Steaming food is a far healthier option than frying, roasting or boiling, as it uses no fat to cook and does not leech the nutrients from vegetables. Just about any fruit and vegetable lends itself perfectly to steaming, and you can even steam pork chops, chicken and puddings. A Tefal steamer that has two or more tiers is an energy-efficient way to cook your whole meal, and it will enable you to savour the subtle flavours of each ingredient, as fewer flavours are lost through steaming compared to other cooking methods.
Steam vegetables. Steaming vegetables is just about the easiest way to cook them. Simply fill the bottom tray with water, add the vegetables to a tier and steam for several minutes. Check regularly until you are familiar with how long each vegetable takes to steam to perfection, as everyone has individual preferences and all steamers are different. Vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, sweetcorn, peas and asparagus taste better when still crunchy, so be careful. Remember, overcooked vegetables are less nutritious, because much of the goodness is lost in the cooking.
Steam chicken. Steamed chicken is popular in Chinese cooking and has a much more delicate flavour than other types of cooked chicken. Place the chicken on a dish to collect the juices, and then place it on a steamer tier. How long your chicken takes to cook will depend on its size and the power of your steamer. "Tefal" magazine suggests you steam 1.2 kg (2 1/2 lbs) chicken for one hour. When the juices run clear, your chicken is cooked. Try adding marinades made of garlic, salt, rosemary, lemon juice, black pepper or any combination for tastier dishes.
Steam pork chops. Again, place the pork in a dish first to collect the juices. Cooking time will depend on the size of your meat and the recipe, but when the juices run clear, the pork is safe to eat. For Chinese-style pork, mince or dice the meat, then mix with onions and other vegetables, roll into balls and steam for 10 minutes or until cooked through.
Steam puddings. Steaming puddings the traditional way retains the moistness that is often lost through baking. A normal pudding recipe that uses 55 g (2 oz) butter, 55 g (2 oz) sugar, 110 g (4 oz) flour and one egg takes around 60 to 90 minutes to steam in a Tefal steamer. Follow your recipe, and then place the ingredients into a plastic or pottery bowl. Cover with pleated greaseproof paper, and secure with a rubber band, then place in the steamer for the allotted time. Ensure the steamer does not run out of water while cooking.
Try adding garlic, onions, celery, fresh ginger or herbs to the water to infuse your dishes with subtle flavour.
Avoid removing the steamer lid frequently while cooking, as this will let the heat out and increase the cooking time.