MATT PRE­STON

Do you have ap­pli­ance envy? Be­fore you take out a loan so you can make in­stant par­fait, take heed

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - MATT PRE­STON For ex­tra tips on cre­at­ing your own im­mer­sion cir­cu­la­tor at home and smok­ing with­out a gun, go to de­li­cious.com.au

Kitchen gad­get envy.

Early in this Masterchef sea­son, we locked up all the fancy equip­ment for a week. Per­son­ally, I think it should have been longer.

Do fancy kitchen gad­gets just dis­guise a se­ri­ous lack of real cook­ing tal­ent or a firm grasp of ba­sic culi­nary tech­niques? I would have loved to have forced the con­tes­tants to prove their real skills be­fore be­ing un­leashed on the blast chillers and sous vide ma­chines in the Masterchef kitchen, much in the same way some pri­mary schools made you earn your “pen li­cence” be­fore you could write with ink. Then we could sus­pend their li­cence if they made one too many par­faits or herb oils.

In fact, the con­tes­tants’ love of ex­pen­sive kitchen equip­ment has prompted lots of ques­tions from view­ers about which of this kit is worth the money for the home cook.

So here are my thoughts on what’s worth buy­ing and what’s not.

IM­MER­SION CIR­CU­LA­TOR

The mere fact I’ve been think­ing about adding an im­mer­sion cir­cu­la­tor to my mildly ob­ses­sive ar­ray of kitchen equip­ment means that the mar­ket­ing to vul­ner­a­ble minds like mine is hav­ing an im­pact.

These sous vide ma­chines start at around $200, but re­mem­ber you’ll need to spend an­other $120 or so on a good vac-pack ma­chine as well as the bags to put what you want to sous vide into.

Also, given that you can cook fish such as salmon in a con­fit style – where it is sub­merged in oil in the oven – it’s a good idea to try that first to see if you like this form of cook­ing be­fore spend­ing those dol­lars.

SMOK­ING GUN

I love my smok­ing gun (about $150) as it al­lows me to eas­ily cold smoke ev­ery­thing from but­ter, maple syrup and cream to meat and fish.

Hav­ing said that, there are ways to smoke food that only cost a few cents. Find out how at de­li­cious.com.au.

STICK BLENDER

This is prob­a­bly the most re­li­able and most used small ap­pli­ance in my kitchen. I love it. I use it to blend soups, froths, sauces and to make may­on­naise. Start­ing at around $35, it’s a must for any kitchen.

BLAST CHILLER

One of these will cost you crazy money – up­wards from $20,000 – but it will let you make par­fait very quickly. Far cheaper, though, is to buy an ice cream ma­chine and clear some space in your freezer for do­ing things the old-fash­ioned way. Well, un­less you are a high­fa­lutin pas­try chef with a rich and gen­er­ous bene­fac­tor. (Would that be a “sugar” daddy?)

STAND MIXER

These aren’t cheap at around $700 for a good one, but I love them for whip­ping cream or egg­whites, mak­ing meringues of all types or knead­ing dough for pizza, pasta and bread. Above all, they are per­fect for mak­ing cakes.

It was Adri­ano Zumbo who con­vinced me of the huge dif­fer­ence these make in prop­erly cream­ing but­ter and sugar (so it be­comes su­per light, pale and airy) to make bet­ter cakes. Good ones are ro­bust and last long enough to be­come part of the fam­ily. So if you’ve got the money and love cook­ing with flour, get one.

RO­BOT-COUPE OR POT BLENDER

I use mine to make one-minute ice creams; to chop, blend and puree; and to make pas­try. The ex­pen­sive ones need a fair amount of in­gre­di­ents to work prop­erly. The blade at­tach­ments are a god­send if you make loads of coleslaw or need to grate mounds of veg­eta­bles. But a good, cheap one will do the job.

THERMOMIX

Some peo­ple swear by them, oth­ers just swear at them. But sellers of Ther­momixes weren’t happy when I sug­gested a cou­ple of years back that this ap­pli­ance that heats, weighs and blends wasn’t a kitchen es­sen­tial.

I stand by what I said. I have one and it is an ace blender, plus it does make re­ally good herb oils, cus­tards, white sauces and smooth­ies. But I don’t think it is es­sen­tial in the same way that a stick blender or saucepan is. And pretty much ev­ery­thing it does, you can do with a pan, a stove, a wooden spoon, scales, a blender and a bit of time.

At over $2000, it is also eye­wa­ter­ingly ex­pen­sive, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing that the av­er­age Aussie house­hold spends a to­tal of $676 each year on all house­hold ap­pli­ances. Re­ally, at that price you’d be for­given for think­ing it ought to tidy the liv­ing room and pick up the kids from footy train­ing as well.

While I don’t want to put you off buy­ing one, be­fore you splash the cash, please bor­row a friend’s for a week and see how much you’ll use it. Also talk to them about what they use it for.

If you find you mainly use it for smooth­ies and juices, then per­haps look at a $150 high-speed, bul­let-style blender in­stead.

GEEK KITCHEN A sous vide is cov­etable chef tech, but do you need one?

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