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The Kitchen Cabinet

Small Heating Units Go Over Big

September 24, 1987|MINNIE BERNARDINO | Times Staff Writer

Compact kitchen appliances: what makes them hot? Small heating units that do big things in a little way are perfect for those who don't have enough counter space or storage room in their kitchen.

Who are the target customers? Smaller households, and these are growing in number every year. They are the parents that have moved from a large house to a town home. The children are off to college and they find that a smaller space is much more convenient for their new life style.

Compacts are a must in the tiny kitchens of trailer dwellers and boat owners. They could also be the choice of people moving from suburbia to high-rise apartments or condominiums in the city. Then there are second home owners who may purchase smaller microwave clones for their vacation cabins or cottage by the beach, the mountains or desert.

College students living in a dorm or apartment are another target group. One of the miniature cooking equipments that might appeal to them is the Compact Cooker ($120) from the Tefal Appliance Co. in New Jersey.

Doing It All

This white and gray oven is said to "do it all in a space about the size of a bread box." It will make meals all day long. For breakfast, it will bake buns or muffins in the oven and at the same time fry bacon and eggs, or pancakes and sausages, on the non-stick griddle plate on top of the oven. And for a midnight snack, the cooker will make some pizza or bagel snacks in no time.

The Compact Cooker has a broiling element, which broils and toasts. It also comes with a non-stick baking pan plus a rack that can be adjusted to four shelf heights. One of the most attractive features of the Compact Cooker is that it has glass doors on both sides. This makes it easy to clean and provides accessibility to food from either side.

One appliance that has moved from luxury to necessity is the microwave oven. Smaller units have become especially popular with single households. In fact, the proportion of young singles who own microwaves rose about 95% from 1982 to 1987, according to the National Housewares Manufacturers Assn. On the heels of its successful "Half-Pint" subcompact microwave oven, Sharp Electronics Corp. has just introduced a new generation of microwave ovens in the same category.

Meet "Munchkins" from Sharp. They are available in two models (the R-3280 at $149 and the R-3980 at $169) with ultra-compact dimensions (0.3 cubic-foot units). The 400-watt ovens reheat single servings of takeout foods and microwave frozen foods at the touch of the control pads. The more expensive model has an automatic defrost feature. Both subcompacts are designed with the "One Minute" pad, which sets them at High power for one-minute increments with each touch.

One key selling feature in any microwave unit is the simplicity with which it operates, and the two Munchkins' models meet this qualification. Says Perry Clay, general manager of Sharp Electronics' Home Appliance Division: "We eliminated the start key so that there were fewer steps to follow. With just one touch the oven automatically bakes a potato, reheats a plate of leftovers, frozen dinner, entree or roll."

The Munchkin colors are daring and fashionable: R-3280 Munchkin comes in metallic silver, metallic brick red and flecked faux granite. The R-3980 cabinets come in ivory, red and pastel yellow with black glass. They are equipped with hook-ups for under-the-cabinet installations.

"Hot Stuff" from Sharp ($229) does a little more than Munchkins. Also available in 0.3 cubic feet and 400-watt power, the sleek-looking microwave unit will toast, bake and brown food up to 450 degrees. It has five variable power levels, a defrost control, a 99-minute timer, time-of-day clock and a "Minute Plus" pad, which is similar to the Munchkins' "One Minute" pad.

Browning Microwave Oven

Finished in Euro-style luminescent white, the subcompact browning microwave oven has a stainless steel oven interior, black glass front and a pull-down door. With this type of oven, adequate ventilation is important so as not to block the exhaust vents provided on the back and side of the unit. The vents (which tend to be noisy) are needed for immediate cooling and air flow in the cavity, particularly after the toasting or browning cycles.

For coffee lovers thinking of smaller coffee makers, the new Philips Cafe Duo ($65) from Philips Home Products Inc. makes two cups of coffee in five minutes. The European-designed coffee maker is unique with its two dispensers, pouring coffee directly into the mugs, which are included with the unit. Cafe Duo can be wall-mounted to save counter space. The neat feature is that it eliminates the use of paper filters by including permanent ones. The sleek machine also comes with a removable drip tray.

Another introductory appliance from Philips is its Espresso Duo ($120), which brews two cups of espresso in no time. Compact and wall-mountable, the unit can dispense espresso directly into one of two cups. It has a built-in steam pipe that quickly froths milk for cappuccino. Like the Cafe Duo, it doesn't require paper filters.

The Tefal Compact Cooker is available at Bullock's department stores. The Sharp Munchkins and Hot Stuff subcompact microwave ovens are available at Friedman's Microwave stores. The Philips Cafe Duo and Espresso Duo are available at Bullock's.

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