Slow cooker

The process of slow cooking is so effective because some chemical reactions that occur during cooking, such as the elimination of the chemicals that cause meat to be tough, require time.

Ingredients:

In the slow cooker:

Final result over pasta:

Fish, chips, and mushy peas

Even though I am an American, I’ve long known about fish and chips. In fact, I can still sing the Arthur Treater’s (“the original fish and chips”) jingle – and what you might not know is that Arthur Treater’s is an Ohio establishment, from just a few miles from where I grew up!

So when a good friend of mine invited me to try some real fish and chips and mushy peas – in the part of Northern England where it’s most famous, no less! – I immediately thought: Peas? Mushy peas?  What do peas have to do with fish and chips? And are English cooks so bad they can’t cook up nice, firm peas – do they have to be mushy?

Well, here is what one of the best fish and chips restaurants in the seaside Yorkshire town of Whitby:

And those green things: that’s the mushy peas.  I would have never believed it until I tried it, but mushy peas do go well with the fish. And of course the fish itself – I can tell you, this batter fried fish is in a completely different category than anything I’ve ever tasted.

Oh, and that plastic bowl in the middle contains little pieces of batter that have dripped off into the oil. Not shown is the mash vinegar that the English love to pour over their fish.

(Correction:  Above I stated “one of the best fish and chips restaurants” but I have since learned that this was Hadley’s, which has been rated THE BEST fish and chips restaurant!)

Table Top Review: The Kenwood HB724 hand blender review – no ordinary potato masher, this

Continuing the series, is it just me or does everything containing the word “KEN” have extraordinary talent, exquisite design, and unsurpassable quality?  At least, the Kenwood HB724 hand blender is no exception.

After boiling some potatoes it was time to put the “Potato Puree” attachment to work.

Potato1

No ordinary attachment this, it would more aptly be named “potato auger:” it contains a reduction gear and a black plastic paddle, and the potatoes are lifted upwards and pressed through the holes.

Here you can see the potatoes as they are squeezed through the holes, helping to puree them.

Potato3Here you can better see the effect of the potatoes angered through the holes:

Potato2

Finally, although I am not showing it here, cleanup is a snap. The plastic auger blade detaches from the assembly, and you clean everything up with just a gentle rinsing with warm running water.

Overall comments and feedback

The reduction gear ensures the auger blade turns at the perfect speed to puree potatoes. The size of the holes through which the potato puree passes are perfectly designed. And I was pleasantly surprised: this device worked very well with the very small number of potatoes I cooked (some devices really only work when you have a large amount of potatoes).

Was it worth it?

Yes, absolutely!

Negatives & Suggestions to Kenwood for improvement?

Nothing.

Further reviews on this topic needed?

No. I didn’t mention it here because I didn’t use it or describe it above – because I think nobody would believe it –  but something happened that I myself can hardly believe. I cooked my potatoes without peeling the skin.  After multiple cycles of the potato auger the skins were all filtered out from the potato puree and kept within the auger housing – in effect, the Kenwood acted as a potato skin filter!  This is an added bonus – but it is so wonderful, I think it would almost be straining credibility for me to mention this!

Would I do this again?  

No fuss no muss – I’d use the Kenwood for freshly mashed potatoes every day of the week and twice on Sundays!  Here I want to re-iterate, for the second time, the philosophy of use, or PoU: I kept the Kenwood power unit permanently plugged in and sitting on my kitchen countertop, ready for action. So at a moment’s notice and without any effort at all, I could bring out the attachments I needed.

 

Table Top Review: The Kenwood HB724 hand blender review – three types of fresh Italian pesto

Continuing the series, for almost seven years I worked as short-order cook in a cafeteria with service for up to 300 people. When I worked in a professional kitchen, all the equipment and tools we needed were professionally maintained, right at hand, and ready to go.  And after using the equipment, we had people whose job it was to clean up.  Not so in the home kitchen, where there is limited space, and where I have to do the clean up myself.

So for me, the main challenge of electric kitchen gadgets (like blenders and mixers and juicers) is that it is difficult to obtain a net overall win/win situation: the needed overhead (pulling them out, setting them up, cleaning them up, stowing them) quite often exceeds the pleasure or value or time savings provided by the gadget.

In attempt to rebalance this equation in my favor, I recently purchased a Kenwood HB724 hand blender.

In the coming blog entries, I will give some table top reviews of using my new Kenwood blender, and especially try to answer the question: was it so easy and convenient and effective that I will be using it for this purpose again?

The Kenwood HB724 hand blender makes three types of fresh Italian pesto sauce

What is amazing and unbelievable: the U.S. grows more garlic than any other country, yet fresh, undried garlic (not picked-early-and-dried-out garlic) is not readily available.  This is a bulb of succulent, wet, juicy garlic, probably just a few days after being picked from the stalk:

Garlic

Not yet having been dried, the bulbs are wet, and the skins are wet with the texture of any other fresh vegetable. Interestingly, you peel the garlic just like you’d peel a fresh banana:

Garlic2

Here are the other ingredients, including fresh basel leaves, fresh Parmesan Reggiano cheese, and two types of nuts: pine nuts for a smooth, creamy texture; and cashews for a light, nutty taste.  Note the level of the high quality extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients

And here are the results: I made a sun dried tomato pesto (front center), consisting of just garlic, sun dried tomatoes, olive oil, and chili flakes; a green pesto (right); and a “mixed” pesto (left) that is essentially the green pesto, but with sun dried tomatoes and chili flakes. I made the pesto quite thick, so that I could store it in the refrigerator for several days. Before using, I’ll heat and add more olive oil.

Results

Overall comments and feedback

Having already made orange juice, I was not surprised at the smoothness of the grinding action. But I was pleasantly impressed at how well the addition of extra nuts and garlic into the pesto-in-progress was incorporated, which shows this grinder’s excellent mixing action.  What also impressed me on this job was the shape and size of the mixing unit: it is large enough for a sizable portion of pesto, it has a large enough mouth to make it easy to add the ingredients – but it is small and compact enough so that I won’t think twice about using this great device for similar food preparation jobs.

Was it worth it?

Yes, absolutely!

Negatives & Suggestions to Kenwood for improvement?

Nothing.

Further reviews on this topic needed?

Yes. I didn’t mention it here because I didn’t use it, but the mixing bowl comes with a plastic lid. This means you can prepare sauces in the mixing bowl, then simply cover the bowl with the lid and insert it into the refrigerator. I plan to test this feature in up coming recipes.

Would I do this again?  

No fuss no muss – I’d use the Kenwood for fresh Italian pesto every day of the week and twice on Sundays!  Here I want to mention, for the first time, the philosophy of use, or PoU: I’ll be keeping the Kenwood power unit permanently plugged in and sitting on my kitchen countertop, ready for action. So at a moment’s notice and without any effort at all, I can bring out the specific mixing attachments I need – thus lowering that “effort barrier” that plagues all fancy electric kitchen gadgets and discourages their long-term use (or discouraging them becoming part of your daily cooking system).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table Top Review: The Kenwood HB724 hand blender review – orange juice

For almost seven years, I worked as short-order cook in a cafeteria with service for up to 300 people. When I worked in a professional kitchen, all the equipment and tools we needed were professionally maintained, right at hand, and ready to go.  And after using the equipment, we had people whose job it was to clean up.  Not so in the home kitchen, where there is limited space, and where I have to do the clean up myself.

So for me, the main challenge of electric kitchen gadgets (like blenders and mixers and juicers) is that it is difficult to obtain a net overall win/win situation: the needed overhead (pulling them out, setting them up, cleaning them up, stowing them) quite often exceeds the pleasure or value or time savings provided by the gadget.

In attempt to rebalance this equation in my favor, I recently purchased a Kenwood HB724 hand blender.

In the coming blog entries, I will give some table top reviews of using my new Kenwood blender, and especially try to answer the question: was it so easy and convenient and effective that I will be using it for this purpose again?

The Kenwood HB724 hand blender makes orange juice

It will be interesting to see how much juice can be made from one large orange, shown here:
Juice1

I cut off the peel quickly and roughly, leaving bits for added vitamins and fiber:

Juice2

Into to the Kenwood blending attachment, and attach the motor wand to the top:

Juice3

And after about 20 seconds of blending, it makes a full glass!

Juice4

Overall comments and feedback

The actual grinding was much faster than I expected, I think due to the very well designed blades that cause a very good mixing.  Assembling the unit was also easier than expected, because the design is exceptional and all the pieces fit together easily, just by feel. Grinding was easy, because the normal power button and the turbo power button are both very easy to press.  And the grinding attachment has a rubber ring that prevents it from sliding on the table top. Pouring from the mixing attachment into a glass was also straightforward and entailed no mess. Cleanup was also easier than I expected, because the plastic is water repellent – just a gentle rinse in the sink was all that was needed.

Was it worth it?

Yes, absolutely!

Negatives & Suggestions to Kenwood for improvement?

Nothing.

Further reviews on this topic needed?

The Kenwood cut through the orange like butter, but oranges are soft.  It will be interesting to repeat this recipe with ice or with fruit such as apples that are tougher and may be more difficult to blend.

Would I do this again?  

No fuss no muss – I’d use the Kenwood for fresh orange juice every day of the week and twice on Sundays! Since I like pulpy orange juice, the results were delicious. Including cleanup, it hardly required more time to set up and prepare than it would to open a carton of store-bought orange juice.