Friday, March 27, 2009
How to turn your kitchen into a sauna
As I write there is an unfamiliar sound in my kitchen; a bubbling, perculating noise coming from a black and chrome box on the kitchen counter. This is my introduction to the world of steam-cooking. One of the fun side-effects of writing 'The Great Big Veg Challenge' blog is that I am occasionally invited to try out food products, bakeware and for the first time I have been leant a state of the art steam oven by Miele to try out. For a few weeks the 'Vitasteam'
email sat in my junk mail file alongside the offers from Mr Adjela in Lagos to share in his 'wondrous good fortune, Lord bless you' and guarantees that I had yet again won the Spanish Euro Lottery. Matt from Miele persisted and I am pleased he did. Not being hugely in touch with the world of cooking appliances, I don't know much about steam-cooking other than my steel steamer. This machine is like something out of Star Wars. It is the R2D2 of steam-cooking.
Once Freddie has popped all the bubble wrap, my husband commented on where exactly we would have the space for this monster steamer and Alex asked for supper. That was easily answered. I've been sent a recipe booklet. "Tonight, we will be having Spring lamb Casserole". Alex helped me to prep all the ingredients, I filled the machine's water container and looked at the recipe and panicked. I need to find a steam container with a lid. I had visions of blowing up the fancy machine and having to email Miele Matt with my tail between my legs. I find a heat proof dish with a lid and stick the ingredients in, turn on the machine and after a quiet ten minutes, the machine beeps at me and a code number flashes up. I look through the manual searching for code numbers. I'm under pressure. The family is hungry, the casserole is uncooked and I have a pathological hatred of manuals. The code number informs me that I have not properly installed the water container. I open the oven door, jiggle around with the water container and close it again. The casserole starts cooking. Every now and again the perculating oven sounds angry. I get anxious. The roary-bubbly sound calms down and the machine becomes eerily quiet. That is more unsettling. Should steam be so quiet? I am expecting more of a Flying Scotsman presence, the occasional train whistle, maybe even a Brief Encounter moment as I view my husband through billowing steam. But steam-cooking is far less dramatic. It just bubbles away until a beep informs me that dinner is ready. It worked. I open the door of the bubbling machine and a puff of steam hits me. (Note to self, do not stand directly in front of the door next time - the manual HAD warned me). The casserole is perfectly cooked. Freddie eats everything, even the carrots and the runner beans. For the next week or so my kitchen will become more of a sauna than a kitchen.