The Perfect Blend
Testing High-End Blenders
We’re longtime fans of the Vitamix 5200 ($449.00). Given its price (more than double that of our winning midpriced blender), this commercial-turned-consumer luxury item is not for everyone. But for those who want a blender that can pulverize anything with the turn of a dial and will likely outlast its 7-year warranty, this has been our top recommended model for years. But recently, Vitamix and other major brands have released new models with more power and extra bells and whistles. A major difference: preset buttons that run for a fixed amount of time, so you can start your blender, walk away, and trust that it will shut itself off when the cycle is complete. Are these fancy new features worth it?
Sweet Potato Soup
By Lan Lam
Some cooks riff on butternut squash soup and turn sweet potatoes into a creamy puree. But, like other types of sweet potato dishes, the soups I tried were so loaded with extras that it was hard to identify the main ingredient. I wanted to strip away the nonessentials to make a silky, luxurious soup in which the sweet potatoes really stood out. I planned on garnishing the soup with a flavorful topping, just as one might dress up a baked potato. With complementary ingredients on the soup instead of inside it, the sweet potato flavor would be front and center.
Chopped Carrot Salad with Mint, Pistachios, and Pomegranate Seeds
Finely chopping carrots in the food processor, instead of grating them by hand, produced a delicately crunchy, light-textured base for our carrot salad. The food processor broke down the carrots in seconds, and we saved even more time by not peeling the carrots; scrubbing them was sufficient, and the skins contributed a subtle but pleasant bitterness. We added bulk and contrasting flavor to the carrots with lots of fresh mint (chopped by hand to avoid overprocessing the leaves in the food processor), pomegranate seeds, and toasted pistachios. A bright dressing bound it all together.
Warm Winter Salads
by Steve Dunn
Spinach is the typical choice for tossing with a warm vinaigrette, but there are plenty of other contenders. I wanted to build a satisfying main-course wilted-green salad featuring a few lettuces that don’t get as much attention: frisée, the curly star of French bistro salad; ruffled escarole; and frilly chicory. I hoped that each (or a combination thereof) would soften under a hot dressing and be a unique, robust canvas for all sorts of bold, flavorful ingredients.