Top 10 uses for a microwave
Natchos are best cooked in a microwave. Apart from nachos, we find the microwave indispensable for many uses, but not conventional cooking. We’ve never cooked an entire meal using the microwave, even though we somehow managed to collect quite a few microwave ‘cookery’ books. We also do not re-heat microwave meals, because, well, this is What Dad Cooked after all… But judging by the amount of supermarket shelf space dedicated to microwave ready meals we will assume that these are going to be on most people’s microwave list.
Here’s our top 10 uses for a microwave.
- Re-heating cups of coffee
I’ve stopped worrying about re-heating coffee and learned to like it cold. However, Mrs WDC will only drink hot coffee – but because she is multi-tasking all day long, there will always be cold cups of coffee left on counters which will eventually make their way to the microwave. For the same reason cups of coffee on counters will be overlooked and go cold, I often find forgotton cups of re-heated coffee – that have gone cold – left in the microwave!
- Defrosting food from the freezer
Defrosting food is easy with a microwave. Just keep moving the food about during defrosting and stop as soon as any part gets too hot. It should be noted that, although defrosting by microwave is convenient, it is much better to defrost in the fridge or to place frozen food in a plastic bag and submerge in cold water as recommended by the food scientist, Harold McGee.
- Reheating leftovers for lunch
Any plated leftovers in the fridge becomes a hot lunch in seconds.
- Cooking underdone roasted meat in an emergency
The whole crowd is at the table and the meat is looking just a tad too pink around the bone… A quick blast on 9 usually does the trick.
- Cooking vegetables in a microwave steamer
Especially broccoli, carrots and baby potatoes. Use the red Sistema brand and close the hole – let it stand for a minute before opening, and even then be careful!
- Tempering chocolate
The easiest way to to temper chocolate is to buy a commercial chocolate tempering machine, or a very large piece of marble. But since these are both very expensive, home cooks must resort to heating chocolate on the hob – or in a microwave (use a microwave-safe polypropylene type 5 plastic bowl – it is heat resistant and so does not interfere with tempering temperatures – usual caveats about using plastics in microwave apply).
- Making microwave popcorn
Perhaps it is the fun of watching something expand like a balloon inside the oven. A similar amusement occurs with the American Jiffy Pop popcorn – a disposable aluminium pan filled with corn grains and sealed with twisted foil – as the corn pops, the foil expands – like a balloon. But to be honest, I can’t think of quicker and simpler food to cook than popping corn in a pan on the hob. And if the sound of popping corn banging against a lid is not amusement enough, just lift the lid away from the pan for a few seconds…
- Precooking baked potatoes
This can dramatically reduce the cooking time. Either cook half-way or cook until done, then finish baking in the oven. The plastic microwave potato rack gadget is quite useful for this – it spikes the potatoes to release steam and lifts the potato off the revolving tray to allow more even cooking. On the subject of microwave gadgets, it is worth considering the afore mentioned principle of lifing food away from the revolving glass tray. The problem is food can steam next to the glass and become soggy. The plastic bacon crisping plate with raised ridges lifts the food from a flat surface and helps to overcome this problem. It is very useful for re-heating sandwiches, and making quesadillas.
- Heating tortillas
Try to get hold of a bespoke plastic tortilla warmer – these are by far the best way to heat a tortilla and also keep them warm.
- Making Nachos
Although a conventional hot oven will cook the Natchos, there is a unique symbiotic relationship between nachos and a microwave – it’s almost as if they were made for each other.