Let's Eat

Cooking up a storm in 2015

Which of the latest gadgets will have you kvelling over your kitchen?


Once upon a time, kitchens were simple - fridge, hob, oven, done.

Everything's changed. White goods are "intelligent" and there's a mindboggling plethora of gadgets - hot water taps with silly names, built-in coffee machines, steam ovens and even "domino" hobs.

I asked a few experts for the devices that will cheer up your cholent and help you host the perfect Shabbat.

Appliance of the moment is the steam oven.

"Sales are growing exponentially - doubling in the last year," says Oliver Wicksteed of Cameo Kitchens.

The beauty is that steam keeps food moist without overcooking - a perfect roast chicken with crispy skin and juicy meat can be yours.

"It is not just for fish and vegetables," says David Harrison, senior designer at Norman Glenn kitchens. "Anything that boils in water can go in the steamer; and you can cook anything in them - bread, cakes, fish, meat and vegetables -plus they're good for defrosting and reheating."

Steamed food retains up to 25 per cent more vitamins than food that is cooked via traditional hot air/convection. Leftovers rejuvenated in a steam oven emerge as if freshly cooked, unlike microwaved food, which can overcook and dry out.

The new ovens have endless settings, Miele and Gaggenau have a Shabbat setting, which means you can set the oven to your desired temperature for up to 72 hours and the light will not go on when you open the door. Gaggenau also does a special Yom Tov setting.

You will need enough space to house an extra oven although a combi-oven may be the answer to that issue.

"One of the latest Siemens models is a normal fan oven plus a steam oven and it can microwave, which is a fantastic space saver," says Eugene Amaqui from Marvellous Kitchens.

Knowing previous purchasers have had no idea how to use them, many manufacturers now offer after-sales steam oven tutorials. Poggenpohl's concierge service cleans up your kitchen post-installation (just the once) and sends a home economist round to educate you.

"Miele and Gaggenhau have London showrooms where you can go and learn about the new ovens," says Amaqui, and Dana Cukier says Neil Lerner kitchens also offer this service.

The experts agree that electric and even gas hobs are yesterday's news. Induction is where it's at.

"There is no residual heat on an induction hob as only the pan heats up, which makes it reasonably safe; and as it is all touch controlled it looks very streamlined," explains Cukier. "Induction is so much more energy efficient than electric hobs, and it's even better than gas; and with flexible induction hobs, you can cook on any of the surface and not just within marked circles," says Amaqui.

The drawback is you can only use iron or stainless steel pans as they are poor conductors of electricity, so you may need to replace a few pans. The test to see if a pan will work on induction is whether a magnet sticks to it. If it does, it should be fine.

At the top end of the market for the real foodie, "domino" or vario hobs are another trend.

"You can divide your hob into 'slices' of what you want allowing you to pick a range of cooking methods," says Harrison. "Wok ring, Teppanyaki plate (flat metal plate on which you cook food directly), Lava rock grill, gas, induction - whatever you want." The price is high, so really for the top of the range customer.

For the wider market, boiling water taps make life easier.

"The latest ones are very safe for children, with built-in devices that only adults can operate," says Cukier, and Amaqui says they are convenient but also economic: "There's no wastage, unlike kettles where you don't use all the water you boil, and this uses less power."

"Franka has introduced the Omni tap that does it all - hot, cold, filtered and boiling," says Wicksteed.

Filtered water taps are also gaining in popularity, as are built-in coffee machines - "Everyone is so keen on barista made coffee nowdays," smiles Elspeth Pridham of Poggenpohl.

In terms of kitchen fit-out, Cukier and Wicksteed both say installing a number of bespoke ovens is becoming popular. "Cooking and entertaining have become such big news that those installing top of the range kitchens are now looking for a 'bank' of cooking appliances," says Cukier.

"They may install about six appliances - two ovens, a combination microwave, combination steam oven, and warming drawers."

And according to Cukier, warming drawers are not just ensuring hot serving dishes for Shabbat. "They are great for staggered meals - if someone comes home late you can leave their meal in there. Or you can cook ahead and put food in them to keep warm."

For those with space, larders are making a comeback - "people want to store more food as we shop less," explains Cukier, who also shares that "breakfast cupboards" have become a popular feature with those wanting to tidy away kitchen gadgets like kettles and toasters and keep a minimalist look.

Intelligent ovens, taps that produce boiling water and barista-style coffee at the push of a button. I'm just waiting for the gadget that will magic me up a cup of tea and a biscuit.

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