Love dumplings but don’t have time to make them? Cannot eat a whole pot of them by yourself? Make one or two delicious instant dumplings in the microwave in three minutes flat.
Did you know that you can make one or two servings of dumplings almost effortlessly in a microwave omelette pan? These gadgets are everywhere, but I had wondered if anyone actually uses them any more. If yours is getting dusty on a shelf, this might be a brand new way to bring it back to life.
I love dumplings, but with just the two of us, we don’t need a big pot of them, and making a small batch always seemed like too much trouble. I’m quite a bit fonder of them than my husband is, too. He likes them once in a while, but not twice in the same month, whereas I could eat them day after day. Fortuitously, one day I had just a little bit of leftover chicken stew and decided to heat it up in one of those handy Nordic Ware Omelette Maker pans. I’ve tried cooking quite a few foods other than eggs in them because they are so handy in ensuring portion control and because the hinged lid is perfect for venting foods which need to release a bit of steam when cooking. They are the right size, stay relatively cool to the touch, clean up easily and do not splatter the inside of the oven. Just want to heat up one frozen tamale? Add a little broth and that is the pan to nuke it in.
Having put less than a cup of stew into the omelette maker, I decided to try pouring a little bit of instant biscuit dough over it, just to see what would happen. After cooking on high in the microwave for two minutes, I opened the lid and found that the dough had puffed up beautifully. We had two perfect servings of Impossible Pie ready to eat in an eyeblink. After that, I started using the omelette pan for other quick biscuit-topped entrees. Half a can of chili covered with corn bread became instant tamale pie. Everyone has heard of corned beef and cabbage, but I had never eaten cornbread and cabbage in the same dish before. But one day, on an odd impulse, I put these two ingredients together and quite by accident discovered how to make instant dumplings.
Although we are now retired, I still have the habit of preparing a whole week’s meals ahead at one time. So the next week, I was making scalloped potatoes in a slow cooker, layering potato slices, cheese, ham, and sprinkles of instant biscuit mix drowned in milk. Mmmmm. At the same time, I had started a pot of soup. While my cabbage, carrot, celery, and onions were simmering in chicken broth, I realized that there was just a little biscuit mix left over from my casserole. Looking in the cupboard, I also found a dab of leftover cornbread mix from the day before. Combining the two dry mixes with enough milk to make a runny batter, I poured this concoction over a little bit of my broth-based vegetable soup, folded the hinged cooker in half, and stuck it in the oven. Before the pasta salad noodles had finished draining, there as a “ding” and what do you know?
Beautifully steamed dumplings, straight from the microwave oven! The onions and celery were diced small and the cabbage sliced thin, but I left the baby carrots whole. In addition to chicken stock, this soup was flavored with fresh grated black pepper. It looked good enough, but how would this taste? Well, to my view, the combination was perfect. The vegetables were colorful, but buttery soft and the dumplings tasted exactly like the ones we used to steam in a big pot back on the farm. The only difference was that a bit of yellow cornbread mix gave this microwaved meal an especially attractive appearance and a hearty taste without overpowering the dish or making it too dense. The dumplings were fluffy, but moist.
When I left the kitchen that day, I had quite a bit to show for it. Beautiful scalloped potatoes, pasta salad, a huge pot of soup, and a brand new recipe inspired by nothing more than a few scraps of leftover food and creative use of a versatile but once forgotten kitchen gadget. To tell you the truth, I still always make my eggs in a skillet, but whenever I want to whip out a hearty meal for two with savory filling under quick-bread topping, the microwave omelette pan is my tool of choice. How else could I put a comfort meal with farm fresh taste together from the idea stage to the table in less than three minutes?
Published in: Cooking