Cooking class without an oven or stove
September 1, 2021 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Hello, I will leading a cooking/baking workshop for middle school students for the next two months. We will be meeting once a week for about an hour. However, at least for the time being, I do not have an oven. I might be able to get a small electric one eventually but that is no guarantee so I am looking for recipes that do not need an oven or stove.

I will have access to a microwave and a refrigerator.

My ideas so far:

- no-bake cheesecake
- chocolate mousse
- cookie dough (left in the fridge then taken home at the end of the day) or no-bake cookies
- cupcake decorating (bring in the cupcakes and make the icing and decorations at school)

But I would love some savory, non-dessert recipes as well!
posted by Blissful to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Microwave pizza might work. I've used a bunch of her microwave baked good recipes, and they've all turned out yummy.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 7:17 AM on September 1, 2021

Can you get a bunsen burner or borrow a camping stove? I still remember my middle school cooking class where we made egg drop soup. Dropping the egg into the broth and seeing ribbons was MAGICAL.

(I wonder if that could work with a microwaved broth?)
posted by DarlingBri at 7:18 AM on September 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

I don't know if you have knife restrictions as well, but slaws would be great here.

Knowing how to make vinaigrette is handy - just ratios of oil/acid/flavorings and kids can shake up their concoctions and take home in a mason jar.

Deviled eggs maybe - bring them in already hardboiled and go from there.
posted by the primroses were over at 7:25 AM on September 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

One burner induction stoves are fairly reasonably priced (or maybe a friend has one you can borrow)

Aren't Starbucks egg bites popular right now? Here's a microwave copycat

Baked potato bar? Cook in the microwave. Make a cheese sauce and bacon in microwave. Then practise knife skills on other toppings.
posted by Ftsqg at 7:27 AM on September 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

I took gourmet class in high school and I don't believe we had ovens!

Some things we did:
-stovetop chili
-gingerbread house decorating
-chocolate (this was a semester-long project, we used various colored chocolates, made filled pieces, painted color chocolate lollipops, etc.)
-eggs (proper folded over omelette with choose your own cheese/filling)
posted by DoubleLune at 7:39 AM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not quite a recipe, more an idea: For at least two years of undergrad I made linguine with canned clams using only a microwave -- it was good enough to cook for my picky grandmother. This was... a long time ago (eesh)... but what I recall is basically boil pasta in water (I want to say it takes like five minutes or so longer than the timing on the box), melt butter, add drained clams, dried seasonings, squeeze of lemon. Other than the lemon there is no sharp knife work, but if that's an issue of course skip that or use bottled.

So maybe pasta dishes might work? Unfortunately I don't have any recipes I can personally recommend but a Google search yielded some interesting results.
posted by sm1tten at 7:39 AM on September 1, 2021

Burritos or tacos? You can warm up canned beans in the microwave.

There are also lots of recipes online for seven-layer bean dips.
posted by FencingGal at 7:39 AM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

What about salads like Panzanella or Caprese? Also learning the ratios to make salad dressings can be super helpful.
If you have access to a high powered blender, here's some soup ideas.
posted by Pretty Good Talker at 7:41 AM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Savory with no oven or stove at all: Guacamole and salsa (bring tortilla chips); hummus and crudite (bring pita).
posted by nantucket at 7:49 AM on September 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

I've made this black bean salsa recipe with kids a few times, to great success.

It's always fun watching a kid swear on their lives that they will never eat [a tomato/onion/whatever] and then loving the final product.

That previous question also has a lot of good suggs for you, by the way.
posted by phunniemee at 7:58 AM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Can you use pre-cooked ingredients like supermarket rotisserie chicken?
posted by kevinbelt at 8:02 AM on September 1, 2021

If you have access to an oven elsewhere, maybe a "chemistry of baking" class where you pre-make some muffins or cookies, while removing, halving, or doubling certain ingredients, or swapping baking powder for baking soda? I think that's really useful for new bakers without the disappointment of making their own mistakes.
posted by tchemgrrl at 8:02 AM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

How about salads? You could make Greek salad with tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, olives and feta. Or a lentil salad using tinned lentils. Tinned tuna with tinned cannelini beans plus a few chopped crunchy vegetables - celery, radish, etc, maybe a few leaves. Couscous salad (no cooking, just requires hot water) with dried apricots and cranberries. Or couscous with snow peas and lemon. Panzanella - stale bread with tomatoes, basil. And as mentioned above, being able to make a salad dressing from scratch is a superpower.

Serious eats has a ton of ideas for both salads and dressings.
posted by lulu68 at 8:20 AM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Microwave fritatta - I recommend a 8-9" silicone cake pan for this, though you may want to up the recipe by 1.5-2x, or you can make mug cakes or large cupcakes.

Fancy ramen: instant ramen, boxed chicken broth with dried shiitake mushrooms and ginger paste, quartered pre-boiled eggs, slices of ham or Spam (or shred a rotisserie chicken), splash of soy sauce, finish with scallions.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:39 AM on September 1, 2021

My nephew’s PTA did an at home Rice Krispie treats activités over zoom last year which was a hit.

Also many middle schoolers may not have knife skills and even a fruit salad may be a good learning experience in itself (depending on the goals of the activity)
posted by raccoon409 at 9:39 AM on September 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Do you have a plug for a waffle iron? If you want to do a “Will it Waffle?” riff, get in touch and I’ll make sure you get a few books.
posted by veggieboy at 10:05 AM on September 1, 2021 [6 favorites]

Fresh pasta that the kids hand-form like orechiette; they can take home in a tupperware and boil/eat at home.
posted by xo at 10:44 AM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Bringing in a blender, instant pot, hotplate, stand mixer, food processor, rice cooker, electric griddle, electric kettle, or ice cream maker will open a world of options.

Make fresh pasta? Roll up sushi? Dumplings? Vietnamese fresh spring rolls? Grilled cheese with an ironing board and iron?
posted by enfa at 10:45 AM on September 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Along the lines of enfa's comment, the Tasty youtube channel has a series called Chef Out of Water which features a cook using a non-traditional appliance to cook a 3 course meal. Might be fun to get you and your kids into the spirit of things?

But yes, a microwave and/or electric kettle seem like they open a world of egg dishes, mug cakes, and boiled/steamed options. (Perhaps even a sous-vide/poaching kind of thing by submerging microwave safe bags in water?)

A little tangential, but what about a class where you bring in items (including herbs, sauces, etc) and the kids have to mix them to create flavor combinations? Make your own bbq sauce, maybe? Or mayo (with pasteurized eggs)?
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 11:12 AM on September 1, 2021

Fresh pasta they could bring home to cook would be amazing. As would a bread dough that they could bring home to bake (and perhaps let rise in their own fridge.)
posted by heavenknows at 11:54 AM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Unbaked cookie dough is technically unsafe, and if kids leave with it, they'll eat it raw. It can be made with no eggs, and cooked flour to be safe.

Gazpacho and/or Salsa. same cooking methods. Guacamole.
Tabbouleh; you can get the bulghur wheat ready beforehand.
Wraps. This is assembly, but the range of fillings is extensive.
Coleslaw, potato or pasta salad with pre-cooked potatoes or pasta
Quick pickles - zucchini, onions, carrots, as well as cucumbers; could you refrigerate them for the next week? Same with Kimchi. Bring in rice to have it with the following week; plain rice with kimchi is great, and a staple in Korea.
Sushi (carrot, cucumber, avocado)
Marinated tofu bowl, add ribbon of zucchini instead of noodles.
Summer / spring rolls.
Greek salad - served in Greece as a composed salad of feta, cucumber, sliced onion, kalamata olives, oil, tiny splash of vinegar, maybe a bit of oregano, bread.
Make pesto or peanut sauce to put on precooked pasta or rice noodles that just need water.
Salads with beans, tuna, etc., as well as greens.

You can also bring in different fresh or dried herbs and spices, and taste them with a simple rice salad (cooked rice, a little oil, add a dash of vinegar if desired.) Or with bread. Make curry powders to taste. Make Korean barbecue sauce. Taste different varieties of apples; they can be quite varied. Make salad dressings, taste with different greens and different vegetables. Many people have seldom or never eaten lots of foods, kohlrabi, beets, radishes, various greens, fresh figs, blue cheese, anchovies. A cheese tasting would be educational.

If you put out a call to friends and teachers, I'll bet you could round up bread makers; homemade bread is deeply satisfying.
posted by theora55 at 11:54 AM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Rice krispy treats are a good "baked good" that doesn't require baking. There are interesting recipes for variations out there that involve ingredients like brown butter, peanut butter, different cereals, etc.
posted by mosst at 12:24 PM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

(and to add to that, they can be made in the microwave)
posted by mosst at 12:25 PM on September 1, 2021

Best answer: microwave risotto might be fun!

I love making crispy onions in the microwave.
posted by music for skeletons at 1:22 PM on September 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Nthing salads of many varieties: black-bean salad with mango, avocado, red onion, cilantro, and lime; butter beans with red peppers, onion, and a red-wine vinaigrette; Levantine chopped cucumber, tomato, onion (+avocado for the win), with a lemon-and-olive-oil dressing... salads made with beans have the added life-hack benefits of being veg options, high in fiber, cheap, and quick.

Also echoing the transformational power of making your own dressings! I lived in awe of a college friend who dressed salads with salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a hand-squeezed lemon; it wasn't until grad school that another friend showed me the practical magic of emulsification when you shake up balsamic vinegar, olive oil, chopped shallots, salt/pepper, and a bit of dijon mustard. (If there's budget for it, giving each student a wee half-pint canning jars for making dressing at home would leave them with a lovely artifact to carry through life.)
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 2:21 PM on September 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I’ve had microwave mug brownies before that were pretty good.
posted by oceano at 4:00 PM on September 1, 2021 [1 favorite]

Just to get the “sweets” out of the way, microwave fudge is a great thing to know how to make. Rum balls used to be my default no bake dessert to take to parties, but you may not be able to handle rum around minors.

Guacamole and hummus are things a lot of people are used to just buying, but the homemade versions can be so much better. You may need a food processor for the hummus. Homemade mayonnaise could also be fun and eye-opening.

There are lost of slow-cooker fondue recipes out there.

We used to make ice cream in a bag with kids at 4-H and other ag day events. I don’t have the old instructions we used to use, but the ones at the link look as close as I can remember. We also made homemade butter by shaking cream in a jar or other container, passing it around as our arms tired. We would salt and eat the butter on crackers, and drink the buttermilk.

You might want to reach out to your local county Cooperative Extension to see if they have resources to share.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:28 PM on September 1, 2021 [2 favorites]

I have a couple of ice cream balls; you put the ice cream ingredients in the canister, fill the ball with ice & salt, then play ball to keep it mixing. I get them at thrift shops, send me an address and they're yours.
posted by theora55 at 11:37 AM on September 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

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