Cook with an electric steamer by arranging the food in the food compartment, filling the reservoir with water and turning the steamer on. Water may be replaced with stock, juice, beer or wine. The cooking time depends on the type and quantity of food. For best results, pack the food compartment loosely.
Encourage even cooking by steaming food in pieces that are about the same size. Arrange large, dense foods in a single layer with space between the pieces so the steam reaches all sides. Vegetables don't need to be in a single layer as long as they're arranged loosely enough for the steam to reach the pieces on top.
If the steamer has two or more stacked compartments, place the denser, slower-cooking food in the bottom, where it gets the most heat. Scatter herbs around the compartments for added flavor. Avoid opening the lid after the steamer begins to steam. It's possible to estimate how done vegetables are by their color. Broccoli, for instance, turns bright green when it's partially cooked and loses some of its brightness after it cooks beyond the crisp-tender point. Test doneness by carefully opening the lid and inserting a fork into the food. For meat, use a meat thermometer.