Top 5 Cooking Apps

CookSchool-Fresh

Consider yourself a novice in the kitchen? Not convinced by the never-ending slew of expensive celebrity cook books? Don’t worry; all answers, recipes, measurements and cooking dilemmas can be found in your very pocket. Take a seat at the chef’s table and allow Latest Gadgets to round up five of the most interesting, informative and easy to use smartphone cooking apps…

Cook School Fresh

On Cook School Fresh

Backed by the Government’s Food For Life campaign, Cook School Fresh respects any level of knowledge and provides full instructions accordingly. With an emphasis on fresh ingredients (well, the clue is in the title), seasonal availability, age of the student and ingredients, this free app serves simple step-by-step instructions that will allow you to progress from water-burner to gourmet guru in a matter of meals.

Free and home to hundreds of healthy recipes, Cook School Fresh shouts louder than many standard recipe applications thanks to its emphasis on education. Setting you up to have the confidence to knock up perfect, low calorie, sustainably sourced grub on your own, the potential to totally ruin your phone with butter-smudged digits also ranks lower than other apps, too…

Yours for FREE

Culinary-Mathematics

Wolfram Culinary Mathematics

On iTunes

Cooking: it’s all fun and games until you mess up one of the measurements. Especially in the dark art of baking… Stumble on just one of the digits and your flan will end up a complete flop.

Luckily Wolfram’s Culinary Mathematics are here to help; allowing you to negotiate your way through the metric/imperial maze and adapt your portion sizes depending on the size of your dining party, it eases all possible cooking conundrums.

Wait; there’s more. Not only does Culinary Mathematics provide assistance with unit conversions, it’s also a very handy resource for nutritional information and even waste management and budgeting for the family shopping trip.

Numbers and noms: Culinary Mathematics has it all locked down.

Yours for £1.49

Matthew Kenney’s Raw Express

On iTunes

Goodbye cooker, hello healthy lifestyle! Not all recipes involve slaving over a hot stove, you know…

Raw-Express

Well established US chef Kenney is something of a raw food evangelist. Proving raw doesn’t just mean ‘knocking up a quick salad’, his Raw Express app offers 50 insightful meals that really push the fresh food and vegan mind set. Highlights abound but take  this first menu suggestion from us: the raw chilli with cashews and sour cream and Brazilian truffles are to die for!

Yours for £1.99

Knife-Skills

Knife Skills

On iTunes

For those who’ve picked up a few skills and feel a bit handy, say hello to Knife Skills, a comprehensive guide to becoming a proper chopper.

With 36 high definition video tutorials and detailed step-by-step guides, everything you could possibly know about knife work and cooking is right here for the reasonable sum of £6.99. From basic veg prep such as tear-free onion dicing to crafty butchery such as cutting up a whole chicken, this is a great way to literally sharpen your skills in the kitchen.

Yours for £6.99

Substitutions

Substitutions

On iTunes

It’s the moment all budding chefs dread… You’ve got the perfect menu planned, you think you’ve got all the ingredients ready then – horror! – you realise you’ve left one essential item off your list and the store is closed.

What do you do? Run away and cry in your shed? Is that what Gordon Ramsay would do? No siree… He’d look up the best substitution and crack on, which is exactly what you can do with this 69p app. Who knows? You might even create something better with this last minute ingredient switch.

With an added bonus of offering alternative ingredients for food allergies and gluten-free diets, you’ll soon find that not all recipes need to be adhered to as strictly as others…

Yours for 69p

Video: The SodaStream Revolution Drinksmaker

Sodastream Revolution

If you’re old enough to remember the long, dark days of the seventies then one of the brighter moments back then was getting a glass of effervescent action from a SodaStream. The home drink-making machine was one of the gadgets to own and although it’s retained a cult following ever since, the SodaStream has been forgotten by many fans of fizz in the years since.

At one point in time the SodaStream was very big news though*, being available in around 50,000 retail stores in 43 different countries around the globe. The secret to its success was that the gadget allowed you to make your own carbonated drinks in the home, meaning that plain old tap water could be magically transformed into a glass of fizzy liquid, flavoured or otherwise, in a matter of moments. In the seventies, that seemed like a very big deal indeed.

The SodaStream was also quite green, removing the need to buy endless bottles of fizzy refreshment at the shops. As a consequence, its makers suggest that each reusable carbonating bottle has saved the environment from an estimated 1000 waste bottles and cans a year, which isn’t too shabby. There are in excess of fifty different flavours available for this device too, with a healthy edge provided thanks to a range of sugar-free flavoured essences, natural ingredients and fruity flavours. Just a shame then that the device itself ended up looking a little naff.

Now though, the humble SodaStream has been given a new lease of life, in the shape of a fully automated and very funky-looking model called the SodaStream Revolution. It’s a cool looking bit of kit too, with some advanced technical features that’ll boost your fizzy drink-making moments. If time is tight, then the new model features one-touch activation, a natty LED that displays fizz levels and a snap-on bottle attachment mechanism. As a result, those fizzy liquids have never been pumped out faster, or more efficiently.

You can choose from two different colours, with the Titan Grey model proving a little more appealing to us than the plain Silver finish, while the usability factor gets extra kudos thanks to the new ergonomic design. This revamped fizzy drinks maker really has been well and truly brought into the 21st century. Better still, it’s also as good as ever at saving on needless waste. So, next time you need the perfect dash of fizz for a G&T or endless glasses of soft drinks for a kids birthday party, bring on the Revolution.

The SodaStream Revolution is available online now and from QVC selected retailers priced at £149.99.

UPDATE!

The LG team has now had a chance to get ‘hands on’ with the Sodastream Revolution. All in all it’s a great product, although it’s much bigger than we expected and the carbonating process can be quite noisy at times. The process of picking your carbonation level is straight forward as was the setup – although the power connection being located in the base (rather than side) made it a bit fiddly to connect. Check out our video below where we unbox and then demo the Revolution:

* Update: The company was keen to clarify that these days the numbers are even more impressive: “The current figure is even larger SodaStream products are available at more than 60,000 retail stores in 45 countries around the world.”

Electrolux Infisight and Zanussi QUADRO: Take your home cooking up a notch.

We recently did a feature on fitness gadget that covered all sorts of bits and bobs that will help you stay trim for 2013. However as I’m sure you know “great abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym” so we thought we’d also look at two new devices that will help out with your eating habits.

Food

Have a tiny kitchen? Join the club. Great. Now it’s even more crowded. If you’re trying to create dishes in a cramped urban setting you might want to investigate Zanussi’s family-sized microwave oven from its new QUADRO range.

Zanussi-Combi

The Zanussi ZKC38310XK can be used as a traditional oven, a microwave to reheat food and as a combination-microwave oven to cook food in half the time – handy if you need a second oven whilst entertaining … or if you just want a first oven for your tiny flat. The combi-microwave uses Thermaflow fan cooking to ensure that hot air spreads evenly within the oven so the crisp/moist mix of your food should be maintained. Yours for around £635.

Infisight-Oven

If you have a little bit more room to work with you might consider getting serious with the Electrolux InfiSight pyrolitic oven. Pyrolitc cleaning means that at the touch of a button the over will heat to nearly 500 degrees, turning all food residue and grease into a fine ash that can be simply wiped away. It’s the oven of choice for Bond villains.

The InfiSight has a colour screen which a database of recipes and you can choose between 13 heating modes, 87 pre-set cooking programs and 18 functions, including 20 settings of your own. The screen will then display your selected heating mode, the actual temperature and the remaining cooking time.

The InfiSight features a FoodProbe to check the temperature of your food and displays it on the colour screen so you get a virtual look inside your meal and have a good idea of when it’s ready to pop out. No more burnt dinners. You can also the cooking level of the oven so that your food is medium, rare or well done … through choice.

Yours for £1,099

Great Christmas kitchen gadgets gifts

Food and sex are almost universal drives for human beings so I thought I’d round up kitchen gadgets gifts for Yuletide. For the food obsessed obvious.

Monster-Knife

Monster knife set
I don’t normally demand that my kitchen utensils be ridiculously cute but the Monster knife set from Red 5 can’t help but be adorable. What is more, form belies function and knifes are actually pretty good and the set contains five high quality, precision-finished kitchen knives, made of Molybdenum and Vanadium stainless steel,

Gorenje-HomeCHEF

Gorenje Microwave
We love anything with wifi built-in (Philip’s wireless lightbulbs were amazing) or a touchscreen. Gorenje have brought fingertip magic to the kitchen with this Gorenje HomeCHEF, a built-in oven with full-colour touchscreen. The SIMPLEbake system offers photo realistic images and pre-set programming. You do the pointing, HomeCHEF does the settings, temperature and duration. It’s at the pricer end of kitchen gifts at £1199

HomeCook

Philips Home Cooker
Not to over simplify but the Philip’s Home Cooker is basically a magical cooking robot. The built-in Autostir technology means you can set things going and simply walk away, returning to a dish that has been stirred, melted, simmered, stewed, boiled, steamed, friend and sautéd. Hopefully not all at the same time. You can ever get an attachment that handles all the cutting for you. Delightful and £250.

Panasonic-Toaster-LG

Panasonic Toasters
We had a look at Panasonic’s stylish new range of kettles, toasters and coffee makers a little earlier in the year and their NT-ZP1 / NT-DP1 Toasters really stood out. I was sent a couple to play with and ate a week’s worth in bread as I was having so much fun playing with the precision browning and pop up croissant rack. I don’t get out much. The styling really does make your kitchen look better (or mine at least) and the countdown to toast function is nothing short of classy. The NT-ZP1 is £119.99 from Panasonic.

saeco-xsmall

Philips Saeco Xsmall Class Black
A great way to get coffee crankin’ through your sys is this custom espresso maker from Philips. Not as fancy as some of the other Saeco range (I played with the Philips Saeco Xelsis which has a built-in fingerprint scanner) Xsmall is a more affordable machine, albeit one with adjustable ceramic grinders and a pannarello to let things get seriously frothy.
Yours for about £350

Future Kitchen Technology Revealed

Gorenje-HomeCHEF

Appliance manufacturer Gorenje and sustainable lifestyle products outfit Ecover have joined forces to put a new spin on our kitchen gadgets. These like-minded companies have introduced a whole suite of shiny black technology with the underlying ethos of environmental responsibility, reusable energy and appliance efficiency – with all the innards easily repairable or replaceable to reduce temptation to scrap them when the gloss comes off.

HomeChef-Display

Cooking up a storm

The piece of kit that really grabs our attention is a touchscreen cooker (thankfully not on the oven door!) The Gorenje HomeCHEF built-in oven with full-colour touchscreen boasts “photo realistic images” for a cook-by-pictures experience. To use SIMPLEbake, just tap a picture of a mouthwatering plate to select or scroll through the options to activate a pre-set programme and then sit back and hope it turns out as delicious as it looks while it handles the settings, temperature and duration. SRP is £1199

Forget-the-knobs hob

Don’t let your oven outsmart your hob. The IQcook induction hob uses sensors to measure and keep a watch on your pans while automatically adjusting heat and cooking times. Like the oven, there’s a whole raft of pre-set cooking modes including frying and slow cooking. Gorenje’s patented SmartSense safety function is designed to prevent your food from boiling over or burning and if a pan boils dry, the cooking hob automatically switches off. With such features as StayWarm and IQBoil, it’s one step away from having your own chef – if only it had an attachment that could crack eggs and make a cup of tea we’d be laughing. SRP £699

Food for thought

If food storage contraptions usually leave you cold, Gorenje has also turned its attentions to the fridge-freezer. The Simplicity range does the complete opposite of the cookers, stripping back all the programmes to give you all the controls in a single dial.

One particularly nifty feature is the Cool’n’Fresh drawer, which sends cool air directly into the vegetable crisper and food and meat bins to diminish droopy leaves and prolong the freshness of your cold cuts. SRP £659

A new Fiery Red range gives you the option of a retro-styled vibrant red finish to match the bright A++ energy rating. If you’re not blinded by the fiery hues, the RB60299ORD refrigerator also packs a SuperCool fast chill option – ideal for blitzing drinks in a social situation – and a fast freeze, which gives your dishes an extra shot of blizzard before returning to the pre-set temperature once your food is frozen. SRP £719

Curtains to smaller washes

A couple of washing machines join this classy kitchen collection. The catchy-sounding WA74163 7k machine or the roomier 8kg WA82145 have A-10% energy ratings and an extra-large 33cm porthole door to avoid the inevitable battering when trying to crowbar in your duvet. UseLogic technology continuously monitors the purity of the water to avoid a stinky cycle and adjusts water usage according to the type of load. It also keeps tabs on detergent levels to determine whether or not you need an extra rinse – ideal if like me you load the machine throughout the day and risk doubling up rather than digging through your smalls to check you put the soap in first.

I particularly like the look of the 17 minute -wait for it… – Quick Wash”, which will rinse through lesser-soiled pieces you need in a hurry. SRP £645

The WA82145 adds a delayed start function, which means you can programme it to get to work at the dead of night to take advantage of better energy rates or start at another more favourable time (like after Eastenders). SRP £410 (reflecting less premium components and reduced guarantee).

simplehuman sensor bins and sensor pumps

We were invited to the Good Housekeeping Institute to play with some of simplehuman’s latest innovations and to develop a serious inferiority complex over the state of our kitchens.

simplehuman first caught my eye a few years back with their sensor bins. I’d be hard pushed to call a bin beautiful but there is a real elegance to the fingerprint-proof design of the sensor bin and it’s an incredibly stylish way to spend £275. Unfortunately it’s also a £275 bin which, on my humble salary is like throwing money away (you see what I did there. I should be paid more).

simpehuman-sensorbin

Fortunately simplehuman have released a sensor bin for the people – or at least people with £100, which is a lot more in-line with other bins in the elegant mid-range category (yes there is such a thing).

simplehuman bins use touch-free multi-sense technology. It’s pretty clever stuff and it’s designed not to pop up unless you really want it to. I tried sneaking up on it or walking casually past the bin and at no point did it react to my presence unless specifically called up. The magic powering this lid is found in an easy-to-access compartment round the back which houses 6 alkaline C batteries (the sort you’d see in a heavy duty torch), which they assure me have been optimised to last a year.

The innovation doesn’t stop with the attention grabbing sensor. There’s also a pretty clever integrated trim ring to hold everything in place, a clutch system to prevent motor jams should you tamper with the lid and fingerprint-proof stainless steel finish.

simplehuman-sensor-pumps

simplehuman have also worked their sensor technology into a range of sensor pumps. I saw some brushed nickel sensor pumps, some compact sensor pumps and a colourful children’s range – all carefully designed with clever valves to avoid messy drips or clogs. There is a smart looking brushed nickel sensor pump which retails for £39.99 and a more affordable compact sensor pump for just £29.99 both available from [simplehuman.co.uk] (www.simplehuman.co.uk)

Philips Avance Juicer: Buck the festive binging

As you can’t help but notice, it’s the holiday season, with endless exhortations to eat, drink and be bloated. It can be hard to cut down on the festive cheer, hence the popularity of January dates (and don’t worry we’ll be running our fair share of gadgets and apps to slim down features in the new year). But prevention is better than cure. What if there was a quick and easy way to maintain a healthy diet that you could get now with the joy of forethought, rather than the sadness of regret? Enter the Philips Avance Juicer, which aims to make all your detox and dieting needs that bit easier.

Juicer

The problem I have with many diets is upkeep. At literally the first excuse I get I will lapse into my old habits, which makes maintaining a healthy lifestyle hard. “I have to wash the vegetable steamer? Oh well I guess I’m having chips tonight”

With this in mind, the Philips Avance Juicer has been developed to improve the juicing experience from start to finish and enable virtually ‘mess-free’ juicing. The Avance Juicer has a quick-clean sieve that has been electro-polished, which makes it easier to remove tricky fibres caught up in the mesh after juicing. So there’s no more need for awkward scrubbing or brushes while cleaning. Unlike other juicers, the pulp container is positioned right under the sieve to collect all the pulp for clean, easy disposal. Once finished, the entire machine can be easily dissembled and all removable parts put in the dishwasher or sink, ready for the next round.

The key features of the Juicer are:

– An XXL feeding chute which means you can throw in a whole orange or apple without cutting first

– A powerful 800W motor which means you can put the whole fruit (including Skins and cores) and collect juice on the other end

– One of the fastest and easiest juicers to clean , with its fancy quick clean sieve.

– Make up to 2.5 litres of juice in one go

– Comes with free book, from Jason Vale author of ‘7lbs in 7days the super juice diet’

The Philips Avance Juicer is available from Amazon:

Healthier frying from the Tefal ActiFry Plus

Healthier chips! That’s the promise from Tefal, which has recently launched the latest version of its number one selling kitchen appliance, the Actifry.

ActiFry

Now, I’m always a bit wary of kitchen gadgets – in most houses (even in ours where I’m always experimenting in the kitchen) they get used a couple of times and then are relegated to the back of a dusty cupboard, until they are donated to the charity shop. However, the Actifry seems to have hit a nerve with the cooking public.

Perhaps the lure of healthy chips is the key to its success. Chips can be cooked from frozen without oil – and using fresh potatoes, you need use only a spoonful of oil. The latest version of the device – the Actifry Plus – offers chips that are 20% healthier than those produced by the original model if that’s important to you..

The Actifry Plus can cater for around four to five people (while the original and the Family models cater for fewer and more hungry mouths). The device comes in black or white and has its own recipe book (if you buy the black model, this comes on a USB stick).

So, for a grand price of £204.99, what does the Actifry Plus offer that your average frying pan doesn’t? Well, its main selling point is, I guess that it can cook without oil (or with very little), and that you can create all kinds of dishes, whether you’re doing sausages for the kids or making something a bit more complicated, such as a curry or stir fry – and that it doesn’t need any mixing, stirring or shaking – as the patented rotating mixing paddle does this for you.

So how does it cut down on the oil usage? Hot air is the answer. It blows hot air on your food, sounding, apparently, a bit like a hairdryer.

At one time I might have scoffed that anyone didn’t have time to stir a stir fry, but sometimes, when I’m trying to fix small son’s racing track, cook dinner, keep an eye on an email I’m expecting, avoid stepping on a kitten and listen to how my other half’s day at work went, also having to stir the dinner can be a step too far – my many burnt saucepans are testament to that!

Plus the device’s bowl comes out and can be washed in the dishwasher, AND it cuts down on grease buildup in the kitchen, so that’s another cleaning job sorted.

However, whether I would pay out more than two hundred quid for the convenience is another matter. Anyone who reads my reviews will know I am a bit of a skinflint, and hate paying out for anything unnecessary, but if I did have a spare two hundred pounds, I might just give the ActiFry a chance.