Reviewed.com compared AGA Mercury to the heft of a luxury car and hailed it for its exquisite precision, insisting it’s unlike any oven ever seen. Kitchen & Bath Business listed AGA Mercury as one of the new hottest cooking appliances. And, it clearly has an appealing aesthetic that breaks through the cluttered market of kitchen appliances. But what exactly can the AGA Mercury do? Find out why people are choosing the AGA Mercury range with this up-close look.
114-Year-Old Montreat Heritage Home Renovated with AGA Legacy Appliances
When it comes to historic preservation, Tom and Katie Widmer of Montreat, North Carolina, are with the times. The couple decided to winterize their summer cottage, originally built in 1903, and convert it to a year-round permanent residence. They enlisted Hive Interior Design to modernize their 114-year-old home, while honoring its turn-of-the-century architectural details. Part and parcel with the overall design, the appliances were just as important as the rest. After careful research, the couple selected a full suite of AGA Legacy kitchen appliances to emulate the historic qualities of the home.
Tom Widmer describes the vintage-style range as the focal point of his kitchen, “You enter in through the arched cottage door into the family room, and the first thing you see dead ahead is the Legacy range!”
We caught up with the couple to get details on their new AGA kitchen, including before and after photos.
Why did you choose AGA Legacy appliances for your kitchen?
We were intent on keeping the cottage feel of this Montreat Heritage House (one of the original houses built at Montreat). We looked at all the brands and didn’t find any that matched the look/feel we were striving for, until we found the AGA Legacy Range. Its look was exactly what we wanted. Then when we learned about its functionality, features and terrific reviews, we knew there was no other option besides AGA. Although the refrigerator and dishwasher were more contemporary in style, they still matched well not only with the range but the entire look of the kitchen. In retrospect, AGA was an excellent decision.
Tell us more about your kitchen design. What do you like best?
Keeping the “cottage” feel and historical context was extremely important to us. Thus, we did some things reminiscent of the period, like marble and soapstone counter tops, antique fixtures over the island and dining room table and using our antique Hoosier cabinet instead of additional contemporary cabinets. But our favorite element was the repurposing of the old heart pine flooring from the original 1903 kitchen. Notice the wood used in the sink cabinet, the hood above the range, and the window trim. It is the repurposed kitchen floor. We also used it on three sides of the island.
Any design challenges you encountered?
We were hoping to be able to use the efficient “triangle” of kitchen appliance/sink layout. But to do so would have obviated our use of the Hoosier cabinet, as it was a natural location for the refrigerator. We felt it was important to place the Hoosier cabinet where we did and ended up lining up the refrigerator and sink on the same wall. It was a good decision, and we don’t feel we’ve given up any kitchen efficiency. We love the look of the refrigerator where it is.
The latest wave of kitchen appliances disproves the typical American belief that bigger is better. New multi-oven designs from AGA demonstrate that smaller ovens provide far bigger benefits in terms of energy efficiency, cooking versatility and performance than traditional single oven designs.
Consumers often look for the biggest oven they can buy, assuming it equates to better cooking performance. When really, all that capacity is completely unnecessary for the typical family meal, and it’s limiting when you want to cook more than one dish at the same time.
More ovens, less wasteful energy use
The most efficient way to cook, multi-oven ranges maximize the kitchen footprint by splitting the cooking cavity into separate ovens, each with its own temperature control. This offers versatility to cook items large or small using only the ovens required, which conserves energy compared to heating one large cavity every time. It’s this resourceful design that earned AGA multi-oven ranges a European efficiency rating of A or higher.
People who entertain frequently will find multi-oven designs offer the most cooking versatility in a kitchen range. Rather than juggling cook times and temperatures for a Thanksgiving dinner, a full meal can be prepared simultaneously.
The swiss army knife of cooking appliances, AGA multi-oven ranges are designed to be a major workhorse in the kitchen. Three separate ovens provide European convection, 7-mode multifunction cooking and dual-element broiling. And, our ovens are capable of fitting a 25-lb turkey.
Simultaneous cooking with no flavor transfer
Roasting a chicken and baking a cake at the same time can prove to be a challenge with single oven designs. Not only is there only one temperature setting, but sputtering sauces or drippings can mix between dishes and affect taste. And, the convection heat of most single oven ranges carries food moisture throughout the oven cavity. That means the flavor and smells of items can intermix when cooking more than one dish in the oven, particularly with absorbent foods. With separate ovens, there’s no concern of transferring smells or flavors.
“Typically weekday dinners are prepared on the stovetop since oven cooking may not accommodate lifestyle or time available for cooking the family meal,” explains AGA Chef Ambassador Kurt von Kahle. “A smaller oven heats up quickly to assist with both, the side dishes and provide speed in preparing the 30 minute meal. The versatility of the cooking functions in smaller ovens can work well for family dinner plans and expand menu options.”
Fortunately, buyers looking to expand their cooking capabilities at home have a wide selection of options to choose from on the multi-oven platform. Appliance manufacturers like AGA offer 36″, 44″ and 48″ induction and dual fuel multi-oven ranges with assorted design options, including retro, ultra-contemporary, French chic and professional-style.
With more education, consumers will soon discover that multi-oven ranges can do more for them than the average single oven range, and the tide will change.
SHOP THE LOOK
On my last post, I was joined by leading health and wellness expert, registered dietitian, Ruth Lahmayer Chipps, MS, RD, to talk about how best to cook your food for maximum nutrition and natural flavor. Here are 10 examples of this practice in action.
1. Overnight oatmeal
I start my day off with a bang with this hearty breakfast of steel cut oats, left to cook in the simmering oven while I sleep. Considering I’m not much of a morning person, the idea of waking up to a warm bowl of oatmeal with my favorite mix-ins is enough to throw off the comforter and hup-two my way to breakfast.
2. Oil-free eggs
I’ve mentioned this one before, but it’s worth saying again. You can cook up an egg without oil or butter, just by placing Bake-O-Glide atop the simmering plate. Crack the egg, close the hob for a few minutes, slide off with a spatula and grab your fork…breakfast is ready!
6. Steamed vegetables
Quick-boil your favorite vegetables, then transfer (lidded) to the simmering oven to finish steaming. Add herbs for flavor.
7. Quintessential rice
The magic in the preparation is that it’s EASY. Once the water comes to a boil, I transfer the covered pot to the simmering oven to leave untouched, no need to stir or tend to it. I can have it ready in 20 minutes or leave it longer without burning or drying the rice, which means I can comfortably turn my attention to prepping other meal items while it fluffs up on my schedule. Mix in a protein and diced vegetables for a one-dish wonder. Bonus: it’s gluten-free!
8. Speedy stir fry
Toss your favorite vegetables into a preheated AGA cast iron wok with a bit of oil or sauce for nourishing eats in short order.
See, eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to relegate yourself to a diet of grass clippings! The AGA helps you mind your waistline with its gentle cast iron radiant heat cooking method. It’s the far more satisfying (and easy) way to up your intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants while also reducing the dependency on oils, sugars and fat to flavor food…no sacrifice to the taste experience necessary.
The Nutritional Merits of AGA Cast Iron Cooking
I strive to be healthy. Alright, yes, leave me in a room alone with a platter of cookies and I’ll tear into them like a velociraptor, but for the most part I try to become better educated on nutrition and make healthier food choices. Fortunately for me, I already have a leg up with my AGA simply by the way it cooks food.
Allow me to explain with the help of fellow AGA owner and leading health and nutrition expert, nationally-recognized registered dietitian, Ruth Lahmayer Chipps, MS, RD.
AGA Preserves Nutrients.
“Nutrition goals from health organizations recommend five to seven servings from fruits and vegetables per day. As people strive to eat more produce, it’s critical that they also consider the method of cooking used in order to maximize their nutritional benefit,” Ruth explains.
The way you cook your food directly impacts the nutrition content you consume. You can start with a lovely bunch of raw, nutrient-packed vegetables and easily destroy their healthfulness with high, direct heat. Fry your vegetables in high heat, and you’ll risk losing important fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K. Direct heat also can destroy vital omega-3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA.
Therefore, to maximize your nutritional intake, eating foods raw, boiled or steamed is always best. Some studies suggest, however, that cooking certain foods like tomatoes, carrots and spinach allows healthful antioxidants to become more available to the body than in their raw state.
Using cast iron radiant heat, the AGA delivers the most ideal cooking method to gently steam and quick-boil food to retain nutrients and moisture. Carrots are a good example—the AGA keeps their true flavor, nutrition content and vibrant orange color as they are cooked to softness—not mush.
AGA Reduces Salt, Sugar and Oil Intake.
Otherwise known as the “troublesome trio”, these culprits are known to negatively impact health, especially with excessive consumption. Unfortunately, these are the same components that tend to bring flavor to foods we enjoy.
“A big problem in the kitchen is often the over-usage of oils while cooking, which can add hundreds of calories to our meals. For example, one tablespoon of olive oil has about 119 calories!” Ruth explains.
For those of us raised on conventional ranges, we expect to have to use butter or oil, salty seasonings and sugar to flavor food to be tasty. Why? Convection ranges employ direct heating elements and a fan to circulate heat, a harsh cooking environment that can dry out food and compromise flavor. Most of us don’t know there is a vastly different way to experience food until they eat AGA food.
Simply by cooking with an AGA alone, you can reduce your “troublesome trio” intake by 1/3 or more. This is because the cast iron AGA uses radiant heat to cook food gently and consistently, preserving the natural moisture and flavor of food. That means you can taste food for how it is intended to taste by nature, rather than masking it with loads of butter and seasonings.
Ruth is busy developing new recipes for Kitchen Icons, chef-inspired appliance and kitchen design/build company, and has noticed the AGA difference herself.
“I have been amazed at the intense flavor that is derived from foods cooked in the AGA.”
For overall healthy cooking, she shares this philosophy, “When considering your next nutrition-packed meal, think about this general rule: Keep cooking time, temperature, and the amount of liquid and fat to a minimum. Boost flavor with culinary herbs like fresh basil, rosemary, thyme and marjoram—and don’t forget the garlic!”
To learn more about Ruth, visit her web site livinghealthykitchen.com to watch her efforts to make kitchens healthier.
On my next post, I’ll share 10 healthy meal examples of this practice in action. Here’s to your health!
If there’s one more thing an AGA can do best, it’s slow-cooked food, really easily. The gentle, consistent heat of the AGA simmering oven offers ideal conditions to slow cook casseroles, cakes or roasts at an even temperature with little moisture loss for succulent results every time.
As a matter of fact, the temperature of the AGA simmering oven is equivalent to the low setting of a conventional crockpot. That means you can convert any crockpot recipe to the AGA slow-cooking method. And here’s how.
BASIC AGA SLOW COOKING PRINCIPLES:
STEP ONE: Food must be heated first before it will cook in the simmering oven. Start the cooking process with either of these two methods:
- Bring to a boil on the boiling plate to make sure the food and cooking dish are hot all the way through, or,
- Place the dish in the Roasting Oven for 15 – 30 minutes, until bubbling hot.
STEP TWO: Cover food with a lid or foil to prevent a crust from forming on the surface, then transfer to the simmering oven to finish slow cooking for the designated time.
New to AGA slow cooking? Give this recipe a try!
With their crunchy, sweet-spiced coating, these nibbles are great at parties and they are healthy! They also make an ideal homemade Christmas gift when packaged and tied with a pretty ribbon.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons water
- Zest of ½ orange
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 6 oz walnut or pecan halves
- Put the sugar, water, orange zest and spices onto a baking tray.
- Stir together and add the nuts.
- Cook in your AGA Roasting Oven (or simmer on your stove top) until the liquid has evaporated and the nuts have absorbed the flavors. Cool before serving.
Source: Bonnie Fleming
Thaw out this winter with a glass of mulled spiced wine to warm you up from the inside. This recipe calls for an extra punch of rich liquor.
- 2 bottles red wine
- 2 oranges
- 8 cloves
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- ½ – 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup liquor (Cointreau, Brandy, Grand Marnier, Cognac)
Directions for AGA Cast Iron Range
- Shave a few peels of orange zest, then slice orange and add to a large stockpot.
- Pour all ingredients in and let sit on the back of your AGA (can stay several days, add water to dilute if needed).
- You may also start pot in simmering oven for speed, but DO NOT let come to a boil.
- Serve warm.
Directions for Conventional Range
- Add ingredients to large stockpot and simmer, but DO NOT let come to a boil.
- Serve warm.
Source: Katherine Vest
A classic appetizer, bruschetta (pronounced brusketta) combines the bursting flavors of garden-fresh tomatoes with robust garlic, basil and creamy mozzarella cheese, layered on a crunchy ciabatta toast.
- Ciabatta loaf
- 2 T olive oil
- 1/2 garlic clove
- Sea salt, to taste
- Black pepper, to taste
- 5 – 6 tomatoes, chopped
- Basil leaves, chopped
- 1 package whole mozzarella, sliced
- Cut a ciabatta loaf into slices, about ½” thick.
- Brush with olive oil and place on baking tray and toast on the floor of the Roasting Oven or 450°F in a conventional oven.
- Rub the toasted bread with a half a garlic clove and season with sea salt and black pepper. Top with sliced mozzarella and place back in the oven briefly, just until the cheese becomes soft and slightly melted. Top with chopped tomatoes and torn basil leaves. If you like extra flavor, add chopped red onion and garlic. Serve warm.
Try This Variation
- Crumble Gorgonzola mixed with Mascarpone and finished with a walnut half.
Mulled Cider Recipe
Warm up with this festive holiday drink, served piping hot with a fresh cinnamon stick. You’ll love the rich aroma of mulled cider and spices filling your home with the spirit of the holidays!
- 2 pints dry or sweet cider
- 3 oz brown sugar
- 3 allspice berries (whole allspice)
- 3 whole cloves
- 2 sticks cinnamon
Place all ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Take heat down, and simmer for 15 minutes. If you have an AGA cast iron range, transfer from boiling plate to the simmering oven for 15 minutes. Strain and serve hot with a cinnamon stick.