One kitchen tool I would never want to be without is my Cuisinart food processor.
When my son, Chris, was born, there were two things that I really wanted – a camera and a Cuisinart. The camera took my son’s “firsts,” which filled our overflowing photo albums for posterity. The Cuisinart, received as a gift from Santa that year, helped me to make healthy baby foods. Chris’ experimental blends were perfected by the time my son, Ted, was born. Alas, firstborns must suffer more parental trials and errors. Needless to say, both of my guys were so cute that my camera was always on autopilot. (Mom’s bragging rights here).
As I peeked inside that Cuisinart box that Christmas, for a fleeting moment I was reminded of the saying, “Be careful what you ask for – you might get it.” At first glance, “it” appeared overwhelming, intimidating and complex, like a mechanical monster. However, I’m glad that I didn’t let appearances fool me, as I have found the food processor to be an invaluable kitchen aid.
Food processors make wonderful baby food that is free of additives, preservatives, salt, sugar and whatever else you want to eliminate, and full of whatever you want to add. In just seconds, my machine’s initial task transformed a banana into a marvelous Banana Whip, which proved to be a taste treat that both my sons loved to eat often. Another favorite was sweet potatoes or yams. These are an excellent source of vitamin A - cooked first then pureed. Just about any vegetable or fruit can be steamed, cooked or poached and then pureed for baby. Cooked meat, fish or fowl can be processed for the older baby. A little water, broth or milk can be added, if necessary, to achieve desired consistency.
My food processor makes a better, easier pie crust than I can make by hand. Put the ingredients into the work bowl and lock the top. With the touch of a finger, and in a few seconds’ time, one pie crust is ready to use immediately and one is ready for my freezer.
No need to knead. A food processor can rapidly turn out a very nice dough that bakes bread that has an excellent texture. Also, homemade pasta, pierogi and ravioli dough are quick to make and they taste delicious. Many cookies and cakes are easy to put together in the processor.
Leftover vegetables can be transformed into gourmet soups. Chances are, once the Cuisinart has staked its claim to a spot on your countertop, you’ll want to save those broccoli stalks or that cup of leftover spinach to make a quick, healthful soup.
A relatively small amount of leftover ham, turkey or chicken can be recycled into a new dinner of ham, turkey or chicken croquettes. The Cuisinart transforms leftover meats into great spreads for sandwiches or hors d’oeuvres. This avoids turning good leftovers into trash.
Any vegetable or meat can be cut, chopped, shredded, ground or cut julienne. Pepperoni slices in seconds. Stale bread instantly becomes breadcrumbs for the freezer. (The birds in your neighborhood may not like this!) Hard cheese quickly changes to grated for omelets or sauces. Nuts can be chopped or ground very quickly. The processor can make peanut, cashew, or almond butter swiftly. It’s great for making dips, sauces and dressings, too. Cole slaw isn’t just for holidays anymore, as it takes only minutes to prepare
Although certain foods are standard fare for holiday dinners, I like to experiment with something new each year, and the following cranberry-orange chutney is such a dish. Made in a food processor, it’s a last-minute condiment that requires no cooking but needs to soak in orange liqueur for at least 12 hours. Welcome at dinner, this chutney is also good as an appetizer, atop cream cheese or with brie.
2 cups fresh, whole cranberries
1 large, whole naval orange, unpeeled, quartered, seeded
1/4 small, whole lemon, unpeeled, seeded
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup Cointreau or Triple Sec
-Wash cranberries and combine with oranges and lemon in work bowl or food processor.
-Process on and off until mixture is chopped.
-Remove mixture to a bowl and stir in the sugar and Cointreau.
-Let stand, covered, 12 hours at room temperature, then refrigerate until erving time.
-Add orange slices for garnish.
If my wholehearted praise of the food processor has you at all interested in owning one, there are just 20 days left to be really good for goodness sake. “So you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why….”
Eat well, live long, enjoy!
(Questions or tips can be sent to Donna Zitter Bordelon at WhatscookinNEPhilly@gmail.com or in care of the Northeast Times, 2512 Metropolitan Drive, Trevose, PA 19053)