By Deviyani Srivastava
One of the most under appreciated appliance in the kitchen, the microwave can actually revolutionise the way you cook. Whilst most everyone uses the microwave for just re-heating food, here are some interesting things you can do with the microwave.
1. TOAST NUTS : Spread peanuts, almonds, pine or cashews on a microwave-proof plate and microwaves them. Start with two minutes, then stir before continuing. Microwaving in thirty second intervals, stirring between each interval, until the nuts are golden and toasted, three to six minutes total. Salt them or add sugar for candied nuts.
2. POACH EGGS: No need to boil water and get a perfect poached egg every time. Fill one cup (microwaveable) with half a cup of water. Gently crack an egg into the water, make sure it is completely submerged. Cover with a saucer and microwave on high for about one minute, or until the white gets set but the yolk is still runny. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the egg to a plate.
3. PEEL AND BLANCH GARLIC: Pop whole unpeeled cloves in the microwave for 15 seconds. The skin slides right off and since these garlic cloves end up getting gently cooked they are perfect for vinaigrette, marinades, sauces or any other use where you want a milder form of garlic.
4. MAKE AN OMELET: Make the best soufflé omelette. Whisk eggs in a microwave safe bowl with a bit of salt, pepper, scallions, cheese, your favourite hot sauce and some chopped fresh herb. Microwave on high until light and fluffy. Start with thirty seconds, then stir with a fork, then microwave for another minute. Check for doneness and continue to cook in fifteen-second intervals until cooked completely.
5. CRISP HERBS FOR GARNISHING: Basil and cilantro become crisp garnishes for salads and pasta; kale and spinach are transformed into healthy snacks to be eaten by the handful. Use a pastry brush to coat the flat plate with a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil. Place whole stemmed herb leaves flat on top of and carefully dab the top of herbs with the oiled brush to moisten. Microwave on high heat for thirty seconds. Continue microwaving in fifteen second increments until herbs are dried through and crispy, one and a half to two minutes total.
6. INFUSE OIL WITH HERBS: Sky is the limit when it comes to infusing oils. Microwave to steep thyme, bay leaf, jalapeño or lemon peel in olive oil. Ginger in sesame oil is really great for stir-fries. Use half cup of oil for two heaped teaspoons of fresh, whole leaves. Mix oil and herb together in a Pyrex or glass cup until the herbs look frizzled, this usually takes about two minutes. Let it cool to room temperature and strain into an airtight container. Store up to two weeks in the refrigerator.
7. MAKE VEGETABLE CHIPS: Make those fancy vegetable chips at home to save on cost and all thanks to the microwave, mess free. Shave thin slices of beet, sweet potato or even an apple on a mandolin, then arrange slices between paper towels on a large microwave-safe plate and nuke it for two and half to three minutes, going in thirty-second increments after the first minute to avoid overcooking them. Finish with a sprinkle of salt.