On test: Tefal Cook4Me Connect high-tech pressure cooker
Cooking dinner? There's an app for that. And not just a digital recipe book. The Cook4Me Connect and its free companion app team up to cook you healthy food fast. Is it worth the money?
The Cook4Me Connect looks like a curvaceous, oversized rice cooker. It's bulky and black but it is attractive. On the front are a colour touch screen, control knob and buttons. To open the lid you must turn a big handle to release the pressure inside – because it’s secretly a pressure cooker.
Pressure cookers promise to cook faster than a conventional pan and save energy in the process. And the Tefal promises just this. We tested it by cooking a quinoa salad from the Tefal's bank of recipes.
Initially, after starting up the Cook4Me Connect for the first time, it needed pairing with a Bluetooth device (we used an iPad). This happened quickly and effortlessly – the Tefal app gave simple instructions, as did the Cook4Me Connect's screen. Then we selected a recipe using the iPad screen. You can browse recipes (there were nearly 500 at the time of writing) but also filter them to cut out ingredients you don't like. There are even video demonstrations, perfect for unconfident cooks.
You can tailor quantities of recipes. Pick the quinoa salad, for example, and you get ingredients list and instructions for cooking the dish for two people, but scale it up to feed more and the quantity of each ingredient gets scaled up too. It promises us a five minute cooking time but this was disingenuous because this didn't take into account the four minute preheating cycle and a further minute to decompress after cooking. So ten minutes then. But still, we would have expected to cook the quinoa for at least 15 minutes in a saucepan, so it is faster. And it really was ten minutes start to finish, because we chopped the other ingredients while the quinoa cooked.
You select the recipe in the app, press ‘start the recipe’ and it's quickly downloaded to the Cook4Me Connect (only 60 or so recipes are built in). You then press a button on the cooker to confirm and start cooking. nine minutes later, it played a little tune to announce that cooking was complete. But annoyingly, the fanfare came before the machine decompressed so we had to stand there and literally watch it let off some steam. You can then choose to turn it off, continue cooking or keep warm (for up to 90 minutes).
The results were fast and cooked right, but a little soggy. It would be good to add a touch less water next time but the Tefal app doesn't seem to let you modify the recipes – although you can add your own notes for next time. But the recipes are diverse and there are plenty of healthy options. So the Cook4Me Connect's timesaving qualities make it good for anyone who's trying to eat more healthily but struggles to find time to cook from fresh ingredients. It's also good for busy families and unconfident cooks.
A pressure cooker is the polar opposite of a slow cooker: it actually cooks food faster than a conventional pan. The Cook4Me Connect saves you even more time because the recipes are at your fingertips and you can control it and get cooking alerts via Bluetooth. The recipes are generally simple and fast. You can also programme it to cook up to 15 hours in advance, so it can make your supper while you're out and about.
You can also use the Cook4Me Connect to cook individual ingredients by weight. For example it can double as a spacious rice cooker thanks to its non-stick, six-litre bowl, or you can steam fish or veggies in the supplied basket. But when we tried the rice cooking we were disappointed with the execution. You could tell it the type of rice and the weight but, unlike its proper recipes, it made no attempt to tell you how much water to use or how long to cook for.
If you're in two minds about whether or not to buy the Cook4Me Connect, it's easy to decide. Download the free companion app My Cook4Me and browse the recipes. If lots of them float your boat then great, but if you are a confident cook who prefers to use their own recipes then you'd be better off buying some great cookbooks and top-of-the-range saucepans.
RRP £299.99 tefal.co.uk
Kenwood Cooking Chef, from £779.99
This food mixer is a design classic with a modern addition: induction cooking. So you can use one appliance for mixing, whisking and cooking. You can even cook at the same time as mixing. Saves time and cuts down on washing up. kenwoodworld.com
Sage Risotto Plus, £99.99
Most multi-cookers simply serve up rice and slow-cooked dishes. This unusual one also lets you sauté or sear ingredients, so you don't dirty a second pan. It even has a mode that uses bubbles to stir risotto so you don't have to. sageappliances.co.uk
Tefal 8 in 1 Multi Cooker, £49.99
Don’t expect built-in recipes but this does a great job of its eight programmes: quick rice, white rice, brown rice, grains, porridge, slow cooking, steaming and dessert. It's barely more expensive than a rice cooker but does much more, saving you space as well as time. tefal.co.uk
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