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I was delighted when I discovered the Cookshop 7L Halogen oven on the Ideal World site - it is a compact table top unit which is ideal for cooking entire meals faster than a conventional oven and using less power. It sounded good to me and I am always looking for new ideas so I was keen to find out more. I have been using a standard Halogen oven for a while but that was larger than I needed so this one being smaller I thought would suit my needs better. Plus unlike my standard halogen oven this one has a hinged lid which in my view makes it much easier to use
The Cookshop 7L Halogen Oven is basically a huge glass container with a heating element built into the lid. It also has a powerful fan that distributes heat quickly and evenly throughout the oven. It comes complete with two removable cooking racks so that any fat produced simply drains away, making meat products healthier than with some other cooking methods.
It cooks faster than a conventional oven and the glass body allows you to see your food as it is cooking. Add to that the fact that it is easily portable and you can probably understand how it can produce delicious cooked food wherever you choose to plug it in.
This table top oven can roast, bake, grill, reheat and defrost. It uses powerful halogen technology to produce infra-red light waves that heat up food quickly using the 1000w element . Natural flavour and juices are sealed in and when you use the cooking rack the fat simply drains away.
Open the box ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As you might imagine as soon as it came I was eager to look inside the box - and it was some box. It is smaller than my old halogen oven and the contents of the box were well packed and protected. The lid of the unit is made of glass, about 250mm in diameter with a large plastic centre piece containing the fan, the element and the controls. The lid also has both a timer and a temperature control to enable you have full control when cooking. The lid is hinged to the base and can easily be raised to accommodate the extension ring which increases the capacity of your oven and which is included in the pack.
Next I looked at the main bowl. This had an external diameter of 280mm and a height of 160mm. It stood on a plastic base with two sturdy handles. The bowl is slightly raised when on the stand to allow air to circulate and to protect your worktops. Inside the glass bowl were two cooking racks to enable you to put two layers of food in at once to cook. There was also an ingenious little set of tongs to allow you to remove the racks safely from the bowl. Finally there was the instruction book.
What I particularly like about this unit is that the extension ring can be stored outside the bowl when not in use meaning that you don't have to find storage for that when you aren't using it.
Putting it together ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This bit is simplicity itself. All you have to do is stand it on your worktop. Wash the glass bowl before use, plug in and you are ready to go. However you should make sure that you have room to remove the lid without obstruction because it will be hot.
Start cooking ~~~~~~~~~~~~
One of the things I have never be known for is my patience. I always say I was at the end of the line when they handed out patience and there wasn't much left - but that did put me at the head of the line for persistence so I have bucketloads of that! What I am trying to say that almost as soon as I got it I had to try it out so I decided to do myself a quick meal of chicken breast with a baked potato to see how it turned out. I partially cooked the potato in the microwave, Put it on the lower of the two cooking racks and set the timer for 30 minutes and the temperature to 180 degrees C. The minute I set the timer the oven lit up and started to cook
The halogen element is very bright and illuminates the food as it cooks, the fan creates quite a bit of turbulence (enough to rock the baked potato) which circulates the hot air around the food. The light goes off as soon as the oven comes up to temperature and then comes on again as the temperature drops. I was amazed to see that it only took just over two minutes to reach the 180 degrees - much faster than a conventional oven.
After about 18 minutes I put the second rack into place with the chicken breast laid across it, skin side up. The chicken breast took just twelve minutes to cook to perfection, nice crispy skin and very succulent flesh it was lovely. I did have the bright idea that it might save me a bit of washing up if I put a foil tray under the roasting rack to catch the drips from the chicken - well at least it seemed like a good idea! The powerful fan within the oven picked it up and blew it around - it caught some of the drips as it was passing but loads more got splattered around! I really don't know why I bothered because the large glass bowl is actually very easy to clean anyway.
What do I think? ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I must say I am impressed. I have now not only used it for things like oven chips, pies and other main meals I have used it for baking and it is impressive. On meats it seems to cook them throughly without drying them out at all and the fact that you can use the racks really does mean the fats drain away from the meat - just like a George Foreman grill does but this oven is much more versatile (you can't bake cakes or cook bread in a George Foreman so far as I know?)
You have no problem watching your food cooking in here either because when it is heating the food is bathed in a very bright light and the clear glass makes it visible from every angle. It almost looks like a spaceship on your worktop! The timer means you don't have to worry if the phone rings when you are in the middle of cooking and you forget about it - it will switch itself off. The variable heat means it is very flexible.
This oven also comes complete with a little instruction book. To be honest you don't need many instructions as such because it is simplicity itself to use. However I would say it doesn't contain lots of recipes but it does give lots of hints on timings for various things which was all I needed really as I have my own favourite recipes anyway. They claim it is as fast as a microwave - it isn't if you are used to microwaving small quantities but it may well cook a family meal just as quickly.
Safety ~~~~~~~ The outside of the oven does get very hot when cooking. The manufacturers do recommend that you allow the glass bowl to cool properly before washing as if you immerse the hot glass in cool water it could break and they also warn that you should always unplug before washing!!!!
Overall ~~~~~~~ I am very happy with this little oven. It cooks food quicker than my conventional oven and meat is much more tender. It is easy to clean and to operate. At £49.99 it represents good value for money in comparison to the competition. I have been using halogen cookers now for a couple of years and I haven't found anything I can't cook in them and get great results. I love doing par baked bread in it - fresh rolls take just minutes to cook and come out perfect every time. I doesn't dry out meat and using the racks provided you can cook a whole meal in there at once. I would certainly recommend it and it is just so easy to clean that I rarely use my conventional oven now.