Of course, you can take a good idea too far. We were so happy with our steamed brown and wild rice that we thought we'd try a steamed rice pudding. It didn't work. The pudding was thin, and the rice clumped together. It was, in a word, wimpy.
Steaming is also an excellent way to reheat foods without drying them out or burning them. It is especially good for reheating rice, vegetables or chicken, casseroles and meats.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
* Arrange food in a single layer in steamer baskets for even cooking.
* Allow space around foods in basket for even steaming.
* Try to have pieces of food about the same size for even cooking.
* If cooking several foods at once, place the food that will take longest to steam closest to the source of steam.
* When using stackable steamers, remember that the food in the upper levels will drip onto the food below, so be sure they're compatible.
* Remember, each time you remove the cover of the steamer to check the progress of cooking, the steam escapes, so add a few minutes extra cooking time.
* Yes, this is obvious, but open the steamer cover away from your face. That steam is hot!
* When steaming for more then 30 minutes, check the level of the liquid in the bottom of the steamer to make sure it doesn't evaporate. This is especially important when steaming on top of the stove.
(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)
If You Want to Buy a Steamer . . .
* Decide what you want to use the steamer for. Do you want to steam meats or whole chickens? Or are you primarily interested in vegetables and rice? Check the size of the steamer basket to be sure it's large enough for your needs. Foods cook best when arranged in a single layer.
* Ask yourself whether you will be steaming often enough to warrant the purchase of an electric steamer. Remember, like any utensil, it takes up room in your kitchen. If you're an infrequent steamer or expect to steam only small amounts, there are double boilers with steamer inserts in assorted sizes. Pasta cookers are also available in larger sizes with steamer inserts.
* If you're looking at electric steamers, can you see through the sides of the steamer to check the progress of cooking without opening it? Does it have a timer? An automatic turnoff? Is it a stackable? Does it have a basket for steaming rice and liquids?
* The collapsible basket steamer is a favorite of many who are primarily interested in steaming vegetables. And of course, there's the traditional Asian bamboo steamer, which fits nicely on top of a wok for easy steaming. It can be used alone, or several may be stacked. There are also metal stackable steamers that work like the bamboo variety. Rice cookers can also be used as steamers, mainly for vegetables.
* A good heavy roasting pan with a lid works well for steaming. If you do not happen to have a lid, cover a deep pan with foil to steam. Put a rack in the bottom of the pan or even the lids from canning jars. Just about anything will work as long as it elevates the dish above the level of the boiling water.
STEAMED VEGETABLE PLATE
6 carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 pound green beans, cut in thirds
4 red boiling potatoes, quartered then each quarter cut into 3 pieces
1 (1/2-pound) box mushrooms
1/2 cup goat's milk yogurt
Place carrots in single layer in steamer basket and steam 10 minutes. Add beans and potatoes to steamer and steam 15 minutes. Add mushrooms and steam until carrots are tender, about 5 minutes more.
Spoon into serving dishes. Spoon 1/4 cup yogurt over each serving and sprinkle with spike seasoning.
2 servings. Each serving:
256 calories; 123 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 54 grams carbohydrates; 10 grams protein; 4.20 grams fiber.
RICED STEAMED YUKON GOLD POTATOES
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 to 3/4 cup warm nonfat milk or nonfat chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Peel potatoes and cut into 2-inch pieces. Put potatoes in bowl of cold water as you peel them to prevent their turning brown.
Arrange potatoes in single layer in steamer basket and steam until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Put steamed potatoes through potato ricer. Stir in milk or broth, salt and white pepper. Spoon potatoes into serving bowl and serve with Basil Butter on the side.
6 servings. Each serving without butter:
120 calories; 610 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 0 fat; 27 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams protein; 0.60 gram fiber.
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 teaspoons minced basil leaves
Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Stir in basil and heat 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with Steamed Riced Potatoes.
Variations: Substitute 2 teaspoons minced cilantro leaves, 2 teaspoons minced tarragon or 1 teaspoon minced rosemary for the basil.
1/4 cup. Each 1-tablespoon serving:
102 calories; 117 mg sodium; 31 mg cholesterol; 12 grams fat; 0 carbohydrates; 0 protein; 0 fiber.
SEAFOOD IN BLACK BEAN SAUCE
1 pound Manila clams
4 stone crab claws
4 jumbo sea scallops
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons chopped garlic