Recipes

Thermomix – how was the demo?

As promised, I am sharing my experience of my Thermomix Demo.  First thing to say is this is my personal opinion, this is not a sponsored post so truly independent.  It’s a long one so make a cuppa and have a read.

Most importantly, the food.  What did we eat and how good was it?  On the menu was pain au lait, vegetable soup, steamed chicken and vegetables with a sauce and, for dessert, mango sorbet.

Pain au lait is a bread very like brioche just not so rich.  The milk, sugar, butter and fresh yeast were added directly to the bowl, the Thermomix has integrated scales so no need for weighing and measuring separately.  They were mixed and warmed to the ideal temperature for the correct amount of time.  A little tune rang out to tell us to add the flour and the resulting dough was kneaded automatically.  It was then turned out onto the baking parchment on a baking sheet, plaited to look pretty, glazed with egg yolk, placed in the oven for 20 mins at 40-50 C to rise (which is a clever little trick for anyone making their own bread without a bread maker) and baked for 20 mins at 180C.

Once baked, it looked impressive and tasted as good as any pain au lait from a boulangerie.  A recipe to be shared properly later and easily done without the Thermomix but it will take longer unless you have a bread maker or a Kitchen Aid with dough hook or similar to do your kneading and mixing.  Kneading bread dough by hand can be a very therapeutic thing to do but it does take time.

 

 

After this, we were shown how the Thermomix makes quick work of the famous mango sorbet that I mentioned in the last post.  It was so simple.  Frozen chopped mango pieces were put into the machine, along with some sugar and the egg white left after the glazing the bread. It was blended with a bit help with a spatula guided by Anita.

A bit of science now.  The sugar is not just there to add sweetness but is also important to lower the freezing temperature of the sorbet helping reduce the formation of ice crystals.  Too much sugar will make your sorbet too soft and will melt too quickly so it is a balance between function and taste.   With a sweet, fibrous fruit like mango you need less sugar but with a fruit with a less fibrous texture or one that is more sour you need more.  Of course, if you plan to eat it straight away and the fruit is sweet enough you can miss it out completely.

The egg white is there to stabilise the air trapped in the sorbet, which improves the mouth feel making the sorbet feel more silky and creamy, even if there is no cream there.  The same effect happens by adding cream or yoghurt to the fruit due to the fats and proteins in the dairy products.  Again, with mango, which makes a really thick puree when it is blended, it is less important but with thinner purees it will really make a difference.  This means that it will freeze well after you make it and store better, keeping its smooth and creamy texture for longer.  These principles can be applied if making sorbets with an ice cream maker too.

The Thermomix, once the mango has been pureed and turned to sorbet, has another fitting that can be added which incorporates more air into the sorbet to give it a better texture.  And it really does make a difference to the texture, the tiny air bubbles give the sorbet a much creamier mouthfeel.  A silkiness that really makes the sorbet go from delicious to sublime. It gives a mouthfeel more akin to an ice-cream than a sorbet even though this recipe has no cream at all.

20171112_085825.jpg
Mango Sorbet – look at the colour, I love mangoes.

The next thing was to make soup whilst steaming vegetables and chicken at the same time.  Garlic and onions were chopped and then sauteed by the Thermomix and then water was added to the bowl.  Anita made strips of carrots and courgettes with a peeler and placed them in the bottom steamer layer.  The middles of the carrots and courgettes were chopped and placed in a basket that sat just above the water in the bowl, along with leek and potimarron (a small tasty pumpkin) but any vegetables could have been put here.  On the top layer of the steamer, Anita wet a piece of baking parchment and laid it in the top layer of the steamer.  She cut chicken breast into strips and coiled them in little circles on top of the paper.  The steamer attachments were sat on top of the bowl and the machine was set for 20 minutes.

When the steamer went beep, the top two layers were removed, the vegetables in the basket inside the bowl were tipped into the stock and then blended to a very silky, smooth soup.  A little of the soup was kept in the bowl and then a spoonful of creme fraiche, parsely and whole grain mustard were added and blended to make a sauce for the chicken and vegetables.

The chicken was moist and tender, the vegetables were cooked perfectly and both the soup and the sauce were tasty.  Pretty compact and efficient cooking.  So you could be preparing soup for the next day’s lunch while making dinner.  You could probably be making risotto or a casserole in the bowl while steaming something else – dinner for two days done at once.

I didn’t get photos of the soup and chicken with veggies and sauce but there was enough leftover to feed me and the kids for dinner and still have some chicken in 20171110_122440.jpg

 

sauce to eat for lunch the next day mixed with a small amount of Indian vegetable rice I had leftover from another day.  The cumin, ginger and garlic of the Indian rice worked well with the mustard sauce and just gave me a perfect amount for lunch.

So the demonstration showed us we could very quickly make bread, make soup while at the same time making main course and then dessert of mango sorbet.  All in about 2 hours or so.

Everything that was made could be made without the Thermomix.  And with extra pots you could do the multi-meal prep too but you would have to be thinking about multi-recipes and timings yourself with no help from the machine.  You may need more gadgets and utensils or have to do things by hand.  You may generate more washing up.  The Thermomix made everything quicker and none of the Thermomix attachments seemed fiddly to wash.

The power of the motor was impressive – it took seconds to make icing sugar from regular granulated sugar.  It could be used to grind flour from any grain that you may wish to make flour from, be that rice or oats etc.  I guess it could be used to grind coffee or spices, should you want to make your own garam masala for instance, in no time.  It was impressive.

Unfortunately, there was a little problem with connectivity in my house and so the little trick of guiding you through the recipe via its little screen was not working, Anita had to use the recipe books.  Normally, a key that clips on the side of the machine takes the recipe from the internet platform and then guides you through the recipe step by step.  Fab for those who are less confident at cooking but there is no need to have a recipe book on the work surface getting all sticky (but I have to say all the best recipe books are a bit sticky – it means they have been used and the food in them is good, the more stained the page the better the recipe!!)

Many of us use the internet to find a recipe based on some ingredients in the fridge or the time we have to cook something or other criteria.  On the Thermomix recipe internet platform you can use those kind of filters and then come up with a shopping list that can be sent to your e-mail or whoever needs to do the shopping.  The recipe platform is extensive and can be organised into menus and weekly plans if you like to be that organised. Then the recipe appears in your machine’s little screen, as if by magic, to guide you through the process.  The scales are incorporated, the temperature is regulated, a timer tells you when it is time to do the next step, the speed of the motor and its direction is all there for you on the screen.

However, I am a bit of a open the fridge and see what inspires me kind of girl, although sometimes I regret my lack of planning.  I rarely use recipes, how easy will it be for me to do that with Thermomix?  Would I end up doing the usual with my well loved and well used pans and cast iron pots?

I can see how, for a household with both parents working or a single parent household, where planning can be essential for time management and budgeting, the Thermomix could revolutionise your cooking and potentially reduce reliance on ready made meals and sauces etc.   So if you are trying to help with homework, make school lunches, answer the phone and feed the dog all at the same time then the machine acts like a robotic sous-chef.  But to do so you have to make sure you use it to its maximum and make the most of its functions and that requires a bit of time thinking about using it well and challenging your way of cooking.

It can be used as a food chopper if you are making a huge amount of soup or stew that is too big for the integrated bowl.  If you have a big family or are cooking for a lot of people, the size of bowl could be limiting on some of the functions – you may have to use it to prep but not for the cooking.  You can use it like a Kitchen Aid or similar to make cake batter or bread dough.  Steamed puddings, cakes and puddings that you put water in the oven to bake can be done with the Thermomix.  You can use it as a blender or smoothie maker.  It can be an ice-cream maker as long as you start with frozen ingredients.  It can be a soup maker or a rice steamer.

I think the biggest downside is the price tag.  It is an expensive piece of kit, over 1000 Euros.  If you don’t have a range of gadgets in your kitchen and are starting from scratch then if you add the cost of the individual items of a reasonable quality then it makes it easier to justify.

If you are a time poor but well-off family then this could really be something that is easy to justify – you will save money with cooking from stock ingredients far more and rely less on ready made sauces and meals.  But only if you make yourself find the time to learn how to use it and make the most of it.   If you are a bit strapped for cash it is a big outlay even if it could help save you money in the long run if you use it well.

Using it could help you and your family eat better.  Steaming is a healthy way to cook food and reducing reliance on pre-prepared ingredients and ready meals can help you to eat more vegetables and eat less salt, sugar and fat that can be higher than expected in manufactured food.   Especially if you are a less confident cook who always feels happier with a recipe to follow.

How good is the after care and support?  It seems like there is a system there for all that but the only people who can tell you how well that actually works are people who have the gadget and have made the most of the network.  What is its life span?  Will it be working well 5 years or more of heavy use without problem?  At the price, I would expect it to and expect that any component that gives up through normal use gets replaced without a quibble.  Again, I would need to peruse the web for some reviews.

Because I am a confident cook (no masterchef, I must add), because I have loads of one pot recipes and quick bakes that I can make almost with my eyes shut, I have this feeling that I don’t really need it for some of it’s big positives.  It would be a luxury, a toy.  Would I, if I had it, make more of things that I don’t get round to because they just take too long?  Would I make sorbets and use it to make sauces?  Would I make my own pastry more often, I could make my own peanut butter, would I use it to make  some of my one pot dishes? How quickly would I work out how to use it as automatically as I cook the conventional way?  Or would it be like my juicer, my steamer sitting looking a bit neglected or my slow cooker that I really don’t use that often at all….because at over 1000 Euros that is an expensive ornament on the work surface!  Anita was a sceptic for a long time for the same reasons.  She is an extremely good cook (better than me) but has been converted so much she now sells the things!

If Thermomix reads this then please could I have one for a couple of months to play with?  I will happily play with it, look after it and then maybe I will gladly part with 1000 Euros with confidence.

 

 

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