Come Dine With Me

TOM KEANE with some easy microwave recipes that you don’t need to be Nigella to perfect.

cooking food gyp room kitchen microwave recipes student living

Do you hate the culinary limitations imposed upon your student lives by the microwave? Well you are not alone: being the primary tool provided by most colleges for cooking, Cambridge nights-in too often involve highly dubious microwave ready-meals, from anaemic and liquidy chicken madras to limp lasagne replete with suspect mince ‘meat’.  

Enough is enough: it is time to stop cursing the oven-boasting Murray Edwards (clearly the product of some obscure sexism), wave goodbye to ready-meals, and learn to make the best of a bad lot.

Below are the instructions for the creation of a three course meal that pushes the microwave to its limits and demonstrates its little known ability to facilitate classy culinary experiences. Ok, so char-grilled steaks and roast potatoes might be off the menu, but here is the proof of a viable alternative, from Parmesan Mushrooms, Lime Tarragon Fillets to Banana Walnut Cake.
Please enjoy responsibly.

Starter Option #1: Parmesan Mushrooms

25g butter
4 flat mushrooms
½ small garlic clove skinned and crushed
35g fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper
grated nutmeg
1 tbsp chopped parsley

Step #1: Put half the butter in a small bowl and microwave until melted. Finely chop the mushroom stalks and one whole mushroom and stir it into the melted butter with the garlic. Microwave the mixture for 1 ½ minutes and stir once.

Step #2: Stir in the breadcrumbs, half of the Parmesan cheese and the lemon juice. Mix together well and season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Stir in half the parsley.

Step #3: Put the mushroom caps on a microwave safe plate and spoon in the stuffing mixture. Sprinkle on the rest of the Parmesan and parsley and dot with the last of the butter.

Step #4: Microwave on a high setting for 3 to5 minutes or until the mushrooms are cooked.

Starter Option #2: Cran-brie Toasts

1 whole brie cheese.
100 g sliced almonds, toasted.
1to 2 tbsp cranberry sauce
4 slices of bread.

Step #1: Place brie on a microwaveable serving plate, spread the cranberry sauce on top, and cover with almonds.

Step #2: Microwave on high setting for 1 to 1 ½ minutes – IMPORTANT: do this in 30 second bursts to prevent cheese overheating. Set aside.

Step #3: Toast the bread. Remove the crusts and cut each slice into 8 triangles (i.e. into 4 diagonally, then half each quarter again).
Step #4: Serve the Cran-brie on a large plate with the toasts arranged around it.

Main Option #1: Lime Tarragon Fillets

 2 white fish fillets
1 tbsp. margarine
1 tbsp. lime juice
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. dried tarragon leaves
4 slices lime

Step #1: Arrange fillets in microwave safe baking dish. Cover with waxed paper.

Step #2: Microwave on high setting for 4 to 4 ½ minutes or until fish is cooked (it should come apart easily), rotating the dish once. Then set aside.

Step #3: Combine margarine, juice, salt, and tarragon in 1 microwave safe cup. Microwave on high setting, uncovered, for 30 to 45 seconds or until melted.

Step #4: Arrange fillets on serving plate. Stir the tarragon sauce you have just made, and spoon onto fillets. Garnish with lime slices.

Vegetarian Main Option #2: Aubergine Croquettes

2 medium aubergines, peeled and diced
150g grated Gruyère cheese, chedder or any other cheese thant tickles your fancy
125g dried breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1 handful chopped fresh parsley
½ small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
250ml olive oil

Step #1: Microwave each aubergine in a microwave safe on a high settingfor 3 minutes. Turn aubergine over and microwave for another 2 minutes. The aubergines should be tender, but if they are not, cook for another 2 minutes. Drain any liquid from the aubergines and mash.

Step #2:  Combine cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, parsley, onion, garlic, salt and pepper with the mashed aubergine. Mix well.

Step #3: Shape the aubergine mixture into patties. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Drop aubergine patties one at a time into pan. Fry both sides of each patty until golden brown, which should take approximately 5 minutes on each side.

Dessert Option #1 for those in a hurry: Baked Apples

2 baking apples
1 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tbsp. butter

Step #1: Core apples and fill the cavities with the sugar and butter.

Step#2: Place on microwave safe baking dish and with Cover with wax paper for crunch, or plastic for soft.

Step #3: Microwave on high setting 2 ½ to 4 minutes, or until fork tender, rotating after ½ cooking time. Let stand 2 minutes.

Dessert Option #2 for the dedicated: Banana Walnut Cake

115g soft brown sugar
55g butter
3 ripe medium bananas
115g soft tub margarine
115g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
2 tbsp milk
115g self-raising flour
50g roughly chopped walnuts

Step #1: Put the brown sugar and butter into a bowl and cook on the hob for about 2 minutes, keep stirring until the butter has melted. Pour into a deep dish and tip to coat the base.

Step #2: Cut the bananas into thick slices and arrange on the ‘caramel’ you have just made.

Step #3: Put the margarine, caster sugar, eggs and milk into a bowl and sift the flour over it. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and light. Stir in the walnuts and then spoon the mixture over the bananas.

Step #4 Microwave on high setting for about 12 min or until the surface is still slightly moist and the cake beneath is cooked. Leave to stand for at least 5 min