Crisp polenta & chunky pesto - easily helped by the Thermomix
Someone has asked about the Thermomix, (wondering why, I presume, I didn’t call on its services when I was “without stove” for five days?)
A few years ago, after an extremely busy time at the restaurant leading up to the end of the year, I felt I needed a personal present and bought a Thermomix. I love it, but wouldn’t recommend it to everyone. Here are my pros and cons.
In case you don’t know, the Thermomix is a combination food-processor – blender with built-in cooking ability. In restaurants you would need a bank of them. (The erstwhile El Bulli had six, I believe.) They are definitely for home use.
There have been claims against Thermomix for accidents while using. This I put down to the fact that it’s very powerful and needs to be sold only to sensible, intelligent people who will treat its power with respect.
It’s large and takes up lots of bench space. It’s quite noisy in operation.
You can have faith in its German engineering.
I’ve heard raves and sighs at how good it is for baby food. It makes marvelous baby food but then again, babies grow up. All the food prepared in it is “sloppy” food.
Frankly I could love it for the polenta and hollandaise alone but is the price tag worth it to you? Perhaps I haven't explored the suggestions of the on-line "community" enough.
I’m told about someone who knows someone whose niece knows someone else who uses it all the time. Not sure what that means but it does tell me that, all the time, they’re eating sloppy food.
If you’ve got the bench space, can blow a couple of thousand or are simply bored, you might look forward to the polenta. I’d recommend an ice-cream making machine or an upgrade on your Breville Whiz if you don’t have “the really good food processor”.
Thermomix Polenta (4 -6 depending on how you use it)
This works very quickly so have all ingredients ready to hand.
Pour immediately into a bowl and serve or better still, pour into a dish approx. 150cm x 270cm. Cool, cut into squares or slices, brown in butter and serve.
*Polenta can be "enriched" by using part water part stock or part water part milk.
**There is no salt because the Parmesan is salty. For next time, season with a little salt if you think it's needed. Nutmeg is also nice.
Throw into the Thermomix bowl...
Scrape into a bowl. Wonderful fresh but will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.
Comments - see below to add...
Well, this was my old faithful, used daily ever since we bought our house. Visitors were aghast that not only was it an "old relic", it didn't have a fan-forced oven and wasn't even gas! "Surely you'll be upgrading," they said. The hot plates did take a while to heat up and cool down, but no matter. It screamed a late fifties stream-lined modernity that said we were facing the future confidently and the future was bright. Nothing could go wrong. It was sturdy and easy to clean.
I took a perverse pleasure, I guess, in showing that you can cook on a candle. You simply need a love of good ingredients and the desire to share with others.
Enter the new stove. Yes, we did live, during five scorching summer days, with nothing other than
the electric egg cooker. (Eggs mayonnaise, of course.) I realise now I could have used the microwave (but I pretend it doesn't exist) and the Thermomix, which is another story.
It has disappointed many friends that it is indeed a very simple stove, no bells and whistles. Not sure what they thought I needed. I reiterate, fancy equipment can be lovely but it's not what makes you a cook or an entertainer. It is often just more "stuff".
I haven't done a lot with it yet. I like it very much and I'm sure this will develop into a lasting love affair. I have boiled water to cook beans, made a curry and cooked rice. I seem mainly to make sure no finger marks tarnish its brushed stainless steel and I keep the ceramic top pristine. There's some special cream I can buy, apparently. The oven it spotlessly superb and can cook on nine different setting. Why? I am yet to find out. Friands and cakes happening soon.
Check out what Ina Garten, American Food Network chef recently purchased for her apartment.
The Lacanche Stove
If only I'd been more ambitious in life.
The casserole (1960, Finland) is an original by Timo Sarpaneva - he of of the wavy vases and icy glassware. It's enamel with its original wooden handle. The design was awarded a silver medal at the Milan Triennale in 1960. It has recently been reissued by Liitala of Finland.
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This is a shiny, new couscoussier. There were traditional copper or even earthenware ones. Then there were aluminium ones. Now they're stainless steel.
BUT remember that a colander over a saucepan of water works just as well. Asking around, it seems most households just use this method. One less gadget in the cupboard.
Here's a small amount I'm steaming. (Yes folks, my 1959 Frigidaire De Luxe stove - vintage to the end).
NOTE: Don't go all holier-than-thou health food, wholemeal couscous. It's not nice. Doesn't absorb the butter or the sauces well.