I’ll be fair: This is a really beautifully done cookbook. It’s a very comprehensive guide to microwave cookery, with excellent instructions on appropriate cookware, techniques and food safety. The photographs are stunning: colorful, clear, detailed, and perfectly set up to show exactly what the reader needs to see rather than to simply present an artistic or emotionally appealing view of the food. The book dates from 1990, which means the information is current and useful. The type is clear and easy to read. The variety of recipes presented is dazzling.
It’s the recipe I chose, not the book. Ham loaf is already an unappealing foodstuff in my view; I’m not big on meat loaves in general. (My mother’s meatloaf was reputed to be excellent, far above the usual standard of the dish; I could never bring myself to like it.) Nor am I particularly crazy about ham. When I do eat meat (which is less and less these days), I like to see browning. Microwaves are not ideal for browning (though the book does offer a lot of techniques for coming as close as possible), nor does a smoked ham mixture seem likely to brown, even with a little bit of veal in it.
See, pink before cooking.
After cooking: pink.
Serving size: pink.
So what we get is a pink meat slab, speckled with olives and pimientos and green onions. Um, yay? Sorry, doesn’t do much for me. You go to town, though.
Also, in our apartment, we can’t use the microwave and the air conditioner at the same time without knocking out a circuit breaker. So I lack enthusiasm for microwave-only meals. Readers whose homes have better wiring may have a different perspective.
229 calories per serving. Good source of thiamine, niacin, vitamin C, iron. Begin 55 minutes ahead.
Ingredients for 8 servings
1 ½ pounds fully cooked smoked ham
½ pound ground veal
2 green onions, sliced
1 ½ cups fresh bread crumbs (3 slices)
1 cup tomato juice
¼ cup diced pimientos
5 pitted ripe olives, sliced
2 tablespoons dry mustard
2 tablespoons steak sauce
1 ½ teaspoons celery salt
Lemon slices and parsley sprigs for garnish
8-cup ring mold or Bundt pan
1. With sharp knife, cut ham into chunks. Place chunks in food processor with knife blade attached or in meat grinder; finely chop.
2. In large bowl, combine chopped ham and veal. To meat, add green onions and remaining ingredients except garnish. Stir until well combined.
3. With spoon, firmly press mixture into ring mold or Bundt pan; smooth top with back of spoon.
4. Cook loaf, covered loosely with waxed paper, on High (100% power) 5 minutes. Rotate pan. Reduce power level to Medium-Low (30% power) and cook, covered, 15 to 18 minutes longer, until a meat thermometer inserted in center of loaf mixture reaches 150 degrees F.
5. Uncover; rotate pan. Increase power level to High and cook 5 minutes more. On heat-safe surface, let loaf stand, covered loosely with foil, 10 to 15 minutes.
6. To serve: Invert loaf onto warmed serving platter. Garnish with lemon and parsley sprigs.
From The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Microwave Cookbook. New York: Hearst Books, 1990.