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  • "How to Create a Flavorful Roast Chicken Panzanella Salad with Lemongrass and Turmeric"

    Roast chicken panzanella salad is an Italian classic that combines warm roast chicken with croutons and a crisp salad. The combination of these ingredients and the texture of the croutons permeated with the warm chicken juices is irresistible. This recipe from my colleague Paul Tang uses the traditional method to prepare the dish but with a burst of Asian flavors. The chicken is seasoned with a marinade made with lemongrass and turmeric, and the salad is tossed with a dressing made from chili sauce and lime juice, while the salad features a flavorful combination of fresh basil, mint and cilantro. Steps to Creating a Perfect Roast Chicken Panzanella Salad There are quite a few steps to preparing this recipe and quite a few ingredients, so before you begin it’s a good idea to assemble all the ingredients. The first step is to make the marinade which only takes a few minutes, then the chicken is coated in the marinade and set aside for a few hours or overnight. In this recipe we spatchcock the chicken, cutting out the backbone and flattening out the chicken. The benefit of flattening the chicken is for more even cooking as well as faster cooking time. Of course you can skip this step, or you could roast some bone-in chicken pieces. Cooking the chicken on the bone ensures you will have plenty of delicious pan juices to add to the salad. The dressing and salad ingredients can also be prepared in advance for easy assembly; the carrots can also be prepared in advance, and the bread can be cubed ready to be tossed with the melted butter and cooked together with the chicken. Convection is Key for Succulent Roast Chicken Either the Convection Roast or Convection Bake mode will work well for cooking this meal because the heating elements of the oven cycle with enough intensity to achieve the desired results. However, convection roast heating cycles are stronger than convection bake. When you use Convection the carrots and croutons can be added to the oven while the chicken is roasting leaving your hands free to assemble the salad and dressing. Remember, foods cooked in Convection have better flavor and texture and because the heated air is circulated around the oven you can cook several dishes at one time and everything will cook evenly. The oven will be set at 375 degrees which will work well for all the items. The chicken will need to cook for at least 45 minutes while the carrots and croutons only need about 20 minutes. As we know all ovens are different and if you have a large capacity range oven you might want to increase the oven temperature by 25 degrees for the final 10 minutes of cooking the chicken to ensure it gets nice and crisp. Of course the chicken will need to rest for a few minutes once it comes out of the oven so allow at least 15 minutes for resting before carving the chicken. The important thing to think about when cooking multiple foods at time is the rack positions. If you are cooking on three racks then plan to place the chicken on the top rack, and add the carrots to the lower rack and the croutons to the middle rack. Placing the chicken on the top rack will ensure it gets nice and crispy from the direct heat of the top heating element while the fan will circulate the heat to ensure even cooking. Chicken Panzanella is a simple recipe, but with all these ingredients and different preparation and cooking steps planning is key. Once you are organized and have the chicken, carrots and croutons in the oven the salad can be prepared and before you know it the meal will come together effortlessly. If you don’t need all the chicken for this salad then be sure to set some aside to enjoy for another meal. Zucchini are in abundance during the summer and a good way to use them up is to bake a Zucchini Lasagna in Convection. Check out my next post to see how Convection can make the preparation easier. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Get the Most From Your Oven With An Easy Berry Peach Shortcake Cobbler

    A warm fruit cobbler with berries and peaches served with ice cream is a summertime classic and one of the easiest desserts to make. While some baked items require special attention and are best baked in the oven on their own, fruit cobblers are not fussy desserts that require special attention and can easily be added to the oven to cook alongside other foods. Of course for best results the oven should be in the Convection mode. Convection Makes Cooking Oven Meals Easy When a convection mode is selected for oven cooking you have the option to cook on multiple trays at one time because the heated air is circulated around the oven, evenly cooking each dish. Cooking a complete meal in convection takes a little planning, but it liberates you from standing at the cooktop or even having to be in the kitchen. In fact nowadays, it's not uncommon for ovens to have an app that allows you to monitor the cooking on your phone. If you are making a simple meal that includes roasting meat, fish or vegetables or baking a casserole a fruit cobbler can be added to the oven and there will be no flavor transference between the different foods. There are, however, the important things to consider including, oven temperature, timing and rack position. How to Cook a Convection Oven Meal with a Fruit Cobbler The first thing to determine is the oven temperature and timing for the foods you will be cooking. Some meats are cooked at a high temperature for a short period of time then the oven temperature is reduced to 350 degrees for the remainder of the cooking. In that case the fruit cobbler would be added once the oven temperature has been reduced. If you are planning on cooking multiple foods at one time then be sure to organize the oven racks before you begin cooking. Plan to cook the meat on the top rack and casseroles or roasted vegetables on the lower rack and to bake the cobbler on the middle rack. This will allow the cobbler to heat through and once the meat is removed the shortcake topping will brown nicely. If you are only cooking two dishes then place the cobbler in the lower portion of the oven. Large capacity ovens are great for cooking large quantities of food but when loaded with multiple dishes they may benefit from a slight temperature increase of 5 or even 10 degrees. The cooking temperature for this recipe is 350 degrees. Typically we reduce temperatures by 25 degrees when baking in Convection; however, reducing the temperature is not necessary when baking this cobbler as unlike a cake or cookies there is little risk of uneven baking. If the entire meal you are planning is cooked at a higher temperature say 375 - 400 degrees then obviously you would have to wait until those foods are cooked and you could reduce the oven temperature before adding the cobbler. Choosing the Right Convection Mode for an Oven Meal Now we come to the deciding factor that will help you achieve success when cooking a complete oven meal. Not all ovens have the same cooking modes so this is why it’s so important to understand the tools you are cooking with. If your oven has a Convection, Convection Bake and a Convection Roast mode it can be confusing to determine which will work best. Here are some guidelines. Convection Mode - in this mode the heat is generated from the heating elements that encircle the fan in the back of the oven. In my Gaggenau oven this mode is very powerful and browns the food well, but in other large capacity ovens I have cooked in this mode is only suited to baking several racks of cookies or other types of baking. Convection Bake - if this is the only convection mode in your oven then it will work well for cooking an oven meal. In this mode the heat comes from the top and bottom heating elements and the fan circulates the heated air for even cooking. In some ovens the heating element around the fan may also be active, however every oven is different. Convection Roast - if your oven features this mode then it is ideal for cooking foods that require greater intensity of heat such as when roasting. If your oven meal includes cuts of meat that cook best with more intense heat then choose this mode. Cooking with convection has many benefits, foods have better moisture retention, large cuts of meat cook faster and we can cook on multiple racks at one time with even results with no transfer of flavor. Cooking an oven meal in convection only requires a little planning to enjoy these benefits. If you are a fan of Chicken Panzanella salad then check out my next post for an interesting riff for an Asian style Chicken Panzanella salad, the chicken is of course cooked in Convection. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • A Delicious Twist on a Classic: Poached Salmon Salad Niçoise

    Salad Niçoise is a popular salad that originated in Nice in the south of France designed to take advantage of the abundance of tuna that is fished in the Mediterranean. Combined with steamed potatoes, green beans, hard boiled eggs and Niçoise olives it makes a flavor packed meal. Even though the traditional recipe uses tuna this salad also adapts easily to different interpretations. This recipe uses poached fresh salmon instead of canned tuna, and the preparation of the meal is greatly simplified by using the steam oven. Instead of individual saucepans to cook each component the salmon, potatoes, eggs and green beans are all steamed simultaneously in the steam oven. The potatoes, eggs and green beans can all be steamed in the large perforated oven pan while the salmon is steamed in a small solid oven pan. If your oven doesn’t have a small stainless pan any oven safe container will work. Steaming & Poaching Ideal Cooking Techniques for Superior Flavor and Texture Foods cooked in steam have noticeably better flavor, texture and nutrient value and even though we are using the Steam mode to prepare this meal the vegetables and eggs are actually being cooked by a different method to the salmon. The vegetables and eggs are cooked in the perforated pan allowing the steam to circulate around them and cook them through. This technique is similar to placing a perforated pan over boiling water and covering the pan with a lid. The benefit of steaming in a steam oven is that the oven maintains a consistent temperature throughout the steaming process and foods can be easily added or removed depending on the individual cooking time. The salmon is also cooked in the Steam mode however in this case the steam is used to gently poach the fish. The fish is poached in a solid pan with a little water, lemon slices and seasoning which add flavor to the fish as it poaches gently in the steam. This technique is similar to placing the fish on a perforated tray in a fish poacher and covering it with a lid. A gentle consistent temperature is key to successfully poaching fish so again the steam oven provides the ideal environment. How to Use a Steam Oven for Easy Meal Preparation This recipe perfectly illustrates how easy it is to cook multiple foods at one time in a steam oven instead of using a separate saucepan to cook each one. Success when cooking multiple foods at one time begins with planning. Basically once you calculate the cooking time for the items that take the longest you can add the other items towards the end of the cooking time or cook them once the longer cooking items are removed from the oven. In this recipe the potatoes and eggs cook within the same time frame, but the potatoes need to cool prior to being combined with the dressing; and other ingredients and the eggs need to sit in cold water for at least 5 minutes before the shells can be removed. The green beans will take approximately 6 minutes to steam and the salmon depending on the thickness will take approximately 10 minutes. What makes this process easy is the fact that no temperature adjustment is required, once the steam oven is set to the steam mode all you have to do is add the food and set the timer. An added benefit to cooking in the steam oven is that the stainless steel cooking containers require minimal clean-up and are easily washed by hand or in the dishwasher. If you are looking for a delicious dessert that uses a bounty of summer fruits and can easily be cooked as part of a Convection meal, then check out my next post. The benefit of learning how to make effective use of your convection and steam ovens is that meal preparation becomes easier and cooking results improve as you take advantage of the features of these ovens. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Convection for Succulent Oven Fried Chicken

    There are many delectable ways to prepare chicken, but hands down some of the most popular methods involve achieving a crisp crunchy exterior. Think buffalo wings, crispy chicken tenders and of course the perennial favorite, fried chicken. One of the reasons fried chicken is so delicious is that the chicken is cooked on the bone ensuring better flavor and texture, and the other is the delicious crisp crust that forms during the frying. The only downside of fried chicken is of course the large amount of oil that is required. If you fry food frequently then you may have good skills working with hot oil and also have also developed a good routine for straining the oil, storing it safely between uses and of course the difficult part, disposing of the oil. So what’s the solution when you have the urge for some home-made fried chicken? The perfect solution is oven baked fried chicken, it comes close to oil fried chicken without having to deal with the issues associated with frying. How to Achieve Crispy Convection Oven Fried Chicken We still use oil when baking chicken in the oven, but the key is to spray the battered chicken with a heat tolerant spray oil just before it goes into the oven for baking. To achieve really flavorful fried chicken the chicken should first be soaked in a buttermilk brine or given a dry rub a day in advance. I have tried both methods and the buttermilk brine definitely creates a more melt in your mouth texture, but both methods add a lot of flavor to the chicken. We feature two recipes for oven fried chicken on the website. The recipe for the Deviled Fried Chicken uses generous amounts of cayenne pepper, mustard, black pepper and garlic herb seasoning giving it a nice spicy kick. After soaking in the brine for 6 hours or a day the chicken pieces are dredged in flour and placed on a rack in a shallow baking pan to dry out. Just before going into the oven the chicken is sprayed with avocado oil to help crisp the crust. The second recipe for Crispy Oven Fried Chicken uses a milder blend of spices and is dredged in flour, then dipped in egg and finally rolled in Panko breadcrumbs. Once again spraying the chicken pieces with spray oil just before baking ensures the crust gets a nice crunch. In this recipe, once the chicken has been battered it needs to baked immediately, so being organized is key. What is the Best Convection Mode for Baking Chicken Which Convection mode you choose will of course depend on the Convection modes in your oven. If your oven has a Convection Bake mode I would choose that mode and place the tray one rack up from the middle rack position. That way it will be closer to the top heating element which will help with the crisping. The Convection Roast mode is designed for roasting meats so it is more intense than the Convection Bake mode and could cause a little too much crisping of the batter. You could also use the traditional Bake mode although in order to keep the chicken nice and juicy Convection is a better choice. Baking the chicken on a rack in a shallow pan is also important as this allows the heated air to circulate evenly around the chicken and crisp all the edges. Of course you may want to spray the rack first to avoid the batter sticking to it. Another benefit of choosing a Convection mode is that you can bake side dishes to serve with the chicken at the same time. I baked the Crispy Oven Fried Chicken with a Corn Spoonbread casserole and added in some broccoli tossed with white onion and red pepper during the last 10 minutes of cooking time. If you had to purchase a quart of buttermilk to brine your chicken you will have some leftover but it doesn’t have to go to waste. Check out this great recipe for a Lemon Cornmeal cake that is very easy to make and will make good use of any extra buttermilk. Learning to cook multiple dishes at one time in a Steam oven takes a little practice, but once you get the hang of it you will be amazed at how much easier food preparation can be. Check out my next blog post to learn more. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Baked Eggplant Stuffed with Savory Lamb, a Taste Sensation

    Vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes grow in abundance in the summer, and an easy way to create delicious meals with these vegetables is to stuff them with a savory filling. There are many delicious recipes for eggplant stuffed with lamb from the Mediterranean region, and this recipe is especially easy to prepare because the lamb is baked with the eggplant in the oven. This dish makes a great meal served with a Greek salad or pita bread and tzatziki, but if you were in the mood to create a feast you could consider stuffing some peppers and baking them at the same time. The Simple Steps for Baking Eggplant Stuffed with Lamb In some recipes for baked eggplant stuffed with lamb the eggplant is first halved lengthwise and baked until the flesh has softened. Once soft the flesh is scooped out and mixed with cooked ground lamb and spices and stuffed back into the eggplant and then baked until heated through. In this recipe the eggplant is cut into slices; however, it’s not cut all the way through. Then the ground lamb is combined with the seasoning and formed into patties and the patties are stuffed in between the eggplant slices. Once stuffed the eggplant goes into the oven to be baked. A large eggplant can take an hour or more to bake until soft so for this recipe look for smallish eggplants that are on the narrow side. Ideally each eggplant should easily hold 4 - 5 lamb patties when sliced. To prevent the eggplant from fanning out too much a metal skewer can be inserted through the eggplant to hold the patties in place as the eggplant bakes down. Do Foods Need to Be Covered When Baked in Convection? There are several reasons why some recipes recommend covering food that is being baked. Typically we cover casseroles when baking them to trap moisture in the food to assist with the cooking and prevent the food from drying out. Even when baking a casserole in Convection covering the food during the initial baking time is recommended as the “steam” created by covering the food ensures the food will be cooked through. In this instance the eggplant and lamb are cooked uncovered allowing the circulating heat of Convection to evenly penetrate into the food. Key to ensuring the food benefits from the circulating heat is to bake the stuffed eggplant on a shallow rimmed baking tray. This is another simple delicious recipe from the Mediterranean that is easy to prepare, and you may find that you will have more lamb than you need to create the patties to stuff the eggplant. I did have extra patties which I froze and was able to use for another meal. Because they are small they defrost quickly and are delicious cooked in a skillet and served with sauté of zucchini, onions, garlic and garbanzo beans. It’s hard not to love crispy fried chicken and dealing with frying in hot oil and storing and discarding the oil is no fun, but in my next post I will show you how to cook amazing oven fried chicken without the oil. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Tips to Prepare a Sirloin Roast for Tender Flavorful Results

    A flavorful sirloin roast is the perfect cut of beef for roast beef sandwiches with mounds of thinly sliced medium rare beef, a beef salad with crisp greens, ripe tomatoes or beets and blue cheese or a sumptuous roast beef dinner. It seems not every butcher or market carries the same cuts of beef so if you are unable to find a top sirloin roast other options that work well include, an eye of round roast or a sirloin tip roast. These are all flavorful lean cuts of beef that share one thing in common, cooking them at a low temperature yields the best results. Season The Meat Few Hours In Advance Is Another Important Tip There are numerous choices for dry rubs available these days which makes it easy to season a roast with the flavors you prefer. Rubbing a dry rub into the meat a few hours up to a day in advance will definitely add to the flavor of the meat but go carefully when adding salt as some rubs are high in added salt. Because this roast cooks at a low temperature I like to use a combination of fresh herbs and minced garlic mixed with olive oil. Since there is no high heat cooking phase the herb crust doesn’t burn and the flavors just dissolve into the meat. The olive oil adds another dimension of flavor and a little added good fat. Why Convection is Best for a Juicy Evenly Cooked Beef Roast To help retain the natural juices in meat it’s important to cook the roast on a rack in a shallow pan. Placing the meat on a rack prevents the heat of the pan from leeching moisture from the meat and allows the heated Convection air to circulate evenly around the oven cooking the meat from the edge to the center. This roast can be cooked in either the Convection Roast or Convection Bake mode. The important thing is to use a low temperature of 325°. You can even drop down to 300° if you have plenty of time. Before you heat the oven, arrange the racks so you can place the pan with the beef roast in the center of the oven. The next thing to consider is timing, if your oven is equipped with a meat probe using the probe will give you the best results. Remember to insert the probe at an angle and be sure the tip is in the meat not touching the pan. If your oven has a little metal cap over the probe receptacle in the oven just push that aside with the blunt side of a knife to insert the sensor. Be sure to cover your hand to avoid coming into contact with the hot oven wall. When you close the oven door you will be able to program in your preferred target internal temperature. In order for the probe to activate you may have to touch the probe symbol again or touch start to activate the probe, so be sure to take a quick look at the User Guide to confirm how your oven works. My3lb, room temperature roast took 60 minutes to cook through. If your oven doesn’t have a probe I recommend testing the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer after the roast has been in the oven for approximately 50 minutes. That way you will have a good sense of the progress. Remember when you choose the target internal temperature that the internal temperature will continue to rise as the beef is resting. The circulating heat of Convection will do an amazing job cooking the beef roast, however there are some important steps for success that are in your hands. Remember to bring the roast to room temperature before cooking and allow for 15 - 20 minutes resting time before carving. Will There be Pan Juices? Cooking your beef roast as outlined above will definitely yield some pan juices and if you would like to increase the pan juices, then add ½ - 1 cup of beef stock to the base of the pan. When the beef comes out of the oven and is resting, pour off the juices and skim off the fat, the pan juices can be used to make gravy or to serve with hot roast beef sandwiches. This sirloin roast is so easy and delicious and the thought of the wonderful sandwiches and salads we enjoyed is making my mouth water. Another mouthwatering crowd pleasing meal is Fried Chicken so be sure to check out my next post in which I will explain how to achieve fabulous results with Oven Baked Fried Chicken. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Cook Succulent Oven BBQ Chicken With The Help of Your Convection Oven

    Grilled BBQ chicken sounds easy enough to make, but in fact it takes quite a bit of skill to evenly cook chicken on the grill without burning it. The key to successfully cooking BBQ chicken on the grill is to use a combination of high heat to sear the chicken then to move the chicken to a cooler part of the grill to cook it through. Then of course the chicken needs to be brushed with BBQ sauce and monitored carefully so it doesn’t burn. But if you reverse this method in convection, you'll have great results every time. How Does Using Convection Ensure Succulent BBQ Chicken The high heat of the grill brings out the flavor in food but to cook chicken successfully on the grill it’s important to use a combination of direct heat and indirect heat. Direct heat sears the chicken, rendering the fat and crisping the skin. Indirect heat, is used to cook the chicken through at a lower temperature. The result, perfectly cooked chicken. However, reversing the process and cooking the chicken at a low temperature in the oven and finishing the cooking at a high temperature in the oven or on the grill is definitely the easiest way to ensure great results when planning a succulent BBQ chicken. Circulating Convection heat prevents food from drying out and cooking lean tender meats like chicken at a low temperature ensures especially succulent results when the chicken is finished at high heat. Another advantage to cooking chicken at a lower temperature in the oven is that you can easily monitor the cooking time of the dark and white meat to avoid overcooking. Set the timer for 25 minutes for the breast pieces and continue cooking the dark meat for for another 10 minutes. Ideally the internal temperature for the chicken will be around 150 degrees at this point. Once the chicken has been finished at a high temperature, the internal temperature should be approximately 165 - 170 degrees. How to Cook Oven BBQ Chicken In The Oven To prepare chicken for cooking in the oven, simply rub the chicken pieces with your preferred dry rub or a blend of spices, some kosher salt and pepper. Rub a little oil into the chicken pieces and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. To cook the chicken select the Convection or Convection Bake mode and set the temperature to 200 degrees. Place the chicken in the oven and set the timer for 35 minutes for legs and thighs and 25 minutes for breast portions. If you are planning to finish the chicken on the outdoor grill, begin to heat the grill at least 15 minutes in advance. If you are finishing the chicken in the oven change the temperature to 425 and the cooking mode to Convection Roast Roast when you remove the chicken from the oven. If your oven doesn't have a Convection Roast mode then leave it set in the Convection Bake mode. Cook the chicken on the grill or in the oven for approximately 10 minutes until the skin begins the crisp. Brush the chicken with a generous amount of BBQ sauce and cook for another 5 minutes to heat the sauce. We need heat to cook food but too much heat can destroy food, but this method of using Convection set at a low temperature for the initial cooking stage followed by a high heat finish ensures succulent flavorful results. Learning how the tools of your Convection and Steam oven can be used to achieve great results with all your cooking takes a little practice but once you have had a few successes it becomes easier. Then when you read a recipe you can use the seasoning the recipe writer recommends but use the technique that works best in your oven. Cooking an expensive cut of meat can provoke anxiety and in my next post I will review how to cook a Beef Sirloin roast to perfection using Convection. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Pork Ribs in a Steam-Oven With Melt-In-Your-Mouth Results

    When Gaggenau introduced the steam oven to the residential appliance market in 1999 the technology had only recently been developed for high end restaurants. Chefs might have had a clear understanding of how the combination of heat and humidity could be used in food preparation, but for the rest of us it was a major learning curve. Even though recipes were provided they were definitely in the fine dining category, but in order for clients to purchase the oven they needed to understand how the oven would benefit their cooking. We started with the basics, steaming food and roasting and baking with steam. The more familiar we became with the oven the more we came to realize how easy it was to adapt recipes to cook with steam, and pork ribs was definitely high on that list. Why Does Cooking with the Steam-Oven Create Tender Pork Ribs? Whenever a recipe directs you to cover the food during the food during the cooking steam is being created. That’s why we braise meats and stews in pans with a tight fitting lid, cover lasagna and casseroles and cuts of meat such as ribs to tenderize them. The steam gently penetrates into the food resulting in great flavor and texture. When we braise meats we usually sear them first, for casseroles we remove the foil and finish the cooking uncovered so that the top gets nice and crispy and with ribs we finish them with high heat on the grill or in the oven. Paying attention to these recipe instructions is essential to understanding how to adapt a recipe for cooking in a steam oven. What are the Benefits of Cooking Ribs in a Steam Oven? Food cooked with steam has better flavor, texture and nutrient retention. Also when the ribs are cooked in a steam oven you can cook on multiple trays at one time with even heat distribution making it easier to cook multiple racks of ribs at one time. When cooking in the steam oven there is no need to cover food and the controlled environment of heat and humidity cooks the food gently ensuring the perfect texture. 4 Tips for Preparing Tender Ribs in a Steam Oven When cooking ribs in a steam oven, prepare the ribs the same way as you would for a traditional recipe. Remove the silver skin or membrane on the underside to ensure tender, easy to eat ribs. Seasoning the ribs with a dry rub a few hours or a day in advance is essential for flavor. Keep the oven temperature low, to avoid the bone from falling out of the meat. Allow at least 2 hours for the ribs to achieve the perfect falling off the bone texture. When cooking ribs in a steam oven with a refillable water tank be sure to check the progress after an hour to ensure there is sufficient water in the tank. Once the ribs are cooked they can be cooled, brushed with your favorite BBQ sauce and given a high heat finish on the grill or in the oven. When the ribs are removed from the steam oven pour the pan juices into a measuring cup and allow them to settle. Skim off the fat and refrigerate it until solid then discard, add a ½ cup of the pan juices to your BBQ sauce for added flavor. If you are planning a BBQ I recommend preparing the ribs a day or two in advance so you can make good use of your steam oven to steam the food for the side dishes. It’s so easy to steam corn on the cob, potatoes, green beans and eggs or grains for a salad. Steam ovens are amazing tools that not only cook food well they make the process of cooking multiple foods at one time much easier. So liberate yourself from the cooktop and give it a try . Firing up the BBQ to cook simple grilled foods is an appealing way to cook during the warmer months but successfully cooking on the grill actually takes some skill. One way to avoid unevenly cooked or burnt food is to first cook meats at a low temperature in a steam or convection oven then finish the cooking on the grill. Please check out my next post to learn how to make truly amazing BBQ chicken that is succulent, tender and has great grill flavor. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Stuffed Baked Peppers A Perfect Side Dish for Entertaining

    Quite a few vegetables are delicious when filled with a savory filling and baked but peppers are one of the most flavorful and easiest of vegetables to work with and they hold a generous amount of filling as well. While some vegetables are best par-cooked before stuffing, peppers only need to be sliced in half length-wise and the seeds removed and they are ready for the filling of your choice. When peppers are baked the flavor and texture are completely different from a raw pepper, they soften and develop a rich flavor that melds perfectly with the savory filling. Peppers stuffed with a grain salad are a great choice for a buffet, they can be prepared in advance and baked in an oven-to-table dish for easy serving. Stuffed peppers pair well with roasted or grilled meats, fish, and poultry and the vibrant colors make for a beautiful presentation. Because they are substantial, this Stuffed Bell Peppers recipe are also a hearty choice for any non-meat eaters. What is the Best Filling for Stuffed Peppers? Another great aspect of stuffed peppers is that the fillings can be varied to include a variety of ingredients. Grains that work well to stuff peppers include cooked rice, orzo pasta, quinoa, or bulgur. The grains can be mixed with any combination of chopped fresh herbs or sauteed greens, garbanzo beans, toasted pine nuts, or chopped olives with some crumbled feta cheese. A stuffing that includes ground beef, lamb, or turkey topped with chopped parsley and breadcrumbs, combined with Parmesan cheese is also a delicious option. How to Bake Stuffed Peppers in Convection Stuffed peppers make an ideal side dish when entertaining because the preparation is simple and they come straight from the oven ready to serve. The peppers can be baked together with other side dishes or with meats that are roasted at a moderate temperature of 350°. If you are baking on two racks in the oven place the peppers on the lower rack and bake for approximately 30 minutes. To avoid the stuffing from drying out during the baking the peppers can be covered for the first 15 minutes of baking. The peppers can also be baked in a steam oven using the combination Convection Steam mode. Covering the peppers is not necessary when they are baked in the steam oven and if you want a light crisping change the mode to Convection (or Broil) with no added steam for the last 8-10 minutes of cooking time. Steam ovens are amazing appliances for everyday cooking as well as specialty dishes and in my next blog post, I will review the easy steps to make delicious falling off the bone pork ribs in the steam oven. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Steam-Roasting Beets in Convection: The Hows and Whys

    Beets make a great addition to many different dishes; they are delicious roasted and served as a side dish, added to salads, grain bowls, sandwiches, and even hamburgers, and of course, there is the wonderful beet soup, borscht. The interesting thing about beets is that the texture changes depending on the method you use to cook them. Red beets that are boiled or steamed retain a deep color and have a soft tender texture. Peeled roasted beets also retain good color but have a firmer texture. Beets can be roasted in convection or steam roasted or steamed in a steam oven or you can just simmer them in boiling water. How you cook beets will depend on the result you desire, just remember that disposable gloves and a washable cutting board make handling beets easier. Why Convection is Ideal for Roasting Beets Convection is ideal for roasting vegetables because the circulating convection heat preserves moisture in food while the natural sugars in vegetables caramelize resulting in better flavor and texture. Whenever I served roasted vegetables such as beets at a class there was always someone who marveled at the fact that they were eating and enjoying a vegetable they normally detested all because of the stunning results when that vegetable was cooked in convection. To prepare beets for roasting they should first be peeled and if roasting both red and golden beets be sure to keep them separate to avoid the red beet juice from staining the golden beets. Wearing disposable gloves is recommended to avoid staining your hands and peeling the beets over newspaper or into a bowl or compost bin helps minimize staining and makes for easy disposal. Once the beets are peeled cut them into the desired shape on a washable cutting board. Place the pieces in a bowl and toss with a light coating of olive oil, salt, and a sprinkle of mixed Italian seasoning. Spread the beets onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the Convection Bake or Convection Roast mode at 350°F for approximately 30 minutes. How to Steam Roast Beets (Steam Oven) Beets can also be steam-roasted using a combination of convection and steam. Simply follow the same method outlined above but check the beets for doneness at around 20 minutes. Because steam ovens are smaller than traditional ovens and the combination of heat and steam is so powerful the cooking time tends to be faster in this mode. How to Steam Beets (Steam Oven) When you want velvety soft beets or to prepare beets for pickling, steaming is the best method to choose. Be sure to rinse the beets well to remove any grit and leave about ½ of the stem as well as the root intact. Place the whole beets in the perforated pan with the solid pan underneath to catch any drips and steam for 35 - 50 minutes depending on the size until the point of a sharp knife slips easily into the beet. Set the beets aside to cool before slipping off the skin. Many years ago when roasted vegetable salads became popular, I sometimes roasted a medley of vegetables that included red and golden beets, parsnips, and yellow sweet potatoes. The roasted vegetables glistened like jewels when mixed with the salad greens and made a wonderful accompaniment to roasted meat or poultry. Even though no real recipe was required (apart from the salad dressing) I always had numerous requests for a recipe whenever this salad was served, reinforcing the universal desire for simple well-prepared meals. Vegetable dishes also make a great accompaniment to simple grilled meats and in my next posts, I will be covering great ways to make good use of your convection and steam ovens to prepare delicious summer side dishes. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Speed Oven Baked Country Style Pork Ribs

    Country-style pork ribs are actually strips of well-marbled pork, cut from near the loin that can be cooked in a variety of ways. There is enough marbling to give the ribs great flavor and keep them juicy and tender during cooking. These ribs can be cooked low and slow until fork tender or roasted at a moderate Convection temperature in just under an hour, either way, for best flavor give the ribs a dry rub or marinate them a few hours in advance of cooking. Roasting Meats in the Combination Convection + Microwave Mode I have had great success cooking a variety of meats in the Speed mode such as chicken pieces, meatloaf, and even a whole roast chicken. I have cooked pork chops and pork tenderloin in the microwave mode with great results so I decided that since these ribs are on the leaner side I would experiment with cooking them in convection with a little added speed. Even though I was adding in some low microwave power I kept the convection temperature at 330°F to avoid drying out the pork. Overall, reducing the cooking time by 10 - 12 minutes is a plus when you are in a hurry especially when you can achieve good results. Unfortunately, the only way to determine what works best is by trial and error, so keeping the temperature moderate and the microwave power low is a good place to start. What is the Benefit of Speed Cooking Country Style Ribs for a Short Time Generally, pork that is cut from the shoulder requires long slow cooking to tenderize, but since these ribs are cut from an area closer to the loin they are on the leaner side so they are a good candidate for Speed cooking. When we cook with convection, the heated air circulates around the oven cooking the food from the edge to the center; microwave power cooks from the inside out so even adding ten minutes of microwave power assists in speeding up the cooking. Even though I was using a little speed to get the ribs started, I planned to continue the cooking in convection without the microwave assist so that I could cook some vegetables to complete the meal. I added a tray of small golden potatoes and cooked them for approximately 15 minutes, then I folded some Brussels sprouts in with the potatoes and continued cooking everything for another 15 minutes. At the end of the cooking time, I removed the ribs and brushed them with some BBQ sauce, and increased the oven temperature to 375°F. I placed them back in the oven for another 8 - 10 minutes to finish the cooking. This final high heat helped crisp the Brussels sprouts and potatoes as well as give the ribs a nice sizzling finish. Overall learning to make good use of the tools in the Convection Microwave Speed oven can really benefit your cooking. This is my first serious experience cooking with microwaves and while I do enjoy some of the benefits of microwave heating, cooking, and defrosting I would say Speed cooking is my favorite feature. Summer is just around the corner and it's time to talk about all the great foods we can cook in our Convection ovens rather than standing over a hot stove, so please check back for my next post to learn more. Larissa, Your Convection Speed Oven Enthusiast

  • Oven Baked Chicken Shawarma and Falafel with Rice Pilaf

    Chicken marinated with a blend of fragrant spices, lemon juice, and olive oil can be baked and served as part of a meal or loaded into freshly baked pita bread for a mouthwatering sandwich. In this recipe the chicken is cut into small pieces before adding the marinade; however, you can bake whole pieces of chicken if you prefer. When I plan to make chicken shawarma, all the other delicious Mediterranean foods I could serve with the chicken come to mind, so instead of one dish I find myself making a Convection meal. In this meal plan, I am also baking a rice pilaf with almonds and parsley as well as some oven Falafel and serving everything with a Greek salad. What is the Benefit of Cooking a Complete Meal in Convection? Looking at my meal plan you might ask why should I bother cooking all these foods in the oven when I have a perfectly good cooktop I can use to cook everything. Well if you prefer you can of course cook the chicken in a large sauté pan over high heat, cook the rice in another pan and fry the falafel in some oil. Everything will be very delicious but you will need to stay at the cooktop while the food is cooking however if you can place three trays of food into the oven and leave them to cook you can set a timer and safely leave the food to cook itself. At the end of the cooking, you will have 2 baking sheets and one casserole pan to clean but no hot oil to dispose of and no cooktop to clean. In short, the benefit of cooking a complete meal is convenience combined with great results. Which Oven Mode Do I Use to Cook a Convection Meal? This is a great question and not easy to answer because of course all ovens are different; that is why it is so essential to understand the tools that your oven has and where to place the food in the oven. In my Gaggenau oven, the Convection mode is used for most cooking and the heat is only coming from the Convection element the food cooks and browns evenly. However, most ovens feature multiple cooking modes such as Convection Bake, Convection Roast, or Convection so you have to choose the appropriate mode. If for example, you chose the Convection Bake mode to cook this meal, you have to think about where to place each pan. Ideally, you would place the chicken on the upper rack so it gets some good browning from the top heating element. The casserole with the rice is cooked covered so will be fine on the middle rack and for best results the falafel should be baked on the lowest rack. The Convection Roast mode could also be used but because the heat is more intense in this mode watch the timing to avoid overcooking the food. How Do I Determine Timing for Cooking Different Foods In this meal all three items cook in approximately the same amount of time; however, if you were roasting a whole chicken or another large cut of meat you would need to factor in the cooking, resting, and carving time. In that case, you would add the side dishes in later so that they would be ready to serve when the meat was carved rather than sitting around and getting cold. Cooking is much easier with a little planning and if you plan your cooking to make good use of your oven tools, you may find cooking less stressful. After all modern appliances are designed to help us achieve better results with our cooking, we just have to learn how to take advantage of the features. I have been exploring cooking and baking in my new Convection Microwave Speed oven and in my next post I will review baking a sweet treat known as slice. In effect, it is a giant cookie that you cut into slices before serving. So if you like keeping a sweet treat on hand to enjoy with your morning or afternoon tea I hope you will check it out. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Mastering the Art of Baking Perfect Flatbreads and Pita Bread in Convection Ovens

    Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a great baker, simple recipes such as Flatbreads and Pita bread are a great place to get started. The proofing and cooking time is minimal so with a little planning you can enjoy freshly baked bread in a relatively short time. Of course, one way to achieve good results with baking is to use the tools in your Convection oven. In addition to a variety of cooking modes, many ovens also feature a mode for proofing yeast dough. A barely warm oven is the ideal place for proofing, you won’t need to cover the dough or worry about drafts coming from open doors and windows, and because the environment is so stable the proofing process will be slightly faster. Tips for Creating a Good Dough To achieve success when making dough for pita bread or flatbread pay careful attention to the water temperature used to prove the yeast in the recipe. If the water is too hot or too cool the yeast will not bloom and you will have to start all over again, even proofing it in the Steam oven won’t save it! You will know if your dough is going to be a success because it will feel very pliable, almost alive, if it feels leaden you will have to start again. Which Oven Mode is Best for Baking Flatbreads and Pita Bread? If you are baking in a gas oven, the best mode will be the traditional Bake mode. Gas ovens have a natural Convection and are excellent for baking bread, and the most important thing to pay attention to is rack position. Depending on how hot your oven runs, the bottom rack position might be too hot; however, a pizza stone placed on the bottom rack can yield amazing results. If you are baking in an electric oven you can use either the Bake or Convection Bake mode. I find using Convection Bake works best for these quick-cooking bread recipes that bake at a high temperature. Baking the bread close to the direct heat from the bottom heating element while the convection fan circulates the heated air evenly around the oven ensures great results. Because the heating element in most electric ovens is concealed beneath the oven floor nowadays using the regular Bake mode alone may feel a little underpowered. Having said that, remember every oven is different so it may take some trial and error to work out what works best in your oven. Flatbreads and Pita Bread pair well with the delicious foods from the Mediterranean and in my next post, I will review a recipe for making Chicken Sharwarma in convection. Not only does the chicken cook to perfection, but you can also cook some side dishes at the same time for a mouthwatering feast to serve with freshly baked bread. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Convection Speed Roasted Chili Spice Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

    Preparation and cooking time can be an obstacle when it comes to cooking fresh healthy meals unless you learn how to make good use of the tools in your oven. Nowadays we have ovens that have great features like the Convection Speed oven that allow us to combine convection with microwave power to speed up the cooking with spectacular results. How to Use a Speed Oven A Speed oven typically features five modes of cooking. Convection, broil, microwave, as well as convection + microwave and broil + microwave. Speed ovens feature inverter microwave technology that offers a choice of microwave power levels customized to different types of cooking. This customization is a great feature when you want to use microwave energy to speed up the cooking because you can add the exact level of microwave power suited to the food you are cooking. When cooking in microwave mode, remove the wire oven rack and cover foods with a microwave-safe cover. Paper towels are not recommended as they may have synthetic fibers that can combust during cooking. If your oven features a wire rack and an oven tray, food can be cooked on both the rack and the tray at the same time in the Convection mode. Either the rack or the oven tray can be used when broiling or toasting food. When you add microwave power to the convection or broil mode you can safely use the wire rack and also cook in metal pans without any cover So let’s look at how to plan a simple meal making good use of these features. How to Cook Chicken and Sweet Potatoes in the Convection Speed Mode Since chicken thighs cook fairly quickly you might wonder what’s the point of cooking the chicken in speed mode. Well, putting a rub on chicken pieces and placing them in the oven only takes minutes so if you begin cooking the chicken with a combination of convection + microwaves for ten minutes by the time you have peeled and chopped the sweet potatoes the chicken is almost half cooked. If you cut the sweet potatoes into small cubes the entire meal will only need another 15 - 20 minutes to finish cooking. If you are cooking a small quantity of food that will fit on one tray you could cook the entire meal in the speed mode, however, it would be best to cook the chicken for 10 minutes before adding the sweet potatoes. If you are cooking larger quantities of food as I did in the video then cooking the sweet potatoes on a separate tray in Convection is a better option. What is the Best Microwave Power Level to Use in the Speed Mode? When using a new appliance, I always begin by following the recommendations outlined in the User Guide but I have found as with most things, it’s better, to begin with, less power and add more if needed rather than add too much power and end up with bad results. Remember the benefit of speed cooking is that you are still cooking the food in the convection mode which gives better results overall. Adding in some low microwave power is just to help you get dinner on the table faster or to speed up the heating through of items such as casseroles that normally take up to 40 minutes to bake. If you love baking quick-cooking flatbreads and pita bread, then please check out my next post and I will review the benefits of using convection vs regular bake for best results. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • How to Bake Chicken and Rice in Convection

    The flavors of chicken baked with rice make for a delicious one-pot meal and even though the concept of baking everything together seems ideal there are some options worth considering that can make the preparation easier. The Latin version of chicken and rice, Arroz con Pollo, has so many great flavors and is the perfect dish to feed a crowd but therein lies the problem, if the pan gets overcrowded the rice gets mushy, and it's hard to keep the chicken skin crisp. What is the solution? Well, there are several options so let’s take a look at how to achieve great results using either your Steam or Convection oven. What are the Benefits of Baking the Chicken Separately? The easy answer is better control over the results of the cooking without sacrificing any flavor. When bone-in chicken is cooked with rice it creates a really flavorful broth, but if you roast the chicken pieces in your steam or convection oven you will accumulate a lot of juices on the pan that can be scraped off and added to the cooked rice and vegetables. Another benefit is, once the chicken is cooked and slightly cooled it can be sliced off the bone and arranged over the cooked rice which makes it easier to serve and eat, especially when feeding a crowd. What is the Best Way to Cook the Rice? The rice and vegetables can be cooked entirely on the cooktop or started on the cooktop and finished in the oven. One advantage to this method is that the rice can be cooked in a large oven casserole dish perfect for serving, all you would need to do is add the cooked chicken and garnish. When baking rice in a convection oven the dish needs to be covered for the rice to cook properly; however, when baking rice in a steam oven the rice does not need to be covered in order to cook through. If you have cooked rice in a steam oven you will have learned that it’s always better to add less liquid than when cooking rice in a pan. For example, instead of a 2 - 1 ratio a 1 ¾ cup to 1 will yield better results. Can I Cook the Chicken with the Rice in the Oven? When baking the rice a the steam oven, you can brown the chicken pieces and nestle them in the rice and bake the entire dish uncovered. The chicken skin may get a little rubbery but towards the end of the cooking if your oven has a broil option you could change the mode and crisp up the chicken. When baking the rice in a Convection oven the dish does need to be covered for the rice to cook so the best option would be to cook the chicken separately and add it to the rice together with the pan juices at the end of the cooking. In addition to cumin, turmeric, oregano, and smoked paprika rub for the chicken, the recipe I use includes peppers, canned chopped tomatoes and linguica sausage which I find adds a lot of flavor to the dish, and the garnish of Manzanilla olives and chopped cilantro is for me essential. I apologize if it is not authentic but it tastes delicious. If you have other recipes for chicken and rice you may find these options for cooking the chicken and maybe the rice in your oven, you will be surprised how easy it makes meal preparation when you don’t have to stand at the stove. When I began cooking with a steam oven back in 1999 I was blown away by how amazing potatoes tasted when cooked in steam, now whenever I read a recipe that instructs to boil water to cook potatoes, I turn on my steam oven and get amazing results. Check out my next post to learn more. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

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