Tip of the Day: Holiday-themed recipes fit for a food processor

Consumer Reports News: November 15, 2006 12:09 AM

These simple, delicious dishes are perfect for the holidays

Food processors are the fastest-growing category of small kitchen appliances. One reason for their popularity is that they're so versatile—they can chop, slice, grate, whip, and blend. The best are also good at kneading dough. Given these multiple talents, food processors are an ideal tool to use during the busy holiday season since they'll cut the amount of kitchen gear and dishes to clean.

The four recipes here were created in the Consumer Reports test kitchen by a Culinary Institute of America graduate. They are easy to make and they're delicious, too.

Cheese Wafers

Prep time: 15 minutes. Total time: about 1 hour.
Makes 48 wafers.

2 cups (about 6 1/2 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) parmesan cheese

1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, softened

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

Using the shredding disk, shred all of both cheeses. Remove the shredding disk.
Install the blade, add butter to processor bowl, and mix butter into cheeses.
Add flour, salt, and cayenne to cheese-butter mixture, and combine until just blended.
Gather the dough into a ball and flatten into a disk. Put disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400° F.
On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick. (Note: It is very important that surface is well-floured, as the dough will stick as it warms. Add flour as necessary.)
To make the cheese wafers, cut them with a small round cookie cutter or small glass.
Place the wafers on an unbuttered sheet pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and crunchy.

Latkes (aka Potato Pancakes)

Prep time: 20 minutes. Total time: about 45 minutes.
Makes about 18 pancakes.

3 tablespoons fresh parsley
5 medium russet potatoes, peeled
2 medium yellow onions
2 large eggs

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons vegetable oil (more as needed)

Salt and pepper to taste

Using chopping blade, mince fresh parsley and set aside.
Install shredding disk and process onions and put aside. Then, shred potatoes.
Place potatoes and onions in a clean, dry dishtowel and wring as dry as possible. (This step is important because the latkes will not hold together if there is excess moisture.)
In a medium bowl, mix potatoes and onions with eggs, parsley, and mustard. Do not overmix.
Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet to medium-high. Oil will be ready when a water droplet sizzles on contact.
Spoon 2 tablespoon of potato mixture into pan and flatten with a spatula. Cook on each side for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until brown and crispy. Drain on a paper towel. Repeat.
Season liberally with salt and pepper.
To keep warm, place on a sheet pan in a 200° F oven.
Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce.

Lentil & Sausage Stew With Caramelized Onions

Prep time: 30 minutes. Total time: about 2 hours 30 minutes.
Makes about 3 quarts (16 6-ounce servings).

1 tablespoon olive oil
16 ounces sausage, casing removed (any type except breakfast sausage)
2 large yellow onions, sliced with the slicing disk*
2 large garlic cloves, minced with the chopping blade
2 large carrots, sliced with the slicing disk
2 celery stalks, sliced with the slicing disk
2 quarts chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound lentils
Salt and pepper to taste

*If you have more than one slicing disk, use the thinner one.

In a large stockpot, heat olive oil to medium-high. Oil will be ready when a water droplet sizzles on contact.
Add sausage and cook until brown; remove sausage, let cool, and chop into small pieces using the chopping blade. Set aside.
Drain most of the fat; turn heat to medium. Add onions. Cook about 10 to 15 minutes, or until brown and soft. Be sure to stir onions from time to time, as the natural sugars of the onion will caramelize and can stick and burn.
Add garlic to onion mixture.
Add chicken broth, sausage, carrots, celery, and tomato paste, turn heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil.
Add lentils, stir, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 90 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed and lentils are soft.
Puree mixture in food processor, using the blade.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pumpkin Pie

Prep time: 25 minutes. Total time: about 2 hours 40 minutes.
Makes one 9-inch single-crust pie.


3/4 cup flour, all-purpose
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons salted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
4 tablespoons ice water

1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place dry ingredients in the food processor and, using the blade, pulse until just blended.
Add butter and pulse until mixture is coarse and butter pieces are pea-sized.
Drizzle ice water over flour-butter mixture while the processor is running until dough begins to clump together. Dough should be soft and slightly moist.
Gather dough from bowl and press flat into disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Dough should overhang the edge of the pie pan by at least 2 inches, so roll it out to a diameter of about 11 inches.
To transfer dough to the 9-inch pie plate, fold it in half and place gently in the plate. Fit into the plate, making sure enough dough fills it adequately without stretching.
Trim excess dough off the sides, leaving at least 1 inch of dough.
Fold overhang of dough under itself. Crimp the edges, working your way around the pan. Chill for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375° F.
To partially prebake crust, place a piece of parchment paper (or aluminum foil) inside piecrust and hold down with pie weights or uncooked rice or beans. Bake in 375° F oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden.

To make filling, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, cream, and vanilla. Add sugars and spices. Whisk until blended. Pour into crust.
Bake in 375° F oven for about 45 minutes, or until filling is firm around the edges and jiggles slightly in the center. Cool on a rack for about 1 hour, cover with foil, and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

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