Monday, 18 March 2013

Microwave Meals in Mugs (and Minutes)

I was recently invited to take part in a piece about microwave cooking on BBC Radio Scotland's 'MacAulay and Co' show.  The focus of the piece was on the recent trend for creating entire meals using nothing more than a mug and a microwave.  It seems that this is one of the latest trends sweeping the world wide interweb and, like breadmakers and George Formby grills, everyone wants to have a shot.

I visited Fred MacAulay (and co) in their studio at BBC Pacific Quay armed with a mug and some ingredients.  Some helpful members of Fred's team provided the microwave and we were ready to go.  The discussion began with a focus on the merits of microwaves and the somewhat bad press they've had over the years.  Whilst I would never promote the idea that microwaves should be relied upon for real cooking, I do agree that they have had a harder time than they might have deserved and infact, there are many excellent reasons to use one.

The negative opinion on microwaves probably stems from the perhaps misguided idea that introducing them to our homes was akin to building a nuclear power plant in the garden shed.   This may or may not be true (I'm no scientist after all), however it does seem that most of us have been using microwaves for a good number of years now without any clear adverse effects.  There's no doubt too that microwaving some nachos after a drunken night out is a far more favourable health and safety choice than firing up the chip pan on full heat.

The humble microwave is also handy for a number of other reasons.  When it comes to making attempts to eat more healthily, the combination of frozen vegetables and microwave helps to ensure that some nutritious side dishes accompany every meal with very little effort.   Boiling vegetables in water means losing vital nutrients as many of them are lost when the water is drained - this isn't a problem when the microwave is used and so the nutritional value of the food you eat is arguably much greater when using this method of cooking.  As well as vegetables, the microwave is definitely your friend when it comes to simple things like poppadoms.  Typically deep fried and greasy, poppadoms can be broken into pieces and cooked in the microwave on full power for around 30 seconds.  The result is a crunchy, crispy poppadom without the need to heat a pan full of oil.

Moving on to some recipes and dishes which can be cooked in a mug in the microwave, I decided to make a 3 minute chocolate cake for Fred and his team.  This cake couldn't be easier to make and is great for kids as the chocolate sponge begins to rise and tower over the top of the mug during cooking, always threatening to collapse on itself but never quite doing so.  It's a nice little bit of theatre and is good fun for a rainy day.

I also provided two other recipes for the BBC and for the MacAulay and Co website.  Homemade crisps is a microwave recipe I've already covered previously on the blog as part of a variety of Super Bowl Sunday recipes.  Macaroni Cheese in a mug was a new recipe I worked on exclusively for MacAulay and Co and although time got the better of us on the day and we didn't get the opportunity to promote it as well as we would have liked, it's a recipe which is well worth trying and one which provides surprisingly tasty results.

This was my 4th appearance on MacAulay and Co and as usual it was good fun.  Fred and his team produce a show filled with great variety and, more importantly, they love to talk about food which makes them my kind of people.

You can find the recipes discussed that day by scrolling down this page on the BBC website.  You can also listen to MacAulay and Co on BBC Radio Scotland every weekday morning from 10:30am.

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