Flash in the pan or handy helper?
If you’re using communal cooking facilities and space is tight, you’ll appreciate compact, multi-purpose appliances. The Express Cooker ($49, The Warehouse) is one such gadget: it fries, steams and bakes, then tucks neatly away in a drawer.
Its cooking surface is small, so you’re not going to feed the masses, but it’s perfect for a two-egg omelette. With each cooking well holding 160ml, it’ll also manage a cup of veges, a piece of chicken, a stir-fry for one, or a packet of 90-second rice. You may need to trim sandwiches to fit and if you want to bake anything, you’ll have to divide the batter in to batches, but the rapid heat-up time, ease of use and low electricity consumption more than compensate for the inconvenience.
Annoyingly, the non-stick coating began to peel after just a few uses, and liquid leaked out when I flipped the machine to cook the top of my omelette. The exterior was too hot to clean immediately, but, once it had cooled down, a damp cloth wiped away the spill (getting gunk out of its crevices was tricky, though). Also, the cooker doesn’t come with a spatula or timer, and there’s no adjustable thermostat, so you’ll have to monitor things and remember to unplug it when you’re done.
On the whole, the Express Cooker was portable, versatile and easy to use, so preparing simple snacks was a picnic, but its limited capacity makes complicated meals a hassle – so unless you’re seeking portion control, you’ll get better bang for your buck with an electric frying pan.
10cm high, 31cm long and 12.5cm wide
$49 from The Warehouse