Published on April 28th, 2014 | by Greg

    Cuisinart Steam + Convection Oven: Hot Baking Helper

    Steaming food is a very old method of cooking- perfect for many cuisines and styles, from bread making to dumplings, ideal for seafood and any dish where you want moisture preserved. But few Americans use steam widely in their kitchens, beyond the occasional vegetable or using their rice cooker. It’s healthier than frying, avoiding oils and fats, but can be a bit difficult to master, as it’s harder to monitor and oversteaming leads quickly to mushy, watery results.

    But if you are in need of a small countertop convection oven- and who isn’t?- then you should definitely consider the Cuisinart Steam and Convection Combo Oven. It looks and acts for the most part like your basic countertop oven, a replacement for your toaster, but one able to fit a small chicken or other poultry and cook it at a high temperature without taking up too much space. However, there is an added water tank to the side, and some additional options that make it superior to most other models, though a little pricier than many.

    Let’s start with the basics: the CSO-300 looks and feels like a Cuisinart appliance, with it’s sleek modern appearance, blue-lit display panel, and stainless steel body. It’s a pretty hefty machine too, weighing in at nearly 25 pounds. One thing that surprises people is the lack of buttons- it uses a dial system for most things, meaning you’ll be rotating and selecting kind of like you were using an iPod. We tested it first as a basic convection oven, cooking up some frozen pizzas, trying out some other classics like fries and English muffins. It offers quite a bit of room- enough for a medium 12-inch pizza even- and the rack can shift to a few positions to allow different items and heating options. With a range up to 500 degrees, it can handle just about anything.

    Steaming foods is a different experience- and one that takes a bit of practice. You can easily tell when things are toasted well, thanks to the browning color and the telltale smoke. Steaming is different, and you’ll need a couple of tries or a little trial and error. That said, we found this to be an excellent option for those looking to bake or proof bread, pretzels, or make rolls. It’s a really unique option, faster than any we’ve seen, and more flexible than a bread maker. Plus, it looks far nicer on your counter as well. Cleanup and accessories are only OK, as the built-in tray is so-so, and it’s easy to make a mess in the unit with self-cleaning functions that don’t quite get it fully clean. For some, it might be a bit small. But for us, it’s a little bit wonderful, with a bit of a learning curve. Available now, online and in stores, the Combo Steam and Convection Oven runs around $280.

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    About the Author

    Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Appleā€™s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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