Cooking is a joy to some; to others, it's drudgery. Regardless of how your view it, you'll find that a well planned, professionally installed cooking center makes the job easier and more enjoyable.
Before confronting the array of cooking equipment available, determine which type of energy you prefer- gas or electric. Gas appliances heat and cool quickly. The flame is visible and easy to control. Electric cooking provides low even heat.
Choosing an energy source is only the beginning. Now you must think about the type of cooking you do and then select from the many options available.
A Conventional gas or electric cooktop is built into a counter like a sink. Connections are underneath. Unless you purchase a down venting model, the unit will require an overhead hood to remove grease and odours.
There are several options in choosing a cooktop.
Convertible gas or electric cooktops are similar to conventional models that let you replace burners with grills, griddles and other specialty items. Electric cooktops are available with ceramic glass over the heat coils, magnetic induction surfaces and solid cast burners. Most gas cooktops today are available with the pilot less electronic ignition which eliminates the continuous standing pilot light of years past.
Electric Solid Disk Elements are cooking surfaces which are flat rather than tubular. Solid Disk elements have 100 percent more surface area than tubular elements so you get even heat distribution and no hot spots. Using a low heat setting on the solid element, you can even make a delicate sauce without a double boiler. Solid elements do not have to reach the unsafe "red hot" temperatures of tubular elements so they are unlikely to fail or need replacement. The elements last longer and so does your cookware. The red dot on the solid element indicates a built-in temperature limiter that automatically reduces the power if a pan boils dry or an element is turned on without a pan. By reducing the power by over 50 percent, the limiter protects the element from overheating. What this means to you is no more warped or melted pots and a reduced chance of a fire starting in your kitchen.
How about cooking time? If you look at a solid disk element that is turned on, you might assume the element cools slowly because it doesn't glow like a tubular element. It takes 35 minutes to cook 3pounds of potatoes on a tubular element and 36 minutes to cook the same amount of potatoes on a solid disk element. One minute is probably not significant in your total cooking time.
With induction cooktop technology, cooking is done by a magnetic field rather than direct heat. The advantage to you is that it is faster and cleaner than conventional electric cooktops and as fast and responsive as gas. It doesn't, however, have the hazards of an open flame. The induction cooktop has not gained significantly in popularity yet it remains a very good method for surface cooking.
Quartz Halogen cooking represents the newest technology. It has two vacuum-sealed quartz glass tubes filled with halogen gas. This provides instantaneous light and heat. Quartz Halogen cooking has some of the advantages of induction cooking. With respect to performance, it is almost a blend of induction and conventional electric. There is no preheating required. Quartz Halogen also offers instant visual response. Even at the lowest setting, the user can easily see that it is on. The translucent smooth cooktop and control panel provide easy clean-up. The heating upward and not sideways, leaving the surrounding cooktop relatively cool.
The appliances you choose can enhance the efficiency of your new kitchen. The most important considerations in your selection are your overall cooking habits and preparation needs. Different appliances offer different features. You'll need to become familiar with the features of each appliance to make the best decision.
Today, there are as many different kinds of wall ovens as there are cooktops. You can now choose conventional gas or electric, microwave and/or convection ovens. Each can be built into your new kitchens design for maximum efficiency. You should, however, carefully consider your everyday and special occasion cooking needs. Often, you need at least two ovens to simultaneously prepare foods.
You can add to the efficiency of your kitchen if the ovens you choose are well placed. For instance: double ovens can be installed one above the other or side by side. Combining a conventional radiant heat oven with a microwave or energy saving convection oven is another popular choice. Oven features include: built-in warmer shelves, rotisseries, attached meat thermometers, choice of self-cleaning or continuous cleaning interiors and variable speed broilers. Before you choose your ovens, become familiar with all of the alternatives.
Convection ovens, used frequently throughout Europe and in restaurants, were brought to the United States residential market during 1978 by the Jenn-Air Corporation. By providing energy savings as well as versatility, convection ovens rapidly gained in popularity.
In convection cooking, hot air is circulated throughout the oven. Just as a fan blowing over an ice cube will cause it to melt faster by removing the layer of cool air surrounding it. With warmer room temperature air, foods will cook more quickly and at lower temperatures by using hot air circulation, provided the food is not covered. The oven temperature can therefore be reduced by about 50 degrees. Cooking time can be reduced by approximately one third.
In addition, a new dimension in versatility is possible with regard to the amount of food that can be cooked uniformly in a convection oven. Thanks to air circulation, it's possible to maintain a more even baking temperature throughout the oven cavity allowing the cook to load as many as four oven racks full of food and still maintain even baking.
Aside from energy savings and flexibility, convection cooking is the chef's choice for pastries and meats. For the same reason we cool pies, breads and cookies on racks that allow air circulation, pastries cooked in convection ovens have flakier crusts and lighter textures. If you've ever wondered how restaurants make meats like prime rib crusty and flavorful on the exterior and rich and juicy on the inside, convection ovens are the answer. As meat roasts in a convection oven, the juices coming to the outside of the meat are crusted on as hot air hits them. This crusty exterior seals the meat and traps the flavour inside.
The first practical micro-thermal oven was introduced during 1978. With this technology, the cook can use both microwave radiation and conventional heat simultaneously. The benefit of this is two-fold. With micro-thermal cooking, you get the speed of a microwave combined with the crisping and browning of conventional heat. Micro-thermal cooking shortens microwave cooking time 25-30 percent. This provides you with fast, fresh and flavorful meals.
Ranges combine the cooktop and the oven in one unit. Models and finishes are as varied as those offered in separate units. Additional features include bottom drawers or broilers and easy-to-clean backsplashes. You can choose between three types of ranges: freestanding, slide-in (made to fit between cabinets) and drop in (designed to be suspended from the countertop) All are available in electric or gas.
For efficiency's sake, base your selection of a refrigerator, refrigerator/freezer or freezer on the size of your family, your shopping habits and your lifestyle. Finishes include standard appliance colours (enameled or textured), brushed chrome, wood grain and black glass. Some models offer interchangeable door panels. They are also available in built-in models with door panels to match your cabinets.
Before you select a model, consider these features: number and adjustability of shelves, crispers, meat storage compartments, location and range of temperature controls, ice maker and defrost options, direction of door opening, and energy saving devices such as a power save switch. Available are standard refrigerators with the freezer on top, refrigerators with the freezer located on the bottom and side-by-side models. Several companies have produced a refrigerator that is 24" in depth, the same as kitchen cabinets. This provides the designer with the ability to achieve a built-in look.
THE KITCHEN EMPORIUM INC.