Our last conversation on small appliances was so informative I thought we should talk about another item that’s near and dear to my heart: the food processor. Do you have one? Do you use it regularly? Was it a worthwhile investment?
I must confess, I’m obsessed with mine and I use it for everything. Everything. While I’m certainly the kind of cook who likes to whip out my knife and cutting board, I turn to my food processor to slice, chop, blend (my blender broke and I’ve yet to replace it with anything suitable), mix, blitz, and stir when the job is bigger than my allotted time, or desire to do everything by hand. Having said that, I didn’t own my first processor until late 2012, and that was only after Rob bought me one for Christmas. He was doubtful I would use it – he knows what kind of cook I am - but my sister convinced him it would be a worthwhile purchase. She was right.
After a year and half of unbending devotion to my small 9-cup machine, my friends at KitchenAid Canada sent me a 13-cup beauty as a thank you gift for attending a lunch they hosted last month. These are generous friends who send you home with the best kind of party favours, wouldn’t you agree?
I’ve been playing with this sleek machine, properly known as the KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor with ExactSlice™ System, for the past week, and if you can handle another confession, I must tell you that I’m a little in love. While this quick-cutting tool would be a dream for any home cook, it’s practically a necessity for the one who loves to cook for a crowd.
The large bowl fits snugly into the sturdy base, and despite it’s ample size it fits nicely on my too-small kitchen counter. The easy-to-read instruction manual had me up and running in no time, and I was slicing and shredding with ease minutes after pulling this beast from her packaging. The Type-A part of my personality was immensely pleased with the plastic accessories case that holds the extra blades and discs neatly until you need them. Small kitchens are easy to work in as long as you have a place to put everything you need, and this little lidded box makes that possible. I couldn’t be more pleased with this part of the package.
I tested my new machine on a classic side dish for Easter: the cheesy scalloped potato. My way of making them is simple and fast, as I use nothing but seasoned cream, potatoes, cheese, and caramelized onions. I know… all the good stuff. This method for making scalloped potatoes is also known as potato dauphiniose, but that sounds far too fancy for the simplicity of the dish.
Because I needed to slice onions and potatoes, and also grate cheese, I thought it was the perfect way to break in my new small appliance. As you can see in the photos, the cuts were clean, the cheese finely shredded, and my prep work was done in half the time it would have taken me to use a knife and cutting board. For this home cook who is often short on time, my new food processor made this dish even easier to assemble than usual.
Now, about the potatoes: I like to stuff my layers with soft golden onions and sharp cheddar cheese, but it also works well with nothing slipped in between the bits of potato. You can kick them up a notch by using Brie in place of cheddar, or a strong blue for a bolder flavour. Regardless of how you decide to prepare them, no one will be disappointed when they land on the table. They are a classic comfort food that’s ideal to serve with ham or lamb or whatever you’re planning to offer this weekend at your Easter feast.
Tell me, what are your thoughts on food processors? Are you as devoted as I am?
Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Scalloped Potatoes
- 3 cups whipping cream
- 4 crushed garlic cloves
- 2-3 thyme sprigs, plus extra leaves for garnish
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 large Spanish or yellow onion
- Pinch of sugar
- 2 ½ - 3 lbs. Yukon gold or russet potatoes, scrubbed with skins on
- Fresh ground pepper
- 1cup shredded aged cheddar cheese
In a saucepan, heat cream, garlic, thyme, and 1 teaspoon salt until steam rises from the pot and bubbles begin to form; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350° F and butter a 9-inch oval or 9-inch x 9-inch square baking or casserole dish.
Thinly slice onions in a food processor fitted with a slicing disc. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet set over medium-low heat. Add onions, the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of sugar, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown and caramelized, about 45 minutes.
Thinly slice the potatoes using a food processor or mandolin (I like mine 1/8 – ¼-inch thick). Layer ¼ of the potatoes in prepared pan; top with 1/3 of the onion, 1/4 of the cheesea and fresh ground pepper. Repeat twice. Top with remaining potatoes. Strain the cream mixture over the potatoes, shaking the casserole dish back and forth to distribute the cream evenly.
Bake on the middle rack of the oven (on a baking sheet to catch drips/overflow) until tender and the sauce is bubbling, about 1 hour (this will depend on the thickness of the potato slices).
Remove from the oven, top with remaining ¼ cup shredded cheese and thyme leaves, if using. Bake for an additional 30 minutes or until a knife slides easily into the centre of the potatoes and the cheese is golden brown.
*Make-ahead: Prepare and bake as per recipe instructions. Cook completely, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat, covered with foil, in a 325°F oven until warmed through.