I am a huge fan of kitchen gadgets, but with any prospective gadget, I always try to weight up if it is likely to get used only a few times before being relegated to the back of a cupboard (joining the popcorn maker, milk frother and various others I have amassed over the years….!)
However, I now add the Andrew James Chef’s blowtorch to the list of gadgets that deserve a fond place in my kitchen. I have owned blowtorches before: a rather industrial-sized one that with one wrong move would burn down the work top, and one small one that did the trick, albeit taking some time to do so!
This is a fine looking blowtorch: it is light, sleek and fits easily in the hand without feeling uncomfortable or too unwieldy. It is a powerful blowtorch too, although it handles more delicate blowtorch work (brûlées) beautifully with its adjustable flame.
Another huge plus is that the blowtorch lasts for about 30 minutes when it has been filled with gas: it is always irritating with a blowtorch when you have to stop part way through to re-fill with gas: not so with this one – I timed it and got through a large amount of vegetables in one “blasting”.
And very importantly, the blowtorch is so easy to use: you simply turn it on, click the igniter and you are away.
Why would I need a blowtorch?
There are certainly the utter foodie delights of creme brûlées – a dish that is as stunning nowadays as it was decades ago when it popped up everywhere! It is SO much easier using a blowtorch to get the very thin, crisp caramel topping than faffing around with the grill and its lack of precision!
I used this blowtorch for these no-fuss orange and raspberry posset brûlées: arguably the simplest brûlées, needing very little work whatsoever: it is basically made in minutes and left to set. You don’t even need to make & bake a custard for it! I will post my recipe for these brûlées shortly.
A blowtorch really comes into its own when charring vegetables: not only does the charring allow the skin to be removed with utter ease (with tomatoes, for example, it is quicker than boiling the water, plunging the tomatoes into it and the like…), it gives the most wonderful barbeque-like flavour to the flesh.
I find it easier putting the vegetables onto a solid baking tray so as not to have any chance of burnng the work surface!
A few vegetables and fruits I have charred this way include:
Red peppers: about 3-4 minutes all over each pepper on the strongest flame. Pop the peppers in a plastic bag until cool and then peel off the skin giving a gorgeous, sweet red pepper flesh: ideal in a salad, or eaten as it is, perhaps with a little balsamic vinegar
Aubergines: about 5 minutes for each aubergine on the strongest flame for a really good charring, which brings out the smoky flavour of the aubergine.
Tomatoes: about a minute all over per tomato
Garlic: just a couple of seconds over an unpeeled garlic bulb. The blowtorch will burn off the skin and slighty toast the flesh, giving a lovely flavour.
Peaches: just slice them, keeping the skin on, and lightly brush the blowtorch on a medium flame over the flesh for a gorgeous flavour to the peaches. Perfect eaten just as they are, or with some yogurt and a generous drizzle of honey all over.
I have also used the blowtorch for a few seconds over macaroni cheese to bubble and blister the grated cheese on top: gorgeous!
One of my favourite ever things in the world to eat is baba ghanoush (smoky aubergine dip). Charring the aubergines is crucial to get the depth of smoky flavour from the aubergines, giving a dip with bags of flavour that is eaten so easily. The baba ghanoush is also great served with lamb.
I will post a recipe for the blowtorch baba ghanoush shortly.
I cannot praise the Andrew James Chef’s blowtorch highly enough and I am still looking for new ways to use it, although I have made several batches of baba ghanoush in the past week alone!
The specifications of and further details on the blowtorch can be found at the Andrew James website here.