If you don’t have much experience cooking, then it helps to know the basics: how to cook rice, potatoes and pasta. All of these are actually very easy.
Cooking rice is very easy.
- The basic rule is: use 2 cups water for 1 cup rice (for Basmati it is only about 1.2 cups for 1 cup rice, for Japanese rice it is 1.1 cup water for 1 cup rice). The cup I use is 200 ml.
- I wash the rice a few times to get rid of dust and also of the rice flour from polishing. For Japanese rice, you should not just rinse it but also actually “wash” the rice by gently rubbing the grains together between your fingers. A detailed explanation can be found at Makiko Itoh’s site Just Hungry.
- To cook the 1 cup of rice in the microwave:
- Put the rice with the water in a microwave-compatible pot with a lid
- Cook at full power (900W) for one and a half minutes
- Cook at reduced power (40%, 360W) for 15 minutes. For basmati or Japanese rice this is enough; wholegrain rice takes more time, about 25 minutes. Check if all the water is gone, if not give it another 5 minutes, then check again.
- To cook the 1 cup of rice on the hob:
- Put the rice with the water in pot with a lid
- Bring to the boil
- Cook over low heat for about 15-20 minutes. For basmati or Japanese rice this is enough; wholegrain rice takes about 25-30 minutes.
If you use the microwave, cooking potatoes is again very easy:
- Wash the potatoes and cut out any eyes or damaged parts, but don’t peel them.
- You can either cook large potatoes whole or chop them up into small chunks. If you like them whole, pierce them several times with a fork.
- Put in the microwave at full power for about 10 minutes (for 500g potatoes).
- Check if they are ready by pricking with a fork or just tasting. If they are not ready, give it another 5 minutes, then check again.
You can of course cook them on the hob as well but the microwave is a better option, it is quicker and the cooked potatoes taste better too.
Pasta is one of the few foods that I do not cook in the microwave, because you need a large pot with plenty of water. My approach is a bit different from what most other people do, but again very easy:
- Bring 2 l of water to the boil with a bit of salt (say 1/2 tsp)
- When the water is boiling heavily, add the pasta (100 g per person) and stir until all the pasta is submerged.
- Cook for 3 minutes in heavily boiling water, without a lid.
- Take the pot off the hob, put the lid on and let it stand for the remainder of the time indicated on the package. For example if the cooking time on the package says 12 minutes (quite typical), then leave it for 9 minutes.
- Strain, sprinkle with some olive oil and serve.