There are tons of blogs, forums, and Facebook pages with recipes for thermal cookers. These sources (and the manual for your machine) are a great place for new users to start for step-by-step instructions to build your confidence. Using recipes that are specifically written for thermal cookers also helps you try out all the functions of the machine.
Soon though, you’ll probably want to branch out and start adapting other recipes. You might have a much-loved cookbook, an online recipe, or have a family favourite to adapt. Below are some recipe techniques that will work particularly well in the thermal cooker.
Using a food processor/ blender or finely chopped ingredients
All thermal cookers have the ability to blend or chop ingredients so this will work well. Note that you can only chop, you can’t grate or thinly slice. Continue reading
Like the peeling garlic tip that I posted previously, this is a ThermoMix trick that I tested in the Bellini. I know it’s probably not life changing to separate the odd egg or two, but it’s still a pretty cool trick and would be handy if you were doing multiple eggs for a pavlova or meringues.
1. Put the measuring cup in your lid. If you turn the cup clockwise as far as it will go, it will ‘lock’ – you don’t want to lock it, so loosen it a little if it is locked in. Continue reading
I was originally going to subtitle this post “stuff I never use”, but in the last few days I’ve actually found that some of these bits are more useful than I first thought. But I’ll start with the most neglected one.
The butterfly tool clips on top of the blade (either mixing or chopping). The Bellini instruction manual states that it should only be used at Speed 3 or lower, and only for creamy or runny mixtures. I’ve heard of several people who have burned out their motors in the Bellini and other thermal cookers by using it for thick mixtures like risotto. Continue reading
In my first installment, I looked at the base unit of the Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master. In this part, I take a look at the jug and blades of the machine. I was going to do another step-by-step look at all the parts but managed to even bore myself while writing it. So instead, here’s a list of Top Five tips for these items. Some of these have been gleaned from the fabulous folk at the Bellini Addicts facebook page (with a special mention to Jelena D. who is the Queen of all things Bellini, and so generous with helping people out). All these tips would work with most of the other thermal cookers too (except for the differences between the blades).
1. Cleaning the jug. Lots of people swear by putting some hot water and a drop of detergent in the jug, and then turning it on at a fast speed for a few seconds. I’ve never had much luck with this method. I take it to the tap, add detergent and then clean it with a long handled plastic dishbrush under a fast running hot tap. While the water is running, I swish the blades round with the end of the brush very quickly. 90% of the time, this will clean it beautifully without having to take the blades out.
2. Removing the blade. If you do need to take the blade out for cleaning or to swap to the mixing blade (see below), the Bellini booklet recommends that you “place the bowl in a vertical position” [also known as upside down]… “place a tea towel inside the bowl before disengaging lever and allow it to drop on to the towel”. It’s much easier to put the bowl on its side and remove the blades that way. You can often get away with swapping the blades with small amounts food still inside (e.g. a chopped onion) if you use this method.
3. Mixing blade vs chopping blade. The Bellini is the only thermocooker that comes with two sets of blades. This is an attempt to compensate for the reverse function of the Thermomix (which reverses the direction of the blade so food is stirred with the blunt edge of the blade rather than chopped).
I like to live dangerously and avoid changing the blades whenever I can, to the point of stupidity. It really doesn’t take long to swap them (see above), so god knows why I keep doing it. I don’t think it’s necessary to swap for
risotto or * pasta sauces. However, pulses, cooked pumpkin and boiled potatoes really, really do need the mixing blade. *(tonight I swapped the bladeto mixing for risotto for the first time – and it was a noticeably less gluggy risotto).
4. Measuring cup in or out? The measuring cup controls the amount of steam that returns into the the food – a bit like leaving a lid on a saucepan. So if you are trying to reduce a sauce, you might want to leave it off. Always leave it on when blending or anything hot. If you are cooking at 100C, you will probably need to leave it on as the mixture usually splatters out of the hole otherwise. You might be able to leave it off if only cooking a small quantity.
5. Getting batter off the blades. Particularly when making cake batters etc, it becomes debatable if it really is faster to do it in the Bellini as it takes ages to get all the batter from under and on the blades. To speed up the process, remove most of the batter from the jug, then put it back in the base unit with the lid on and pulse it a couple of times. This will fling all the batter from the blades and to the wall of the jug. It is then easy to scrape it out with a spatula.
I’ve made this chart for people are thinking about getting their first thermal cooker. It’s not meant to prove that one machine is superior to another – it just depends what is important to you. If you really want to cook and steam simultaneously, then the ThermoBlend or HotMixPRO will be less appealing. If a reluctance motor will seal the deal, then a Thermomix is your best option. Let me know if there are any glaring errors.
One more important point: this table doesn’t reflect the durability of the machines. The $500 and under machines usually have more reported faults and returns. All the machines have facebook pages/ user groups – these are a good place to get feedback about this issue.
The bowl capacity of every one of the machines is 2L. All prices are in Australian dollars. I haven’t included a separate section for Lakeland’s MultiChef (only sold in the UK) as it is identical to the MaxiKa SuperChef (sold in Australia)
UPDATED: 14.4.2013 with new lowest price for Bellini
UPDATED: 22.4.2013 with new lowest price for HotMix Pro Easy
UPDATED: 29.9.2013 with different price for ThermoChef. I’m sure it was once offered at $499 on TSVN, but I can’t find anyone else to verify, so I might have it wrong. So realistically, the lowest price is $595.
|Thermomix||ThermoChef||Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master||Kogan ThermoBlend||MaxiKa SuperChef / MultiChef by Lakeland
|Retailer||Sold via Thermomix consultants only (not retail outlets)||Matchbox stores and multiple online retailers||Target||Kogan||Maxi Kitchen Appliances (manufacturer direct)||HotMix Pro Australia|
|Australian website||Thermomix||ThermoChef||Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master||Kogan ThermoBlend||MaxiKa SuperChef||HotMix Pro Easy|
|Cheapest price||$1,939 (inc delivery)||$595||$259||$199 (pre-sale)||$299 (inc delivery)||$1688.50 (inc delivery)|
|Standard price||$1,939 (inc delivery)||$795||$399||$249 (delivery extra)||$399||$2,085|
|Warranty||2 years||2 years||1 year||1 year (can purchase 5 year warranty)||2 years||2 years|
|Integrated Scales?||Yes (can weigh directly in the jug)||Yes – on side of the machine (not in jug)||No – latest model does include a separate set of digital scales in the box||No||No||No|
|Minimum temp (degrees Celcius)||37||37||37||40||40||25|
|Maximum temp (degrees Celcius)||114 (steaming temp)||110 (Steaming temp)||110 (Steaming temp)||120||130||130|
|Temperature precision||10 degree increments||10 degree increments||10 degree increments||10 degree increments||10 degree increments||1 degree increments|
|Steam and cook simultaneously?||Yes||Yes- only machine with stainless steel steamer basket (all others plastic).||Yes||No – but can add bamboo steamer basket on top. Has a separate steamer.||yes||No – but can add bamboo steamer basket on top|
|Reverse function (reversing the direction of the blades allows food to stirred without the risk of chopping)||Yes||No||No||No||No||No|
|Alternative to reverse function||None needed||Knead function (moves at Sp1 then rests for a second)||Blunt mixing blade included as well as standard chopping blade||Plastic blade cover included to clip over chopping blade||No alternative – slowest speed recommended||Very slow speeds or option of cooking without blades moving|
|Motor type (n.b. Reluctance motor has less moving parts)||Reluctance motor||Brushed motor||Brushed motor||Brushed motor||Brushed motor||Brushed motor|
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. Continue reading
I couldn’t wait any longer, so last night I made a slightly mad trip to Target after work (in 37 degrees) to pick up my new Bellini. Here she is waiting, until everyone is out or in bed so I can play.
I thought it might be useful for anyone else reading along (who hasn’t got one yet) to see what is in the box.
The central unit (ie Bellini machine) is in the back row. Next to it is the steamer basket which has four parts – liquid collection bowl, two steamer trays and a lid. In the front row from left to right: measuring cup (which fits inside the lid, like a cap), bowl with lid, cooking basket, stirring blade, mixing tool, spatula, and recipe book and instruction book. Continue reading