How To Buy a Stove

Whether you call it a stove or a range, you’re going to want to keep these considerations in mind when shopping for a new … oh I give up.

black-electric-range

Though freestanding ranges are the most commonly used, slide-in ranges are growing in popularity. Featuring unfinished sides and controls on the front, this style lends a more built-in look, great for islands, and featuring decorative backsplashes.

Pro-Style Ranges

Professional ranges mimic the performance and appearance of a true commercial range. Pro-style ranges use the most durable components and achieve high temperatures for rapid boiling as well as extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering.

Larger models (36”, 48” or 60” wide) can include built-in griddles and grills. Their ovens offer convection and high-temperature broiling. Convection ovens use airflow for even heat distribution and consistent baking, even with multiple racks. When cooking meats, convection fans sear the skin to retain moisture.

wolf-range

Gas vs. Electric Ranges

Professional and aspiring chefs usually prefer gas due to a common misconception of all-around superior performance; In most cases electric ranges boil liquid just as quickly and frequently. Electric burners reach extremely low temperatures for delicate and precise simmering. But the heat-retention qualities of electric coils and ceramic surfaces cannot range from high to low heat instantaneously as gas cooktops can. But glass surfaces of electric ranges are the easiest to clean and maintain.

When it comes to ovens, electric responds quicker to temperature changes, providing less heat variance overall for more consistent baking results. However, gas ovens provide more “moist heat,” which is better for meats and vegetables. For cooks who want the best of both worlds, the dual-fuel range has the flexibility and control of gas burners on the cooktop with the accuracy and precision of an electric oven.

Induction range burners use magnets to directly heat cookware and leaving the surface cool to the touch, combining an unmatched degree of safety with high power and the responsiveness of gas.

Hot Stove Features

  • Warming Drawer – functions as a keep-warm area.
  • Second Oven – additional cavity functions as a separate oven. Perfect for cooking short items such as pizzas, pies, casseroles, etc.

slide-in-double-oven-range

  • Split Oven Racks – can be partially removed as needed for cooking multiple dishes simultaneously.
    split-rack

    Split racks accommodate simultaneous baking of tall dishes.

    Featured image via Café

Baking Tips: How To Soften Butter

microwaving-butter

Betcha didn’t think Christmas cookie baking could be improved with your microwave.

This weekend, the ladies in the Warner family attempted to start a tradition of Christmas cookie baking.

Baking Christmas cookies takes a lot of planning and shopping and measuring and mixing and of course, baking (which includes cooling and sometimes rotating, if your oven lacks convection).

My soon-to-be sister-in-law chose to make these Russian Tea Cakes for the first time ever. The recipe calls for a cup of softened butter, but because we were making 6 dozen instead of 4 dozen, we needed a cup and a half of softened butter (that’s a lot). And although I am  horrible baker, she asked me a question I could actually answer:

How do you soften butter without melting it?

Because of our early morning start, the butter I brought to my mom’s was still refrigerator-hard. So we needed to intercede.

Perhaps your experience with softening butter in the microwave involves you — nose pressed up against the glass — nuking the flavorful fat ingredient in short intervals and praying it doesn’t melt.

Softening gone wrong

Softening gone wrong

But that’s not how it’s supposed to be at all.

Soften a stick of butter by microwaving it for a minute at 10% power.

Soften a stick of butter by microwaving it for a minute at 10% power.

To soften our cup and a half of butter, we microwaved each stick for a minute a piece at 10% power.

Based on your microwave, you might want to amp up to 20% and adjust the time or even use the defrost setting (which is 30% power).

Later, we also adjusted our microwave power to soften cream cheese for Peanut Butter Balls (which are amazing, by the way).

Microwave power levels can also come in handy for reheating foods, I’ve found. Foods like pizza and French fries revive less soggier when microwaved longer at lower power.

Try it out!

Share your tried and true baking tips in the comments section below. 

DCS Liberty Grills Provide Entertaining Freedom

The classic grill configuration doesn’t make for easy entertaining. Think about it: you flip the top to land about even with your mouth, which maybe doesn’t matter, as you typically locate your gas grill against something (a wall, a deck, a fence) anyway.

How are you supposed to conversate? Who wants to gather round that?

Now imagine a setup where the grill is more like a cooktop… just open, with no top to baffle your babble or keeps guests away.

OK, stop imagining; Here it is.

DCS Liberty Grill

Those who have lots of friends and parties (and are into that kind of stuff) will probably wonder why no one thought of this before. This being the DCS Liberty, which “even allows you to effortlessly host an omelet bar in your outdoor kitchen.” Well thank goodness!

It’s called the Liberty because all the individual applications free up your outdoor living design, unhinging it from all those icky conventions and letting you enjoy your outdoor cooking experience along with – instead of apart from – all your friends.

You can pretty much mix and match all the individual pieces in the DCS Liberty Collection to do whatever you want. This curved shape lets everyone gather round (pun intended).

Kitchen Energy Saving Tips

Stoves, cooktops and ovens aren’t Energy Star rated, because most models use about the same amount of energy. But there are certainly ways to use less gas or electricity when cooking. Follow these tips to save energy (and as a result, money) while cooking.

Keep It Clean

Maintaining a tidy cook surface isn’t just about impressing company (or your cat).
Dirty surfaces don’t reflect heat as well as polished surfaces, thus wasting energy and potentially your time.

Size Matters

Unless you’re using an induction cooktop or range, you’re heating a lot of air while you try to heat your food. Induction cooking is 20% more efficient than electric and 70% more efficient than gas.

To mitigate energy loss, choose the appropriate sized pot or pan for the size of burner you’re cooking on (i.e. don’t put a 1-qt saucepan on a ginormous “power burner”).

Put a Lid On It

When you think about it, it makes no sense to boil water in an uncovered pot. Using a cover helps water boil faster while creating pressure and preventing evaporation.

Skip the Preheat

Unless you’re baking and require precise temperatures, you don’t need to wait till your oven reaches 350 degrees to throw your food in. Better yet, shut off your oven a few minutes early and let residual heat finish off your dish. Even better yet, make two pans to freeze leftovers and reheat in the microwave later.

Do you have any tip for saving energy in the kitchen? Share them in the comments section below!

Don’t Put Foil In the Oven

Maybe your grandma used to use tinfoil to line her oven floor to aid cleanup.

But times have changed; tinfoil is no longer made of tin. The stuff you use to shield your ham is actually aluminum foil, which has a lower heat tolerance.

The high temperatures of your oven floor can actually cause the foil to melt right onto that oven surface.

And you can’t clean it off.

aluminum foil in ovenWe’ve had Warners’ Stellian  customers spend hundreds of dollars replacing the oven floor on relatively new ranges because of this well-intentioned mistake.

Instead, aluminum foil-makers suggest you line the oven rack you’re using with aluminum foil rather than lining the oven itself.