Now I’ve had my Bellini for a few weeks, I thought it was time to go back and have a closer look at some of the components of the machine. I’ll make some comparisons with the other thermocooking machines, to the best of my ability.
Firstly, the main unit. Here it is without the jug.
It’s fairly solid and I like the rubber feet which attach it to the benchtop. This is the part that contains the motor to power the jug (heating and blending) and the display unit (close up below).
As you can see, there are 5 buttons/ knobs. The timer dial goes up in one second increments until it gets to one minute, then it goes up in 30 second intervals. It’s a little tedious sometimes if you want to go past one minute (lots of turning). I tend to turn it frantically till it gets past one minute, then turn it back to down to the required time. The smallest time allowed is 1 second, and the largest is 60 minutes.
The temp dial also dials through all the possible temperatures on the Bellini, starting at 0 degrees Celcius, then 37, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 and ST. ST is the hottest and I think it is about 110 degrees. It’s roughly equivalent to the Varoma temp on the TM, although that is hotter (I think 114 degrees). It’s mostly used for steaming, and it’s not hot enough to fry or brown foods. Neither is the top temp on any of the other thermocookers – except the HotMixPro (more about that machine in another post). You don’t need to use the temp dial for the machine to work. It can be used as a stand alone blender without the heat.
So far, I’ve only used the temps of 90 (cooking tomato sauce for an hour), 100 (my default temp for everything else) and ST (when steaming).
The speed dial can be set from 1-10. The machine won’t start if the speed is 0 – that is, the blades must be moving for the food to cook. I use all the speed settings (8-10 rarely though). To chop an onion, put it in the machine chopped into quarters, and then set it speed 5 for about 5 seconds. Chopping frozen fruit – speed 5, then gradually increase to speed 7-8 for a few seconds. By the way, all the buttons and dials can be used while the machine is still working – you can be blending on 5 for 20 seconds, and during that time you can increase the speed to finish blending on speed 7. You don’t need to stop the machine and reset.
It’s worth pointing out that the main unit doesn’t have any scales. The Thermomix has integrated scales (ie you can keep the jug in the base unit and weigh ingredients as you add them). I think this is brilliant, and sadly lacking on the other machines. The Thermochef has scales on the side of the base unit, so you still have to lift the jug in and out when adding new ingredients. The very newest model of the Bellini comes with a set of digital scales in the box. I have an old cheap set from Big W, and I keep that beside the machine when cooking. It’s not as good as Thermomix, but it does the job. Bear in mind that all the recipes for thermocookers list ingredients by weight, so a set of digital scales are a must.
Finally, there’s a on/off button, and a pulse button. The pulse button is very very very fast – I’m guessing speed 10. I don’t have a lot of faith in the longevity of the Bellini’s motor, so I haven’t used it much. I generally prefer to start on a slower speed and work up to 8-10 if I need to.