This is an entirely unsolicited, unsubsidized review of the Crock Pot Express and a few cookbooks relating to the appliance. While there will be Amazon affiliate links, that’s as far as it goes.
I know, I know, I’m a little late to the electric pressure cooker party. Mostly because my one experience with pressure cooking was mildly terrifying and I sent the thing back, even though it was well after the full refund period, because I had to hide behind a wall from all the rattling and hissing. #neveragain
Buuuuut, the week or so before Prime Day 2018, my rice cooker started showing signs of giving up the ghost. Now, sure, I’m perfectly capable of making rice on the stove, but I very much appreciate the convenience of my rice cooker and use it several times a month, so this was not good news. Add to that one of our slow cookers had definitely seen better days and we’d discussed upgrading to one of the programmable ones in the near future, and you have the final straw in my resistance to the lure of the new gadget.
Of course, ordering the damned thing wasn’t simple as Amazon could not even remotely handle the visitor volume and 15 minutes after the opening bell the site was already throwing up those lovely pups of Amazon like some consolation calendar pin-ups. I tried, over the course of several hours, to put the 6qt InstantPot that was on special into my cart only to have it disappear each time. Finally, figuring that it had already sold out and the app just wasn’t registering it, I looked around and settled on the 6qt Crock Pot Express. No, it wasn’t my first choice, but I am very comfortable with the Crock Pot brand (we own three slow cookers by them; yeah, we’re good), so it didn’t bother me too much that it wasn’t the other brand.
It did mean, however, that I needed to find some brand-specific resources to get me started, as so much of what’s out on the net it geared towards the other brand. And while the overall functions may be similar, I wanted to get my feet wet without having to do a lot of brand to brand conversions. There’ll be time enough for improv after I’m sure it’s not going to blow the Dollhouse to smithereens.
Putting my Kindle Unlimited subscription to good use, I borrowed three Crock Pot Express cookbooks to get started:
- Crock Pot Express Recipes Cookbook by Dave Zinman
- 500 Crock Pot Express Recipes by Jamie Stewart
- Crock Pot Express Beginner’s Guide and Cookbook by Elizabeth Moore
The Beginner’s Guide actually told me a lot of what I needed to know about using the Crock Pot Express and had a lot of great tips. I do recommend it, of the three, but with the usual caveats that seem to be needed with ebooks from Kindle Unlimited–a lot are self-published and, while I respect the work that goes into them (being a self-pubbed cookbook author myself), there are good ones and there are less good ones. Some information was repeated within the same section in a redundant sort of way that almost felt like it was compiled but not edited quite enough.
Says the woman who’s already written 500+ words and not gotten to the actual cooking yet. I point the finger at myself, too, folks. I get it.
At any rate, the Crock Pot Express arrived while it was still Todd’s week to cook. I unboxed it, flipped through the included guides, and let it sit until the following Tuesday, when it was finally time to face my pressure cooking fears and give this thing a whirl.
Day 1: Not Very Express After All
There’s something about having a new kitchen appliance to play with that makes me positively giddy–something I would not describe the last several months of meal preparation, so there’s that in that big ol’ box’s favor. (And speaking of the boxes, they’re the perfect size for doll rooms–provided I don’t have to return the cooker in them.)
I may have jumped into the deep end with the first two recipes I tried, tonight. First there was the Cheesy Leek & Kale Quiche (Stewart, 1).
Looks good, right? Too bad it took the stated 22 minutes in the CPE, then another 10, and then another 7.5 in the microwave before the center was finally set.
It tasted fine, once finally cooked, but the issue lies with the fact that the recipe failed to specify a cooking mode. Since we were using the steamer rack and pot-in-pot cooking method, I chose Steam for lack of a better option, and it may not have been the right one.
Unlike other cookers of this type, the Crock Pot Express does not have a full manual pressure cook mode (though three of the pre-sets–Beans/Chili, Dessert, and Soup–do allow pressure changes, and can be used as pseudo-manual modes). So I’m left to wonder if this was just poor writing or if Stewart nabbed the recipe from elsewhere and forgot to make the necessary adjustments.
The other recipe I tried was for novelty’s sake, really: a cake baked in a pressure cooker.
While not described as such, the Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake (Stewart, 485), is basically a “flourless” (it has 2.5 Tbsp of flour in it) chocolate cake. Unlike the quiche recipe, this one did at least specify a cooking mode (Beans/Chili), and a cooking time of 8 minutes.
It took three rounds of 8 minutes, and I wasn’t sure it was done even then, but I called it good enough and stuck it in the fridge to firm up. Turns out there’s a gooey-centered cake recipe in the booklet that came with the CPE and it called for 22 minutes on the Dessert setting. My first day using the machine and, yeah, I completely spaced that it even had a Dessert mode.
At any rate, by the end of the night I was seriously wondering if I’d need to send it back. Is it the recipes? Is it me? Is it the machine?
Maybe tomorrow will be better.