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    • You need a steamer basket.

      If you’re family is like mine, you’re starting to suffer withdrawals from the regular weekend visits to local restaurants for dishes you lack the skill or the desire to spend time preparing. And your traditional regular meals are starting to feel repetitive—if you know this is the fourteenth time you’ve had tuna noodle casserole in the past three months then maybe a change is needed.

      I wanted to share one tip in the hopes of creating a conversation from others on how they’re mixing up or reinventing dinner to avoid the same old routine.

      So what’s a steamer basket? It’s often made of bamboo, but having dealt with the joys of cleaning it by hand I tend to prefer a steel insert that fits over a pot of boiling or steaming water.

      Steamed salmon with spaghetti in marinara sauce. Bring six quarts of water to boiling. Toss in the pasta and place the steamer basket on top of the pot. Add salmon fillets, silver skin side down. When the pasta is done, so should the salmon.

      Side dish of steamed fresh string beans and carrots. A chef once shared this flavor combination and I highly recommend cooking them together. Bring a small pot of water to steaming. Place the steamer basket on top. Add the carrots, cover with a glass lid and give them a five minute head start. Then add the string beans and steam both for fifteen minutes more.

    • mmmmmm more please.

      We recently bought a new electric wok which came with a steamer rack which we made some delicious dumplings on a few days ago.

    • It may be counterintuitive, however, if you are cooking a dish covered on the stove, you should keep the center of the pan empty. The center is the hottest part of the pan and any liquids in the pan will steam quicker if you leave the center empty. I also believe, but am not sure how scientifically accurate this is, that it creates an osmosis effect: the water migrates from higher concentrations to lower concentrations, i.e. the center.

      Why is this useful? Pan frying or sautéing can often dry out salmon and chicken breasts. The extra steam permeating the covered dish helps to prevent dried out meats, and it gives you a few extra minutes of forgiveness before the meal becomes unsalvageable.

      Steamed Tilapia with Onions and Mushrooms. Heat a pan to medium heat with extra light olive oil. Warm up in the oil the following dried herbs: ginger, chipotle peppers and coriander. Add a splash of rice wine vinegar.

      Next, sauté a white onion that has been cut into strips. Then add frozen tilapia fillets and a can of mushrooms. Leave the center of the pan empty and cover. Lower to medium low and cook for twenty minutes.