Can Lidl's £180 Monsieur Cuisine do everything the £900 Thermomix can? FEMAIL pits both machines against each other... and the results may surprise you
- FEMAIL's Sheyna Zaid Lam puts the machines through their paces
- She ground meat and spices, churned butter and made mayonnaise
- Also kneaded dough for pizza and steamed sea bass and vegetables
It can knead, mince, grind, steam, chop, pound, and beat, and at £179 is five times cheaper than its closest rival, the Thermomix TM5.
Lidl’s Monsieur Cuisine has been flying off the shelves since its launched last month, selling out across Europe as home cooks scramble to get their hands on the inexpensive kitchen gadget.
But can the cut-price alternative really match the £925 TM5 when it comes to the crunch?
FEMAIL's Sheyna Zaid Lam puts them both through their paces.
Scroll down for video
The writer with the £179 Monsieur Cuisine from Lidl (left) and the £925 TM5 Thermomix (right)
Butter: The result from Monsieur Cuisine (left) came out creamier and smoother than the butter made in the TM5 (right), which had the consistency of cheese and was crumbly
I had known about Thermomix for a while now from friends who swear by it. In France and Spain, it is considered so essential that it is de rigueur for most newly-weds to receive it as a wedding present.
I was very curious to see if the Monsieur Cuisine could keep up with the Thermomix, or whether there would be justification for that hefty £746 price difference.
I pitted the TM5, Thermomix's latest incarnation, against the Monsieur Cuisine in a series of challenges specifically designed to compare the two appliances.
Monsieur Cuisine: 1/5
The first challenge was to grind down nutmeg. Sounds simple, but nutmeg is one of the hardest spices around, so this would really test the blade capability in both machines.
I put a few nutmeg seeds (from the same pack) into the respective machines and in under a minute, the TM5 had produced a fine, evenly ground nutmeg powder.
The Monsieur Cuisine's product, however, was more grainy and uneven and also seemed slightly damp.
Nutmeg: Monsieur Cuisine produced a slightly damp result (left) whilst TM5's was evenly ground and fine
Monsieur Cuisine: 2.5/5
I placed 350g of feather blade steak into each machine and in under 20 seconds, both gave me mince. I was not a fan of the consistency of the mince achieved in both, which was slightly mushy, almost paste-like.
It would be fine for burgers and meatballs, but I wasn't so sure about making Bolognese with it.
Also, it has to be mentioned that the TM5 did a slightly better job at this as there were still one or two slightly larger chunks in the Monsieur Cuisine and the tendon and sinew were not quite cut up in it.
Grinding meat: Both the Monsieur Cuisine (left) and the TM5 (right) produced mushy, paste-like mince
Monsieur Cuisine: 3/5
Making mayonnaise in the TM5 was a straightforward task. I used the Recipe Chip provided (a magnetic, electronic chip that gives step-by-step instructions on the touch screen), and within 10 minutes, had creamy, delicious mayo.
The Monsieur Cuisine took me two attempts to get right. The first try, using the recipe from their complimentary cookbook, failed (the oil and egg yolk did not emulsify) and I ended up with a runny, vinegary mess in the blending jug that also leaked out unto the base.
Not to be defeated, I tried again with the Monsieur Cuisine, using the recipe from the Thermomix cookbook, and voila... mayonnaise.
Despite using the exact same recipe, the end product by the Monsieur Cuisine was slightly runnier and did not hold as well.
Mayonnaise: Monsieur Cuisine's mayo (left) was slighly runnier and took the writer two attempts to make. When she used the TM5 she had creamy mayo (right) in ten minutes
Monsieur Cuisine: 5/5
This was the perfect test for the whisk attachments that accompany both the Thermomix and Monsieur Cuisine.
They are slightly different by design and I was interested to see if this would make a significant difference in the end product.
The butter made with the TM5 was delicious, but was slightly more crumbly, more similar in texture to cheese than butter.
However, the butter churned in the Monsieur Cuisine came out creamier, smoother and softer. A clear win for the Monsieur Cuisine here.
Monsieur Cuisine: 2.5/5
Both made very similar, gluey mash, with some residual small lumps in them. This wasn't really a surprise as both machines use a blending motion to puree the potato.
This releases copious amounts of starch into the mixture, inevitably resulting in that glue-like concoction. Fine, if you don't mind it that way, but not great if you prefer your potato mash to be light and fluffy. I,personally, will stick to manually pushing it through a ricer.
Pizza dough: Making pizza dough using TM5 (left) was an easier process compared to the Monsieur Cuisine (right)
The writer made a strawberry tart with shortcrust pastry as the base
The Thermomix comes with a 'dough' function that removes the need to knead any dough mixtures by hand. This is something that the Monsieur Cuisine lacks and I was interested to see if it did indeed make a difference.
As was now the norm, using the TM5 was super simple and fuss free, especially with the help of the ingenious Recipe Chip. In the Monsieur Cuisine, it was more complicated.
I had to weigh in all the ingredients on a separate scale (the Thermomix has a built in scale which makes a noticeable difference when washing up).
I also found that I had to scrape down the sides manually a few more times with the spatula and fiddle with the controls to make sure that the dough was mixed thoroughly as the Monsieur Cuisine lacks the ‘dough’ function.
Having said that, my husband could not tell the difference between the two products in a blind taste test, as both pizza bases were crisp and tasty.
Piz-za pie: The writer's husband could not tell the difference between the pizzas (pictured) when he tried them in a blind tasting
Monsieur Cuisine: 4/5
I had never made a tart case before, so was slightly nervous about this challenge. But one thing I've discovered is that the Thermomix is perfect for these first-time attempts as the recipes provided work well with very little hassle and anxiety.
Once again, the process was much simpler with the TM5 compared to the Monsieur Cuisine.
As for the end product, both pastries turned out to be absolutely lovely.
Although I preferred the one made in the Thermomix, the difference was almost imperceptible and only, I believe, down to a difference in recipe (I used ones given in the respective cookbooks provided) and nothing to do with the machine's work capabilities.
Seabass with ginger, spring onions and baby fennel before being steamed (left) and after cooking (right)
Steamed Seabass with Ginger and Baby Fennel
Monsieur Cuisine: 3/5
This last challenge is something that I make all the time using my traditional Chinese steamer.
I wanted to see if the TM5 and Monsieur Cuisine could produce similarly good results and how much they would (if they could), simplify the procedure. The outcome? Both machines worked equally well.
However, I am deducting points off the overall result for the amount of time needed in both. In my traditional steamer, the dish takes all of eight mins as I can simply pour boiling water into the bottom of the steamer. I also found that neither was easier to use than my traditional steamer.
HOW DOES IT MEASURE UP? THE RESULTS AT A GLANCE:
In conclusion, the TM5 is a beautiful machine that is clever, beautifully designed and very well made, making cooking truly a much simpler affair.
The little touches such as the in-built-scale and the electronic Recipe Chip result in shorter cooking times and much less clearing up after, and all those recipes/ideas that initially may have seemed too scary and complicated, are now within easy reach.
As for the Monsieur Cuisine, it can certainly do most of what the Thermomix is capable of. But not everything and more importantly, not quite as well.
And the little functions that it lacks, such as the scale and the recipe chip, were keenly felt. It was also not as well designed and well-made as the TM5.
Finally, the instructions and cookbook that accompanied the Monsieur Cuisine were inadequate.
Recipes do not work properly, and the instructions given are insufficient to allow the user to use the machine easily and properly from the time of purchase.
I felt that I carried over much of the know-how from the Thermomix when using the Monsieur Cuisine, meaning that people who don't have the benefit of that information will most certainly struggle.
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