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Pressure Cooker Moroccan Chickpea Soup

It’s officially soup season and soup is where your electric pressure cooker becomes indispensable, especially with soups that contain dried beans, like this one. To make this on the stove would take twice as long with dried chickpeas and ain’t nobody got time for that. I know I am the Instant Pot lady but lately, I have using my Breville Fast Slow Pro in the kitchen and I am loving it again. The brand of electric pressure cooker you have in your kitchen is the best kind of pressure cooker - they all cook the same, timing doesn't change although sometime the functions have different names - your saute feature might not be called saute, older Instant Pots have a manual button and the newer ones have a pressure cook button in it's place but it's the same thing.

This is a really lovely flavour with the warmth of the cinnamon and the heat of the harissa finished off with the brightness of the fresh herbs and lemon juice. North American cuisine rarely uses spices like cinnamon in savoury dishes but it’s quite common in Moroccan food but trust me, it’s a delight. Besides the fact that it's delicious, it's soooo easy. You just prep your ingredients, throw them all in the pressure cooker and cook it. That's it.

It’s up to you how much harissa, a fiery North African pepper paste, that you add to the soup. If you have eaters who are a bit wimpy when it comes to heat, just use a tsp in the soup and offer extra to everyone when you serve it. I am also adding an option to add some red lentils which doesn't really affect the flavour but it thickens it up a bit to make it even heartier.

Pressure Cooker Moroccan Chickpea Soup

serves 8-10

2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1 cup *dried chickpeas, pre-soaked or 1 can chickpeas
1 onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 or 3 ribs of celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp harissa paste or to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
About 80g of parsley (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
About 80g cilantro (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
6 cups of broth - chicken or vegetable
1 796 ml or 28g can of plum tomatoes, crushed with your fingers
**optional - 1/2 cup of red lentils - add if you want your soup to be a thicker and heartier

2 lemons
4-6 cubes of frozen spinach or a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped
Another handful of both parsley and cilantro for serving
Extra harissa for serving

*to do a quick pre-soak dried chickpeas, cover 1 cup chickpeas with 4 cups water and 1 tsp kosher salt in your pressure cooker. Bring to a boil using the sauté feature, close the lid and cook for 2 minutes at high pressure. Do a careful release of pressure by testing it to make sure you don’t get foam spewing out and when you are sure that you are good to go, release the pressure.
Drain and rinse the chickpeas and dump the water. Set them aside.
OR pre-soak overnight in water, old school.
OR use canned, drained chickpeas (19oz or 540ml)

Throw the everything up to the lemons and spinach in the pot of your electric pressure cooker. Program your pressure cooker for 20 minutes at high pressure. If you use canned chickpeas, program your soup for about 12 minutes.

When the time is up, give it about 5 minutes NPR before releasing the rest of the pressure. Open the lid, squeeze in the juice from the two lemons and throw in the frozen or fresh spinach and put the lid back on and keep warm for about ten minutes to let the spinach defrost and heat up OR the fresh spinach to wilt into the soup.

Serve with extra chopped parsley and cilantro and offer everyone more harissa if they want it spicier

Shepherd’s Patty Pie - Comfort Food The Whole Family Can Love

It’s winter, it’s dreary and it’s cold and we all want some comfort food, right? My problem is that my idea of comfort food and my guy's idea of comfort food are not the same thing. This week he asked for Shepherd’s Pie. I have made turkey shepherd’s pie that tastes like Thanksgiving dinner that I liked but other than that, it’s really not my favourite dish. He doesn’t like lamb so that’s out and I just find the basic ground beef filling to be boring. Don't send me hate mail because I think Shepherd's Pie is boring, okay? I want to make something that will make everyone happy so I had to put my thinking cap on.

my controversial beef patty pops
Why not make a filling that I really like and top it with some mashed something or other and just call it a day? What I really wanted was something that was a bit spicy, like a Jamaican beef patty and I thought sweet potato would give a nice balance to the heat from the scotch bonnets. Patty filling is the right consistency, it's spicy and he likes them as much as I do.

And that is how Shepherd’s Patty Pie was born. I took my usual beef patty filling and topped with it with mashed sweet potatoes and everyone got what they wanted.

Funny fun fact about my beef patties - A few years ago, Buzzfeed featured them in a list of Jamaican foods to try and my recipe went viral. I got hate mail and tons of terrible, horrible, no good messages because I used puff pastry, even though I clearly stated that I was aware that the using puff pastry was absolutely not authentic but I like it and it's easier than making patty pastry. GO ME LOL

Shepherd’s Patty Pie

Serves 6 to 8

1/4 cup butter
500 grams ground beef
275 grams button mushrooms, chopped in the food processor
2 small onions, chopped
6 green onions, chopped, greens included
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 scotch bonnet peppers, seeded and chopped or to taste
3 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Jamaican allspice
1 tbls fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
A few grinds black pepper
1/4 cup panko
1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Mashed Sweet Potato:
Approx 900 g or 2 lbs sweet potato, peeled
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup cream or light cream
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp kosher salt
Few grinds black pepper
1 egg yolk

Directions for filling:
Throw the mushrooms in the food processor and grind to resemble coarse crumbs and set aside.
Now put the onions, green onion, garlic and scotch bonnet peppers in the same food processor and pulse until minced.

Melt the butter over med heat in a frying pan and sauté the scallion mixture for about five minutes until soft but not browned. Use a spatula to scrap the mixture into a bowl and then add the ground mushrooms and ground beef to the pan and cook it, smashing it all together with a spatula as you stir to mix them together.
When the meat is almost cooked, add the scallion mixture back into the pan and contentious to cook until there is no trace of pink left to the meat.
Throw in the curry, allspice, salt and pepper, panko, thyme and chicken stock and simmer over med low heat for about 5 minutes. If it gets too dry add a bit more broth or water. You don’t want it soupy but you want it to be moist.

Directions for mashed sweet potato:
Peel the potatoes and cut into a 1” dice. Place in a pot and cover with cold water, add a generous pinch of kosher salt and bring to a boil over med high heat and cook until tender.
Drain the potatoes and either mash with a masher or run through a food mill. Add the butter and mash well and then add the cream and salt and pepper and turmeric and mix well. Finally, stir in the egg yolk and set aside

Preheat the oven to 400F

Assemble and cook:
Add the meat mixture to a casserole dish, a deep pie plate or to individual ramekins and then top with the mashed sweet potato and spread the potato over the filling evenly.

Bake in the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes until the filling is bubbling up through the potato. If you want it browned, turned on the broiler and let it brown but the sweet potato doesn’t brown as much as mashed potato.

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