Since You Asked: Kitchen gadgets have their time, place

I'm making an effort to become a better cook. I recently read an article about culinary stuff, and it emphasized the importance of having a food processor ... so I bought one. Question is: What do I do with it? Help!

— Sue W., Eagle Point

We appreciate attempts at becoming a better cook. It's the reason we print so much recipes.

And just like recipes, gadgets have their place in the kitchen. We view both as stepping stones to culinary achievement.

Food processors often relieve beginning cooks from spending a lot of time finely chopping ingredients with a knife. And if you're not confident with a knife, a food processor can seem safer.

So you can start using your processor to break down vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats for burger patties — anything that should have a fine texture. Higher-end processors, like Cuisinarts, come with attachments for grating and shredding foods, such as vegetables and cheese.

If you bake, you may see many recipes for pie crust and pizza dough calling for mixing them in a food processor. The blade "cuts in" butter better than a stand mixer.

Once you establish a culinary repertoire, you may find that tackling these tasks with non-motorized tools yields better results and greater satisfaction. Many chefs agree that one's hands are the most indispensable item in the kitchen.

Certain dishes, however, just aren't practical without a processor. We rely on ours for homemade pesto and hummus. Thrifty cooks process stale bread into breadcrumbs and whip up mayonnaise that is infinitely superior to store-bought.

Give the dukkah recipe with this week's A Fresh Approach column a whirl in your processor.

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