As a food blogger and recipe writer I am fortunate, or not as the case may be, to preview many of the plethora of food related technology out there. I can honestly say that on a weekly basis someone, somewhere is launching a new food app or whizzy chopping device that in their opinion has some clever innovative new feature that enables you to reach the nirvana of eating glory. Sadly this is very rarely the case but it does prove two things; firstly that the current trend for all things food is very much here to stay and secondly that there is a lot of wheat out there that needs separating from the chaff.
This is my top 5 of the latest tools for the everyday food lover. I’ve lived with most of them for the past few months to fully test them, have them in my kitchen and can really see how they weave themselves into our everyday lives.
1 Sous Vide Supreme
Have you ever watched MasterChef and seen those guys throw tightly packed rolls of venison into a water-bath and wondered what on Earth they were doing? Well, the Sous Vide is a gourmet culinary technique long-used by chefs worldwide, it involves cooking food in vacuum-sealed pouches, submerged in a water bath held at a precisely controlled temperature to produce the most incredibly succulent and ultimately perfectly cooked food. The Sous Vide Supreme machine allows you to achieve this at home. I have a love-hate relationship with my machine… you see, whilst it is undeniable that the machine has produced some of the most incredible, succulent and delicious meats and fish I have ever eaten, it’s a beast of a machine, takes an age to make anything and kind of means I don’t get to mess around in the kitchen. But I guess I should quit complaining and carry on astounding my dinner guests!
The Sous Vide Supreme retails at £350 and the Sous Vide Supreme Demi retails at approx. £252. Both are available from the sousvidesoupreme.com or other online retailers such as johnlewis.com
EatYourBooks.com is one of those genius ideas that you wish you’d thought of yourself… ‘if only I had a digital library of all my cookbooks’ well now you do. Essentially you create a library of the books you own on the EatYourBooks website and then when you’re searching for a recipe or looking for inspiration you simply input the ingredients into the search function and the site will tell you which books in your collection to look in and where to find recipes. The site doesn’t reproduce the recipes as this would go against copyright laws; rather it directs you to the books you own. It’s a great function for when time is short or simply to help you get more from your cookbooks. The site also allows you to input magazine articles and your favourite food blogs. There is a yearly subscription, but at £15 it hardly breaks the bank and the amount of times I’ve used it means it has easily paid for itself many times over.
3 The Tefal OptiGrill
Ok, so I must admit that when I first received this little machine I left it in the box for a few weeks never quite sure how or why I would use it. With its sloping, ridged cooking surface it’s a bit like a cross between a George Forman Grill and a stove-top griddle pan. I just couldn’t see why I’d need it to take up precious space on my work-top. However, once the sun came out I thought it would make the most convenient and hassle-free barbecue replacement for those days when it’s just me and stoking the BBQ is way too much of a hassle. As the name suggests the OptiGrill cooks the perfect steak to exactly how you like it, with a colour coded light that changes from yellow to orange to red depending on how well-done you like your meat. It also has a clever little thickness detector to ensure it gets it right every time. As well as meat, the device cooks vegetables, sausages and other barbecue favourites to utter perfection.
The Tefal OptiGrill retails at £119.99 and is available at online stores Including Currys.co.uk, Lakeland.co.uk and Tesco.com
4 Allrecipes Dinner Spinner Pro
This is my all-time favourite food app. It wins in both functionality and cuteness of design. This clever little thing is based on a fruit machine with a spinning dial and the idea is that you look in your fridge or cupboard and then spin the dial on the app to select the ingredients you have or the type of food you want to eat and a selection of wonderful recipes are suggested. It contains 1000s of recipes that are submitted by hundreds of people – from chefs to food bloggers – there are even a few recipes by me!
The Allrecipes Dinner Spinner Pro is a free app available on Android devices
5 The Hotpoint Steam Blender
Of all the gadgets and gizmos I’ve been sent to review over the years this one is my firm favourite. It is used on almost a daily basis and has not failed me yet. As the name suggests the principal behind the machine is that it steams and then blends. You place vegetables into the blender and water into the reservoir which is passed through a heating element to create steam, forcing it into the blender. The steam cooks the vegetables ensuring all the goodness and flavour is still there and then you simply press the blend button for gloriously smooth and instant hot soup. Its simplicity is what makes this so brilliant and of course the varieties of soup are endless but it also makes jam, sauces and even scrambled eggs!
The Hotpoint Steam Blender retails at £140 and is available from online stores such as Johnlewis.com and Amazon.com
Sous Vide Haddock with Sous Vide Poached Egg
2 fillets of smoked haddock
1 lemon – sliced
A handful of lemon thyme
Freshly ground pepper
2 large free range eggs
Fill your Sous Vide Supreme with water and set to 60C
Place each haddock fillet into a cooking pouch and place a slice of lemon, a sprinkling of lemon thyme and a glug of olive oil and seal the bag using the vacuum sealer. With fish it’s best not to vacuum the bag completely as this can effect the texture – 90% is best.
Place the bags of fish into the Sous Vide and set the timer for 20 minutes.
After 20 miutes remove the bags and set them aside covered with a tea towel, then turn the Sous Vide up to 75C. Once the temperature is reached carefully place your un-bagged eggs (in their shells) into the water and set the timer for 15 minutes.
To plate up, simply remove the fish from the bag, place on the plate and crack the egg on top – it should open up to reveal the perfect poached.
Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and serve
Eat, and of course enjoy!