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Working backwards from the tools...
November 22, 2011 8:24 PM   Subscribe

What should I cook with all these kitchen tools?

There are some nifty kitchen tools (that came into my household when I married my wife) in our kitchen, but neither of us use them. I'd like to start, but where to begin? I'm definitely not a cook -- I come at this as a general tinkerer and liker of using gadgets and tools. But I can generally follow a recipe and I'm not scared of anything coming out disgusting the first few times. I'd say we're both unpicky eaters and omnivores.

Here are the things I'd like to press into service:

Stand mixer
Food Processor
Blender

How do i find recipes? Any gadget-specific resources?

Thanks.
posted by Buffaload to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Kitchen Aid makes the best mixers and you can make all sorts of things with them, from bread to pasta to sausage. Google the brands of each of your machines and see if the companies have recipe books.
Otherwise, I'd suggest buying a copy of Joy of Cooking and working your way through it.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:26 PM on November 22, 2011


I used my stand mixer today to make a German chocolate cake. I used my food processor on Saturday to make homemade salsa. And I used my blender last week to make mango lassi. Each of the appliances comes with a recipe book in the box. Each of these appliances has a website.

My first food processor recipe was homemade mayonnaise. There are numerous salad dressings that can be made in it, it allows for good emulsification while slowly adding the oil.

You can make pie crust in the food processor. You make many frozen cocktails in the blender. Either the food processor or the blender can be used for 'cream of ...' soups.

The stand mixer is excellent for baking - cookie dough, cake batter, bread dough.
posted by shoesietart at 8:36 PM on November 22, 2011


A food processor is good for making hummus. I tried making it in a blender once - not recommended.

A stand mixer is great for making biscotti as the dough can get really tough.

Blenders are good for smoothies, frozen cocktails, creamy soups, dips.
posted by wondermouse at 8:52 PM on November 22, 2011


You know what's better than dressing that you made yourself? Having people not believe that you made it. And that's something else that food whackers are good for.

Also, do you have the slicing/shredding blade? Because buying blocks of cheese and shredding it that way gets you better cheese at a cheaper price than buying it pre shredded.

The stand mixer is good for anything that you have to mix because you no longer have to mix it.

I honestly haven't touched my blender since I got the whacker.
posted by theichibun at 8:59 PM on November 22, 2011


Why don't you pick something that you like and try a few internet searches for that plus stand mixer, blender, or food processor/whacker. I do that for my slow cooker every day at work (shh).
posted by lakersfan1222 at 9:03 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


The stand mixer is also excellent for whipping egg whites for meringues and whipped cream. Many cakes require the butter and sugar to be creamed together; this takes a while and the mixer is ideal for creating the necessary light fluffiness and this step can't really be done by hand (without a great deal of effort). The machine can do it while you butter and flour cake pans or measure other ingredients.

I make Rick Bayliss' fresh tomato salsa all the time now, no more store bought salsa for me, and it takes like 2 minutes in the food processor.

The blender is also good for pesto.
posted by shoesietart at 9:09 PM on November 22, 2011


the dough hook on the stand mixer is for kneading bread. Make challah or some other tasty yeast bread that would otherwise take a ton of kneading. Or make an Italian meringue frosting for a cake, or divinity candy - both of those involve pouring boiling sugar syrup onto whipped egg whites as they whip, can't really do it safely without a stand mixer.

make pesto in your food processor. A bunch of basil (wash it); a couple handfuls of pignoli or toasted almonds - whatever nut you want, really; a couple handfuls of grated parmesan, several glugs of olive oil. Pulse. Add salt to taste. Delicious and incredibly easy with the food processor.

Make a butternut squash soup in the blender. Choose a recipe to your taste; transfer to the blender as last step. Gets it much smoother than the food processor can.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:49 PM on November 22, 2011


Thanksgiving is here. Here is what I am doing...

Food processor will make fresh bread crumbs, and the shrimp "mousse" for stuffed mushrooms.

If I had a stand mixer, I'd be making my own sausage for corn bread sausage stuffing.

My hyper expensive (but not as useful as a flippin' VitaMix - what the hell was I thinking!!) Kitchen Aid Stainless Steel professional blender will once again be collecting dust this holiday. Even if I was pureeing soup, I'd use my Kitchen Aid Professional Hand Blender. For dressing, a whisk. (Although in quantity, a blender is better for emulsifying oil and an acid)

Sell your blender on Craigslist unless you like frozen smoothies (kidding!)

Your blender makes great Hollandaise Sauce!

I'm also going to be using my food processor (whacker) to make pie crust!

(The up thread use of "food whacker" for some reason makes me think of the song "God Whacker" from Steely Dan. Hmm.)

---

Here's the thing:

I went to culinary school to learn classic technique, and I've worked in commercial kitchens where "food whackers" are indispensable for speed before service ...

There is NOTHING to do in a food whacker that isn't more fun by hand. Except sausage. A good food mill will get you through most purees. Two good whisks (one slim, one wide) can do the rest.

I was going to use my fingers for "pebbling" the butter in the pie crust tomorrow until I read this question. Still might do that by hand - takes just as much time to clean the food whacker without a dedicated dishwasher person in the kitchen.

---

In short, there isn't much I love to do by machine that isn't more fun by hand IF YOU HAVE THE TIME. If I must use the processor for multiple tasks, all that cleaning in between - eh. I save time doing it the old fashioned way.

But if you want to come over and wash for me, I'll use the shit out of those things.

---

A good friend of mine just got a VitaMix. I feel robbed. I'm pretty sure that's what I should have instead of the blender.
posted by jbenben at 10:04 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Instead of "food whacker" a food processor goes by the professionally used brand name in the commercial kitchen - Robo coupe.

The Robo Coupe (or the Cuisinart) makes better pesto because it bruises less.

Which reminds me...

Today I bought some hard salamis from an authentic Italian market - my though was to try them on my Japanese mandoline, and if that was unsatisfactory (because my french mandoline is such a PITA to use) I figured I'd hook up the slicer accessory on my "food whacker."

Yeah. I'm glad to have these things. I still don't use them much at home.
posted by jbenben at 10:12 PM on November 22, 2011


Use your stand mixer to make homemade whipped cream. Put heavy whipping cream in the mixer, possibly with some vanilla or Grand Marnier or almond extract. Beat on high with your whisk attachment until done. Much tastier than out of a can.

Making homemade curry paste with a mortar and pestle takes forever, but it's much less work with a food processor. It also freezes well, so make a big batch.
posted by asphericalcow at 11:46 PM on November 22, 2011


If you get the meat grinder attachment to the stand mixer you can make pate. It's a major process but you'll have something wonderfully tasty at the end.
posted by Cocodrillo at 3:11 AM on November 23, 2011


Martha Stewart makes a pretty nice meatloaf that takes advantage of a food processor. The idea is to dice your mirepoix to the point that it's almost a paste, then mix it in to your meat. The result is a homogenous loaf that's actually very light and moist.
Salsa is the easiest thing in the world with either a blender or a food processor. Dry roast a tomato, a pepper (I like serrano, but that's you're call), and half an onion in a cast iron skillet. Throw them in, charred skin and all, with a healthy bunch of cilantro and some salt. There is no step three.
Like jbenben, I am also hoping that Santa will be bringing us a Vitamix. We'll see where in the apartment we can fit it.
posted by Gilbert at 4:18 AM on November 23, 2011


This recipe from the Moosewood Cookbook is for Carrot Mushroom Loaf. The name sounds weird but I promise it's super delicious (more of a casserole, not actually loaf-shaped at all). And it's pretty much the only thing I use my food processor for. In fact, I think I bought the food processor after I made this recipe by hand the first time -- grating 6 cups of carrots takes forever on a hand grater. The especially nice thing is that you can use the processor for all the ingredients without washing it in between -- shred the carrots, shred the cheese, pulse the bread crumbs, you could probably even pulse the mushrooms to chop them. Also, my food processor pieces are top-rack dishwasher safe, which certainly contributes to me using it more often.
posted by vytae at 5:55 AM on November 23, 2011


I didn't really use my food processor much until I started a garden. Then I was processing large batches of vegetables much more often and I began to realize what it's for. The time it takes to clean the thing is much more than the time it takes to slice a cucumber, but once I had 8-10 cucumbers at once, it started to look like a good idea.
Things I've used it for in the last year:
- making pesto (from whatever I had too much of - basil, arugula, peas ...)
- making saag paneer (my favorite Indian dish, based on fine-chopped spinach and greens)
- making baba ghanoush (a Middle Eastern dip that uses up a ton of eggplant)
- slicing a huge batch of cucumbers into discs for dill pickles (first time I'd tried hte slicer attachment)
- grating veg for carrot soup and carrot cake and zucchini bread (the grater attachment is awesome when you need a large amount of stuff (i.e. cheese fondue), but pointless if you just need a cup of cheese to sprinkle over your lasagna)
- chopping or grating stale bread into bread crumbs
- making hummus
- grinding ham into a nice-textured ham salad for stupid little tea sandwiches for a party

You'll note that any of those tasks could be done with a knife, a potato masher, a grater, a mortar/pestle, and patience. It depends on what types of tasks you like doing - chopping vs cleaning. We're getting a dishwasher next week, and I'm thinking my food processor frequency of use will go up quite a bit.

Blenders are pretty specific tools. They are great for making a final result that is drinkable consistency, and really good with turning ice+liquid into slush. Margaritas, protein smoothies, banana milkshakes, salad dressing. However, if you don't want a lot of liquid food, blenders are pretty useless. I keep mine around, but it's in the awkward cabinet next to the fondue pot.
posted by aimedwander at 6:48 AM on November 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great ideas, folks. A good place to start. Thanks!
posted by Buffaload at 8:01 AM on November 23, 2011


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