The Well-Filled Microwave Cookbook


Recipes: Red Bell Pepper Spread, Portuguese Shrimp and Gremolata

microwave cookbook

Microwave ovens are in over 90% of American kitchens but more often than not are relegated to the role of reheater, defroster, popcorn maker. Its potential as a creative culinary tool is overlooked and misunderstood. All that is about to change. Thanks to The Well-Filled Microwave ($14.95, trade paper; June 1996), microwave cooking has finally come of age.

Authors Victoria Wise and Susanna Hoffman, alumnae of Chez Panisse, have honed their combined expertise and understanding of the microwave medium to produce a cookbook that is user friendly and ushers microwave cooking into new realms. After 3 years of exploring the potentials and possibilities of microwave cooking, they have created 350 innovative and flavorful recipes that take full advantage of the "magic box."

"We started this book as a challenge," says Victoria Wise. "Could the microwave turn out food to meet our standards as professional chefs? We fell in love, not merely with the microwave's ease and versatility, but with the utterly splendid dishes you can make in it. We now rely on our microwaves as the best cooking help we have ever found."

Microwave technology has improved since its inception and the first wave of cookbooks on the subject. In The Well-Filled Microwave, the authors offer up a full spectrum of made-from-scratch recipes. Perfectly cooked fish. Creamy no-stir risotto. Crunchy pickles and relishes in a twinkling; chewy, intensely flavored dried fruit in a flash; soups with unexpected depth of flavor. Hasty puddings and delectable candies.

Victoria Wise and Susanna Hoffman explain which foods work in the microwave and which don't. They demonstrate how certain flavors are actually enhanced by microwave cooking and give you tips on how to avoid disappointment.

Contrary to popular belief, the real advantage of microwave cooking is not necessarily in how fast it cooks but in how recipes can be made with less mess, fewer pots and pans, and less cleanup. With the proper recipes, microwave cooking can actually give you the freedom to create dishes that might have previously seemed daunting. It can be a fabulous, flexible kitchen tool that can turn out small amounts to accommodate a single person or larger amounts to feed a family.

Micromunchibles (finger foods), dazzling hors d'oeuvres, and sumptuous snacks can be made in a flash. Asian-Style Chicken Wings. Warm Brie with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds and Pine Nuts. And, of course, Nachos. And, pickling and canning, relishes and condiments, which once required hours of boiling and toiling, mess and bother, can be done in only moments. You can whip up Kumquat-Red Chili Relish or satisfy a single Bread and Butter Pickle craving.

The Well-Filled Microwave tempts you to discover the joys of making and giving homemade candy. Fabulous Maple Walnut Fudge, Chocolate Coconut Caramels and scrumptious Butter Rum Toffee are now a breeze. And with microwave cooking, the heat of the kitchen need not hamper summer cooking. Corn on the cob without the caldron of boiling water. An effortless array of fresh vegetables, delectable sauces and refreshing dips. Summer Squash and Sweet Pea Ragout. Tangy Tomato Salsa. You can even use the microwave as a prep kitchen for the grill to speed up cooking time.

The new microwave revolution is just beginning and The Well-Filled Microwave is here to lead the way.

About The Authors

Victoria Wise who opened Pig by the Tail, the first classic French delicatessen in the United States, is the author of American Charcuterie: Recipes from Pig by the Tail and The Vegetarian Table: Mexico. Susanna Hoffman is a cook and working anthropologist, as well as author of The Classified Man. Wise and Hoffman met while working at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, where Wise was the restaurant's first chef. They later co-founded the Good & Plenty Cafe in Oakland, California, and coauthored Good & Plenty; New American Cooking and The Well-Filled Tortilla. Victoria Wise lives in Oakland, California. Susanna Hoffman divides her time between New York City and Telluride, Colorado.


Red Bell Pepper Spread

red bell pepper

We first devised this puréed red pepper concoction as a sauce for roast meats and light pasta dishes, but it was so tasty that those we served it to wanted it by the spoonful. So why not?

  • Total Cooking Time: 18 minutes
  • Standing Time: 5 minutes
  • Makes 1-1/2 cups
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 3 medium (1 pound) red bell peppers
  • 4 medium cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


Place the pine nuts on a plate and microwave, uncovered, on HIGH for 3 minutes or until lightly toasted. Set aside to cool.

Place the peppers in a dish large enough to hold them without touching each other. Cover and microwave on HIGH for 15 minutes, or until the skins loosen. Remove and let stand at least 5 minutes. Longer is OK. Peel off the skins, then remove the stems and seeds.

purée the peppers with the nuts, garlic, cheese, oil, and salt in a food processor. Use right away, refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze.


Portuguese Shrimp

In a microwave, shrimp plump to opalescent succulence, never growing hard or tough.

  • Total Cooking Time: 16 minutes
  • Standing Time: None
  • Serves 4
  • 6 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 3 medium (3/4 pound) tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves or teaspoon dried
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white vermouth or dry white wine
  • 1-3/4 pounds large or jumbo shrimp, deveined with shells left on
  • 1/2 cup Gremolata (recipe follows)


Mix together the garlic, tomatoes, thyme, salt, mustard, oil, and vermouth in a dish large enough to hold the shrimp in 1 heaping layer. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH for 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes soften.

Add the shrimp, toss to mix, and microwave, uncovered, on HIGH for 4 minutes. Stir and continue to microwave, uncovered, on HIGH for 2 minutes more, or until the shrimp turn pink and firm. Sprinkle the Gremolata over the top and serve right away.



  • Total Cooking Time: None
  • Standing Time: None
  • Makes 1/2 cup
  • Zest of 2 medium lemons
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 3 large cloves garlic

Fine chop the zest, parsley, and garlic with a chef's knife or in a food processor. Use right away or soon.


Recipes from:
The Well-Filled Microwave Cookbook
by Victoria Wise and Susanna Hoffman
Publication date: June, 1996
$14.95, trade paper; 435 pages
ISBN: 1-56305-177-X
Reprinted with permission

This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.

Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.

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This page modified February 2007

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