heston blumenthal kitchen wizz pro food processor review

heston blumenthal kitchen wizz pro

You may have noticed I rarely do full-on review posts like this. It’s just not my thing. I’d run out of things to say too quickly. But for this gadget I’m willing to make an exception.

You know how some kitchen gadgets get used once, and even if you like them you’ll shuffle them away to a back cupboard? Or give them away? That’s not the case with this one. This one has invaded my kitchen to the point where I’ve put others away in the loft. My beloved Kenwood Prospero has been boxed up and relegated. The Kitchen Wizz Pro is the new bad boy in town.

And “bad boy” is somewhat appropriate; as I unboxed it from it’s Heston-heavy packaging Mrs. Spud said: “it is a boy’s toy, isn’t it?” and she’s right. Finished in brushed aluminium and dark greys, heavy as hell and packed with mean looking accessories, this is not your Nan’s Moulinex. If you like your kitchen toys to have a feminine edge this is not for you. It does also weigh a ton which is extremely useful when in operation but you need to know it takes effort to get it out of the cupboard.

kitchen wizz pro accessoriesAs with many top-end gadgets, it’s the details that show you how well-crafted it is. It comes with a battery of chopping blades and attachments in their own neat box: grating blades, adjustable slicers, whisks, double choppers etc. plus a little spatula for scraping out and a cute brush for cleaning. One of my favourite gadgets is a chipper which turns potatoes into cute curved chips. Inside the chopping bowl itself is a smaller bowl you can use for working with smaller amounts of ingredients. The lid has a rubber seal so it really shuts fast. The hopper is huge (14cm!); you can fit a couple of potatoes widthways in it. The mixer also keeps a timer going as you use it so you can clock how long it’s been running.

I’ve road tested it on a whole bunch of different things: it’s taken on coleslaw, short pastry, whipping cream, cookies, whisking eggs, making onion and garlic puree, spice mixes… it’s made swift work of the lot. Pastry comes out the smoothest I’ve ever made it, all plasticine-soft. Biscuit crumbs for cheesecake bases come out like fine dust. And the sheer speed of it is terrifying. The weight keeps the gadget firmly on the counter, it’s not walking anywhere. It also cleans up as well as any other device of this nature; it is dishwasher-happy but I’d rather not put it in there to keep it as pristine as long as possible. That said water does get into the grip and I’ve no idea how to get it out of there, but it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

What are the downsides? I’d like to have variable speed on the mixing; it goes full whack (and scarily fast, but reasonably quietly) and comes with a pulse function, from time to time I’d prefer to use a slower speed. I can’t ignore the price: £399 RRP. It’s hardly the budget option but it really does feel like a Rolls Royce gadget and I can see it lasting for years (there is a generous 25 year warranty on the motor).

It’s fair to say I’m besotted with it and it’s one of the best kitchen gadgets I’ve ever used. Ask everyone to give you vouchers for birthday and Christmas and save up for one. It’s superb.

Thanks to Lindsey at MBA for sending me this to review. I’ve been road-testing it for about 7 weeks to give it a good going over. Read more about the Kitchen Wizz Pro at Sage Appliances. Buy online at Amazon

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heston blumenthal’s lemon tart

heston blumenthal's lemon tart

Hold on to your toques, this is a Blumenthal gadget-fest. Here’s a run-down of the Heston kitchen toys employed in this recipe:

That’s a hell of a list. The odd one out in this list is the Kitchen Wizz Pro, a beast of a food processor, but more on that in a future post. I’ve also used my trusty chef’s knife, easily the best knife I’ve ever used. Most of them are Salter’s / HoMedics to celebrate the launch of their new range of Heston gadgets. It’s fair to say they’re a mixed bag.

heston blumenthal kitchen gadgets

The initial range of Heston By Salter tools are all solid: the probe thermometer, kitchen timer, fridge thermometer, oven thermometer, measuring jug, scales; all good. Some of the newer items feel superfluous. First up the adjustable rolling pin. It comes with discs that adjust the height of the pin from the surface. Genius! I was looking forward to this. As someone who is mostly terrible at pastry the ability to roll out to a consistent thickness really appealed to me. Unfortunately the pastry stuck immediately to the pin and made a complete mess. After prodding it for a while I transferred it to the pastry dish for baking and rolled it up loosely around the pin. Again it all stuck to the pin and essentially turned my smooth-plasticine dough to a patchwork quilt. Just look at the pastry in the picture, that’s supposed to be 3mm but it’s more like a centimetre! Very disappointing.

The whisk is much better, being well-balanced, sturdy and comfortable to hold when whisking an egg custard over a bain marie. The measuring spoons are a cute gimmick, in that you slide the compartment to the right measurement (e.g. 1 teaspoon, ½ tablespoon) and then drag a little lid over the powder to level it off. But a couple of things bothered me: my fingers were a little greasy from handling butter and I just couldn’t work it without putting everything down, washing hands and re-measuring. And I can’t get past the price: £17.99 RRP for two spoons when the same thing is achieved with a £1 (or less) set of plastic measuring spoons available anywhere, with the help of any knife for levelling.

Rounding out the collection are the spatulas which are quickly becoming two of my favourite things in the kitchen: with one curved end for sculpting and smoothing, and a firmer end for flipping and scraping. I use a lot of non-stick bakeware, frying pans and saucepans so having something to poke at the edges of something to flip it over is really handy. Again though I have to wince at the price: £17.99 for two spatulas isn’t great value.

All the equipment in the range is well made and thoughtfully designed, but these items are just not as “must have” as the original kitchen gadgets. They’d make great gifts though.

I used all these tools and more in making Heston’s lemon tart. There’s an awful lot of Heston in this; he spent years at the Fat Duck perfecting the ‘wobble’ in his cakes. It comes down to temperature – a tart at 70°C is perfectly set. And of course, he’s right. It’s a brilliant dessert, and the probe thermometer is the most essential gadget of them all. Just one niggle: serving with creme fraiche is a complete waste of time. Totally gets lost against the lemon flavour – don’t bother.

Heston Blumenthal’s lemon tart (serves 10 – 12):

For the pastry:

120g icing sugar

3 large egg yolks

300g plain flour

150g unsalted butter

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla paste

Zest of ½ a lemon, grated

For the filling:

9 large eggs

1 large egg yolk

Finely grated zest and juice of 5 lemons

300g double cream

390g caster sugar

To serve:

80g caster sugar

Creme fraiche

  1. Start with the pastry: blitz the icing sugar and yolks together and set aside. In a mixer mix the flour, butter and salt until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the vanilla, lemon and yolk mixture and continue to mix until you have a smooth, soft dough. Mould into a rectangle and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C. After resting, roll the pastry to 3mm (ha ha) and line it in your 20cm tart tin. Prick with a fork all over and freeze for 30 minutes. Blind bake the base for 40 minutes and trim off the excess pastry. Drop the oven to 120°C.
  3. Place the eggs and egg yolks in a bain marie and whisk together until it reaches 62°C (mine took about 10 minutes). At this point strain through a sieve, remove the bubbles from the surface with a metal spoon and pour into the pastry case. Bake until the filling reaches 70°C. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. When ready to serve, sprinkle over the caster sugar and caramelise with a blow torch. Serve with creme fraiche if you like.

heston blumenthal’s ultimate cheeseburger

heston blumenthal's ultimate cheeseburger

What is it with burgers? After spending the 2000s in the doldrums, they’re now elevated to greasy lunch treat du jour.

I was a little surprised to see this recipe from Heston pop up online; his In Search of Total Perfection Burger involves grinding different meat cuts together, the most laborious method for making a bun you’ve ever seen, and a quite detailed method of making cheese slices involving sodium citrate and other odd things (a recipe that’s in marked contrast to my ingredient infographic!).

But this version appears to mostly be a shill for his Heston burgers, with a much simplified cheese slice recipe. So I gave it a go. And being the arrogant sod I am, endeavoured to improve it.

I used Comté cheese and cheddar for a more interesting blend, and whisked it with Chardonnay over ale as I don’t like the taste of beer. I included my own touch that I usually use of a drip of oyster sauce to act as a glaze. It provides a tantalising umami layer in your burger that you can’t quite place but makes it irresistible. The cheese slice was very tasty and really not a lot of work so well worth doing again. You could probably come up with a bunch of interesting ingredients to add into it too.

Looking for a tasty burger recipe this bank holiday weekend? You could do a lot worse than this recipe.

The original Heston recipe without me mucking about with it can be found here. And read In Search of Heston having a go too.

Heston’s ultimate cheeseburger (serves 2):

For the cheese slices:

50g mature cheddar, grated

50g Comté cheese, grated

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

10g cornflour

¼ teaspoon dried yeast

¼ teaspoon Marmite

¼ teaspoon English mustard

80ml white wine

For the burger sauce:

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

1 teaspoon tomato ketchup

½ teaspoon burger mustard

Everything else:

2 quarter pounder burgers

2 sesame seed buns, split and toasted

½ teaspoon oyster sauce

Handful of crisp lettuce leaves (I like lollo rosso)

  1. Combine the cheeses, mustard, Marmite, cornflour, yeast and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours (I’m not sure what this refrigeration achieves. Do the flour / yeast expand in the fridge? I’d try this again without the fridge step to see what happens).
  2. Line a shallow tray with baking parchment, and get the wine on to a simmer. Add the cheese mix a handful at a time whisking merrily until all dissolved and smooth. Pour into your tray and chill for at least 30 minutes or until needed.
  3. Mix the ketchup, mayo and mustard together to make a smooth sauce and set aside until you’re ready to serve.
  4. Heat a drop of oil in a pan and add the burgers. Cook for 30 seconds on each side, turning until they’re done to your liking (anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes depending on thickness and how done you like them). 2 minutes before the end, smear the oyster sauce over the patties to make a thin glaze, and after a minute cut out a cheese rectangle and plonk on top to heat through for the final 60 seconds.
  5. Serve in a bun with the sauce and lettuce, plus gherkins and onions if you like.

sledgehammer chicken

roasted chicken with dry rub

I’ve cooked a few whole birds on the barbecue before, such as southeast spatchcock and slathered with BBQ sauce. But with getting a drum-style barbecue this year I could try grilling a whole one for the first time.

sainsburys vertical chicken roasterThis chicken came about from trying Sainsbury’s new chicken roaster. It’s a metal stand which holds the bird in a vertical position while it roasts. Assembled it’s rather phallic, but once you look past that you have a metal prong over a tray which all hooks together. The pieces come apart and you are able to fold it away to pretty much nothing. You’re cooking a chicken to a similar principle as a beer-butt chicken which I’ve always wanted to try but just don’t like the taste of beer (the quickest my face goes from happy to sad is noticing there’s onion rings on the menu, then spotting they’re beer-battered onion rings. Horrid yeasty aftertaste, yeeuch).

I rubbed the meat all over with a sweet spice mix and awkwardly impaled the chicken on the spike. And now it looked like it had waltzed off Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer video, hence the name.

Peter Gabriel dancing chickens sledgehammerSpot the difference

I started mine off on the BBQ with the lid down, but after 70 minutes the bird had barely started to warm up and it just wasn’t feeling right. I brought it into the oven and finished it off there. The flavour was great and it had taken on some smoke so not all was lost. Carving into it the flesh was moist and tender.

Is the roaster worth it? I’m not quite convinced. You could go down the beer can route on the BBQ, and in the oven it takes up a lot of space being vertical. Being able to put liquid underneath (I used white wine) means a natural mist is retained going up into the cavity but the skin stays crisp. That said as long as time allows I’ll be sticking to my preferred Heston technique. The roaster is a fun gadget, but not essential.

Thanks to Sainsbury’s for sending me the roaster to try out.

Sledgehammer chicken (serves 4 – 6):

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

Pinch of chilli powder

Olive oil

1 medium chicken

Splash of white wine

  1. Mix the spices together and blend with enough olive oil to make a gloopy paste. Smear all over the chicken and make a real mess of it. Impale the chicken on your chicken roaster and fill the tray with wine.
  2. Light the BBQ. Once the flames have died down and there is a thin coating of white ash over the coals, place your chicken into the BBQ and close the lid. Roast there for 2 – 3 hours until the chicken is 70°C at the thickest part (always use a probe thermometer, it’s the only way to be sure). Or if your BBQ isn’t quite hot enough, transfer to a 180°C oven. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving. I served mine with potatoes roasted with chorizo.

hei hei wedges

hei hei wedges

I found myself in GBK at the weekend. It was supposed to be family lunch at Las Iguanas, but a few seconds of appalling customer service had me trundle a few steps down Lakeside’s Boardwalk to the burger parlour.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed it – a tasty “Capital” cheeseburger with standard accompaniments, a choice of brioche or regular sesame seed bun and all the monkey nuts you can eat. But the shoestring fries were great, particularly when you shake over their hei hei salt. Pretty much all American diner-style eateries in the UK coat the fries in a salty concoction, and I’d been meaning to make one of my own for ages. Serving up wedges this week meant this was a great excuse.

If you’re looking for an interesting salty-spicy mix to dust your chips or wedges, this is a great place to start. You can then of course add or remove other spices to your taste – a curry powder would be nice.

There’s two levels of seasoning here; in my experience of roasting potatoes the salt flavour simply disappears (where does it go?). So the initial salt is merely grist to combine the ingredients, whilst the second salting is the true seasoning of the wedges. You should really use garlic salt for hei hei seasoning but I prefer to have more granular (ha!) control over the seasoning.

Hei hei wedges (serves 2 as a side dish):

4 – 5 medium potatoes, Maris Piper or other fluffy variety

For the marinade:

2 cloves of garlic

¼ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon cumin

1 ham stock cube (chicken would be fine)

Large pinch of salt

Olive oil

For the seasoning:

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

½ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Slice the potatoes into wedge shapes.
  2. In a pestle and mortar, combine all the marinade spices and pound withe garlic until you have an orangey-brown paste. Add oil until you have a gloopy mixture and coat the wedges liberally. Arrange cut sides down on a baking tray and roast for 40 minutes, turning every ten minutes, until crisp and cooked through.
  3. Combine the seasoning ingredients and shake over the fries as you serve. You’ll probably have excess seasoning for another day.

black forest trifle

black forest trifle

When making this, I had to search my blog in case I’d made something like this before. I have a severe weakness for ‘black forest’-flavoured things and I appear to have 4 separate choc-cherry desserts in my collection!

This one has been back and forth with In Search of Heston and me, we’ve noticed how obsessed Heston Blumenthal is with both Black Forest things. and trifle. There was one made for Waitrose but to be honest it sounded weird (lime?). This version is not likely one that Heston would make – not quite enough genius touches – but a tribute nonetheless. A Heston version would no doubt spherify intense cherry compote into cherry shapes and impale them with a stick of dark chocolate for the stem. This version is dead easy to do, kid-friendly (if you skip the Kirsch) and great fun to assemble.

I also hadn’t planned on sticking a biscuit in the top, but a friend had brought these smashing things from Border and they were tremendous. I could’ve skipped making this and just eaten the biscuits instead, they were that good.

Black forest trifle (serves 4):

1 chocolate swiss roll

1 jar black cherry jam

12 cherries

Kirsch (a couple of tablespoons I guess)

500g chocolate custard

1 meringue nest

Squirty cream

Dark chocolate (for grating)

  1. Put swiss roll slices at the bottom of your trifle bowl or individual serving dishes. Douse with Kirsch. Slather the swiss roll with jam.
  2. Halve nine of the cherries and stone them. Bury the cherries in the jam. Steep the remaining 4 cherries in a little Kirsch until time to serve.
  3. Top the jammy cherries with chocolate custard and refrigerate until serving. Top with crumbled meringue nest, squirty cream, a grating of chocolate and a final boozy whole cherry.

which ingredients does heston blumenthal use?

heston blumenthal ingredient cloud infographic

click the image to see a larger version

This word cloud gives a flavour of what Heston Blumenthal puts in his recipes. Phrases in a larger font are used more often (yum, butter).

It’s been made by pulling all the ingredient text from his four major domestic cookery books and firing it into the excellent Wordle engine.

It shows that despite his reputation for off-the-wall, odd ingredients, the base of his cooking is comforting and familiar. Over and over the combination of thyme, rosemary and bay occur. Parsley abounds.  A typical soffrito of carrot, onion, celery and / or leek is very common. And look what else: butter, sugar, milk, cream, flour, eggs… it takes a long time to get to anything obscure. He definitely has specific favourites: banana shallots, fructose, sherry vinegar, button mushrooms crop up again and again.

This infographic props up the vision of the chef that I have in my head: looking to the future with a head firmly rooted in tradition.

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