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- David Chang, the chef behind Momofuku restaurants, swears by the microwave and released a line of microwave cookware.
- I cooked a full day's worth of meals in these dishes and loved the convenience of cooking, serving, and storing in one bowl.
- Vegetables and proteins came out evenly cooked, but grains required more finessing.
The microwave has a contentious history, but with the myth that microwaves cause radiation exposure busted, it has returned to pride of place in many kitchens. Most commonly, the microwave is used to reheat cooked food, but what about using it to cook in the first place?
David Chang, founder and owner of Momofuko, is a documented microwave believer. Not only did he co-write a cookbook about it, but he also created Anyday dishes for that singular purpose: how to love cooking in your microwave.
As an avid cook and baker, I was skeptical that my microwave could do more than melt butter and reheat leftovers. I decided to spend an entire day ignoring my stove, cooking only with Anyday dishes and my microwave.
Unlike dishes that just happen to be microwave safe, every element of an Anyday dish is tailored to the microwave.
The bowls are borosilicate glass, which can withstand rapid changes in temperature. The lids have microwave-safe stainless steel rims wrapped in silicone that provide a tight seal around the bowl. Each lid has a silicone knob that can be lifted up to provide a steam vent while cooking.
I started by making pancakes in the microwave and I wasn't impressed.
I chose pancakes as my first microwave meal, and they were bizarre. The texture was spongy and dense, and they didn't take on any color, so they looked unappetizing.
I don't actually think this method saves cooking time: even though I could fit two small Anyday dishes in my microwave, it still took multiple rounds of portioning the batter, cooking for a minute and a half, removing the pancakes, and repeating.
Lunch was my favorite Anyday meal – I can see myself making it again and varying the ingredients.
The chicken, orzo, and feta recipe is the best example of what Anyday dishes offer. One grain, one protein, and one vegetable make a filling meal that only requires one dish and one cook time. I kept the chicken in big enough chunks that I could stick a meat thermometer in and the chicken still came out perfectly cooked.
My one qualm was that when I swapped orzo for pearled barley, it was just on the wrong side of chewy.
Dinner confirmed my experience: vegetables and protein cooked perfectly, but the grain texture was off.
The shrimp and polenta dish was the most labor-intensive of the recipes I tried. Polenta is time-consuming on the stovetop, so the Anyday magic here is making it in 20 minutes in the microwave with minimal stirring. With any new recipe or piece of cookware, there is a learning curve. Depending on your microwave wattage and the grind of polenta, you may need to adjust the water to grain ratio, even midway through cooking.
In general, I found that grains cooked in the Anyday dishes were on the thick and chewy side. The polenta was far thicker than it should have been, holding together instead of mixing with the other ingredients. I think the water evaporates quicker in the microwave than when you simmer it on the stovetop, so the grains absorb less of it.
For dessert, I tried my hand at a microwave souffle.
Souffles are tricky, so a successful microwave recipe would be a dinner party game-changer. The Anyday recipe is similar to the standard in terms of ingredients and preparation. In fact, the main problem I had with this recipe was judging when the souffle was cooked.
A souffle is done when the top looks dry and it has risen to the top of the dish — with the Anyday dish's frosted sides, I couldn't easily see if the souffle had risen enough. And as a short person using an over-the-range microwave, I had to take the dish out to look at the top, losing precious moments as a souffle falls immediately after cooking. As a result of this, I overcooked the souffle, but it still tasted delicious.
After cooking with the dish set for an entire day, the lack of side handles was a big problem.
While cooking, the bowls get very hot to the touch. A pair of oven mitts or a dish towel is enough to protect your hands, but I ran into another problem. With an over-the-range microwave, transporting full dishes in and out is tricky enough — without handles, it was precarious to move the steaming hot Anyday dishes.
Cooking with the Anyday dishes expanded my range of microwave recipes, but I'm not throwing out my pots and pans.
The tight-fitting lids and steam vents set the Anyday dishes apart from other microwave-safe bowls. You can purchase dishes individually or in a few different sets. I recommend the Everyday Set, which includes deep and shallow large and medium dishes. For most people and most Anyday recipes, that's all you need.
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