Test cooking in showroom - What did you do?

samasanSeptember 29, 2012

I'm going to test cook on a couple of ranges to compare them on Monday morning, and I'm wondering what some of the serious chefs on this forum did when they tested out their ranges before buying??? So far, I'm thinking I will:

- melt some chocolate (testing the simmer on the low heat burners)

- boil some water (testing the high-power burners to see how fast it boils, and looking at the heat pattern)

- Caramelize some cauliflower in the ovens (checking how they compare on the browning front)

We eat a mostly vegetarian diet, and I don't bake that often, so I'm a bit at a loss as to what else I should try - and ideas?

Thanks so much!


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Do you do a lot of stir-fry? I think thats something I'd want to test to make sure the burners have enough ummph.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 5:52PM
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I would want to test the high heat to sear as well. You probably don't want to cook a steak, how about searing some tuna or scallops. Tuna would be my first choice, can you get an awesome sear and still be very pink in the center? Also I know you said you don't bake a lot but what about baking a quiche, to see if the crust browns evenly, or a tray of cookies, to see that they all cook evenly.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 6:03PM
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Bring along your favorite pans to see how they work on the cooktop. Not sure if you are vegan but if not, how about an omelette. It cooks quickly and you can see if it heats evenly.
Sounds like fun and can't wait to hear your choices.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 7:45PM
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stir fry, bring a wok

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 8:33PM
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No showrooms near me to try anything, anything live. I bought my CC rangetop sight unseen as the showroom about 70 miles away didn't even have one on the floor.

If I had the chance, I would have tried a stir fry, steel cut oats, melt and hold chocolate, and simmer a red sauce all with my own pans. See if you like where the simmer and power burners are placed if you're looking at a range with differently sized BTU burners.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 12:36AM
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Ooooh, how fun. Probably depends mostly on how you plan to cook in real life ... if you stir-fry then test that for sure. I'm not a high heat cooker so wouldn't stir-fry myself, but I'd definitely try an multi-egg omelette in a large pan, and I'd try something like a cranberry sauce in a medium saucepan to test simmer.

Melting chocolate is a good test too but it's something you tend to watch it quite closely while doing it. Trying something like bringing a quick cranberry sauce to boil and then leaving it almost untended at simmer for 10 minutes while you make your next dish would be my perfect "real-life" test. I would do both tests if I could.

For the oven, I like the tray of cookies suggestion above. It will give you a good sense for how even the oven cooks.

Carmelizing cauliflower might take a few tries at different settings to get it "perfect", so not sure I'd make a decision on the results of that alone. Personally I think almost every oven is capable of an amazing carmelized cauliflower, but finding the perfect settings for it is a bit trial-and-error from my experience. I do carmelized cauliflower (and broccoli and onions) almost every night for dinner so have it down to a science with our range. Our previous range was best with standard bake (not convection) at 425, and our current oven is best at convection bake at 400... I tried standard bake and convection roast at various temps with our new range before setting on 400/conv bake as being the best.

Okay, well sorry for being so long-winded. I just think it's such a cool opportunity so am going to live vicariously through you in this. :-) Whatever you end up cooking, be sure and come back to post your experience. How very fun!

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 2:45PM
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Breezy - Steel cut oats - great idea! Have you ever tried making baked oatmeal with the steel cut oats?

Samantha - I only found out about testing ovens and cooktops after I already purchased mine. When I bought my DW and Fridge - I brought along 2 bags of dishes and pans to see how things fit. It really helped me decide.

Let us know how you make out. What a great opportunity.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 5:11PM
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You will have a lot of fun testing the range. I melted chocolate and made meyer lemon jam on the gas range top. I baked cookies, baked rolls and baked bread in the convection ovens. I boiled water and sauted onions on the induction cook top; it was very fast and responsive but I did end up buying the gas range. I baked a chicken, steralized jars and heated up a pasta dish and stuffed artickoke in the convection steam oven.

The steel cut oats is a great idea.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:43PM
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OT - but how do you caramelize cauliflower? Sounds good. I am just experimenting with cauliflower since it is fresh now. Just tried cauliflower fried rice and caluiflower pizza and was amazed at how good...

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:55PM
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How do you find a showroom where you can do test cooking? I've never seen one.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 2:00PM
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Hi Marti,

In New England Wolf/Subzero has 2 distribution centers called Clarke Kitchens, one in Milford, MA and 1 in CT. They encourage customers to come in and use their products. We also have a Miele gallery in Wellesley, MA where you can also experiment with the appliances.

Some showrooms have "live appliances" but they usually demonstate the products and don't encourage you to spend a day cooking with them. We used to have a Bosch/Thermador gallery in Westwood, MA but now I think the closest one is in NYC.

It may be worthwhile to check with your local appliance dealer to find out if you have some similar options close by to where you live.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 3:06PM
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numbersjunkie, the traditional way is just to put the cauliflower in a baking dish into about 1 to 1 1/2" florets, drizzle with olive oil, add some coarse salt & pepper to taste, and bake until lightly browned (carmelized) --- about 30 mins usually at anywhere from 400 to 450 degrees.

I've honed mine over the years to personal preference for ease and consistancy, since I do it almost every night. I use larger pieces (about 2 1/2 to 3" diameter) and pre-steam to just shy of al dente since I prefer the texture in the center that way. And I use cooking spray (embarassing to admit, and probably blasphemy to most, but dead easy and I really don't taste the difference ... you'll see why in a second). Then instead of salt & pepper I sprinkle with curry powder; love the sweetish flavor of the curry combined with the carmelizing. Then into the oven at 400 degrees convection bake for 20 to 25 mins.

You just need to experiment a bit to find exactly what works best for you and your particular oven as it varies slightly depending on the size of your florets and the temp and whether you do convection or not.

I hope you try it ... it's the best thing ever, and so simple. I steam every night first, then the veggies go into the oven on a cookie sheet while I do the main course (usually a simple meat on the grill or something as simple) then 20 to 25 minutes later I'm plating it up.

Btw, since I started cooking veggies this way (years ago) my husband actually *likes* vegetables. This is saying something as when I married him the only vegetable he would eat was creamed corn! And that's not even technically a vegetable, lol.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 9:24PM
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samasan, sorry for the hijack above ... meanwhile back at the ranch:

Did you get to test your ovens? What did you cook? Which ovens did you try, and what is the verdict?

Inquiring minds ....

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 9:26PM
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