Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rice Cooker

First, I want to say how much I've missed being punctual at posting here on The Red Plate. Things in my life, very serious things, have taken precedence over blogging or for that matter even cooking on many days.

But I have a snippet of time this Sunday afternoon in between obligations so I want to tell you a secret. I've never had or even wanted to own a rice cooker. I'm so very old fashioned I felt it was just another fanciful appliance that I would relegate to the upper cabinet and drag out every once and again to justify the purchase. Au contraire. 

With the assistance (not insistence) of The Horn Player I came to see the light. His major point, on the road to convincing me was to call attention to the fact that the rice cooker is used by even Sushi chef's. I mean how much more persnickety can you get, right? So I bought one and sat it on the countertop for a couple of weeks wondering why I gave in to the notion that this little thing would be worth a hoot. I used it for the first time one evening this past week and The Horn Player actually made the rice we had for dinner. LOVED it. It was so quick and cooked the rice, ah hmmm, just like I would have cooked it in my little pot on the stove top. So yesterday I used it for myself to make a little side dish for lunch.

Red Rice
6-8 small to medium fresh tomatoes
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar
1 cup raw rice
2 cups water
1 tablespoon vinegar
Stock or water
3-4 fresh scallions
Fresh flat-leafed Italian parsley

Wash the tomatoes in cool water and cut in half. Toss the tomatoes into a pot that has a splash of extra virgin olive oil added. Salt and pepper according to your taste. 

Note: I don't peel my tomatoes, although you could do this if you wish. I feel the peeling has flavor to add, so I remove the skins after the cooking process. 

Into the pot go the tomatoes

Cook the tomatoes until they are completely done. About half-way through the process add a healthy pinch of sugar and taste. The sugar is not for sweetening but rather balance, so adjust by adding more salt if needed. When the tomatoes have become almost a sauce, remove the skins and set the pot aside.
Cookin' up juicy and delicious
Prepare the rice in your rice cooker (or in a pot the conventional way) by adding the cup of rice and two cups of water. And don't forget to wash your rice. Stir to mix the rice and water and add the vinegar. When the rice is done add to the fresh tomato sauce and stir to combine. If needed (and I did) add a bit of stock to the pot for moistness. I used chicken stock, but you could use beef or vegetable just as well.

Fresh onions and flat leaf parsley from my garden

Chop the fresh scallions and a small bundle of parsley and add to the rice/tomato mix. Stir to combine well. Drizzle a bit more extra virgin olive oil over for flavor. Serve hot. 

I kept everything pretty simple, but you may add any other flavors you enjoy such as chili powder, cumin and jalapeño's, which would really complement a Tex/Mex dinner. Oh, and I'm keeping my rice cooker on the countertop ready for the next time.

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