For a while, I’ve been sitting back, observing the Thermomix cult transform ordinary people into health-conscious, additive-free, real-food home cooks. These all-in-one kitchen machines have even made it into the professional kitchens of celebrated chefs including Rene Redzepi, David Chang, Adriano Zumbo, Tetsuya Wakuda and Peter Gilmore. I was thrilled when Tefal, a brand I very much adore, invited me to be a founding member of the Cuisine Companion Club which included my very own multifunctional Cuisine Companion kitchen wonder machine!
The selling card is that these all-in-one cooking machines can reduce bench space clutter by replacing 10 kitchen appliances and is perfect for chopping, whipping, mixing, kneading, cooking, steaming, blending, stirring, emulsifying, whisking, searing, crushing, milling and precise heating. According to The Daily Telegraph, chef Mark Best of Marque Restaurant says these machines”could even replace a good apprentice”!
I could certainly do with an extra pair of hands in the kitchen!
I’ve now had the Cuisine Companion for over a month so here are some initial thoughts, as well as a few recipes to get you started.
It’s not just all about soft foods
My first preconception (probably because all demonstrations always included a risotto, which fair enough, best demonstrates the machine’s ability to cook and stir something at a consistent temperature for an extended period of time) was that the machine could only produce soft foods – soups, fruit purees, sauces, jams, meringue, risottos, you get the drift. How wrong was I.
Having read through the 1 Million Menus cookbook included in the welcome pack, I realised the endless possibilities once I acknowledged what the Cuisine Companion can and can’t do. Instead of seeing it as this magical appliance that effortlessly outputs one-dimensional food, my biggest tip is to use each function thoughtfully to better multi-task. Have the machine make silky smooth mashed potato while you’re grilling a steak; take the hard work out of kneading dough with the machine, then finish it off in the oven.
You may also find that with the Cuisine Companion being a trusty kitchen sidekick, it’ll inspire you to become more adventurous with trying different recipes!
What can the Tefal Cuisine Companion Do?
- Food processor functions: chop, blend, mince, crush, mill
- Mixer functions: beat, whip, knead
- Heat and stir continuously
- Steam and sous vide
- Boil pasta/rice/grains (but you can’t do this and make the sauce in the bowl at the same time)
- Inspires you to make things from scratch
- The touchpad display also includes some programmed features to prepare and cook sauces; steam ingredients; make soups and broths; slow cook meals; prepare pastries & dough (breads, brioche, cakes); and prepare desserts
- Full manual control of 12 speed, heat (increments of 5 degrees; 30°C – 130°C) and time (up to 2 hours) settings
What can’t the Tefal Cuisine Companion Do?
- Pan fry
- Clean itself
- Replace thermal cookers or pressure cookers, although it can slow cook dishes such as soups and stocks
Right, so enough talking, here’s what I’ve been cooking:
I was going to do the hippy thing of milling my own organic whole wheat flour, but I thought I’d take it one step at a time, so this is a pretty basic recipe that tastes and looks pretty impressive.
- 100g cracked wheat
- 20g linseeds
- 20g sesame seeds, plus extra to sprinkle
- 10g poppy seeds
- 350g lukewarm water
- 7g instant dry yeast (1 sachet)
- 10g salt
- 350g strong bakers flour
- 20g olive oil
- 20g sunflower seeds, plus extra to sprinkle
- 20g pumpkin seeds, plus extra to sprinkle
- Place the wheat and the seeds into the bowl. Mill for 1 minute on speed 9.
- Add the water, yeast, salt, flour and oil. Mix for 6 seconds on speed 7 to combine.
- Set dial to closed lid position. Knead dough for 2 minutes on interval speed. In last 20 seconds, add the sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
- Transfer the dough to a clean bench. Knead the dough into a ball. Place in a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap and a clean tea towel. Stand for about 40 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Place dough on a clean bench. Punch back dough with fist and knead into a ball. Sprinkle the bench with extra sesame seeds and flatten the dough into a rough rectangle. Roll dough into loaf shape.
- Place the dough onto a floured baking tray and cover with a clean tea towel. Stand for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 230°C conventional or 210°C fan-forced. Bake for 40 minutes or until it sounds hollow when tapped on the base.
I was contemplating on getting a sous vide (see Dave’s staff pick) when it occurred to me that the Cuisine Companion could actually be programmed to do the same thing!
And just like that, we’ve completely upped our homemade breakfast game:
- 4 eggs
- Fill the bowl with water up to the 2.5L mark, then add eggs to the steamer basket and place into the bowl.
- Set to 60˚C for 60 minutes on speed 3.
- When the Cuisine Companion shows 15 minutes remaining, increase the temperature to 70˚C.
- Crack the eggs into a bowl then transfer onto serving plate.
- My eggs were taken straight from the refrigerator, you may need to adjust the timings in this recipe if your eggs are at room temperature.
Just as non-intimidating as the 5 seed bread recipe above, this homemade focaccia is remarkable and will make it look like you’ve slaved away in the kitchen for hours.
- 400g lukewarm water
- 20g extra virgin olive oil
- 7g dried yeast (1 sachet)
- 500g bakers flour
- 1 tsp salt
- Fresh rosemary
- Pitted Kalamata olives
- Coarse rock salt or flaked sea salt (I used Murray River pink salt flakes)
- Add water, yeast and oil to bowl fitted with the kneading/crushing blade and mix on speed 5 for 6 seconds.
- Add flour and salt and mix on speed 6 for 20 seconds.
- Knead for 2 minutes on the P1 dough setting.
- Leave the dough with the lid on to prove for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 220°C.
- Pour the dough onto a well-oiled baking tin/tray, using a spatula to scrape out all the dough. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle rosemary sprigs, olives and sea salt. Poke the rosemary and olives to ensure they cling onto the dough; this also gives the focaccia that dimpled look. Cover with a tea towel and leave it to rise for another 30 - 60 minutes.
- Bake for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden.
- Don't be alarmed if the dough is wet and sticky, it's all part of the plan!
Then, there was the risotto. With a notorious reputation for being tedious to prepare, I’ve watched enough Top Chef seasons to understand the many problems a risotto can have – too sludgy, too watery, too chalky, no depth of flavour. Now, I’m no risotto connoisseur, but this was decadent, creamy and glamorously glossy.
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 1 tbsp saffron threads
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 small onions
- 2 cups Arborio rice
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 55g raw bone marrow (optional)
- ½ cup grated Parmesan
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 12 large king prawns (optional)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced (optional)
- Peel and quarter the onions. Place onions in the bowl fitted with the ultrablade knife and mix at speed 11 for 10 seconds to mince the onions.
- Replace the ultrablade knife with the mixer. Add the butter into the processor, remove the cap (stopper) and launch the P1 slow cook program at 130°C for 7 minutes.
- When the timer shows 4 minutes remaining, add the rice.
- When the timer shows 1 minute remaining, add the white wine.
- When the program has finished, attach the cap (stopper), pour in the chicken stock and saffron, and launch the P3 slow cook program at 95°C for 22 minutes.
- While the risotto is cooking, peel prawns removing head, shell and vein, but leaving the tails on. Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently fry garlic, then add prawns and toss around to cook until they turn pink. Set aside.
- At the end of the program, stir through bone marrow if desired, and parmesan. Adjust the seasoning and serve with the prawns (optional).
- This is traditionally served with osso buco, but the risotto's enticing fragrance also makes it a perfect standalone dish. Serving suggestion as photographed, with a side of blanched green beans and sauteed king prawns.
With the Cuisine Companion, I’ve become the type of person who brings homemade bread to dinner parties, and makes all my sauces and condiments from scratch. While I really enjoy the tactile and sensory aspects of ‘normal’ cooking, the ‘set and forget’ approach is greatly suited to my lifestyle because I’ve been able to prep dinner, do my #BBG circuit training workout, then sit down to dinner with no downtime! I’m also ambitiously excited about learning to cook more things from whole ingredients so stay tuned!
The Tefal Cuisine Companion is now available for $1699 at select Harvey Norman stores across Australia. For more information, go to cuisinecompanion.com.au.
I Ate My Way Through received the Cuisine Companion as promotional consideration from Tefal. As usual, all opinions are our own.