In praise of blenders

Untitled #206, originally uploaded by Lobstersquad.

Why is it that when it comes to ecquipment cookbooks either assume that you cook in a primitive, empty kitchen, or else devote the whole thing to squeezing every possible use out of one particular gizmo?
I wish sometimes they'd include pressure cooking instructions. And I have no wish to bake a cake in a rice cooker, thank you very much.

It gets really annoying when it's all embraced in a spirit of simplicity, back to a happier time before we were the slaves of electrical machines. Machines that turned up in kitchens just as servants were exiting them.
Except from restaurants. Funny, that.

So I'm not impressed by entreaties from chefs to use volcanic rock pestles and mortars. As for mayonaise by hand...well. Really. Mayonaise was the very first thing I learnt to make, ever. It is ridiculously easy, as long as you have a blender. Crack an egg, add salt and vinegar, pour over a cup of oil, lower the stick blender into the mess. Pulse as you slowly raise it. In a few seconds, you have mayonaise.
Although these days I just use bottled mayo and add lots of lemon juice and a bit of good oil, and it's excellent.

So anyway, here is a song of praise to the humble hand held stick blender, hero of countless gazpachos, pureed soups, smoothies and milkshakes. And if you get one of those with a small bowl with a fierce chopping blade, also home to hummus, small chopped vegetables for sofrito or soup, spice pastes, and pesto.

And since we're on the pesto theme, don't be blinkered by the classics. The Genovese version, heady with basil and peanuts is wonderful, and certainly, make it in a mortar if that's your thing. Myself, I take the broad, sweeping view. Cooked vegetables, or even fresh tomatoes, or ruccola, or leftover pisto, blended with a bit of garlic, a handful of nuts (walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, or pine nuts) a bit of parsley, some cheese and a good glug of oil...that's a pesto. And it's not just great on pasta, but on sandwiches and in soups and quesadillas

So I'm very happy with my blender. I could live without it, yes, but why would I?

4 comentarios:

Ra dijo...

No me lo puedo creer! La mayo es también lo primero que aprendí a hacer!! :__)

Christina dijo...

I agree -- why make life more complicated? Though I guess the mortar and pestle gives it that more authentic, rustic feel. I actually mentioned this a little in a post I wrote about making gazpacho (using a blender vs. the traditional way of making it with a mortar and pestle): http://littlecosas.com/2012/07/09/gazpacho. What's your recipe for gazpacho?

criticalsteph dijo...

I *love* my stick blender and totally agree with you about a middle line on gadgets/by hand. I also dislike being told I need the latest machine for everything, though. I was interested to read that the 'Little Paris Kitchen' TV show was a big influence in encouraging people to think that could cook without lots of expensive gadgets, as she has such a tiny space that everything she owns has to work very hard for it's keep!

jeri dijo...

I too have a very small kitchen with no room for lots of toys. When my food processor died, I chose not to replace it. I hardly ever miss it, but I will never give up my blender. After my three knives (large chef, paring and boning)it is my most used tool. The only trendy appliance I own is my crock pot, but it's hot in NY in the summer, so that's really more of a necessity.