London kitchenware brand Joseph Joseph has developed a collection of containers for microwave cooking that can be used to prepare full meals rather than just heating up leftovers (+ slideshow).
The M-Cuisine collection is made entirely from injection-moulded polypropylene, allowing all items to be used in a microwave.
"The range is designed for cooking a wider range of everyday foods that you might not expect to cook in the microwave," said the brand's co-founders, brothers Richard and Antony Joseph. "But using the microwave's timing and exact temperature controls means you get excellent results."
The range includes a four-piece stacking cooking set, which enables users to heat multiple dishes simultaneously; a rice and grain cooker; a pasta cooker; an egg-poacher; an omelette bowl; and a "cool-touch" bowl and dish.
Joseph Joseph worked with design consultancy Youmeus to research problems with current microwave cooking.
They identified that while 80 per cent of households own a microwave, it is rarely used for anything beyond reheating leftovers or cooking ready-made meals. The research also suggested that the dishes used are often inappropriate, leading to spills, burns and the frustration of only being able to heat one dish at a time.
"Using a microwave is all about convenience, most of us use the microwave for everyday simple cooking tasks," said the pair. "We wanted to create a range of cooking products that went further and allowed you to prepare meals or cook a wider range of food types using the microwave."
"M-Cuisine is a collection of tools that aim improve these tasks by offering better ergonomics and combining multiple functions in each item," they added.
The Microwave 4-piece Stackable Cooking Set comprises a main cooking pot for rice, pasta or potatoes; a steamer basket for vegetables or fish; a griddle for bacon or asparagus; and a reversible lid that doubles up as a microwave plate.
The pieces can be used singly, or in combination to prepare a whole meal. Each has integrated handles to ensure safe removal from the microwave without the need for oven gloves.
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Staple carbohydrate foods are catered for with the Microwave Rice and Grain Cooker and All-in-one Microwave Pasta Cooker.
The former comprises a two-litre cooking pot and lid, colander, measuring cup and multi-purpose rice paddle that doubles up as both a lock and a carry handle.
The latter incorporates an integrated colander, a portion guide for spaghetti, a water-level indicator for efficient cooking and easy-carry edges. Both enable the user to simply add water and then cook, drain and serve straight from the microwave.
The designers claim the Microwave Egg Poacher provides the "authentic taste and texture" of poached eggs without the traditional "mess and mixed results" of using a pan. It includes an integrated egg cracker and colanders.
Finally, the Microwave Omelette Bowl combines a preparation bowl and cooking vessel, saving on washing up, while the Microwave Cool-Touch Bowl and Microwave Cool-Touch Dish have a double-walled construction to ensure the outside surface remains cool after heating.