Wednesday, July 15, 2015

What's in my rice cooker: Yoghurt + 3 recipes

Welcome to the second instalment of this series 'What's in my rice cooker'.

One of the major dilemmas as a university student who loves food is 'How many appliances can I buy without pulverising my pocket?' Going to the supermarket everyday was a set up. I would turn the corner with my trolley, headed for the guilty pleasure aisle also know as the snack aisle, and the appliance section would twinkle before me. Soy milk machine, juicers, immersion blenders, slow cookers and bread makers. Furthermore, our go-to shopping website called Taobao, would find itself open on my computer screen, and mincers and ice cream makers of various brands would appear in my shopping cart. There was no way I could afford any of these. And for a two to three year period, just plain irresponsible.

As it turns out, rediscovering my rice cooker was the key to regaining my sanity. See, I didn't need to buy a yoghurt maker with one around.

I've always been obsessive when it comes to home-made yoghurt. I get to control the taste, texture and most importantly available nutrition of the end product. I would never forget when my friend asked me if I could make it strawberry-flavoured. I remembered thinking, 'This isn't candy, why on earth would I do that?' But Yoghurt Police duties aside, it's actually quite versatile. And that's why I find myself making it almost every week-end.

Since yoghurt is essentially fermented milk, all you need is milk and bacteria. Your bacteria can be bought online ( if you are located in China) or simply use a couple teaspoons of plain-flavoured yoghurt. Fresh or powdered milk both work but with different results. Skim and low-fat milk are not the best choices for a creamy product because cream comes from fat. My personal favourite is fresh UHT milk with 6% fat.

The next step is to scald the milk (warm to touch, not boiling) and pour it into a porcelain bowl or any other insulating material to cool off. You see too much heat can cause the culture to die. Since I don't own a thermometer, I simply wait until steam no longer rises from the bowl unless moved. Then I sprinkle a packet of bacteria, about 10 g, stir in to mix, cover and leave it to ferment for 6-8 hours.

Ideally you need about 40 C. During the summers of Chongqing, we can fry eggs on the street. Just saying. However, once autumn peeks around the corner, I use speed dial to call on my 'pardna'. 

The rice cooker acts as a 1) heat source and 2) insulator. It can regulate the temperature of the yoghurt by alternating between the warm and off setting.  In fact, the inner pot can be used for both scalding and fermenting the milk, especially if you have one the cute sized ones. Certainly beats wrapping a bowl in an electric blanket. (Oh, the things I've been through)

And here it is! Solid, tart and rich yoghurt. It's the best kind for a healthy intestine.

What do I do with all this yoghurt?
I have it for breakfast with banana slices, oats, flax seed, coconut and 100% chocolate shavings

And what about lunch as a salad dressing? Olive oil for consistency and dry basil and thyme plus salt for taste equals a dressing with the tang of ranch and nutrition of a champion.

Cabbage wraps with pickled tofu, carrots, bell peppers and onions

I won't go back to Mayo...I promise!!!

Do you bake with your yoghurt? You should. Strong rise, beautiful colouring, tender crumb, healthy...While the reasons are piling, you should gets to stepping.

Lemon Yoghurt Cake. Recipe by Barefoot Contessa

Lemon and Yoghurt is a boss pairing!!