For a long time, we didn't have a food processor. Certainly, it isn't a necessity in a kitchen (as we've said many times, we believe just a chef's knife and a solid pan can take you far). But our food processor changed our cooking, and it's especially helpful this time of year, so allow us a minute to sing its praises...
We have the classic Cuisinart food processor. We use it more than our Kitchenaid standing mixer and more than a blender (in fact, we don't even have a blender). It is the most versatile appliance we own, and its general excellence lies in the fact that it does plenty of things you can do by hand, only much, much faster. It also does some things you can't do by hand—like purée soup.
This time of year, it's especially handy for pie crusts. Two pulses and your dry ingredients are well blended. A few more and the butter is cut in. Drizzle ice water through the feed tube while it's running and, presto, pie crust. It's practically foolproof.
Let's not forget making homemade bread crumbs—great for topping gratins or warm casseroles that are popular this time of year. And if you're entertaining a lot, you can make a dip out of almost anything just by whizzing it in the food processor. Carrot cake? A food processor will shred those carrots in a fraction of the time it will take you to grate them.
You can grind nuts. You can make homemade butter, like in the photo above. Have we said enough? We know many of you don't have room—or, hey, you just like doing things by hand—but if you're making a holiday wish list, we think this appliance is a good addition to a kitchen.
If you don't want to spend full price on a food processor, check Craigslist. Or, keep an eye on big department stores, which run sales around the holidays.
What other uses do you have for your food processor?
Related: Good Question: Can My Food Processor Do More?
(Image: Flickr member cafemama, licensed for use under Creative Commons)