I want to eat well!
February 13, 2009 11:33 PM   Subscribe

In search of awesome recipes that use microwaves, a stovetop and a toaster oven.

So, my apartment doesn't have a functional oven and only one stovetop, but I love to cook. I miss baking cupcakes and cookies during these still-chilly nights. I'm tired of peanut butter sandwiches and I want to learn how to make yummy food with the appliances I have.

I'm thinking stir fry's, indian food, good pasta dishes, etc etc. Anybody got any advice? It's much appreciated. And Happy Valentine's Day!
posted by big open mouth to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What can't you cook? Seriously, you've got everything you need. Go to allrecipes.com. Divide by half.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:37 PM on February 13, 2009

Julie Sahni's Moghul Microwave is a great book on cooking Indian food using, you guessed it, a microwave (although the achar recipe is a bit too watery and peppery for me.)

And if you need an oven, a $50 roaster oven will do. I've done bread, fish en papillote, roasted veggies and all sorts of oven-needed foods in those. I imagine it's also more energy efficient than warming up a big ol' oven just for a loaf of bread.

You said your apartment has a non-functional oven: why not bug the landlord to get it fixed? Bread in a 'real' oven rises more than in a roaster oven, in my experience.
posted by Tacodog at 11:50 PM on February 13, 2009

It's super easy to poach fish in a microwave. I have a good stove and all kinds of gadgets but microwaves are the easiest way to poach fish perfectly.
posted by benzenedream at 12:02 AM on February 14, 2009

Eric Ripert is the head chef of a 3 Michelin Star restaurant in New York and has many videos of elegant recipes prepared with a toaster oven.

Oh, and here's a link to the book I mentioned above.

The microwave is a great tool in the modern kitchen. Here's a link to how Heston Blumenthal, chef/owner of the Fat Duck (one of the highest ranking restaurants in the world) uses a microwave to make braised shallots. I've used this technique more than once and it produces an elegant side dish.
posted by Tacodog at 12:32 AM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

You miss cupcakes? Pour your favorite batter into Reynolds foil baking cups--they'll stand up by themselves.
posted by aquafortis at 2:27 AM on February 14, 2009

A stovetop, toaster oven, and microwave is all I've ever had and I'm a pretty damn good cook (if I do say so myself). You can cook anything, short of a big turkey etc. Pick up some basic implements (if you dont have them already) like a good saucepan, a wok, decent cutlery etc. Start looking around for recipes or ideas of what you'd like to cook and go wild. Suddenly you're a foodie!

Thousands of recipes and ideas, just for starters, can be found at Epicurious.
posted by elendil71 at 5:00 AM on February 14, 2009

You can make an awesome dip or spread thusly:

Get a half-pound of sun dried tomatoes -- the loose kind, not the kind packed in oil -- and throw them in a big bowl with 2 cups of water, 10 minced cloves of garlic, and a little dried oregano and thyme. Cover that with plastic wrap and poke a couple holes in the top. Microwave that on high for 8 minutes, take it out and give it a stir, then microwave another 8 minutes. Take it out and let it sit until it's cool and most of the water has been absorved. Then pour in about a half cup of olive oil, cover over with plastic wrap and poke a couple holes in the top, and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Take it out and give it another stir and let it cool, then puree that in a food processor. You can add more olive oil if you like for consistency's sake.

Every single time I make this for a party I get at LEAST two people asking for the recipe. Leftovers keep for a long time and can make the basis of great pasta sauces.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:32 AM on February 14, 2009 [4 favorites]

Microwave Cup-cakes.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:09 AM on February 14, 2009

You can definitely bake in a toaster oven! I use a six-cup muffin pan, and the only problem I've ever had was when something puffed up enough to touch the heating element above it. (If that happens...you'll know pretty quickly.) Just use whatever recipe strikes your fancy and make sure to give the toaster oven 10-15 minutes time to preheat. I didn't believe that I could really use a toaster oven like a real oven until I tried it. Makes a world of difference in terms of what I eat.

For the stovetop:

Pasta sauce with garbanzos:

1 onion, chopped
1 28-oz can chopped stewed tomatoes (fresh would probably also be delicious)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary (not optional, and totally, totally worth it)
2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
olive oil (maybe about 1/4 cup?)
Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onion, garlic, and rosemary in the olive oil in a large-ish frying pan (or saucepan, if that's what you have) until the onion is translucent. Fish the sprigs of rosemary out, and set two aside (let these cool for a minute or two). Add the tomatoes and one can of the garbanzos to the pan. Let that simmer for 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, remove the rosemary leaves from two of the stalks, and add the leaves to the pan.

Here's what I do, but you don't have to: blend everything in the pan in a blender (or use an immersion blender) until it's a consistency that looks tasty to you. Then add the other can of garbanzos. I've always blended, but I'm sure this would be just as good if you weren't able to do so.

Add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve over pasta. It's so much better the next day that you might consider making it ahead of time.

posted by corey flood at 7:32 AM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

My mum always made delicious 'steamed' cake in the microwave for a quick dessert. There's a nice recipe with raspberries here. You can use syrup or jam, or probably other fruits, instead of the raspberries if you prefer.
posted by pocketfluff at 7:49 AM on February 14, 2009

Mark Bittman has a great column about how much stuff you can cook using a microwave.

But really, it seems like the only things you wouldn't be able to do is make big oven stuff - ie, no bread or big birds or roasts. But you should be able to cook anything else.
posted by lunasol at 8:09 AM on February 14, 2009

Cuisinart sponsors a series of videos in which chef Eric Ripert prepares pretty respectable dishes in one of their toaster ovens.
posted by letourneau at 10:33 AM on February 14, 2009

I used to cook whole chickens in my microwave and still cook cakes in there. Risottos are simple and marvellous in a microwave. I do microwave jams and fudge.

I do meatloaves in the toaster oven, bake breaded chicken and/or pork chops (this is for a family of four), and while it's cheating a bit, I buy premade cookie dough and bake half a dozen cookies at a time on many occasions for a quick snack. The larger stores in my city stock plenty of toaster-oven sized pans, muffin tins, etc.

Fave of ours is meatloaf in the toaster oven accompanied by a microwave-cooked mushroom and peas risotto with a big green salad.

If you're ever going to add one more appliance, I'd make it a bread maker. Then you've got yeast breads, quick breads, jams, and baked desserts (such as fruit crisps and crumbles) covered as well. I frequently put in an herb & garlic rustic loaf in the bread maker, make homemade soup on the stovetop or in the microwave, and serve a pretty special dinner as a result.

The sites previously mentioned are all good rsourced.

Good luck!
posted by angiep at 3:31 PM on February 14, 2009

A portable induction burner is not a bad idea if you need another stovetop pan, just make sure your pans have some sort of stainless or iron in them, otherwise they won't work.
posted by Caviar at 12:19 PM on February 15, 2009

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