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February 15, 2013

Thermomix and the Kitchen Cabinet Graveyard

By Spear's

The back of Andrew Kojima’s kitchen cabinets are a graveyard for unused kitchen equipment. Unlike his grape peeler, his thermomix won’t end up there.

It’s easy buying presents for me. I like cooking, and have done so for almost twenty years. In that time I have accumulated a lot of paraphernalia. I have bought less than 10 per cent of the cookery books in my possession (a rough estimate from when I moved house recently). My cupboards, too, are stuffed full of equipment that I use infrequently but haven’t the courage to throw away: a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a panini grill, a soup maker, a stick blender and a food processor.

The only fad that I managed to avoid was a bread machine. I could see the attraction of waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread but suspected that after a few months of eating bread with a funny hole in the bottom, the machine would be consigned to the mortuary that is that inaccessible corner cupboard.

Then there are the gadgets that don’t require electricity: a Moroccan tagine, a salad spinner, bamboo steaming baskets, a pineapple corer, a pair of goggles for chopping onions and a grape peeler. For years, I joked about the grape peeler and asked why anyone would ever want to peel a grape. Then I was asked to peel about three hundred of them while on a stage at The Ledbury. I used a coffee spoon.

Now that I possess a Thermomix, the domestic appliance cull is looking increasingly likely. Yesterday, I made heart-shaped shortbread cookies for Valentine’s Day. I weighed the butter and icing sugar into the bowl, then incorporated the flour — my first batch of cookie dough was ready in two minutes.

I also made celeriac soup, with mint and hazelnut pesto, pancetta crumbs and truffle honey. I chopped and sweated an onion in the Thermomix, added some white wine, cooked the celeriac, then blended it with a knob of butter on full pelt. I did pass it through a chinois to ensure it was velvety smooth but the blades on the Thermomix are so powerful and thorough that there was virtually nothing that didn’t pass.

In restaurants, where food wastage means lower operating profit margins, it makes sense to make more soup for the bowl and leave less fibre in the chinois. I’ve even spotted a few vintage Thermomixes still putting in good service. Both Michel Roux Junior (patron of Le Gavroche) and Mark Gevaux (The Rib Man) have a previous model (TM3300) that must be over twenty years old — as long as I’ve been cooking. If mine lasts as long, it will work out at £45 per year.

Why is a chinois called a chinois? Answers via my website: The winner will receive some decorated Valentine’s cookies and a grape peeler.
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