Microwave Cooking Tips - Dorm Room Cooking
When I say dorm room cooking, I don't mean boiling instant noodles or defrosting frozen corn dogs. With proper equipment, you can do lots of things with a simple microwave, from baking and browning to frying and steaming. To be honest, I prefer a traditional stove and oven myself. But if you are a college student living in a dorm, it's unlikely that you will have access to any kitchen luxuries. No stove. No toaster oven. No electric wok. No George Foreman grill. A microwave and a refrigerator are pretty much your whole kitchen. (Some dorms won't even allow these!) So you have to do what you got to do and make the best out of it. These nifty tips will teach you how to cook with a microwave properly and safely.
How to Make Cookies in a Microwave
Microwave Cooking Tips - Baking
Patience-impaired people might find microwave baking quite delightful. It takes just about 7 - 15 minutes to bake a cake in a microwave, and 2 - 6 minutes to bake cookies. It could be a little tricky, though. Follow these guidelines for safe and successful microwave baking!
Temperature: High or medium high
Container: For baking a cake, microwave-safe glassware is the best. For cookies, use a microwave-safe plate lined with parchment paper.
Cooking Tips: One problem a lot of people have experienced when they try to bake a cake in a microwave is that the top seems to brown too fast while the bottom is still way undercooked. To avoid this cake disaster, make your batter slightly lighter than what you would normally make for a traditional oven. Also, try to cook it in a container that is large but not too deep. In other words, make your cake shorter.
Microwave Cooking Tips - Browning
Yes, you can brown all types of meat in a microwave and enjoy its crispy exterior! There're no magic ingredients or secret tricks; all you need is a microwave crisper.
Temperature: High heat
Container: You need a microwave browning plate or crisper tray in order to brown your food properly. You might come across some articles that say you can achieve the same browning effect by simply coating the bottom of a glass plate with butter or cooking spray, yet I have to disagree. It is doable, but the browning usually turns out pretty uneven. Also, most of the time, meat will release some of its natural liquid onto the bottom of the container while being cooked, which can cause it not to brown at all. With a microwave browning dish, you don't need to worry about that.
Cooking Tips: You need to warm the crisper in the microwave before using it. Follow the cooking duration guidelines in the manual religiously. You want your food brown and crisp, not burned!
How to Cook Scrambled Eggs in a Microwave
Microwave Cooking Tips - Frying
I mean stir frying, NOT deep frying. Don't try to deep fry in your microwave. I don't think it would work. Plus, it could be horrendously messy and dangerous. Stir frying, on the other hand, can be done in a microwave effectively and stress-free.
Temperature: High or medium high
Container: Any microwave-safe containers are fine. To prevent your food from splattering and getting dried out, you should put a lid over it. In case you don't have a container that comes with a lid, loosely cover the the top of it with a piece of white paper towel, parchment paper or microwave-safe plastic wrap.
Cooking Tips: A simple microwave stir-frying process would be to mix oil with other ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl, cover and cook. You will also need to take it out of the microwave at least once or twice during the cooking process, and stir it around so that everything will get cooked evenly. If your dish contains several ingredients of different sizes and textures, it's a good idea to cook the ones that are bigger and denser first instead of cooking everything together all at once. For example, if you're making a stir-fry dish that has onion, broccoli, mushrooms and spinach, you should add the spinach at the very end of the cooking process (the last 30 seconds) in order to prevent it from becoming too mushy.
Microwave Cooking Tips - Steaming
Steaming is probably the best method to cook fish, vegetables and rice in a microwave. While microwave baking and frying might not yield as good results as traditional stoves and ovens do, steaming food in a microwave often times can be as effective as any other types of steamers.
Temperature: Medium heat
Container: A microwave steamer is a nifty device designed for cooking small portions of food. It consists of 3 parts: the bottom tray for water, the middle tray where the food goes, and the lid. If you don't have much storage space in your dorm room, you might opt for microwave steam bags instead. The steamer tends to preserve the natural moisture and color of the food a bit better than the steam bag, though.
Cooking tips: For vegetable steaming, it's important that you cut your veggies uniformly and arrange them on the tray in a way that don't overlap one another. For cooking duration, consult the manual of your microwave steamer. If there is no manual at hand, you might have to keep checking the doneness every now and then. Once you remove the steamer from the microwave, open the lid immediately. (Watch out for the steam, though!) If you keep the lid closed for too long, the food might get overcooked from the residual heat.
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