Halogen Ovens and and introducing Dehydrators

In his article in the Independent Newspaper, cookery author and critic Robert Ehrlich recently ( Oct 2010 ) wrote about Halogen Ovens entitled  “How I fell in love with halogen ovens”

In it he notes that men in particular are drawn to innovative gadgets, especially if it can be put in the “useful” category. The Halogen Oven not only is very practical, it fits the category , it will save time and can be used , as he does, every day. In fact he describes it as a godsend.

The basic design, a large glass bowl with the heater unit mounted  in the lid, on top, is very simple. With its temperature and  timer controls  prominent on the top, that’s pretty much all there is to it, Robert mastered this within 30 minutes  and had decided to write about this new innovative  piece of kit , convincing many of its many advantages and prove that it really is going to revolutionise the kitchens of the masses.

The Halogen differs from microwave ovens completely, in its working principles. Where the microwave uses radio waves to exite molecules within the food, to heat it  up, the Halogen is more conventional in that it uses a heat source and convection of hot air, to do the cooking. In the early days of its introduction, mainly in the USA, this difference was the first thing to try and get across to its public. In halogen lamp is the source of heat. When powered up it instantly produces an  intense heat from its circular glass tube construction. Hobs had been produced for some time, which have similar heat sources.

The number one advantage, is the efficiency of the heat, when compared to more conventional ovens. Due to their small size, they are  ideal for small families or singles. You aren’t heating a large oven, resulting in a  lot of wasted power. The halogen also grills if the food is put up high, next to the heat source. When combined , as it is in the typical halogen oven , with a really powerful fan, the unit becomes a super turbo power oven, cooking much quicker than any comparable oven.

Robert goes into the practicalities of use, the clearance above the unit, so the lid can be lifted off and the need to be careful not to put it too near anything which will melt or burn. Users need a stand for the hot lid, so if yours comes with a full kit of stand, racks high and low, so much the better, you will certainly use them.

He has cooked successfully for six people using only the halogen oven. So it goes to show that it really is a fully fledged cooker and very capable. It is possible to do without your full size oven, as Robert did for over a year and cook varied menus. For people living alone, it is a “no brainer” a full roast dinner can be produced very quickly and economically with one of these.

The Halogen cooker roasts beautifully meat, chicken and veg. With practice, large joints can be done perfectly. Bread and cakes also cook well. The cooking times are very much shorter than with gas or electric, very impressive  20 minutes for two ribs of beef, which is best done through a combination of roasting and grilling – in practical terms raising the height by choosing different  racks to put the food on.

Don’t be put off by the relatively small size of the cooker, by organising things you can easily create full meals , it iisn’t really necessary to serve up more than one hot dish in any meal. My usual method would be to produce a room temperature starter, cooked earlier in the Halogen oven, which lets me do the main course it in, for instance roast vegetables and leg of lamb piping hot.

Note that there is a safety feature in the lid, which cuts power to the heat source, when the lid handle is raised , to lift it off, so don’t be worried that anyone could potentially be carrying a live and very hot element.

Although the oven gets dirty, it is a lot easier to clean than any built in oven, the bowl can be cleaned in a sink or in a dishwasher, the lid is more difficult but a quick brush with soapy water then wipe off after a short while, is usually enough to clean it properly.

There is an extension ring available with most models, this is a very useful to prevent excessive browning of meat for instance, it puts a little distance between it and the heater element, also slightly lowering the temperature and extending the time have the same effect.

Because the cooking is done in a glass bowl, your progressing cooking can be monitored easily and without opening the oven door, which brings some of the fun back into cooking, also of course , it’s a lot easier to see if things are going ok and correct any problems like the over cooking issue, if the element is too close to the food.