Microwavery in Action
October 13, 2009
Oh, come on. You knew I was gonna do it.
So last night I made the infamous spinach-cheese souffle. In the microwave. MICROWAVED SOUFFLE. BECAUSE WHY NOT. Would you like to see how it turned out? In painstakingly over-documented, un-retouched, high-res detail? Yes? Then keep on clicking, baby.
The first thing to do, in the interest of historical accuracy, was to remove our fancy rotating turntable. I wanted the full, real experience of two-minute cooking intervals and constant 1/4-turning. This is like the culinary equivalent of visiting Historical Williamsburg.
The recipe explicitly calls for chopped frozen spinach, just so the very first step could involve defrosting the spinach. I mean, sure. You could buy and chop fresh spinach, but where's the microwaving fun in that? You don't even get to hit any buttons!
While the book says to microwave the spinach in its package, Jason insisted that I heed modern advancements and follow the directions on the bag, which call for a separate, covered container. Boo! This throws the validity of the entire experiment into question!
However, by this point I will say that I already learned something. My microwave does indeed have a special "defrost" setting* that helpfully beeps at you halfway through the cooking time so you remember to turn your food over, JUST LIKE IT INSTRUCTS YOU TO DO IN THE BOOK. OMG.
*I know. Duh. I'm sorry. I only ever hit the Add 30 Seconds button. It's so handy!
While the spinach is defrosting, go ahead and throw a lot of white crap in a casserole dish.
A half-teaspoon of dry mustard and an ENTIRE EIGHTH OF A TEASPOON of paprika (oh God, no more than that! be careful! you might actually almost taste it!) temporarily send this dish into LSD-levels of colorful, groovy craziness, but don't worry...
As soon as you stir it up they'll never know that you dared leave the realm of comfortable whiteness.
It's "success ingredient" time! The recipe calls for one 13-ounce can. Which...
Hmm. Okay. If anyone has any recipes that call for 11 ounces of evaporated milk, let me know.
It was very, very difficult to resist the urge to grab a whisk and go to town on this lumpy sucker, but the recipe explicitly says to stir. So I stirred. Then it was back into the 'wave to thicken.
Thicken, congeal, coagulate, whatever.
Adding the spinach and cheese made it look even better.
Six eggs, separated. I did not use our beautiful free-range organic farmers' market eggs for this, but instead made a special trip in my gas-guzzler to buy cheap, paper-shelled eggs from inhumanely-factory-farmed caged and diseased chickens.
I dunno, it just seems like 1977 would have wanted it that way.
Apologies for suddenly getting fancy and inaccessible on you here with the KitchenAid, but I don't actually own a hand mixer. Frankly, I'm a little disappointed that the book's author didn't find a way to stiffen egg whites in the microwave.
Because I bet she TOTALLY TRIED.
If you've ever wondered if the KitchenAid stand mixer is worth the price, look no further than these glorious egg whites. Perfection. Effortless, easy, almost...microwave-like. I admit I almost abandoned the souffle at this point to make a lemon meringue pie. But according to the recipe on page 237 I needed to first make a microwaved pastry shell (recipe on page 233) and it turned out that I didn't have nearly enough Crisco. (Which is to say: any at all.)
Now it's time to "pour" the spinach/cheese/success ingredient in with the beaten yolks.
Although I think "dig and hurl clumps of gravity-defying goo from one bowl to another" would be more accurate.
In Europe they call this Swamp Thing With Cheese.
God, enough of this actual baking horseshit. Back to the microwaving!
The cooking instructions say to "Microwave at Medium 20 to 23 minutes, rotating dish 1/4 turn every five minutes." I snapped this picture through the door, as I watched one edge rise and puff and then deflate, in sync with the microwave's...noise? Fan? Power level? Gamma ray? It almost looked like it was breathing, and I suddenly found myself rooting for the damned thing. Come on, little Swamp Thing! Rise! Riiiise! I believe in you! You are full of cheese! You have the deliciousness inside you, I swear!
Side note: Look at how much easier this was than stupid old "conventional" cooking! I'm totally getting rid of our stove like, tomorrow.
Five minutes in. It's alive!
Ten minutes in. It's a bundt!
15 minutes in. It's...in trouble.
20 minutes in. It's dead.
I think it was a goner after that very first door slam at the five minute mark. Or maybe sometime before then. Like back when I was defrosting the spinach. Or buying the spinach. Or thinking about buying the spinach.
WHY? WHY DO I EXIST? I AM A MONSTER.
Here. I saved you a slice.
It would make an excellent hockey puck, as well.
Jason, right after I told that yes, he did have to eat it. DO IT FOR SCIENCE, JASON.
He took one bite, put the plate down and walked away. He says he doesn't want to talk about it.
I don't know. I mean, it's DIFFERENT. If you've ever wondered what crunchy, carbonated eggs tasted like, you might want to give this a try. It manages to be both dry and slimy, both unbelievably bland and aggressively terrible, both texture-less and bizarrely, alarmingly fizzy. It's all that, AND MORE.
The recipe says NOTE: Center of souffle will remain creamy.
NOTE ON THAT NOTE: Center of souffle will not technically be "creamy" as we mere earthlings know it here in 2009, but instead is a texture so futuristic and outer-space-agey that the proper adjective doesn't even exist yet. It's like Jell-O made from eggs and a kitchen sponge! All wrapped up in a packing-peanut shell!
Microwaves, maaaan. Microwaves.
I AM IN UR MICROWAVE, NUKIN UR BRAAAAINZ.