Saturday, 24 September 2011

Tame Your Rice Cooker!

Just using your rice cooker for steaming rice? Sure, it makes perfect rice, rice that is happy to sit and wait until the rest of your dinner is ready, but why not get it to work harder for you?

After all, your rice cooker is a machine -and it is your machine. You can get a rice cooker at Walmart. You're not going to be intimidated by something you can find at Walmart, are you? I thought not.

Did you know you can sauté in that thing? Make gourmet meals? Make your whole darned dinner in there?
Heck, you can even steam in your rice cooker. (Remember that perforated basket you took out and put under the stack of bowls in the high cupboard?)

Katie Chin gives you the ultimate guide to utilizing your rice cooker to the fullest. In 300 Best Rice Cooker Recipes, you will find a detailed guide to using your rice cooker, a guide to all different kinds of rice, tips on using your rice cooker for other grains and legumes, and a whole slew of recipes (300) from breakfast to dessert!

It's time to get to know your rice cooker better, it just might be the hardest working appliance in your kitchen!

In our KitchenPuppy test kitchen, we whipped up the Lemony Risotto with Shrimp and the Wild Rice and Pork Stew. I was amazed how well they turned out! I have a whole new appreciation for my little machine. Try one this weekend!

(I have just a regular on/off rice cooker and the recipes turned out great in it. Santa, if you are reading, feel free to send me a fuzzy logic one for Christmas. They look cool. ☺)
Mine is served on a bed of baby arugula, for colour and added nutrition. Plus, arugula goes great with lemon!
Lemony Risotto with Shrimp
Makes 4 to 6 servings

I love the refreshing burst of lemon in this dish, and it's a fantastic recipe to make when fresh corn is in season. Vibrant pink shrimp make it a colorful dish for entertaining. Serve with a mixed green salad for an easy, breezy dinner.

Tips
To blanch fresh corn kernels, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add corn and boil for 1 to 2 minutes or until tender-crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer corn to a bowl of ice water and let cool completely. Drain.
Try using Meyer lemons for the juice and zest.

This risotto will hold on the Keep Warm cycle for about 1 hour, but you'll need to add 1⁄4 cup (60 mL) more broth for a creamy consistency. Wait until you're ready to serve before folding in the Parmesan, seasoning and garnishing.

•    Medium to large rice cooker; fuzzy logic (preferred) or on/off

2 tbsp    extra virgin olive oil    30 mL
5 tsp    butter, divided    25 mL
1 cup    finely chopped onion    250 mL
1 tbsp    finely grated lemon zest    15 mL
1 cup    Arborio rice    250 mL
1⁄4 cup    white wine    60 mL
3 cups    chicken broth    750 mL
12    medium shrimp, peeled and deveined    12
1 cup    blanched fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels    250 mL
    (see tip, at left)
3 tbsp    freshly squeezed lemon juice    45 mL
1⁄2 cup    freshly grated Parmesan cheese    125 mL
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    Finely chopped fresh parsley
    Lemon wedges
    Additional freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1.    Set the rice cooker for the Quick Cook or Regular cycle. When the bottom of the bowl gets hot, add oil and 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter and let butter melt. Sauté onion for about 3 minutes or until softened and translucent. Stir in lemon zest.
2.    Stir in rice until completely coated. Sauté for about 4 minutes or until mostly translucent and only a dot of white remains. Stir in wine and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until evaporated. Stir in broth. Close the lid and reset for the Porridge or Regular cycle. Set a timer for 20 minutes. Stir two or three times while the risotto is cooking.
3.    When the timer sounds, fold in shrimp, corn and lemon juice. Set the timer for 5 minutes.
4.    When the timer sounds, check to make sure risotto is al dente and shrimp are pink and opaque. If necessary, continue cooking, checking for doneness every 5 minutes. Fold in the remaining butter. Fold in Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and lemon wedges. Serve additional Parmesan on the side.

Variation
Substitute 1 cup (250 mL) chopped grilled chicken for the shrimp, adding it with the Parmesan.

Excerpted from 300 Best Rice Cooker Recipes by Katie Chin © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Wild Rice and Pork Stew
Makes 4 to 6 servings

The nutty flavor of wild rice and aromatic fennel bring great depth to this autumnal stew, and it's a breeze to put together. Serve it with buttered rye bread and enjoy!

Tips
Toasting fennel seeds intensifies their flavor. Toast them in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes or until fragrant. Immediately transfer to a spice grinder and let cool, then grind to a fine powder.
Try using a wild rice blend, such as Lundberg Farms.
Although cooking this stew on the Brown Rice cycle takes an hour longer, it's worth it for the superior results.

•    Medium to large rice cooker; fuzzy logic or on/off

2 tbsp    extra virgin olive oil    30 mL
1⁄2 cup    finely chopped onion    125 mL
1 lb    boneless pork shoulder blade (butt) roast,     500 g
    cut into 2- by 1-inch (5 by 2.5 cm) pieces
2 tsp    salt, divided    10 mL
1⁄2 tsp    fennel seeds, toasted and ground     2 mL
    (see tip, at left)
1⁄2 tsp    chili powder    2 mL
1⁄4 tsp    ground cumin    1 mL
1⁄4 tsp    freshly ground black pepper    1 mL
31⁄2 cups    chicken broth    875 mL
2    tomatoes, diced    2
1    can (14 oz/398 mL) diced tomatoes, with juice    1
1    bay leaf    1
1 cup    wild rice, rinsed and drained    250 mL
1⁄4 cup    chopped green onions (green and white parts)    60 mL

1.    Set the rice cooker for the Quick Cook or Regular cycle. When the bottom of the bowl gets hot, add oil and swirl to coat. Sauté onion for about 3 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add pork, 1 tsp (5 mL) salt, fennel seeds, chili powder, cumin and pepper; sauté for 10 minutes or until pork is browned on all sides.
2.    Stir in broth. Close the lid and reset for the Regular cycle. Set a timer for 45 minutes.
3.    When the timer sounds, check to make sure pork is fork_tender. If necessary, continue cooking, checking for doneness every 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pork to a cutting board.
4.    Add fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes with juice, bay leaf, rice and the remaining salt to the rice cooker bowl. Close the lid and reset for the Regular cycle. Set the timer for 55 minutes. (Or reset for the Brown Rice cycle and set a timer for 1 hour and 55 minutes.)
5.    Meanwhile, shred pork and transfer to a plate. Cover and refrigerate.
6.    When the timer sounds, check to make sure rice is tender. If necessary, continue cooking, checking for doneness every 5 minutes. Switch to the Keep Warm cycle. Stir in shredded pork and green onions. Let stand for 15 minutes, then serve immediately.

Excerpted from 300 Best Rice Cooker Recipes by Katie Chin © 2011 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
This is their photo, which looks better than mine. In my defense - it is very difficult to photograph stew!