Part one of this article can be found here. When I was offered the opportunity to pick a handful of Hamilton Beach kitchen appliances, I knew I had to go deep and look for products that would bring more adventure to my kitchen. I love what they offer and it was hard picking just a few. So, here’s what I got and why.
The Panini Maker and Indoor Grill was an item that I chose based on the constant begging by my son for a panini press. His absolute favourite sandwich is a Cuban and he’s longed to make them in just such an appliance. Needless to say that you can make a great Cuban or grilled cheese in it, but this appliance is much more than a sandwich press. I’ve experimented cooking a number of things on this grill. For the record, it’s not great for pancakes, but unlike myself, you probably wouldn’t bother trying. But anything patty shaped is perfect. My kids love breakfast sausages but I’m suspect of all the additives in store-bought offerings. What I started doing was making sausage patties with ground pork and homemade breakfast link seasonings. I can hammer out a week’s worth of sausage patties on this grill in minutes. I’ve also had great success with hamburgers. I love this item, not just to make the best grilled sandwiches I can, but also to avoid having to fire up the gas grill outside. I’ll continue tossing my experiments on this grill to make whipping up a meal easier. But I’ll leave the soup for the multicooker.
The Digital Countertop Oven is a little (but not so little) powerhouse. I incorrectly thought that this would be a replacement for my aging toaster oven. While it’s definitely that, using it just as a toaster oven is a bit like taking an F1 car to the corner store. This oven, while called a countertop oven, requires a pretty big counter. Not only does it take up a footprint larger than your average toaster oven, but it also puts out a fair bit of heat externally. It requires a good amount of clearance for safety. My countertop isn’t so generous so I set the oven up in my ‘test kitchen’, a kitchen table that usually serves as a homework and art station for my kids. Using proper safety protocols, I set about testing the oven out in tandem with the pasta maker, to see how well it’ll knock out one of my delicious lasagnas. The beauty of this appliance is that because it’s not as large as a large oven, it heats up very fast, yet has a sizeable enough interior to accommodate a nine-inch square baking pan. The results were perfect, cooking the dish thoroughly and quickly. The next dish I made was a deep dish pizza requested by my daughter. I consider myself an amateur pizzaiolo and normally keep my pies thin according to Napolitano doctrine. But I was interested to see how my signature dough would work deep in a dish. I placed the dough in a shallow cake pan and added pesto, peppers, sun-dried tomato, red onion and goat cheese. No surprise, it was pretty amazing pizza, but again, the speed of baking in this oven was really surprising. It comes with a built-in thermometer so you can monitor internal temperatures of roasted chicken and beef. And again, it has the size to accommodate these dishes. If you’re not feeding a large crew, the oven is a great way to not just quickly roast and bake, it’s also an energy-efficient way to cook.
Finally, the Hamilton Beach Espresso and Cappucino Maker was an item I was really interested in trying. Next to pizza, coffee is my favourite. If I had an unlimited budget, I would visit my favourite café a couple of times daily for their superb flat whites. The balance of microfoam and rich espresso is something I didn’t think I could ever achieve. Cut to the end, I still can’t. But with this machine, I’ll soon try to figure it out. Espresso makers can cost thousands of dollars and look like steampunk sculpture. I know aficionados will say that any budget espresso maker will lack the heat and power. I don’t know about the minutiae of connoisseurs. But I know that this machine makes a very enjoyable coffee for an amateur like me. The steamer produces very hot milk and it’s very easy to pull an espresso out of the machine. It may lack some of the precision to get specific textures of foam that museum-quality machines make, but as something to offer a guest a latte or, in many cases for me, to get a quick and delicious shot of espresso when the morning coffee pot is dry, this is a good appliance. It also looks great and has some very useful functions such as a cup warmer and an easily emptied drip tray. This espresso maker makes it easy but I definitely need to work on my barista skills.
With the addition of these items to my kitchen, it’s certainly been upgraded to not just make the day to day preparation quicker and easier but to allow me to make foods I never thought I would. Sure, there’s the factor of impressing your guests with homemade pasta or espresso, but there’s nothing that breaks you out of your boring kitchen go-to’s like taking on the challenge of new culinary feats.