Thursday, March 12, 2009


A student asked me the other day if I thought a food processor was a necessary item in the kitchen. Personally, I can’t live without my food processor, I use it all the time for shredding vegetables for coleslaw, grinding breadcrumbs from the heels of my loaves of bread, grating gruyere for mac’n’cheese. It’s an essential piece of equipment for a creamy, chicken liver and cognac pate or smoked salmon mousse. I guaranteed my student that come the holidays, she’ll be so happy to have a food-processor.

The question that proceeded was, why not use a blender? The answer to this might seem obvious if you’re comfortable in the kitchen and cook often, but as I begin teaching a second series of “Confident Cooking”, a 10-week course on kitchen basics, I realize that there are a lot of people out there that are totally new to the kitchen and it is a big step for them just to be cooking. The student that asked me the question has been on a very limited diet for 10-years due to some health concerns and this is the first time in a decade she’s enjoyed cooking and eating the way she wants. I have another student whose spouse past away 3-years ago and they’ve been using only a microwave ever since. So, it's interesting to me to find out what drove them into the kitchen and be able to help them with even just the basics. So, blender vs. food processor: first and foremost, a blender has a tall narrow jar meant for more liquid or moist ingredients (like fruit) to be able to move around. A blender, essentially, is meant for pureeing and it will puree much smoother than a food-processor ever will, whereas a food-processor has a wide bowl and can chop, grind and slice and can process dry and moist foods – but too much liquid and it’ll leak. So, they’re two different tools for several different jobs.

When choosing a food-processor, there are really only two companies worth considering and those are KitchenAid or Cuisinart. KitchenAid has a reputation for quality products, their food processors look like race cars compared to the utilitarian, boxy design of Cuisinart, circa 1962. But, I bought my Cuisinart long before the hot-rod red KitchenAid even hit the shelves, and I don’t plan on replacing it anytime soon. It’s minimalist and simple with just two buttons – Pulse/Stop and Go and I hate gadgets with too many buttons. Do you really know the difference between Frappe and Puree on your blender? The only other button that I whish mine had was one that read, “wash dishes”. Sometimes less is more. But I don’t like the feed tube on the Cuisinart. It’s poorly designed; there are two many small gaps and pockets for bits of things to get stuck. According to Consumer Reports, the KitchenAid scores slightly higher for it’s ability to puree, but I used my dad’s less-than-a-year-old KitchenAid recently and the handle fell apart (the plastic literally just fell right off and broke). Apparently it’s a problem that they are aware of and they’ll replace the bowl if you contact them. There are pro’s and con’s for both, and I probably won’t be buying another food-processor for at least a decade – but the KitchenAid does rate highest in Consumer Reports and Cooks Illustrated. So, if I did buy another, well, a hot-rod red food-processor would look nice with my granite countertops.

No comments:

Blog Directory - Blogged