Step away from the fishfingers! Yes, you with the sallow face and weary expression! You can do better than that - and technology can help you.
Today's kitchen can be as techy as you want it to be. So while a good, sharp knife, chopping board and some fresh herbs will always go a long way to improving your cooking skills - and diet - adding some culinary-friendly gadgets can take things to the next level.
Here's the kit that the Stuff team uses when we're in the kitchen. Well, other than those times when we're just cooking fishfingers.
Tefal ActiFry Smart XL
In a world where food cooked by a proper chef is just a Deliveroo away, it’s pretty easy to get lazy in the kitchen. Fortunately, Tefal’s Actifry thrives on my laziness and doesn’t punish me with food jam-packed with fat. All it asks is that I fill its pot with ingredients, chuck in a dash of oil and close the lid. There's a handle which unfolds to allow you to dish up, or just hand your chips around for sampling and the whole bowl can be washed pretty easily - although the stirring spindle in the middle can clog up. More importantly, it’ll take care of the stirring, temperature control and all that stuff I can’t normally be bothered to do, plus the Bluetooth connection means it’ll ping my phone when it’s ready. A bit like Deliveroo.
Use it with... My ActiFry
The ActiFry app functions as a recipe book. Pick what you want, chuck in the ingredients and it’ll know how long it needs to cook for. You’ll just need to hit ‘go’ on your phone.
The past few weeks have been mighty frustrating for me. My smartphone typing efficiency has dropped by an alarming 76.4% because I’ve had to wear a plaster over my left thumb tip. The reason for this word-per-minute crippling? I sliced my digit rather badly on a hellish apparatus known as a julienne peeler. To save myself from future bloodshed, I’ve invested in this electric Spiralizer, which serves up healthy ribbons of veggie pasta alternatives – with zero risk of finger mutilation. The Spiralizer comes with a variety of cutting cones, each of which produces a different thickness of vegetable peel – letting you simulate the varying thickness of actual pasta strands. Clever, eh?
Use it with... Inspiralized
Surely there’s no such thing as the perfect app for an electric Spiralizer, we hear you cry. But there is. It’s called Inspiralized, and it’s packed with recipes to help you get started on your #cleaneating #ripcarbs lifestyle.
Morphy Richards Sear And Stew Compact
My appetite for a slow cooker has sadly not been matched by adequate kitchen worktop space, until now. The Sear And Stew’s small footprint means it sits permanently next to my hob, ready to be filled with ingredients in the morning so I can return home from work to a steaming stew. The hob-friendly pot means you can brown meat first without using another pan, and it’s big enough for three portions (or two hungover ones). Just be aware that the three settings (low, medium, high) refer to how long the cooker takes to reach its maximum temperature rather than different heat levels, so some dishes take a little trial and error.
Use it with... Yummly
The best cooking apps don’t always have the best recipes – a more useful purpose is tricking you into trying something new. Few do this better than Yummly, which personalises recipes to your tastes.
Anova Precision Cooker
I like my steaks rare. Really rare. Are-you-sure-that’s-not-still-alive rare. But the trouble with really rare steaks? The blood gets all over my chips. Enter the Anova Precision Cooker, a device with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth that turns any old pot into a sous vide maker. For the uninitiated, sous vide is the culinary art of sealing your food in a plastic bag, immersing it in water, then cooking it at a set temperature for hours. Hook up the Anova to your Wi-Fi and you can control it remotely from anywhere. Why? So you can start your 3hr pork belly recipe from work and tuck in as soon as you get home. And it really works, producing wonderfully tender meat that’s cooked exactly to your liking. And no blood either.
Use it with... Anova Culinary
Anova’s app is excellent, with dedicated sous vide recipes and timings for all manner of dishes, courtesy of the Serious Eats site and “pro chefs all over the globe”. Clementine and fennel chicken breast, anyone?
Smeg Citrus Juicer
Truth be told, by Stuff standards this Smeg juicer is pretty low-tech. But with a Nutribullet and a Philips centrifugal juicer getting dusty in a corner, I realised that what I was really after was simple, fresh orange juice – and that’s the Smeg’s raison d’être. Slice your orange in half with a good old-fashioned knife, gently push each half on to the conical reamer – which automatically turns as you apply pressure – and out of the little spout trickles delicious juice. And it’s superbly simple to clean – more so than even a Nutribullet. The sieve-like tray under the reamer catches the thickest pulp and leaves you with a juice that this drinker reckons is the perfect smooth-to-bits ratio. Fresh, tasty and healthy – the dream combination.
Use it with... Cocktail Flow
Think juice is just for breakfast? Think again! It’s also a prime ingredient in a whole host of cocktails, from the Tequila Sunrise to the Alabama Slammer. Cocktail Flow has the lot, complete with full instructions.