Specially Designed Microwave Containers

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Microwave-Containers_cThere is now a huge range of containers available for use in the microwave, the quality of which varies considerably as do the prices. Before purchasing any items you think you need, get to know your microwave and find out where the gaps are in the equipment you already have. It makes no sense to buy a whole range of different-shaped dishes when you can use some of the equipment you already possess.

Waveware cooking set: my favourite, most used piece of microwave equipment is a three-piece cooking set which includes a high round dome, a roasting rack and a lid. This huge dome can either be used as a bowl for jams, casseroles, soups and rice dishes, or as a cover when roasting meats. Being so large, the food being cooked doesn't boil over. The lid is also dual-purpose since it can be used to cover the dome when cooking moist dishes, or it can act as a container on its own for hamburgers, fish and other 'dry' foods. The rack fits neatly inside the lid and lifts joints of meat or poultry above their juices to prevent them boiling during cooking. I also invested in a browning skillet and a loaf-shaped container.

Browning skillet: this allows small pieces of food which are normally grilled or shallow-fried to be cooked and browned in the microwave. It needs to be preheated for about 6 minutes before cooking and the food will then brown from the heat of the dish (it has a special coating) and also be cooked by microwave: for sausages, bacon and toasted sandwiches.

Loaf-shaped dishes: useful for meat loaves, pates, loaves and teabreads. Ideally, choose one with well-rounded corners as this helps to ensure more even cooking, unless you shield them with small pieces of foil.

For baking: I suggest you buy a ring-shaped container, and one or two items to suit your particular needs. Conventional tins cannot be used in the microwave. As with all new kitchen equipment, do read and follow the manufacturer's instructions with care.

Wraps and bags: moist foods must be covered during cooking, otherwise they turn dry and unacceptable. Coverings whether a lid or clear film, help to prevent any loss of moisture by evaporation.

Clear film: ideal for covering containers which do not have their own lids, can also be used for lining containers. Pierce, if used as a covering, or turn back one corner, leaving enough room to stir through the aperture. Do take great care when lifting film off a cooked dish as it will release an extremely hot steam cloud which could scald.

Aluminium foil: only use in small quantities for shielding food to prevent overcooking.

Roasting bags: excellent for roasting joints of meat and poultry, also for par-cooking potatoes in the microwave before roasting them in a conventional oven. Do not use wire ties to secure the ends; nylon ties are ideal, otherwise use an elastic band or piece of string.

Polythene bags: useful for cooking vegetables or blanching them for the freezer.

Cook-in bags: many frozen, prepacked convenience foods come in these. They are safe to use in the microwave so long as they are pierced in the top to prevent them from bursting open during cooking.

Kitchen paper: use for covering fatty foods such as bacon, which are likely to spit during cooking, but which should not be covered with clear film. Use for reheating pastry items, such as sausage rolls. The paper absorbs any fat and prevents them becoming soggy. (Also useful for drying herbs and drying petals for pot pourri).

Paper napkins: for warming bread rolls or reheating foods such as hamburgers or hot dogs which are to be eaten in the fingers.

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