Convection Oven v/s Microwave Oven : 5 Tips on how to make the right pick?

Even though convection ovens and microwave ovens have some similarities but both the appliances work and cook in a very different way. Let us make it more clear with an example, where a convection microwave vent microwaves that are efficient of passing through glass and plastic containers to cook food. While on the other hand, a convection oven cooks at a lower temperature that uses a heated air system and is used for browning, roasting and grilling foods in a short amount of time, and you won’t get this feature in a microwave.

To know what makes a convection oven different from a microwave oven or vice-versa, have a look at these differences or you can check the kitchenguyd’s review of these appliances.

Types

Generally, there are five basic types of microwave ovens: over the range, convection, built in, commercial and countertop microwaves. The type of microwave you want to have in your kitchen depends on your cooking space and needs. Since convection microwaves are a combination of a standard microwave and a convection oven, so they are somewhat different from the regular microwave.

There are two basic types of convection ovens available i.e. third element convection ovens and European convection ovens. Both the appliances use convection fan so that hot air moves around the food, but the third element convection oven comes with an extra feature of the heating element near the fan so that it can blow preheated air.

convection oven

Features

Convection ovens are nothing more than a traditional oven in which the heated air just move around with the help of a fan. Convection oven warms the food faster than a traditional one as it features moving air, and reduces the flow of cold air that would otherwise insulate the food. The convection oven quickly moves hot air around the food and also cook food quickly to that at a lower temperature.

You actually cannot consider microwave as “oven” in a traditional sense, they are more like kitchen appliances to heat the food. When you keep the food inside the appliance, a microwave’s radiation heats water and other polarized molecules present in the food. Microwaves tend to heat the food and ensure not to cook it again, which other appliances cannot do.

Considerations

It is true that a microwave cannot brown or cook the food like a convection oven can do but considering microwave as an oven replacement is not a good idea as it only heats food quickly and efficiently. It also cannot reach the temperatures like an oven. If you want to have a convection oven, remember that it will have a 50-degree reduction in cooking temperature juxtaposed to a conventional oven.

Microwave Oven

Benefits

The very first benefit of having a microwave is that you can quickly heat your leftovers or any cold food that is not really possible with a convection oven. They work in a different manner and allows the user to cook food in half the time of traditional ovens and also cooking at lower temperatures. Deciding which one is better and which one to buy whether a convection oven or microwave has no end as both of them have their own distinct benefits.

Health Effects

No matter you use a convection oven or a microwave, both will destroy many nutrients in the food being cooked. Cooking food in a microwave convert vitaminB12 from active to inactive form that means it makes around 40% of a B12 present in the food unusable.

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How To Make Mashed Sweet Potato Recipe

To make mashed sweet potatoes, first, we have to get good quality sweet potatoes then we will squash them with maple syrup,  margarine and a little cinnamon and cream. This is the easiest recipe you can make for your children and trust me they will love it.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:

  •  3 to 4 medium sweet potatoes, in the vicinity of 2 pounds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons spread
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • cinnamon, to taste
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons cream or milk

Instructions:

  1. Cook sweet potatoes in bubbling water until delicate. Let cool somewhat; peel. Crush with salt, margarine, and maple syrup.
  2. Add cinnamon to taste then keep on squashing with the milk or creamer to craved consistency.

Your mashed sweet potatoes are ready.

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Tips: The buyer’s guide to coffee capsule

What is a coffee capsule? Where can you use it? A coffee capsule is used in single-serve coffee makers to brew a fresh cup of coffee in just 3-4 minutes. Many single-serve coffee makers, especially Keurig coffee makers, utilize the coffee capsule instead of using ground coffee directly to make a cup of coffee.

A coffee capsule can brew exactly one cup of coffee which is perfect for one person. So, which coffee capsule is good? What all factors to you consider before buying a coffee capsule?

Don’t worry, we have compiled a list of factors which you should consider when planning to buy a coffee capsule for your coffee maker.

  1. What size should you choose?

The first thing to consider when buying a coffee capsule is how the size of the coffee filter basket or coffee capsule holder in the coffee maker. Once you have determined the size of the holder, then you can decide on a coffee capsule which matches that size.

If you have a big holder, you would be able to brew a large quantity of coffee and would require a larger coffee capsule for it. If your coffee maker has a small coffee filter basket, then you would need to choose a coffee capsule which is appropriately sized for that.

  1. Which flavor to consider?

The next thing to consider would be the flavor of your coffee. There are several flavored coffee capsules available and you can choose the one which you like the most. You could find a strong flavor or a sweet flavor. So, make sure you choose a coffee flavor which you like and then get that coffee capsule.

  1. Reusable capsule or one-time use capsule?

The major drawback of using a coffee capsule is that you can only use it once. So most coffee capsules are used & throw and tend to harm the environment by a great deal due to the non-biodegradable covering.

There many coffee capsules which are reusable though and are a good choice instead of the use and throw capsules. In a reusable capsule, you can fill the ground coffee of your choice and then use it to brew coffee. They tend to be cheaper than the one-time use capsules too.

  1. Which brand to consider?

Although there aren’t many brands for buying a coffee capsule and K-cups are the most popular coffee capsules but these work only on Keurig coffee makers. There are a few brands which you can consider for buying your coffee capsules.

K-cups are expensive and most often non-biodegradable and one-time use, so opt for a brand which provides you with a reusable and cheaper alternative.

  1. How much will it cost?

One of the most important things to consider while buying coffee capsule is the price o. K-cups tend to be mostly non-reusable.

So, choose a coffee capsule which is reusable as it would greatly reduce the cost for you since you won’t have to buy it again and you will be able to use your own ground coffee as you please.

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Michelada: A Beer Cocktail from Mexico

I spent Memorial Day weekend in Mexico City. It was my first visit to Mexico. We spent days exploring various neighborhoods and markets. Almost everything we ate from the street vendor’s taco to the fine dining was outstanding. However, for my Spoons to Sporks posts, it was tricky. Since I’ve never had really authentic Mexican food before I wanted to try some of the more unusual dishes that I can’t get at Mexican places in the States.

My huitlacoche, corn fungus, empanadas were really good. I wasn’t such a fan of the grilled cactus paddle with braized lamb. There was even a dish with an ingredient that translated to ant swarm. I didn’t ask too much about that one… sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Although for me the best part of the cuisine was the sauces. With great enthusiasm, I applied the accompanying condiments liberally to everything I ate. The one that I found most interesting/yummy/searingly hot was almost black and made with ashes among, I imagine, many other ingredients.

Unfortunately, I can’t easily find corn fungus, cactus paddles, food grade ashes or ant swarm in New York. However, all those fun and interesting dishes were washed down with some terrific drinks and drinks I can do. The only time I ever graduated first in my glass was from bartending school.

One night as we were sampling various cervezas and Reed ordered a Sol. For some reason, this beer arrived as a cocktail with a salt-rimmed, glass already partly filled with a salty lime juice mixture and ice. I’ve never been a fan of beer cocktails but this was light and refreshing. I tried to ask the waiter what was in it but the language barrier got in the way. When I got home I looked it up and that’s when I discovered the Michelada.

Micheladas are ‘prepared beer’ and according to Google are quite popular in Mexico and Texas. There are a million regional variations. The most common ingredients I found included but were not limited to, tomato juice, Clamato, soy sauce, lime juice, lemon juice, salt, hot sauce, and/or Worcestershire sauce.

I did a little experimenting (I really sacrifice for this blog sometimes) and I prefer my Michelada without tomato or Worcestershire. I don’t enjoy Bloody Marys and I imagine that’s a good way to gauge whether you’d prefer your Michelada with or without tomato juice and Worcestershire. Lastly, I didn’t mess around with the soy sauce.

It didn’t seem like a logical ingredient for a traditional Mexican cocktail. Plus I’m reasonably sure the Micheladas we sampled in Mexico City kept it simple with just lime, salt, and a dash of hot sauce and I really liked those.

Michelada (serves 1, scale as needed)

(Active time: 5 minutes)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 3-6 dashes of hot sauce
  • ice
  • 1 light Mexican beer (Sol, Dos Equis, Pacifico, Modelo etc.)

The Procedure:

  1. Mix salt and chili powder in a shallow bowl.
  2. Run a slice of lime around the rim of a chilled glass, and then dip it in salt and chili mixture.
  3. Next add lime juice, hot sauce,  and ice to the glass. Finally, pour in a cold beer and gently stir.
  4. -if you’re looking for a stronger drink add a shot of tequila with the ice.

**A Michelada is great served with tortilla chips and guacamole and/or salsa.

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Fresh Lime Margarita inspired by Mexico City

The other drink I indulged in while visiting Mexico City was the Margarita. There are tons of festive varieties in the States and I’ve been happy to sample a number of them but while in Mexico I wanted to stick with the old school style: on the rocks lime Margarita.

All the Margaritas I enjoyed in Mexico City were bursting with fresh lime flavor, slightly sweet but not coyly so. I think they were so much more refreshing than the ones I get at home because they made them with freshly squeezed limes instead of Margarita mix as most bars in the States do.

Also, the limes in Mexico are more like Key limes which are sweeter and less acidic than the Persian limes commonly found in American supermarkets.

Taking one for the team (the team being Spoons to Sporks; food blogging is tough…) I sampled a variety of Margaritas and I hate to admit this but I liked the one from the W Hotel bar the best (that hurts to type).

In order, I would rank them: #1: W Hotel Bar #2: Dulce Patria #3: Cantina LA No. 20.  Reed would rate the bars differently but he likes stronger drinks than I do and the W bar made a lovely light concoction that barely tasted like tequila. The other bars had more robust drinks which were good but slightly strong for me.

One oddity is that I don’t like salt on my Margarita which is odd because I have a major crush on salt. There’s a lovely blog, Not Without Salt, and I think that’s the perfect way to describe food, eating, and epicurean enjoyment but the name was already taken.

A confession: I took the pictures of the finished drinks with their pretty, little, salt halos and then promptly wiped off the salt on my one.  Salt or no; this is a great Margarita recipe. If you can find them use Key limes. Enjoy!

Margarita with Fresh Lime Juice (2-3 drinks)

(Total time 15 minutes)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 c gold tequila (makes a strong drink, next time I’d only add 1/2 c but I don’t like strong cocktails)
  • 1/3 c orange liquor such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier (My mini Cointreau only contained 1/4 c so I compensated by adding a little more lime to the margarita)
  • 1/3 c fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • ice
  • 2 tbsp kosher or sea salt (optional)
  • 2-3 lime wedges (optional)

The Procedure:

Combine tequila, orange liquor, lime juice, and sugar in a pitcher or container; stir to dissolve the sugar.

Add ice to lime mixture.

Pour salt into a shallow bowl.

Moisten the rim of 4 glasses with the lime slice.

Hold each glass upside down and dip the rim into the salt.

Pour the mix into glasses. Garnish with lime wedges.

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The Pikey Brings Back Welsh Rarebit, the Ugly Duckling of British Pub Food

After taking in a Dodgers game Reed and I ended up at the Pikey, 7617 W Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, for a late night dinner.  The Pikey, L.A.’s newest British themed gastropub, has a chef the comes from the Spotted Pig so my expectations were high and they only got higher when I saw Welsh Rarebit on the menu.

Welsh Rarebit could be the love child of a Le Pain Quotidien tartine and a grilled cheese sandwich. With an unfortunate name and homely appearance, the only reason Welsh Rarebit has is still around is because it’s so yummy.  I was happy to see that the Pikey was bringing it back.

This warm, gooey combination of cheese, bread, and beer can be whipped up during the span of a commercial break. Making it the perfect dinner while you’re watching the London Summer Olympics.

While I’m skeptical about watching football, baseball, and basketball games, I’ll happily sit through hours of random rhythmic gymnastic events, rowing, and fencing competitions. I’ll be rooting for the Americans (you go Rafalca!) but Bob Costas has been known to sway my allegiance with a good tear-jerker of a personal interest story and all of a sudden I really want the little Russian gymnast to win. One more week… I can’t wait.

When the Welsh Rarebit arrived I was happy to see the Pikey had run it under the broiler. There are two schools of thought about Welsh Rarebit. Some people treat it as an English style fondue. Others slather the bread with a cheese mixture brown it under the broiler.  I’m with the broiler school of thought.

Unfortunately, I think the guys at the Pikey put my Welsh Rarebit under the broiler five hours ago. It was probably really good when it first came out but by the time I got it the cheese was rubbery and the bread was dried out.

I wanted my Welsh Rarebit to as pretty as it could be but no luck. Instead of nicely browning it developed blackened spots. It was too close to the broiler. Unfortunately, nothing is adjustable about my broiler.  I’d recommend turning your broiler to low or moving the rack a few more inches away from it to achieve better browning. Even though it wasn’t pretty, it was full of hot, cheesy goodness. Sometimes you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Welsh Rarebit (serves 2)

(Active time: 4 minutes     Total time: 10 minutes)

  • 2  thick slices white bread
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp beer
  • pinch black pepper
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp chili garlic sauce

Making the Welsh Rarebit

  1. Turn the broiler on to low. Toast bread on both sides until lightly browned.
  2. Stir together remaining ingredients except for chili garlic sauce.
  3. Spread 1 tsp chili sauce on each piece of bread.
  4. Dividing evenly spread cheese mixture over bread slices to the edges.
  5. Return to broiler until top is brown and bubbly, 2-3 minutes.

*Serve Welsh Rarebit is great served with a light salad.

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Pizzeria Mozza: Meatballs al Forn

Dinner at Mario Batali’s Pizzeria Mozza marked the end of our trip to L.A. Mozza is known for having some of the best pizza in the country and our pizzas (goat cheese, leek, scallions, garlic & bacon + an egg for me and pizza Margherita with mushrooms for Reed) did not disappoint.

Since we couldn’t get a reservation, Mozza’s a long-standing West Hollywood favorite, we decided to just show up and try our luck. We scored seats at the bar since the bar is first to come first serve to seat. Just like at Tar & Roses the bartender not only knew the wine list backward and forwards but he knew the menu and offered great suggestions, i.e. adding an egg on top complemented my goat cheese & leek pizza very well.

Prior to our wonderful pizzas, we spilled the meatballs al Forno and the grilled bread (it seems like we just couldn’t get enough carbs in that night). Grilled bread doesn’t sound very exciting but this was superb bread grilled over an open flame, then doused in flavorful olive oil with a liberal dusting of sea salt.

If I had a grill I would have totally made the grilled bread for this post but I’m pretty sure New York’s fire code restricts grilling on fire escapes. With no grill access and a minor pizza making Phoebe, I decided to go with the meatballs even though I’ve never made meatballs before.

The one time I tried to make pizza it super glued itself to the pan and only came off after much soaking and scrubbing. Maybe someday my brother, who isn’t into cooking but makes a very good pizza, can give me a lesson (hint, hint) but until then I’m steering clear.

After further research, I found Mozza’s actual recipe for meatballs.  I think the crucial step for maintaining the meatballs’ roundness was chilling them before cooking. Chilling my Scotch Eggs helped them keep their shape. Next time I’ll try Mozza’s recipe but for now, I have months worth meatballs, quite tasty ones too even if they’re malformed, packed away in my freezer. My adaption of Epicurious’s recipe is below and I added a step for chilling them. Good luck and may your meatballs stay round.

 Meatballs (yields about 24 meatballs)

(Active time: 1 hour 30 minutes    Total time: 3 hours 30 minutes)

For Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes in juice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

For Meatballs:

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups torn day-old Italian bread
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cups grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 pound)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried, crumbled
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 pound ground veal (I skipped the veal and just used more of the pork and beef)
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 3/4 pound ground beef (not lean)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Making the tomato sauce: 

  1. Cook the onions in oil in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 more minutes. Stir in tomatoes, salt, and pepper.
  3. Using the back of your spoon break up the whole tomatoes. S
  4. Simmer sauce, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  5. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.

Making meatballs: 

  1. Cook the onions in olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl to cool.
  2. Soak bread in milk in another bowl until soft, about 5 minutes. Firmly squeeze bread to remove excess milk, discarding the milk.
  3. Stir together cooled the onion mixture, bread, eggs, parmesan, parsley, oregano, lemon zest,  salt, and pepper until combined. Add meats to bread mixture, gently mixing with your hands until just combined (do not overmix).
  4. Form meat mixture into about 24 (1 1/2-inch) balls with dampened hands, arranging meatballs on 2 large baking sheets or in shallow baking pans. Chill meatball in the refrigerator for an hour.
  5. Heat vegetable oil in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, then brown meatballs in 4 or 5 batches (without crowding), turning frequently, about 5 minutes per batch.
  6. Add meatballs to sauce and gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until cooked through 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Serve meatballs with grilled bread or pasta.

*This makes a lot so its good to know that the meatballs will keep for up to 3 months in your freezer.

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