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Cooking without an oven

What would you cook if you had no oven? Daughter is in a new apartment with a gas stove and microwave but no oven. How would that change your cooking habits?

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  1. I'd do more with my crock-pot and I'd take a serious second look at Barbara Kafka's The Microwave Gourmet, Julie Sahni's Moghul Microwave, and Jean Anderson's Micro Ways, all of which I own and vow to cook from when it gets really hot in summer, but never seem to.

    Also, I'd grill a lot (if she has access to one!)

    EDIT: P.S. also, I might get a toaster oven. Eric Ripert has a really cute blog called "Get Toasted"--cooking for 1 or 2 using a toaster oven. I haven't looked at it in awhile, but it seems to be gone. I'll look around.


    1 Reply
    1. re: The Dairy Queen

      Oh, here are Ripert's toaster oven recipes. Whew! I worried they were gone. http://blog.aveceric.com/category/get...


    2. I'd hope that my loving parents would give me a combination convection microwave; or I'd sigh and settle for a toaster oven ;-D

      1. I just visited Korea where ovens are miniscule because the cuisine is not frequently baked or roasted. So I would learn to cook stir-fries and pan cookings.

        1. Definitely get a toaster oven. I've been doing without a big oven for six years now (solo household) and while I can't make lasagna for four or more, roast whole poultry or make other big roasts, there's not much that can't be adapted to today's quite versatile toaster ovens.

          I also echo the use of crock pots as a substitute for oven-braising.

          1. another vote for the toaster oven (preferably with convection capability), and crock pot.

            i'd also suggest a good grill pan (or even a counter top grill if she has the space), and a Dutch oven for stove top braising.

            1 Reply
            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              another vote for this! I had a friend who lived in an apartment with a very similar set up-rented when she had zero interest in cooking. Over the time she lived there she caught the bug and taught her self to cook with a toaster/convection oven and was quite happy. Good luck to your daughter!

            2. I'd probably do more braises either stovetop or in the crock pot. I'd recommend a stove top grill to replace broiling. What will be hard is the inabilty to finish a pan seared dish in the oven, so she may need to buy or cut her proteins thinner and learn to cover the pan and lower the heat to finish stovetop. Adding a non-cream based sauce to help finish will do wonders, and cream or milk can always be added at the end.

              I'd recommend investigating one of the oven/broiler appliances, assuming she has room. They are large enough to put a quarter sheet pan or small roasting pan in. These are larger than convential toaster ovens and actually are designed to cook foods other than toast in a slightly larger quantity.

              I guess also, if I were a baker, this would be tough. Again, another reason to consider the oven/broiler appliance.

              1. A grill pan would be a nice gift from the parents.... she's got a gas stove so that should work out well. I second the stir fry idea.

                1. I guess it wouldn't all that much. I reserve the oven for baking or larger-scale cooking; during the week I mainly stir-fry or pan fry.

                  1. I would be at a total loss if you took my oven away! You can pseudo-bake stuff in the microwave but it isn't really the same... does she have room for an old-fashioned electric frypan or a toaster-oven? They sell cute little baking dishes sized to put in your toaster oven, so you can make mini-baked goods...

                    1. I second the toaster oven. I have one that's about the size of a microwave, has heating elements on the top and bottom, and a temperature/timer gauge.

                      I've made cookies and crackers, banana bread, lasagna and garlic bread, bread pudding, small terrines, baked chicken, broiled fish, small casseroles, foccacia and pizza, baked mushrooms and roasted red peppers, among other things.

                      Large items don't work very well, and neither do dishes that are sensitive to heat variations - no fancy cakes, or turkey.

                      For the stovetop, braising is good. Get a good heavy bottomed skillet with lid and you can do a lot of casserole type stuff in it. If you miss roast chicken, you can fry a spatchcocked small chicken in a big heavy bottomed skilled. I stick butter, garlic, thyme and lemon zest under the skin, weigh it down with a brick, add some white wine and cream to deglaze the pan. The skin is wonderful!

                      1. I have been dealing without a kitchen for the entire summer. I had only a microwave and a toaster - and corckpots if I wanted to try to use them but for me cleanup is such a difficult issue because we are so worried about washing kitchen items and ruining the bathroom sink plimbing that we are using for washing things. Only bathroom in the house so....

                        I have one working appliance in my new kitchen (no plumbing or countertop yet) - my new over the range microwave/convection oven. Since they have countertop models available I enthusiastically recommend getting a countertop model for your daughter. Make sure that is has two racks available for the most bang for your buck.

                        Can you get by without an oven - sure as long as you have some of the things we start to take for granted anymore like a counter and sink! The other thing that I might recommend is something that can be used for years later after this apartment is getting a roaster oven, possibly in addition to a toaster oven. Toaster ovens are great but you do have to use smaller pans. You can use a standard 9x13 in a roaster oven and store in a closet when not in use.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Allice98

                          Interesting thought about the microwave/ convection oven. Her rental unit has a microwave that has some metal wires/ racks in it and she doesn't know what to make of them. There are no instructions with the microwave so she hasn't figured out what it is or how to use it except only as a microwave. It's larger than my microwave oven. I'll have to ask her about the brand and see what we can figure out.

                          Thanks to all for the great suggestions. Alice, it sounds like you are almost camping in your house!

                          1. re: dimsumgirl

                            Well I am quite sick of in house camping let me tell you! But, we have scheduled for our countertop to be installed on the 28th and you can bet that I am counting down the days... I do unfortunately need electrical work done still, plumbing and to have appliances moved and hooked up. Rather tired of greeting my range at the bottom of my stairs each day instead in the kitchen where it is far more useful.

                            1. re: dimsumgirl

                              If it has convection the rear wall will have some sort of visible fan or housing, and there will be buttons/touchpad keys for combo and convection.

                          2. i survive quite nicely without a toaster oven or a microwave. i cook nearly everything for myself on the stove.

                            pan-sear, steam, poach, braise. a dutch oven is very helpful. i often will cook in batches and that's perfect since the daughter has a microwave.

                            1. My $.02 is not to forget the steamer. So many good breads, buns, and dumplings don't need an oven,. Lacking a microwave, I cook and reheat lots of goodies, both Asian and western, in my bamboo steamer above the wok.

                              1. to echo other sentiments, i'd make sure i had a good microwave (i do lots of "steaming" in here anyway, as well as cook TVP or soy grits or any other cereal), a toaster, a crock pot, and a George Foreman Grill.

                                can use pans on stove, at very low heat and covered, to do a quasi bake
                                focus on making stirfries, stews, soups...

                                dishes like ratatouille, bean and/or rice salads, grilled fish/meat/chicken, etc

                                1. I'm in a rush but did anyone mention pressure cooker? I realize there's a learning curve on them; I grew up with them so I'm not 'skeered' and the new ones are pretty safe. Love mine! Also, any chance she has access to a grill? Probably not, in an apartment, but sometimes they have them in the courtyard available to tenants. Lots of great responses here already, though.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Val

                                    Thanks, Val. The landlord does have two weber kettles in the yard. I love to bbq and we eat bbq food almost 3 nights a week but not sure my daughter would know how to do that. I think she is too intimidated to even consider cooking on a grill but the great recs offered by chowhounds are terrific. Thanks for your ideas.