What's your favorite use for a food processor?
OK, after years of eeking by on that mini Cuisinart food processor (the kind that comes with one of their blenders and is designed to share the same base/motor) and, honestly, rarely using the food processor, I've taken the plunge and bought the Cuisinart Elite 16-cup food processor (due mostly to a huge discount at Williams-Sonoma).
So now that I have a food processor that's actually big enough to use, what are the best things to do with it? What food prep or recipes do you use that you just can't imagine doing without the help of your food processor?
Latkes. I make them year-round, as an accompaniment to dinner, even on weeknights after I get home from work because it eliminates the time-consuming process of hand-grating. It takes no time at all. (And I use the chopping blade, not the grating blade, to get the potatoes fine enough for the traditional texture).
The FP (Cuisinart DLC-7 Super Pro, top of the line in 1985, still going strong...) sits on my counter and is used at least once a day.
Doughs for bread (kneads brilliantly), cutting in fat for pie crust and biscuits (put liquid in by hand)
Making Dorie Greenspan's 15-minute miracle chocolate amaretti torte
Dicing/mincing vegetables such as onions if you don't care how they look in a dish (some things need hand-cut vegs) (do the harder ones first, eg. garlic before onions, so you don't turn the softer ones to mush)
Mincing fresh ginger and garlic in quantity separately or together for Chinese and Indian dishes
Mincing red cabbage for Danish red cabbage
I never use the shredder discs any more, are they really useful for anything?
I use the grating disc for cheese of course, and the slicing disc for making shredded Brussels sprouts - they are SUCH A PITA to slice thinly by hand or with a mandoline, and a snap in the FP. I've had my 11 cup Cuisinart since the late 90s and it's still running like a champ!!!!
Ooh, I've been wondering about brussels sprouts in the FP! I sliced 4 pounds of them for Thanksgiving for the brussels sprouts hash w/caramelized shallots recipe and swore "never again!" because it took so damn long. Do you find the results to be reasonably even? Or do you get a bunch of chunks of the core? The one thing I like about slicing by hand is that I slice the core up more finely then the leaves to get a more even texture, and I worry that I'll lose that in the FP. But you know, to get that 1.5 hours of my life back, I quite possibly don't care!
I use my trusty cuisi for a few things only, but find it indispensable for those things:
chopping celery and green onion and water chestnuts finely enough to mound in a spoon, for chicken salad and tuna salad
shredding cheese and mixing pimiento cheese
pulse, for making biscuits, because I'm lazy like that and they come out better for me that way.
pureeing soups and vegetables.
I use my food processor all the time. I can't imagine what life was life before, and I only got it 6 months ago. ;)
My most used uses:
1) Grinding nuts
2) Making oat flour
I seem to make a lot of recipes that require the food processor as well:
-breakfast oatmeal pudding
-numerous energy-type lara bars (nuts and date combinations)
-many dips - hummus, muhammara, htipiti
-whipping frozen bananas
**don't knock the last one until you've tried it - it is really good:
I forgot I could use it to chop my veggies and grate cheese... ;)
i have a cuisinart and a processor base that attaches to the hand stick motor of my immersion blender.
-i make fruit purees for butters.
-also pureed soups (i prefer doing it in a contained space rather than in a pot, don't know why, but i find it easier.
-as does roxlet, i start pie crusts in there... easier to get fat dispersed and the flour "crumby" before adding liquid by hand.
-flavored butters are easy- butter, garlic, herbs or sundried tomatoes or a bit of pesto, etc. beaten together then fridge to resolidify
-nut meals and butters - pulse til crumbs/flour, or let go longer to make butter
-pureed cauliflower or squash, etc
i sometimes use of to make my scones to get the perfect amount of butter to flour & etc. quickly without warming the dough. Works great for pate brisee...
Chopping, carrots, cheese and all the rest it goes without saying. And agreed, hummus. oh and for mixing cream cheese into ingredients quickly. geez alot of things~
Shredding cheese and coleslaw are probably of the biggest time-saving functions. A pound of cheese that takes some time and elbow grease is perfectly grated in seconds. Pureeing beans and the like for hummus, bean dip, etc. Chopping nuts. Kneading dough for cheese straws, pie crust, bread dough.
aww, Val! i feel like i haven't "seen" you in ages! hope you're enjoying the holidays.
yes, the FP sees my black bean dip, white bean dip, and roasted carrot dip on a regular basis :) i've taken to using the hand/stick blender for hummus because i've been on a chunky hummus kick lately, and it's easier to get the right texture that way.
Chopping a gazilion onions quickly.
Making pie pastry with no fear of it getting warm or overworked..
Making biscuits in a flash.
Mincing loose Italian sausage after I've browned it, because I hate trying to get the sausage into the small bits I prefer while it's in the pan itself. So I just brown it in big chunks, then toss it all into the food processor and give it a couple of quick pulses. Then I have lovely minced sausage that I use in sauces and chili.
DH gave me an early holiday present of a Cuisinart 14 cup Power Prep Plus. So I am just experimenting as well. BUT - this last week, for one of our meal choices, I made Potatoes au Gratin - sliced the potatoes, onions and shredded the cheese in the Cuisinart. Cut my time in about 1/4. DH makes a HUGE batch of spaghetti sauce for Xmas gifts (about 24 quarts at a time), so I used it to first, slice all veggies, then give them a rough chop on a board and again, DH and I agreed, cut the prep time in less than half. I am loving this! I can't wait to find the next thing to do with it. OH - HOW did I live so long without this?????
- shredding - carrots, cabbage, onions, potatoes (latkes!)
- pulse chopping - particularly for fresh salsa
- cheesecake filling
- bread or cookie crumbs
- dough - pasta, bread, cookies, pie crust
- compound butter
i prefer the hand blender or regular blender for soups, aioli/mayo & dressings.
- pesto when i don't have the time or energy to do it with the mortar & pestle
With regards to the onion dice.....if you are not a purist for shape, yes, however, if you are shooting for a specific dice size, e.g., large-medium-small-fine....you will not be able to do so by specification standards, but you could achieve results suitable for most recipes.
Pulse is a feature on the Food Processor. You press down on the key or button and it spins the blade around to break down the vegetables, herbs, meats, fishes and etc. It's basically rough chopping. the more you pulse, the more the items are broken down....until you are satisfied with the consistency of the items for your recipe.
It's great if you don't have good knife skills.....or are chopping a lot of items... for onions, you can eliminate the tears. Let's say you want to make minced garlic....you could do so without getting your hands dirty, but it will not be a precision cut....if you wanted to make a garlic paste, it's a great tool....especially if you are adding liquids ...or if you do not want to heat up what you are putting in the bowl. If you leave the blades running constantly, it would heat the contents to a degree....
The rough chopping works great if you are doing onions for a tomato sauce, or including more vegetables to make a salsa. Pulsing also make a pretty good egg salad or chicken salad without much mess. If you use a lot of breadcrumbs, it makes excellent fresh/soft breadcrumbs for coating cutlets with texture when you do not have Panko lying around. It saves you money by making any old bread into breadcrumbs as well.
Another quick tip with regards to diced onions.....if you did a rough pulse chop, stopped and dumped the onions out on a cutting board, but found you thought there were too many slivers or larger pieces, you would simply take your chefs knife and give a quick cross cut....problem solved.