Immersion blender injuries!

Yesterday's New York Times contains an article that absolutely stunned me - an account of people injuring themselves while using an immersion blender.
I have been using one of these marvelous gadgets for years without sustaining so much as a scratch so I was amazed to read of people requiring huge numbers of stitches and worse. How could this possibly happen? 

Well, it seems some people attempt to clean or remove something which has clogged the blender without unplugging it. A) I have never had anything clog my blender and B) if I did, I would have great respect for a tool which can purée a cauldron full of soup in the blink of an eye. 

The end of the article quotes a former pastry chef who voiced my opinion -some people are just stupid!

Read the full article at

Scottish shortbread recipe challenge

I recently acquired a copy of Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery - a magnificent tome worthy of any cocktail table!  

My mouth was watering as I flipped through it - mentally making notes of recipes I can't wait to try. 

Then I came upon his recipe for shortbread.  He stops short of calling it Scottish, but does refer to it as traditional.  While I would never have the temerity to match my skills to his, I do take great exception to the inclusion of vanilla - in any form - in shortbread.  

I have tasted this  wonderful treat many times in many homes in Scotland and none of them contained vanilla.  To my taste, this ruins the sublime flavor of butter, sugar and flour.  My own recipe, which you can find in this blog, contains butter, sugar, plain flour and rice flour.  The only other variations I have encountered replace the rice flour with cornstarch or very fine semolina.

Shortbread aside, this is a book any home baker will love - some of the recipes are more for drooling over than actually baking and some of the equipment is a bit esoteric to say the least. Nevertheless, it is a fabulous book well worth owning.

Here are two of my shortbread videos;