There is one area of gadgetry that often gets overlooked by the camera and hi-fi obsessed: the kitchen gadget. Unless there’s a touch screen involved, these devilish devices don’t get the attention they deserve, despite being genuinely innovative. Perhaps I’m biased because I love food, so it’s fortunate that there are more kitchen gadgets available to the home cook than ever before.
To help me navigate the array of gastronomic gizmos, I asked culinary expert Richard Paikin, currently team chef for the rising stars of Brighton and Hove Albion Football Club, for tips on how to get the best out of them.
It’s a no-brainer that a coffee machine would come top of any kitchen gadget list. The mere aroma of fresh coffee turns my kitchen into a worldly and welcoming environment. It also turns out that a good espresso machine could actually make you a better chef! “Coffee is very handy in a kitchen environment and useful for heightening your senses and training your palate,” says Paikin.
A bean-to-cup machine such as the Saeco Xelsis by Phillips takes whole coffee beans, grinds them, and makes coffee to your preference. It means you can choose any coffee, without sacrificing control, convenience and craft.
However for me the Nespresso range is incredibly convenient. Connoisseurs may cringe, but the undoubtedly delicious coffee without the hassle is a step forward for a drink that hadn’t changed in years. You’ll never go back to freeze dried, you won’t block your sink with those pesky granules – it’s just great coffee without the hassle. The choices of coffee are excellent, but if I want to go further afield then I can be even more picky about going to a café, so going out is still a treat!
This is the quickest way to become the most popular kid on your street! “This is one to buy if you have people over all the time – and will test your imagination because you will want to make different flavours,” says Paikin.
However, be warned that the phrase, “Sorry, there isn’t enough ice-cream,” will not make you popular at all: “Size is important, as is speed. There’s nothing worse than an ice cream maker that’s too small,” warns Paikin.
I tried a range of different and unusual flavours, from ginger or mint-choc chip with chunks of Green & Black’s, to raspberry and even rosemary sorbet. Some machines, such as the Magimix Gelato Chef 2200, will mix and freeze your creation in twenty minutes. Combine with a cup of the finest espresso from your coffee machine to create a creamy Italian affogato.
Strictly speaking, this one is for outside the kitchen, as it should be used outdoors. But it’s so versatile and luxurious that no list of kitchen gadgets is complete without it.
The Original Bradley Smoker, for instance, is capable of hot and cold smoking, and even drying fruit. “You can use it for fish, cheese, meats - anything! Try smoking garlic, for instance,” explains Paikin.
Buying your own salmon to smoke turns out an absolute treat – and further involves you in the process of making your favourite foods and knowing where they come from, just like many of the gadgets on this list.
Smoking pellets are fed into the machine one at a time and after 20 minutes are extinguished in water, which helps to ensure a constant temperature. This makes for a nice clean smoke and a smooth taste and allows you to leave the appliance to smoke your food safely outdoors for around eight hours.
With summer finally here, why not invest in a smoothie-maker? I’m also a fan of granola in my smoothies, which combined with yoghurt, can make for a delicious and filling breakfast. Our expert, however, goes for the hand-blender:
“Hand blenders go a lot further than smoothie-makers because they do the same thing.
Purees, sauces, salsas, soups – you can use a hand blender for anything!” says Paikin.
If you’re whisking your way to becoming a better chef, then a hand-blender could be for you. But if you’re looking for convenience, have a look at the Dualit Blender, with a 1,000W motor that will do a cool job with your cocktails.
Do you often forget to defrost your dinner? Is the microwave half-cooking your food and ruining all the effort you put into your pasta sauce? A vacuum sealer is perfect for preserving food to keep on-the-go, or even to create handy boil-in-the-bag portions for later.
“This is great if you’re feeling lazy. Say you’ve frozen a food portion of Bolognese – you can boil it in the bag,” explains Paikin. This quick way of cooking also saves on washing up – but be warned, vacuum sealing foods can be strangely addictive.
Some of these gadgets might seem expensive but could save you money in the long run, especially if you are enjoying eating in instead of going out. One way to help you spread the initial cost could be by credit card, especially if you've got a card that offers a 0% period on purchases. It's important to bear in mind though that if you don’t clear the balance within the introductory period, you will be charged interest.
This is a sponsored post by Guest Blogger Quentin Baker on behalf of Sainsbury’s Bank.