Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Processors, Pesto and Pins

A few times a week, someone will e-mail me with a cooking-related question. Some questions are recurring, like the one about food processors. What food processor do I use and do I recommend it? Are food processors worth it in the first place? What do I use my food processor for? That sort of thing.

So for anyone who is curious, I bought my food processor in 2007 (using wedding gift money from my aunt and uncle. Thank you, Terry kaku and Prasad kaka...I think of you every time I use the food processor which is several times a week). Mine is a KitchenAid 9 cup KFP740. I have not checked whether this model is still available. Companies tend to keep retiring models and coming up with new and hopefully improved ones. All these years later, I am very happy with my purchase. 

The two best known food processor brands are KitchenAid and Cuisinart and they are very comparable. The standard full sized food processors have a 12 cup or 14 cup capacity, and they have powerful motors. A smaller capacity food processor takes less space but has a concomitantly less powerful motor. With a 9 cup processor, I feel like I have the best of both worlds- compact but powerful. I would really suggest not going smaller than that, because the processor is just not going to be heavy-duty enough. The 9 cup size is just right for my needs with a small family. If you cook larger quantities, a 12 or 14 cup may be more appropriate. Magazines like Consumer Reports and Cook's Illustrated often do independent tests comparing food processors and it might be a good idea to look there for recommendations of particular models.

In an Indian kitchen, grinding is a BIG DEAL. Between the dry masalas and the wet masalas and the batters, there's much pulverizing going on. I don't own an Indian style mixie which is the usual workhorse for that kind of thing so my food processor gets used for grinding everything except idli/dosa batter (the stone grinder does that) and dry spices (I have a coffee grinder for that) and soups and smoothies (that's the job for the immersion blender). By the way, I make liberal off-label use of my coffee grinder as a mini wet grinder too. Much of Lila's baby food gets made in there. But if you decide to follow my bad example, do so at your own risk.

Yes, if you're counting, that makes it several different gadgets but each one is loved and used a great deal. I'm a use-it-or-lose-it kinda gal. In this case, it means that any thing that I own and don't use regularly gets tossed out (which is to say donated to the thrift store or sold on Craigslist) ruthlessly.

What do I use my food processor for? 
1. Kneading dough: the food processor makes excellent roti/paratha dough (like this one for rajma parathas) and pizza dough. I have used it in the past to make pie dough but these days I make pie dough by hand and it is better with less clean up. 
2. Chopping nuts and making dry nut chutneys like this peanut chutney
3. Shredding vegetables: You can make a huge and tasty koshimbir (mixed Indian salad) in a couple of minutes flat with the shredder disc. Or shred the veggies for kheer instead. This is especially true when shredding hard vegetables like raw beets and carrots. I'm wimpy and my wrists ache after the second carrot. I regularly shred potatoes for potato par eeda
4. Shredding cheese: Vast amounts can be shredded with a flick of the button for casseroles, enchiladas etc. 
5. Purees and Dips such as hummus, spinach dip and salsas.
7. Wet masalas, especially onion-tomato purees for rajma and other curries.
8. Finally, some miscellaneous recipes use the food processor such as this vegan thumbprint cookie recipe that many of my friends are just. crazy. about.

If you own a food processor, what are your favorite ways of using it? 

Last week, I used the food processor to make a quick and tasty roasted red pepper pesto. I found large sweet red peppers on sale and roasted them myself on the flame (the way we roast globe eggplants to make bharta). That's a bit more time consuming and messier than buying jarred red peppers but it was the weekend and I had a few extra minutes. The smoky taste was well worth it.

Roasted Red Pepper Nut Pesto 
In a food processor, add the following and process until smooth, drizzling extra virgin olive oil as required:
  • 3 roasted and peeled large red bell peppers (remove seeds and stem)
  • 1 roasted and peeled jalapeno pepper (or red pepper flakes to taste)
  • 1 large fresh tomato
  • 1/2 cup roasted walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews (that have been soaked for 15 minutes in warm water)
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • Salt to taste

While making the pesto, I also sauteed some zucchini, onions, corn etc. The mixed vegetables and pesto were used in two different dishes. The first night I made a big pasta salad with whole wheat spirals, pesto, vegetables and parmesan cheese. The second night we made wraps using the pesto as a spread and the vegetables as a filling.


Trish, the blogger over at Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity took on the challenge of using her food processor in several different ways and came up with this fun post. Check it out for many more ideas on making the best use of your food processor.

This blogger is also hosting an event on her blog called Pin It and Do It: A Pinteresting challenge. Are any of you on Pinterest? It is a website that allows you to "pin" images onto virtual pinboards so you can collect your ideas and inspiration in one spot. I have been using Pinterest to bookmark all sorts of recipes that I want to make, books that I want to read and clever craft ideas that I want to try. The Pin It and Do It challenge is fairly straightforward: don't just collect pins, use them and try the ideas for yourself.

I am a fan of Pinterest as long as everyone follows basic rules of etiquette by (a) crediting the source of the pin, (b) verifying the original source before pinning (eg. not just pinning an image from Google Images) and (c) not lifting sections of the source's text into the pin's textbox (eg. copying the recipe into the pin). I promise to use these rules while pinning images from other blogs/websites and would appreciate it very much if others used them when pinning images from this blog. As long as you play by the rules, pin away from One Hot Stove if you want to.

My first entry for the Pinteresting Challenge: Last week, Lila had her last day at the daycare that looked after her lovingly 5 days a week since she was a bitty 3 month old. I wanted to give a small gift to her teachers and my favorite way of showing love and gratitude is with handmade gifts, so I bought plain cotton bags online and decorated them with each teacher's monogram.

My original pin is here and the tutorial is here from the blog Under the Sycamore. It is such an easy and clever idea, using paper doilies as stencils and some fabric paint to make these personalized gifts. I used freezer paper stencils for the letters.



I'm adding this post to the Pin It and Do It link-up. If you are on Pinterest, will you share your user name in the comments? I'd love to see what you're pinning! 

47 comments:

  1. I use my food processor to make dough, chop vegetables,a large batch of tomato puree - the thing is , my dough blade cracked and I am left with the chop blade, I use it for dough too! works well :) I am glad I found that out, else I was wondering if I should bother getting a replacement ( to have it crack again) or buy a new FP.
    I am on Pinterest too, I love it!
    How are you getting along with your packing? Will you celebrate Lila's first birthday in GA?

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    1. I use my metal blade for all kinds of dough too! In fact now that I think about it, I barely ever use the plastic dough blade.

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  2. Wow. Wasn't expecting another post so soon. Nice to see it though. Thanks for sharing the pesto recipe. I usually get a big jar of roasted red pepper so this is a good recipe to use some of that. I've heard that red pepper contains even higher amounts of Vitamin C than does oranges.

    Good information on food processors. I actually have a question on carbon steel and cast iron vessels. Will email you about that.

    Take Care!

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    1. Yes, peppers are loaded with Vitamin C. Not that any of us who like fruits and veggies are likely to be missing Vitamin C as a nutrient.

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  3. I own a little food processer which I use to chop onions, bell peppers etc... finely chopping vegetables for curries, utappam etc. My food processor comes in handy when I want to crumble idlis for making idli upma.. I love it for that..
    I am a novice in Pinterest and this is my Id.
    Krithi's Kitchen in Pinterest

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    1. I've never had much luck with the little food processors. When I chop anything with them, it ends up too mushy I feel. But am glad you like yours!

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  4. I came by your blog via the Pinteresting challenge and am so glad to find such awesome information as well as a cool craft!

    The pesto recipe sounds divine - I love a spin on a good pesto. Thanks for such a good bit of information on food processors- I've been thinking about purchasing one.

    Love the bags too- they look great! As a teacher, I can tell you that tote bags are a MUST & would love getting one, as I'm sure they did!

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    1. I'm so glad that as a teacher, you think bags are useful. It was difficult to come up with something that a bunch of people of varying ages and lifestyles would like and find useful. And I wanted something more personal than gift cards.

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  5. I think that bag is ADORABLE! I am a bit behind in the whole "pinning-craze". I have enough distractions--but I know it can be a fun way to "see" the craft, food, fashion, design world, etc. That pesto recipe is a keeper. On a side note--that stone grinder you have that you mentioned in your KC class waaay back when--I still want one for myself!

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    1. Kelly- pinning can be such a distraction and time suck if you let it take over! Ask me how I know ;) but it is nice to see inspiring things in such a visual way.
      LOL the stone grinder is AWESOME but a unitasker if ever you saw one! Oh and you'll love the pesto recipe. I wanted to eat it with a spoon.

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  6. Love the bags, such a lovely idea to use the doilies. I don't have a food processor, but I cant do without my good old mixie and the coffee grinder !

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    1. A mixie is such a useful thing. In its absence I do love my food processor!

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  7. Nupur, I love your blog because it is so informative.how you manage all this with Lila around is amazing!

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    1. Thank you. I try to balance all the loves of my life; it keeps me happy :)

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  8. I didn't realize how much work a food processor did until I bought one two years back. Love it. Like the recipe for roasted bell pepper pesto. Bookmarked!

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    1. YAY- you're a food processor fan too?!

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  9. //Wow. Wasn't expecting another post so soon. Nice to see it though//
    Same here :)

    //Nupur, I love your blog because it is so informative.how you manage all this with Lila around is amazing!//
    ok looks like many of us think the same stuff.. :D

    Bags look absolutely wonderful. Every time I come to your blog, you make me go "okay, I should seriously learn knitting/crafting/everything under the sun". and answering qns to top it all! Stay awesome. :)

    Post request: "how you prepared/sent Lila to day care as a 3 month old". Future working moms (okay i'll be one of them) will appreciate it greatly!

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    1. LOL well you don't need to learn crafting or any of those other things unless YOU want to! Do what makes you happy, I say!
      And how do you mean, prepare to send your baby to daycare? What specifically do you want to know? If you ever have questions, feel free to e-mail me.

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  10. I use my Inalsa everyday to make dough for roti. Pizza dough is also made in the same - the capacity is very small though, so have to do in batches.
    Lately, I have started using it for shredding vegetables even if they are for a 'normal' portion - everyday bhaji. Makes short work of beets and carrots!
    The totes looks great! When are you moving?

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    1. Thanks Anita. So you're an everyday food processor user, too? I'm moving in a few weeks. Too soon, it seems.

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  11. I tried this pesto with some variations. It was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s! Thanks for all the wonderful recipes you post. Keep 'em coming!
    http://veggiemania.blogspot.com/2012/08/blog-hopping.html

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    1. Thank you for all the sweet things you say in that post- very kind of you!

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  12. Nupur,

    Pinterest is great! I looked it up after seeing your post, and looks like I'm going to be hooked for a long time :)

    I have a cuisinart 7 cup food processor. I had a smaller chopper before I bought this, and I wasnt sure the bigger one would be useful. But, I wanted to give it a try. Got hooked the first time I chopped tindora in it. Perfect circles in minutes. I use it to slice veggies for curries atleast 3-4 times a week. I use it to chop/shred veggies for salads, mince garlic, make rough chopped ginger-green chilly paste, chop onions, make chapati dough etc... In short, its a workhorse!

    Take care,
    Anu

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    1. Anu- I should have warned you that Pinterest can be a huge time suck :)
      You use your FP in so many ways! I should use mine more for vegetables.

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  13. Nupur - Liked the way you've used Walnuts instead of Pinenuts. I was toying with the idea for long. The Pesto looks yummy!

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    1. Ashwini- pine nuts are ridiculously expensive and I am scared of that pine mouth effect that happens sometimes from eating pine nuts. Hence the walnuts, and they worked beautifully.

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    2. Yes, Nupur. Here its $10.00 for a small box, part of the reason I've never gone the Pesto way. Walnut is a great idea. This spring, a friend treated us all at a famous local Pizzeria. They had amazing flat bread with Pesto and Goat Cheese. I appreciate the versatile nature of Pesto sauce.

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  14. Will try out ur idea for using the coffee grinder as a baby food maker. I am loathe to buy the expensive baby food making blenders which is why I have been just using commercial puréed baby food. I am Arpita on Pinterest. Or I may be arpimay. In any case will pin from ur board. Pinterest is so addictive I could spend hours on it!

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    1. You'll find lots of affordable small sized blenders/ food processors for baby food. I always check on Craigslist too for these small gadgets.

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  15. Nupur, have been following your blog for many years now. Thanks for continuing to share your thoughts and ideas through these busy days. Occasionally I pin your recipes as well. I'm at priyanterest on pinterest. Happy pinning!

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    1. Will look you up on Pinterest!

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  16. I love my food processor and use it regularly - dips, making breadcrumbs, ground nuts and sauces - am sure there are other uses too. I've started using the mini food processor attachment on my immersion blender too.

    I am also quite smitten with pinterest despite some problems - it is such an elegant site and a great way to keep visual reminders - I really like your etiquette code - I have been thinking about writing about pinterest so will link here if I get the post up - my account is http://pinterest.com/johannaggg/ - I have recently noticed yours too!

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    1. I'm looking up your Pinterest boards right now!!

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  17. hi nupur your recipes are amazing...my account is http://pinterest.com/amrutaa

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    1. Thanks- will look at what you're pinning!

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  18. hi, gadgets pics pls.where did u buy ur stone grinder from (for idli/dosa)?isnt it heavy to carry from india?

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    1. My stone grinder was a gift from my husband's cousin. As far as I know, it is available online in the US so there's no need to carry it all the way from India.

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  19. What a great idea Nupur! And I wish that I had seen this food processor post when I was working on my challenge--you've got so many great ideas here. I can't believe I didn't think about chopping nuts. Ever since the challenge ended I'm thrilled to say that the food processor is the most used appliance in my kitchen. Just love it.

    Thank you so much for joining the Pinterest challenge. I hope that you'll join again in October!

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  20. I had a quick question. I am planning on making totes.
    My question is, when using fabric paint, what precautions do I need to take? I know this may seem rather silly, but I have never attempted anything crafty and am not confident.
    Does the fabric paint bleed on to the other side of the tote? do you need to stick paper inside?
    I am going to use the method in the original pin ( sticking doily and painting over it and peeling it off)

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    1. Nothing silly about asking- you learn by planning and doing, right?
      Read the directions on the jar of fabric paint that you buy. Mine said to simply paint and then when dry, the iron the fabric to set the paint.
      Some tips: (a) yes, place (no need to stick, just place) some paper (newspaper or catalogs or whatever) on the other side of the tote in case some paint bleeds through. (b) don't dilute the fabric paint. Use the paint in its thick form. However don't load too much paint on the brush. Instead take a small amount of paint and dab over the doily repeatedly. This way the paint won't bleed under the doily.
      GOOD LUCK and have fun. Would love to hear how your project goes.

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    2. Thank you SO much, Nupur, for the prompt reply. I will update you as soon as I finish this project :)

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  21. Hi Nupur,
    My 8 yr old mixie has died and I am debating myself buying a food processor or a mixie again. Your post sways me to buy a food processor, but I am also reading that it may not really grind for chutneys etc (coconut, ginger or onion) etc. If you don't own a mixie, do you miss it on any occasions?

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  22. Do you have any prior history with Robot Coupe? I got a Robot Coupe R2N recently, but I'm not sure if it was the right choice (food processor, mind you). Otherwise... great post & I love your blog!

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