Earlier this month, Ars reviewed the June Oven, an Internet-connected, seven-in-one device that pushes the boundaries of the traditional toaster oven. Overall, I felt pretty positive about the June, especially the internal camera that allows you to watch your food cook (and share that view with others if you so desire).
But I mostly tested more traditional foods in the oven. After all, the best way to tell if a new toaster oven is any good is to see if it makes your best recipes more deliciously/reliably than your old toaster oven. I tried out some new things, of course: I hardboiled eggs (good!), baked bacon (bad!), and dehydrated kale chips (yummy but energy intensive!).
Before I send the June Oven back to its maker (in a box, with postage, not in a violent way of course) I wanted to test out five of the more unusual recipes that I found in June's app cookbook. The cookbook that's included in the June app is surprisingly well-populated with recipes specifically tailored to this IoT toaster oven, including a number of recipes that you'd never think to use a toaster oven for.
The recipes I chose were fruit leather, dog treat jerky, risotto, apple cider, and churros. Come see how these items turned out!
I have never made fruit leather before, nor have I ever wanted to make fruit leather. But the June Oven's cookbook made it an option for me, so I figured it was worth a shot. The June recipe actually specifies a "Mango Raspberry Fruit Leather," but observational evidence throughout my life suggests I'm allergic to mango (I've never eaten a mango without breaking out in hives), so I opted for pears, which have relatively high levels of pectin, and I assumed they would jell the fruit leather appropriately.
Dog treat jerky
As far as taste tests go, this is a softball for the June Oven. While my older dog can sometimes be surprisingly discerning about what he eats, he's never turned down any form of beef, so if he refused one of the June's jerky treats it would be a real surprise. My little white dog could accidentally eat dirt shaped like food and she would go back for seconds, so her participation in this taste test is just so she doesn't feel left out.
Mostly, I wanted to make this recipe as a way to use the dehydrator function again.
Risotto (in an oven?!)
I don't make risotto too often because I have it in my head that it's a very high-maintenance thing to make. You have to stir it for hours! Add all the liquids slowly! It's hard to season properly! At a certain point, Rice-a-Roni is easier to make and just as creamy and salty.
I fully expect there are purists out there clutching their pearls at the idea of cooking arborio rice in an oven and calling it risotto. But this oven-baked risotto was so simple and turned out extremely tastey in my opinion. I would certainly do this again.
I would never have thought to make apple cider in a toaster oven, but this is where the June's "slow cooker" function comes in. Since you pre-heat through the app, I'm not sure what the actual temperature of the oven was, but it was on "low" for about an hour and 45 minutes.
Finally, churros. I was extremely suspicious that the June could make real, good churros, and I was right to be suspicious. What resulted was more like… sweet pretzels? Look, the air frier function is good for a lot of things, but that crispy, rich flavor of real fried food is not going to come through without the fat. This recipe was not what I expected, and it was a lot more work than I expected, but it still turned out tasty, just tasty in a different way.
The June Oven recipe recommends that you pair these "churros" with a dulce de leche sauce that you can also make in the June, but that recipe was protected by a "Premium" subscription wall, so I just ate these sweet pretzels with some whipped cream, which is what I had on hand.