Enhance Your Spirituality With A Pressure Cooker

Sharon Matten's cookbook,

Credit: Sharon Matten

If you frequently find yourself rushing erev Shabbos and Yom Tov then the addition of a pressure cooker could be a solution. It takes up little space, yet can prepare involved recipes in a short amount of time. I spoke with Sharon Matten, the author of Shabbos Under Pressure (copyright 2019 and published with Feldheim), which is a cookbook that provides an impressive array of recipes that can be made with a pressure cooker.

This cookbook not only offers an in-depth understanding of how a pressure cooker works but is also accompanied by stylish pictures. In the introduction she analogizes a pressure cooker to Jewish history. Avraham Avinu hurried to prepare for his guests, and we left Mitzraim in haste with no time to let the dough rise.

Sharon Matten's Emoji

Credit: Sharon Matten

There are a plethora of recipes for any occasion but especially for Shabbos and Yom Tov, so you don’t have to sacrifice taste for time. All recipes except two, the challah and noodle kugel, can be made gluten free. It’s very user friendly. She categorizes the recipes as appetizers, soup, poultry, meat, side dishes and vegetables, Third Meal (Seudas Shelishis), dessert and sauces and dressings. She provides a story for each recipe with an emoji on the bottom where she adds personal notes that give a frame of reference and tips to help overcome any obstacles that might arise. She shared recipes and pictures from the book which can be seen below.

Sharon, a native Chicagoan, who attended Ida Crown, the University of Illinois and Columbia Graduate Engineering School has many credits to her name. She writes for the Chicago Tribune Chicago Now website, where she talks about Living Life as a GFE (Gluten-Free Eater). She is a kosher food blogger and has been published in Mishpacha magazine. In addition, she has done recipe development and product promotion for many companies, including Manischewitz which is OU kosher certified. Manischewitz has many gluten free products and recipes. All of Sharon’s affiliations can be found on her website sharonmatten.com.

To get an in-depth feel for Sharon’s type of interests in food and her insights you can read a review she gave at kosherfest 2015 that was published in the Jewish Exponent, a Philadelphia paper.

What became evident to me in my conversation with Sharon, was that she sees the pressure cooker as a spiritual vehicle. She is helping navigate those who are in a rush to prepare for Shabbos and Yom Tov and bringing focus to an appliance that can answer last-minute bikkur cholim calls.

She has many 5-star ratings on Amazon with testimonials from readers who have used her recipes and were delighted with the results. Her book can be purchased here.

Sharon told me that one of her favorite soups to prepare for Shabbos is the Porcini Mushroom Barley Soup (page 45) and for Seudas Shelishis she likes to prepare Dad’s Egg Salad (page 122) which was her father’s favorite​. This is one of the recipes that are presented below. She says that the sweet and sour chicken wings (page 38), poached pears (page 135) and hot fudge pudding cake (page 132) are very popular

We brainstormed a menu from the recipes in the book for Shabbos and Rosh Hashana.

Shabbos/Friday Night

Gefilte Fish Loaves (page 24)

Sharon Matten's gefilte fish recipe.

Credit: Sharon Matten

Ingredients

  • 2 one-pound loaves of frozen Gefilte Fish. Do not remove the parchment wrapping.
  • one-pound baby carrots or 1 pound peeled and sliced large carrots
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Lettuce for garnish
  • 2 Cups Added Water

Instructions

  • Place a rack in the bottom of the EPC pot. Pour the 2 cups ADDED WATER into the EPC pot.
  • Place the wrapped fish and carrots on top of the rack, then sprinkle the granulated sugar, freshly ground black pepper and salt on the fish. Lock lid and close pressure valve.
  • Cook 20 minutes using manual high-pressure mode. Naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes, then manually release the pressure.
  • Chill the fish for at least 2 hours. Cut each loaf into 8 pieces and serve garnished with lettuce and cooked carrots.

Shalues Seudos

Dad’s Egg Salad (page 122)

Sharon Matten'ss recipe for dad's egg salad sandwhiuch

Credit: Sharon Matten

Ingredients

To Cook the Eggs

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 bowl ice water

To Make the Egg Salad

  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped (around cup, can be chopped in a food processor)
  • 2 large green onions, finely chopped (can be chopped in a food processor)
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon pickle relish (optional – although Dad would disagree)
  • 1 Cup Added Water

Instructions

To Cook The Eggs

  • Place the cup of ADDED WATER in the EPC pot. If you have an egg holder, place it in the EPC pot. If you don’t have an egg holder use a standard EPC rack.
  • Place the eggs in the egg holder or carefully stack them on the rack.
  • Lock the lid and close the pressure valve.
  • Cook for 6 minutes using manual low-pressure mode, then manually release the pressure.
  • Immediately transfer the eggs to the bowl of ice water to cool. Peel the cooled eggs and place in a large bowl.

To Make the Egg Salad

  • Mash the eggs by hand or using a food processor, pulsing until the eggs are chopped.
  • Stir in the celery, onions, mayonnaise, salt, freshly ground black pepper and relish (if using).
  • Serve with pita or crackers

Rosh Hashanah 

Pomegranate Syrup Chicken (page 68)

Sharon Matten's Pomegranate Syrup Chicken

Credit: Sharon Matten

Ingredients

  • Nonstick vegetable spray

For the Chicken Marinade

  • 2 cups pomegranate syrup (such as Torani)
  • 1 cup pure pomegranate juice (such as POM)
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 4-pound chicken legs (thigh and drum-stick), skin removed (it’s healthier!)

For the Sauce

  • 3/4 cup pure cold pomegranate juice (such as POM)
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • Fresh pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  • Spray a 9-inch x 13-inch casserole with nonstick spray. Set aside.

For the Chicken Marinade

  • Combine the pomegranate syrup, pomegranate juice, honey, garlic, freshly ground black pepper, and thyme in a medium bowl. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Place the chicken bone side up in the prepared large casserole, or in a Jumbo Ziplock bag. Pour marinade over chicken.
  • Tightly cover the casserole dish with plastic wrap or seal the bag and refrigerate the chicken for at least 2 hours.

To Cook the Chicken

  • Place a rack on the bottom of the EPC Pot. Add the chicken and the marinade.
  • Close the pressure valve then lock the lid. Cook using manual high-pressure mode for 20 minutes, then manually release the pressure.
  • Remove only the chicken from the EPC pot and transfer to the prepared 9-inch x 13-inch casserole dish, leaving the marinade in the EPC pot. Remove the rack from the EPC pot.

For the Sauce

  • In a measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the cold pomegranate juice and corn starch until thoroughly combined.
  • Set the EPC to sauté/brown mode.
  • Slowly whisk the pomegranate juice/starch into the remaining marinade. Stir constantly, using a heat resistant spatula, until the sauce thickens.
  • Spoon the sauce over the chicken.
  • Serve the Pomegranate Syrup Chicken sprinkled with fresh pomegranate seeds if desired.
Steven Genack
Steven Genack has worked at OU Kosher for nearly ten years with a specialty in ingredients. He is an attorney and former editor of a newspaper who continues to contribute articles to numerous Jewish publications. During a summer session at Harvard University, one of the disciplines he studied was journalism. He is the author of an upcoming book relating to his family’s Torah. He has a wide array of interests including playing tennis, golf and basketball and reading biographies and memoirs. He has worked with special needs children in the past and feels passionate about their causes. He is currently working on a few books.