The food processor is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets; it's quick, it's easy, and surprisingly versatile — it's a useful tool for just about any chopping, mixing, or puréeing job. Chances are good you only take your food processor out when you're making something like pesto, tomato sauce, or salsa, but your food processor is capable of doing so much more.
A food processor is essentially a short, wide, covered plastic bowl fitted with a series of metal blades. The stainless-steel blades rotate at high speeds, spinning and chopping the ingredients inside. Many food processors have a variety of attachments making it possible for them to slice, dice, shred, grind, mix, and purée.
Food processors spin at such high speeds (some as fast as 166 revolutions of the blade per second) that they are incredibly useful tools for emulsifying ingredients that would otherwise separate. Oil and water don't combine easily by normal mixing but the high speed of the food processor allows droplets of oil to suspend themselves evenly throughout the water — this means you can quickly and easily make things like mayonnaise and salad dressing from scratch in your food processor.
The food processor is also a great tool for making a number of doughs. The powerful blades (and gentler dough and paddle attachments) quickly and easily combine a variety of ingredients. If you want to make a light flaky pie crust, for example, without over-mixing the ingredients or running the risk of melting the butter, the food processor offers a solution; the blades combine ingredients quickly without adding any heat.
If you want to make from-scratch foods quickly and easily, the food processor has to be one of you go-to kitchen gadgets. Check out some of the other things it can do.
If you have extra heavy cream on hand, toss it in your food process with some salt and churn it at a low speed. After a few minutes you’ll notice small clumps of butter — drain the liquid (buttermilk), wrap the butter in cheesecloth, and squeeze to remove any remaining buttermilk. Then chill your homemade butter in a dish — it’s that easy.
One of the easiest ways to use stale bread is to pulse it in the food processor and make breadcrumbs. You can even add dried spices, salt, and pepper if you’d like to make seasoned breadcrumbs.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.