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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

My Gadgets - Part One - "Big & Expensive"

I am really in to my kitchen gadgets.  Over the years I must have spent a fortune on them, slowly building my collection.  You have the big expensive things - stand mixer, food processor, blenders and espresso makers.  Then there are the little things - garlic peelers, salt pigs and microplanes.

This post is about the things I can't live without, the things I should have left on the shelf and those things that I really wanted but actually only used the once.  

Part one is about my biggie gadgets; expensive and fancy.

Please note, these are not technically reviews, just my comments. 

Stand Mixer
I always wanted a Kitchenaid, its those cookery shows fault!  I blame Nigella, Nigel, Tamasin and Ina for this obsession.  The problem is Kitchenaids are very expensive and unless I save up (something I often struggle with) or bring out the credit card (guilty as charged) its not the sort of thing I can just go out an purchase.  Then one Christmas I knew exactly  what I wanted - a stand mixer.  I was watching one of those TV shopping channels when they showcased a Kenwood kMix Stand Mixer.  At first I thought, no way I want my all American Kitchenaid, but as I watched they slowly mesmerised me in to wanting the Kenwood.  It looked as good as the Kitchenaid, it was more powerful, it came in black, it was British and finally it came with another gadget - a matching KMix handblender - SOLD!

These are expensive items, but as all the reviews say, they last for ever.  If your an serious cook/baker/whatever, I would suggest getting one.

Food Processor
A recent addition to my collection, and yes another Christmas present (you will see a trend here).  This time I did get my Kitchenaid brand, and it is black to match my mixer.  This food processor replaced my older model (not because the older model broke - I just wanted something else - my mum now owns it)  This is one of those gadgets I really want to use for everything but actually don't need to use it for everything.  Yes it chops onions in seconds but if your just chopping one onion is it really worth it?

I use mine for pastry, pizza sauce, hollandaise and salsas.  There are many other things I really want to try but so far thats it!  Oh, I have sliced a load of potatoes for a lamb hotpot. Is it worth buying one, ummmm, yes, you can get cheap ones and expensive ones, I had a cheap one, now I am lucky enough to have the expensive one.  What does the extra money get you?  Solid build quality, power, performance and of course brand name.  The latter not being that important but I feel the other three make it worth it.

Do you need a blender when you already have a food processor?  Well if your me the answer is yes because its yet another gadget, but honestly... I still think yes.  A food processor can never get anywhere  near the smoothness of a blender.  Blenders have smaller blades that turn much faster.  They blend, not cut, they purée, not slice.  If you try and turn a lumpy soup smooth in a processor expect lumps, in a blender, expect silky smooth.  My blender is yet another Kitchenaid (I am making up for the lack of stand mixer).  It comes with a large glass jug, a smaller plastic 'sauce' beaker and, through a coupon, a large plastic jug - suitable for large amounts of cocktails.  It has a range of speeds - stir, chop, whisk, puree and liquidize.  As well as an impressive ice function.  The blender always starts slow to stop the initial splash and then quickly speeds up to the set speed.   You can pick them up cheap however mine was £140 but I feel totally worth it -  build quality is excellent plus it matches the processor.  

Espresso Maker
I am a coffee-holic, if thats a true thing, if not I just invented a new meaning for coffee addiction.  I purchased my Gagga fully automatic espresso maker over 8 years ago, to date its made well over 3000 shots of espresso (I know that because it tell me on the screen) and apart from breaking down once is still working perfectly well.  A solid investment I feel, although at the time it did cost me £600, being the most money I have ever paid for a single kitchen gadget I am glad its still working well and serving me my morning coffee to this very day.   Worth buying?  For a coffee-holic I would say maybe, they are expensive, and cheaper options exist.  But if you go for the cheaper choice or worse, accept the cheaper choice, can you really call yourself a coffee-holic like me?  Will leave that one with you.

Waste Disposal
A strange thing to write about on a cooking blog, but I guess it does 'eat up' all of my disasters and those left over bits of peel.  This is one of those very American gadgets, pretty much the norm over there, but here, not really well known.  As a gadget freak who was lucky enough to have a totally new kitchen installed a few years back I made sure to have this gadget included.  For those unaware of what a waste disposal unit (or garbage disposal if you live in the USA) is all about simply think - easy, clean, bin you never have to empty for food waste.  It sits in the small sink and basically you turn on the cold tap and rinse plates etc under the flowing water and watch the left overs disappear down the sink.  Peelings, bones, sweet or savoury, it does not care, this greedy little device quickly and cleanly grinds up everything at the flick of a switch and washes it safely away down your drain.  I can not imagine my kitchen without one...turn on tap, rinse dishes and straight in to dishwasher...easy!  You can pick them up for £60, but expect a noisy beast that can only handle scraps, mine was just over £400, Maxmatic 5000 (British again) and can handle a body if I so desired...  worth getting one... yes if your getting a new kitchen, maybe a bit of a hassle if your not.  Insinkerator  is the American brand, very well known, Maxmatic is the equivalent  British version.

The end of part one on gadgets....more to come soon.