Perhaps you have heard of the joys and frustrations of using an electric pressure cooker from friends or experienced it yourself. While the appliance seems to have become more popular recently, The Cook's Nook owner, Jonna Corrigan, said her store has held electric pressure cooker classes for nearly five years.

"This has taken off," Corrigan said.

Chef Alli Winter teaches the electric pressure cooker classes, which typically fill up quickly. She will teach two classes on March 24 at The Cook's Nook.

"She's got a following of people who have done pressure cooking for a long time that just love new ideas," Corrigan said. "She does everything from your meats to desserts and side dishes."

Winter plugs in several of the appliances during her classes in The Cook's Nook demonstration kitchen.

"She'll have three or four pressure cookers going on back here," Corrigan said.

Winter said it was Corrigan who introduced her to the electric pressure cooker.

"When you take it out of the box and set it on your counter, you feel like you've just set a bomb in the center of your home," Winter laughed.

Winter's Cuisinart electric pressure cooker is nicknamed "R2D2."

"I started using him and realized really quickly that this is the most life-changing appliance ever," Winter said.

Winter found the electric pressure cooker saved her time in the kitchen when making meals for her husband and three sons.

"For me to call it a speedy meal, it has to be on the table, start to finish, in under 30 minutes," Winter said.

Cooking items that normally take hours, such as beans or roasts, typically can be done in minutes.

"Through the week, I use R2D2 for soups, for chicken and dumplings," Winter said. "There's a kajillion things you can cook in three to five minutes."

You can also use an electric pressure cooker to brown meat and cook rice.

"It's the pressure in there that just speeds up the cooking a lot," Corrigan said. "Chicken breasts you can probably have done in ten minutes and they're just juicy and tender."

Meat does not dry out in electric pressure cookers when a natural release of pressure is used.

"You just let the pressure come down naturally. That allows your big old hunk of meat to relax and cook from the residual heat," Winter said. "When you take it out and slice it, you've got the nice, tender, relaxed, delicious meat that you have dreamed of."

Winter demonstrates recipes from start to finish in her classes, allowing participants to taste everything she makes.

"They go home with recipes of what she made and ideas," Corrigan said.

Memories of stove top pressure cookers can sometimes make people nervous about using an electric pressure cooker.

"A lot of people remember dinner all over the ceiling," Winter said.

"The new ones have so many safety features, that won't happen," Corrigan said. "Once the lid is locked on, it'll lock itself and once it gets pressure, you can't take it off."

Not only can using an electric pressure cooker save time, it can also save on energy.

"It's really nice, too, for in the summer when you don't want to heat up your kitchen," Winter said.

"A crock-pot, you plug it in and leave it all day and hope things don't overcook," Corrigan said.

Making meals in an electric pressure cooker can also lead to healthier diets.

"The only things you can cook in an electric pressure cooker are whole foods," Winter said.

Winter's classes on March 24 at The Cook's Nook include a 10 a.m. session in which she will share recipes for pork ramen bowls, butternut cauliflower soup and cheesy black bean dip. At 2 p.m., she will lead a class on cooking meat, demonstrating with a beef roast and a pork butt. Classes fees are $30 per person.

For more information about Chef Alli Winter, visit For more information about The Cook's Nook, visit

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.