After reading my blog on the julienne grater, a friend sent me her favorites! Tina is a talented food stylist in Kansas City, you may have seen her work in the Hallmark magazine recently. Here is her first pick – I think you will you enjoy reading what helps her in the kitchen!

1. Russell Hobbs Hand Blender

Pros: This tool has changed my life in the kitchen. It’s versatile, easy to use and cleans up in moments. If I did not have such nostalgia for many of my older kitchen tools, this would replace the majority of them. Since receiving it as a wedding gift in 2005, it is the only thing I puree sauces and soups with. I use it to whip up cream for 2 person desserts or mix up an afternoon orange Julius. My mini Cuisinart is collecting dust in the back of appliance row because the Chopper Container makes pesto and salsa lickity split.

The appliance itself has a good weight and feels solid in your hand. All the mixing mechanisms are metal and are simple construction. The Russell Hobbs blender does not require hours of instruction reading to figure out because all the attachments go on basically the same way – put the attachment in the Electronic Control hole and twist until you hear and feel a reassuring click. The top is equipped with a timer, which lets you keep a watchful eye on the journey from soft to stiff peaks.

You plug it in and puree in the pot. It purees smoothly and evenly with little splashing so you and your walls are safe. Common sense safety says to wait until things have cooled slightly to puree, but if you’ve got a deep stockpot with 3 inches of separation between the food and top of the pot, why bother.

It’s fun to use. I think it’s similar to getting to use a robotic arm in a lab.

It’s the easiest clean up…ever.

Cons: It does not grind cement or anything that is not soft. This is my second Russell Hobbs hand blender. I blew out the first ones motor while trying to hurry some carrots that were on their way to becoming curried. Russell Hobbs said no with smoke and a sad sound. William Sonoma immediately replaced it and I have respected its motor size and functions since. If Bambi could not gently nibble the veggies in your pot – keep cooking or dust off the Cuisinart.

It’s not good for large portions of food – if you are making refried beans for a crowd, get out the big commercial wand. This guy will fizzle. It does have an automatic shut down after 90 seconds to prevent overheating, but I’ve never pureed or chopped consistently for that long so it has not been an issue for me. I would not use the Russell Hobbs in a commercial kitchen.

This brand has become difficult to find and it’s expensive – around $100.

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