food

This year, I committed to cooking more. Here are the 3 products that made that possible.

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Let me first break the ice with a confession: Last year I cooked three things. 

A pasta bake, a homemade pizza and one epic fail of an attempt to make a birthday cake. (I’m talking raw batter, sloppy icing and very little structural integrity.) 

For context, I usually really love cooking. I like the process of it, I like making yummy treats for my mates and I definitely love demolishing a creation seconds after I pull it out of the oven. But 2020 had other plans. My energy supplies were down, I was distanced from my family and I had absolutely zero desire to whip anything up in the kitchen.

And that sucked. 

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So I’ve decided to take 2021 by the horns and force myself into the kitchen to fall back in love with cooking.

But, I knew this was going to be a tricky task. Kinda like when you get into a reading slump and then the thought of tackling a novel fills you with sleepy dread. So, I decided to recruit some tools to make the transition easier. 

For someone who has avoided shopping centres for months, I decided to have a hunt online for appliances that would transform me into a full-blown food wizard. 

Surprisingly to me, one of the top spots for jazzy kitchen equipment was Australia Post. Weird, right? If you, like me, assumed that the Post Office was a place that only stocked stamps and parcels - then you, like me, are very, very wrong.

I scrolled through their kitchen appliances and instantly fell hook, line and sinker for three items that I knew would rock my world (read: bench top) and snapped those puppies up. A Mistral 5.6L Slow Cooker, a Mistral 10L Digital Healthy Air Fryer, and a Mistral Stand Mixer

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Here’s how they got me out of my cooking slump, one meal at a time.

The Mighty Slow Cooker

The mere mention of the words ‘slow cooker’ brings back literal wafts of my mum’s bolognese and tasty stews that have simmered away for hours and fill the house with delicious gravy stank. 

Reminded by my aforementioned mum that making things in the slow cooker is the fanciest way to fool people into thinking you’re an incredible chef, I popped the Mistral 5.6L Slow Cooker into my basket and starting planning all my meals.

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To me, slow cookers are the emperors of sauciness. They have the ability to transform any combo of hearty ingredients into a thick, flavourful soup of tastiness. And the best thing about it, you literally just throw all of the bits and bobs in there and then leave it alone for four to six hours. In other words, it’s a lazy girl's secret weapon in the kitchen - and for that I will love it for all eternity.

She is STUNNING.

While I’ve whipped up (read: set and forget) a few meals in the slow cooker, this is my top recommendation for a crowd pleasing win.

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The greatest slow cooker pulled pork recipe:

...according to Katie. 

What you need ingredients-wise:

1 brown onion

3/4 cup of tomato sauce (I know that sounds like a lot, but trust me)

3 tablespoons of tomato paste

1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 teaspoon of garlic powder

1 teaspoon of mustard powder

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 chunky slab of pork shoulder

What you need to do with them:

  1. Chop up your onion pretty small.

  2. Chuck the onion, tomato sauce, tomato paste, apple cider vinegar and spices into the bottom of the slow cooker. Give it a mix. 

  3. Whack the pork shoulder slab in there and grind a little salt and pepper over it, before rubbing the slab with the tomato sauce mix til it’s pretty covered. 

  4. Cook on high for five to six hours. Go and paint your nails, watch a whole season of Schitt’s Creek. Return to the slow cooker and if the pork is falling apart with a little fork jab then you are good to shred it up with said fork and let it soak up all the slow cooker juices. 

  5. Serve it up with some coleslaw, shove it in a bun or just eat it straight out of the bowl like the menace you are.

The Hot-New-Thing Air Fryer

Every gen Z and their dog has an air fryer, so I decided I’d see what all the fuss was about. Plus, the idea of just chucking things in (much like with the mighty slow cooker) and letting the machine do all the hard work, seemed like something that would be right up my street.

And boy, it sure was.

I nabbed the Mistral 10L Digital Healthy Air Fryer in black (to match my slow cooker, cos, #classy) and started having a google to find fun air fryer recipes to get creative with. 

A mighty beast, also known as my new best friend.

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Which is when I stumbled across a salmon filet air fryer hack that I had to try. Second confession time: I have butchered every single piece of fish I have ever tried to cook in a pan. The skin flops off, I burn one side while the middle is completely and utterly raw, and for some unknown reason, I feel like the flavour falls off the fish and just sits in the pan instead. WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN PLS?

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So, I thought I’d switch up my poor pan for my new jazzy air fryer and cooked the following recipe. And let me tell you, that fish was far from butchered. It was a delight. 

An impossible-to-stuff-up salmon air-fryer recipe:

What you need ingredients-wise:

4 thin-ish skin-on salmon filets 

2 teaspoons of soy sauce 

1 tablespoon of honey

1 teaspoon of sesame seeds

Pinch o’ salt

Pinch o’ pepper

What you need to do with them:

  1. Preheat the air fryer for about two minutes.

  2. Chuck a generous amount of salt and pep onto your salmon filets.

  3. Brush the fish (like the artiste you are) with the soy sauce.

  4. Pop the filets into the air fryer basket skin-side down and cook them at 190 degrees for about eight minutes.

  5. When six minutes have passed, open her up and glaze each filet with the honey and sprinkle on the sesame seeds. Then shut her up again and continue cooking.

  6. When the buzzer goes off at the eight minute mark, grab them out of the frying basket and serve up your perfect filet of salmon. Viola! 

The I’m-A-Professional-Baker-Now Stand Mixer.

As we’ve previously discussed, my skills in the kitchen definitely do not lie in the baking department. One of my three creations of 2020 included a completely inedible cake, and every time I think back to that pile of disappointment I literally shudder.

So, let’s rewrite history, shall we?

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Every fancy Instagram baker I’ve ever gawked at has a stand mixer, so I figured this would be the tool for me to revamp my baking skills. I turned to my trusty pal, Australia Post, once again and nabbed the Mistral Stand Mixer (in black, because I’ve definitely got a cohesive kitchen appliance theme now). This puppy has 1000W of power behind it and claims to do ‘all the hard work for you’, so I knew straight away we would be best friends.

A VISION.

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For my cake redemption story I tackled a cake-adjacent recipe, because I was a little scared to jump in at the deep end for my first go. On the menu for me and my brand new stand mixer were: Fudgy Meringue Cookies. Drooling already?

Here’s how I made them.

The not-quite-a-cake-but-actually-better Fudgy Meringue Cookie recipe:

What you need ingredients-wise:

1 cup of bittersweet chocolate drops

1.5 cups of icing sugar

1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 teaspoons of cornstarch 

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar

Some non-stick vegetable oil spray

What you need to do with them:

  1. Whack it up your oven to 180 degrees.

  2. Spray two baking trays with your non-stick vegetable oil spray.

  3. Pop half a cup of your bittersweet chocolate drops in a mug and take them for a spin in the microwave in 14 second intervals to melt them evenly. Take out the choccie puddle and leave it on the benchtop to cool down.

  4. Whisk 1/2 a cup of the sugar with the cocoa and cornstarch in a mini bowl. Leave to the side.

  5. Now, it’s stand mixer time! Nab your eggs and crack them to divide the whites from the yolks. Then pop your egg whites into the stand mixer along with the vanilla extract, a tiny pinch of salt and the cream of tartar. Let the stand mixer work it’s magic until you can see soft peaks forming.

  6. When you spy the peaks, chuck in the remaining sugar in four even increments. 

  7. Let the stand mixer do all the heavy lifting until you can see that your meringue is thick and glossy as heck.

  8. Now chuck in the mini bowl sugar/cocao/cornstarch combo into the stand mixer too.

  9. Then pour in the melted chocolate AND the remaining chocolate drops.

  10. Turn off your new best friend, the stand mixer, and spoon out the mixture onto your baking tray in one-spoonful balls - leaving a fair amount of space between each dollop.

  11. Pop the trays into the oven and bake for seven minutes before flipping the trays around (so the front cookies are now at the back) and bake for another six minutes. 

  12. Take the cookies out and leave them to cool for a bit (I know this is near-impossible, but try) and then demolish the heck out of them!

So there you have it, the three recipes that kick-started my cooking again! 

Since whipping up these tasty treats I’ve gone on to regularly cook at home at least six times a week - and every meal has used either the stand mixer, air fryer or slow cooker. They have honestly become essentials in my kitchen and I would be emotionally distraught if I was ever left to prepare any food without them. 

Feature Image: Mamamia. 

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