|Microwave--quick way to prep tomatoes for peeling.|
From the first of June until the first of September, I don’t turn on the oven. It’s just too damn hot. In keeping a cool kitchen, I use the good old microwave to fill in for the oven.
My ancient gas stove/oven (an American-made Magic Chef, purchased 30 years ago, second-hand, at the American naval base at Rota) runs on bottled butane gas. I used to hump gas tanks into the trunk of my car in the village and bump them down the steps to the kitchen. Now the delivery guys bring them to the door. The microwave cuts down on my gas consumption, another plus.
The microwave was a late addition to my kitchen. I got my first computer in 1987; an internet connection in 1995, but I did not get my first microwave until 1996. By then my kids were grown and not living at home. I began cooking differently. No more big roasts in the oven, nor huge pots of slow-simmering soups and stews. Microwaved meals are perfect for one or two people. I’m not ashamed to say that I use the microwave a lot, especially in summer.
VEGETABLES. The microwave really is great for cooking vegetables.
Tomatoes. I use the microwave to quickly scald tomatoes for peeling. Sure beats heating a pot of water. Cut out the stems, arrange tomatoes on a plate, microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. Turn the tomatoes over, microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes longer. Allow to cool. Slip off skins. I package them in bags and freeze for winter soups, stews and sauces.
|Tender eggplant, ready to puree.|
|Quick baba ghanoush.|
If making baba ghanoush, use ½ teaspoon of smoked pimentón (paprika) along with lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and salt. The smoked pimentón adds a char-roasted flavor.
|Easy to skin peppers.|
|Easy side dish--zucchini and tomatoes with basil.|
Important: Do not salt the vegetables before cooking!
3 cups sliced or cubed zucchini
1 plum tomato, halved and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
Fresh basil leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the zucchini, tomato, oil and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl. Add a few shredded basil leaves. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. Remove and stir the vegetables. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes more. Allow to stand 5 minutes.
Stir the vegetables. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add fresh basil to garnish. Serve hot, room temperature or cold.
SEAFOOD.Mussels. Put 6-10 mussels in a microwave-safe bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of water and microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes. Remove any mussels that have opened. Microwave 1 minute more. Discard any mussels which have not opened.
|Sea bass, peppers and capers en papillote (parchment).|
Sea Bass en Papillote
1 (10-12-ounce) sea bass per person
Sprigs of parsley
Strips of red bell pepper
Salt the cavity of the fish very lightly and place a few sprigs of parsley in it. Cut gashes in the skin on both sides of the fish. Insert half lemon slices on one side.
|Fold over edges to seal.|
|Both fish and vegetable side dish are cooked in the microwave.|
Pechuga de Pavo en Adobo
Marinated Turkey Breast
This makes great cold cuts, so much better than buying packaged turkey “lunch meat.” I used to prepare it in a plastic zip-bag. However, some experts say that you shouldn’t use plastic bags or wrap in microwave cookery if they are touching the food. The recipe works fine in a bowl with a vented lid.
Important: Do not add salt before cooking. I know, that sounds contrary to your best instincts, to keep the meat juicy by brining. But not for microwave cooking.
|Pierce plastic wrap to make steam vents.|
1 ¼ pounds boneless, skinless turkey breast
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
Pinch of dry oregano
Fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon smoked pimentón (paprika)
Place the turkey breast in a microwave-safe bowl. Sprinkle with half the pepper, oil, vinegar, oregano, thyme and pimentón. Turn the turkey over and add the other half. Cover and refrigerate 6 to 8 hours.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (it should not touch the food) or use a lid. Use a skewer to pierce the plastic in two places (as a steam vent). Microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes. Very carefully (escaping steam can burn) remove the wrap and turn the turkey breast over. Microwave on MEDIUM-HIGH for 4 minutes. Allow to stand 5 minutes. (Temperature should come up to 150ºF.)
Allow to cool completely. Slice thinly to serve.
|Marinated turkey breast cooks in less than 10 minutes.|
CAKE. Microwave cakes don’t have the light crumb of oven-baked cakes. But, they are moist, sweet and fast!
|Zucchini-chocolate cake, baked in a microwave, is moist and sweet.|
This was inspired by the recipe for Chocolate and Zucchini Cake in the book, Chocolate and Zucchini by Clotilde Dusoulier. For this microwave cake, you need a 6-cup microwave-safe ring mold.
|Bake in a ring mold.|
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup olive oil
½ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups grated zucchini
Powdered sugar or chocolate glaze
In a bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
Use a little of the oil to lightly coat the ring mold. In a mixing bowl, beat together the oil and two kinds of sugar.until smooth. Beat in the eggs and vanilla. Beat in the dry ingredients, little by little. Batter will be very thick. Stir in the zucchini. Pour into the ring mold. Cover the top with a paper towel.
Microwave on HIGH for 3 minutes. Reposition the pan. Microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes more. Allow to stand for 10 minutes. Remove from mold and cool on a rack.
Place on a serving plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar or dribble with chocolate glaze.
|Microwave cake seems to cry out for a dollop of vanilla ice cream!|
Use the same ring mold to make this zucchini timbale in the microwave. That recipe is here.
Got more ideas for summer cooking in the microwave? I'm open to new ideas. Leave me a comment.