August 16, 2017

Archives for February 2009

Pro-Style Ranges, Who, What and Why

We’ve all seen them, those big, shiny ranges that are often the centerpiece of a new kitchen or remodel.  The question is do you need one?

You might be interested in one for the style it adds to your home even if the added power that comes with the equipment is not something you’ll use.  Professional style ranges, like restaurant stoves,  generate more heat than a standard range – the ovens and the gas burners on top have a higher BTU (British Thermal Unit) output than conventional kitchen ranges, but unlike restaurant stoves, they’re specially insulated.  And, unlike conventional kitchen stoves, you will need a hood for ventilation, just as in a restaurant kitchen.

An advantage of a professional-series range is that the top gas burners burn hotter, allowing you to boil, saute or steam faster, but “you can also actually simmer on a low flame without burning the bottom of your pot,” says James Kita, sales manager for Metro Builders Supply in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Most of the ranges have convection ovens, which use fans to spread heat throughout the oven cavity to provide an even temperature throughout.   You’ll probably use more gas for a pro-style stove than a conventional one, Kita says. But as far as energy-efficiency is concerned, unlike refrigerators, dishwashers or washing machines, “they don’t rate these ranges because it’s not a machine that’s running all the time.”

There are also additional points to consider:  they weigh more conventional ovens, so installation will likkely cost more;they might require additional insulation in the kitchen, and there is the additional expenditure for a hood.

Professional style ranges are available from multiple manufacturers such as Viking, Thermador and even Kenmore and GE.  These companies identify them generally as “Professional Series”.  Prices range from $2,000 to $12,000, depending on the brand and the size of the stove – they vary in width from 30 to 60 inches.

Thermador’s Newest Cooktop Technology

Thermador has released its newest cooktops making it almost unnecessary for us to monitor our cooking.  The infrared sensor technology which they have named Sensor Dome, is available in electric cooktops.

In the electric models,  the retractable sensor dial utilizes an infrared beam to continuously measure heat from the cookware.  Sensor Dome automatically cycles the burner on and off to maintain the precise temperature needed while preventing boil over. The result is time-savings combined with superior cooking performance, without the guesswork or the need to constantly adjust the temperature.

In addition, Sensor Dome works in conjunction with the exclusive new CookSmart® program, which is currently available on Thermador’s advanced Masterpiece wall ovens.  Designed again to save consumers time and effort, CookSmart offers nine pre-programmed temperature modes to perfectly prepare a variety of common recipes, including pasta, potatoes and vegetables, as well as assist with deep frying.

It also operates a keep warm function on all elements, child lock for unintended cooktop use and fast preheat that quickly reaches the high temperature needed and then cycles down to the preset level. In addition, the series offers the 36” cooktop (with one sensor) with a center element that is 13” in size at 4,000 watts, making it the largest and most powerful electric cooktop in the industry.  For those consumers who still prefer the intuitive turn of the dial, Thermador’s electric cooktops are also available with mechanical knob controls.

This cooktop is part of Thermador’s Masterpiece and Masterpiece Deluxe Series and is available in both 30″ and 36″ sizes.  They retail for around $1,300 -$2,000 depending on the style and options you select.

Admit it – You Love Your Microwave

Microwaves are one of the great conveniences of life. They heat up our coffee and lunch at work, make popcorn for snacks and heat up leftovers for a quick dinner.  While most of us admit to using the microwave for these tasks, there are fewer who find they truly cook meals using them.

“Everyone says that all they use it for is defrosting, reheating and making popcorn,” Johanna Burkhard says at a recent Microwave Myth Debunking session put on by Panasonic at Toronto’s Calphalon Culinary Centre, “but when I tell them to write down everything they’ve put into it over a week, they surprise themselves.”

Burkhard should know. She wrote the book on it. Or rather, one of the books on microwave cooking, hers being 125 Best Microwave Oven Recipes. Other best-sellers include The Well-Filled Microwave Cookbook and Microwave Gourmet by Barbara Kafka, regarded as the bible on the subject.

Your may find that you mostly melt chocolate or steam some broccoli in your microwave but Burkhard shows that you can whip up several fast and nutritious dishes, including perfectly cooked asparagus with Gorgonzola and pine nuts, Mediterranean chicken, and an especially tasty one-dish meal of spicy ginger salmon with steamed vegetables.

Go ahead, try it:

JOHANNA BURKHARD’S SPICY GINGER SALMON WITH STEAMED VEGETABLES – 3 tbsp (45mL) orange juice – 4 tsp (20mL) soy sauce – 1 tbsp (15mL) rice vinegar – 1 tbsp (15mL) packed brown sugar – 1 tsp (5mL) cornstarch – 2 tsp (10mL) minced fresh ginger – 1 small clove garlic, minced – ½ tsp (2mL) chili paste or to taste – 2 centre-cut salmon fillets (5 ozs/150g each), skin removed – 1 cup (250mL) thinly sliced mushrooms – 2 cups (500mL) shredded Swiss chard or spinach – ½ red bell pepper, cut into 2″ (5cm) thin strips – 1 green onion, finely sliced

1. In a glass measure, blend orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and cornstarch until smooth. Add ginger, garlic and chili paste. Microwave on high for 1 to 1½ minutes, stirring once, until sauce comes to a full boil and thickens. Sauce will be quite thick. 2. Place salmon in an 8″ (2L) glass baking dish, pour prepared sauce overtop, cover with microwave-safe plastic wrap and turn back one corner to vent. Microwave on medium (50% power) for 3½ to 5 minutes or until fish is just opaque.

3. Layer with mushrooms, Swiss chard, red pepper and green onion. Cover and cook at medium for 3 to 4 minutes or until Swiss chard is just wilted and pepper is tender-crisp.  (I suggest serving this with rice.) Makes 2 servings.

Hate Ironing? Hate Wrinkles? Try Steam.

Steam is the latest thing in the laundry room.  You can get steam enhanced washers and dryers and although they’ve been around for years, clothes steamers are making a presence lately.  In the past they were most often seen at cleaners or tailors.  You could drop off your suit for pressing and steaming, picking it up in a day or two.

Today, steamers come in a variety of styles and the cost makes them practical to have around the house.  One that has caught my eye is Rowenta’s Ultra Steam Steambrush.  It has a compact electric pump that delivers continuous steam that can be adjusted to different fabrics.  It also has dual heating elements to accommodate voltage of 120 or 230 volts without a problem.

The brush on the Steambrush is removeable and the unit comes with a removable lint pad. It weighs about 1.5 pounds and comes with a travel bag for taking it where ever you go.

The Steambrush retails for around $35.

GE Profile Induction Range

Induction cooking is continuing its rise in popularity and the manufacturers are responding.  If you’ve been hearing about induction cooking, but haven’t a clue how it works, you can read about it here, where we explain all the details for you.  Including an explanation of why only half that chocolate bar in the picture is melting .

GE is offering their answer to  consumer interest by debuting a freestanding induction range in their Profile series.  GE plans to offer the induction cooking technology exclusively in the Profile Series.

The range comes with a 3700-watt output element and will be available in a variety of colors, finishes and sizes.  This range will be available in Spring 2009.

Helpful Refrigerator Tips

Here are a few quick ideas to help keep your fridge cool and your family healthy:

Refrigerate hot foods as soon as possible and within two hours after cooking.  You can put hot foods in the refrigerator – they cool faster there – just put them in small, shallow containers for faster cooling.

Keep the refrigerator at 40F degrees or lower.  If you’re not sure of te temperature, you can buy and inexpensive refrigerator thermometer and adjust the temperature if necessary.

Date leftovers so they can be used within a safe time.  Most foods are usually safe if eaten within three to five days of being refrigerated.  Foods from restaurants should generally be eaten sooner.

Don’t overload the refrigerator. You need space between the containers for the cold air to circulate.  This not only keeps the food uniformly cold, but helps the unit run efficiently.

Bissell’s Pet Photo Contest 2009

Do you have the cutest pet in the world?  Come on, you know you think so.  Or maybe not.  Maybe you know that the zany uniqueness of your family pet is what stands out.  Either way, Bissell, the carpet cleaner specialist is offering you a chance to show your pet to the world.

One winner will be selected each week, with a grand prize winner being chosen to receive one of the following Bissell products: Pet Hair Eraser, SpotBot Pet, Lift Off, Revolution Pet, Pro Heat 2X Revolution Pet.  Plus a $10,000 Donation to the Pet Cause of winner’s choice.  Additionally, your pet’s photo will be placed on a future Bissell package.

To read all the details and submit your pet’s photo you can click here.  Come back and let us know if you win!

Whirlpool’s Eco Kitchen Line

According to the US government, kitchen appliances use the bulk of our household energy consumption. In addressing the need to save energy, Whirlpool has introduced their Eco Line.  The line is designed to be as much as 290 percent more efficient than previous models and includes a Resource Saver refrigerator, Resource Saver dishwasher and Energy Save range.

With energy use equivalent to powering a 60-watt light bulb, the Resource Saver refrigerator exceeds Energy Star standards by 10 percent. To help stretch the dollar even further and better preserve food, the refrigerator’s 6th Sense technology automatically adjusts cooling to bring existing food to the desired temperature in half the time. A Fast Cool button immediately drops the refrigerator and/or freezer temperatures to accommodate new food additions, such as hot leftovers.

The dishwasher uses one-third less water and energy than dishwashers manufactured seven years ago. The savings is the result of greater water pressure to break up more food more efficiently. Synchronized spray arms clean dishes on the upper rack first, followed by the lower rack, resulting in enhanced cleaning performance.

Also in the Eco Kitchen line are two ranges equipped with an Energy Save mode. The feature conserves electricity when the oven is not is use. Similar to a computer’s sleep mode, it dims extra features such as the digital clock and control display.

The dishwasher retails for about $800, the range $700 and the refrigerator, which will be available in March, for about $2,000.