I have read Cooking Light for about the past ten years, and while initially, I read every issue from cover-to-cover each month, flagging recipes and using at least one or two of their recipes each week, there was a period during the past couple of years when I let my subscription lapse, mainly due to the fact that we had about reached the saturation point with magazines at our house. We take a lot of magazines and I hit I point where I just stopped renewing subscriptions because we just didn’t have the time to read all the magazines we were getting, and then Gourmet folded, and I even – no lie – stopped taking Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country and just subscribed to their online counterparts.
So. Several months ago, Amazon.com offered a super-cheap subscription to Cooking Light – like, $5 for a year – so I subscribed and we started receiving the magazine earlier this summer. I don’t know exactly when they updated the magazine, but I love the new format. I love their updated approach to cooking light – very Sally Schneider, I think, but I’m curious to hear Hannah’s take – I love the inclusion of both real bacon and Mark Bittman, and I really like their fast, simple recipes. Good food for busy people, and all, right?
In the meantime, I bought a pressure cooker. My friend Jody is borderline evangelical about her pressure cooker, and she convinced me to give it a try. What’s not to love about pot roast in an hour, or a pound of dried beans cooked in 25 minutes? I got one for a steal when Linens & Things was going out of business a couple of years ago and I am fully converted. I have a Fagor 6-quart pressure cooker and while I was leery at first, having heard all about how they used to explode and rattle and hiss menacingly (my mother told me that she received a pressure cooker when she got married, “as a joke”), modern pressure cookers actually are safe and easy to use. I use mine for beans all the time – I’ve made a pot of red beans and rice, start to finish, in under an hour – I’ve made marinara in it, and I’ve done a pot roast, but I’m always looking for new things to try, so I was delighted when the September 2010 issue of Cooking Light included a feature on pressure cookers.
Tonight, I made 1-Hour Spanish Chickpea Soup. Oh, my. This recipe was fantastic, even with my hinky substitutions: I couldn’t easily find Spanish chorizo, so I used the fresh Mexican chorizo that the recipe warns you to avoid, and I forgot to buy escarole, so I subbed a cup or so of frozen chopped spinach. The soup was completely delicious and surprisingly rich. I used Rancho Gordo chickpeas and they cooked perfectly. When I first opened the pressure cooker (I used the cold running water method to release the pressure), I was afraid that I’d run out of liquid, but once I stirred the pot, I saw that there was enough under the chickpeas. That said, when I make this recipe again (and I will), I’ll probably use 3 or 4 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of water. I’ll also try to remember to buy escarole, and I’ll go to the super-fancy butcher to buy some real Spanish chorizo – but even with my last-minutes substitutions, this recipe was fantastic and I will absolutely make it again. I would guess that it freezes beautifully, but I really wouldn’t know, because Chris and I polished off the entire pot. The recipe doesn’t say so, but it would be wonderful accompanied with some crusty bread and a citrusy salad.