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'Convection Oven Cookbook' helps home cooks adapt recipes

| Sunday, May 4, 2003

What if you could purchase an appliance that would cook meals faster and more evenly, sealing in flavor and moisture while taking less time or energy?

It's not a dream.

Convection ovens, once confined to hotel and restaurant kitchens, have become widely available for home use. A fan in the oven continuously circulates heated air, allowing cooking on multiple racks at varying levels.

However, home cooks still find convection ovens a little daunting. Some of the angst centers on how to convert conventional oven recipes for convection cooking.

"Although sales of convection ovens and toaster ovens increase annually, there are few cookbooks available for convection oven cooking," says author and chef Linda Stephen in "The Best Convection Oven Cookbook."

The 192-page paperback features 125 recipes for items from appetizers to desserts. Recipes are fairly traditional, such as Honey Garlic Chicken Wings and Cabbage Roll Bake, and they are easy to follow. Stephen offers tips on adapting favorite recipes and suggests menus of dishes that can be cooked simultaneously. There even is a chapter devoted to recipes for convection toaster ovens.

Here are two recipes to get you started. If you don't have a convection oven, you can prepare them in a conventional oven by increasing the oven temperature by 25 degrees or increasing the cooking time by 25 percent.

Cabbage Roll Bake

  • 4 cups shredded cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 12 ounces lean ground beef
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups store-bought tomato sauce
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried savory or marjoram leaves

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cabbage and cook for 5 minutes. Drain well.

Heat the convection oven to 350 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the beef and cook, stirring until the pinkness disappears, for about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes, or until the moisture evaporates.

Stir in the cabbage, tomato sauce, rice, salt, pepper and savory. Mix thoroughly and turn into a lightly greased 12- by 9-inch baking dish.

Convection bake for 30 minutes, or until hot in the center and bubbling at the edges.

Makes 6 servings.

Honey Garlic Chicken Wings

  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 1/4 cup liquid honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons black bean sauce or hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Cut the wing tips off the chicken (freeze to make stock). Cut each chicken wing into 2 pieces at the joint.

In a large bowl, combine the honey, soy sauce, ketchup, black bean sauce, lemon juice, garlic and ginger. Add the chicken wings. Stir to coat the wings with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Heat the convection oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the chicken wings with the marinade on a foil- or parchment-lined baking sheet.

Convection bake for 20 to 25 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.

Makes 2 to 3 servings.

How to convert

Author Linda Stephen offers the following guidelines for adapting standard recipes to the convection oven:

  • Bake at the same temperature for 25 percent less time, or reduce the oven temperature 25 degrees and bake for the same time as the recipe suggests. Always check before the end of the cooking time for doneness.

  • Foods cooked in covered dishes or wrapped in foil will not benefit from the circulating air of the convection function, but covered dishes can be cooked at the same time as convection oven recipes.

  • If the recipe calls for a cooking time of less than 15 minutes, as with many cookie recipes, reduce the oven temperature rather than reducing the cooking time. (The advantage of making cookies in the convection oven is that you can make several batches at once with even baking.)

  • For large cuts of meat and poultry, you may reduce the oven temperature 25 to 50 degrees, or reduce the cooking time by up to 30 percent. Using a meat thermometer, check for doneness before the end of the suggested cooking time.

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