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Cooking With a New Cooktop: Tips and Recipes

If there's one thing an amateur home chef needs, it's a solid cooktop. If you do the cooking for your family, you probably use your cooktop every day-probably even more than you use your oven.

So how do you ensure that you get the right cooktop? And how do you use that cooktop to your advantage?

Electric vs. Gas: Choosing a Cooktop

The great debate in the cooktop world these days is gas versus electric cooktops. It's hard to say which one comes out on top as there are pros and cons to both.

First, let's look at price. Depending on the model and brand you choose, electric and gas cooktops are surprisingly around the same price range. Gas stoves may cost a bit more to buy and install, but are less expensive to operate. Price doesn't need to be your main reason to shun one and pick the other.

How about the most important factor-how well does each cook? Well, both are effective for cooking, but gas cooktops hold one advantage: they're better at temperature control. If you cook foods that require temperature changes-and exact temperatures-you might want to go for a gas cooktop. You can also use any type of cookware with gas stoves; not so with electric.

On the other hand, electric cooktops are better at even heat distribution, while gas cooktops require frequent rotation of the food.

Now, consider safety. While both are generally safe, gas ranges can be slightly more dangerous, since they have greater potential for gas leaks; plus, they create a potential for children to be burned by open flames. But, gas ranges cool down quicker than electric ranges, so children (and adults) may be less likely to be burned if they touch the burner after the cooking's done.

When you need a quick meal, speed matters. Gas cooktops heat up faster. However, electric cooktops can get hotter than gas cooktops. As you can see, neither gas nor electric reigns supreme. It all depends on what features you're looking for.

You may have also heard of an amazing new product: induction cooktops. They heat up faster and cook faster than both gas and electric, and they also provide a cooler surface for safety benefits. However, they are more expensive and require magnetic cookware. Still, if you want a top-of-the-line cooktop, you should look into an induction model.

Burners and Buttons: Choosing Added Features

Once you've decided between gas, electric, and induction, you'll need to decide which model and brand you want. You can narrow y our options when you know which features you're looking for.

How many burners do you want? While most cooktops come with four, avid cooks may want a five-burner cooktop. Each cooktop's burners vary: some have a range of sizes, while others are all about the same size; some are evenly spaced, while others are more artistic ally distributed. If you cook with a variety of pan sizes, you may want a cooktop with a range of burner sizes to accommodate each pan. Some cooktops have sensors that adjust the heated area to the size of the pan anyway.

Cooktops include either buttons or dials for adjusting the temperature. If you have children, choose a cooktop with a control lockout feature that allows you to disable controls. You'll also want to make sure your cooktop includes a hot-surface warning light so no one i n your family is tempted to touch it when it's still toasty. Consider other features as well, such as a digital timer, so your cooktop does everything you want it to do.

Must-Try Recipes: Cooking With Your Cooktop

Once you've selected the right cooktop for your family, it's time to try it out. You can cook almost anything over your new cooktop. Have you tried the following?

  1. Stove top granola: With a few simple ingredients you probably have around the house-rolled oats, honey, olive oil, and cinnamon, to name a few-you can make your own homemade granola over the stove.
  2. Cobbler: In just 20 minutes, you can concoct a delicious cobbler over your new cooktop. You'll need frozen peach slices and fresh raspberries. You'll also need an oven to cook the pastry layer of the cobbler.
  3. Stir fry: Your kids might actually want to eat their vegetables when you cook them up in a delicious stir fry, combined with ingredients like bite-sized chicken pieces, soy sauce, and peanuts.
  4. Chili: In as little as 10 minutes, you can create a classic chili over the stove. Ground beef, red kidney beans, tomato soup, water, onion, and chili powder are all it takes.
  5. Pesto pasta: Get a taste of Italy with this delicious, easy-t o-make pasta that relies on basil, parsley, and parmesan cheese for its fresh taste.

A new cooktop is a cause for celebration. If you've chosen one with all the features you prefer, you'll find joy in cooking again. And after all, cooking at home saves you money, provides healthier food for your family, and brings your family together at dinner time!