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May 29, 2011 09:34 PM

Mini-prep or single-serve blender?

I live in a rented apartment with my wife, and we share our cooking together. We're thinking of buying an appliance to deal with some blending needs associated with our cooking. However:

1. As we move into SE Asian cooking, the "dry" component of the spice pastes would need something powerful to grind, say, cumin or peppercorn. This rules out most food choppers.

2. There isn't much space in the apartment kitchen, so regular blender/food processors are also out.

So that left us with two options:

a. A Mini-prep, by brand--only Cuisinart's can grind seeds. Not even Kitchenaid.
b. A single-serve blender with a blending blade-- if I pursue this option, I would choose Cuisinart or Tribest which have better reputations.

Should we be using that for cooking, I'd certainly go for the Mini-prep. However, my wife have said she wanted to make smoothies herself for years, and it sounds a bit awkward to make smoothies in a mini-prep. So I wonder if anyone can answer any these questions:

i. Have anyone tried making smoothies with a Miniprep, suppose we don't chop ice?
ii. Can single-serve blenders actually do an acceptable job in blending, pureeing and grinding?

Thanks to all in advance!

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  1. My limited space tools are:
    - marble mortar and pestle for grinding small quantities of spices
    - a dedicated coffee grinder (miniblender style) for larger quantities (not frequently used)
    - an immersion stick with mini-chopper attachment. The immersion part handles soups and more liquid purees. The mini-chopper handles pastes like pesto, and dry things like bread crumbs.

    I also like to use a food mill.

    The immersion blender also has a whisk attachment for whipping eggs and cream.