A pressure cooker is a heating device that traps air to cook food more quickly. Once any liquid starts to boil, it cannot escape and results in pressure. Air pressure can actually increase the temperature of liquid almost 40 degrees Fahrenheit compared to stove-top boiling, resulting in a faster cooking time. Although using a pressure cooker will definitely shave time off your meal preparation, you have to adjust your regular recipes or they will become overcooked.
Determine the original cooking time for your regular recipe (not the total preparation time) by reading the recipe. Reduce the original cooking time for a regular recipe by two-thirds when you use your pressure cooker.
Verify the amount of liquid your original recipe requires in the finished product, not how much is actually added since traditional cooking methods evaporate excess liquid. Add only the amount of liquid you actually want in the finished recipe plus an extra 1/2 cup, because pressure cookers will not evaporate much of the extra liquid. Use at least 1/2 cup of liquid prior to adding the other ingredients even if your regular recipe does not need it or else your pressure cooker will not have any pressure from the steam.
Divide the original recipe, if it produces a large amount of food, and heat the food in the pressure cooker in two separate batches. Otherwise you may not have the same amount of room as you would in a large soup pot or roasting pan. Ensure your pressure cooker is only filled two-thirds with ingredients prior to cooking and set any remaining ingredients aside for a second batch.
Coat the bottom of your pressure cooker with approximately 3 tbsp. olive oil before you add any meat, seafood or poultry or else the meat will not have an opportunity to get a flavorful outer crust that it normally gets from sautéing or roasting. Set your pressure cooker to "high" to cook meat, seafood or poultry, then turn off the heat completely after your estimated cooking time.
Add vegetables, fruits, pastas, sauces, or soup ingredients into the pressure cooker the exact way your regular recipe calls for, keeping the amounts of seasoning or oil the same. Supervise these more fragile foods carefully and ensure the pressure cooker has liquid in it at all times or else the foods will burn.
Add more flavor to your recipes by using a different liquid than water, such as broth, wine or fruit juice.
Use a pressure cooker to heat vegetables or beans--they will retain more vitamins and minerals than if you boil or steam them.