5 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Make in the Microwave

The microwave is one of the kitchen's most overlooked appliances, and it shouldn't be.The microwave is one of the kitchen's most overlooked appliances, and it shouldn't be.If there was a kitchen appliance that was more misunderstood than the microwave, you'd be hard-pressed to find it. To give you an example of what we mean, The Joy of Cooking, a go-to cookbook for American cuisine, calls the experience of cooking in a microwave an "inadequate response to great expectations." While the microwave will never replace the stove or oven in terms of bringing out a depth of flavor in foods, believe it or not, it's capable of a lot more than heating up TV dinners. It's a lifesaver for college students and a space-hogging leftover warmer for home cooks, but neither of these groups really appreciates the microwave's full potential. Used properly, a microwave can act as a shortcut to time-consuming dishes, and it can cook many foods from scratch just as well as, or better than, the stovetop can.

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In order to get satisfying results from your microwave, you have to learn the rules of the game. First, understand your microwave's heat settings. The higher a microwave's wattage, the faster it cooks. At a lower setting, such as 500 watts, your microwave is like a dehydrator, but at a higher setting, such as 800 watts, a microwave's capabilities are akin to steaming or frying (all recipes in this story assume a default "high" setting). Foods high in water content - such as vegetables, fruits, greens, and fish - cook best in the microwave. Almost any vegetable steams to perfection in a microwave, cooked in a covered bowl with a little bit of water. Finally, learn to take it slow. Keep close tabs on the food you cook in a microwave, because it's much easier to add on time than make up for a tough, overcooked dish.

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The microwave may never live up to a gourmet cook's high expectations, but its potential can certainly surprise even the most seasoned gourmand. Beyond steamed vegetables, foods such as cake, eggs, jam, and even potato chips, are all within the microwave's range. To boot, the microwave can cook all of these foods in record time: none of these dishes takes more than 20 minutes to complete, start to finish. In a world where we are all hard-pressed to find time in the day to get a homemade meal on the table, that may be the best reason of all to give your microwave a second look.

Marmalade

How many ambitious cooks have dreamed of seasonal fresh fruit turned into homemade jam, only to watch their pile of mason jars collect dust? Turns out, all it takes is a microwave and a food processor to make your very own homemade marmalade.

Click here to see the Microwaveable Meyer Lemon-Orange Marmalade with Thyme Recipe


Cake

Making a cake from scratch in five minutes might sound like a fantasy, but all it takes is a microwave and a mug. The addition of Nutella in this mug cake recipe creates a decadently moist dessert that's ready in a flash, or should we say zap?

Click here to see the Microwaveable Nutella Mug Cake Recipe

Rice


Cooking perfect rice in the microwave can be done in half the time it takes on the stove. While the help of an inexpensive microwave rice cooker makes it easy to do all in one piece of equipment, making rice in the microwave is just as easy. The basic principles are the same as for cooking rice on the stove, with the ideal water-to-rice ratio being about 1 ½ cups water to 1 cup of rice. Wash your rice thoroughly, add water and rice to large, microwave-safe bowl, and microwave, uncovered, for nine to 10 minutes (cooking time can vary according to the type of rice you're using, so it's best to check after nine minutes and incrementally add time as necessary).

Eggs

They say that a simple omelette is a true test of one's culinary skills. You might not be able to fool a master chef with this microwave omelette recipe, but it comes surprisingly close to the real thing.

Click here to see the Basic Microwave Omelette Recipe

Fish


Foods with high water content cook best in the microwave, so fish is a perfect candidate for a quick microwavable meal. For a simple, quick fish dish do the following:

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave. Mix with 2 tablespoons white wine or vegetable stock. Place 4 white fish fillets or salmon fillets in a microwave-safe container and baste with the butter mixture. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, herbs of your choice, or lemon slices, cover with waxed paper or microwave-safe plastic wrap, and microwave for 3 minutes. Fish is done when it just becomes opaque in the middle and starts to flake with a fork. Cook for an additional 30 seconds to a minute if necessary.

Click here to see more things you didn't know you could make in a microwave

-Michelle Kiefer, The Daily Meal