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.)
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.)
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 It’s now been superceded by the 5200, but the 5100 is a real workhorse and, if you cook for more than four people on a regular basis, then I can’t recommend it highly enough.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.
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.
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.
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?