Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Shop Tools in the Kitchen

Recommended Posts

I got my first cordless drill not long ago and I love it. Can I get an immersion blender stick and use it in my drill? Seems doable, the drill is very adjustable for speed and even has a feature that keeps it from over-tightening screws, so you can set it to stop spinning when your mixture has reached a specific density, if you like. And I like that I only have to have one device -- saves space, money, and the environment. But maybe there's some problem I'm overlooking that would lead to some Lucy Arnez like spatter scene in the kitchen.....

I've checked one or two places for immersion blender sticks and haven't been able to find one for sale. Williams Sonomas is integral to the motored part.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chefs, especially pastry chefs, utilize hardware-store items all the time. In this specific instance, though, I worry mostly about the moisture issue. Stick blenders are specifically manufactured to be water resistant. Most drills are not -- in fact they often have open body designs to allow for airflow. With a cordless, the risk of serious electrocution is reduced (though you'd be surprised at how much harm a battery discharged all at once can deliver), but damage to the drill remains a serious possibility. Also, I doubt any liquid you'd mix with a stick blender would acquire the viscosity necessary to trigger a drill's tension detector. And you'd have to compare maximum RPM. My gut tells me a stick blender spins a lot faster than a cordless drill.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to post
Share on other sites

can't say I'm a fan of Williams-Sonoma, but I can tell you the key to your drill quest is finding those parts--the long rod and the different blades, and therein lies the rub.  The best immersion blenders have 3 or 4 different blades and discs--that can be popped on and off the "stick"--that each do a different task--like blending, tearing, aerating gently and full out foaming.

If you are just going to puree soup, any old blender will do, with only the one blade.

Most blenders don't have a removeable stick--and of those that do, most couldn't be attached to a drill.  One that I have used--the cheapest green and white $20 Braun model--has a wide enough "stick" that can be removed from the motorized part--and there is enough diameter inside the plastic housing to fit the metal rod onto a drill.  Problem is, you can't buy this separately.  (I tried to get "extras" from the manufacturer so I could keep one stick in white chocolate and one stick in dark chocolate and just switch the motor part around.) I guess you could use something like a paint stirring rod--designed for use with a drill--but then you'd need to attach blades somehow, which I wouldn't recommend for fear of flying off at high speed.  The advantage of the blenders is that they are machined to safe tolerances, sealed and generally less noisy than a drill. When you think about it, even the good blenders (around $50) are pretty inexpensive.

So even if you compare rpm's and watts and speeds--you are probably asking for trouble.  Plus, I have a very cool immersion blender now that has an extremely comfortable, ergonomically molded handle or grip and an easily applied on/off lever--designed to be held that way in a "shaking hands kind of grip" (the Western ping pong grip) when used--unlike any drill that I am aware of.

Like Steven says, chefs, especially pastry chefs, like gadgets and toys and shopping at the hardware store.  But more importantly, we like using the right tool for the right task--even if that means we have to make a tool ourselves.  I'd suggest the drill quest is not one of those times.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo


Link to post
Share on other sites

A masonry supply store will have a large stirring rod used to mix various types of mud, but you'll need at least a half-inch drill to drive it and a five-gallon bucket for a mixing bowl.

My very first piece of published food writing was about using a propane torch (in my case, a GAZ BLUET unit meant for waxing cross country skiis) to roast peppers. And those microplane graters came out of the wood shop, too. I love my Bosch cordless drill/driver, but haven't actually used it for cooking.

I have an older Cuisinart stick blender, and about the only thing I use it for is whipping cream or taking any lumps out of the Thanksgiving gravy...sometimes I'll make salad dressing.

The biggest problem I see with using a drill, assuming it's got the usual pistol grip, is the ergonomics of holding it up over the mixing bowl and pulling the trigger.


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm beginning to feel a little like that Venitian blind-crazed woman from Twin Peaks. The mechanics just get more and more complicated. Soon you've got a Rube Goldberg contraption just to cream some soup. Well, I was just a little over-enthusiastic about new power tool, that's all......

Link to post
Share on other sites

B--I don't feel like you were over-enthusiastic and in fact, I was grateful for your post because it made me consider something in a way I hadn't before.  I admired your brainstorming and ingenuity.

Cooking evolves, so does technology, and it is only the misguided, or hopelessly nostalgic, who fail to embrace or appreciate the new doors that open as a result.  It's just a part of the tension between professional and home cooking, chefs and food writers, high and low--and it's up to everyone to decide whether they'll walk through those doors.

It should be obvious that you don't have to have any power tool to cream soup--but the best chefs constantly ask themselves "how can I do this cleaner, better and faster?"  It is up to every chef and home cook to decide for themselves how important this approach is to them.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve Klc, I agree entirely. The question of how something can be improved, tweaked, raised in quality and yet also in efficiency of movement and thought is crucial in culinary work. And yet each person will decide how important it is to them.

With few exceptions however I myself have found gadgets that need to be brought out, set up, used, then cleaned (if I have to do it or if it will slow down others) far more limiting than liberating. If I can get away with a stick blender instead of a food processor, I'll do it because I can just whir it under steaming water and its clean.

I even regret dropping a chef's knife to pick up a paring knife so usually just continue with what's in my hand. Usually a chef's knife.

But the right tool is great. And what the right tool is should be open to question.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

Link to post
Share on other sites

And I find I'm in agreement with you entirely, Jinmyo.

Now that I have an Indian-manufactured, powerful spice grinder--from JB Prince, of course--capable of grinding and pulverising whole spice and ingredient mixtures so quickly and precisely--both wet and dry--I no longer have any need for all the hand graters, zesters, grinders, electric coffee grinders I had lying around.  The thing even chops nuts roughly or churns out nut butters, which I used to have to do in the Cuisinart.

(I do still use the hand-held microplane zester for citrus zest and "shaving" pistachios, for instance, because I can't get what I want any other way.)

Since trying the spice grinder, and adopting the immersion blender, and learning its diverse capabilities, I have not used any of my Cuisinarts or bar blender for a long time--for just the reason you mentioned.  And, let's not forget budget is a big consideration, perhaps more so in professional kitchens than people realize.  The immersion blender and spice grinder, combined, are much less expensive than a Cuisinart/bar blender combined and much more portable.

And while this works for me--it isn't necessary for others, especially if all they need to do is split and scrape a vanilla bean now and then.  The larger issue is to realize the take home messages that are really important--to consider how and why we use whole spices rather than pre-ground, stale stuff; that equipment is not necessarily a substitute for technique and dexterity; that "saving time" is not a substitute for understanding why you are being asked to do something a certain way; that there are usually ways to circumvent and overcome not having a certain piece of equipment, just like one can usually overcome not having a certain ingredient and substitute for it...and that all of this begins by not getting so stressed out by recipes and technology.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, Steve, well said.

Jinmyo, I had put off getting a food processor for years, and as a result got skilled at using (and sharpening) knives. Now that I have the counter space, it's nice to have a processor out and ready to be used. But I still use a mortar and pestle for most spices -- and grinding 'em fresh is key. I'm going to have to check out that JB Prince spice grinder, sometime. I wanted an immersion blender because I often need to blend more than fits in my blender pitcher, and the only way other way to do that is to use yet another container. Guess I'll wait til my blender wears out.

Link to post
Share on other sites

B--an intermediate and less expensive step is to try using those cheap $15 Braun and Krups coffee grinders for spices before you go check out the Sumeet Multi Grind.  (don't use the same one for coffee and spice grinding.) The biggest differences are that the Sumeet has a much more powerful motor, that can run longer without burning out, it's easier to clean, and it can run wet.  Here's the link:


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cleaning Pads:  Two of my favorite kitchen

cleaning pads are from my shop.  Since they

were intended for wet finishing on wood or

metal, being used in water in my kitchen hasn't

hurt them at all.  They are more abrasive, that

is, cut faster, than the usual kitchen cleaning

pads.  That's the good news.  The bad news is

that they can scratch surfaces.

Knife Edge Grinding:  The sharp edge on a

chef's knife should be convex, but after long

sharpening the part of the edge nearest the

handle can need reducing.  So, first cut is the

grinding wheel in my shop.

Tool Making:  Shop tools can be good for making

simple kitchen tools, e.g., rings for cutting

out biscuits or for forming hamburger patties.

Pot Cleaning:  My favorite way to remove

calcium carbonate from the pot I use to make

boiling water is to use muriatic acid --

chemically, just hydrochloric acid, HCl --

which is sold in hardware stores for cleaning

bricks, etc.  Yes, it can be dangerous, and I

don't recommend using it.

Cotton Filters:  Not really from my shop but

from my clothes closet, I have several cotton

handkerchiefs and use them as filters in stock

making.  So, I put a handkerchief in a wire

mesh strainer and pour the liquid through.

Soon enough the handkerchief does its job which

means it gets full of the stuff to be strained

out.  So, I pull the four edges together, twist

to seal, press with the back of a spoon to

squeeze out most of the rest of the liquid,

toss the twisted handkerchief into a small bowl,

get out a clean handkerchief, and continue.

Then I toss the bowl contents into the clothes

washer with (1) cold water and a liquid

detergent to get the cloth mostly clean and not

set stains, (2) cold water and chlorine bleach

to disinfect, and (3) hot water with detergent

to finish the job.  They come out nicely clean.

Then I hang them up to dry, and then put them

away for use the next time.

Hot Oil Filtering:  One way to make hot oil,

popular in Chinese cooking, is to heat to slow

bubbling 1 C light vegetable oil (e.g., Wesson

Canola oil), 1 C crushed red peppers (e.g.,

Tone's), 1/4 C ground Cayenne pepper (e.g.,

Tone's), and pour into a Melitta paper coffee

filter set in a 300 ml glass custard dish.

Then I pull together two opposite points on the

edge of the filter, clip together with a binder

clip from my office, hang on a stiff piece of

wire cut from a coat hanger, and suspend above

the glass dish to drain.  If you get some of

the oil on your fingers, the wash your hands

well before rubbing your eyes!  Here wire came

from my shop, and the binder clip, from my


Mixing:  Hardware stores sell stirring rods

intended for mixing paint and being driven by

an electric drill.  If any of these are

stainless steel, then they might be useful in a


What would be the right food and wine to go with

R. Strauss's 'Ein Heldenleben'?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 months later...

Home Depot for untreated maple wood or cedar to make "Planked" Salmon, Blue Fish, Pork Tenderlions, Venison Roast etc...

Normally have them cut it in different sizes - best after six-seven uses.

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have found laboratory glassware very useful for measuring and pouring and mixing: graduated cylinders, beakers, Erlenmeyer flasks. Light, sturdy, available in a huge range of sizes and measuring precisions. The glass will tolerate liquids up to 600 degrees...Celsius...and it's cheap.

Jonathan Day

"La cuisine, c'est quand les choses ont le go�t de ce qu'elles sont."

Link to post
Share on other sites

For cracking crab claws without smashing them, particularly spider/snow crabs with small diameter, very hard legs, I use a lock/Mole wrench -- the sort with an extra intermediate fulcrum that gives very high leverage. They can be set to different diameters, so put the jaws in place on the claw, adjust the screw to barely fit, remove and tighten screw another turn. Then crack the claw. The jaws will go just far enough to break the claw but will not close all the way and smash the meat inside.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...