Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Modern Kitchen Amenities

Ah, the rice cooker. When friends of mine used to ask me if I had one my response was always, yeah, it's called a pot.

Although I love to cook, I don't like kitchen gadgets. My Cuisinart was manufactured circa 1984 (a hand-me-down from my mom), I don't own a KitchenAid mixer (although I did just break down and buy one of those little $30 hand mixers for making pavlovas...I can't deal with beating 10 egg whites by hand) and I own a pretty minimal number of pots, pans and spatulas. I have my favorite 3 or so, and that's pretty much what I stick with.

Paul, on the other hand, doesn't cook but LOVES kitchen appliances...or just gadgets generally I guess. Our very fancy blender (or smoothie maker as he calls it, completely straight-faced), coffee maker, toaster and vegetable steamer are all purchases that Paul initiated.

When these things show up in the kitchen I generally smirk, shake my head in disbelief and tease him about how often he's going to use whatever it is. Although I have to say he uses the vegetable steamer pretty much on a nightly basis though which I find fairly impressive.

So the rice cooker showed up and my response was essentially oh no you didn't. Eventually, after about a year of it sitting in our cupboard, I deigned to give it a try (Paul sure as hell wasn't going to). And may I say, what an absolutely genius invention. Perfect rice every time!

Now I acknowledge that rice is not exactly a difficult thing to make, but sometimes it just goes wrong. I burn the bottom, the rice is impossible to get off of the bottom of the pot, the rice is slightly undercooked, whatever. Small issues but they kind of ruin your day (or really, your meal). With the amazing rice cooker none of this stuff EVER happens. Brown rice, white rice, short grain, long grain...doesn't matter...perfect regardless! It keeps well for quite a long time after cooking has completed as well, making it the perfect aid for dinner parties. And if you're lucky, especially with brown rice, you'll get a very minor but enjoyable little crust going at the bottom of the rice vessel.

Is just plain rice a little too boring? I present to you a semi-recipe to be made in a rice cooker, inspired by the great Kenny Shopsin's suggestion to melt cheese over your rice in the microwave.

Cheesey Rice In Rice Cooker

1/3 cup brown rice
1 cup water
handful grated cheddar cheese (or whatever you want)
handful baby arugula (I had leftovers from my sausage and pasta, what can I say? Use whatever easily cooked leaf you like)
soy sauce
sesame oil

Put rice and water in rice cooker and press the "cook" button. When rice is done cooking (my only gripe with my rice cooker is that brown rice takes forever, be patient is all I can tell you) and rice cooker is on "warm" setting, throw in cheese, stir, and put cover back on. Let it be for 30 seconds or so (until melted), then throw in arugula, stir and put cover back on. When arugula is wilted (15 seconds or so), pour mixture out into a bowl. Drizzle a bit of soy sauce over rice, mix in. Drizzle some sesame seed oil over the top and eat.


pve design said...

What I like is that you come clean. I am so not a gadget person, so not. But, my dear husband is and it bothers me to no end. Out of love though, a few years ago, I gave him a "deep fryer" - now, we are talking serious. It makes the best fried chicken, and this Kentuckian knows. I still have the old standby, the cast iron skillet. A girl never knows who might be needing a good bop. (I would never do that!)

Now - why did I give the rice cooker away?

Laura [What I Like] said...

A deep fryer is very serious! I adore my cast iron pan but it does allow for quite a bit of spatter if you're doing major frying. Does your deep fryer keep the fat semi-contained? If so, I would argue that it is worth allowing it to take up the space formerly used by the rice cooker!

Joyce said...

Your recipe sounds very good. I will give it a try.
Some gadgets are made for a certain thing and can be used for something else. what about teh rice cooker- just rice or something else? I have seen these, but never gave it much thought. After your recipe- I'm thinking about it.
Thanks! xoxo

Laura [What I Like] said...

You can use it for steel cut oatmeal...I think you can set the timer such that the oatmeal will be ready for you when you wake up. Although honestly it comes out a tiny bit mushier than I prefer when I use the rice cooker. There was an article in the NYT a while back about all of the bi bim bop and such that you could make with it...I don't get quite that creative!

wambalus said...

Mom has been thinking about a rice cooker, she was so enchanted by yours. Perhaps we could go in together for mother's day or birthday or something? What brand do you have?

Laura [What I Like] said...

Sure, I'd be up for that. The model I have is the link in the post.

Cindy said...

Hmm. I'm almost convinced about the rice cooker. One advantage about the pot though is you can open the lid and keep popping things in (pine nuts, sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, etc.). And of course the pot doesn't take up all that room. Still . . .

Bourbon and bowling? Good lord, that must have been great.

The word verification here is "stankies." Any comment on that?

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