Tefal has created a new cooking appliance that promises to be the one kitchen gadget to rule them all.
Rather than focusing in on one specific task, such as a mixer or a blender, the Tefal Cuisine Companion tries to do the lot. The company says it can replace up to ten different appliances in the kitchen, ridding your cupboards of the clutter for one single device, albeit a fairly large one.
Going up against the £900 Thermomix, the Cuisine Companion is still expensive, but considerably cheaper at £699 and promises to do more for the money.
You get a device that can chop, whip, mix, knead, cook, steam, blend, stir, emulsify, whisk, sear, crush, mill and offer precise heating if needed.
We've been using one to cook in the Pocket-lint kitchen to see if it's up to the job.
The unit itself features a 4.5 litre capacity, dishwasher safe bowl, a large wipe clean control console with six programmes (sauce, soup, slow cook, steam, pastry and dessert), 12 different speed settings, a timer that ranges from five seconds to two hours, the ability to set the temperature from five to 130 degrees C, and numerous blade attachments to suit most needs from stirring to cutting.
To get you started, the ultimate kitchen gadget comes with a recipe book featuring 300 different dishes that can be be cooked in the Cuisine Companion, although many will also require you to have an oven, fridge or freezer. It will basically get you so far but can't chill or bake.
We opted for a Thai green curry, among a handful of other dishes.
Roughly chop the onions and other ingredients, press a few buttons and that's pretty much all there is to it. Because the gadget can cook as well as chop and stir, you aren't having to work your way through a series of different devices or pots and pans. It greatly simplifies the experience.
Since our first Thai green curry we've used it to mix our Christmas cake, make puréed mash potato from scratch (it even boils the potatoes for you), make other cakes and a risotto. We’ve even used it as a to make dough for bread. It can double as a proving oven because it can add heat, but you will have to bake the bread in your own main oven.
For the most part the device works. The slow cooker feature means you can create pie fillings, while the mixer feature means you can make the pie crust too.
Regardless of what you are cooking, the main theme that runs throghout the recipes Tefal suggests is that you don't really have to be involved. Prepare the ingredients, pop them in when the instructions tell you to and then walk away. That's great for the risotto, dough, pastry and custard, where you would normally have to stir vigilantly to ensure it’s a success.
If you're entertaining or have to get one with something else, that freedom is very much welcomed. However, it can at times isolate you from the joy of cooking, and explaining to dinner guests you did nothing doesn't really have the same charm.
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So what's the verdict, can you ditch all your other kitchen gadgetry? For the most part, yes. It gets the job done and will save you cash (in the long run) and cupboard space.
Finding and justifying £700 however, will be hard for most people - although it is cheaper than the £900 you will have to shell out for a Thermomix.
Buying the individual devices would spread the cost a little more efficiently in the long run, as you won't have to part with so much cash in one go, but that's somewhat beside the point.
This is cooking companion, not a kitchen in a bowl. You will still need a hob, you'll still need an oven, a fridge and a freezer. This is not a gadget that will do absolutely everything for you.
What the companion is great at is one pot meals. Anything that requires cooking and stirring it is brilliant at. Pastry without even worrying about getting flour on your hands, and mixing too. But push it beyond that and it starts to struggle, so be clear on what you want from it before you give it a whirl.