Food Toys to the Ready…

we are cooking a Modernist Burger.

Food Toys

I came across this the other night while reading book 3, Animals and Plants of the Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking series. Page 86 is How To: Cook the Perfect Hamburger Sous Vide and I had to try it! I already had the perfect ingredient my ground beef.

Raw Burger

So tonight I made 240g of ground beef into a hamburger patty and put it into bag and sealed it.
Raw Burger bagged

The Modernist guys said not to vacuum it but just bagged and sealed it because if you vac pack it the texture is not right. Ok I did that, but did not push all the air out so when I put it into the bath it was like a meat bag pool toy floating on the surface of the Sous Vide. Hmmmm cut it open and fold it up and then reseal, there we go now it is a submersed meat bag with a little help from a rack.

Now I put it into a bath for 134F for about an hour. Now this is where I may have made a mistake as the Modernist guys say 133 for ½ hour. But the picture looked a bit too red for me, so I changed it to 134F for an hour (possibly a mistake).

Do some french fries in the Tefal ActiFry about a half hour before the burger is done. Also prepare some of my special sauce which is light mayo and tomato chutney.

Special Sauce

Also put the De’Longhi Coolzone Fryer on to maximum temp 190C, seriously hot!
Here is what the burger looks like towelled off and ready for a serious sauna.

take it out of the bag and pat it dry with paper towels. We do not too much of an eruption when it goes into the fryer.

Ready to Fry

Down it goes for 1 minute

In Deep Fryer

And up it comes totally browned and crunchy


And then on to paper towels to remove excess grease. Out come the fries and the buns are toasted and the relish is put onto the bun and this is what it looks like plated up


Here it is cut open

Plated and cut in half

The crust on the outside of the burger was great! Crunch in every bit with no bitter or nasty burnt taste – win. The burger was over cooked. I am not sure if it was too high temperature in the Sous Vide or the fact that I left a major step out. In between the Sous Vide and the deep fryer the Modernist guys put the burger into liquid nitrogen for 30 seconds, but my liquid nitrogen vessel is empty so I skipped it.

This was really good and surprisingly light for a ½ pounder. But it was not the epiphany of hamburgerism I was looking for to full fill my life and soul. I will try again with a lower temperature in the Sous Vide and try to source some liquid nitrogen ( if you have any idea where please post a comment).

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A Blog…

on the Blog. Thought I would write up how I do this blog, so that anyone who wants to get started easily can have a head start. The site I chose was Brinkster for a couple of reasons. Mainly because I had some dollars in a US bank account and the exchange rate sucks so I left them. I paid for my domain and site with these dollars. The other reasons I chose Brinkster was they had WordPress and if I owned my site I could put advertisements on it. I chose the Pro package so I could do other things also, of which I have not had time. And lastly they have fantastic support!

I did not know where this was going to go, so I did not want my blog at the webroot just in case I wanted to have a full blown site at my root sometime and then my blog would be branch off of that main page so I replaced the index.php with this:


Which redirects to the food blog pages, at least for now.

I looked around at blogging packages and other software but I decided that I wanted spell and grammar checking so I went with good old Microsoft Word and FTP. I tried to start using one, but was having trouble getting the images to show up. I contacted support via chat and started to ask questions. The technician on the other side finally, a bit fed up with me sent me a link, which was to an online HTML tutorial – LOL a nice way to be told to RTFM I said back. This made me realize that KISS was the way forward.

FTP in Windows 7 has a nice feature. Once you open FTP to your site in IE then go to:
Page (on the right hand side) / Open FTP site in Windows Explorer

FTP in Explorer

Now that looks familiar. Copying the images and working with my blog is a matter of cut and paste and drag and drop.

WordPress can be as hard or as easy as you want. For the WordPress theme I chose Twenty Ten, but I need to replace the heading graphic.

Twenty Ten Theme

Again right mouse is your friend, so if you right mouse on your main page and select view source. Another IE window will pop up behind your current session where you can see the html that is generated. In this area is where the graphic is loaded:


Two things we needed to know is where it is located and what size is it. So I used my editing package to create a new path.jpg that was 940 by 198 and copied it over the old one. I use a very old and simple graphics package called PaintShop Pro version 6. I think it was about $40, a million years ago.

For Microsoft Word here is the word template I created that starts each blog.


So if I have a link I copy the href tag and for pictures I copy the img tag in Word and just replace the new bits. To actually post the blog I go to the WordPress dashboard and create a new blog then paste the Word contents into the blog, after I have copied the images. You can then preview and make corrections before publishing it.

I really only have one directory in my blog that I use which is used for graphics. It is called images and lives right off of the webroot. For each blog I replace the 2011mmdd with the date of the blog and create a subdirectory of the same name under the images directory on the hosting site.

Images Directory

To create the images I purchased and entry level SLR, Panasonic Lumix G10. I still have not read the manual I just started using it. I do not use the flash because it makes the food look glossy. So made a light box, got two sunlight simulating bulbs from the hobby store and some cheap lamps from the DIY store. Some more hobby store white board and some tape made the light box. I went the local stationary store and bought some poster board for backgrounds and hung them up with alligators clips and some wire. The addition of a tripod and a remote to take the pictures and that is my professional photo studio.

Light Box

The images from this camera are very large, about 4mb each. I resize all my images to 8 inches wide and the height do its own thing. This makes them about 80k each. They still look good, download quickly and don’t burn up your download quota.

To get your blog more popular you need to register with Bing and for that other search engine you can do the same thing. This just gives you a file to put into your webroot and then Bing and Google verify your site. So when you put your site name, like cutcookeat into the search your blog will be number one.

To sign up for things like Google Adsense and Google Analytics put a text widget on your page and paste in the html given to you when you register. Then make it hidden if you need to from the WordPress dashboard.

Amazon Associates you sign up and then search for a product or book that you are using and get the html link only. Before you put it in your blog change the description text to the words you want and add this:
In the href opening tag. This will open a new browser window when they click the link and not redirect away from your page.

Guess that is about it so happy blogging!

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In 1988 the UK had a big problem…

which was Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy or BSE as it is known. It was a terrible time to be a cow for sure, but for an Iowa boy raised on beef it was food hell. I did not want holes in my brain, or at least not any more than I have now so stopped eating beef. Yes, you heard it I stopped eating beef but it was culinary suicide so I came up with this recipe.

Design goals were:
Feel like a steak
Look like a steak
Taste like a steak

Feel like a steak:
It had to be thick and have the muscle fibre of a steak. A little difficult to cut, so you needed a knife. But when it was in your mouth it had to explode with juice and then the chew needs to melt it. Texture is the only difference between a steak and hamburger.

Look like a steak:
Dark with a nice browned outside but a soft and yielding flesh inside. Have a nice cut with a sharp knife.

Taste like a steak:
Deep rich flavour. Juicy and making you want that next bite.

We have the design goals now for a little experimentation, alright a lot. I came up with the meat which was turkey breast steaks (the key is in the name). Costco does a really nice turkey breast steak which is thick and large, it is Costco after all.
Turkey Steaks

Unlike a chicken breast you can see the muscle fibres in a turkey breast so it was going to have the texture. Turkey is a little tougher than chicken so had the feel. The next problem was colour and flavour.

Colour and flavour s is why the “Herb Garden Marinade” was developed, or kind of happened. Not everything I have come up with is by design this one was dumb luck. I went to the herb garden and grabbed a bit of everything.

Bay leaves
Sage leaves

Use the kitchen scissors to cut up the chives and then fold the bay leaves up into a package and cut thin shreds from it using the scissors. Clean the stems and bugs out of the rest of the herbs and then scrunch them up into a pile on the cutting board and chop until you have a roughly chopped pile of herbs.

The colour and deep rich flavour was going to be sorted by Mushroom Ketchup.
Mushroom Ketchup
It stains the turkey meat brown and gives it a deep rich flavour.

Put the chopped herbs into a plastic container and add about ¼ cup each of olive oil, and Mushroom Ketchup and stir with a fork.
Herb Garden Marinade

In go the turkey breast steaks (this recipe makes 4 Costco style). Put the “tight” fitting lid on the plastic container and give it a good shake and into the fridge over night. When ever you get a beer or something from the fridge give your meat a shake (I am sure there is a joke here somewhere :-). The next day it will look like this.
After a Day

Heat a grill pan to medium low and cook the turkey for 10 minutes on each side. You just want to just hear it sizzle, just no more.
Cooked Turkey Steaks

It does work on the BBQ also on direct heat but again not too hot, otherwise it will burn and not cook through.

Here it plated up with Honey Mustard Slaw and baked beans. Plated Turkey Steaks

Wow this is great! The flavour is so in your face with all the herbs. If you close one eye and cut the meat it is like a lovely medium steak. Medium steak is not optimal but you need to make sure this is cooked through as you do not want to eat rare turkey.

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Sometimes I look forward to leftovers…

more than the main meal. I like:
Left Over Best Ever Lamb
Left Over Pot Roast
And now we have:
Left Over Open Face Meatball Sandwiches.

Yesterday I made my son’s favourite dinner which is Spaghetti and Meatballs. And I look forward to the next day which is always meatball sanis which are the leftovers from last night ( hope my daughter doesn’t ever decide have more than 2).
Leftover Meatballs

Because they need to be cooked again I choose Ciabatta which needs to be finished off in the oven before eating.

I take the leftover meatballs and quarter them to make them bite size. You do not want to unload ¼ of your sani in the first mouthful.
Meatballs Cut Up

I needed to get the chips into the Tefal ActiFry. You have to make sure they are really dry before putting into the fryer
Raw Chips. I decided to go with chips not fries with skin on cause this is leftovers and I do not want to spend too much time on tea.

I cut up the Ciabatta, and put the quarters of meatballs on the bread.
Ready for Cheese

There is something about the cheese I buy from Costco. It is really nice and dry. It melts and leaves that gooey stringy mozzarella that you get from a good pizza restaurant.

So I dumped a load onto the sani

And put it into the VisiCook SuperChef Multifunction Wave Oven.

After 12 minutes it looked like this.

And here it is ready to trough oh ya!!!

When I was clearing up I grabbed a bit of the other sani and it was even more awesome cold. It is going to work with me tomorrow for lunch as it made me go yuuuuummmm!

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Cloudy with a Chance of…

Meatballs. This week I was on holiday with my kids and I asked them what they would like me to cook for them. My daughter chose Pulled Pork Sandwiches, and my son chose Spaghetti and Meatballs. These take some time to put together, but it is so worth it! I used to purchase pre-made meatballs from the shop, until we went to an Italian near us called Don Beni’s and my son had his favourite meal which is spaghetti and meatballs. He could not finish all of it so I had a meatball, OMG this was lovely, heaven and the texture was amazing. Much better than the gristle ridden stuff I was buying from the local grocery store. I then went on the search for the ultimate meatball recipe and this is what I came up with.

WARNING: Food toy required to make this recipe. You will need a food processor to make this. You could probably make it without, but it would be really tedious. Anyway now you have an excuse to buy one, as this recipe is worth it. Plus if you buy one that has a blender attachment you can make margaritas, now you have two reasons!

This recipe makes 4 x 1 lb helpings of meatballs. I usually freeze 3 of them and then eat one for tea. First ingredient is a triangle of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Parmigiano Reggiano

Put the fine grater on the food processor.

Remove the rind from the cheese and then process the whole triangle.
Grated Cheese

Put the grated cheese into the largest bowl you have.

Now fit your food processor with the blade. You need 4 slices of crusty bread so I used ½ of a white pave from Sainsbury’s.

Cut this into slices and put into the food processor bowl.

Now it is time to give a fresh parsley pot a haircut. I used about 2/3 of a small pot of fresh parsley and it goes into the food processor bowl.

Normally I would just go to the garden and get some but the heat last week killed mine off because I was not paying attention to the water bit of the growing equation.

Now into the bowl go 4 peeled cloves of garlic and an onion.

ASIDE: I find the best way to get the garlic smell off of my hands is to put some sea salt into my hand before adding the liquid soap, and then rubbing really well before using any water.

4 teaspoons of salt and a sprinkling of black pepper over the top and we are ready to Rock and Roll food processor style.
Ready to Rock and Roll

Make sure you hold onto the processor when you start it because there is a lot of mass in the bowl and it will jump about a bit. When it is finished it has the consistency of stuffing, but oh the smell is heaven (parsley, garlic and onion)!

Put the mixture into the bowl with the grated cheese. Get your meat out of the fridge, we need:

500g ground pork
500g ground lamb
500g ground beef

There is no easy way to do the next step so open the meat packs and put them in the bowl. Now don an apron and wash your hands cause this is going to get messy (and cold). To mix the ingredients thoroughly use your hands to lift from the bottom of the bowl and then squeeze through your fingers. Do this a couple of times and then turn bowl 90 degrees and continue. When it is mixed you are done.
Mixed Meat

Bag them up into 1 lb freezer bags and put one into the fridge for dinner. I used to make them into balls and then bag them for the freezer, but I always needed to reshape them after defrosting so I thought what is the point. About an hour before you want to eat form the meat into balls. A good size is a ping-pong ball size. They keep there shape in the frying pan and there are not too many to turn. About 12 is a good number to shoot for because 3 are enough for a meal and a pound of meat should feed at least 4 people.
Raw Meat Balls

The meatballs need to be browned so a medium low heat on your smallest burner. Let the pan get to heat and then brown them on all sides in a good quantity of olive oil. I use a set of tongs to turn them but you can also use a fork and spoon.
Meat Balls being browned

If you served them now they would be ok, but a little too crunchy on the outside. The browning was to add flavour but not really cook them through. To soften them up which really makes them to die for, we need to nestle them into a sauce pan.
Meat Balls in Sauce Pan

Cover with a jar of Dolmio and a lid. Then let them bloop – bloop in the saucepan over low heat for half hour or so. Serve over pasta with some tearing bread smothered with garlic butter.

This made my son go yuuuummmm (but that was given since it is his favourite meal).

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Modernist take on a…

cupcake. My daughter and I have been watching a new food show called: Kid in a Candy Store. Also while on holiday we bought a bunch of lollypops from Costco, and one of the favourite ones is called a drumstick. Well at least these are the first to go.
Drumstick Lollie

Here is a description:
Matlow’s drumstick lollies original raspberry and milk flavour. The lollie is a pink and white colour under the wrapper.

We decided to come up with a new cupcake based on the Drumstick. They are toffee so not really going to be good cooked. They are also very chewy so we really did not know how to incorporate them into the cupcake that was until my daughter dipped it in her cold drink and then clinked it on the side of the glass. The cold had made the toffee hard. I had seen a picture in Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking of a piece of soft cheese that had been dipped in liquid nitrogen and then broken into pieces in a process called cryoshattering. I had a hammer but totally out of liquid nitrogen for some reason, so the freezer had to do. After a couple of hours in the freezer we double bagged the lollies and smashed them up with a hammer which worked really well, as they shattered into small pieces. These would be put into the frosting for the cupcakes.

It is raspberry season in the UK so we purchased some from Sainsburys.
Drumstick Lollie

I had given my daughter a cupcake making kit for Christmas which had a cookbook and a silicon cupcake tin. The one she chose to go with the raspberries is Vanilla Butter.

3 eggs
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
½ cup buttermilk
1.5 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup icing (powdered) sugar
1 cup butter, room temperature
6 drops vanilla extract
Drumstick bits

In a small bowl beat the eggs until smooth. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Then add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Add buttermilk, flour and vanilla and stir. Beat with an electric mixer for two minutes, until light and creamy. Then fold in the raspberries.

Fill cupcake cups until almost full. Bake for 25 minutes at 160C or 320F and test with a toothpick until it comes out clean.

Mix half of the butter and sugar with a wooden spoon to combine. Then add the vanilla and the other half of the butter and sugar, beat until fluffy. Then add the drumstick bits and mix.

Here is the finished product with its cupcake paper.

If you look closely in the frosting you can see light pink specs which are the drumstick shards.

I removed the paper so you could see the raspberry’s incorporated into the cupcake.
Cupcake unwrapped

They tasted amazing, and each mouthful finished with chewy drumstick bits. My son said yuuuummmm these are probably the best cupcakes I have ever tasted. This was quite amazing as it was a compliment to his sister.

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Pull the other one, take two…

In preparation for the pork being done, took some Pink Lady apples and cut them up.
Pink Lady Apples

Into a saucepan that has a tight fitting lid, along with a tablespoon of sugar and 3 tablespoons of water. Give it a stir and then put on the lowest heat you have. Every 10 minutes for ½ hour give it another stir. After 30 minutes smash them up with the back of the spoon and this is what you get.
Apple Sauce

It has been about 26 hours so it was time to take the pork out of its long hot bath. Hmmmmm looks kind of strange.
Out of Sous Vide

I cut a corner out of the bag in the sink and turned the water on softly. I then cut a slit in the top for air and all juice came out. Not sure if you have ever used liquid smoke but the smell is really, really strong. A few paper towels later this is what it looked like.
Unbagged Pork

Looked kind of like a fake comedy rubber piece of meat, and felt like it too. I was now having my doubts about all of this. Well out to BBQ where I had oiled the grates and turned it up to maximum.
On Grill

After about 10 minutes, turning every two or so, this is the finished article and it looks much better now with a little colour.
Finished Grilling

Took some slices and chopped it up. It was still a bit too rubbery to pull with a fork, but boy was it moist and succulent.

I cut up some shallots and got out the BBQ sauce and the home made apple sauce, and here is dinner.

Both my daughter and son went yuuuummmm. I said you can have another one if you want and they both raced to the kitchen. My son kept going back into the kitchen and picking up another couple of bits as he said the meat without any sauce or bun was delicious!

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Pull the other one…

Sorry I have not been blogging, but it is the summer holidays and the kids have been hanging out at Dads. We have been eating well:
smoked chicken breast,
sweet and sour pork (tarted up of course) ,
and spag boll with bread sticks.

My daughter asked me the other day what my favourite sandwich was when we were eating lunch, and I said a Rueben (and then had to explain what it was). I asked her the same question in return and she said hers was pulled pork on a bun with apple sauce. I was at Costco today and so I bought a shoulder of pork to make her a pulled pork sandwich.
Pork Shoulder

I removed the bag and the corset and washed the pork in the sink and patted it dry with paper towels. I cleaned it up a bit removing any fat I could find. I then rubbed sea salt and cracked pepper into it. In another bowl I mixed a tablespoon each of cumin, smoked paprika and coriander and then rubbed that onto the shoulder. Into a Sous Vide bag and then added a tablespoon each of liquid smoke and mushroom ketchup.

To seal the bag and remove the air I hung the bag over the edge of the counter and put the open end of the bag into the Vacuum Sealer. This is a trick I learned. If you have liquid in the bag it will not get sucked into the vacuum if it is hanging over the edge of the counter, the other trick is to freeze the liquids first.
Pork Shoulder in Sous Vide bag

I cranked up the SousVide Supreme to 135F and sat the pork shoulder in the bath.
Sous Vide

How was it you may ask? Well I have to write again tomorrow as it cooks for 24 hours.

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This one is about butchery so not for the veggies…..

Being from Iowa and American I grew up on hamburger:
– BBQ hamburgers done by my Dad (when he turned them over he would yell 3 minutes)
– Hamburger Helper (when we were saving for a new house – yuck)
– Maidrites (great)
– Sloppy Joes (Maidrites with sauce, even better)

In Dubuque we had a butcher in the back of a small store across the street from a large grocery chain. We always went there after grocery shopping in the chain to buy hamburger, as my Mom always said their hamburger was so good. I never really understood what she meant until I moved to the UK, where the hamburger is called mince. Ya mince, minced: bread, bone, cartilage arse and elbows. This stuff should have a warning on it: “May contain some meat”. It has begun to get better over the last 10 years; at least you can buy lean mince (which is still fatty). By the way lean mince at Waitrose is £7.99 per kilo. So after all that moaning I decided to make my own hamburger/mince.

When Costco has a sale on beef I go and buy a bag of cow.
Beef in a bag

This one cost £25.76 but it was £5 off so in the end it was 3.4 kg which is about £6 per kg. So now you need some time, it took about 1.5 hours to setup, butcher and clean up. Oh and you need a knife.

And a pair of scissors. I also have two large metal trays that I use because they are easier to clean than the counter top, and a couple of cutting boards dedicated to raw meat. Other than that, make sure you get a free bag when you buy your meat at Costco to put all the extra bits in.

This is the worst part because the cryovac bag is full of blood. So cut a corner off the bag and stick that bit in the drain in the sink. Turn the cold water on softly and then cut another hole in the top of the bag to let the blood drain down the sink. Then use the scissors to open up the bag and rinse the meat with cold water and then pat dry with paper towels. This is the worst bit honest, and it does smell a bit.

Butchery starts with removing the strings around the roast with your scissors. Now you are looking for anything white or shinny. White is fat and needs to be removed to make ultra lean meat. Shinny is usually sinew and unless you are cooking for a long time, has to be removed. The process is find one end and insert you knife under the white/shinny about an inch from the end and then cut towards the end where it will be not shinny/white. Now you have a flap to hold on to. Grab the flap and lift up and insert your knife between the meat and the white/shinny. There are two methods you can employ now. The first is saw which is a forward backward motion using whole knife blade. You will want to tip the knife blade up away from the meat slightly so you are separating the white/shinny away from the meat and not cutting the meat and at the same time lifting the handle using gravity to help the process, this is the one I use most and is favoured if the knife is large. The second is small cuts using only the tip of the knife. But the process of creating the handle and lifting as you cut is the same. You should now have some large sections of beef and some smaller ones as a joint is usually composed of several different muscles, hence the string to make it look like a joint. I take the big sections of beef and make a couple of roasts. The rest I cut into strips for the grinder.

Trimmed Roast

I turned the bag of cow into 2 x 0.5 kg roasts for the Pressure Cooker and 1.5 kg of meat for mince. So I have thrown away about 1 kg of stuff (cannot call it meat) and left 2.5 kg of pure beef, which comes to about £8/kg but my lean roasts and mince are pure beef no fat or sinew.

Enter the Fleischwolf, time to make some mince.
Grinder Box

When I used it for the first time the kids and I were dancing around in the kitchen to Judas Priest song “Grinder” whose chorus is:

Looking for meat
Wants you to eat

This machine is amazing. It has so much torque that it jumps off of the counter when you turn it on.
Grinder Setup

It ground 1.5 kg of beef strips in less than 5 minutes
Ground Beef

This mince is almost all beef
Ground Beef close up

Now all I have to do is bag it up and freeze it, oh and grab a monster burger for dinner.
Bagged and ready for freezer

This is 6 x 1/2 lb of mince, which I believe would be two nice burgers each so 12 meals. Each of the roasts would feed 4 people so that is another 8 meals. So all in that is 20 meals for £20, simple math is a £1 a serving and this is quality meat!

After all that work it is time for tea, Golden Arches Supper Club eat your heart out, cause you cannot touch this.

This burger was out of this world and made me go yuuuummmm! I had a grill pan on medium-low heat and cooked it two minutes per side x 4 then I covered it with two slices of cheese and covered the grill pan with a lid for a further two minutes and it was perfect. The sauce on the bun is my own “special sauce” made from
Special Sauce

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WOW! I know why I love Lindt Chocolate….

It is because your tongue does not perceive the chocolate as solid, but instead a liquid. In 1879 Rudolph Lindt invented a conching machine that smashed all the ingredients in his chocolate really small.

“a few microns (millionths of a meter, or 40 millionths of an inch) across, smaller than the human tongue and mouth can discern as individual grains. As far as perception goes, solids that are this fine feel as smooth as liquids”

Today I finished Modernist Cuisine Book 2 Techniques and Equipmentof Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. I am totally perplexed and am searching laboratory web sites for hardware to use in the kitchen. This is because:

“Unfortunately, blenders (whether upright or handheld) have an intrinsic limitation: they are generally unable to make particles smaller than 10-12 microns / 0.0004 – 0.0005 in, and even that is not easy to achieve. This dimension is just above the range of sizes that the human mouth can detect as a particle.”

What you need to make the smoothest purees or emulsions is a rotor-stator homogenizer which can smash up big time.

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