A.K.A. “hand blender” or “stick blender.” I got a coupla comments on my last post asking me to dish on this very handy tool. So here I am, your faithful servant, hoping to enlighten you and make your life in the kitchen much easier.
I have this hand blender (pictured above), and I use it all the time. I have the attachments, too, but I never use them. Just look for a good stainless steel hand blender. It’s actually nice if not just the blending part is stainless, but also the body, because it’s annoying to have a white plastic body turn red because you use your blender to make tomato sauce all the time (which I do). Stainless is food safe and very cleanable.
So, tomatoes. Let me tell you, this thing is awesome for making tomato sauce and purees. I canned about 40 quarts of pureed tomatoes this summer, and all I did was core and quarter washed tomatoes and throw them in a pot. Bring to a boil, simmer for a couple of hours, and puree the resulting tomato goodness with my hand blender. Then I processed in a water bath canner according to my Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving‘s instructions for hot pack tomato sauce. But what if you’re not canning? I also used it all of tomato season to make quick and simple tomato sauces for supper (because I didn’t have time or energy to prep a fancy dinner after canning all day). I just sauteed onions and garlic (or not, if I was in a hurry) in extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) or butter, then added diced tomatoes, sweet peppers, basil, oregano, etc. and a few swirls of EVOO and let simmer in a large sauce pan for 20-30 minutes, stirring every once in a while to prevent burning on the bottom. Whenever it was time for supper, I simply blended the sauce with my hand blender and tossed it with hot pasta and VOILA – supper. (Even better if you throw parmesan cheese on top, I say.)
What else? I use my hand blender to make soups and sauces. I’ve found that my kids will eat a pureed vegetable soup more readily than if the exact same soup is left chunky. Whatever. So I blend it. No need to break out the countertop blender and make more dirty dishes – just blend right in the pot and you’re done. (If you like a little chunkiness/texture, simply reserve some of the soup before blending to add back later.) Hand them some homemade bread or muffin or roll to dip in the soup (which, of course, must be topped with some sort of cheese for protein and kid-friendliness), and VOILA – supper again. (And lunch leftovers for the rest of the week, too. Or freeze for another quick supper later.)
We also eat a lot of curry around here, and I will throw all the ingredients into the slow cooker, right on top of whatever beef roast or chicken I’m currying up that day. Before dinner, I remove the meat to cool for a moment and be de-boned; I then puree the remaining vegetables/coconut milk/rich broth together (right in the slow cooker) to make a smooth and thicker curry. Add the de-boned meat back in (which is usually falling-apart tender all by itself, making nice bite-sized pieces) along with any veggies I want left un-blended (like sweet potatoes, peas, zucchini, whatever) and serve over brown rice. Again, while I like chunky onions and tomatoes in my curry, my kids don’t always love it, so blending makes things a little easier. Plus, I also like smooth curries, so it’s a bonus all around.
What other sauces? Pretty much anything you’d want to make into a sauce is easier with a hand blender. Applesauce is perfect with a hand blender. No more clumpy gravies with your trusty hand blender at your side.
I also use the hand blender for batters and puddings. Pancakes and crepes are totally clump-free when blended like this. I absolutely love making pumpkin pudding (I use both this recipe and this one, depending on my mood and pantry contents) with my hand blender, too – just dump everything into my two quart measuring cup, blend, dump, and bake.
Okay, what else? Oh, yes, mayonnaise. Ratio (a great book, by the way – I read a library copy, but need to acquire my own) has a recipe for a nearly instant homemade mayo made with a hand blender. (There is a recipe for doing it by hand, here, from the author’s blog.) Next, I’d like to try lacto-fermented mayo. (But first, someone needs to talk my hens into laying again. Seriously, 50 chickens in my pasture, and no eggs. Most of them are male, but still. No eggs? What is up?)
That’s all just off the top of my head. Anyone else have another use for a hand blender to talk about?