Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review: Rice Cooker Meals: Fast Home Cooking for Busy People

I've talked about this book now and again, but I've never actually cooked anything from it--till now.

This book is fun to read. It is from a small Louisiana press and the author is the publisher (or the publisher is the author). He does not claim any cooking expertise: he likes to eat (he's a Louisiana boy, after all); he wants things simple, the usual. The reason this is fun to read is that it reflects Louisiana homecooking. Along with exquisite fresh seafood (shrimp and crawfish, mainly), there is an abundance of processed cheese and canned cream soups. And, of course, an abundance of Rotel tomatoes.

So every time I thought about trying something, I was put off by one of the dubious ingredients. How could I put processed cheese in a pot with my beautiful Gulf shrimp? What a wimp I am!

Today, I made one of the real oddities: stuffed baked potato. Chicken fajita stuffed baked potato, in fact. Why weird? Because the potato is not a whole potato, but a quantity of frozen French fries! Mixed with chicken, some veggies, broth, seasoning,and butter.

Today I was in Dollar Tree with Miss Em and saw that they had frozen French fries for $1.00. I had the other ingredients at home. I tweaked the recipe (poached the chicken breasts in micro, rather than sauteeing in pan) since I want to keep to the College Cooking no stove path.

Bertrand said the recipe took 40 minutes; my cooker popped to warm after only 20. Inside, the frozen French fries had turned to mashed potatoes. The chicken and veggies tasted not like fajitas, but like Grandma's chicken...on mashed potatoes.

I ran it by my future College Cook. Miss Em said, "It's good, but why can't I make a baked potato in the microwave and top it with something?"

Good question. But I LOVE mashed potatoes and hate the prep. I'm going to experiment a bit more.

I haven't seen this potato trick in any other rice cooker book. If you can ignore the weirdness of putting a bunch of defrosted frozen French fries in your rice cooker, then a good thing will emerge.

I give Mr. Bertrand--or Mr. Neal, as we say in Louisiana--points for being so ingenious. I found some marked down processed cheese dip in a jar in Big Lots, so maybe I'll even screw up my courage and try his shrimp fettuccine.

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