YMCA Healthy Living Magazine, powered by n4 food and health SPRING 2019 - Page 12

MARNIE NITSCHKE, APD Marnie is an Accredited Practising Dietitian at www.n4foodandhealth.com. She also works in clinical nutrition at Epworth Healthcare, and in private practice at Everyday Nutrition in Glen Iris. www.everydaynutrition.com.au FIVE THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD MAKE IN A RICE COOKER Dietitian and avid home cook Marnie Nitschke shows us that rice cookers can make a lot more than just rice! ost of us have a rice cooker stashed away in the cupboard. They’re indispensable when it comes to ‘set and forget’, perfectly cooked rice. They save stovetop space, and their non-stick surface makes for a quicker, easier clean up. But did you know that even the simplest models have a myriad of other uses? Here are five rice cooker dishes you can try at home. M Stewed apples Have you ever ruined a saucepan in the process of stewing apples? That won’t happen anymore in a rice cooker! Just peel, core and chop your apples, and place them into the rice cooker with any flavourings and enough water to cover the pan (about ¼ cup for 4-6 apples). Replace the lid, wait until it comes to the boil, then check every 5 minutes, until your desired consistency is reached. If you leave the lid open, evaporation will result in less moisture in the final dish – so play around to suit your preferences. Porridge You can give porridge the old ‘set and forget’ treatment too. This one is great for families where everyone’s up and leaving at different times because the machine will keep it warm and ready to serve. You can experiment and adjust to your liking, but the ratio for cooking rolled oats in a rice cooker is the same as on the stovetop - 1 cup of oats to 2 cups of water (or a water and milk mixture if you like your porridge a little creamier). A NOTE ON COOKING TIMES Rice cookers stop cooking and click over to ‘warm’ function when they sense all the moisture has been removed, so you’ll often need to intervene when cooking steamed and stewed dishes in your rice cooker. For example, for the stewed fruit or the fish, you’ll need to stop the cooking early, when the food reaches your desired texture. 12 YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE SPRING 2019 Polenta Polenta would have to be one of the messiest dishes to cook on the stovetop (as seasoned polenta cooks will attest to), and it’s also a really easy way to burn yourself! So this recipe is one of my favourite new and lesser-known ways to use a rice cooker. Add 1 cup of polenta (not the instant variety) to 4 cups of low salt liquid stock, close the lid, and switch on. Once it clicks off, add 2 tablespoons of grated, salt-reduced cheese and stir, for a deliciously creamy polenta, without the usual arm strain or splatter burns! Steamed fish This is a great way to cook fish, without going anywhere near the oven or stovetop! If you’ve still got your rice cooker instructions, it might be a good time to refer to their suggested cooking techniques and times. Add around 3 cups of water to the pan, place the fish on the steamer rack with lemon slices, sliced spring onion and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and cook for around 10-12 minutes. Frittata Frittata is another dish you’d never think to try in a rice cooker, but this is an excellent idea, especially if you’re travelling or camping and have access to a power supply. You can use your favourite basic frittata recipe but I use 4-6 beaten eggs, a few tablespoons of cream or evaporated milk, a few tablespoons of salt-reduced cheese, herbs, spices, and whatever vegetables I have on hand. I also add a heaped tablespoon of self-raising flour, for a fluffier, lighter end-product. Then, simply whisk and combine all ingredients, tip it all into the rice cooker and activate. You’ll need to check on your frittata once the cooker clicks off, and you may need to wait a minute before clicking it back on to continue until the top is cooked. When it is cooked your frittata will spring back lightly upon touching it.