I am about to create some controversy ! Ahh! My kitchen is reasonably well equipped. I have no thermomix and have not investigated it much really. Until now. A friend left me his thermomix to try for a few weeks.
What to do with this thermomix sitting here in my kitchen?
My first approach was to browse through the thermomix dedicated cookbooks my friend left with me. Maybe I should have started by downloading the user guide….(if you read that, thermomix owner, don’t worry, your Vortex is safe!).
To be fair, at first I was not impressed, the food looks like mashy boring food. For many people, it can be fine, mmmm, there must be something behind this success. I decided to push on into the investigation.
This is when I texted my sister in France who has one of these machines. I know she swears by it. Guess what? I received an avalanche of recipes to try. Well, thanks for internet I could consult them, see, her Fremch “Vortex” books and the ones I had access to in Australia do not display the same recipes.
Who are the thermomix lovers?
Progressing through my investigation, my next questions were:
- Why do people love it? (assuming they do)
- Who are the users?
- What does it bring to the advance home cook ?
- Why do some professional use it?
Here are my findings: people love the thermomix for a range of reasons, the reasons are associated with the use and the level of cooking skills of the users. As a result, the range of reasons is quite broad.
The near beginner
For the near beginner or someone who does not like spending much time in the kitchen, it is a perfect tool which dictates them exactly what to do, one step at the time. Even better, these people can do recipes with no technical skills. Never made a creme anglaise before? No worries, Your “vortex” will make it for you perfectly, just put all ingredients in the bowl, press a few buttons (sounds like a science fiction movies from the 80s!) and this is it. And truly this is it!
The busy family
For the busy Mum, this is all about having dinner ready early. The meal can be ready to cook and it can be switched on by the first person arriving at home.
The cramped space
For the people living in a small place, the Thermomix replaces many kitchen appliances, great job there! Gone is the ice cream maker, gone is the food processor, gone is the steamer, gone is the blender, gone is the dough mixer, gone is the rice cooker. I am sure there are more of those! All is still required is a fry pan and an oven (unfortunately the thermomix does not brown food).
The professional kitchen
For the professional kitchens, there is definitely a use for defined activities. Not only does it save manpower, the machine gets it right every time. I am thinking of some sauces, custards, creams, etc. Each professional kitchen which chooses to use the Thermomix will have a valid reason for it.
There are also people who do not like the thermomix, but their voice is weak as they go against a cult and their comments are usually not well received. I am not speaking about the safety concern that one of the model had issue with, but more about the feel that it is yet another machine not required in some people’s kitchen. Fair enough!
And then finally: what is it good at?
This is where the practical part of the investigation comes in play. Now, I will speak as an advance cook, keep that in mind!
First, you need to become familiar with the vocabulary. Not only has each part of the machine its own little name, there are also a number of symbols introduced to recipes. I have to say that those are quite self-explanatory. In doubt? The user guide can be downloaded for free! (do that before you get started, my avice)
I tried the following recipes:
- Profiteroles. Why this recipe: if you have ever made pate a choux, you will remember that this is a physically hard one to do. it required a lot of elbow oil. If a machine can do it for me, great!
- Ice-cream – I wanted to try the custard making capability
- Chocolate spread – finally something that could potentially grind hazelnuts and make a great paste (Yum!)
- Couscous semolina – to try the multi level steam baskets
- Steamed soy-honey salmon with vegetables – we had t have dinner, so why not?
SUCCESS. I was initially taken aback because the thermomix recipe cuts down a lot of the water volumes from t
he traditional recipe. I fought my desire to change the recipe. In the end, the result is great.
SUCCESS. Making a custard like preparation is a strength of the Thermomix. On the recipes provided, I would not hesitate to decrease the sugar quantity if it appears a bit high. Advise: you do need quite a bit of time to freeze the ice cream, do not leave it at the last minute!
The recipe for the one above is on the thermomix website. I used a real vanilla bean plus some ground vanilla powder.
Hazelnut chocolate spread
SUCCESS for the technique, The hazelnuts came out so fine! So did the cooking chocolate. nd of course the sugar in icing sugar!
DISASTER for the recipe itself (too strong, I will need to compensate it now, can’t be used as such).
Steamed fish and couscous
I did not follow a recipe. I only read how to use the steamer part (what is its name again?). No surprise here. Only minus, I find the baskets a little small. It will feed a family of 4 just right, but no more. The food was good (but no surprise there).
This piece of equipment is very well designed, I came to appreciate some of the details in the shapes and uses while trying it. For example, the lid of the bowl will gather all spills and make sure any addition makes it to the “Vortex”.
I was very impressed with the thermomix mixing power, the temperature control and of course the pulverisation power!
Until I read the user guide, I found the cleaning painful, but I only have myself to blame here! One thing I had enough at the end of the test is the noise. The thermomix is noisy, but I guess most people will not use it non stop for three hours!
The volume is limited, for larger families/groups, this would be a limitation.
All the recipes on the book are not a success and it would be fair to say, the pictures are not always very attractive. However, there are a number of dedicated websites with great content.
I do understand very well the attraction for owing one of those. Now is it on my shopping list? Not really, or maybe right at the bottom for now. Remember it costs around AU$2,000! If I am using one, it would be to save my time minding a saucepan and use it doing another element of a meal!