As some of my followers will know, I was given an Instant Pot Duo for Christmas and have been relaying my Instant Pot adventures here over the past few weeks. In my first post the instant pot, instant hit? I mentioned my initial confusion with this awesome kitchen appliance and also the lovely additional gift of Christopher Kimball’s book Milk Street “Fast & Slow Instant Pot Cooking at the Speed You Need”, which accompanied the pot. Now having used both on a weekly and sometimes daily basis I thought it was time to review the book and all its wonders.
I do have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with The Milk Street Kitchen. Although I did have a niggling in the back of my brain that I had heard of Christopher Kimball somewhere along my food life. Not that any of that matters really when looking at the merits of the book itself. I have since, signed up to the Milk Street kitchen blog, email updates and wonderful recipes. My fan level went from 0 to hero in 1 dish. So why such love over 1 book for one gadget? Isn’t it limited? Are you not bored of it yet? I hear you pondering. But let me explain the brilliance of Milk Streets, Fast and Slow, Instant Pot Cooking at the Speed You Need. (The official Instant Pot book I might add.)
Lets begin with the visual aspects of the book. After all we eat with our eyes. The photography is beautiful, clean, unfussy and focused on the plate. Each dish literally jumps out at you begging to be eaten. Just looking at the pictures has you salivating. The fact that the book is just shy of an A4 Size, with each recipe laid out next to a full colour photograph filling the page, really adds to the simplicity and clean editorial layout of the book. All the backgrounds are in pale neutral colours which enhance the colour of the dishes themselves. The orange/red and mustard colours used both on the pot logos, within the recipe instructions as separators and on the cover, are somehow in every photo. Subtly triggering the hunger stimulus in the brain while the reader is totally oblivious. But visual beauty is not just about the picture, it is also about the text and instruction which leads me to my next point. Clarity of instruction.
When I first flicked through the book, my initial thought was “that’s a lot of text”. However, when I actually opened it up to read and to use. I realized the layout is very well done and easy to follow. Once again its really clean, easy to read with fine separation between the recipe, a short description and the method, all on one page. The text has a purpose not just filler. I like how the method is split into firstly “START” which is the initial part of the cooking as you may use more than one feature. Before you come to the second step, “FINISH”, which gives you the option of FAST or SLOW styles of cooking. This shows the versatility of the Instant Pot but also great understanding of how family cooking works. Not to mention how small snippets of clear instruction are far easier to follow. Seeing “START” and “FINISH” imply there are only two real steps. Editorial trickery you might say. When you get a new kitchen appliance, clear instructions are crucial to understanding how to use the thing. As to are the ways in which you can use it. In this case, the dishes you can make, the recipes themselves.
I would have thought, before knowing better, that fancy pressure cookers only did soup and stews. Which is why, in my ignorance I never really had one. (That and the fear of blowing my eyebrows off with pressure release.). This bible of Instant pot cooking has really transformed my opinion while serving me endless cooking options within one book. All major food groups are covered with sections dedicated to vegetables, grains, beans, pasta, chicken, pork and beef. In terms of the meat & poultry recipes, it uses similar cuts for multiple recipes. Therefore making it easy to change your mind on a recipe. Overall the various ingredients are the accessible kind available from a good supermarket. I think since Christmas I’ve only struggled to get two or three things such as hominy or tomatillios. Everything else is pretty much in the pantry anyway which is what you want when you are cooking. Right?There is nothing worse than either not having ingredients or only using something once for a particular dish. The ability to intermingle ingredients for multiple recipes is more cost effective as well as helping reduce kitchen waste.
So, the pictures are lovely. The layout is clear and easy to follow. The recipes are diverse as well as familiar family favorites catering for all foodies. Is there nothing wrong with this book? On the whole Id say not really. However, and this is only a quibble. The Instant Pot has many features, e.g. roasting, sous vide, dehydrating or steaming. But none of these are really covered. Considering this is an official Instant Pot cook book, I would have liked something about how to use these features. I appreciate the title states “Fast & Slow”, so that should indicate mainly pressure cooking and slow cooking. But if this is my Instant pot bible book to success, those features could have been touched upon. Unless that’s a different book, in which case I will go on the hunt for it. Also, the book specifies its for a 6 quart pot. But I can safely say that all the recipes I have tried in my 8 quart pot have turned out great without any adjustment to the instructions.
When I opened this book for the first time, it was like entering a well organized kitchen. The Pressure Point section at the beginning soothed any fears I had form the onset. With each turn of the page I became more at ease with not only my new Instant Pot, but the endless possibilities of what I could cook and how easy it would be. I use Fast & Slow, almost daily, certainly weekly. I love opening it and discovering new recipes I never would have tried before. But now, are so easy they have become family favorites. The range of dishes eludes any notions of getting bored or setting limitations on the cooks ability. The ease of instruction, educates the reader so that the skills can be transferred to other dishes, pressure or slow cookers. That is the true genius of a well written cook book.
Note: This is not a sponsored review, just my personal opinion having used the book. To purchase the book you can do so either directly from Milk Street, Amazon, Book Depository or most likely and ideally your local book store. Happy Cooking!