Since the clocks went back it’s been so dark and cold after school, so it’s the perfect time of year to try out the Tefal Cook4Me, for making lots of hearty stews and other easy one pot dishes.
I like to cook my family meals from scratch (mainly so I can try to stick to my diet!) but some days are busier than others and on the days where I’ve been tight on time, the Cook4Me has been really useful. It is a pressure cooker so it cooks the dishes in less time than in my oven, and I’ve found the meals prepared to be really tasty.
The first meal I tried was one of the 50 pre-programmed recipes that comes within the appliance; bacon and leek risotto. The Cook4Me comes with an ingredient book which lists the various foods and quantities you’d need, but no instructions – as these are stored in the machine. To prepare this dish for two people I needed:
When I was ready to cook, I selected my recipe and it told me that it would take 10 minutes to prep and 10 minutes to cook, then it gave me step by step instructions on what to do. I started by putting the oil in and preheating the cooker – then adding the bacon. Each part took a couple of minutes and eventually once all the ingredients had been added, I closed the lid and allowed it to cook. This is the really easy bit as it times itself and once the dish is ready, the cooker switches to ‘keep warm’ mode until you’re ready to eat it.
Although the process was easy and the results were great, it felt odd to plan a recipe without knowing how long it would take. You do get to learn how long the prep and cooking time are going to be when you get to the stage where everything is chopped and ready, but not knowing in advance feels odd, especially as many of us home cooks would decide upon a recipe based upon how much time we have that day to do prep work and stand over a dish. I know that I put my slow cooker on for those days when I’m in and out of the house and don’t have a solid amount of time to be in the kitchen at tea time. However just as the Apple iPod didn’t have an on/off button and we all got used to it, I guess you would get used to not knowing about the recipe times with the Cook4Me and learn to have faith that it will turn out ok in the end. On the first occasion where I used the Cook4Me I made sure I was going to be around to see the recipe through, so I could see how long it took.
The second time I used the Cook4Me was a day when I was pressed for time. I’d just walked in the door from parents evening and only had 45 minutes to get something organised before I had to take my son to karate. On this day I used the manual settings on the Cook4Me to prepare my beef stew (something I would normally slow cook) and I was keen to see how it went. After preheating the cooker I added the beef chunks. The Cook4Me asked me what meat I was cooking and what type – a joint or chunks, so it could decide the appropriate amount of cooking time. After I browned the meat in the Cook4Me, I added my beef stock and chopped casserole vegetables. This is the advantage of the Cook4Me over my slow cooker – I could brown the meat and cook the dish all in one pot to save on washing up. Whereas with the slow cooker I would have browned the meat on the hob first then added it to the slow cooker leaving me an extra frying pan to wash up.
Because I was creating this dish ‘freestyle’ and not using one of the Cook4Me recipes, I was unsure of how much stock to put in so I added 1 pint. In hindsight this was too much and I ended up thickening my eventual dish with gravy, but I was worried about not adding enough as the instruction book warns about liquid quantities. At least I know for next time so do anticipate a little trial and error if you are using the manual settings. I left the Cook4Me to do its thing whilst I took my son to karate and it was keeping warm when I got back. The meat was really tender and delicious – results as equal to the same dish cooked in the slow cooker – but in less time!
I wanted to try the Cook4Me for something other than savoury dishes and there are 7 desserts programmed into the device. I love creme brûlée and was delighted that the recipe was in the cooker so I made a special trip to the supermarket to buy some double cream to make this pudding.
At 8.30pm one night after we’d got our youngest in bed and the tween to her bedroom (so they knew nothing about it!) we put together the creme brûlée ingredients! I could see that the Cook4Me was advising a 10 minute prep time and an 18 minute cooking time so in my excitement to get a fresh creme brûlée I didn’t think through that the dish would need chilling afterwards and it wasn’t until after the puddings were made that the cooker told me to refrigerate for 3 hours! This mean that I wasn’t able to enjoy my dessert that evening and had to leave it until the next day instead. This is another reason that I’d love it if the Tefal guys could give us the cooking/ prep times in advance, so you can decide which dish to create based upon the time you have available rather than only learning this information when you have committed to a dish.
On a side note, the Tefal Cook4Me seemed to leave out the vanilla essence ingredient in the step by step instructions. It was in the ingredients list but then I wasn’t asked to add it to the dish at any stage in the making. I would have thought that it should be added to the cream, egg and sugar mixture before you pour it into the ramekins, but this wasn’t asked for so I didn’t do it. It was only after the creme brûlée were cooked and I still had my vanilla essence on my counter top that I queried at which stage this should be added. I decided to add a few drops of vanilla essence to each ramekin dish to sit on top of the cooked brûlée before placing the ramekin into the fridge. The sugar was then sprinkled on top just before placing the ramekins under the grill to heat before serving. The creme brûlée took a lot longer from ingredient stage to eating than I would have liked but they did taste delicious – I’d serve these up at a dinner party and I think my guests would be impressed!!
Next week I plan to use the Cook4Me to steam vegetables as you can set the appliance to perform a delayed start, so I can cook my veg to be ready for when I walk in the door! You can also use the Cook4Me to cook a whole chicken or a joint of meat so I will try that too. With Christmas coming up, I think the Cook4Me will be a useful piece of kit. If you are interested in one for yourself, here are the details:
Name: Tefal Cook4Me Intelligent Multicooker
Learn more here: Tefal website
I collaborate with another family blogger, Marianne Weekes from Mari’s World on a weekly Google Hangout called #MumsLikeUs and here is a special cooking episode that we created. In it we discuss multi cookers, I have the Cook4Me to discuss and she has a Fast Slow Pro. See what we think below!
Disclosure: I was sent the Tefal Cook4Me to review and all opinions in this post and on the video are my own.