Most of us enjoy having friends and family over for dinner -- a glass of wine (or two), good conversation and the opportunity to show off your favourite dishes, mastery when it comes to balancing flavours and general kitchen prowess.
Of course, this isn't always the reality when you're juggling work, family commitments and complicated recipes with different dietary needs of your guests. But preparing for a dinner party doesn't have to be stressful.
With a slew of useful new technology in the kitchen space, you can cut down your prep time and enjoy the experience of cooking for others without getting frazzled about recipes, missing ingredients, conversions, techniques and timings for each dish. The following kitchen shortcuts will have you cooking smarter and faster so you can enjoy more time with your guests.
1. A Kitchen Assistant That Helps You When Your Hands Are Full
Picture this -- you're half way through a complicated recipe, your hands are covered in ingredients, and you need your sous chef (aka, Google) to search if you can substitute two ingredients.
Ordinarily, you would need to stop what you're doing, wash your hands and then find a solution to your cooking dilemma. Not anymore.
Say hello to Google Home. This sleek 'personal assistant' is voice-activated, powered by Google Assistant and is ready to answer your questions on the fly. So you can query recipes, check ingredients and even select a soundtrack to your cooking.
"Whatever you need, you just say 'Ok Google' and you don't have to touch a thing -- it does it all by your voice," Trevor Long said.
2. A Tool That Takes The Stress Out Of Finding Recipes -- And Then Cooks For You.
An all-in-one kitchen device that steams, grinds, mixes and chops is already going to cut down your prep time. However, a device that does this while also giving you access to thousands of recipes and actually helps you cook them in said device, that's handy.
Simply browse and choose your recipe online, add it to your personalised recipe playlist, attach your Cook-Key to your all-in-one and sync your selections. Then you just choose what you'd like to make, and see step-by-step instructions appear on the screen. In theory, you could select your starter, main course and dessert through this combination of tool and device.
Tech expert Trevor Long explained these type of gadgets synchronising themselves with the internet have made cooking easier than ever.
"The smarter your device, the more efficient your cooking," Long said.
3. An App That Deciphers All The Measurements And Methods You Need
There's nothing worse than attempting to tackle a brand new dish for a group of friends -- only to realise that the recipe is baffling, and that the terms Chiffonade, Fricasse and Meuniere et al mean absolutely nothing to you.
Fortunately, there is tech out there to help you. Escoffier Cook's Companion will make sure you're not wasting time searching for conversions and peculiar chopping methods with all the answers in one place.
The app features a unit converter, a built-in timer, an equipment database and a glossary for even the most complicated culinary terms. If your recipe has ounces and you need grams or you have no idea how they're suggesting you cut the spring onions, it's got you covered.
4. A Gadget That Turns On Your Cooking Devices WHILE YOU'RE AT WORK
While a slow cooker itself isn't new, if paired with the right app, it's updated into a smart way to cook for any length of time -- even while you're out of the house.
Enter the Belkin WeMo -- a gadget allows you to control any electronic device wirelessly from the app.
Simply plug it into the wall, and then plug your slow cooker into it and you're good to go. Turn it on while you're at work so your dish is ready to serve when you get home, giving you more time to entertain. Finder.com.au tech expert Alex Kidman said gadgets like these are transforming the way we use every day appliances.
"Their ability to interface with smart phones means you don't actually need a 'smart appliance', your appliance just needs to be attached to one," he said.
5. A Tool That Cooks The Perfect Steak For You And Your Guests
It can be tricky serving up the perfect steak. But whether your guests like it well done or rare, there's now a straightforward tech tool that allows you to over, or under, cook as your guests desire.
The Cinder uses next-generation thermal control, making it impossible to overcook. Simply pair the Cinder with the phone app and it will calculate the target temperature and cooking time.
When the meat is ready, you will be alerted through the app but there's no rush to get it -- it waits for you. Kidman said a big bonus is not being able to burn your meat.
"Plus, the home cook has more time to prepare other parts of the meal, or kick back with a nice glass of wine," Kidman said.
Just because you whipped up an amazing meal in the kitchen, doesn't mean you want to spend the whole night in there. Thermomix will help you create incredible meals easier than ever. And with Cook-Key you can make your favourites faster with step-by-step instructions, synced to your TM5.