Saturday, May 16, 2009
I treated myself to a new kitchen appliance for Mother's Day.
Years ago, I loved my rice cooker, but I hated the clean up - everything crusted on the bottom and it was difficult to scrub it out. The more I scrubbed, the more things sticked. But... it cooked rice beautifully and it left my stove top free for other pots and pans. I don't know what happened to that rice cooker - in one of my moves it disappeared, I guess.
I've been reading about the new fuzzy logic rice cookers that can do so many things and decided that I would get one. Dear daughter is home from college for the summer and eats a lot of rice and pasta, so I figured it would get quite a work out. After researching it online, I settled on what I believe is the best combination of price and utility and purchased an Aroma 8 cup cooker with a nonstick pan, steaming basket and settings including keep warm, steam, white rice and brown rice. There's a photo of it at the end of the post. I've been playing with it all week.
The first thing I made was not-fried rice which was pretty good, but needs some tweaking before I send it off into cyberspace. However, the second thing I made is a real keeper - Israeli couscous!
A couple of months ago, I noticed a bin of Israeli couscous at my local health food store and brought some home without a clue as to what to do with it. Couscous is just pasta, really, and Israeli couscous is large, individual pearls, maybe 1/16th inch in diameter. They remind me very much of the pasta called pastina which is often used in Italian wedding soup, just larger. I was a little apprehensive about cooking pasta in the rice cooker - I am Italian, after all - but the rice cooker cooked them to perfection with slight al dente bite to them. I can't wait to try other pastas, now!
Israeli Couscous in the Rice Cooker
1/2 onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 C Israeli couscous
2 C water
3 tsp veggie broth powder
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
Add the olive oil, onion and carrots to the cooker and press the white rice button. Let the veggies cook for a few minutes while you get everything else ready. Then, add all the above ingredients, stir well, and press the white rice cycle again. While the rice is cooking, get the garnishes ready:
2 oz nicoise olives, pitted and chopped
8 oz frozen peas
2 Tbs pepitas or other nut or seed for some crunch
When the cooking cycle is done, stir the garnishes in, and close the cover for a minute or two to make sure that the peas are steamed a bit and fully defrosted.
Dear daughter dislikes peas, but with a little coaxing, she will eat them, so I was hesitant about putting them in this dish. However, they've been sitting in my freezer for a while and I wanted something green in the dish and in they went. After her first bite, DD exclaimed, "Hey, I think I actually like peas this way!" What a victory for dear old Mom, huh? Maybe your pea-hater will like them too! It looked so pretty, too, nice enough for guests, I think.
This would serve 5 or 6 as a side dish as is and probably 3 or 4 people as a main dish with the addition of half a can of chickpeas.
Next time, I'm going to try using some lemon juice or wine in the couscous, I think.