Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Cooking with Bluetooth

For the past week I've been having fun with my newest toy, a very French marriage of technology and cuisine, the Cookeo Connect. This is a kitchen appliance that performs six different types of cooking, and promises to let you to make all kinds of recipes with considerable ease and rapidity, in particular otherwise tricky French classics like blanquette de veau, coq au vin, carbonade flamande, etc.

That much is also true for the base model Cookeo. The top-of-the line Cookeo Connect, however, adds an unexpected ingredient to the recipe: Bluetooth!

All models have a colour screen and database of recipes, (which one can select for 2, 4, or 6 people, with the quantities and cooking times adjusted automatically), which guide one step by step through making whatever one decides to make.

The bluetooth-enabled version takes this accompaniment a step further, allowing you via an Android or iOS app to select and follow recipes directly on your tablet. (It even sends notifications when it's finished cooking!)

While I had some doubts about this being a pointless gimmick, I ended up caving in on getting the Bluetooth model, as much out of curiosity as anything else. I'm glad I did!

The app actually has a lot of advantages: there are full-colour photos illustrating each step of the recipe (the screen on the Cookeo only shows text), and the database of recipes is larger and expandable—new recipes can be uploaded from the app onto the Cookeo. There's also an integrated shopping list function, and it's easier to browse the recipes by looking at their photos on an iPad than reading a list of names on the tiny Cookeo screen, or via the robust search function (which lets you filter not only by ingredients or type of dish but also by themes like "summer" or "Valentine's Day").

The best part of the app, though, is simply the fact that there are user ratings and comments with each recipe. It actually makes a cookbook way better to have notes from lots of people, not only to see whether the recipe works as advertised but also for little tips like "my kids love this one" or "adding one more can of tomato paste to this chili than the recipe indicates makes it way better".

As for the Cookeo's actual usefulness as a kitchen appliance, it does deliver. It is an optional extra, certainly, since in essence it's needed for steaming fish or vegetables and as a pressure cooker, and those aren't kitchen necessities (although someone living in a studio apartment might use it as a stove, too). Cooking times are shockingly fast (to produce meat that melts in your mouth), and the recipes are really good. Clean up is also very fast—versus the stove-top pressure cooker we used previously, it saves me a lot of time. (Enough that time I can cook on weeknights and still get the kids to bed on time, which I couldn't have done with the old cooker.)

That said, it's not magic, and there's not much it can do to cut down on preparation time. So, with the need to chop vegetables and what-not, and the sequential nature of the recipes, it's not about to displace the microwave. But it is, if I'm being honest, one of those things I half-expected to consider a waste of money after spending some time with it (even though it came recommended by others), and am glad to report that nothing could be farther from the truth. Now let's just hope that the reliability is solid!

The film below (in French), shows the Cookeo in action and what the app looks like.

Posted by jon at 11:30 PM in Food 
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