I have always considered myself quite a nice person. I like food of all shapes, flavours and colours. From every country and continent. I don’t discriminate, I am an equal opportunity eater. It’s only the doctors who say I’m intolerant. And certain foods who refuse to tolerate me. They certainly refuse to recognise and respect my right to eat them without major physical discomfort and distress.

Gluten and lactose are not my friends.

Despite the negative attitudes surrounding me from many of those I love best, (cakes, ice cream, hot toast) I decided to become a chef. Not always easy when you live in a bread and milk filled world. I like to think that this has helped me become a better person as I embrace my differences and refuse to let the gluten get me down. I believe InTolerance. I am the InTolerant Chef.

Food should not be about what you can’t eat, but what you can and what you enjoy eating. This blog is about my journey of cooking and eating and discovery. It’s not a definitive guide to allergy awareness nor do my intolerances make me an expert. Your body is your responsibility, not mine. I only know what works for me.

I can tell you this..... No glutens were harmed in the making of this website.

March 12, 2013

Kitchen Experiments

I've always been just a little afraid of pressure cookers

My mum had one that used to sit on the stove spitting and hissing like a malevolent being with a mind of it's own, requiring great care and attention to avoid it exploding and covering the kitchen ceiling with mince stew or such, then perking and bubbling away under cold water until finally persuaded to part with our dinner.
I felt that our meal had somehow been pre-digested by this piece of scary machinery. It came out of it's belly pale, watery and oddly requiring very little chewing for such big chunks of meat....just not natural at all......

I have some friends who swear by slow cookers. All winter, meals simmer away in their bowls while life goes on around them. As long as you're ready with all the bits and pieces in the morning you can forget about dinner and do as you please.
I use mine now and then, but I do remember one tragic episode where I was teaching MiddleC how to work it and after having it on High for a couple of hours she accidentally turned the dial to Off instead of Low and I came home at the end of a long day at work to a fermented poisonous mess instead of a lovely dinner :(

My preferred method of cooking is to slow bake in the oven. Meat turns soft, juices and sauces cook down until sticky and caramelised, and the whole house smells delicious. I like to check it now and then, turning the meat to coat it or to top up the sauce. I guess I feel in control and like I'm an active participant instead of just an observer.

The reason behind all this introspection is yet another kitchen purchase- A Multi Cooker. It rolls a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, soup cooker, and electric pot all into one. It even has a sear mode to brown up the meat before cooking, a bit of everything!
My excuse this time is that my rice cooker needs replacing.
I know I could pick up a cheapy, but I've also been wanting to get a new slow cooker as my original 70's CrockPot doesn't have a real lid and so takes even longer to cook than it's supposed to. A pressure cooker has also been on my radar for a while, I even took a class to get over my fears, and it just seemed like a good idea to kill all those birds with one stone and buy the Big Guy.

But which is the best method for cooking overall? I decided the only way to choose would be with a Grand Cook Off, the same meal cooked three different ways- Perfect Solution. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding!

Asian Soy, Orange and Ginger Beef Ribs

1/3 cup gluten free Soy Sauce
1/4 cup Green Ginger Wine (or gf Chinese Rice Wine, or even Dry Sherry)
1/2 an Orange- strips of rind, juice and pulp
4 cloves of Garlic
2 Asian Shallots or 1 Onion
2 Star Anise
1 Cinnamon Stick
## PLUS ## 300ml Water ONLY if using a Slow Cooker or Oven Baking

First of all, sear the meat. You want a nice golden colour on all surfaces to get some fabulous flavours going

Measure out all your wet items, rind, sugar, spices, onion and garlic. Chuck them all into the chosen vessel with the now browned meat and swizzle it all around a bit to nicely distribute the flavours
** Don't forget to add extra water if Oven Baking or Slow Cooking**


Now as far as cooking methods go:
- Oven Baked 3 hours at 160*
- Pressure Cooked on High for 50 minutes
- Slow Cooked on Low for 6 hours


From left to right: Oven Baked; Pressure Cooker; CrockPot

All three meals were so close in flavours and in texture that I was really surprised indeed.

With the Oven Baked Dish the meat was nice and tender, the fat rendered out well and the sauce was deliciously caramelised and sticking beautifully to the meat. The onion had practically melted away and it was the sweetest tasting as the water had evaporated a fair bit. It did require checking a couple of times during the process- luckily, because I had accidentally turned the oven to 180* for the first hour- and I turned the meat each time to make sure the side out of the sauce didn't dry out.

My childhood experience with Pressure Cooked meals was that the flavours all ran together into one, but of all the dishes this one had the 'cleanest' tasting sauce with every element coming through. It was rather thin though and next time I'd pull the meat out and let then let the sauce simmer and condense. The meat had broken down well and the texture was also the nicest- but only by a touch- it was a very close call between them all.

The CrockPot/Slow Cooker ,to my taste, certainly does seem to blend flavours. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the flavours don't seem as sharp as the ones from the Pressure Cooker or as well rounded as the Oven Cooked one either. It also creates a thin sauce that needs to be thickened or boiled down for a while to coat the meat well.

So the Official Verdict?

The Pressure Cooker and the Oven Baked were just to close to call!

The sticky sweetness from the Oven was so lovely, but the meat from the Pressure Cooker was just that bit better.

I guess it will just come down to convenience in the end.
If I'm pushed for time, the Pressure Cooker is the way to go. Just as the name might suggest, it performs great when you're under pressure to perform.
If I have the time to spend though, I just don't know if I can go past my favourite method of Oven Baking. It might sound silly, but apart from the lovely flavours, I really enjoy pottering around the kitchen, checking on my dishes from time to time, creating something wonderful for my family. This hands-on method just appeals to me, and may sway me personally just a little :)

I'm glad I bought my new appliance, I think it combines the best of both worlds, with a few extra features to boot. I'm looking forward to making many, many, many more yummy meals to come!

So Dear Readers, what's your preferred method of cooking: Oven Baked, Pressure Cooker or Slow Cooker- and why?


  1. I must admit, I love my pressure cooker! Although it does scare me a little! :P My friend Barbara from Barbara Bakes even has her own pressure cooking recipe site: http://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/

    1. That seems to be the consensus here Lorraine- handy but scary! Thanks for the tip, and I'll check Barbara out for sure :)

  2. I've always had a fear of pressure cookers too. Aside from the hissing and spluttering, they seemed an enormous appliance, to big for a cupboard so those who had them tended to have them on their bench gathering dust until the next use. I like to oven back. I love the aromas that fill the kitchen and I love to be able to check on what's happening and I think it makes me nostalgic about simpler times when all most cooks had was an oven and a cook top and some pots and pans they didn't have to donate to the war effort. But...I do admire your shiny new appliance. I need a new rice cooker myself! xx

    1. That paints a lovely picture Charlie :) I think you've hit the nail on the head- nostalgic and nurturing. Shiny appliances are sure hard to pass up though aren't they?....have you seen the new Sous Vide machines for domestic use- I'm verrrrry tempted indeed!!!!

  3. I am like you Rebecca..pressure cookers scare me. I like the idea of slow cooking in the oven - checking on it once in a while and smelling all the wonderful flavors coming through. I use a slow cooker once in a while. Your new appliance does sound appealing, and your recipe looks delicious!

    1. Thanks Ina! I think all those 70's pressure cooker disasters have turned a lot of us away with fear :) I have to say that my new toy is lots of fun, and very handy too

  4. LOL about the fear of pressure cookers. Me too, those old whistling things were such a worry! I sold cookware for years when I co owned the cookware shop and always coveted a pressure cooker, Fissler is one of the top brands. Good to see this comparison. I love your old Monier, Bec. I (too generously) left mine behind with my biz partner when I left the business. It was a wedding gift in the 1970s, but everything always tasted strange in it! Great piece. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Lizzy! I really needed to get the comparison done just to figure it out for myself and thought that maybe others would like it too. I have to say that I really enjoyed the experience :)
      What a shame you left yours behind- but if it made things taste funny, maybe you were better off!

  5. That’s funny - I have a similar memory. This comparison is fantastic. I have to say I always seem to favour the oven cooked as well. Looking forward to some cooler weather to give this recipe a try. It sounds delicious.

    1. Thanks Sherilyn! Our cooler weather seems to be creeping up on us this weekend, but still some sunshine to be had. Braises are just around the corner!

  6. That's one reason why I haven't gotten a pressure cooker. I'm too scared! My aunt had one ages ago and she was making red bean soup (a Chinese dessert) and it exploded and her ceiling had a red patch for the longest time.. soo funny!

    1. Oh dear Msihua! I have to admit that the first time I used this one I stayed out of the kitchen the whole time, and then got a second degree steam burn when I opened it up..a lesson there in reading the manual properly! :) But I refuse to give up!!

  7. I am terrified of the pressure cooker! My nan had one and us kids weren't even allowed near the kitchen when it was in use in case it exploded.

    This is an excellent story on the comparison cooking methods. I find the slow cookers sauce is thinner than the oven and often needs thickening.

    Most importantly thank you for giving us such an amazing recipe. I will be pinning it and I can't wait to try it :)

    1. Thanks so much GG! I hope you like it, it is a tad salty, but the sweet helps balance it out.
      THe first time I used mine I hid in the other room too- just in case!! :)

  8. I didn't know you could get an appliance with all of that going on. I have seen them sitting at the shops but they look like they have too many controls for me. My mothers pressure cooker ( and the contents) were the same as yours. They were a scary thing and we were terrified of it. i am still a little afraid of my modern version but I love it. The oven does caramelise a lot better, but the pressure cooker is so quick. Your beef looks soo delicious.

    1. Tania, there is already a new vesion that combines all that AND includes a deep fryer mode as well! I do have to say that it's convenient, but oven cooking is just a bit better indeed :)

  9. SUCH an interesting experiment, Becca! I'm a slow oven roasting fan, as you know, but I do like my pressure cooker for some things. It's particularly good when it's just too hot to turn the oven on. Can't say I'm a slow cooker fan - I gave mine away.. :)

    1. Thanks Celia, I love to find out the Why of things :) This has been a challenging summer for sure with the extreme heat, but it did seem odd to be eating 'Winter' style foods when it was 38* outside! xox