Comfort Cooking Abroad

Get a taste of home no matter where you live

Archive for the tag “rice cooker”

Cream of Broccoli and Mushroom Soup

Broccoli and mushroom soup with cheddar.

Broccoli and mushroom soup with cheddar.

This recipe combines my two favorite cream soups and is much healthier than the traditional recipes. I traded half of the milk for whey, which I had leftover from making farmer’s cheese, and still got a rich creamy taste.

Ingredients for 6 servings

2 cups whey

1 small head of broccoli – chopped

1 cup sliced mushrooms

2 tbsp flour

2 cups cold milk

salt and pepper to taste

Cheddar cheese for garnish if desired

This recipe is very simple and fast. Pour the whey into the pot of your rice cooker and set it to cook. When the whey begins to boil, add the vegetables. The broccoli needs to cook down until it is very soft. It will take 10 – 15 minutes for the broccoli to become soft and the mushrooms to cook through. * It’s important to keep the top of your rice cooker open while you are boiling liquid in it. If you close the cooker, you risk having the soup boil out of the steam vent and onto the electrical plug.

Cooked broccoli and mushrooms.

Cooked broccoli and mushrooms.

I like to keep the broccoli in bite sized pieces, but some people like to have it mashed into the soup. If you prefer to have the broccoli mashed, it is very easy to do with a potato masher. Just be careful not to splash the hot soup onto your hands.

When the vegetables have cooked, stir the flour into the cold milk. The milk needs to be very cold to mix the flour in without lumps. When all the flour has been absorbed, stir the mixture into the soup along with the salt and pepper. It should thicken quite quickly leaving you with a creamy soup. Now just pour it into bowls and top with cheese if desired.

Advertisements

Citrus Glazed Chicken

Citrus glazed chicken.

Citrus glazed chicken.

I had a request to make chicken for dinner, but no one could tell me how they wanted it prepared. I decided to use ingredients that were on hand to make something a bit different. This meal fed five, cooked up in under 30 minutes and was packed with flavor.

Ingredients for 5 servings

1 package of chicken breasts or chicken tenders

juice of 1 – 2 oranges

2 tsp olive oil

sprig fresh rosemary or 1/4 tsp of dried

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup honey

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar – optional

Combine the juice of one orange with the olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper in a storage size resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken and let it marinate in the fridge for at least one hour. It would be even better to do this in the morning before work and then cook it up when you get home.

Plug in your rice cooker and set it to cook. When the pot is hot, place your chicken right in. You don’t need any additional oil. Reserve your marinade, don’t put it in with the chicken. Leave plenty of space in the pot so that the chicken isn’t crowded even though you may have to do 2 rounds of chicken. Leave the lid off the pot while the chicken cooks so that it won’t get soggy. While the chicken is cooking, just let it sit, don’t flip it over or move it around too much, that will prevent a good texture from forming on the meat. It will take around 5 minutes to cook each side depending on whether you used whole breasts or tenders. Try to get a dark golden layer on each side.

My first round of chicken.

My first round of chicken.

When all of your chicken is done cooking, add the marinade to the pot with the honey and balsamic vinegar. If you can’t find balsamic vinegar, I don’t recommend substituting any other kind. It’s okay to leave this ingredient out if it isn’t available where you live or if you think it would be too tangy for your tastes. Keep the rice cooker set high and cook everything down to thick shiny glaze, stirring frequently. If it thickens up too much, add more orange juice. I used the juice of 2 whole oranges for mine, but this really depends on you. Do you like a very thick glaze on meat, or do you prefer a sauce. It works well either way. When you have it thickened to your preference, just pour it over the chicken and serve.

Citrus glazed chicken with pan-fried zucchini and okra.

Citrus glazed chicken with pan-fried zucchini and okra.

Perfect Pork Roast with Apricot Sauce

Pork roast with apricot sauce.

Pork roast with apricot sauce.

A Sunday roast is a classic in many western households. The idea of trying to recreate that without an oven was a bit daunting. I gave it a try anyway and was surprised to find that, with a small roast, it’s actually not too difficult. I made an apricot sauce to go with my roast because pork pairs well with the tangy fruit.

Ingredients for 1 roast

Roast

1 2lb pork roast

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp butter

Sauce

1 tbsp mustard

1/4 cup apricot jam (orange marmalade will also work)

1 cup vegetable stock

The salt and pepper are used as a simple rub for the meat. Roasting brings out a lot of natural flavors, so it isn’t really necessary to get to creative with spices or marinades. Just make sure that the whole roast gets a bit of salt and pepper.

In your rice cooker, melt the butter and set the machine to cook. It’s important that the butter be melted and the pot of your cooker be very hot because now you’re going to sear the meat. Searing cooks the outside quickly and seals in juices. Roasting is done by cooking slowly, which can dry out the meat, so don’t skip this step. When you sear meat, you need to get each side well browned including the ends. If your rice cooker won’t get hot enough, or won’t stay hot, you can also do this step on the stove. I like to make mashed potatoes with pot roast, so I don’t have enough room left on the stove to sear the roast as well.

Partially seared pork roast.

Partially seared pork roast.

Normally a roast would be put into the oven in the same pan it was seared in, but I’ve never seen a toaster oven large enough to hold a pan like that. That means you’ll have to move the roast to a baking pan that will fit in your toaster oven. Don’t worry about lining your pan with foil. You can if you like, but I don’t find it necessary. You can also skip the step where you would normally tie up your roast to help it keep its shape because the string can catch fire if it’s too close to the heat source in a toaster oven.

Now just put it in your toaster oven with the temperature set to 300 F using both heat sources. If you can’t get a low enough temperature with both sources, just use the lower one. Set your timer to 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn your roast about a third of the way around. Then cook for another 20 minutes and turn again. Then cook for another 20 minutes. In total, your roast should could for about an hour. If your’s is smaller than 2 lbs, try doing 15 minute intervals.

IMG_1361

After second 20 minutes.

After second 20 minutes.

Typically a roast wouldn’t be turned at all while cooking, but toaster ovens heat a bit unevenly. After the full hour you will need to check the meat to see if it’s done. The best way is to check the temperature. According to the USDA the lowest temperature at which it’s safe to eat pork is 145 F. At this temperature the meat will still be a bit rare. However, if you don’t have a thermometer, it’s better to cook until there is no pink left, just to be safe. Check the meat color by cutting into the thickest spot.

Finished pork roast that I've begun to slice up.

Finished pork roast that I’ve begun to slice up.

Notice that the outside should be well cooked and have some crispy spots, while the inside is juicy and slices easily.

While your roast is cooking you can start on the sauce. The pot of your rice cooker, or pan on your stove top is you used that, will have bits of pork left in it from searing the roast. Turn it up to cook and let the pan heat through. Add the vegetable stock to deglaze the pan. If the pan is hot enough, it will sizzle immediately. Now, just add the mustard and the apricot jam and stir to a smooth consistency. The sauce will thicken slightly. Pour the sauce over the finished roast and even on your mashed potatoes.

Just adding the apricot jam to the sauce..

Just adding the apricot jam to the sauce.

Pumpkin Curry

Pumpkin curry with rice and homemade cheese.

Pumpkin curry with rice and homemade cheese.

Curry is a favorite meal of mine because it simple, versatile and filling. It’s also an easy meal to make when living abroad because you can find packages of curry sauce almost anywhere in the world. Here I used a golden curry and added a bit of my homemade cheese. Farmer’s cheese is very similar to Indian paneer, so it makes a great addition to many Indian dishes.

Ingredients for 4 servings

1/2 squash – pumpkin, calabaza, butternut, acorn or kabocha

2 potatoes – red or yellow potatoes have the best texture for this dish

2 carrots

3 cups vegetable stock or whey

1 can chick peas

1 package golden curry paste

1/2 homemade cheese

The first steps is to cut the squash and potatoes into about 1/2 inch cubes and slice the carrots. Ideally, the vegetables should be bite-sized and somewhat uniform.

Vegetables for curry.

Vegetables for curry.

Place the cut up vegetables in the pot of your rice cooker along with the vegetable stock or whey and set to cook. I used whey because I had so much left over from making cheese to add tot the curry, but stock works just as well.

When the vegetables have softened, add the chick peas. You can add the liquid from the chick peas as well if you want the curry a bit thinner, or drain the liquid if you like a thick curry. I used about half the liquid.

Now it’s time to add the curry. If you’ve never used this product before, you might find it a bit strange. Real Indian curry is not made with these blocks of spices (the paste is made by mixing spices with a fat that is solid at room temperature and formed into blocks). Getting all of the individual spices and then mixing them in the right proportions can be difficult bordering on impossible in many countries though. Break the blocks apart and add al of them to your vegetables. They will thicken the sauce as they melt.

Blocks of curry sauce. The odd coloring of the liquid is because I used whey instead of stock.

Blocks of curry sauce. The odd coloring of the liquid is because I used whey instead of stock.

Keep your rice cooker set to high until the paste melts completely. Stir it slowly sot hat you don’t break up the vegetables. When all of the curry has blended perfectly, just top it with some homemade cheese and serve.

Easy Homemade Lasagna

Lasagna and caesar's salad.

Lasagna and caesar’s salad.

One dish I can never find when living abroad is lasagna. For those of us used to buying lasagna noodles, it’s hard to imagine how to make homemade lasagna completely from scratch. But if you can make your own pasta, it’s very easy to make lasagna noodles. Simply roll out your dough and cut out rectangles or squares slightly smaller than your pan (they expand bit when cooked). This way you can even be guaranteed that your noodles will fit perfectly. Let the pasta dry for 30 – 60 minutes and boil. Unless you have a large pot to boil the noodles in, I recommend cutting rectangles instead of squares. It is better not to rinse your pasta after it boils because that will affect the texture, however the noodles will stick together if you don’t separate them. A good way to keep them from sticking together while they cool is to drape the sheets over a spoon set across your sink.

Ingredients for 9 servings

1 batch pasta dough

1 lb ground beef

12 ounces tomato sauce

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups shredded cheese

While your lasagna noodles are cooling, brown the ground beef in the pot of your rice cooker set to cook. When the meat is fully cooked, add the tomato sauce, garlic, salt and pepper. Keep the mixture on cook until it is hot and bubbly. Now it’s time for layering. Pour one third of the ground beef mixture into a baking pan and follow that with one third of the cheese and a layer of noodles.

Starting the second layer.

Starting the second layer.

Now add the second third of the meat, followed by the second third of cheese and the remaining noodles. Finish with the remaining meat and cheese.

Put it in your toaster oven at 350 F or using just the bottom heat source for 30 – 45 minutes. All of the elements are already cooked, so we are just looking for the cheese to melt and everything to be heated through. When the top layer of cheese is melted and beginning to brown, you’re all done.

Finished lasagna.

Finished lasagna.

Now comes the hard part. Let it sit for at least five minutes before serving. If you cut into it too soon, it will just fall apart.

Ravioli

Spinach and squash ravioli.

Spinach and squash ravioli.

 

If you’ve been following along with my last few posts, you should have pasta dough and at least one filling ready to go. Now, how do roll all of that dough and form all of those raviolis with so little room? My answer is to use an ice cube tray. Yes, really.

You probably only have enough room to roll out half of the dough at a time if you’re lucky. Get out an empty ice cube tray and use it for reference. Divide your dough in half for a large ice cube tray or quarters for a small tray. Cover the dough that you aren’t rolling out so that it won;t dry. Roll your working dough just a bit larger than your tray. Remember, the dough needs to be incredibly thin. If you think you’ve gotten it thin enough, hold it up. Can you see your hand through it? No, keep trying. Yes, great, let’s go to the next step.

Lay it down on top of the ice cube tray and gently press the dough down slightly into each depression. Pasta dough is pretty tough and shouldn’t tear, but be gentle just in case. You shouldn’t need to press any more than you can see in on the left side of this photo.

Dough partially pressed into the depressions.

Dough partially pressed into the depressions.

Now you can scoop in a small amount of your chosen filling. It takes less filling than you might think.

Filled ravioli in tray.

Filled ravioli in tray.

You might have a few gaps as I did on the lower right corner here. Don’t worry. You can gently stretch the dough into place. Now, cover it with plastic wrap or a damp towel and put it out of the way. You can even put it in your refrigerator as long as ti is covered completely. Next, you just have to roll out your next section of dough in the same way.

When the second sheet is ready, get your tray of ravioli back out. You can set it right on top of your second sheet of dough. Just be gentle. Quickly put a little water on all the edges between the pockets of filling. You only need to dampen the dough so that the second sheet will stick. Move quickly so that it doesn’t dry out. Now, put the second sheet on top and press all the edges together tightly. It’s okay to push hard enough to separate the raviolis. Now, turn over the tray and remove the raviolis.

Raviolis removed from tray.

Raviolis removed from tray.

Cut the raviolis apart and remove the excess. The extra dough can be used again if you handle it carefully and keep it covered. Here’s the hard part. Pasta really does best when it’s allowed to dry for at least half an hour before cooking. But, you need that work space to make more ravioli or begin on your sauce. No worries. Place the ravioli in the depressions of the ice cube tray on end and put them out of the way. You can put them in the refrigerator if you’re worried about bugs or don’t have much space, but I recommend against that because it can affect the cooking process.

Raviolis drying.

Raviolis drying.

When they are almost dry to the touch, start boiling your water. You can do that in your rice cooker. Just fill the pot with water (don’t add salt until after it boils) and set it to cook. By the time your water is boiling the ravioli should be ready to drop in. Put them in one at a time and don’t crowd the pot. They should be able to move freely in the water. When they float back to the surface, scoop them out and into a bowl. It’s best not to rinse them or add oil to the water. As soon as they are finished boiling, they are ready. Just add your favorite sauce and serve.

The ravioli that are floating are ready to eat.

The ravioli that are floating are ready to eat.

Overall, making ravioli is pretty time consuming and there are a lot of steps. I recommend making a large batch and freezing most of them. When you want to eat them, just plop them in some boiling water. They are already cooked, so you are just heating them through this way.

Spinach Ravioli Filling

I love all kinds of pasta fillings from sweet to savory. My only rule is that it should be easy to make. In honor of that here is the first of two fillings for ravioli that can be prepared in 20 minutes, with minimal fuss.

Ingredients for four servings of ravioli

1/2 tbsp butter or oil

1/2 onion – diced

1 bunch spinach – chopped

3 ounces cream cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter or oil in the pot of your rice cooker and sauté the diced onion. Once the onion is translucent, add the spinach and cook it down.

Cooked onion and spinach.

Cooked onion and spinach.

You’re looking for the spinach to just wilt, but retain a bright green color and good texture. Remove the spinach and onion to a separate bowl to cool for a few minutes. When the mixture reaches room temperature, stir in the cream cheese, salt and pepper.

Spinach filling.

Spinach filling.

It needs to be quite thick and not at all runny for filling the ravioli. If the mixture is too wet, try adding just a little more cream cheese. That’s it. Cooking time for this filling is only about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on your rice cooker.

Chicken and Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings.

Chicken and dumplings.

This is a warm and homey classic that people really don’t make often enough. I was very intimidated the first time I made it. The idea of making dumplings and cooking them in a soup was just a bit too much for me. Before that, I had heard of chicken and dumplings, but the only dumplings I had actually eaten were German potato dumplings.  The dish didn’t exactly appeal to me. A friend begged me to make it and promised it was easy. He gave me his mother’s recipe, I grudgingly made the soup and… everyone loved it. I’ve made a few changes and simplified it slightly, but it’s still delicious, filling soup that you should definitely consider adding to your recipe box.

Ingredients for 4 servings

Soup

1 1/2 cups cubed chicken breast 

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

2 cups milk

1 cup vegetable stock

1 cup frozen vegetables

salt and pepper to taste

Dumplings

1 cup flour

1/4 – 1/3 cup milk or water

Cutting the chicken breast into 1/2″ (1.25 cm) cubes before cooking is a big time saver. The chicken will cook faster and you won’t have to wait for the meat to cool before you cut it up and add it back to the soup. Alternatively, if you have enough leftover chicken, you can shred that and add it to your soup. That’s a great way to use up food that might get thrown out otherwise.

Melt the butter in the pot of your rice cooker and add the cubed chicken (skip ahead to adding the flour if you are using leftover chicken). Cook the chicken on high heat.

Cubed chicken half finished cooking.

Cubed chicken half finished cooking.

Once the chicken is cooked through, which should only take about 5 minutes, remove it to a plate and stir in the 2 tbsp flour, keeping the rice cooker set to high. Yes, we’re making a roux. Make sure that the flour has absorbed all the butter and you don’t have any bits of dry flour. Now you’re ready to make the béchamel, so stir in the milk slowly. Doing this step slowly is pretty important to getting a smooth creamy finish. If you add the milk to quickly, you might end up with lumps of roux in your finished soup.

Once you have a creamy white sauce, add the vegetable stock and frozen vegetables, and put the chicken back in, then add salt and pepper to taste. While the soup is heating through, still on high heat, get your dumplings ready.

Mix the 1 cup of flour and milk or water.  with a fork. It should form a stiff dough. Add more liquid if it is too dry or more flour if it is too wet. It will be a bit sticky, but you should be able to form small balls of dough.

Dumpling dough.

Dumpling dough.

 

Dumpling ball.

Dumpling ball.

Form the dough into balls about the size of grapes.  Drop them gently into your soup one at a time. They will float back to the top as they cook. When all of your dumplings are cooking, your soup is finished.

Floating dumplings.

Floating dumplings.

There you go. flavorful, filling soup in less than half an hour. You can’t beat that.

Rice Pilaf

Simple rice pilaf.

Simple rice pilaf.

Here’s a very basic but flavorful rice pilaf. Rice is easily the most common grain eaten around the world. Plain rice day after day with every meal gets a bit boring. A pilaf gives you some variety and a lot of flavor with very little work. So what is rice pilaf? It’s simply a cooking method, that most likely originated in Iran, in which the rice gets sautéed in some type of fat and then boiled in a seasoned broth. So really all you have to do is trade water for your favorite broth or stock and add one extra cooking step that takes about two minutes. Easy, right?

Ingredients for 4 servings

1 tbsp butter or oil

2 cups rice

2 cups vegetable stock

Your favorite seasonings to taste

Start by melting the butter or heating the oil on high heat in the pot of your rice cooker and then add the rice. Stirring occasionally, cook the rice until it takes on a light golden color. This step should only take two or three minutes on high heat, so watch your rice closely to avoid burning.

Sauteed rice.

Sauteed rice.

Now add your vegetable stock and seasonings. I used garlic and onion powder. You could also add 1 clove of crushed garlic and half a diced onion when you sauté the rice to get a similar flavor. You could also try turmeric, curry powder, jerk seasoning or just the basic salt and pepper. Close the lid of your rice cooker and wait for the machine to click over to warm.

You could try adding peas and carrots with the stock or any other mix of vegetables or pre-cooked meat for a heartier rice dish that could be a meal on its own. The basic recipe is so easy but impactful that I like to pair it with main dishes that can be rather time consuming. Let me know what variations you come up with!

Rice pilaf served with beef wellington.

Rice pilaf served with beef wellington.

Macaroni and Cheese

Macaroni and cheese.

Macaroni and cheese.

Who doesn’t love mac ‘n’ cheese? Living abroad, it’s one of the hardest dishes to find. The good news? It’s really easy to make and freezes well, so you can make a big batch and have it whenever you want.

Ingredients for 6 servings

4 oz noodles

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

2 cups milk

2 cups cheese – divided

salt and pepper to taste

The first step for mac ‘n’ cheese is to cook the noodles. You can really use any type of noodle you like as long as the noodles have some way of holding sauce. Spaghetti and linguini just won’t work. Fill your rice cooker pot with water and set it to cook. Don’t add your pasta until the water is boiling or you will end up with sticky, mushy pasta and that won’t make for delicious macaroni and cheese. Follow the directions for al dente pasta on the package and then drain and rinse the noodles. Pour the noodles into a baking pan, lined or unlined, and set them aside.

Keep your rice cooker set to cook and melt the butter in the pot. When the butter is melted stir in the flour to make a roux.

Roux

Roux

This is how you will get your cheese sauce to thicken. Slowly mix in the milk as soon as the roux forms a smooth paste. Don’t let the flour brown or it will lose its thickening power. I like to add the milk a little at a time to make sure that it has blended well and not formed any clumps. This butter, flour, milk mixture is called a bechamel sauce and is the base of most cream sauces, so it’s a very important skill to know. Keep the heat on high, stirring often to prevent scorching, until the mixture thickens.

Bechamel sauce.

Bechamel sauce.

Add the salt and pepper, and 1 1/2 cups of cheese. I used a white cheddar because it is the easiest to find in most countries. Stir the sauce until the cheese has all melted. Remove from the heat and slowly pour the sauce over the noodles. I like to give the pan a few taps to remove air bubbles after pouring in the sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese over the top.

Macaroni and cheese ready to cook.

Macaroni and cheese ready to cook.

Put your pan of macaroni in your toaster oven at 350 F (or using only the lower heat source) for approximately 30 minutes or until everything has set. During the final 2 – 3 minutes turn on the upper heat source to brown the top of the dish. It can still be a bit loose when you first take it out of the toaster oven, so allow the mac ‘n’ cheese to cool for 10 minutes before serving. Because it can be a pretty heavy meal, I like to serve it with something light, like this roasted beet salad.

Mac 'n' cheese with roasted beet salad.

Mac ‘n’ cheese with roasted beet salad.

Note: For those coming from the U.S., white cheddar might be a strange sight. Milk from strictly pasture raised cows produces a cheese with an orange coloring during the summer when they get more beta carotene in their diets. This summer cheese was thought to be more nutritious and better tasting, so dairy farmers started adding orange coloring to cheddar year-round to keep sales steady. After hundreds of years of this, Americans find anything other than orange a bit off putting, while the rest of the world cringes at orange cheddar. But, aside from the coloring, they’re all the same.

Post Navigation

Sci-Fantasy Reviews

Honest reviews of science fiction and fantasy books movies and games.

Dearest Sultana

letters to my best friend...

A Lot On Your Plate

A budget friendly blog (now an official website) that gives creative & practical tips, recipes, and more, to help inspire, organize, & simplify your life!

glutilicious.wordpress.com/

Gluten free delicious moments!

The Perpetual Vagabond

Art, Travel, Photography, and Adventure!

What an Amazing World!

Seeing, feeling and exploring places and cultures of the world

On the Luce travel blog

Part-time travel, full-time travel obsession

Quite Alone

"To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world" – Freya Stark

The Squeaky Robot

A Meddling Robot in a Human's World

PinkyBinks

The Further Adventures of.......

Thirdeyemom

A Travel Blog - Traveling the World and Doing Good

Nic Freeman

Sharing the wonders of travel & everyday adventures

Plus Ultra

Stories and photographs from places “further beyond”.

altrunomics

altruism meets economics

All Kinds Of Everything

You never quite know what you're going to get!

TheAdventuresOfDr

chasing the world, finding bliss

Rantings of an Amateur Chef

Food...cooking...eating....tools - What works, and what doesn't!

DU Abroad

The University of Denver sends students to study all around the globe here are some blogs from those students!

%d bloggers like this: