Tag Archives: delonghi

Food Processors and Mini Choppers

I am so glad that I waited to write this blog because Kitchen Aid just recently came out with their new model, so we can include that in the review. Huzzah!

Cuisinart mini choppers

Food processors can be pretty expensive, and a lot of the time you can do the same thing by hand or with a blender, so it’s a tough call deciding on whether or not you really need one. If you do a lot of food preparation, a food processor can save you sooooo much time in the kitchen, and it can do a lot of things a blender can’t do, so that’s a plus.

Mini Choppers

I want to start out by discussing mini choppers. A lot of people refer to these as food processors, but the distinction is that it only has a chopping blade, no discs for slicing or shredding. Most of these you’ll find are in a $20-50 price range and will usually just have two speeds. It might say “chop” or “grind” but in all honesty, they are just “fast” and “faster”. I mentioned these in my “Coffee Grinder” blog because a lot of people buy these to grind their coffee beans with.

Black & Decker ergonomic chopper
Black & Decker ergonomic chopper

Mini choppers are usually 2-3 cups in size, and like most larger food processors, can’t handle a ton of liquid. They are quite handy for small jobs, like chopping up veggies really quick or making a small batch of hummus or salsa. With the limited abilities of the mini chopper, I don’t think that brand really matters. Like with a big food processor, I don’t think any of these will work unless all the pieces are properly snapped into place, meaning you can’t accidentally chop your fingers or splash food everywhere. (If there’s too much liquid, that will probably escape and make a mess.) This is actually the one item Cuisinart does NOT put a 3-year warranty on because people so often misuse them. (Read: they should have purchased a blender or a real food processor and burned it out.)

Some immersion blenders come with a mini chopper attachment that the stick’s motor can power. These are usually one cup and not very useful, so I wouldn’t base your purchase of the immersion blender solely off of that optional feature.

Salad Shooters

Presto Salad Shooter
Presto Salad Shooter

I noticed a few of these while image shopping, so figured it was worth a mention. The term “salad shooter” is trademarked to the original product by Presto, so everyone else seems to call these “salad makers” or “mini food processors”. These machines contain rotating discs that “shoot” the end product out and you have to have a bowl or something to catch it. These only slice and shred, they cannot chop, but nonetheless, pretty handy.

Food Processors

Alright, so moving along to the big machines, the ones that do it all! Obviously there’s a larger motor, meaning a heavier base, so keep that in mind if you don’t have counter space! Having to get it in and out of a cupboard or pantry might be too much effort. 

Chopping blade
Chopping blade

Any brand of food processor will come with a metal chopping blade, a stem piece to attach the discs, and a slicing and shredding disc. Sometimes these are combined in a reversible two-sided disc, meaning you’ll only have one disc; one side shreds, one side slices. You will have buttons that say “On”, “Off”, and “Pulse”. “Pulse” will spin once and you have to keep hitting it repeatedly to keep the blade going. There will also be a feed tube and some sort of pusher to help push your items into the machine as well as prevent splashing. Sometimes they also include a plastic dough blade, as well. Like I mentioned with the mini choppers, they make these super safe, as they won’t work unless all pieces are properly snapped into place.

Cuisinart DLC-2011CHB
Cuisinart DLC-2011CHB

As for brand, that truly does matter with the larger food processors. The only choice, in my opinion, is a Cuisinart, and you can’t go wrong with any model. The motors they put on these things just don’t die! The kitchen store I worked at does a trade-in event annually, where you can bring in your old chopper or food processor, working or not, and get money towards a new Cuisinart. People would bring in 20 year old Cuisinart food processors and tell us that they still worked, they were just finally ready to upgrade to a newer model with more features. Color me amazed!

Remember my mantra: Kitchen Aid for stand mixers, Cuisinart for food processors.

Cuisinart also puts astounding warranties on the motors of their food processors. The warranties vary by model, but none are less than 5 years, most are 10, and some are as much as 20! Nobody else in the industry puts more than a 1-year warranty on their motors, so to me, it’s worth the money!

Cuisinart DFP-14BCN
Cuisinart DFP-14BCN

I’m not going to say one model is better than any of the others, with the exception of their newer models in the Elite collection! Those are the best, just because of the amazing features they have, which we will discuss very shortly. If you don’t have a need for all the new features on the newest models, older models still have amazing motors that won’t disappoint. You’re basically comparing what size work bowl you need for your home since they all pretty much do the same thing. There’s a 14-cup model that is less expensive than some of the smaller bowl models because it has a very basic design and no “Pulse” button, just two paddle buttons for off and on.

Cuisinart Elite 14 cup
Cuisinart Elite 14 cup

Ok, ok, so these Elite food processors. They’ve been around for a few years at this point, and I really don’t see the need to make any improvements. The standard food processor hasn’t changed much other than aesthetics and feed tube sizes getting larger or being multiple pieces. But the largest complaint about all food processors has always been the liquid fill line always being about an inch from the bottom of the work bowl, making it really hard to make soups and other liquidy things. Kitchen Aid had come out with a multi-bowl food processor, but using the small bowl always made a big mess in the larger bowl anyway, so what’s the point?

Cuisinart Elite 14 cup anatomy
Cuisinart Elite 14 cup anatomy

Cuisinart fixed that! They put a silicone ring in the lid so that the liquid fill line in both the large bowl and the mini-bowl (nonexistent for the mini-bowl in previous Kitchen Aid models) was almost to the very top of the bowl!! No mess in the bigger bowl if you wanted to use the small one for a little job. The Elite comes in a 12-cup model, which includes a 4-cup, as well as a 14-cup model, which includes both an 11- and a 4.5-cup bowl. The bowls all also contain a slight pouring lip to make it easier to pour the liquid out. Genius!

Julienne, shred and slice discs
Julienne, shred and slice discs

The next thing Cuisinart did was combine the slicing and shredding discs into multi-discs so customers didn’t have to a) purchase multiple extra discs and b) have extra clutter for all the different discs they owned. So the slicing disc has an adjustable knob that gives you 6 different thicknesses on the blade and the shredding disc is reversible with coarse on one side and fine on the other.

Multi-piece feed tube
Multi-piece feed tube

They also made the motors even stronger, so the largest size, the 14-cup, has a 20 year motor warranty. I should note that Cuisinart has always offered the largest feed tubes on their lids. Speaking of feed tubes, a lot of the brands now have multi-piece feed tubes, which confuses people. There’s multiple pieces so you can choose which piece is large enough for your food to fit through. That way if you have something small, you don’t have to potentially get splashed by using the largest opening to drop it into the processor. All two or three pieces have a flat base to act as a pusher for the food you’re dropping in, as well.

Kitchen Aid’s new model has copied all of these new ideas, which is great. I haven’t seen one in person yet, but have watched some demonstrations on TV and the silicone ring doesn’t look as thick as Cuisinart’s. Since they obviously couldn’t copy everything exactly, the way to adjust their slicing disc is a lever on the front of the base of the machine, not on the disc itself like Cuisinart (they’re calling it ExactSlice), so you can adjust the thickness mid-slice. 

New Kitchen Aid ExactSlice food processor
New Kitchen Aid ExactSlice food processor

Looking at specs of the Kitchen Aid machine online, I’m also noticing that their liquid fill line is only a little over the halfway point of the work bowl, whereas Cuisinart’s is almost to the top. I can’t see it on the mini-bowl, but it does say the smaller one can handle liquids, too. I was so excited by the prospect of them copying Cuisinart I almost bought one. Who can resist those fun colors?! But, it’s still expensive. And so, looking back at the warranty issue, I was convinced, personally – you might not care – of the quality and paying a bit more to have the luxury of knowing I will never have to make this purchase again in my lifetime.

Last (bad!) model of Kitchen Aid food processors
Last (bad!) model of Kitchen Aid food processors

One thing to note is that the Kitchen Aid food processor is extremely new and a lot of stores aren’t selling it yet. The last model of Kitchen Aid food processors were performing so badly that the kitchen store I worked at stopped carrying them, and looking at all of the big kitchen stores now, it looks like nobody currently carries any Kitchen Aid food processors at all. I am wondering if with all the aesthetic changes that Kitchen Aid bothered to fix the technical issues with this new model and stores will renew their faith and start selling them again. Time will tell!! 

Cuisinart blender/food processor
Cuisinart blender/food processor

The Cuisinart food processor/blender 2-in-1 was mentioned in my “Blenders” blog, but I will mention it again, almost verbatim. I am always leery of anything that is a 2-in-1 as it calls to mind those TVs that had the VHS player embedded in them, and the VHS player ALWAYS broke. I love Cuisinart, and I’m sure this is a solid machine, but I wouldn’t put my trust in the performance of either being as high caliber as a stand-alone. Personal opinion, only, of course!! 😛 The food processor is only 3 cups like a mini chopper, however, it can slice and shred, which a mini chopper cannot do, so that is definitely a plus. This does not come with the same motor warranty as the other Cuisinart food processors, so again, I don’t think it’s in the same realm when comparing.

Cuisinart disc storage case
Cuisinart disc storage case

There are accessories you can purchase extra with most of the brands, including specialty cutting discs (like french fry and julienne) and cases to store your discs in.

Black & Decker food processor
Black & Decker food processor

Hamilton Beach, Black and Decker, and Delonghi all make various models of food processors, as well.

Electric Water Kettles

I entitled this blog post “Electric Water Kettles” for a very specific reason. I do not ever want any of you associating the word “tea” with an electric kettle because you CANNOT put tea in the kettle! It is only for water. This should make sense if you are used to making tea the old-fashioned way; boil water in a kettle on the stove, pour it into a teapot, and then steep your tea in it. A teapot is usually made of ceramic or porcelain, and I would hope that it goes without saying that a teapot cannot go on your stove top to boil water in.

Fine T Machine

There is, however, an electric device you can both brew and steep tea in if you really want to, but it’s a tad on the spendy side. It’s called the Fine T Machine and it has several settings for a variety of tea types and works extremely well (I used one heavily at one point, even producing multiple batches for a tea tasting), so worth every penny! I also just discovered that Breville has come out with a nifty looking machine they call the One-Touch Tea Maker. I’d love to hear your reviews if you’ve used this since they are usually a good brand name.

Bodum electric kettle is the best!!

As for your basic electric water kettle, hands-down the longest-lasting brand I’ve ever seen in action is the Bodum. These very rarely ever got returned (actually, we could hardly keep them on the shelves because we sold so many!), and the stores we worked in owned these and used them extremely heavily and they were all some of the original models, still perfectly functioning many years later. They’ve since improved the design a tad by making the power switch stronger and the connection to the base more durable and simpler to latch.

I know the thought of using plastic alarms a lot of folks, particularly with boiling water. First of all, Bodum products are BPA-free. Secondly, as I explain in my BPA blog, the temperature needs to be extremely hot or else whatever going in needs to be highly acidic for there to be any leaching. Boiling point is not nearly what sanitize mode is in your dishwasher! And lastly, all electric kettles have plastic on the lid, handle and base. If they are glass, there could also be “metal” handles or lids which are usually a thin metallic film painted over plastic that will eventually start peeling off.

Chef’s Choice glass kettle

If you prefer the glass (especially because they do look a little more elegant than Bodum’s modern design), my next pick will always be Chef’s Choice. Another solid brand name, the kettles always seem to last a lot longer than other selections. Now that I just wrote all of that, of course Bodum has come out with a model that is mostly glass, similar to other glass electric kettle models (I swear, click the link, it says “new” over the image! :P) I used to like the Capresso, but as I mentioned in the coffee maker blog, they’ve outsourced to China and the quality of the brand is diminishing a little. I’d say it’s hit or miss if you buy one.

Chef’s Choice stainless kettle

Chef’s Choice also makes a couple of stainless steel models that I would also highly recommend. The great thing about all of these kettles nowadays is that they are “cordless”– they detach from the base so you can walk around and pour without a cord getting in your way!  They also mostly all have auto shut-off, which is just fabulous.  You can find some electric kettles that have temperature settings, as well.

I’m sure Proctor-Silex and Delonghi are solid enough machines, and of course Breville has a good brand reputation. Share your thoughts with us if you’ve had experience with an electric kettle you love or dislike!

Breville One Touch tea machine

Coffee Maker Basics

I originally started this blog out saying that I don’t recommend any one brand over another because (this part didn’t change) they aren’t built to last so you’re going to have to plan on buying a new one every five years (give or take a few). I originally stated that you should spend around $30 on a Mr. Coffee, Sunbeam, Proctor-Silex, or Delonghi. These guys are really starting to step up their game (price-wise, at least!) and it’s kind of hard to find a cheaper coffee maker! I still don’t trust that any one of these is better than another, and it’s such an inexpensive item that manufacturers kind of realize at this point most people won’t bother to return them, so they just keep churning out new models telling you it’s better than the last one so you’ll buy a new not-so-great one.

I used to have several favorites back when I first started working in housewares, but drip coffee makers have really gone down in quality over the years and it’s become increasingly difficult to find one not made in China. I could be wrong, but the only manufacturer I can still find that is made in the USA is Bunn, which of course are the restaurant industry’s standard machine. They do make home models and I hear great things, so those are probably the only gourmet machines worth that kind of money.

Cuisinart Brew Central – Top Pick!

If you have a good old machine, keep it until it dies! There’s no reason to replace a machine that works with the poor quality of drip machines these days. The old Krups machines were great and always highly rated; they started outsourcing almost a decade ago and we got almost every single coffee maker and electric kettle we sold returned to us–to the point that we stopped selling all Krups products completely.

Cuisinart is generally a good price range and their appliances are usually good. Every now and then they’ll miss with something, but otherwise a solid brand name and if you fill out the warranty card (I recommend doing this with all of your appliances!!), they at least console with a three-year guarantee. In the world of small electrics, one year is standard. The one I specifically link to above, the Brew Central*, is their best-selling model and the only one they’ve kept manufacturing. (They continue to put out other new models, but this one is the tried-and-true!) You will actually see this model used as a prop in tons of TV shows and movies, interestingly enough!

My old Capresso  

Capresso used to be a really great gourmet brand, but they started outsourcing a few years back and the quality eventually started to decline*. I think they are better now, but not for the money they cost! Breville is generally a good appliance maker, but unfortunately I don’t have much experience with them. I’ve only really heard good things about their small electrics, however they haven’t been on the market long enough for folks to say they’ve had their machine for a number of years to prove their staying power as of yet.

The one thing that people have the biggest issues with is that their drip machine “leaks water”. The issue is in the name—drip machines drip! Obviously if it’s pouring water out of the water tank you have a concern, but for the most part your machine is going to leak a little.

Thermal carafes are always going to be a pain to pour out of because of the way they have to design the lids to seal the carafe. No matter how much money you spend, a thermal carafe is always going to be an annoyance. A great trick with these guys is to, even if you’re preparing the night before, rinse the carafe with hot/warm water then seal the lid. This will trap heat in the carafe, causing your coffee to stay warmer even longer!

You want to be extremely careful with grind and brew machines. In that respect I would lean towards spending a tad more on a Capresso like this one (or something similar) that has the grinder in a completely separate compartment than the water tank. (Capresso actually makes both so be careful!) You are always going to run the risk of your grounds getting moist from the steam the machine produces, but if they are in separate compartments, that risk is minimalized. We will discuss coffee grinders in a separate blog, don’t worry!

Now, on to some of the less simple ways to prepare your coffee…(that being said, I’m skipping over the really basic stuff, but let me know if you want to know more about those methods, too! These are just the more common ones requested.)

Moccamaster by Technivorm

The one drip machine that actually stands out and will produce a quality cup of coffee (so say the coffee connoisseurs of the world, anyway!) is the Moccamaster by Technivorm. This is because the Moccamaster makes coffee more like a French press, which is supposed to be the ideal method to brewing the perfect cup of java. This machine’s heating element actually gets the water up to 212°F, which is the ideal water temperature for brewing. It is guaranteed to be this hot because if it doesn’t reach this temperature, the mechanism will not force the water upward into the machine to brew. Science! The water drips out showerhead-style and you can actually “stop” the brewing and let it steep for a little bit in the filter cone area if you want to be more hands-on with your coffee.

The Moccamaster is not usually even rated against other drip machines because it’s not programmable and requires a lot more effort than regular coffee makers, something the majority of consumers don’t care to do! You can’t even put water in the machine overnight to be ready in the morning because it will slowly leak out of the bottom throughout the night. Technivorm actually didn’t want to make a thermal carafe, either (for the reasons I listed above), but since people demand them, the one they created is probably the best experience I’ve personally had utilizing a thermal carafe from a drip machine. It’s the reason why it’s shaped the way it is, but it pours pretty darn well! To me, that proves even further that they put a lot of care into their product.

These have actually been around forever (made in Sweden, all Swedish parts except the heating mechanism, which is German), just not as popular in the United States until recent years. I met a woman who told me a fabulous story about how her granddaughter once said, “Grandma, your no-name coffee maker makes the best coffee I’ve ever tasted!” and how she just laughed because little did she know the cost of her no-name machine! But amazingly enough, she’d already had it for over 20 years!

Toddy cold brew system

If you need to have less-acidic coffee, you would want to consider a cold brew system like the Toddy. This method requires you to prepare the coffee up to 24 hours in advance by letting the grounds sit and steep with cold water and a filter. What you get afterwards is a very strong coffee concentrate that needs to be diluted with water or milk in a 1-3 ratio (1 part coffee, 2 parts water or milk). This is also the ideal way to make iced coffee because what people often do is dump hot coffee on ice cubes, which affects the taste of the coffee in a negative way. You can actually utilize a French press the same way as the Toddy and just let it steep overnight versus a few minutes.

Bodum Chambord French Press

Ok, so I’ve mentioned French press a few times now. Like I said, true coffee aficionados say this is the best method to produce a superior cup. This is because you let the grounds steep for several minutes and you utilize boiling hot water, which is ideal. How does it work? You put coarse grounds in the carafe, pour the hot water over the grounds, and let it steep for 3-4 minutes. Most people have the lid on while it’s steeping to keep the heat in, but keep the plunger, which is attached, up with the lid. When ready, you press the plunger down, keeping the grounds in the carafe, but allowing you to pour the coffee out. You can steep the coffee as long as you like, and the longer you do the stronger it becomes. You can use a French press to make loose leaf tea, too, but you cannot use the same carafe for both as the coffee taste will remain in the mechanisms. You can now buy all sorts of varieties of French presses, but I would steer clear of the travel mugs unless you are a very fast drinker. The coffee just keep steeping until you finish drinking it, so it can start to get bitter! Bodum is probably the most well-known French press manufacturer.

A stovetop espresso maker would be another way to make a stronger cup of coffee than a drip machine. These originated in Italy, with Bialetti being the most famous brand name. These work like mini percolators. You put water in the base to just below the “fill line” which is a little screw and nut. You place the filter in this base piece and fill it with more finely ground coffee—do NOT pack it in like an electric espresso machine (tamping would be the proper term)!! With a stovetop espresso you want the grounds to be loose so the water can perk up through them. Put the stove burner on a low heat and let it perk for a few minutes. That’s it!

A family of sizes! Bialetti original stovetop espresso maker

As you can see you’ve got a lot of options to make yourself a cup of coffee. For now, electric espresso makers are a whole other ballpark that we will discuss in a separate blog. Let me know if there’s a brewing method you’re curious about!

Electric Espresso Machines
Coffee Grinders

*Jura Capresso, the heavy-duty electric espresso machines, are still proudly manufactured in Switzerland and are of the highest quality! As I mention in they Electric Espresso Machines blog, this is my top-rated dream machine!!

**Favorite story about selling one of these: An older couple is shopping for a new coffee maker and the wife already has this one written down as one that was rated highly in a magazine. I show it off, show them the other brands and choices, but repeatedly tell her that, “Yes, this is a really good one!” The wife keeps asking me, “What else does it do?” so I have gone over every single specific detail after a certain point. The husband finally steps in and saves me by saying, “What else do you want it to do? Make you toast, too?” and tells me they’ll take it.  🙂