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Microwaves For Cooking


synaesthesia
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There was an article in the Times about it today. And I was shocked that so much of the discussion was along the lines of that people never use it and look down their noses at what I essentially believe is a tool. Just like any other unique appliance like those used in "molecular gastronomy", it has obvious limitations and strengths - it's just a question of learning how to harness its power in the right way.

I personally love using it to make whole tilapia, and I find that it is actually even tastier than when my parents have steamed it. Anyone else have any recipes?

ETA: Bittman article

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I occasionally re-heat leftovers with them damn things, but other than that, zippy. I just get frustrated with pulling out cooking containers which feel as if they've been through a nukular explosion, while the food inside is rippin' hot in some spots and still cold in others. Maybe I've always had shitty microwaves, but back in my day we had to build a fire to cook and we were damn thankful when we could find firewood we could chop up with our stone tools.

I'm convinced microwave ovens cause cancer, syphilis, and Ann Coulter.

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They're good for sink eating, for heating food you don't give much of a damn about anyway (leftover pasta, frozen vegetables, etc.). They're certainly more energy efficient than a conventional oven or cooktop for boiling water and reheating coffee (if you like to do that kind of thing). I guess that's why I've never owned one.

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There was an article in the Times about it today. And I was shocked that so much of the discussion was along the lines of that people never use it and look down their noses at what I essentially believe is a tool. Just like any other unique appliance like those used in "molecular gastronomy", it has obvious limitations and strengths - it's just a question of learning how to harness its power in the right way.

I personally love using it to make whole tilapia, and I find that it is actually even tastier than when my parents have steamed it. Anyone else have any recipes?

ETA: Bittman article

We decided to eliminate the microwave from out kitchen three years ago when we remodelded the kitchen. We thought about it for a while and decided that we so rarely used it (softening butter mainly), that it was pointless to have or own one. We have not missed it. Even DURING the remodel, we did not use it once.

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Put the vegetable in a bowl with a tiny bit of water (or sometimes none), cover and zap.

Rachael Ray's been doing that for years.

Dude, please. That was in the recipe book that came with my family's first microwave, which if I count properly, was when Rachael Ray was in elementary school. She did not invent this technique.

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When they first became widely available, I was pretty snobbish about microwaves. My father, who is a chemist, overheard me saying that I didn't want a microwave because I didn't want to eat food that'd had its molecules vibrated. My father said: "What the hell do you think fire does?"

I've been a dedicated microwave user ever since. I think it does a better job of steaming artichokes and asparagus than the stovetop. I use it for quick "baked" potatoes; melting chocolate; heating hot milk and butter for mashed potatoes and stock for pilaf; re-heating leftovers. I use it for heating canned soup in the bowl I'm going to eat it in--fewer dishes to wash that way. And canned refried beans. When I am making three cups of cappucino for us for breakfast, the first one has cooled off considerably by the time I've made the third one. A short zap brings it back up to optimal drinking temperature.

My microwave died recently, and I ran out and bought another one the same day. I'd be bereft without it, even for a short time. Yes, I have lived without one and could again. But why? It is such a useful tool.

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I use it for quick "baked" potatoes; melting chocolate; heating hot milk and butter for mashed potatoes and stock for pilaf; re-heating leftovers.
Ditto. (Esp. the melting chocolate.)

Plus:

Like Zora with her canned soup, cooking hot cereal in the bowl so there are no extra dishes.

Making garlic oil without having to watch it so closely to prevent the garlic from burning.

Boiling water for hummingbird nectar (4 parts water:1 part sugar, no food coloring!).

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Our microwave died last week and I briefly toyed with the idea of not replacing it. Given that we love leftovers and cook large meals with the intent of having leftovers, I went out and replaced it the next day.

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Actually, I find the microwave to be a wonderful time saver. It is great for steaming vegs, fish is easy to do in it, and works very well, and when you don't have the time or inclination to use the oven to bake a potato, it does a fairly good job at that.

I do a lot of stir frys, and I find that steaming the broccoli, asparagus, or even red peppers for a little before tossing them into the wok makes it much easier and the vegs tend to be much better colored (the green of the brocoli just pops at you, amazing) and cook more evenly.

My son, who lives in a dorm room also finds that if you know what you are doing, it is great for making pasta al dente.

I certainly don't like using it for eggs and there is no way I'd use it to bake or cook meats. But you can use it to make pretty good bacon if you are careful.

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I too had a microwave expire recently, and although I didn't replace it the same day, I replaced it the following weekend when I had time. I could live without one, but I wouldn't want to. As to baked potatoes: I usually nuke them for five minutes or so (depends on the size) and then pop them into a 400-degree oven for another ten minutes or so to dry out the skin. The end result is just about indistinguishable from a conventionally baked potato, and it only takes about fifteen minutes. I also almost always cook spinach in the microwave, in a glass bowl with olive oil, garlic, and salt. I also use it often to thaw things that have been in the freezer. I can have a frozen-solid steak ready to cook in less than ten minutes. Frozen butter is spreadable within a few seconds. One important note: Having a turntable is crucial, especially for defrosting.

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Tasty microwaved dinner, very simple. Use a microwave safe container with a lid. I used a Corning Ware baker with a clear glass lid.

Microwaved asparagus. Snap off woody ends, rinse, nuke. Try two minutes. The tips cook much faster than the stems on asparagus as thick as a finger. Either cut the tips off and nuke separately, or nuke all together, cut off tips (hot!), and nuke stems some more. Remove to plate. Save the juice.

Microwaved spinach. Nuke baby spinach for a couple of minutes, stir, nuke again. Remove from container, chop, put in colander, squeeze out juice. (careful, may be hot!) Save the juice. Saute a little finely chopped onion (actually I caramelize a bag of onions at a time and save for such purposes but that's another story for another time) and some garlic in olive oil or butter, then toss in the baby spinach and meld. I could have done this in the microwave but it was in use, so, one more dirty pan but total of only two.

Microwaved portobello mushrooms. Remove stems. Rinse. Nuke. You can overlap. Nuke until done to your taste. Four minutes? Save the juice. You could oil and season the mushrooms first or not, as you prefer.

Microwaved salmon filets. Here is where you use the reserved vegetable juice. Pour all juices into baker, slice lemon into rounds thick enough to elevate salmon so not submerged in juice. Brush salmon with oil or melted butter, season with herbs. I actually used Costco salmon filets with the pesto butter melted in the microwave, naturally. Nuke two minutes covered, let sit for a couple of minutes with the lid still on, let it finish cooking from ambient temperature. Silky texture, which I like much better than crisp when it comes to salmon.

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