Today I'm not saving the best until last. Especially when it includes a steamed pudding from scratch in just 35 minutes. A chocolate croissant pudding with salted caramel to be exact. No bread and butter pudding can trump this.
How, you might ask? Tefal's Cook4Me is an intelligent gadget that takes the stress out of cooking and speeds everything up. Think of a slow cooker, but quicker, you throw everything in and it'll work its magic. And you won't even need any of your own recipes.
Intrigued? So was I when Tefal popped over an invite to try it out.
Sitting a little taller than a regular slow cooker or pressure cooker, the Cook4Me will make meals and desserts for 2-6 people. The inside dish is removable, perfect for serving straight at the table and making it easy to clean. It also comes with a removable steaming tray, ready for rice, meat, fish and vegetables.
This gadget comes with 50 pre-programmed recipes for meals and desserts. Simply select the recipe on the digital screen and it'll walk you through step-by-step what to add and when.
For example, it'll preheat itself with oil to brown meat and onions, then tell you when to add the rest of the ingredients like stock and sauces. Once everything's in, give it a quick mix and close the lid. It'll rapidly steam or pressure cook your meal for you. The result is a perfectly cooked meal based on the number of servings selected and the weight of ingredients. There's also an option to reheat meals or keep warm if you're not quite ready to eat.
I teamed up with Megan and Binny in a cook off against Sandy, Daniella and Marie to put the Cook4Me through its paces. Armed with ingredients and a Cook4Me each we set to work.
Between us, we made a 3 course meal with vegetarian options:
For starters, Asian pork meatballs and butternut squash soup. The Asian meatballs with shitaki and chilli took only 10 minutes to cook in the steaming basket. And the soup, 15 minutes. All the preparations we needed were to roughly chop vegetables for the soup and to mix the pork mix and roll the meatballs.
And onto the mains, farmers chicken cooked in red wine (15 minutes) and a vegetarian sausage bean stew (9 minutes). For prep, browning the chicken and sausages and then throw everything else in.
Throughout the process, the on screen guide will not only walk you through the preparation steps but also its cooking progress. A countdown timer will be displayed, a few quick beeps and then the steam will be released. You can either leave it to stay warm or open up and serve.
By this stage I was impressed. Little did I know that the dessert would blow everything else out of the water. Using the on screen digital countdown as a guide, 9 minutes till the sausages were done, we set to prepping the pudding.
A chocolate croissant pudding. Chunks of croissants, chocolate, salted caramel and fruit drowned in cream, eggs and sugar. Wrapped up in a foil jacket, we popped these in a straight into the Cook4Me, swapping the sausage dish for the steamer basket.
Whilst working through our main meal, the croissant pudding was left to steam for 35 minutes. Mind blowing. Usually a steamed pudding would take at least an hour or two.
What I loved best about the Cook4Me is that not only are the pre-loaded recipes so vast, you can also use a manual setting. Simply choose roughly what you need from the screen, like to steam rice or brown meat, and away you go.
Whatever recipe you'd usually use in a slow cooker or pressure cooker, you'll be able to use here. Just don't forget most meals will be cooked in under 30 minutes! You can set it to a delayed start as its so quick, that way you'll be ready for dinner at any time you choose.
The verdict? Seriously impressed at the speed of cooking with no loss in flavour or tenderness that you gain from slow cooking meat. Could this replace my slow cooker? Most probably.
The Tefal Cook4Me retails for around £249. Much more expensive than a regular slow cooker or pressure cooker. But with 5 intelligent cooking modes and servings of up to 6 people, this could quite easily take over how you cook daily. Well worth it I'd say.
Dear Father Christmas...!
Thanks to Tefal for hosting us and letting us loose in the kitchen. I didn't receive payment for this post, all opinions are my own.