LLG Cooks: My Favourite Kitchen Gadgets

by Sasha Wilkins on October 7, 2012 · 43 comments

IMG_8381

I’ve had various queries over the lifetime of the blog about the electrical kitchen gadgets that I use day to day. (As opposed to the ones that gather dust on kitchen counters, or which lurk in the back of cupboards.) In the London flat I lived in before I moved to America, the sandwich toaster, deep fat fryer & pasta machine weren’t used year on year and I eventually Freecycle-ed them when I moved to New York.

Of the obvious ones, I couldn’t live without either a toaster – I lack the concentration not to burn toast under a grill, or a combi microwave/mini convection oven – I live on my own, so there’s always leftovers & doggy bags to heat up, and it’s a lot cheaper than turning on the big oven for just a baked potato. (They are generic ones I bought from Argos (a UK general retailer.)

I don’t have a juicer or an ice cream machine or a bread maker, but the following things I use at least once a week, if not every day.

First up is the Nespresso machine above. I love it. I really LOVE it. I bought one for my mother for Christmas last year after much research, and it was the obvious choice to call in when I needed a coffee machine for entertaining for LLG. It’s a godsend whether I am catering for demanding journalists who all want something different to drink, or for my friends. I do not miss the third degree burns from my cafetiere/French press, or having endless coffee grounds swilling around my sink. And, of course, the coffee is far and away better than anything I was making myself.

Nespresso CitiZ and Milk by Magimix M190 Coffee Machine £149 (c/o).
(The metal cups are Nespresso Pixie cups; the poppy china is Emma Bridgewater, but the pattern has been discontinued. The nearest is Hellebore.)

IMG_8359

I have an industrial metal trolley I bought on eBay for £90, where I stash everything so it’s in easy reach. (No surer way not to use anything than putting it out of sight) There’s a pressure cooker for cheap pulses in the winter, and a giant stockpot for batch cooking pasta sauces and soups. I have an ancient Kenwood goblet blender for smoothies, cocktails and soups. (Make sure you get one with as powerful a motor as you can afford if you intend to put ice cubes in it. They burn out really easily otherwise.)

IMG_8364

Then there is my beloved Magimix 5100 Food Processor, which my parents gave me for Christmas about seven years ago. It’s now been superceded by the 5200, but the 5100 is a real workhorse and, if you cook for more than four people on a regular basis, then I can’t recommend it highly enough.

It comes with all sorts of attachments, but I pretty much only use the grater (amazing), slicer (for making Dauphinoise), and the all-purpose Sabatier blade for chopping and mixing. It was in storage whilst I was in America, and it’s probably the gadget that I missed the most. Especially for making cakes, batters & pastry, chopping onions in bulk, and making sauces. Not cheap at around £349, but if you cook as much as I do, the cost per use is well worth it.

IMG_8401

A stick blender is super handy, and takes up no room. Fantastic for whizzing up sauces and soups in saucepans, particularly in large quantities. (This one also came with a little chopping attachment for herbs and garlic etc which I have never used.)

Philips Hand Blender with Beaker & Chopper £37 (This is the nearest I could find to mine. If you want silver & 700W it’s now £70. Ouch. Again, you get what you pay for with stick blenders. Get the highest watt you can afford to avoid burn out.)

I know plenty of people would argue that a Mandolin for slicing and julienne-ing vegetables is not an essential – or an electrical – gadget, but it’s one of those things that I can’t do without. The Magimix has a slicing disc, but when I am in a hurry, and don’t want to set up – and wash up – a food processor, it’s a matter of seconds to use a Mandolin. Plus the Magimix cannot slice really, really thin like this baby can. It’s perfect for cucumber sandwiches, which I made for my Wedgwood tea last week, and for my potato, goats cheese & thyme tart.

IMG_8370

I bought this one at TK Maxx for about £10, but you can buy them on Amazon here.

Neither are metal mixing bowls gadgets, but they live on the trolley too. I bought these for a few pounds from the big Chinese hypermarket last year, and can’t believe I was previously using a random collection of ancient china bowls. I use them everyday for pretty much everything. Soaking vegetables, mixing cakes, prepping recipes…you name it.

IMG_8403

You can find similar here. (But I highly recommend seeking out Wing Yip, Hoo Hing or similar and checking out their catering equipment sections for super cheap cooking kit, including strainers, tongs and woks.)

I dropped and smashed my electric beater/whisk last week, otherwise I would have photographed that, because there is no way I am ever going to be beating cream or whisking egg whites by hand. No way Jose.

I’m weighing up a replacement at the moment and trying to convince myself that I deserve an upgrade to a Kenwood stand mixer, but that’s a pretty big fiscal jump from £20 odd quid to £400+. I know the obvious get these days is a Kitchen Aid, but my mother has always had a Kenwood, and I grew up watching her make bread & pizza dough using the famous Kenwood K dough hook, whisking her cream and eggs, and making the absolute best mashed potato in it. I think they are fabulous.

Anyway, that’s it. Oh an electric thermometer is pretty handy too, especially given my new found love of Swiss meringue, but I don’t have one at the moment. If I had to choose desert island-style,  I would probably take the microwave and the stick blender with its little chopping pot, as those two would probably save the most time & get the most done between them. But my absolute love is the Magimix. Because, believe me, mixing cake batters by hand in bulk with half a pound of flour at a time takes a while.

What can’t you live without in the kitchen?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Faux Fuchsia October 7, 2012 at 23:15

I cannot with without the dough hook attachment on my kitchen aid or my food processor x

Reply

LLG October 8, 2012 at 07:41

@Faux Fuchsia: I am envious of your dough hook! LLGxx

Reply

Sue October 7, 2012 at 23:53

A stone mortar and pestle for coarse grinding chillies, nuts, garlic, herbs etc

A microplane for zesting lemons and grating root ginger.

A stick blender.

Reply

LLG October 8, 2012 at 07:32

@Sue: ooh yes, I have a large & heavy mortar that I make guacamole in, and a whole collection of Microplanes for various uses. I think a kitchen tool post is overdue! LLGxx

Reply

Clothing Online October 8, 2012 at 00:51

I love the entire collection specially the stick blender and i must buy this today. Thanks for the post…

Reply

littlebrownbird October 8, 2012 at 00:55

My Magimix is the best gadget I’ve ever bought. I have a smaller version but It has a great motor and easy to clean as I don’t have a dishwasher.My favourite stick blender is the Bamix; like you say it’s all about the motor.My most recent purchase was a hand whisk to make meringues. Argos Basic at £4.99 does an admirable job until I can afford a KitchenAid or Kenwood K-mix. A electric thermometer is next on my list!

Reply

LLG October 8, 2012 at 07:40

@littlebrownbird: ooh yes, I think Bamixes are fantastic. If I hadn’t had to buy mine in a hurry for an event, that’s what I wld have gone for too. I like that we have the same virtual shopping list! LLGxx

Reply

Laura {This City Life London} October 8, 2012 at 02:07

Great post. I’ve been wondering about a Nespresso machine for ages and couldn’t quite make the decision to buy one so it’s great to hear your review.

Also would love to add a few gadgets to a rather bare kitchen so it’s handy to have some tips and recommendations.

Thanks! :)

Reply

LLG October 8, 2012 at 07:39

@Laura {This City Life London}: They are an investment – if you are an occasional coffee drinker, I wouldn’t bother, but if you have a regular habit and/or entertain a lot then I think they are worth it. I love being able to offer lots of different types of coffee – incl decaf – to guests. LLGxx

Reply

Gallivantwithcake October 8, 2012 at 03:28

I was given a Kenwood as a gift a few years back – if you get one, you will never look back. They come with most (if not all) the attachments a kitchen aid does, and the silver classic look goes very perfectly in most kitchens. do it – you won’t regret it!

Reply

LLG October 8, 2012 at 07:33

@Gallivantwithcake: I reeeeeeely want one! Even tho my kitchen isn’t big, I reckon I would use it all the time. Esp if I got the blender goblet attachment for the top, so I could finally ditch my crappy old blender! LLGxx

Reply

Helena Halme October 8, 2012 at 03:57

I cannot live without my Nespresso machine either. I resisted for a long time but when we moved from a farm house in the country to a flat in London two years ago (time flies!), I succumbed, and haven’t looked back since. Perfect coffee every time without any mess – how can you go wrong?

Reply

LLG October 8, 2012 at 07:38

@Helena Halme: I was the same: didn’t really see the point, but I LOVE the ease & convenience. LLGxx

Reply

Chloe B October 8, 2012 at 05:59

Couldn’t live without my Kenwood!!

Also would add a Nespresso Aeroccino to the list (heavenly for hot chocolate!).

Reply

LLG October 8, 2012 at 07:34

@Chloe B: I have the Aeroccino – it’s hidden behind the coffee cups in the photo! I don’t drink milk, so I kind of forget that I have it. But guests LOVE it. LLGxx

Reply

Jane October 8, 2012 at 06:45

Nespresso advocates, do you find having the restock the pods annoying/expensive? That has been the one thing holding me back from a purchase.

I am a huge magimix advocate. The day it arrived I couldn’t believe I’d been wasting precious hours chopping vegetables for so many years. What a sucker I was!

Reply

LLG October 8, 2012 at 07:36

@Jane:The pods work out something like 39 each…a LOT cheaper than buying coffee in store, although obvs not as cheap as buying ground coffee. But for me it’s worth it for the lack of faff. If you join the Nespresso club, then the mail order is really simple. Plus of course there is the Nespresso counter at Selfridges, where I bought my mother’s machine, and the shiny Nespresso store at the Piccadilly end of Regent St… (I take my used pods there for recycling.) LLGxx

Reply

Jane October 8, 2012 at 15:22

@LLG: Thanks so much!

Reply

Annie October 14, 2012 at 08:37

@LLG:
Friends of mine recently launched a range of Nespresso compatible pods, http://www.cafepod.com. Unfortunately I don’t live in the UK anymore so I haven’t tried them and can’t vouch for them, but I think it’s great to have another option available.

Reply

Amy October 8, 2012 at 07:16

Love my Kenwood, use it all the time. Mine came from Lakeland discounted because of a scratch, keep your eye out for a bargain because they are so worth it!

I was the same, fond memories of my Mum making bread and cakes with hers (which is also still going strong, must be 20+ years old)

Reply

LLG October 8, 2012 at 07:37

@Amy: ooh good tip, thank you! I think my mother using her Kenwood is one of my strongest memories of her cooking as a child too. LLGxx

Reply

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: