Follow Me Foodie to the Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master!
Making Bacon, Onion & Corn Risotto in a Bellini + recipe.
Need an assistant in the kitchen? This is Cedarlane Culinary‘s newest family member – the Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master. My friends at Cedarlane Culinary told me they were working on this invention last year and now it is finally on the market. It is inspired by the Thermomix, but more affordable with some aesthetic and minor differences (see their comparison chart here). The Bellini is supposed to replace 8 kitchen appliances, and save you time to do other things while it does its thing. For a neutral perspective I sent it off to my recipe partner Brenda, who helped me put it to the test. The following guest post is by Brenda (@mightyvanilla). Photos by Cliff Hammerschmidt.
Risotto is one of those dishes that isn’t difficult to prepare but it can be quite time consuming. Since it needs to be continuously watched and stirred, it’s best made while you happen to be doing other things in the kitchen at the same time. But if you don’t want to be tied to a stirring implement for 30 minutes or more just for one dish, a new type of countertop appliance called the thermal blender can lighten some of that workload.
Thermal blenders are high powered and multi-purpose, combining the features of multiple kitchen appliances into one machine, with the added ability to cook at controlled temperatures while keeping the food moving at the same time. Their primary features are the same as those of food processors, mixers, and regular blenders (i.e. grinding, beating, stirring, chopping, whipping, blending) but its stirring blade combined with a heating element makes light work of things such as risotto, hollandaise, custard, pudding, and sabayon. It’s also well suited for hot creamy soups as you can cook the soup and then blend it in the same bowl, minimizing the amount of cleanup that’s needed.
The Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master is a thermal blender which was new to the international market in 2012. It has many different attachments but the core ones are the stirring blade, the cutting blade and the mixing blade. The stirring blade is used for slow speed mixing/stirring or heated cooking and stirring, the cutting blade is the equivalent of a food processor and blender blade, and the mixing blade is the equivalent of a paddle attachment and whisk attachment on a stand mixer.
Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master, picture from Cedarlane Culinary
Mijune lent me her Bellini mixer to experiment with and I was able to try it out on a few types of dishes that I make on a regular basis. Risotto was one of the first things I made and very quickly I noticed the similarities and differences versus a food processor, blender and stand mixer.
Risotto is one of my ‘workhorse’ dishes: it’s great for using up assorted leftover and excess ingredients, the leftovers taste better the next day, and it’s a comfort food. I chose one of the risotto recipes in the recipe booklet as a starting point and adapted it to what I had on hand, but I followed the instructions and technique as closely as possible.
The recipe instructions called for using the cutting blade to finely chop the onion and garlic, and it made quick work of this task. The chopped vegetables then needed to be removed from the bowl and the stirring blade was used for the rest of the recipe. I found this part to be a bit awkward and time consuming. Using the chopping blade for one task, removing the bowl contents (only to put them back in later), and switching blades was slower than just chopping a small amount of vegetables by hand and using the stirring blade right off the bat. If the recipe had called for a large amount of vegetables to be chopped then this step would have made more sense, but it was a good way to learn how to best use the machine and I also got to see the slicing blade in action.
The next step called for cooking the bacon in the bowl at 100C (the maximum cooking temperature) for a fixed amount of time. It seems that using one of the Bellini’s blades, either with or without the heating element, requires you to first program in the running time and the speed. If the heating function is also needed, then the temperature must also be programmed in as well. This is great for tasks or dishes that you want to leave unattended for long periods of time, but it may take a few tries to get used to since most standard mixers, blenders and food processors do not need a running time to be programmed before the machine will start functioning. This is a minor thing though as programming the time, speed and temperature becomes second nature quite quickly. The risotto recipe had several of these steps so it was the ideal dish to learn on.
Once the bacon was cooked, the onion and garlic were added back to the bowl and cooked with the bacon for a few minutes. Next the risotto rice was added and cooked at a slightly lower temperature for a few minutes, then all of the stock was added at once, and the risotto was left to be stirred by the Bellini at a low speed on a low temperature for 15 minutes. After the specified cooking time, the rice was still quite hard and there was a lot of liquid left in the bowl. I guessed at the amount of additional time and temperature needed to cook the rice the rest of the way.
Unfortunately I didn’t keep as close of an eye on it as I should have (being that the machine was new to me) and the rice got cooked a bit past my preferred doneness. (I considered this to be part of the learning process and it would be easy to adjust for in the future.) The last step called for adding grated cheese and vegetables for a final stir. The original recipe called for peas but I used some leftover grilled summer corn that I happened to have on hand. The risotto came out of the Bellini piping hot and was ready to serve immediately.
When learning how to use the machine, I found that it was best to start with a familiar recipe and seeing how it behaved in the Bellini versus how I would normally cook it. It’s built to be a timesaver so the features are geared towards that. It would be especially beneficial if I was making more than just risotto as well. Rather than stirring it constantly and having to baby-sit it, I could prepare other dishes without additional assistance. It’s an extra pair of hands in the kitchen! While some of the usage may be initially unfamiliar, it’s quite easy to adapt to by watching for cues when cooking (i.e. the food’s doneness, temperature, appearance) and adjusting accordingly.
Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master Product Features:
- High powered motor allows you to chop, mince, whip, knead, blend stir and crush ice
- Precise heating element enables you to simultaneously cook, fry and steam
- 1000W Heating Power
- 800W Power Motor
- Variable 10 speed rotary control
- Adjustable temperature control
- LCD display with blue background
- Bilingual recipe booklet with over 60 recipes
- Beautiful external scale
Bacon, Onion & Summer Corn Risotto Recipe
– adapted from the Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master recipe booklet
Makes 4 servings.
- 1 small (or ½ medium) onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
- 175g bacon, finely diced
- 305g rice (1 1/2 cups) arborio or carnaroli rice
- 3 cups chicken stock
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 cup cooked corn niblets (see Notes for fresh, frozen, or canned)
- 30g grated parmesan (~1 cup)
- ½ cup finely chopped herbs (one or a mix of parsley, basil, chives, tarragon)
Notes for success
- The lid must be firmly locked into place before the mixer will function. If the lid is secured in place but the ‘bowl lid is open’ indicator is still on, firmly push the lid down onto the top of the handle. You may hear a slight clicking sound, and the indicator will disappear.
- It takes about a minute for the bowl to come up to temperature. Keep this in mind when using the supplied recipes. Err on the side of less cooking time and check on the food’s progress every so often, at least until you get a feel for how it performs relative to cooking the same thing on the stovetop.
- Removing the measuring cup/cap from the lid while the risotto cooks allows steam and moisture to escape, and prevents the contents from getting too hot or pressurized.
- If you are using frozen or fresh corn from the cob, add it to the risotto at the last 5 minutes of the rice’s cooking time. Canned corn will just need to be drained well and added at the end, same as for the cooked corn niblets.
- A mix of different herbs for the garnish makes for a more complex dish. I used a combination of herbs from the garden (parsley, creeping savory, basil, basil flowers, lemon verbena).
- If you already have a favourite tried and true risotto recipe, then it would be a great starting point in learning the features of a thermal blender.
Insert the Stirring Blade into the mixer bowl and fit it into the base of the mixer.
Add the diced bacon and cook it at speed 2 at 100C for 3 minutes. The bacon should be cooked through, starting to get crispy, and some fat will have rendered out.
Add the chopped onion and garlic. Cook them together with the bacon at speed 2 at 100C for 2 minutes.
Add the rice, salt and pepper, and cook the mixture at speed 1 at 90C for 2 minutes.
Add the stock, remove the measuring cup/cap from the lid, and cook the mixture at speed 1 at 90C for 20 minutes.
After the 20 minutes, check the rice for doneness. It should be cooked through with some firmness but not be hard. Most of the stock should have been absorbed by the rice. Keep in mind that the cheese with thicken the risotto further. Cook the rice at speed 1 at 90C for a few more minutes if necessary.
Add the cheese and the corn, and cook the mixture at speed 1 at 80C for 1 minute.
Add additional salt and pepper to taste if needed.
Divide the risotto evenly between serving plates and garnish with the chopped herbs.