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Oh, horror! No oven and tiny kitchen!

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

As some of you may know I was about to move into a new furnished rental and I was expecting there to be an oven and a decent surface for cooking but there is none! Just a sink, barely enough space to let dishes dry and right next to it the induction cooker with the cupboard and microwave right above it. I had to add a small table next to it so that I could have a surface to cook but it is still very small. However with a small budget per month (I'm an art student) and no oven I feel strangely uninspired... 

 

Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks! :)

post #2 of 15

Wow. No oven!  If you don't need to bake, a toaster oven works for roasting and broiling small roasts and chicken parts.  Other than that I got nothing.

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Well I don't have one of those but most recipes in my cookbooks involve an oven, I'm looking for some idea of things that I can cook for my girlfriend and myself. Nothing too simple but nothing too expensive either. Oh, and she is allergic to fish and seafruit.

 

My budget is modest being a student but I don't want to be like everyone else and just make pasta with cheese... I'm looking for more exiting things to cook.

 

Steak isn't really an option by the way, meat is extremely expensive here in Paris at about 15 euros a piece.

post #4 of 15

I've been cooking without an oven and with only 2 burners for a while. It's not that difficult, just pretend you are on a camping trip :)

Soups, stew and stir fries only need 1 burner, the other one is free for any form of starch.

Rice stays warm forever if you wrap the pot in a towel after cooking, so in that case you put it out of the way and have space again.

Toasted sandwiches you can make in a frying pan, either with or without lid.

 

But how about you go find a second hand shop or go to one of the hypermarche's and you probably find yourself a small stand alone oven for not too much money. A decent moulinex oven was costing around 70 Euro in Holland in February and it shouldn't be more than that in France (and when you move you take it with, it always comes in handy).

Good luck!

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

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Life is too short to drink bad wine
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post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

Well I lack space for any additional equipment!

 

What are some romantic french or italian things I can cook without an oven? :)

post #6 of 15

Saltimbocca!

It's my favourite Italian dish. You might have to replace the veal with chicken to cut the cost though.

 

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

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Life is too short to drink bad wine
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post #7 of 15

I'd recommend you learn how to braise. That will open a whole range of possibilities, from plebian stews to fancy dishes like osso buco. Most of them will fall in the middle of that range, and will be affordible. Something like coq au vin is relatively inexpensive, for example, and yet impresses.

 

Best of all, from your point of view, braising will require no additional equipment. Just a heavy pot with a good cover.

 

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 15

Coq au vin was a great suggestion. Pot au feu is good too. Navarin d'agneau. Fricassee de volaille. Couscous. Tagine. Chili. Poulet vallee d'auge. Poulet saute chasseur. Poulet basquaise. Poularde demi deuil. Blanquette de veau. I could go on and on and on... let me know if you want more ideas or recipes for those ideas. 

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you gentlemen! So how do I braise? :D

 

If you have a list of recipes I can look up in my books that would be really helpful:

 

Mastering the Art of French Cooking VOL I & II by Julia Child

 

Essentials of Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan

post #10 of 15

Although there are nuances, at base braising is merely cooking low and slow in a lot of liquid. Very similar to stewing, in fact.

 

Have you ever done a pot roast? Essentially, that's braising.

 

As a rule, you first brown the protein. Remove it and brown any veggies you're using (usually, but not always, aromatics like carrots, onions, celery, and garlic). Return the meat to the pot, on top of the vegetables. Then add liquid, coming 2/3 to 3/4 the height of the meat. Cover tightly and cook over low heat until done---which, depending on the protein, can be several hours.

 

Many people braise in an oven on very low heat. Obviously, that won't work for you.

 

I'm a little concerned about your comments than most of your cookbook recipes involve an oven. Given the diversity of cooking techniques that only use a cooktop burner, I' surprised to hear that. Perhaps you've not reading them carefully enough? Or you need to find a cookbook that deals more with techniques than with recipes?

 

Among the many techniques you can try which do not require an oven or other equipment you don't have:

 

Moist heat: Braising, stewing, poaching, steaming, simmering, boiling.

Frying: Sauteeing, pan frying, deep frying, stir frying

 

And, of course, combinations of them.

 

With just the one burner, you'll want to explore the world of one-pot cooking. But you're not confined to it. Just plan out the stages so you never need more than the one burner at a time. And keep in mind that the microwave, because of it's insulation, can serve as a make-shift warming oven.

 

For instance, say you want to make gnocci in a brown-butter/sage sauce. First cook the gnocci (boiling). Drain them, transfer to a bowl, and put the bowl in the microwave. Then make the sauce, transfer the gnocci (they should still be on the warm side) to the skillet, and gently reheat them. Same thing would apply to anything that calls for a pan sauce.

 

Give some thought to how you can maximize the space and equipment you have. As Butzy points out, starches tend to stay warm a long time when properly insulated. But you can use non-cook ingredients to advantage as well. F'rinstance, instead of rice, which requires a burner, consider cous cous (which doesn't) instead.

 

 

 

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you!

 

Yes of course there are other recipes but most seem to require expensive ingredients. For example I would love to do some Boeuf Bourgignon but well it would probably cost a fortune to make. I don't have a big enough saucepan anyway.

 

Oh no, I just realised, you need an oven for boeuf bourgignon... :(

post #12 of 15

did someone mention crockpot? you can do many, many, many wonderful things in a crockpot...whole chickens, chicken cacciatore, coq au vin, stews/tagines/chiles, curries... ecetera, ecetera, ecetera!!! oh, also a small panini press...

joey

food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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food is like love...it should be entered into with abandon or not at all        Harriet Van Horne

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post #13 of 15

You don't need an oven for boef bourgignon!

Just make it on top of the stove. I always do.

Second thing is that you can use the less expensive cuts of beef to make it. It's a meat dish, so it will be expensive, but not over the top.

 

Almost all stews, braises etc can be made either in the oven (after initial browning) or on the stove. just make sure you got a heavy based pot with a tight fitting lid and put the heat on low.

I think a lot of recipes use the oven for convenience. It frees up the stove and the cooking just continues .....

 

 

Life is too short to drink bad wine
---Anonymus---

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post #14 of 15

I agree with Butzy 100%! Dishes are often finished in the oven merely for convenience sake, or because "that's the way it's always been done." Such is the case with boef bourginon, coq au vin, and numerous others.

 

What you have to do is, case by case, ask yourself why something is being done. In the case of roasting, where you surround the food with dry heat, yeah. An oven is needed. But when it's a moist-heat application, such as braising and stewing, the point is controllable low heat. And you can do that on top of the range just as easily as in the oven.

 

One benefit of low-and-slow cooking is that you can use the cheaper cuts of meat, because there's time for the connective tissue to break down. 

 

 I don't have a big enough saucepan anyway.

 

Well, first of all, any of those recipes can be reduced.

 

But, confined as you are by equipment and budget constraints, I would get a larger, heavy pot with a tight fitting cover (cast iron is best if you can addord it). Several reasons for this: It's the right tool for the job, given your circumstances, as it will broaden the selection of things you can prepare. Plus, stews and braises and soups all taste better when they sit for awhile. So, by making a large amount, and freezing the balance, you get multiple meals with the same effort.

 

Keep in mind, too, that most braises and stews easily serve as the basis for other dishes, such as soups and hashes. So it's not like the surplus will go to waste.

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #15 of 15

I don't envy you, but as per the suggestions above, it is manageable.

 

Rice and potatoes, other root veg can be cooked on your burner, then wrapped in a towel, lid on, keep off to one side.

Then cook your meat, add in herbs & spices, anything you like, and Hey Presto! food to go.

 

Although it's not French, stir frying is great for a one pot meal.  Make your rice/noodles, put to one side and let cool a bit.  Chop up your choice of veg, say celery, carrots, cabbage, capsicum,chillies.  Put the toughest ones into some heated oil and cook till just done, and add the other veg.  Add rice / noodles back in to re-heat, maybe stir in a whole egg.  Meat can also go into this, just cut very thin into bite size pieces, cook before the rice and set to on side. Add the veg in, then the meat, then rice/noodles.

 

Use some soy and or oyster sauce to flavour it up.  If the gravy is a bit thin, add a touch of cornflour (cornstarch) with some cold water, stir, then add little by little until it's thick enough for your liking.  Cheap and tasty.  A good banged up second hand wok or a big enough fry pan will work really easily.

 

Another idea - eggs.  Scrambled, fried, omelette, etc.  Make your sauce, maybe mushrooms and onions, some tomatoes.  Cream if the budget allows and maybe some grated cheese..  Cover and keep warm - the eggs take next to no time.

Scrambled - serve eggs on toast and top with sauce.

Fried - again on toast, put eggs on toast and sauce to one side.

Omelette - fill it with sauce then fold into a roll, maybe a simple green salad on the side.

 

Pasta is much the same.  make sauce, keep warm, cook and drain pasta, toss into pot that pasta was cooked in.

 

Hope this helps :)

 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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