STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
All right, last week on this program, we heard several stories about breakfast - programming for ourselves I suppose. We heard how cereal-makers are in some trouble because many people do not think they have time in their mornings to prepare a bowl of cereal, which led David to tell us about your breakfast.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
I did because each morning when you and I are here getting ready for the show, I find four minutes or so to make egg whites and cheese. It's kind of like a mini-omelette in a mug.
INSKEEP: In a mug, which if I recall is your area of expertise.
GREENE: One of them.
GREENE: I hope one of them...
GREENE: ...Sort of. I was already doing this with eggs, and then last February, we brought The Washington Post food editor, Joe Yonan into the studio for a deep dive in microwave mug cooking. We though Labor Day might be a good time to air this piece again. We kind of call it an ode to low-labor cooking.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)
GREENE: So, Joe, thanks for coming by and doing this with us.
JOE YONAN: Sure.
GREENE: Can I tell you how - like, why we called you here - how this all got started?
YONAN: (Laughter) Yes, I'm curious.
GREENE: OK, it's a little embarrassing. So I've been making scrambled eggs in a mug in the morning. I get here really early. It's like the middle of the night, and I just wanted some eggs. And one of our colleagues said, you know, you can scramble eggs in the microwave. And I've been enamored by this. So I just literally - I'm cracking it on our conference table, put it in a mug. And then I add a little bit of shredded cheese, a little bit of milk, and I kind of whip it up. I just pop it in the microwave.
YONAN: All right.
GREENE: And so I'm yanking this thing out, I mean, check it out.
YONAN: Oh, my god. Oh, wow.
GREENE: Joe, just describe that to - for...
YONAN: Oh, wow. OK, it like totally puffed up, and it looks absolutely beautiful.
GREENE: Is this the first time you've seen this?
YONAN: Actually, it is.
GREENE: See that? It's like a cupcake.
YONAN: Like a little egg souffle.
GREENE: Egg souffle. You want a taste?
YONAN: Yeah, I do. It's really, really, really hot.
YONAN: OK, I'm going to do this carefully 'cause it's nuclear. You know, it's not bad.
GREENE: Not bad.
YONAN: Not bad.
GREENE: So nuclear? Do things get dangerously hot in a microwave?
YONAN: They do, they...
YONAN: ...Get really, really hot because it's more than just getting heat from the surface that they're in contact with, like a pan, like they would on the stove. They're heating from the inside out basically. Like, all their molecules are all excited, and the whole thing is kind of exploding inside. So you have to be careful, too. I mean, it's a good thing you used a big mug 'cause I think if you did a small mug, I could imagine some accidents happening, foaming over the top, that kind of thing.
GREENE: We don't want that. All right, so you brought us some suggestions because we wanted to expand our menu of office cooking.
YONAN: You know, I was thinking about this mug thing. The mug gauntlet was laid down in front of me.
YONAN: And so I picked it up and decided to do a mac and cheese.
GREENE: Oh, cool. This is going to be lunch for me for the next, like, three weeks.
GREENE: That's awesome.
YONAN: Yeah, yeah. So, with the mac and cheese - it's a half a cup of dry macaroni pasta.
GREENE: You're just pouring them in the mug there.
YONAN: Just getting it right in the mug.
YONAN: And equal amounts water, you know, and then we're going to nuke that.
YONAN: I don't know if we can see in here, but it's boiling over a little bit. Yeah.
GREENE: You going to ruin our microwave, Joe?
YONAN: But it's OK. No, no, no. Worse things have happened in this microwave I..
GREENE: (Laughter) You can tell sort of?
YONAN: Yes, I would guess. So now I'm going just to add a little stuff to make a little sauce - basically a few tablespoons of milk.
GREENE: Pouring in some milk, all right.
YONAN: Got a quarter cup of grated sharp cheddar cheese.
YONAN: And we've got dried mushrooms. So you just take a couple of the stems and you just crumble them up.
GREENE: What else are you putting in here?
YONAN: That's a little - a couple tablespoons of salsa. And now - and I know this sounds kind of crazy - but I've got a teaspoon of flour.
YONAN: And the reason that I think that you have flour in your office pantry is because you're also going to make the brownie in a mug that's happening after this. And that also calls for flour.
GREENE: Nice. Versatile.
YONAN: So this I would say, maybe let's try 30 seconds and see.
GREENE: OK. So is this healthier than, like, the boxes of macaroni and cheese that you buy at the grocery store with the powder cheese?
YONAN: Oh, yeah because who knows what - I haven't looked at that label in quite a while, but I bet you there's stuff on there that you wouldn't recognize.
GREENE: That powdered cheese can't be good
YONAN: Right, right.
GREENE: OK, and this is the real stuff.
YONAN: This is, like, cheese.
GREENE: Oh. We've got macaroni and cheese here. Wow, look at that.
YONAN: See now this is - it's actually kind of gorgeous.
GREENE: It's kind of gorgeous. Can I take a taste?
GREENE: Oh, wow. That's really good.
YONAN: Yeah. When I was experiment with this, I had already eaten a big breakfast, and I was playing around with this. And I ate the whole thing. I was like, wow, this is pretty good.
GREENE: Not bad.
YONAN: So that's macaroni and cheese in a mug.
GREENE: And now dessert.
YONAN: All right, so for dessert.
GREENE: So we got another mug.
YONAN: So we got another mug. We're going to do a tablespoon of butter - this is (laughter) this - you're going to think I've gone off the rails again - this is a tablespoon of almond butter. And then a little vanilla and a little milk. This is going to go in to melt the butter. I think the key, as in a lot of cooking, look at it, see what's happening. So go for...
GREENE: If something is spilling...
GREENE: ...If something is exploding, if something is burning...
GREENE: ...Probably a bad thing.
YONAN: Probably a bad thing - stop.
YONAN: And then we're putting in a couple tablespoons of flour.
GREENE: Which we had from the mac and cheese recipe.
YONAN: Which we had from the mac and cheese recipe. A little sugar.
YONAN: This is the cocoa - unsweetened cocoa.
YONAN: And there's a little bit of instant espresso in there, too.
GREENE: That you ground up perfectly?
YONAN: No, it's instant. You can find it at Italian market - well, actually a lot of stores.
GREENE: You just through a little bit of that in there, too.
YONAN: And it kind of makes the chocolate even deeper. So I just stir it up with my fork. So we're going to do a minute. If you want another shortcut, another thing I'm realizing is you could do, like, a trail mix.
GREENE: That would add kind of a nutty...
YONAN: A little chewy in there.
GREENE: ...Nutty, chewy thing going on.
YONAN: And people tend to have that kind of stuff around.
YONAN: You know what you could do? You could take a granola bar and crush it up and put it in the bottom of the mug.
GREENE: And have a crust on the bottom?
YONAN: And you might be able to have a crust.
GREENE: (Laughter) I'm liking this.
YONAN: Yeah. All right.
>>GREENE. Do we have a brownie?
YONAN: I think we've got a brownie. I'm just going to put the...
YONAN: ...Almond slivers on top. You know, try that.
GREENE: OK. Oh, it's totally a brownie.
YONAN: It's like a fudgy brownie, not a cakey brownie.
GREENE: It's a fudgy brownie but it's a - yeah - I mean, it's - oh, my god, it's fantastic.
YONAN: It's pretty good, right?
GREENE: Yeah. That was just delicious. Seriously, if I ate this dessert in a restaurant, it would be one of those desserts where I would be sitting there, oh, it's so good.
YONAN: Right, it's chocolate.
GREENE: Joe, thank you for coming by.
GREENE: Microwave cooking with Joe Yonan. We really appreciate it.
YONAN: Oh, my god. I don't want a bad rap (laughter). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.