sage fast slo pro

A couple of months ago I was sent a Sage Fast Slow Pro pressure cooker to review. I could end this post here and now simply by saying, if there’s one thing you buy in 2016, make sure it’s a Fast Slow Pro. That is how impressed I am with it but that wouldn’t make good reading, would it?

I used to use a pressure cooker when I lived in Italy and I remember how convenient it was, how it cooked wonderfully and in a short amount of time too. I also remembered the tales of kitchen explosions (not mine) and the feeling of great caution around this particular gadget and the general negative vibe associated with pressure cookers. Well panic no more as I have tried and tested the Sage Pressure Cooker model in every conceivable fashion because it does a lot more than just pressure cook.

Sage Fast Slow Pro

First off it has to be said the Sage pressure cooker is more than just a pressure cooker; it’s a slow cooker, a risotto maker, it sautès, sears and reduces. With this baby you need never dirty another pan again. However it comes with a fancy price tag, £199.99 so my first plan of action was to discover if it was worth that money or would this contraption end up in the Cupboard of Forgotten Kitchen Gadgets too?

How do you cook with a pressure cooker?

I had no idea! The last time I used one was about 15 years ago. Fortunately Heston is on the case and when you buy your Sage appliance it comes with a recipe book which covers a great selection of basic recipes, in fact my first dabble with my #FastSlowPro was Heston’s Beef and Guinness pie recipe. It was a massive hit with all of the family.

I found the pressure cooker very simple to use as there are a lot of pre recorded times and pressure levels to start you off with, in fact, unless you are developing recipes, you could quite happily stick with them as they all work perfectly.

chicken pot roast - pressure cooker recipe

I tried the Bolognese sauce, a classic pot roast, a whole lemon and herb chicken, the pulled pork, the beef en daube. I even made a chicken stock, which alter made a chicken soup.

I was so intrigued, I invested in the BBC Good Food Pressure Cooker favourites book, a nice compact book with some wicked recipes. I tried a curry recipe, the lamb shanks, the Irish stew, the pork and rice one pot and a chicken casserole recipe.

I was very impressed, they all worked wonderfully.

lamb shanks pressure cooker recipe

Slow cooker

If you are a fan of the slow cooker, like I am, the Fast Slow Pro has incorporated the Sage Slow cooker and works exactly the same way. In fact I have been using all of my much loved slow cooker recipes in it too.

Risotto maker

I was very relieved to discover the Fast Slow Pro also makes risottos, as the previous Sage appliance did them so well. I have tried Heston’s mushroom and bacon risotto but also some new recipes I have come up with, recipes to follow.

Soup maker

Tomato soup - pressure cooker recipe

My soup kettle is also looking for a new home as the Fast Slow Pro does that job perfectly as well. I’ve made a pearl barley soup, a tomato soup and a Spicy root vegetable soup

Tomato soup - pressure cooker recipe
 
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A delicious fresh tomato soup recipe for the pressure cooker ready in minutes.
Author:
Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: British
Ingredients
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped roughly
  • ⅘ spring onions chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1.5 k fresh tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 300ml of tomato juice
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 50g Fresh basil
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker and fry off the onion, spring onions and garlic until soft and golden.
  2. Add the chopped fresh tomatoes, the tomato juice and chicken stock and close the lid.
  3. Select the soup setting, bring up to pressure and cook for 15 minutes. Reduce the pressure slowly.
  4. Finely chop the fresh basil and add it to the soup holding back a tiny bit to sprinkle on the soup before serving.
  5. Whizz with a hand held blender until smooth.
  6. Place in soup bowls with a scattering of freshly chopped basil and serve with chunks of fresh bread.
 

Reduce button

This was a revelation to me as it makes the perfect gravy. After making a pie filling one day, I took out the meat and vegetables from the liquid and put to one side. Then I hit the reduce button and the machine turns into the best gravy maker in town, boiling the liquid and reducing it to a delicious thick gravy to pour over your pie. Amazing.

Practicalities

I think my favourite thing about the Sage Pressure cooker is I don’t have lots of dirty pans to wash up after the preparation. I can sautè the meat, remove, then sautè onions and vegetables, add flour, seasonings, wine stock and once I have everything ready in my pot, I shut the lid and switch on to pressure cook or slow cook as the recipe determines.

The cleaning afterwards is very simple, you wash the removable pot and if desired the lid too.

It’s a heavy piece of equipment and sits on the kitchen surface but that’s fine with me because I use it at least once a week, plus it’s an object of beauty to look at.

Verdict

I love it. I would go as far to say that if you invest in only one kitchen gadget in 2016 I really would make it the Sage Fast Slow Pro. It covers all the basics and more. I cannot ever see myself without this kitchen appliance. It is worth every single penny in my book.

Further reading

Mummy BarrowPressure cooker beer can chicken

Lavender and LovageChicken and Pearl Barley Stew

Disclosure: Sage Appliances sent me a Fast Slow Pro to review, all opinions are my own.

 

Bernard Matthews invited me to come up with a family fun meal with one of their fresh breaded products so I nipped to my local supermarket and picked up a tray of their 6 fresh breaded turkey steaks for only £3! How economical is that?

They are incredibly easy to cook under the grill or in the oven and this time I chose the oven method for 35 minutes as I wanted to serve them with roasted summer vegetables and they are cooked in the oven too.

For summer roasted vegetables I chose a selection of courgettes, peppers (use yellow and orange) red onion, baby tomatoes, spring onions and basil. Drizzle with a tablespoon of olive oil and pop in the oven at 220C for 30 – 35 minutes until they soften and begin to colour.

The Bernard Matthews turkey steaks go in for the last 15 minutes until golden and voilà your meal is ready.

Husband had a spoonful of coleslaw with his and some potato salad too.

Other ideas included grilling the steaks and serving sliced into pieces on a salad.

You could try serving the steaks with a pizzaiolo sauce which is a tomato sauce with olives and mozzarella added at the last minute so it melts in the sauce.

bernard matthews kebabs

Another idea we have tried recently to make a great meal for the kids was Turkey nugget kebabs. This time using some of the the Bernard Matthews frozen turkey pieces. By serving this regular meal in a slightly different way peaked the imagination and the kids loved them. They are simple and quick to do and great for playdates too

Turkey nugget kebabs

Cook the Bernard Matthews frozen turkey pieces as directed on the packet. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Whilst cooking take one long mozzarella and cut into pieces across the width, then cut up some yellow peppers. I had basil leaves to hand and baby tomatoes.

Place the food on the kebab stick in a colourful manner and serve!

There are many other ways you can use your Bernard Matthews products, how do you use yours?

fish finger bruschettas

The challenge was to go to the supermarket buy the following Bird’s Eye products and come up with something new. You may have seen Katie Bryson who writes Feeding Boys and a Fire Fighter on the tv making fish finger in pitta bread, well along those lines.

The products we were asked to play with were

  • wholemeal fish fingers – new addition to the line up
  • Fish fingers
  • Burgers
  • Chicken grills
  • Peas (I am a huge fan of peas)

Here’s what I came up with

Wholesome monsters with yucky peas

fish finger monsters

Of course the peas aren’t yucky – it’s just the monster who thinks they are. I mixed our peas with chopped cherry tomatoes. The girls were delighted when they saw the presentation of this meal – I know I am quite the artist aren’t I?

Bruschetta fish fingers

fish finger bruschettas

I chose the wholemeal fish finger as I wanted to try it and I love this idea for the kids. I also wanted it to look trendy and posh looking, something you’d be proud to serve at a party but a little bit quirky.

I used an avocado mashed up with a little squeeze of lemon and chopped spring onions in it as a base, laid my fish finger on top and then topped with a triangle of mature Spanish cheese, oh and the tiniest basil leaf I could find.

Pea, ham and chicken risotto

pea ham and chicken risotto

This one is good for all the family but the twins really enjoyed it as much as I did. I used some cooked chicken grill steaks and chopped them into bite size pieces, I added some ham I had in the fridge to use up and towards the end of cooking I added lots of delicious Bird’s Eye frozen peas and fresh basil leaves. A cheeky spoonful of low fat soft cheese stirred through at the end and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese on top and job’s done. Buon appetito!

Chicken pizzaiola

chicken pizzaiola

Just the best way to serve chicken ever in my book and very simple to make. Whilst your chicken grills are in the oven, fry some onion and chopped peppers in a pan to soften, add some chopped tomatoes from a tin and a few black olives chopped up too. Allow to cook slowly. Then at the end add some chopped mozzarella to the sauce and stir to make sure it doesn’t clump together. Serve ladled on top of your chicken grill.

Cheeseburger ciabattas

cheeseburger ciabatta

Cut your ciabatta slices and spread with avocado mash as mentioned above or make a spicy tomato spread up with a pinch of chilli pepper ;) As your burger is finishing add a slice or two of cheese to the top and allow to melt, place on your ciabatta et voila!

Fish finger croutons on salad


Tart up your every day salad with some freshly cooked fish fingers diced into crunchy croutons, mmmm. I may even add them to soups on colder days too.

Chicken cous cous salad

chicken cous cous salad

Another great lunch time idea was chicken cous cous salad. Cous cous is so easy, you just add boiling water and stir, if you want to flavour it up you can add herbs, spices or your favourite dip. I added all of these ingredients and enjoyed a fabulous salad.

chicken cous cous salad

No more boring peas

basil peas with spring onion

Why not add something to them? I added some chopped spring onion and some torn basil leaves to this meal and it really worked well plus it didn’t take any time at all.

Asparagus pea and pastrami quiche

One thing I really enjoyed whilst living up a mountain in Italy was the arrival of the spring as towards the end of winter the grass would be very brown and the land tired and wet as the snow slowly melted.

Then all of a sudden the temperatures would raise, the trees would turn green and flowers would start to appear all over the fields, a really pretty moment.

asparagus pea and pastrami quiche

It was also the season of asparagus and restaurants would be full of wonderful seasonal recipes, asparagus risotto, asparagus and eggs – a huge favourite and plenty of other creative ideas like my Jersey potato salad.

I had lost my cooking mojo this past couple of months but the sight of fresh asparagus in the supermarket was enough for me to want to buy it and make something. I went with a quiche as it’s handy to have for my lunches throughout the week and came up with Asparagus, pea and pastrami Quiche.

asparagus pea and pastrami quiche

As a change from the normal recipe I have used some natural yogurt in the egg mix and this has made a firmer quiche plus an extra flavour that compliments the asparagus very well.

Asparagus, pea and pastrami quiche
 
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A tasty seasonal quiche using asparagus and peas with the addition of Pastrami chopped up finely. Perfect for lunches and picnics too.
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch
Cuisine: British
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pack of ready to roll shortcrust pastry
  • flour to dust surfaces and rolling pin
  • poppy seeds (optional)
  • bunch of asparagus boiled
  • 200g frozen peas
  • 200g sliced pastrami
  • 3 large eggs (4 small)
  • 150g natural yogurt
  • 350g milk
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Roll out the pastry and line a pie dish, sprinkle the base with the poppy seeds and push lightly into the pastry.
  3. Place a layer of foil inside and put baking beans on top. Bake blind in the oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove the baking beans and put to one side.
  5. In the meantime, boil the asparagus to al dente, remember it will be cooking further in the oven. towards the end add the frozen peas to the saucepan and once back to boiling, turn off and drain well. Asparagus tends to hold on to a lot of water so leave to drain for a while.
  6. Break the eggs into a jug and beat them well, add the yogurt and beat well making sure there are no lumps. Add the milk and mix well.
  7. Season well with salt and pepper.
  8. Cut the asparagus in half, keep the florets to one side for decoration and chop the other half into small pieces, scatter these and the peas over the base.
  9. Dice the pastrami and scatter around the quiche base. Keep a handful back for a final scatter.
  10. Place the asparagus florets in a fan around the quiche and scatter over the remainder of the pastrami.
  11. Pour over the egg mixture and season the top.
  12. Place in the preheated oven at 180C for 35- 40 minutes, touch the surface to test it should be firm and spring under your touch. If watery give it an extra five minutes. Done when the top is golden brown.
 

 

 

Swordfish recipe

The challenge this time was to cook a meal from scratch using as many frozen products as possible. The British Frozen Food Federation have set up a site CoolCookery.co.uk and want to spread the word how easy it is to cook using frozen foods. They want us to think out of the box without resorting to fish fingers and chips when the word frozen is mentioned so they sent me a voucher for Iceland and off I went on my frozen mission thinking of swordfish recipes.

Preconceived ideas

I had thought of Iceland as being solely frozen ready meals and therefore had never stepped inside the door before. However I was very pleasantly surprised because along side finding many ready meals there are freezers and freezers full of frozen food. I bought some lamb chops, swordfish loins, venison burgers, sliced green beans, diced onions, king prawns and a large bag of seafood selection which will be perfect for my Italian fish stew recipe or my slow cooker Tomato Fish Curry

Did you know?

Frozen food often retains nutrition better than fresh. Quick-freezing locks in freshness and nutritional goodness, usually within hours of harvest, catch or slaughter.

Frozen food can help reduce waste. They last longer in the freezer, which means you can keep to hand the ingredients you need, using the right amount and saving the rest for another day. Research has shown frozen food can save families up to £250 a year.

Practical and easy

Of course it’s not only Iceland that sells frozen products, all of the top supermarkets have lots of frozen fresh products in store so do keep an eye out. Having used the frozen diced onions (89p) in this recipe and having plenty over I shall make sure I have them to hand always. No more tears and badly chopped onions. I also want to use the chopped swede as that’s always such a hard vegetable to prepare.

Frozen vegetables – On this occasion I used the frozen sliced green beans (89p) they work out a lot cheaper than fresh and as you can see from the photo the colour is great and the texture was perfect too. Takes less time to boil as well.

Frozen potatoes – Rather than use chips I bought a bag of potato slices (89p) Just as simple to cook and ready in about 25 mins.

swordfish recipe

The main ingredient in this recipe is swordfish, it’s like tuna steak. The £7 bag had four portions in it each one weighing between 170 – 200g which is perfect. I added a £3 bag of King Prawns at the end of the recipe which may have been a slight exaggeration but you all know my husband and his appetite by now. The recipe is very simple as it cooks itself in the oven, my only note is that although on the bag it said 20 – 25 mins in the oven ours took a LOT longer.

The pickled red cabbage was part of a homemade Christmas hamper we received as a gift this year and was delicious, find out how to pickle your own vegetables on Mari’s World.

Swordfish in a chilli kicking sauce #CoolCookery
 
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A simple and tasty swordfish recipe using frozen products
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: British
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 75g butter softened
  • 1 tbsp tomato, chili chutney
  • 1 tbsp rocket pesto
  • 100g frozen diced onions
  • 2 swordfish steaks (200g circa each)
  • freshly ground sea salt and pepper
  • 150g king prawns - defrosted
  • To serve with
  • 200g frozen sliced potatoes
  • 200g frozen sliced green beans
  • 200g pickled red cabbage
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 220C.
  2. Place the butter, the chilli chutney and pesto in a bowl and mix well together.
  3. Spread the chilli butter over the top of the swordfish steaks.
  4. Scatter the frozen diced onions in a ovenproof dish.
  5. Place the frozen swordfish steaks on top and place in the hot oven. Turn once half way through.
  6. (The bag said 20 - 25 minutes but ours took at least 40 mins as they were thick steaks.)
  7. Five minutes before the end add the defrosted king prawns to the dish and return to the oven.
#CoolCookingDisclosure: I’m working with BritMums and Coolcookery.co.uk highlighting the versatility, economy and nutritional benefits of cooking with frozen food. All opinions are my own. For recipes and ideas visit http://bit.ly/coolcookery