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  • Vegetable Gratins and Casseroles The Perfect Side Dish for Entertaining

    When I began teaching Convection and Steam cooking 23 years ago, I always roasted a tray of seasonal vegetables alongside meat, fish, or poultry to demonstrate how to use Convection and also the benefits of cooking with Convection. Without fail, at every class, someone would comment on the impressive flavor and texture of the vegetables. In fact, I heard from many people how they had given up eating certain vegetables until they tasted them cooked in Convection. While roasted vegetables are a great accompaniment for easy oven meals, vegetable gratins, and casseroles are ideal for special occasion meals or buffets especially since multiple dishes can be baked in Convection at one time. Convection and Steam Oven Tools for Preparing Vegetable Gratins Vegetable gratins do require advance preparation however there are ways you can use your Convection and Steam ovens to simplify preparation. Here are a few suggestions and tips for some of our favorite vegetable gratins. Eggplant Casserole with Peppers, Olives, and Anchovies This recipe from the Mediterranean makes good use of foods that are in abundance during the summer months and is delicious served alongside roast lamb or grilled fish. Roasting the peppers is an essential step that can be easily done in the oven. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with foil, shiny side down, cut the peppers in half length-wise, and remove the seeds. Set the oven in the Broil mode at 475℉ or Hi and cook with the door closed until the skin is blackened, approximately 8 - 10 minutes. Remove the tray from the oven and cover the peppers with a sheet of paper towels, this will help sweat off the skin. As the peppers sit they will soften and pull away from the skin making it very easy for you to remove the charred skin. White Bean Casserole with Grilled Artichokes and Olives If you are looking for ways to incorporate more beans into your diet then this easy recipe is definitely worth trying. The white beans are pretty much a blank canvas that works well with the stronger flavors of the added vegetables and sun-dried tomatoes or roasted peppers could be added in for more color and flavor. When baking a casserole with beans, be sure to add some chicken stock so the beans don’t absorb all the liquid and dry out. Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin Vegetables baked in a creamy cheese sauce are always a hit and this recipe can actually come together very quickly by steaming the broccoli and cauliflower together in the Steam oven. Remember if you have a Steam oven, anytime a recipe says to boil water to cook a vegetable, just turn on your Steam oven to the steam setting. Tips for Baking Casseroles in Convection Even though you can cook multiple foods at one time in Convection it’s important to plan the cooking so that the temperatures are compatible. For example when roasting meats, ideally begin with a high temperature then add the casserole when the temperature has been reduced. Also, take into account the timing, and remember that the meat will need to rest before carving. Some casseroles may require being covered with foil for part of the baking time to ensure the food cooks without drying out however when baking casseroles in a Steam oven, they do not need to be covered. One of the best features of Convection cooking is the ability to cook multiple foods at one time without having to change the rack positions for even cooking but remember when cooking a Convection meal, the first step is to arrange the oven racks to accommodate the food before you heat the oven. Breakfast casseroles are wonderful for entertaining but they do have a long cooking time and in my next post I will review an option for speeding up the cooking using a Convection + Microwave Speed oven. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • How to Bake Rustic Fruit Tart in Convection

    Pies are a popular way to make good use of a surplus of fruit but they can be long in baking and a little arduous to prepare. A rustic fruit tart on the other hand is one of the easiest desserts to make and can be made year-round with seasonal fruits. The pastry crust requires only 4 ingredients and can be mixed by hand or in a food processor however, like all pastry it will benefit from a good chill prior to rolling out and baking. What is the Best Oven Mode for Baking Rustic Tarts? While the Bake mode is traditionally used for baking both pies and tarts, the circulating heat of the Convection Bake mode results in a lighter flakier crust. As always it’s important to think about how a mode will benefit the item you are cooking. For example, even though fruit-filled pies and fruit tarts both have a pastry crust they are not baked the same way or at the same temperature. Pies with a generous amount of filling are baked in a pie dish at a higher temperature, while rustic tarts with a light topping of fruit are baked on a flat cookie sheet at a slightly lower temperature. Recipes for both pies and tarts always instruct that the baking should be done on a rack placed low in the oven close to the bottom heating element to ensure the pastry bakes through. When baking in a gas oven or an electric oven with an exposed heating element, baking a tart on rack position 2 (counting up from the bottom) is recommended to avoid burning the bottom of the tart. However, when baking in an electric oven with a concealed bottom heating element, rack position 1 where the tart is closer to the bottom heating element will provide the best results. Is the Type of Pan I Bake on Important? The best type of pan for baking a rustic fruit tart is a flat cookie sheet, however, you can also use a shallow-rimmed baking sheet or even a round pizza pan. If you have an oven baking stone, you can assemble the tart on a piece of parchment paper resting on a pizza peel and transfer it carefully to the heated stone for baking. When baking in Convection never use a cushion-air baking pan as those pans were designed to be used in the traditional Bake mode. Another thing to consider is the color of the pan, very dark pans can contribute to a good crust but they also cook faster than lighter-colored baking pans so setting the timer a little in advance of the recipe time is recommended. Most important is of course to always reduce the recipe temperature by 25F when baking in Convection to avoid overcooking the edges. You will find several recipes for fruit tarts on the website, a Strawberry Rhubarb tart, that is perfect for spring, a Rustic Strawberry Tart with a Vegan Crust that is perfect for non-dairy eaters, as well as a wonderful Apricot Pistachio tart made with dried Blenheim apricots. Once you have mastered making the pastry and baking a galette or rustic tart you can bake these year-round varying the fruit for each season. In my next Blog Post, I will cover the always popular method of baking risotto in the Steam oven, and don’t despair if you don’t have one because risotto can also successfully be baked in a Convection oven. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Cooking Shrimp and Salmon, Sous Vide Style in a Steam Oven

    Most innovations we see in appliances today originated in professional food service as chefs developed different cooking methods to ensure precise consistent results. It didn't take long for cooking in the sous vide style to became popular with home chefs because of the spectacular results that could be achieved when foods were cooked at very low temperatures. The texture and enhanced flavor of foods cooked in the sous vide style highlights the fact that too much heat can destroy the texture and flavor of food. In other words, cooking at low temperatures can make you a star in the kitchen, because the food tastes so much better. Can All Steam Ovens Be Used to Cook Sous Vide? Successful sous vide cooking is dependent on precise temperature control so unless your steam oven has a mode specifically for sous vide, then it is not advisable to use the steam oven for sous vide cooking. Remember the manufacturer is conscious of your health and safety when providing information about cooking with an appliance so following the appliance use guidelines is important. Steam ovens and convection ovens can however be used to cook lean tender cuts of meat, fish, and poultry in a low-temperature range of 140F - 200F without vacuum sealing. If your oven is equipped with a meat probe you will achieve very accurate results similar to sous vide cooking, once the item has reached the desired internal temperature a quick sear over high heat or on the grill will finish the food to perfection. What are the Benefits of Cooking Shrimp and Salmon in Sous Vide? When foods are cooked sous vide you can add a marinade before vacuum sealing the bag to infuse the food with flavor, and it takes only 15 minutes to infuse food with flavor when vacuum sealing. Then of course there is the texture, because the food is not exposed to direct heat when cooked sous vide, there is less moisture loss, and the difference in the flavor is extraordinary. A steam oven is a remarkable oven to cook with, shrimp and salmon can be steamed or poached, roasted or broiled with steam, cooked at a low temperature, or in the sous vide mode so there are plenty of options for experimenting with the different methods. Even though shrimp and salmon are relatively quick cooking having the option to cook them sous vide allows you to create an exceptional meal for a special occasion that definitely compliments these more expensive foods. If you are planning an elaborate meal, items in vacuumed sealed bags or containers can be cooked simultaneously in the steam oven, however, the bags should not cover each other, and each one should lay flat on the oven trays. Safety and hygiene are crucial for successful sous vide cooking so be sure to follow the manufacturer's recommendations regarding storage and the final cooking step of foods cooked in sous vide. A meal that ends with a rustic fruit tart can almost make you think you are sitting under a grape arbor in Tuscany, and in my next post I will review tips for baking this simple but luscious dessert so you can transport yourself there. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Convection Microwave Speed Cooking With Great Results - Parmesan Crusted Chicken

    Speed ovens are a popular appliance choice because they have all the functionality of a microwave but they can also be used as a convection oven or a toaster oven. In addition, the microwave power can be combined with convection or broil for speed cooking. Some speed ovens have preset programs for speed cooking while others give you the option to choose from different microwave power levels to customize the combination of convection heat and microwave power. What are the Benefits of Cooking with Convection and Microwaves? Convection is a great heat source to cook with because the heated air circulates around the food cooking it evenly from the edge to the center. Because there is no direct heat coming from a baking element, there is less chance of food drying out when cooked in Convection. Adding a low to moderate level of microwave power simply speeds up the cooking and the results are impressive. Do I Need to Cover Foods Cooked in the Combination Mode? Covering food cooked in the microwave mode is recommended to help evenly distribute the heat and prevent food from drying out. Circulating Convection heat actually helps prevent food from drying out during cooking, and since the microwave power is relatively low covering the food is not required. How to Cook Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Breasts in the Speed Mode The benefits of Convection cooking really shine when it comes to cooking lean meats such as boneless, skinless chicken breasts. In this recipe, mustard mixed with olive oil and seasoning is spread over the chicken and then topped with grated Parmesan cheese, transforming the plain chicken into amazing. My Speed oven has a glass tray that is large enough to cook enough chicken and vegetables to feed four people, so for an easy one dish meal I added some sliced cauliflower and carrots tossed with olive oil to the tray to cook along with the chicken. I cooked the meal in the Convection mode at 375F (190C) with 360 watts of microwave power for 15 minutes. To give the chicken a golden finish and slightly caramelize the vegetables I finished the cooking in the Convection Broil mode at 425F (220C). The Gaggenau Speed oven I cook with does have some special features including the option to set a sequential operation. Setting a sequential operation allows me to program the cooking steps so the oven will automatically change the mode and temperature according to the time I had programed for each step. Be sure to check your user guide so you can take advantage of any special features that your oven has to support your cooking. Even though the cooking time is shorter with a little added microwave power, it’s very important to allow foods cooked in this mode to rest when they come out of the oven. Resting the food, allows the heat to even out and for the juices in meats to redistribute. The amazing ovens available nowadays provide many opportunities for exploring different cooking methods. Take shrimp for example, shrimp can be quickly poached, steamed or broiled in the Steam oven, or it can be vacuum sealed and cooked slowly in the sous vide mode and that's the method I will review in my next blog post. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Olive Oil Cake with Almonds and Orange

    If you are looking for a recipe for a light flavorful cake that works well for afternoon tea or to serve at a dinner party then I encourage you to give this cake a try. This recipe is loaded with great ingredients including, olive oil, and ground almonds, with some orange zest for added flavor. It is delicious served plain or with a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche. In addition to the health benefits of baking with olive oil, you will find that using olive oil instead of butter also prevents baked items from going stale as quickly. How to Choose the Best Mode for Baking in a Convection Oven It always pays to be organized when cooking and assembling all the necessary ingredients for baking will prevent you from making mistakes such as forgetting to add an ingredient, I speak from experience. Now, the recipe will tell you to heat the oven to a specific temperature but if you have a Convection oven with multiple cooking modes you need first to select a cooking mode before you can heat the oven. Most recipes for baked items are tested using the Bake mode because the radiant heat in this mode has a drying effect on food. So if you begin with a wet batter the item will bake to a nice dry crumb; however, we have tested this cake using Convection as well as Bake and both turned out really well. What Adjustments Do I Need to Make When Baking in Convection? When you bake with radiant heat the heat is coming from the bottom heating element while the top element (in an electric oven) will cycle on and off to provide gentle top browning. Typically it’s best to place the oven rack in the center of the oven when baking in the Bake mode. Depending on the modes in your oven, when baking in Convection the heat may still be coming from the bottom and top heating elements, but the Convection fan will circulate the heat, cooking the food from the edge to the center for even results. In Convection, foods cook from the edge to the center so the important thing to remember when baking in a Convection mode is to reduce the recipe temperature by 25 degrees, so the food doesn’t overcook on the edge. Confusion about which mode to use can arise because some ovens have a Convection mode as well as a Convection Bake mode. You can learn all about your oven and the convection modes with the help of my videos. When you understand where the heat is coming from in each mode you will be able to choose the mode most suited to the type of food you are cooking. In the event that the results don't meet your expectations, it is easier to troubleshoot and understand what might have happened. In my experience baking issues often come down to choosing the right mode; adjusting the temperature for baking in Convection; adjusting the time if needed and choosing the correct rack position Tips for Baking Olive Oil Cake This recipe uses only a small amount of cake flour mixed with finely ground toasted almonds then the eggs and flavorings are whipped at high speed until tripled in volume. In order to whip the eggs as directed it’s best to use room-temperature eggs so plan accordingly. Mellow olive oil works best for this cake, we love to use California olive oil and for this recipe, we used Arbequina Extra Virgin olive oil and the flavor was perfect. I have recently been testing recipes in a Convection Microwave, Speed oven and in my next post I will share a recipe for an easy-to-prepare meal that worked really well using the different cooking modes in the oven. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Baked Pork Chops with Garlic Herb Stuffing

    Cooking pork loin chops can be challenging because, on the one hand, you want the chops to get nice and golden brown but at the same time you want the meat to remain tender and juicy. Preventing the chops from drying out while they cook through can be especially difficult but a combination of pan searing and cooking at a low temperature in Convection is one way to achieve great results. How to Cook Pork Chops So They Remain Tender and Juicy We need heat to cook food but too much heat can destroy food by robbing moisture from the food, and this is one of the reasons why methods for cooking foods at very low temperatures have become so popular. The sous vide method, for example, is a long slow process of cooking food at very low temperatures in a vacuum sealed bag. There is no moisture loss and any added seasoning or marinades create exceptional flavor, while the high heat sear at the end of the cooking creates the perfect finish. One method I have found that works well to keep lean tender cuts of pork from drying out is to sear the chops in an oven-proof skillet with some butter and oil. Butter is excellent for adding flavor and for creating a golden sear. Once the chops have been seared on each side, add 2 tablespoons of sherry or white wine to the pan and place the pan into the oven to finish cooking. The ideal mode is Convection or Convection Roast at 300 - 325 degrees, depending on how much of a hurry you are in. Depending on how thick the chops are they only need between 6 - 8 minutes in the oven to cook through. A Little Stuffing Adds Extra Flavor Another way to keep the pork juicy is to cut a pocket in the side and spread a garlic herb stuffing into the pocket. It only takes a few minutes and makes all the difference in terms of flavor. In this recipe I used garlic and fresh herbs, but you could also add in some sauteed mushrooms or leeks. Meats do cook best at room temperature so if the timing permits be sure to get them out of the refrigerator to lose the chill before cooking. Also, remember that once the chops come out of the oven remove them from the hot pan so they don’t continue to cook. Can I Cook Other Foods in the Oven at the Same Time? I am always in favor of making good use of the oven for cooking more than one item. The challenge here is that in order for the chops to remain juicy you need the oven temperature to be on the low side. However, you can begin roasting a medley of seasonal vegetables at 300 - 325F and they will cook through in approximately 20 - 30 minutes. Once the pork comes out of the oven, increase the oven temperature to 400 - 425F and finish cooking the vegetables with a blast of high heat so they caramelize on the edges. If cooking root vegetables, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, or potatoes they are best cut in ¼” thick slices to ensure they cook through. Place the tray of vegetables on the lower oven rack and when you add the pan with the pork chops to the oven place it on the middle rack in the oven. If you are looking to add a delicious easy-to-prepare cake to your dessert repertoire then check out my next post for making a citrus-scented olive oil almond cake, it's irresistible. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Convection Grilled Seafood Pasta with Shrimp, Salmon, and Linguica Sausage

    Grilled seafood pasta is a great “fast” pasta meal, there is very little prep involved, and the seafood cooks in less time than it takes to boil the pasta and heat the sauce. This recipe includes oven-broiled shrimp, mixed with cubed salmon, scallops, and chopped linguica sausage. If you don’t care to add sausage then mushrooms or broccoli florets would make a nice addition. Why Does My Oven Have a Broil and a Convection Broil Mode? If your oven has a Convection Broil and Broil mode you may wonder which mode will be best to use for this recipe. Broiling with Convection is ideal for broiling thicker cuts of meat, poultry, or fish as the circulating heat will evenly cook the food and help offset the drying effect of the powerful direct heat from the Broil element. The Broil mode is ideal for cooking small quick-cooking cuts of meat, seafood, and vegetables as the drier heat is perfect for foods that have a higher water content, especially when broiling a combination of seafood as in this recipe. Tips for Safe Oven Broiling When it comes to broiling, be sure to arrange the oven racks before you turn on the oven so that you have a rack placed close to the top of the oven. Because broiling is done at high temperatures for a short period of time, heating in this mode is usually fairly accelerated, so a long preheat time is not necessary. After all, you are not heating the whole oven you are just bringing the heating element to temperature, so it can sear the food you place in the oven. If you have a gas oven with a gas infra-red broiler you can place the seafood in the oven as soon as the broil element has ignited because it will be cranking out heat immediately. Remember the oven door must stay closed when you are broiling, so the heat doesn’t damage the oven electronics. Even if you have a gas oven with no electronics, keeping the door closed is recommended. If you are concerned about smoke or vapors escaping into the room when you open the oven door then turn on your overhead ventilation before you turn on the oven to keep the kitchen air clean. For safety when you are broiling, be sure to designate a landing space for the hot pan when it comes out of the oven. Easy Grilled Seafood Pasta This entire recipe can be prepared in less than 15 minutes. All you have to do is boil the water for the pasta and cook it as directed, heat the oven, and broil the seafood. The pasta can be tossed with a sauce or with some olive oil and topped with broiled seafood. If you are lining the pan with foil for easy clean-up it’s recommended to put the foil shiny side down. Some freshly grated Parmesan and a garnish of chopped parsley will add the final flourish. If you love the idea of slowly cooking corned beef to enjoy with steamed potatoes, carrots, and cabbage or slice for hot sandwiches, or to make a great corned beef hash then check out my next post and learn how to cook corned beef to perfection in your Steam oven. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Garlicky Greens, Chickpeas, and Feta, a Delicious Convection Meal

    There is no better antidote to cold rainy days than heading into the kitchen and creating a delicious meal that fills the house with tantalizing aromas as it slowly cooks. Preparing a roast that needs to cook slowly for several hours is easy, and best of all a tray of vegetables or a vegetable gratin can be added into the oven towards the end of the cooking for a complete oven meal. If you are feeling adventurous you could even consider baking a dessert or another slow-cooked meal at the same time, all foods will cook evenly using Convection. How to Slow Roast Lamb Shoulder in Convection Many meat counters only carry a limited choice of the different cuts of lamb, so you may need to visit a butcher who carries a wider selection in order to find a lamb shoulder roast. A whole lamb shoulder roast can weigh between 7-8lbs, but the butcher can cut the shoulder down to the weight you need. I cooked a small 2lb roast in the video, but I got the end of the shoulder that had a lot of bone which adds great flavor but it wasn’t easy to carve. While we know that Convection will not speed up the cooking time of meats that require long slow cooking to break down the connective tissue, roasting cuts of meat such as lamb shoulder in Convection does ensure that the meat stays very juicy. Depending on the weight of the roast you will need to allow 2 ½ - 4 hours of cooking time. I cooked my small roast for just about 2 hours beginning with a low temperature of 300F and increasing the temperature to 375F for the final 15 minutes of cooking for some sizzle. Garlic and rosemary are the perfect partners for seasoning a lamb roast, together with a drizzle of olive oil and some kosher salt so very little prep is needed. Roasting the meat on a rack in a shallow pan ensures the Convection heat will cook the meat evenly and prevents the heat of the pan from pulling moisture out of the meat. The meat is ready when it is very tender when poked with a fork, so using a meat probe is not really necessary however you can test the internal temperature before the final phase of high-heat cooking to make sure it has reached an internal temperature of145F. Cooking Side Dishes with a Lamb Shoulder Roast Since the majority of the cooking is done at a low temperature of 300F, side dishes are best added to the oven towards the end of the cooking time when the oven temperature is increased. Once the lamb comes out of the oven it will need to be set aside to rest before carving so if you slide in a tray of potatoes to roast when you increase the temperature to 375F they will be ready by the time the roast is ready to serve. I cooked a tray of broccolini tossed with garlic and garbanzo beans that only took about 10-12 minutes to roast so if you choose quick-cooking vegetables as the side dish they can be cooked once the lamb is resting. Using the Convection modes in your oven really can make meal preparation easier but we also love using the Broil mode for quick delicious meals, so check out the next post for some inspiration for those days when speed is of the essence. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Cooking Without Saucepans, Steaming Artichokes, and Ravioli in a Steam Oven

    Steam ovens feature a variety of cooking modes that can be used for steaming, roasting, baking, braising, or broiling foods. When you steam food in the Steam oven saucepans are not required, you are liberated from standing at the stove monitoring the cooking, clean-up is easier and multiple foods can be cooked simultaneously in the oven with no transfer of flavor. How To Steam Artichokes in a Steam Oven Any foods that can be cooked in water or over boiling water in a steam basket can be successfully cooked using the Steam mode in a Steam oven. Steam ovens come with a perforated and a solid pan and sometimes it takes a little trial and error to determine which pan will give the best results. Having cooked with the Steam oven for over 20 years I am happy to help you avoid the errors I made along the way. The perforated pan works perfectly for some vegetables such as corn on the cob, green beans, broccoli, carrots, and potatoes, but when it comes to steaming artichokes, I have found that using a solid pan gives the best results. If the number of artichokes you are cooking won’t fit in the pans that come with your Steam oven then they can be cooked in a shallow ovenproof casserole. Before you prepare the artichokes, prepare the cooking pan by adding ½ - 1 cup of water to the pan (depending on the size) add in 6 - 8 lemon slices or the juice of 1 lemon and a few sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano. Cut the stem off of the artichoke so it will sit flat in the pan, trim the outer leaves, and remove the choke before placing the artichokes in the pan, or you can halve each artichoke as shown in the video if you prefer. Place the pan in the oven and cook in the Steam mode for 20 - 30 minutes, depending on the size of the artichokes. Steamed artichokes can be served with melted garlic butter or a dip. They can be stuffed with a shrimp salad or if you halve them they can be grilled which really brings out their flavor. Steaming Ravioli in the Steam Oven Removing the leaves from cooked artichokes and enjoying the little pocket of artichoke meat from each leaf before finally getting to the heart is a leisurely process making artichokes ideal to serve as an appetizer. However, if you are serving the artichokes as a meal and would like to add another more substantial side dish you might consider steaming some ravioli at the same time. I chose ravioli with lemon ricotta filling to serve with my artichokes. I cooked the ravioli in the solid oven pan with a little added water and salt and steamed them as directed on the package for 4 minutes. Before serving I tossed the ravioli with a creamy pesto sauce. Steam ovens are remarkable appliances that can make food preparation easier and because there is no transfer of flavors when steaming a variety of foods at one time you can easily steam other foods such as lobster tails or some potatoes for a potato salad at the same time. Just think of the Steam oven as the best sous-chef in the kitchen, it will never disappoint. A slow-roasting lamb shoulder fills the air with tantalizing aromas and makes a wonderful weekend meal so please check out my next post for inspiration. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • How To Cook a One-Dish Meal of Japanese Eggplant and Pork Blade Steak in Convection

    Being able to cook a complete meal in the oven is a great way to prepare a quick healthy meal and by using the Convection modes for cooking you can cook multiple dishes at one time with great results. I prepared this meal in a Combination Convection Microwave, Broil oven which is the perfect size for cooking smaller quantities of food. Using the Convection Broil Mode to Cook a Complete Meal Convection cooking yields great results because there is better moisture retention when foods are cooked in Convection; however, choosing the right Convection mode can be confusing because ovens have multiple cooking modes to choose from. It all comes down to understanding where the heat is coming from in each mode and how to use it to your advantage. For example, for this meal, the Japanese eggplant needs to roast for 30 minutes and the steak needs to broil for approximately 10 minutes. I chose the Convection Roast mode to cook the eggplant but set the timer for 20 minutes. At that point, I changed the oven mode to Convection Broil, so I could broil the pork steak while continuing to roast the eggplant. Using these two oven modes in conjunction with each other allowed me to create an easy flavorful one-dish meal. What if my Oven Doesn’t Have a Convection Broil Mode? Not all gas ovens feature a Convection Broil mode, but you can still achieve great results cooking a meal as I have outlined above. For best results when you change the cooking mode to Broil move the pan with the eggplant to a low rack position so it is not too close to the powerful heat of the broil element. That way the eggplant can continue cooking white you broil the steak. Preparation Steps and Choreography for this Meal This meal has great flavor but there are a few ingredients and condiments required to achieve that flavor, so begin by heating the oven and assembling all the ingredients. Once the eggplant is cubed it only needs to be tossed with the oil, garlic, and ginger and spread onto the baking tray ready to go into the oven. While the eggplant is roasting, season the pork steak, mix the ingredients for the sauce, and chop the garnish. Drizzle the sauce over the eggplant when it comes out of the oven, slice the pork steak, and serve it over the eggplant with the garnish. Important Tips for Oven Broiling When the oven is programmed in the Convection Broil mode it will come to temperature very quickly so you can place the pan with the pork steak in the oven right away. Remember to arrange the oven racks before you begin cooking so they are in the best position for you to place the food and always broil foods with the door closed. If you are concerned about smoke and odors traveling into the living space turn on the ventilation over your cooktop to help keep the kitchen air clean. Our Convection, Steam, and Combination Convection Microwave ovens are all designed to make meal preparation easier while yielding great results, so I hope this meal will inspire you to put those ovens to good use. In my next Blog Post, in response to some queries, I will be reviewing steaming Artichokes in the Steam oven. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Baked Chicken Thighs with Lemons and Olives In Easy Steps

    Chicken thighs are a popular choice for a sheet pan meal and adapt well to a variety of seasonings. In this recipe, the chicken thighs are seasoned with a rub of smoked paprika and Italian seasoning and cooked with a mixture of red onions, lemon, and Castelvetrano olives. The recipe is simple enough and the results are delicious, but it’s a good opportunity to talk about the benefits of cooking chicken in Convection. The Benefits of Cooking Chicken in Convection There are several advantages to cooking a sheet pan chicken recipe in Convection. Because food cooked in Convection has better moisture retention if you prefer to use chicken breasts instead of thighs for your recipe you will not risk drying the meat out. In fact, I have had clients tell me they gave up on eating chicken breasts until they experienced cooking them in Convection. Then there is the convenience factor of being able to cook multiple dishes at one time. A medley of seasonal vegetables can be roasted in the oven at the same time or you could also cook a rice pilaf or bake a pasta casserole to serve with the chicken. How to Crisp Chicken Skin in Convection If there is a sacrifice when cooking chicken in Convection it’s not being able to achieve super crispy skin. On the other hand, the moisture retention of chicken cooked in Convection ensures amazing flavor and texture which is preferable to eating dried-out chicken with crisp skin. Here are some tips to help you strike a good balance between crisp skin and juicy chicken when cooking in Convection. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels to absorb as much moisture as possible. Give the chicken a dry rub including kosher salt a few hours before cooking. Give the chicken a light drizzle of a heat-tolerant oil such as avocado oil and place the tray high up in the oven close to the top heating element, taking care that the chicken doesn’t come into contact with the heating element. Begin the cooking in the Bake or Roast mode and set the oven temperature to 425°F. and set the timer for 15 minutes Move the tray to the lower part of the oven and change the oven mode to Convection Roast or Convection Bake 375°F and continue cooking the chicken for another 20 - 25 minutes depending on the size of the pieces being cooked. This way you are making good use of the oven-heating elements and cooking modes to help you achieve the results you want. The first phase of cooking with a drier heat helps render the fat and crisp the skin. In the second phase, the tray with the chicken is moved away from the direct heat, the temperature is lowered, and the circulating heat will cook the chicken evenly. If you leave the temperature too high for the entire cooking time the cooking may be uneven and the edges of the chicken dried out. This recipe works well with the cooking method outlined above, or you can do as I did in the video and cook the chicken on the middle rack and use 400°F for the entire cooking time. When you roast a whole chicken or chicken pieces in Convection be sure to carve the chicken on a rimmed cutting board to avoid all those wonderful cooking juices from escaping all over your countertops. If you have a Convection Microwave oven, also known as a Speed oven, be sure to check out my next post because I have been busy testing some recipes to share with you. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder For Your Next Great Meal

    The generous marbling in a pork shoulder contributes to the wonderful melt-in-your-mouth texture of the meat that is achieved by slow roasting or braising. The benefit of braising is that during the cooking you are also creating a delicious sauce perfect for dishes such as pulled pork. However, when this cut of pork is slowly roasted the meat can be cut into tender delicious slices and served with a variety of side dishes. Slow Roasting in the Convection Mode vs Roast Mode Recipes for slow roasting a pork shoulder provide guidance for oven temperature and timing, but as the owner of a Convection or Steam oven, it will be up to you to decide which cooking mode to choose. Many Convection ovens feature a Convection Roast and a Roast mode, so which would be the best mode to choose? The Roast mode uses the same heating elements as the Bake mode except that the top heating element will cycle on with greater intensity for better browning. The Roast mode is included in the cooking options to give you the choice of how you prefer to cook your food, just remember that foods cooked in this radiant heat mode do tend to dry out more. We know that lean tender roasts cook faster in Convection; however, Convection will not speed up the cooking time of cuts of meat like pork shoulder that require long slow cooking in order to tenderize. However, using Convection for slow roasting is a great choice because the meat will cook more evenly and will have better moisture retention. Because more of the natural juices are retained the meat will have more flavor. Slow Roasting in Convection with Steam Slow roasting with a combination of Convection and Steam definitely adds another dimension of flavor and texture however I find reducing the temperature even lower to 300F (150C) provides better results when roasting with Steam. If your Steam oven offers a choice of humidity levels choose 30% humidity. If your Steam oven only has the option of a Combination Convection + Steam mode, you can change the mode to Convection only for the final 40 minutes or so of cooking for additional browning. Why is Cooking a Large Roast on a Rack so Important? When large roasts are placed directly onto a pan as the pan heats up, the heat of the pan leaches moisture and fat from the meat and believe me a Convection fan can do a good job of splattering all that fat around the oven. You will also find placing the meat on rack makes it much easier to remove the meat from the roasting pan once it has finished cooking. Can I Use a Meat Probe for Slow Roasting? Cuts of meat like pork shoulder require long slow cooking in order to tenderize, so time is the important factor here: allow approximately 4 hours for a 4 - 5lb roast. Meat probes work well when roasting lean tender cuts of meat to avoid overcooking them or to reach a desired internal temperature but in this case, you want to feel the meat almost melt when you pierce it with a fork. Seasoning is Everything For maximum flavor season, the pork with a dry rub a day in advance or marinate it with your preferred marinade and of course let it sit outside of the refrigerator for at least an hour before it goes into the oven. Slow-roasted pork shoulder is perhaps the easiest way to cook a delicious meal, and cooking in Convection or with Steam ensures great results, just take your time. There are so many ways to prepare chicken and in my next post, I will share a recipe that is packed with great flavor. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Good Tips for Broiling Fish - Convection Broil vs Regular Broil

    Cooking an entire meal in your Convection or Steam oven is an easy way to prepare simple healthy meals, but the ovens can also be used to create wonderful meals using totally different heat settings. In this meal, the cod is broiled in the Convection oven while the cabbage is steamed in the Steam oven. The cooking time for both is approximately 7 minutes, however, the flavorful miso glaze takes about 25 minutes to cook so definitely get that started first. In the Broil mode, the goal is not to heat the entire oven, but rather to get the heating element to the desired temperature quickly for a brief period of high-heat cooking, generally, a 5-minute preheat time is sufficient. Most electric ovens feature a Convection Broil mode as well as a regular Broil mode and either can be used with good results. Because the Broil mode directs high heat at food it can have a drying effect on the food. Engaging the fan helps preserve moisture in the food and ensures even cooking. So, broiling with Convection is ideal for broiling fish, meats, and poultry. The dryer heat of the regular Broil mode will produce good caramelization when broiling vegetables such as mushrooms, asparagus, zucchini, onions, and peppers. My video about Convection Broil provides more information and in-depth tips for broiling in both gas and electric ovens. The Choreography for Broiling Cod and Steaming Cabbage When you have a good understanding of the tools of your ovens and how they can work for you as you decide on which recipes to cook you can assign a job to each oven to help you orchestrate the cooking. This Convection meal only includes two dishes but if you want to serve rice with this meal it can also be cooked in the steam oven, the cooking time will be the same as indicated on the package for stovetop cooking. Generally, when cooking rice in the steam oven a ratio of 1 ¾ cups of water to 1 cup of rice rather than 2 cups of water will yield better results. The cabbage and vegetables for the garnish can be prepped while the sauce is cooking, then by the time the ovens have come to temperature and the fish and cabbage are cooked everything will be ready to serve. So with little effort you will have created a delicious meal. Convection and Steam ovens feature a variety of cooking modes that can really simplify cooking, simple meals such as this one are a good way to practice getting the most out of your ovens. I hope you will check out my next post, which will feature a long slow cooking a 4-hour roasted pork shoulder in the Steam oven. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • A Classic Julia Child Chocolate Cake Baked In Convection

    Nothing is more disappointing than baking a recipe you have long perfected in your new oven only to achieve abysmal results. In fact, the majority of issues I have helped people troubleshoot over the years have been related to baking issues. Should I Choose Convection or Traditional Bake? Having a variety of oven modes to choose from is a great feature of modern ovens; however, since recipes don't reference the tools we cook with, then choosing the best oven mode to use can be confusing. Many years ago a client reached out for help because she was having trouble achieving good results with this wonderful sponge cake recipe made popular by Julia Child. The client used the Convection mode to bake the cake but because she had not reduced the temperature by 25 degrees the results were uneven. Overbaked on the edge and not quite done in the center. In order to help her get the results she was used to we baked the recipe twice. Once in Convection, reducing the recipe temperature by 25 degrees, and once in the Traditional Bake mode with no temperature adjustment. Both cakes turned out really well however there was a noticeable difference in the crumb. The cake baked in the Traditional Bake mode had a slightly drier crumb while the cake baked in Convection was more on the moist side. Since both turned out well it really comes down to personal preference as to which mode will give the best results. Other Factors to Consider When Baking in Convection Ovens have changed dramatically in the past twenty years, not only has the oven cavity become much larger, the electric heating element is no longer exposed it is now concealed so it stands to reason newer ovens will cook differently from older ovens. Even gas ovens have better temperature regulation and improved door seals which helps avoid uneven baking. So if you are baking a recipe you have had for a long time and are you are unhappy with the results you may need to make some tweaks. The cooking time may need to be adjusted or the item baked on a different rack position. You could also consider using convection for part of the baking and finishing the item in the bake mode, just remember to adjust the temperature accordingly. Baking The Queen of Sheba Chocolate Almond Cake in Convection This is one of those recipes where the choreography is really important. It is essential to have all the ingredients assembled and everything organized before you start because there are quite a few steps involved and having certain ingredients at the right temperature is important as is working quickly with a light hand. First, the butter and sugar are creamed and combined with the egg yolks then the chocolate is gently melted and combined with the warm coffee, egg yolk mixture, almond extract, and ground almonds. Meanwhile, the egg whites are whipped to stiff shiny peaks, which will take about 8 minutes before being combined with the chocolate mixture and cake flour. The recipe calls for an 8” cake pan and unfortunately I only had a 9” pan so it was a little on the thin side, but the texture and flavor were wonderful. This is a recipe definitely worth perfecting. In my next post, I will be focusing on ways to cook fish in the Steam oven…..there are so many options. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

  • Convection For Fast Family Meal

    Microwave ovens initially became popular because of their ability to cook foods in less time than traditional ovens; however, there are many benefits to cooking in a Convection oven that far outweigh microwave speed and deliver a delicious meal. What are the Benefits of Cooking in Convection? When you select a Convection mode heated air is circulated around the oven, cooking food from the edge to the center. Because the heat is evenly circulated around the oven multiple trays of food can be cooked at one time without having to change the position of the trays during the cooking. Another benefit is that foods cooked in Convection have better moisture retention, so there is a noticeable difference in the flavor and texture from foods cooked in the more drying heat of the traditional Bake or Roast mode. Another unexpected benefit is no transfer of flavor between the different foods being cooked, making it easy to cook multiple dishes at one time. What is the Benefit of Cooking a Complete Meal in the Oven? The answer is easy, one of the greatest benefits is time. When you place several dishes in the oven the food is being cooked in a contained environment so you can set the timer and safely leave the kitchen and enjoy 20 - 30 minutes of free time while the meal cooks. Foods cooked on the cooktop require more careful attention and monitoring which may keep you tied to the kitchen. I think that is what makes cooking at the end of a busy day so stressful and, there are more saucepans to clean. If the oven gets dirty just close the door however, if the cooktop gets dirty, it can be a not-so-appealing eyesore. How to Cook a Complete Meal in Convection To cook a complete meal in Convection you just have to think through the cooking time for each dish. For example, this is the cooking plan for this meal of Mexican Meatloaf with Classic Red Rice and Baked Fish. Meatloaf, 10 minutes to prep, 45 - 50 minutes to bake, and 10 minutes to rest before serving. Rice, 10 minutes to prep and 25 minutes to bake in the oven. Fish, 2 minutes to prep, 10 minutes to bake in the oven. When cooking this meal you would begin by placing the meatloaf in the oven, then add the rice after 25 minutes, then add in the fish for the final 10 minutes. Which Convection Mode Should I Choose? Well, this is probably the biggest challenge you will face, because every oven is different but here are some guidelines. If your oven has a Convection Mode then that would be a good choice for this particular meal. The heat would only be coming from the rear Convection element and circulating around the oven so each dish will cook evenly no matter where placed. I would still place the meatloaf and fish above the pan with the rice to avoid any condensation dripping onto those foods. If your oven has a Convection Bake mode, that will also work but in that mode, the Top and Bottom heating elements will be cycling on and the Convection fan will be circulating the heat. When cooking in this mode I would suggest placing the meatloaf in the upper part of the oven for some top browning and cooking the fish on the same rack. I would cook the rice in a covered pan on rack position 2, counting up from the bottom of the oven. I hope you will learn to see your Convection oven in a new light and appreciate the tools it offers you to cook simple delicious meals more easily. For more inspiration on how to cook a complete meal, check out these recipes for Slow Roasted Tri Tip with Tomatillo Salsa and Roasted Potatoes with Peppers and Chipotle Braised Short Ribs with Stuffed Acorn Squash and Caramel Sauce Apple Bread Pudding. Each of these meals includes recipes with a touch of spice, perfect to perk up our taste buds during these dreary winter months. Julia Child made Reine de Saba, a light chocolate almond cake famous and in my next post I will review baking this delicious treat in Convection. Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast

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