Sunday, 20 May 2007

Turkish Cookbook Blog

Just found this Turkish recipes blog, added it to the sidebar too.

Friday, 4 May 2007

Thermomix Kitchen Appliance


Having just had a demonstration of the Vorwerk Thermomix kitchen appliance, I'm in awe. The agents here in Perth sent Ms Nota to demonstrate the product, and it blew me away.



The machine is just - impressive. We ground wheat to baking flour then mixed it gently into a dough and then kneaded it. All in the same machine. We made a quantity of two cups of sorbet, then a half kilo of shredded salad. Followed by - well, that would give it all away in one, and I have a few more things to tell you about this machine...

One of the reasons I was looking at the Thermomix is the number of machines it replaces. I find that appealing because I intend to go caravanning for a year or two, and in a caravan every appliance you can leave behind is a Good Thing. And the Thermomix certainly replaces a few.

The first thing which I saw immediately, is that bits of the machine that contact the food are stainless steel. No plastics to leach nasty chemicals, no teflon[tm] - and being stainless steel means cleanup is a breeze. We cleaned the bowl by tipping a jug of water into it and running it, then tipping the water back into the jug and wiping the bowl dry. That easy. And I was impressed with using the same water to wash the bowl several times because on the road you're quite often water-limited. And of course saving water is a Good Thing at any time.

To start with, the machine is fast enough to function as a blender. The blades are sharp and solid, and engineered to sharpen themselves rather than blunt over time. And impressively sharp they are too. They are also very solid blades, and the bearings on the latest models are sealed for life.

The machine can blade-grind almost anything. Again, I was impressed with how little fuss it made at grinding a cup of wheat to flour. Set the speed lower and you could have made cracked wheat bourghul. The power in this machine is very controllable and useable.

Now the magic bits. To begin with there was no fussing with measures. Thanks to a clever design, this machine weighs ingredients directly! You press the zero button, drop the food in, stop when it reaches the required weight. Re-zero, add the next ingredient. It doesn't get much simpler than that!

We added the flour, water, yeast, and oil, and setting the machine to a "magic" setting produced a nice pulsed kneading action. Following the surprisingly short recommended time, the bread dough had balled nicely and was just right to leave rising.

At this point we could have made a 12 minute soup (but I'm saving this surprise for a bit further in so keep reading!) like a minestrone or similar but I wanted the quick version of the demonstration so we skipped over an hour of the usual two hour demonstration. I will have one of these really soon so I'll provide some recipes once I get to experiment.

Sorbet? I can honestly say under two minutes from whipping the ingredients out of the pantry to a finished sorbet. Oh and - did I mention that we started with whole brown sugar, milled that to caster sugar consistency, added the ice fruit and egg white and - voila! Instant. No fuss no messing around, this machine just gets on with it.

Salad? Take your ingredients, place in the bowl, put the top on, use a low setting, for a few seconds. Never seen anything like it. The big 500W motor starts almost instantly, and stops as quickly, leading to precise application of that power. The salad (which I'm still munching on as I type) is beautiful.

Two rinses later we added some onion and garlic and olive oil - and then processed and COOKED them! Yes, the machine has a 1000W temperature controlled induction heating system built in as well, enough to bring the bowl full of water to the boil in mere minutes. We added Arborio rice, stock and wine, and put the machine on a slow reverse stir for 16 minutes. Meanwhile, placing the steamer across the top of the machine gives two more dishes that can be steamed and that my friends is a complete meal, from soup to sorbet, and the whole lot would have taken under an hour if we hadn't been talking and sampling more than we were cooking.

The reverse stir is a secret - those same blades that could reduce that rice to fine powder in a few seconds at full speed, work with the butterfly stirrer accessory to keep the rice from clumping and sticking, or to constantly and gently stir anything like a soup or similar - in a word, this machine is brilliant.

And yes, the machine did ALL the work for the risotto, constantly stirring the rice to prevent sticking, and if I'd cared to, I could have added the stock a spoonful at a time but in the interests of demonstration time, we put it all in at once. I've never made risotto more easily.

So here's a machine that replaces a whole slew of machines for me:

  • Blender
  • coffee/herb grinder
  • flour grinder
  • meat mincer
  • bread maker (but need an oven then)
  • mixer
  • food processor
  • slow cooker
  • rice cooker
  • Coffee brewing (in a pinch)
  • steamer
  • slow crockpot cooker
  • scales

And that is a saving of around 40 kilos of appliances and any amount of costs.

I've already got plans for making Middle Eastern kibbeh style meat because the proccessor is so flexible and powerful that it will make a one hour job into just a 5 minute procedure.

THE HEALTH BENEFIT (and why I like this machine)
Also, because it's so easy to use wholefood ingredients rather than processed foods, this machine fits in perfectly with the aims and direction of the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook principles and makes cooking many of the recipes into a trivial task. I therefore have to recommend something like the Thermomix as the appliance of choice for many of my recipes, and will re-write many of them to take account of the machine, but with equivalent procedures for separate machines and hand-processing as well.

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