The induction hob does work!
The main problem was that, when I bought it, I was seriously ill with undiagnosed Addison’s Disease and, frankly, getting to grips with this new technology – which really isn’t that hard now I’m functioning properly again – was impossible (well, OK – maybe not 100% properly, but comparatively so – I’m still in a pretty parlous state much of the time), and the problems that defeated me last time have now gone away.
The recipe for the soup I’ve just made follows.
But first, a caveat. When tested yesterday with a pot of plain water, my Buffalo brand induction hob showed that 80C on the temperature scale was, in reality, 92C. However, I’ve just dunked the same thermometer in the pot of soup, and got 80C.
92C was a false reading. And I know why.
In plain water, the metal of the thermometer’s frame (stainless steel), touched the metal of the pot, and picked up the induction current, overheating the thermometer’s bulb slightly (only slightly as the glassware is only in contact with the metal at two small points). Today, being loaded with veg and beans, it wasn’t possible to touch the bottom of the pot, and so I got a true reading just from the contents – a gently bubbling 80C.
Timings, temperatures, doneness of ingredients, were all noted and, it has to be said, the time saving was substantial – actual time including buggeration for getting it right, about 90 minutes (it’ll go faster in future, now I know what I’m doing), the reason being that the induction hob maintains a steady temperature, while the electric cooker’s hob switches on and off, maintaining an average temperature, not a constant one. That’s also the reason gas is more efficient than electricity for cooking. And more economical.
I was toying with the idea of buying a new cooker with a ceramic hob (one with an induction hob is preferable, but way too expensive), but I might just buy another one of these – it’ll save me at least £300.
And so, finally, the recipe for:-
Induction Bean Soup.
Ingredients (makes 3litres as usual) :-
3 cooking onions, finely chopped
3 fat but medium-length carrots (or the equivalent), cut into small dice (about the size of the beans – it’s not critical
Swede, diced about the same size, and same quantity
2 teaspoons dried basil
3 Kallo organic veg stock cubes
720g organic, pre-cooked, Pinto beans (or 3 cans of Napolina Pinto beans, drained and rinsed)
2 500g packs Napolina Passata
6 lumps of frozen baby spinach, thawed and chopped
1 teaspoon garlic granules
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 scant teaspoon celery salt
1 tablespoon tomato purée
50g clarified butter
Maldon Sea Salt and Schwartz fine black pepper, to taste
Sweat the onions in the melted butter until soft. This is where it got complicated. There seems to be no setting that will gently sweat off the onions, so be resigned to the fact that you’ll have to keep a close eye on this stage, and make sure they don’t brown. Some, inevitably, will, which is why I’ve omitted “without colouring” as I suspect it’s impossible unless further experience yields up the secret
Anyway, when the onions are ready, add the diced veg, the basil, soy, celery salt and stock cubes, plus about a litre of boiling water, set the temp to 200C, bring back to the boil, turn down to 80C, and walk away. It won’t look as if it’s going to simmer, but it will – next time you look it’ll be bubbling away gently.
After 40 minutes the carrots were soft enough to move on to the addition of the passata, tomato purée, and the spinach. Allow the tomato and spinach to cook out for about 20 minutes, tip in the beans, stir, and leave on 80 for it to come back up to temperature and the beans to heat through – about 15minutes.
Turn off the power and leave to cool.
Note: you might find that the process goes faster, as I was doing other stuff as well, making notes, for this, taking rubbish out to the bin, and looking with envy at the new ceramic-hob range cooker in the communal kitchen here (not that anyone uses it).
When cool enough, check and adjust the seasoning, leave to go cold and refrigerate overnight for the ingredients to do whatever they get up to when you’re not looking.
Go on, peek, I dare you …
NB: Sometime today Amazon will be delivering an induction-friendly 26cm frying pan (it’s important that pot and pan sizes match the induction zones marked on the hobs, and they usually show the diameter too, if not on the hob itself, then in the manual). I’m sure the hob fries well, based on what it did to the onions, but the pan I currently use is aluminium and for induction hobs only ferrous metal works (iron or steel). Aluminium pans sold as suitable for induction need a steel base.
One final thought – there is no reason why, given the difficulty of sweating off onions (and it’s not just me, others report the same problem), why you can’t sweat off a whole batch of the things (chopped in a food processor), portion, and freeze them. Then, on the day, just defrost and toss in the pan – it has the advantage, too, of removing a stage from the prep, and as you might have noticed the other day, it’s the prep that does for me, big-time. I must remember to do this. A kilo of cooking onions plus 2 bags of Echalion shallots will be ample for 4 dishes.