Your Microwave Might Just Be Smarter Than You Are

You don't need an elaborate microwave to master cooking with this misunderstood kitchen appliance. Sure, we love our microwaves for speedily reheating coffee and quickly transforming frozen dinners into actual meals, but have you ever really considered utilizing the settings to really cook with this "oven"?

Click here for the 10 Things you Didn't Know you Could Make in the Microwave slideshow.

Most look down on the microwave, but the reality is that a microwave can cook food — real food — and do it well. On the right setting, this one device can act as a steamer, dehydrator, fryer, and oven.

Even food authorities like Mark Bittman have seen the light when it comes to sophisticated microwave cooking. He reveled in the superior taste and texture of an eggplant dish cooked in the microwave, calling it "mind-blowingly good."

The Modernist Cuisine cookbook attracted attention with its molecular gastronomy techniques and steep price tag. The Modernist Cuisine at Home cookbook, the slightly dialed-down version of the original edition, celebrates microwave cooking techniques. The six-volume book's microwave chapter proves microwaves are exceptionally good appliances for cooking, not just reheating.

To turn your microwave oven into a simple dehydrator, lower the power settings to 500 watts or less. This will gently draw the water out of whatever it is you want to dehydrate. Crank the settings up to somewhere between 500 and 800 watts to fry or steam. You can even fry potato chips in your microwave. Finally, the highest setting is best for quick heating — to boil water for coffee or tea, for example.

Remember, you need to calculate the wattage based upon the power of your microwave. So check the sticker on the inside of the door to find out the maximum wattage of your microwave.

If you are curious about more foods to cook in your microwave, check out these 10 things you didn't know you could make in the microwave.

Angela Carlos is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Find her on Twitter or tweet @angelaccarlos.