Last month, my son gifted me a stately Navy blue Cuisinart Air Fryer-Convection-Toaster-Oven TOA-60NV. It bakes, broils, toasts, and dehydrates. Importantly, it’s an air fryer. What is an air fryer? An air fryer is an electric countertop version of a convection oven. It has a concentrated, powerful heat source and a souped-up fan that moves the hot air around to produce crispy, frozen foods, meats, and snacks.

You’re probably familiar with the term “souped-up,” which, of course, has nothing to do with soup. The 1911 edition of Webster’s Dictionary defines the term as “any material injected into a horse to change its speed or temperament.” Hence the association with car engines and other enhanced items. It’s a term that perfectly describes the air fryer fan’s high power!

Before making my first batch of fries, I altered my expectations. No one can beat the French fries of mom’s making. Sitting at our family dinner table, we were on alert for deliciousness from the time we heard the sizzle and pop of the basket of potatoes lowering into the fat to the fries arriving at the table in mom’s hand-turned wooden bowl; deliciously sparkling with salt glitter. No matter how many she made, there were never enough!

Does the air fryer work as well as traditional deep fat fryers? The results are different – sometimes better, sometimes not better. We all have different expectations. The main advantage of an air fryer is using less oil. The recipes I first tried for French fries called for spraying oil on the sliced potatoes before cooking. They came out okay, but not memorable.

Now I pat the sliced potatoes dry, toss them in a bowl to lightly coat with olive oil, and sometimes season with Trader Joe’s “Everything But the Bagel” or other seasonings before air frying them. They come out very tasty. Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. Perfect for pairing with ketchup or malt vinegar. For best results, pre-heat the oven for a couple of minutes, subtracting the pre-heat time from the cooking time. Watch the progress of the food. It can go from perfect to disaster rapidly. Take notes on what works well for you.

In my Cuisinart multi-use oven, donuts and cookies haven’t been satisfactory. However, I achieved acceptable results with both white and sweet potatoes as French fries, and frozen foods, chickpeas, fish, steaks, and chicken. For best results, I turn everything over halfway through cooking. Frozen appetizers cook satisfactorily with no need to turn. When air frying at high temperatures, this appliance gives off quite a bit of heat; with its interior non-stick walls, clean-up is easy, and requires a minimum amount of countertop space. Overall, I give this appliance two thumbs up.

Cuisinart TOA-20NV

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