Sunday, 13 February 2011


I've been trying to ween myself off certain pieces of kitchen gadgetry, mainly because past purchases have led to disappointment or simply because what I thought would be a labour saving device has turned out to be more trouble than its worth.

I've had my fair share of gizmos that ended up gathering dust in the back of the cupboard, a pasta machine, that was fun to start with, but why make it when shop bought is perfectly fine. Then there was the bread machine, which did get used several times, but I was never happy with the texture of the loaves it produced and the ice cream maker, which requires the bowl to be placed in the freezer for hours on end before I could even start churning the ice cream, but most annoyingly of all, is that I rarely had room in the freezer to fit it in, in the first place.

My cynicism for culinary contraptions almost stopped me taking up an offer from a PR company (Mad as a March Hare) to try something out for them. Luckily nothing too complicated or electrical was required for testing and I'm now completely sold on it.

You may be familiar with those clever little Toastabags, well they've now brought out another cook in the bag method called Quickasteam.
Most people have a microwave (yes, even me) and the Quickasteam bags allow to steam cook anything from vegetables through to fish and chicken, whether it's fresh or frozen. It takes only a fraction of the time that it would take using a conventional hob or oven so saves time and is very economical with the gas or electricity, which is very welcome considering the rising price of utility bills.

I was sent two packs of bags, one large set suitable for 3-6 servings and a smaller one for
1-2 servings. They're very easy to use, I dropped in some new potatoes with a sprig of thyme, salt and pepper and a knob of butter, sealed the bag, placed it in the microwave on high for about 4 minutes, and ping! they were done to perfection.

The great thing about cooking this way is that the bag keeps in all the flavour and if you're health and nutrition conscious, all the goodness too, although you may want to skip the butter.

I also cooked some curly kale which turned out rather well. There was the barest amount of water on the leaves, left after washing them, this generated just enough steam to make the kale tender but not wet and mushy. Another plus point for the bags is they keep in most of the cabbagey pongs, I shall bear this in mind when doing cauliflower, anything to avoid infusing the house with smell of boiling brassicas.

At just £1 a pack, I think I'll be ordering some for myself when this little lot runs out.

For more information and to buy online: www.toastabags.com
Pictures taken from Toastabags website.


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