With many things in the world of food, wouldn’t it be nice to have more things that taste better while being healthier, and with alternatives to pre-heating the oven in order to shorten the cooking time (especially on evenings filled with extracurricular commutes)? Take that wish list, add in the necessity of multi-purpose and you have an appliance that is made for the modern kitchen… the steam convection oven (aka combi-steamer). These ovens typically offer three main modes of cooking; first, the standard convection will cook food quickly- the cooking temperatures may be as much as 25 degrees less, and be up 25% faster than a typical oven (depending on the make and model). Next, there is the steam setting. The cooking process of a steam oven provides healthier cooking options as no oil or fat is necessary and since steam is a natural, gentle cooking method, it preserves nutrients and taste, creating fresh and flavorful food without sacrificing taste. This is also a great way to reheat leftovers without the rubber like issues that a microwave can create. Then there is the steam and convection setting- this duel setting can be great for foods like turkey because it browns like the standard oven and then keeps the food from drying out by using the steam. This setting can really cut back the cook time for your next holiday meal. It takes to about 90 minutes for a 14-lb turkey! Lastly, some companies like Vikingeven offer a fourth cooking mode, that of a microwave. Talk about having convenience all in one place! Depending on the setting you are using, steam convection ovens typically do not need time to preheat, so already you are 30 minutes closer to eating your meal. While most ovens do require you to fill the unit with water, the machine will remind you before you start cooking and there are a few models that can be hooked up directly to your water supply. All of the ovens offer easy to use settings depending on what you are cooking, now once you press a button you can enjoy time with your family without jumping up in fear because you didn’t hear the timer go off. Most models use the steam to clean; this means no nasty oven cleaners- all you need to do is wipe it down. Wolf offers a convection steam oven with technology that can actually sense the amount, size, and shape of the food in the oven! Just select an automatic mode and place the food in the oven, and it will monitor the time, temperature, and environment. These different settings and options are the reason why combi-steamers are making their way to the top of the kitchen wish list according to our contact person at Clarke Distribution (the local Wolf and Sub Zero distributor). Thanks to the features of the steam convection oven you can brown any meat while keeping it moist; breads and baguettes come out with that nice crackly crust just like from a bakery and you can get some more time back in your day. According to Wolf, you can cook what used to seem impossible- “Company for breakfast? Place a dozen eggs in the oven, carton and all. Press a button. In minutes, you have hard-boiled eggs for table or refrigerator.”
If you talk to anyone who hasn’t seen a demonstration with induction cooking, they’ll probably tell you that “gas is the best, and any self-respecting culinary specialist wouldn’t use anything else”. However, the times are changing; and induction cooking is giving gas stove tops a run for their money. There are several great reasons you should consider adding an induction top to your next kitchen. You might be surprised but induction cooking is not that new, it was introduced to Americans during the 1933 World’s Fair, but it has only recently started making headway in the U.S. due to improved and efficient manufacturing methods. Induction has been used in Europe for decades by professionals and homeowners; and it is just now starting to really catch on over here because the technology is more available and through strong educational pushes to the kitchen and bath industry. Induction cooktops use a process of alternating electric currents that create a magnetic field, this directly heats a pot/pan without heating the cook-top surface.
The first benefit to induction cooktops is their efficiency. The average induction cook top is about 84% efficient (Wolf Induction ranges come in at an impressive 90-95% efficiency), and traditional electric cook tops run at about 74% efficiency… and even more interesting, gas runs from 55-60% efficient. Second, unlike a regular electric unit, induction cooktops provide a constant temperature and precise control- similar to gas units. Third, you can boil water in more than twice the speed as a high output gas appliance- and when the pasta is holding up dinner, and that will be a benefit that pays dividends.
Last but not least, induction cookers are the safest cooktops around. Not only is there no flame to worry about, but the nature of induction cooking renders the cooktop cool to the touch-it’s only the pot that gets hot. That is a far cry from the hot surface left behind on an electric top. Items made from aluminum, copper, glass, ceramics or plastics will not heat up through induction cooking; only cookware that is magnetic will work. Of course, for some people this may mean that they would need to purchase new pot and pans, but for kitchens where the very young or the elderly live it’s a great safety value, and this outweighs the price of a new cookware.
See an induction cooktop in action- click here to watch Chef Rachelle Boucher give a video demonstration! If this article peaked your interest for what’s new in kitchen appliances then be sure to look for next week’s newsletter where we’ll talk about steam convection ovens.