New Advantium Cooks At the Speed of LightBy Pamela Slover Percival
During the 1970s, American kitchens were revolutionized by the spread of microwave ovens for home use. Suddenly we had a new and faster way to cook foods. This month another new cooking technology is being introduced in Texas for home consumers -- the GE Advantium Oven with "Speedcook" technology.
Like the microwave, the Advantium cooks foods quickly. But the Advantium is able to closely replicate the texture foods have when cooked in a conventional oven. The main problem with microwave cooking has been that microwaved foods have different textures and even tastes than those cooked in a conventional oven. For example, there's just no comparison between a chicken roasted in a conventional oven and one that has been "zapped" in the microwave. The oven-roasted chicken is crisp and browned on the outside, while moist, juicy and tender on the inside. A microwaved chicken tends to be rubbery and unbrowned. And baking is nigh onto impossible to accomplish successfully in a microwave.
The new Advantium oven, by comparison, can roast a whole chicken in 25 minutes, and it closely simulates in taste and texture a chicken roasted in a conventional oven. Crescent rolls baked in the Advantium for less than five minutes (no preheating necessary) using refrigerated dough come out brown and crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy inside. Shrimp cooks in 2 minutes and is tender and moist inside, with a crispy crust on the outside. Overall, foods cook four times faster than in a conventional oven, according to General Electric. And in my taste tests of the above dishes, they honestly tasted to me like foods prepared in a conventional home oven.
The people at GE say they've been working on the Advantium technology for about five years, seeking a way to keep up with consumers' fast-paced lives. This oven definitely can help people to cook dinner at home much more quickly. However, there are some pitfalls.
The main drawback is that Texans will have to spend time learning to use the oven and adjusting recipes. The oven comes programmed with settings to cook more than 80 dishes. So if you want to bake crescent rolls, you just turn the dial to "crescent rolls" and the oven sets itself. However, if your favorite recipe or frozen dinner is not programmed into the oven, you have to do some experimenting to figure out the proper settings. For cooks with a large collection of favorite recipes, conversion to Advantium cooking could be a time-consuming and tedious process. But for people who don't currently do much cooking, the Advantium could be a great incentive for exploring the kitchen. The oven comes with a cookbook containing more than 150 recipes designed just for the Advantium, so novices could learn to cook at the "speed of light." GE representatives also are lobbying to get food manufacturers and distributors to add "Speedcook" times and directions to products like frozen pizzas and other pre-packaged foods, just as microwave cooking times and directions have been added to products over the years.
Another initial disadvantage to the Advantium oven is its price -- it retails for about $1300 to $1400, compared to less than $200 for some basic microwaves. It also is currently only available for built-in installation above your cooktop, range or countertop, and must have a designated 240-volt grounded electrical outlet. However, the Advantium does come with a 10-year parts and labor warranty on its specially designed 1500-watt halogen bulbs. It also switches to a microwave oven with the press of a button, so if you're in the market for a new microwave, you could get two ovens in one.
Advantium ovens are currently available in Amazon's Appliance store. (See below for products and prices)
Classic Carrot CakeFrom the Advantium Cookbook
Classic LasagnaFrom the Advantium Cookbook
Arrange 3 lasagna noodles in a greased 8-inch square baking dish, trimming to fit. Spread with half of the ricotta cheese mixture. Spoon half of sauce over cheese. Sprinkle with half of mozzarella cheese. Repeat layer of noodles, ricotta cheese mixture and sauce. Place dish on turntable. Cook for 17 to 19 minutes at U=5 L=6 M=5 (special Advantium oven settings) or until bubbly. Top with remaining Parmesan and mozzarella cheeses during last 5 minutes of cooking time. Let stand for 10 minutes. Makes 6 servings.
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