Friday, August 6, 2010

Microwave Mug-Brownie & Thaw Soup

Today, I made microwave brownies in mugs for my sister and I. My mum was interested enough to want one too, but she lost patience with me making my sister's. Maybe another time. I don't like there to be too much sugar in it, so this is the recipe I use, though I find it needs a longer heating time in our 700W microwave. We spooned french vanilla ice cream on top.

This would've been the perfect dish so far to snap a pic of, but after setting up 16 GB of photos onto my previously-unopened digital photo frame (and them still not all showing up!), I'm pictured out.

Thaw soup is what I came up with to describe a special heating (I don't think I'm audacious enough to call it cooking) method of mine. Sure, you can boil quick-cooking/precooked frozen stuff in a bowl of hot water in the microwave like you do in a pot, but frankly, most of the stuff you do that with looks gross wet, and is usually less appetizing that way. Plus what do you do with the water? It has nutrients you don't want to lose but looks gross, too. Yeah, for someone so blasphemous about food I get weird peeves.

My scientific approach to these dilemmas is to let the frozen food cook suspended in a bowlful of soup/broth, which will boil anyway in the amount of time it takes to heat up. This principle extends to my instant noodles, which are truly my masterpiece, but they deserve a post dedicated solely to their magnificence.

So I start with condensed soup, usually tomato because cream soups are lumpier and fattier. I don't add the full can of water, if only because eating an entire can (you can try half, too, but there's less fluid to heat in) of soup, especially tomato, is tiring. Then I plop in whatever frozen premade stuff is in the freezer. This includes:
  • frozen tortellini/ravioli (thanks again, Costco!)/pierogies
  • precooked shrimp
  • frozen vegetables: I like Meditteranean/Spaghetti mixtures. I'm picky when it comes to veggies.
  • fresh vegetables (I just heat everything for longer)
  • Chinese dumplings: the pastry ones, not the palm-leaf ones... Ten Ten Dim Sum is our regular brand, but Google's not forthcoming, so I'll have to take a pic sometime. Regular flavour is pork & shrimp/veg.
  • pinto beans:  got a big container of them in the freezer
As you can see, there are lots of choices. Personally, I find Chinese dumplings much tastier than the European ones. Much more generous filling : flour ratio. And yes, I know I'm testing a bunch of frozen processed foods against each other, and I'm biased. Chinese ones still win. Ravioli is more fun to play with and dip, though.

Then, I microwave the soup for at least 3 minutes, with a paper plate on top to avoid splatter (microwave covers are short, get in the food, and suck). Whatever you do, read the instructions on your frozen food and try to follow cooking times. It's less important if there isn't meat in it, but if there is, you can't always be certain that it's cooked. Frozen chicken nuggets (not that it would ever occur to me to have them in the house, let alone stick in soup. They can be tasty, though) are usually uncooked.

So heat for as long as it says. Then again for another minute or two. Our usual Chinese dumplings are precooked and only need 2 minutes to boil, and the tortellini I use is the size of my thumbnail, otherwise I never would've come up with this method of making them at all.

Whew. I was never this concerned with our 1200W microwave, but now we're on a 700W one. Whenever I need to buy my own, you can bet it's going to be a powerful sucker.

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