Saturday, June 25, 2011

KITCHEN TOOLS - Waxed Paper

Waxing poetic in the kitchen
Pardon me if I wax poetic,
though my rhyme might be pathetic...
but if I may I'd like to sing
the praises of a simple thing-
a boon to many a cooking caper....
known throughout as plain waxed paper.

That's a wrap!

It most certainly is!  But seriously folks, waxed paper....which has been around for quite some time, is still as handy as ever. Even more so since the microwave became part of our kitchen's persona!

The invention of wax paper is often credited to Thomas Edison, although according to Wikipedia there are others who could possibly make that claim.  Before 1927, wax paper was sold in pre-cut sheets. Nicholas Marcalus then came up with the idea of putting wax paper on a roll in a box with a built-in cutter.


Waxed paper has been used since its inception to wrap everything from sandwiches to paintbrushes. With such versatility, is there anything this miracle product can't do?


Well, yes.

Wax paper should not be used to wrap or cover dishes in the oven. It'll smoke and catch fire. However, it can be used to line the bottom of baking pans and such, so long as the batter completely covers the paper liner.

Do not line a cookie sheet with the stuff, either.  Unlike parchment, waxed paper will go up in smoke if ANY of it is exposed directly to the oven's heat.  Believe me, your smoke alarm will thank you for taking this advice.

Waxed paper is not recyclable.  Period.  No ifs ands or buts about it.

But its uses far outweigh its limitations.


In the microwave, wax paper can be used to prevent splatters.  Because the paper is mostly unaffected by microwaves, it will not heat to the point of combustion under normal usage. This makes wax paper more functional than plastic wrap which will melt at higher temperatures, or aluminium foil which is not safe for most microwave ovens.

It can also be used in actual microwave cooking....much like one might use aluminum foil in a conventional oven.  Have you tried nuking a hotdog only to have it turn into a hardened stick?  Try the following trick and your franks will be, frankly, moist and yummy.

Hot Dogs a la Waxed Paper
1) Cut a fair sized piece of waxed paper and lay it flat on your counter top or table. Place two hot dogs on it spaced about an inch or so apart. (I've spaced these a little further apart for visual purposes)
  
Roll-folding the franks



 2) Fold the paper over the franks; tuck the paper in under each...make sure to leave space between them.  In a sense you will have "rolled" two tubes, one around each dog.  There will be extra bits of waxed paper on each end.  These are very important, as will be seen in the next step.

 
Fold ends in toward hot dogs
3) Take one of the paper ends and roll it in toward the hot dogs....fold it flat,
then do the same to the opposite side.



4) Tuck the ends in toward the middle, creating a sealed end.
Creating sealed end.

The end game




Do the same to the other side. Make sure you press firmly to insure everything stays put during cooking....the microwave has a tendency to make waxed paper try to open or unfold.



Waxed paper hot dog cooker
5) Your results should look something like this picture.  You'll probably have a little less space between the hotdogs, again I kept them spaced further apart for visual purposes.

Then it's just a matter of putting the packet into the microwave, cook on high for 30 seconds the flip it and cook for an additional 30 seconds
If you like your franks well done, you can cook each side a bit longer.
But keep an eye on them!  These puppies have been known to pop, even explode if left to cook for too long!

When it comes to waxed paper, this humble example is just the tip of the iceberg. The best way to find out what works is to use it.

Let me know your discoveries!