Sometimes you have to look a gift horse in the mouth. Especially if the gift is a food processor and the horse creates recipes for a living.
For Christmas 2016 I gave my niece, Heidi, a Cuisinart. She is a very good cook and owns a batterie of cookware but at that point, not a food processor. I would swap anything in my kitchen for a food processor. I consider it indispensable.
Last week I was moving my food processor while cleaning the countertop and wondered what Heidi had used her processor for in the last 16 months. I haven’t heard a peep, so I’m guessing the answer is “nothing.” I know she has been ridiculously busy, so I’ll help her figure out this new appliance. For starters, here is a list of the tasks I use my processor for the most, in no particular order:
TOP 10 THINGS I DO WITH MY FOOD PROCESSOR
- Make pesto
- Make fresh bread crumbs for meatloaf, etc.
- Puree soups
- Finely chop nuts
- Make frozen blueberry ice cream (a couple handfuls frozen blueberries, a carton of vanilla yogurt, pulse and voila!)
- Make smooth sauces such as chimichurri and mole
- Make sorbet bases
- Make pasta dough
- Make peanut sauce for noodles or sate
- Make hummus
I don’t use the extra blades much, other than for making julienned carrots occasionally. I used to thin-slice potatoes with another blade, but I don’t cook white potatoes often anymore. For scalloped potatoes, though, that processor blade can’t be beat.
In honor of Heidi, I came up with a recipe last week for Thai pork chops in a sauce made in a food processor. Instead of cutting and combining each ingredient by hand, I dumped everything in the food processor and pureed them. The result was a coconut milk-lime-curry sauce easy enough for a weeknight dinner.
How do you use your food processor?
THAI COCONUT CURRY PORK CHOPS
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 can (13.5 oz.) coconut milk
1 tbsp. Thai chili paste
Grated zest of 1/2 lime
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. nam pla (fish sauce)
4 boneless pork chops, about 3/4 inch thick
8 cups cabbage in 1-inch pieces, layers separated
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
Chopped cilantro (optional)
Cut ginger in half and, one at a time, drop each piece through the feed tube of the food processor with the motor running. The blade will chop the ginger into bits. Repeat with the garlic. Remove lid of processor and add coconut milk, chili paste, lime zest, lime juice and nam pla. Replace the lid and process until smooth.
Place chops in a 1-gallon zipper-lock plastic bag. Add one-half cup of the coconut-milk sauce. Close the bag and massage to moisten all surfaces of the chops. Refrigerate for at least one hour or all day while you are out or at work.
About 45 minutes before dinner, place cabbage in a 9-by-12-inch baking pan. Pour 3/4 cup of the coconut sauce over the cabbage and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover tightly with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until soft and silky.
Meanwhile, 15 minutes before cabbage is done, remove chops from marinade and pat dry (discard marinade). Season chops on both sides with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until the edges on each side just begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until meat is just slightly pink in the center, about 5 minutes. It will continue cooking off the heat.
Remove cabbage from oven, stir and spread on a platter. Arrange chops over cabbage. Pour remaining coconut sauce into hot skillet and boil over high heat until it reduces by about half and thickens slightly. Pour over chops. Scatter chopped cilantro over all. Makes 4 servings.
Note: Swap Thai curry paste for the chili paste if desired, and another vegetable for the cabbage, which I used because I had excess on hand.
What I cooked last week:
A sliced chicken, pesto and avocado open-faced sandwich; chili; chicken salad with apples, dried cranberries and pecans; cabbage baked in Thai sauce and coconut-curry pork chops; microwave cinnamon-raisin bread pudding; pan-grilled chicken breasts with horseradish-mayo topping and a chopped kale salad with sweet and sour dressing; pan-grilled strip steaks with tarragon wine sauce, buttered lima beans, smoked sweet potatoes.
What I ate in restaurants last week:
A grilled chicken salad at Alexandri’s in Wadsworth; half of an Asian salad with chicken and a hunk of baguette at Panera.
The bay laurels are in stock now at Donzell’s. Make sure you have enough room when you plant them.
I am sharing your tip, although I admit I waited until I snagged a plant to do so. Until the weather warms up, I am keeping my bay-leaf seedling near a grow light on my kitchen counter.
When I visited, Donzell’s Garden Center on Waterloo Road in Akron had almost a dozen plants. They are in the herbs section, in case your query for directions, like mine, is met with blank stares.
In case you missed my earlier post, I have wanted to find a bay laurel bush for years, ever since I tasted a blanc mange flavored with fresh bay leaves. FYI, bay laurel is a Mediterranean bush that is too tender for harsh Northern Ohio winters, so your best bet is to use a planter and bring it indoors before the snow flies.
From Mary D.:
I found a new place for you, on the Baldwin-Wallace campus … the Campus Grill: http://www.thecampusgrille.com.
You are a doll for sending me this link. I read the Latin menu and am itching to try it. Tony is balking at more Cuban and Caribbean food right now, so I’ll have to wait. Meanwhile, I hope anyone who visits will send me a report.