Everything in life has a purpose. There is a multi-gazillion dollar industry built on that very fact. A car is for driving and not scuba diving. A hat is to wear and not use as a fish bowl. A frying pan is to fry eggs and not play tennis. But there are loopholes to these rules and imagine finding a legitimate one which really works. How happy and proud will you feel? Like using a pantyhose (clean and brand new) to strain your chicken stock! Or using egg cartons to transport cupcakes! Or using your rice cooker to cook jam!
If an idle mind is the devil's workshop, a crowded mind is an industrious beehive. Mine is a beehive with ideas running amok for no rhyme or reason. Often I don't even pretend to catch the thread of an idea because there are so many. But just once, I will reach out and grab one by it's tail and peruse it further.
A few weeks ago I was sent a Sunbeam Rice And Risotto perfect by the good guys at The Good Guys (see how that works? :-)) as part of the VOICES Of Australia 2013 Food & Lifestyle Blogger Challenge set by Kidspot. My secret ingredient was Spices and I was meant to use the rice cooker and spices in an innovative manner. We are voracious rice eaters in this family. We could write a thesis on rice cookers. We have demolished many a rice cooker over the past 20 years due to overuse. Now I have cooked rice in pressure cookers, in saucepans, in frying pans, in microwave containers and in clay pots in the oven. But my favourite way to cook rice is still the rice cooker because it is ridiculously easy. I have owned this Sunbeam Rice Cooker in the past but it now comes with an ingenious Risotto function (squeals with delight!) which I cannot wait to explore to the fullest. This is a great rice cooker and one of the main reasons I love it so much is that the rice bowl comes out completely and can be taken straight to the dinner table. I have now cooked 6 different kinds of rice dishes with this and they were all great. But let me tell you about what I cooked in this nifty little kitchen appliance for the challenge.
I ground some of my favourite spices in a mortar and pestle and cooked a beautiful Apple Chai Jam in the rice cooker. And even though we are in the middle of a hot spring in Australia, I could close my eyes and feel the chill of autumn as the beautiful smells of granny smith apples and chai spices cooking in the cooker wafted through my home. This is that loophole I was talking about. Imagine being able to cook jam in a non stick cooking contraption without having to stir it to death or be afraid of it sticking and burning. Pretty awesome eh? I used the risotto function on the Sunbeam cooker, it cooked for about 40 minutes and just to mix it well I gave it a couple of stirs after which it turned off by itself and kept my jam warm. I was giddy with happiness. I used granny smith apples (green apples) because they are tart but you could use any apples you want.
Now if you are in colder parts of the world, you can used this beautiful Apple Chai Spice Jam on your hot porridge in the mornings, as a chutney for your pies, as a base for your crumbles and as something sweet to spike your meat stews. If you live where the weather is starting to get warm, you can use this jam to blend in your morning smoothies, to top your bowl of yoghurt and granola and to stir through home made ice creams. And no matter where in the world you are, this would make a great Christmas present! And don't forget to use this method when you make any kind of jam. Strawberry, peach, and even mixed fruit!
APPLE CHAI SPICE JAM
A beautiful apple jam cooked with chai spices in the rice cooker. A quick sweet treat to give away for Christmas or to top your oats, granola, yoghurt or ice creams.
Makes - Makes 500g
4 large granny smith apples (850g)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 star anise pod
juice of 1 lemon
3/4 cup raw sugar
Peel, core and dice apples. Place them in the bowl of the rice cooker (I used Sunbeam Risotto And Rice Perfect). Place cloves, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and star anise in a mortar and grind using a pestle until crushed fine.
Add the spice mix to the apples along with the lemon juice and sugar. Mix well using a wooden spoon. Cover with the lid of the rice cooker and put the rice cooker on the Risotto function. Give it a stir with the wooden spoon a couple of times. The rice cooker will switch off cooking and change to the Keep Warm mode automatically after approximately 40 minutes (If it doesn't, switch it off after 40 minutes and allow the jam to cool slightly).
Fill warm jam in a glass jar and store in the fridge for up to a week. If you want to preserve it, this is a good article on how to sterilise jars and bottles.
If you are in colder parts of the world, you can used this beautiful Apple Chai Spice Jam on your hot porridge in the mornings, as a chutney for your pies, as a base for your crumbles and as something sweet to spike your meat stews. If you live where the weather is starting to get warm, you can use this jam to blend in your morning smoothies, to top your bowl of yoghurt and granola and to stir through home made ice creams. And no matter where in the world you are, this would make a great Christmas present!
Note - To Win 1 of 5 Sunbeam Risotto And Rice Perfect Cookers, click here.