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Microwave Combination Cooker Five Appliances in One - See recipes

Microwave cookers have many well-known advantages - speed, compactness and efficiency, plus the ability to cook foods like vegetables, fish, soups and sauces to perfection. The one big disadvantage is the appearance of some foods-they lack that crisp and brown finish that we all expect on cakes, pastry and roast meat.

Now, thanks to innovative development by new microwave, we have the complete answer an appliance that combines all the advantages of the microwave with a fan-assisted convection oven and a super-efficient grill, each of which can be used alone or in combination. In addition, there are Auto Cook and Auto Weight Defrost programs which take the guesswork out of many everyday cooking processes. How does it work? Let's look individually at each function.

MICROWAVE

Microwave energy actually penetrates the food, attracted and absorbed by its water, fat and sugar content. The microwaves cause the molecules in the food to rapidly agitate, causing friction, and it is the heat of this friction which cooks the food. It is a very quick and moist form of cooking, resulting in little browning or crisping of the outer surface of the food.

Cookware for microwave cooking: must allow the microwave energy to pass through it for maximum efficiency (see Choosing Microwave Cookware of The Microwave Cook Book). When cooking a large quantity by microwave, we recommend standing the dish on the low rack to encourage even and quick results.

Foods suitable for microwave cooking: include fresh and frozen vegetables, fruit, pasta, rice, grains and beans (pulses), fish, sauces, custards, soups, steamed puddings, preserves and chutneys. Use the microwave mode for all those fiddly preparation jobs which are normally done on the hob, such as melting butter or chocolate.

CONVECTION (CONV)

This is the traditional method of cooking food in an oven filled with hot air which is circulated by a fan. The compact size of the oven cavity makes it very economical for cooking small amounts.

Cookware for convection cooking: use conventional ovenproof cookware, baking tins and sheets - anything you would normally put in a conventional oven (but remember it has to be able to turn on the rotating turntable). Stand the food on the low rack.

Foods suitable for convection cooking: include biscuits, individual scones, rolls and cakes, very rich fruit cakes, choux pastry and soufflés.

GRILL

The grill operates with the door closed and the turntable rotating. As the turntable turns, so the food browns evenly. Preheat the grill for 5 minutes before use.

Cookware for grilling: should be flameproof and may include metal. (Attention! Do not use metal, when cooking on microwave mode.)

Foods suitable for grilling: include chops, sausages, steaks, hamburgers, bacon and gammon rashers, thin fish portions, sandwiches and ''things on toast'' such as Welsh Rarebit.

MICROWAVE + CONVECTION (MW + CONV)

This cooking mode combines microwave energy (to reduce the cooking time) with hot air (to brown and crisp the surface of the food) to give you the best of both worlds. With some foods, the finished result can be even better than when cooked conventionally. Roast meat and poultry are golden brown yet, as a result of the reduced cooking time, they remain more moist and succulent. Cakes rise beautifully, yet they have the traditional crust and color. With some recipes, you will find that we have recommended preheating the oven before adding the food. With foods which take a relatively short time to cook, preheating will enhance the browning effect. Other foods actually benefit from going into a preheated oven - results are far better than if they are cooked in a rising temperature and this is particularly important when baking.

Cookware for MW + CONV cooking: must allow the microwaves to pass through (see in The Microwave Cook Book for ideal shapes plus it must be resistant to heat.) Use ovenproof glass, pottery or china without metal trims. Cookware with lids is especially useful. When lids are not available, cover the container with an ovenproof plate. For best results, we recommend standing dishes on the low rack during cooking.

Foods suitable for MW + CONV cooking: include meats and poultry, casseroles and ''au gratin'' dishes, sponge cakes and light fruit cakes, pies and crumbies, roast vegetables, scone rounds and breads.

MICROWAVE + GRILL (MW + GRILL)

This cooking mode combines radiant heat from the grill with the speed of microwave cooking. It operates with the door closed and the turntable rotating. The grill may be preheated before adding the foods.

Cookware for MW+GRILL cooking: is similar to that used in MW + CON - it should allow the microwaves to pass through it but it should also be flameproof (able to withstand the direct heat, often at close proximity, of the grill). Stand dishes on the high rack when possible. Deep dishes can be put on the low rack.

Foods suitable for MW + GRILL cooking: include dishes of cooked food which need reheating and browning (such as some baked pasta dishes) and foods which require a brief cooking time with a browned top (such as fish with a sauce on top). Also suitable are thick portions of food which benefit from a brown crisp finish (such as chicken breasts in breadcrumbs, turning them over half way through cooking).

AUTO WEIGHT DEFROST

Follow the chart and method in the Operation and Cooking Guide. We recommend standing the food on the low rack.

AUTO COOK

Follow the chart and method in the Operation and Cooking Guide. When roasting meat or poultry, stand it on the low rack. It is a good idea to put a shallow dish of water beneath the rack (i.e. on the turntable) to catch the meat or poultry juices and to help prevent them from spitting and burning.

Tips for Good Results

MICROWAVE POWER LEVELS: in the recipes all MICROWAVE cooking is done on P/LEVEL 100% unless otherwise stated.

PREHEATING: to preheat the oven, use CONV mode (if your cooker has a GRILL + CONV mode, use this for preheating). When converting a conventional recipe to cook in your combination cooker, it is advisable to preheat the oven first.

COOKING TIMES: use the times given in the recipes as a guide and check in the conventional way to make sure the food is cooked to your liking. When cooking on MW + CONV, if the finished dish is cooked but not brown enough, continue cooking for a little longer on CONV only. When cooking on MW + CONV or MW + GRILL, if the food bubbles over, reduce the microwave P/LEVEL and cook for slightly longer.

Starting temperature: Add more time when using chilled or frozen food.

Shape, size, density: Whole food such as a potato takes more time to cook than sliced or cubed potato. Ground meat takes less time than large pieces. Compact food such as mashed potato takes longer time to cook than a bowl of rice.

As volume increases: So does the cooking time. As a general rule cooking time increases about one half when doubling a recipe.

Covering dishes: Speeds up the cooking time and prevents splattering.

COOKWARE: Please read page 2 for the best cookware to use. We used ovenproof and flameproof glass and plain pottery. A vented lid will help to prevent food from boiling over. When cooking on MW + CONV in a dish without a lid, use an ovenproof plate to cover the foods. For convenience, we tend to keep the low rack in the oven for all cooking modes apart from grilling. Always use oven gloves the oven interior, the racks and the dishes will be hot.

MEASUREMENTS: for best results, use a standard set of measuring spoons 1.25ml, 2.5ml, 5ml and 15 ml; 1/4tsp. 1/2tsp, 1tsp and 1 tbsp - available from cookware shops and supermarkets. Please note that 1 glass measures 250 ml. in the recipes. Use either metric or imperial measures- don't mix them in a recipe. We used size 2 eggs.
DEFROSTING: It is preferable to defrost at lower power settings. Cover the food to ensure even defrosting. Drain liquid as it accumulates. Shield parts of the food that are defrosting too quickly with aluminum foil. (Ex: Chicken wings, on whole chickens large pieces of meat etc.) Rotate large pieces of meat during defrosting. Separate the items during the defrosting as soon as softened. This will speed up the process.

REHEATING: Store leftovers in containers that can be put directly into the microwave. Reheat preferably on lower power. Cut large pieces into slices when possible, which will speed up heating. Covering the food speeds up the process and reheats more evenly.

CONVERTING RECIPES FROM TRADITIONAL TO MICROWAVE: Use same ingredients, same proportions but reduce the cooking liquids by-25%. Reduce the cooking time by 25% as a general rule but to be on the safe side test after the minimum time recommended. When moist heat is needed use the microwave, to crisp or brown turn to conventional cooking.

When Starting to Cook in Your Combination Cooker

Don't be too ambitious and try to cook everything in it. If this is your first combination cooker (and in particular, if this is your first microwave) you may find it helpful to get used to cooking on one mode at a time. Although the oven cools quickly after being used on a combination mode, it is sensible to first cook those dishes needing MICROWAVE only. Remember that many dishes actually improve with standing and reheating, as the flavors have time to blend and mellow. So don't be afraid to cook these first and reheat them quickly, just before serving. When converting a favorite recipe for the combination cooker, look for a similar recipe in this book and use it as a guide. Generally, you will need to use a higher temperature than you would in conventional cooking, together with a P/LEVEL of 20-50%. Please note our suggestions in COOKING TIMES above too.

Food Fact in Microwave Cooking

We all know that in conventional cooking, certain characteristics of food make the difference between a successful result and one which is not so good. In microwave cooking, some of these characteristics are even more important.

The quality of the food: poor quality ingredients are rarely improved by any method of cooking and this applies particularly to microwave cooking as the process is so fast.

Temperature: the colder the food before cooking, the longer it will take to cook.

Quantity: the cooking time relates to the amount of food in the microwave cooker. Never overload. For very large quantities it is better, and may be quicker, to cook in two or more batches.

Density: the more porous the food, the faster it will cook, A light airy cake mixture will cook faster than jacket potatoes, minced beef faster than a joint.

Size and shape: uniform shapes cook more evenly. In an irregular shape, such as a leg of lamb, the thinner parts will cook faster than the thick part. Bones and rolled joints cook more evenly and are easier to carve.

The smaller each individual piece of food (such as the vegetables in a soup) the quicker the cooking.

Fats and sugars: These attract the microwaves and reach a higher temperature than the surrounding food. Select meat with an even distribution of fat. Thoroughly mix sugar with other ingredients. Handle pastry-wrapped foods such as sausage rolls, mince pies or jam doughnuts carefully as the filling gets hotter than the surrounding food.

Moisture: there is very little evaporation in microwave cooking so foods can be cooked in the minimum of water. Casseroles need about half the usual amount of stock, vegetables need only two or three tablespoons of water. Cake batters, however, should be softer than conventional recipes.

Bones: meat and poultry bones conduct heat, therefore the areas around them will cook faster than the rest of the meat. Insert a microwave meat thermometer into the thickest part of the flesh away from any bone for an accurate reading.

The language of microwave cooking

Reading through a microwave recipe book, you may have come across some terms with which you are not familiar. Many are well-known cookery techniques or methods but, due to the speed of microwave cooking, are worth reviewing. Others are quite new.

Timings: As a rough guide most foods will require approximately a quarter to one third of the conventional cooking time. If unsure, always underestimate the time needed, check the result and continue cooking if needed. The more food, the longer the cooking time. When doubling a recipe, increase the cooking time by half and check the result.

Covering: Cover foods for the same reasons as in conventional cooking - to retain moisture, speed up cooking and to help tenderize foods.

YES: vegetables, casseroles, fish. Use a vented lid for foods with a high liquid content, such as soups, to allow steam to escape and prevent the liquid boiling over. Covering food with a sauce has the same effect as using a lid. When cooking meat or poultry, roasting bags may be used to prevent splattering on the oven walls.

NO: for a fry finish on cakes and crumbles; for quick-cooking items such as scrambled eggs; and for foods which need frequent stirring like sauces and custard.

Standing Time: Because microwaves only penetrate the food to a depth of about 5 cm/2 in, the centre of larger items cooks by the conduction of heat, just as it does in conventional cooking. This process continues when the microwave has switched off, so the food should be allowed to stand before serving. It can be left in the microwave cooker or it may be removed while the cooker is used to cook other dishes. Standing time is particularly important when cooking large pieces of meat and when baking cakes.

Stirring: Food nearest the sides of the dish cooks faster than at the centre. Stirring will speed up its cooking time and ensure even cooking. Particularly sensitive foods, such as scrambled eggs and sauces, need frequent stirring during cooking.

Turning: When thawing, heating or cooking large items, such as a whole chicken, star off by placing the food upside down. Turn it over half way through the required time.

Arranging and rearranging: The food at the outer edges of the turntable or dish generally receives more microwave energy than that at the centre, so place thicker or larger portions of food to the outher edge. Rearranging, like stirring, moves the food and encourages even cooking - essential with food which cannot be stirred. Move the food from the centre of the dish to the outside.

Shielding: If microwaves are prevented from entering it, the food will not cook. Very small pieces of foil may be used to cover thinner parts such as chicken legs, fish tails or meat bones for the first half of the cooking time. Remove it to complete cooking. Use only small pieces of foil and make sure it will not touch the cooker walls.

Piercing, Pricking and Scoring: Any food which is completely covered with a skin or membrane must have it broken otherwise pressure will build up inside and it will burst open. This includes foods such as jacket potatoes and other whole vegetables, chicken livers and egg yolks. Pierce them with a fork or skewer. Never try to cook eggs in the shell.

Browning: Once you are familiar with microwave cooking you will appreciate that the lack of browning is fat out-weighed by the many advantages. Large items with long cooking times will brown slightly, while small items may need some help. In the recipes we have suggested, which can be found in different article, where appropriate ways to add colour to foods, such as brushing the skin of a chicken with soy sauce or with melted butter and paprika.

Stacking: When reheating foods in flat-topped containers, plated meals with rigid plate vovers and plates separated by plate rings. For even heating arrange the plates or containers so that thicker foods such as jacket potatoes are evenly distributed in the stack, e.g. with the potato on the lower plate (or container) on the opposite side to the potato on the upper plate (or container). Stack no more than two plates or containers for best results.

All recipes call for "Lower element heating" Unless stated otherwise

 

 


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