Microwave or toaster oven. Which appliance is the ultimate device for office cooking?
Here at Bright, where all questions are viewed as challenges, we put this perennial question to the test by hosting the RADIATION THROWDOWN, an Iron Chef-like competition between the microwave and the toaster oven. The tasty conclusion was that you can enjoy quite a gourmet meal with just your regular office kitchen appliances.
The rules: Each chef must prepare three courses, cooked in his or her respective appliance. I chose the toaster oven, and Anton, our resident Data Scientist/chef (who has done a stint at the Michelin-starred Coi Restaurant) took the microwave.
Course 1: Appetizers
Microwave: Mushroom risotto vs. Toaster Oven: Baked eggs with asparagus
Course 2: Main
Microwave: Sherry poached tilapia vs. Toaster Oven: Roast chicken and vegetables served with dijon creme fraiche
Course 3: Dessert
Microwave: Chocolate cake with strawberries vs. Toaster Oven: Strawberry crumble with lemon vanilla creme fraiche
The toaster oven edged out the microwave by a hair, as determined by our esteemed panel of judges, but the realization that you can create delicious, easy work-time lunches in your common microwave and toaster oven was by far the tastiest morsel.
Want to try out the recipes?
Toaster Oven Roast Chicken for One
2 chicken drumsticks
1 small leek
A couple of mushrooms
1 tablespoon of butter
Salt and pepper
- Preheat the toaster oven to 425F.
- Wash and chop your carrot and leek into 1/4 inch coins. Quarter your mushrooms. This step can be done ahead of time if you happen to remember the night before.
- Toss all vegetables with a pinch of salt, and spread onto a foil lined pan (for easy clean up). Dot the vegetables with half of your butter.
- Pat your chicken dry. Sprinkle with salt, and rub the remainder of your butter on the chicken. The butter won’t spread evenly, but do the best you can. Place chicken on top of veggies. Sprinkle everything with pepper.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Take this time to clean up, and finish some emails.
- Enjoy your tasty work time lunch as is or with a dollop of dijon creme fraiche. Make sure to eat in front of your coworkers for bonus fun.
… with Dijon Creme Fraiche
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
3 tsp Creme Fraiche
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Mix all ingredients together in a small bowl. Taste and adjust for seasoning or more creme fraiche as needed.
1 cup carnaroli rice
1 small shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2.5 cups chicken stock (low sodium)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp olive oil
- Heat the chicken stock. Set aside and keep warm.
- Add the shallots, garlic, and olive oil to a separate microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds at 1000W (or highest power setting).
- Add the rice to oil mixture. Mix evenly, making sure that all the rice granules are coated in oil
- Microwave the rice mixture for one minute at 1000W to “toast.” Note the nutty aroma of the rice after “toasting.”
- Pour in 2.25 cups of chicken stock over the rice, and microwave for 18 minutes at 300W (low power; try “2″ or “3″). This is the vital step to get correctly, as the low power will prevent the cell walls within the rice granules from breaking down and turning the rice into mush.
- If a softer rice is preferred, add the additional chicken stock, and cook for five more minutes at 300W.
- Add the butter and parmesan cheese, stir, and enjoy.