Toaster Oven Struggles

Chatteris' own Deveney Manuel tells us about some of her innovative toaster oven creations guaranteed to inspire your inner chef...
Image result for toaster oven photo
When I arrived in Hong Kong about six months ago, I had already made up my mind that I wanted to cook for myself. I knew how to make the basics like pasta but I decided to experiment a little…

The first two weeks started off with lots of instant noodle meals. Afterwards, I made a vow that I wouldn’t be eating them ever again…that was the biggest lie I told myself. After moving into my apartment, the first few groceries I bought included, unsurprisingly, instant noodles. Easy to make and they come in different flavours, why not?  

After more weeks of instant noodling, I decided I had to change my lazy ways. Hong Kong kitchens do not usually contain ovens because they are really expensive but luckily, Chatteris loans each CNET household a toaster oven, induction stove (like a little hob), a kettle and an iron. Despite being very grateful, I still had several obstacles to overcome - how would I be able to make healthy food in a toaster oven?      

My new grocery list included pasta, brown rice, chicken and some veggies. I am quite picky when it comes to food and to be honest, I do not find Hong Kong cuisine that amazing, mainly because South African food is filled with loads of flavour and colours and my taste buds were used to that. However, don’t think that HK cuisine is bland or boring- fried rice, fish balls and BBQ pork buns are my favourite! As I wanted something that reminded me of home, my first package from my parents contained nothing but spices and sauces and at last my kitchen supplies were up to standard!

Before I share some of my tried and tested toaster oven recipes, here are a few tips:
* Preheat the oven for 5 or 10 minutes - since it takes forever to cook anything in the oven I always preheat it.
* Pinterest is your new best friend.  
* Be patient, good toaster oven meals can take time!

Here are four of my favourite recipes to get you through your CNET toaster oven struggles.

Roasted Eggplant
I like roasting veggies in the oven. It takes a while to bake but it’s worth the wait. My favourite is eggplant… I take the eggplant, slice it up, dip it into flour, egg and then coat it with bread crumbs and parmesan cheese and bake it for 30 minutes. Make sure you cover it with foil as food can burn easily in the oven.

Quiche Cupcakes
I also love making quiche and I usually add whatever I have available to it. This isn’t exactly a quiche but more like a quiche muffin or quiche cupcake. Mix two eggs, a pinch of salt, 1 cup of milk, 3 heaped tablespoons of self-rising flour and one teaspoon of mustard. Add anything you have – I usually add bacon and mushrooms. Mix it all together thoroughly and place in muffin tins or whatever you have available to bake it in. Bake for 45 minutes.   

Above: Quiche Cupcakes in all their glory (with peppers, mushrooms and bacon).

‘Traditional’ Pizza
For years my family and I came together on a Friday and made our own pizza. It’s always fun and filling and I guess I had to stick with tradition right? I make my own pizza dough with a cup of plain flour, a pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon olive oil (or any oil) and a 1/4 cup of warm water. Mix the dry ingredients, make a well in the middle, add the water, mix and lastly, add the oil. Knead for a few seconds and form a ball. The dough should be soft and smooth. Divide them into two small balls and roll out (I just use a water bottle that I cleaned first – I don’t feel like buying a roller). Finally,
add your toppings of choice and bake for 10- 15 minutes. Voila.  

Above: 'Traditional' Pizza with a rolls.

Lazy Bread
Last but not least is the recipe that I use to make bread using only a cup of self-rising flour, a can of cold beer and a pinch of salt. Add about 1/4 of the beer to the flour and salt. Mix together and bake for about 40 minutes. The best part is, the rest of the beer you can drink whilst giving yourself a pat on the back for surviving life in Hong Kong without an oven.

Above: Flatbread with caramelised  onions (may have eaten some before I sliced it).

I hope some of these recipes come in handy and watch this space for a CNET make – your – own – healthy – food cookbook.  


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