Talking about: Mistral’s Ultimate Kitchen Machine & a comparison with Thermomix
First up just to let you know that I am not being paid for doing this review so I have no skin in the game either way other than to say I do own a Thermomix which I paid for myself and I love it. Long story short, this all came about from a discussion on Mrs Woogs, WoogsWorld Facebook page – who knew kitchen appliances could be so emotive??? A friend of mine who had participated in the discussion, works for Big W, so knew of the machine, she suggested that I give it a trial and see how it compares and that is how I ended up with a huge amount of cooking going on and not much else this week!
It’s a bit over crowded in our kitchen this week!
Mistrals Ultimate Cooking Machine
The Ultimate Kitchen Machine (let’s call it UKM) claims it will “chop, mince, cook, boil, beat, knead, blend, stew, stir, steam, grate, saute, mix, melt, mill, whip and even crush ice and grind nuts” and guess what, it does! I was given a sample machine to test out so scales weren’t included for me but I am assured that it comes with a set of scales like the picture on the box but they are not built in so you would use them like ordinary scales.
The attraction for this type of kitchen appliance is that it enables you to make whole meals from scratch right from milling your own flour through to chopping your onions and making a stew or steaming fish and veggies with a sauce cooking all at the same time. It’s an efficient, time saving, hands free way of cooking.
I decided to test out the UKM with some recipes that I use fairly regularly to see if it was up to the task.
UKM made this flour from whole wheat, it was grainier than what I’m used to but how good is it to be able to have flour directly from the source? We love hummus here and I make it at least once a week. UKM made a great hummus, a healthy home made dip without any additives or preservatives is pretty good in my book however it is made.
For something a bit more challenging on it’s blades I tried Linseed, Sunflower & Almond Meal (LSA) which I have on porridge in the mornings (sometimes…).
It managed LSA just fine but interestingly, when I milled parmesan and sugar into icing sugar I couldn’t get either as fine as I do in the Thermomix but it did a pretty good job. A tip for the UKM is to really read the instructions (albeit they are a bit limited)! I did notice a burning smell at the high speed, I know this is common with blenders but I’ve been told that after time it goes and over the week with use it has gone a bit although not completely yet.
I have a Green Juice most mornings and so tested UKM with that – I was slightly disappointed as it wasn’t as smooth as I hoped but it could be that I needed to change my method and chop the ingredients before adding the liquid rather than just throw it all in. It was still drinkable albeit GT did gag and complain about the chunks but he was always going to gag on a green juice anyway!
After testing out icing sugar I decided to make some biscuits for the girls and try out the kneading function on some Vanilla Bean Butter Biscuit dough. To be able to make biscuits from scratch without making a mess all over the kitchen is a big bonus. UKM kneaded the dough to the right consistency so all I had to do was scoop it out and roll it into the shape I wanted. The biscuits are delish by the way!
To make a risotto from scratch usually involves a lot of standing at the stove and stirring doesn’t it? Before having a Thermomix I didn’t often bother even though I love a good risotto, with a Thermomix we have them all the time so it was a big test to see if the UKM was up to it. It is, but you need to make sure you get the liquid measures right as it did get a little bit gluggy. The recipe book that comes with the UKM has 3 different risotto recipes in it but all 3 have different methods, 2 say that you need to change the blade to the stirring blade after chopping the ingredients and 1 one didn’t so it was slightly confusing to know what to do. I made this Lemony Chicken Risotto and followed my Thermomix method and used the butterfly attachment as I wanted to test that out too. I’d think that if you didn’t change the blade to the stirring one or insert the butterfly you would be at risk of shredding the ingredients so that is something to be aware of. Regardless, to be able to make a hands free risotto and get the kids homework done at the same time is pretty good going don’t you think? The bowl has a big enough capacity to make a enough to feed a hungry family of 4, and have some left overs to make Risotto balls for the lunch boxes the next day (if you wanted to that is!).
I needed some mashed pumpkin for something I was doing so tested the UKM for that, this required using the steamer basket that sits the bowl – worked perfectly and produced lovely smooth pumpkin mash.
Being winter, soup is on high rotation on the menu here so I obviously needed to test that out too – I made my current favourite Leek, Cauliflower & Chicken Soup the taste was exactly the same and it just about got the smooth consistency.
The final complete meal I wanted to test was using the steamer attachment, it has 2 layers which is handy. I made quinoa, steamed sweet chilli salmon (from the UKM cookbook) and veggies all at the same time and the whole meal was made within 30 minutes. This meal was a perfect example of what the UKM is good for. Water went into the bowl first and then quinoa in the steamer basket that sits in the bowl, the fish then sat in the first level of the double decker steamer and the veggies on top. They all cooked away at the same time and a healthy, nutritious meal was made with minimal effort. I had 2 big salmon fillets and would have had room in the steamer tray for 1 more small one or could have fit 4 skinny ones in. There was enough room in the other tray for greens for 4 – 5 people.
The last dish I tried was a Banana Berry Sorbet. I thought that this would really test out the blades on the ice and frozen berries.
UKM gave it it’s all on this one and just about got there. There were some stubborn chunks of ice that just wouldn’t get broken down but on the whole it did a good job and produced a healthy, delicious dessert.
So that’s the culinary tour now to the nitty gritty.
What do I think and a brief comparison with the Thermomix?
It’s like comparing cars, both are going to get you from A to B but one is better engineered, more luxurious and a smoother ride the other will get you there but it maybe a bit bumpier and clunkier and might need some extra servicing along the way. I think it comes down to your budget and how you want to spend your money. I’m not going to go into great detail of the virtues of the Thermomix as I wanted this review to be more about the UKM.
A few quick points of note:
The UKM takes up a bit of space, it’s about 35cm across and 20cm deep. It’s steamer attachments also take up some room so you would need to have a home for them. Good thing is though that you can get rid of lots of other appliances so I’m sure you could find the space. The Thermomix is more streamlined so takes up less space.
UKM has quite a good suction on it’s feet so doesn’t wobble around on the bench top.
UKM has 2 blades, one for chopping and another for stirring. One of the great features of the Thermomix is that it just has the one blade that does everything and has a reverse function so you don’t over chop or shred things by mistake. There is the potential in the UKM to do that at least until you know how it works properly. Also I managed to get quite a few knicks on my hand when getting the blade out to clean or change it. It is very easy to remove the blades I just wasn’t being very careful.
Another fabulous feature of the Thermomix is the inbuilt scales. The UKM doesn’t have this feature so you still need to measure and weigh ingredients before tipping them in. Minor detail but the cook book that came with is a bit inconsistent with it’s measures some are in cups and others are in grams or smaller measures like a tablespoon of olive oil is in grams.
As I mentioned there was a burning smell at high speed which does lead me to question durability of the internal working parts. The beauty of the Thermomix is the precision technology that has gone into it’s internal workings and it’s built to last (but at that price it would want to!). I’ve used the UKM for a week so can’t really comment any further on durability.
Both appliances clean themselves by spinning water at high speed but the UKM required more grunt from me afterwards as the lid has more crevices. The UKM does come with a warning that it’s best to wash all plastic parts by hand for longevity including the rubber seal on the blades – the Thermomix can all be put in the dishwasher. Both retain the smell of onions for a while after you have cooked onions in it.
The control panel on the UKM is fairly basic but easy to understand – you do need to read the instructions properly though. I like that on the Thermomix you can see the temperature rising, you can’t on the UKM but it does beep at you when it reaches the correct temperature.
All UKM’s parts are a bit clunkier than the Thermomix. UKM doesn’t chop as finely or blend as smoothly but on the whole the UKM is pretty easy to use and once you get used to it’s way of cooking it would be easy to adapt recipes yourself.
You don’t get the support network with the UKM that comes with the Thermomix.
In my opinion if you were in the market for a new blender (I don’t call the Thermomix a blender) then the UKM is much better value and more versatile than some of the expensive ones out there that don’t have any of the cooking functions that the UKM does.
It’s not really a fair comparison with the Thermomix as nothing really compares. The Thermomix the Rolls Royce of kitchen appliances, it is undoubtedly a superior machine in terms of performance, ease of use, additional support, engineering efficiency and durability however we are talking around $1600 difference in price too so ultimately your budget and how you want to spend your money is a key decision maker if you want to invest in this way of cooking.
Anyway this is purely my opinion after test driving for a week – I don’t think it’s the “Ultimate” cooking machine but at the price and what it does it’s not bad, not bad at all!
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