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Tips for a steamy dinner

Recipes:
Steamed Little Neck Clams with Tomatoes over Angel Hair Pasta
Steamed Mussels with Tomatoes over Angel Hair Pasta
Steamed Rice
Steamed Artichokes
Fillet of Sole en Papillote
 

Cooking Class

Steaming

 If you're looking for flavor without fat, steaming is the ticket. You can use the technique to cook vegetables, grains, fish or poultry. Steamed dishes are a nutrition notch above poached or boiled fare because the food never touches the water. That way the vegetables or whatever else is in your pot keep their shape, texture and flavor, and hold onto more nutrients. Plus, this moist-heat cooking method won't dry out delicate foods.

Common Steaming Methods

1. Stove top: Place a rack or steam basket at the bottom of a saucepan with a lid, add about an inch or two of water and bring to a boil over high heat. A wok with a cover also makes a handy steamer. Turn the heat down to a simmer, place the food on the rack or in the steam basket and cover and cook until done.

2. Microwave: Place the food in a microwave-safe container with a generous splash of water. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high until done.

Cook Wise

  • Steam is hotter than boiling water and can cause painful burns. Protect your hands with oven mitts and never peer into a steaming pot.
  • Veggies cook very fast in steam and it's easy to end up with mushy, overcooked peas or broccoli. Be mindful of cooking times; seven minutes or less to keep green vegetables bright in color.
  • For best results, make sure any food headed for a steam bath is cut into same size pieces and laid out in a single layer; don't overcrowd.

Flavored Steam Bath

You can flavor the steam by adding herbs, spices and aromatic fruits or vegetables to the water. This will infuse the food with flavor without adding any fat or calories and make the kitchen smell great in the process. Some good steam baths are lemon, lime, orange and mint; garlic and basil; and ginger and dried mustard


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Steaming with Pizzazz

Steaming with parchment paper — en papillote — is a twist that's ideal for fish because it stays succulent and moist, and also works well with vegetables. It's simple to do and it can be prepared in advance. Here's how:

  • Place the fish or vegetables on a piece of parchment paper that is about four times as large as the food.
  • Add seasonings like fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
  • Fold the paper in half over the food. Crimp the edges of the paper to bind the food, leaving one corner opened. (This can all be done in advance and refrigerated.)
  • Add a splash of fresh lemon juice, wine or another acidic liquid through the open corner, then seal.
  • Bake on a tray in a 350 oven.

Recipes:
Greek Chicken en Papillote
Fillet of Sole en Papillote

 

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