Last week we experienced the worst haze ever in Singapore. The Pollutants Standards Index (PSI) soared beyond hazardous levels to record-breaking figures due to forest fires from Sumatra, Indonesia. The air smelt bad, visibility was greatly reduced, people had difficulty breathing, my eyes were burning, my nose kept sneezing and everyone was coughing. It felt like we were living in one giant ashtray and if you were a visitor to Singapore, you would think the whole nation was filming one of those Armageddon-type movies. Nobody wanted to go outdoors, the streets were almost deserted and everyone shut themselves indoors. Me too. There was no way I was going outdoors into that crazy haze, not even to get food.
But for those who don’t cook, I realized that they do not have a choice but to brave the haze to get food because they need to eat! I wondered how I could help and decided to formulate a satisfying one-dish meal that can be easily made with a rice cooker in 30 minutes. It is “fast food” at its homemade best and even the most culinarily-challenged must concede that this is one meal they can easily accomplish. Cook up a big pot and you can easily feed a whole bunch of kids/youths with voracious appetites and keep them happy indoors (phew!). And what makes it even better is you can take this basic rice-cooker mac & cheese recipe and turn it into gourmet comfort food just by adding a little extra love (suggestions below).
Making this mac & cheese in a rice-cooker conveniently reduces the need for several different pots, prevents burning and makes cleaning up a breeze! However, since different rice-cookers have different powers, I would suggest you check in more frequently the first time you make it. The timings below were formulated based on the Panasonic rice-cooker SR-JHF 18 which, in my husband’s words, is “fierce”! Translated, that means it is one lean, mean, powerful, micro-computerized version of a rice cooker, complete with a diamond fluoride and charcoal-coated pan which made cleaning a breeze!
Rice-cooker Mac & Cheese
2 cups elbow pasta (macaroni)
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup cream
3/4 cup milk
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook pasta, stock, cream and milk for 20 min on the “casserole” function in the Panasonic rice cooker or simply on “cook” function in a normal rice cooker.(Cooking times may vary depending on your rice cooker so I suggest you check in after the first 10 minutes and every 5 minutes thereafter for the first time)
2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and cook for another 5 min, stirring occasionally.
3. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately!
Here are a couple of suggestions how you can conveniently take your mac & cheese to the next level and create gourmet comfort food!
Crab & Corn Mac & Cheese
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup crab meat
Stir in after the first twenty minutes together with cheese.
Bratwurst Mac & Cheese
1 pack of bratwurst sausages
Cut into small chunks and stir in together with cheese.
p.s. This post is an entry for the Singapore Blog Awards 2013 Panasonic ‘Best Cooking Blog’ Competition. Thanks to your support, fait maison is one of the finalists in the ‘Best Cooking Blog’ category. Results will be out on July 6!