in about 30 minutes.

  7. @foodblogandthedog

    Kabocha is a type of squash and hominy is hulled corn kernels that have been stripped of their bran and germ, and then soaked in a weak lye bath.

  8. Wow! This soup looks great! I have yet to take the plunge into the world of pressure cookery, but I love what you wrote about it. Thanks!

  9. How interesting. I remember my grandmother using her pressure cooker for potatoes every Thanksgiving, and my grandfather had a similar reaction to yours. haha! This looks delicious!

  10. I'm so glad you finally got to use your pressure cooker! Your stew looks tasty!

  11. Love the bowls and platter-gorgeous!! Never had pressure cooker stew-yours looks great:)_

  12. Beautiful photos...add me as another who hasn't heard of kabocha. Off to google :)

  13. Glad you finally bit the bullet and tried out the pressure cooker. I am weird about some things too. Ill want to try them so bad but let something intimidate me or get me off track just to rediscover it later.

  14. Oh my..that is perfection..Love all the photos..

  15. My mom gave me a pressure cooker - well, she gave me the pot and the lid, but doesn't trust me with the pressure attachment. And I'm okay with that. This soup sounds amazing, your photos are gorgeous!

  16. Mmmmm...This stew looks amazing! :)

  17. What a unique and flavorful soup...and how much fun that you got to take that class. I need to find some local cooking classes myself. And I need to find a pressure cooker :-) Thank you for sharing and for the kind words you left on my own blog. I hope you have a restful Sunday full of love and laughter!

  18. I am asking my mom to get Margot and I a pressure cooker for the next gift she ask's us what we want for. Can't wait!

    My Indian friends use them all the time and it seems like a great way to work some magic in one pot.


  19. Haha that's exactly how I feel when I use the pressure cooker too! It feels like something quite intense is happening! Which it is I suppose :P

  20. I'm still loving that soup photo! My mom had a pressure cooker and I never really understood what it was all about. I've never had one, but you have piqued my interest.
    The colors of the soup are lovely! How fun to take the class!
    33º last night!!! I'm dreaming of your islands!!

  21. Wow...that photo is gorgeous! And your grandpa must be one very funny man!! LOL @ she's gonna blow!

  22. I loooove my pressure cooker. It has to be one of my favourite pieces of kitchen equipment though, having said that, I use it for a fairly limited set of things (cooking beans or chickpeas mainly). Having read this, I'm thinking I should really expand my range of pressure cooker recipes!

  23. My mother-in-law had a pressure cooker explode in her face and I've never been willing to try one out. I hear they are much safer now than they used to be...

    What a lovely idea for a stew!


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