WSJ: Snaring the Elusive Thermomix


Wall Street Journal – Home |  Raymond Sokolov | May 1, 2009

A food writer’s quest to domesticate
the go-to appliance of master chefs

from the article . . .
“The best kitchen appliance on my countertop . . . will do everything a blender, a processor, an electric mixer, a steamer, a Crock-Pot, a timer and a kitchen scale can do, but better, and all in one small spot.”

from the article . . .
“When you start adding up the cost of all those single-purpose devices, each demanding its own counter space, you’ll see that Thermomix could actually save you money as well as work space.”

from the article . . .
“Thermomix couples all the functions of the normal horde of space-grabbing appliances into one white machine that occupies roughly the same footprint as a Cuisinart. It weighs the food you put into the two-quart, stainless-steel container, and its processing blades chop or grate those ingredients at a speed you can set, from barely moving to a terrifying brutality, and at graduated points in between. Then its equally adjustable, timed heating unit will cook the food, while you play videogames or chew out your broker.”

from the article . . .
“Thermomix has a special setting for kneading dough, with no extra hook or attachment necessary. You can reverse the rotation of the blades in mid-career, so that their flat back sides hit the food with blunt force.”

from the article . . .
“The idea with pot-au-feu, the French version of a New England boiled dinner, is to cook beef and vegetables so as to produce a refined broth, tender pieces of beef and vegetables that haven’t been cooked to death in the process. Normally, this would involve a fair amount of juggling, testing, tasting and ultimately washing many pots and pans. The Thermomix recipe proceeds on several fronts at once. It begins by processing some of the vegetables in the stainless-steel bowl, then simmering them, alone and then with meat, in water added to the bowl, while the blades stir slowly. Meanwhile, other vegetables meant to be served as an accompaniment are steamed in the Varoma, which collects the delicious vapor from the simmering broth in the bowl below. The cook, having punched in the temperature, blade speed, direction and duration, can sit pretty or knit socks. When the alarm goes off, you just arrange the meat and steamed vegetables together on a platter, and serve the broth from the bowl separately.Even more spectacular are tricky preparations involving egg yolks — custards and emulsified sauces such as Béarnaise, where even a bit too much heat can turn those yolks into scrambled eggs. By setting the TM31 at 80 degrees Celsius (176 degrees Fahrenheit), that risk is eliminated. The machine reliably cooks the custard just until it thickens, while stirring or whisking it with the “butterfly” attachment that fits over the steel blades. I exploited this feature to make the foamy Italian dessert zabaione for guests while I sat with them at the table, finishing our main course. In the bad old days, I would have been obliged to go to the stove and manually whisk together egg yolks, sugar and a dry Marsala or other sweet wine until the mixture evolved into a thick foam that didn’t overcook into breakfast food.

Chefs love this convenience. Ken Oringer, who operates several admired restaurants in Boston, does emulsions and purées in his Thermomix. Ferran Adrià, of El Bulli in Spain, prepares a hot potato foam with cream and olive oil at 60 degrees Celsius (140 Fahrenheit). Anyone who has ever tried to make a Génoise batter, with whole eggs delicately heated and lengthily beaten to stiff peaks, and ended up with a flat failure will be delighted to toss the Génoise ingredients into the Thermomix, set the temperature to 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and run the butterfly whisk at speed three for 15 minutes. Pour into a cake pan and bake in the oven.”

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