My R2 Unit (featuring Asian Salad)
A few months ago, I finally came to terms with something I had been subconsciously suspecting for a while.
I was going to have to buy a new food processor.
My Cuisinart had been the number one most reliable appliance in my kitchen for almost 20 years- certainly more stable than the 10 month long marriage I received it as a gift for. It was my cohort, my faithful companion, my R2D2. It felt adulterous to even think about getting a new machine, because it wasn’t quite dead yet, but my eyes were wandering through the Williams Sonoma, Sur la Table, and other cook’s catalogs. As fate would have it, my parent’s Cuisinart finally kicked it, giving me the opportunity to pass mine off to them and take advantage of a sale that chefscatalog.com was having on a 13 cup, 3 speed, 2 work-bowl, Kitchen Aid food processor. This was the big leagues. I felt that giving this to myself and my business was like stepping onto the next level. This is what a real caterer would own, and therefore I must be…
It felt like Christmas morning the day it arrived. I tore the box open with childish delight. I knew exactly what my first job would be for this amazing new toy: pie crust, the one thing that is not only easier to make with a machine, but better tasting. I pulsed the flour, sugar, and salt for a second, adjusting to the Kitchen Aid buttons. Then I tossed in the chilled butter cubes and frozen shortening and started to pulse them into the flour mixture. “Whrrrrrrrrrr”, replied the Kitchen Aid, struggling with the butter. My eyebrows knitted as I cursed myself for adding too much butter too quickly. I took some out and hit the pulse button again. “Wheeeezzzzzzzyyywwhhrrrrrrrrrrr!!!”.
It was overwhelmed with the smallest amount of butter and shortening. I scolded myself again and plopped the contents out into a different bowl. I thought, “I’ll start smaller and work my way up.” But the tiniest amount of flour and butter resulted in complaints from the machine. My self-admonishment shifted to anger with Kitchen Aid, chefscatalog.com, and my boyfriend (who had done absolutely nothing but be an actual person in the proximity of my rage). I saw that now, though the butter had not been properly compounded into the flour mixture, it had been too processed to make the quality pie dough I needed (this was for a client, not just for me). Frustrated beyond reason, I put the processor on the shelf and made the crust by hand. Angry Apple Pie.
The next day I hit the machine with a simpler task: I pulsed a few tomatoes for salsa. The smaller work-bowl fit sloppily into the larger bowl and tomato particles were flung from the machine throughout my kitchen. This machine could handle NONE of the tasks I needed it for. This was not the droid I was looking for. Livid, I returned it for a full refund the following day.
But that, of course, left me processorless. And, though I take great pride in my skills, hand cutting and chopping things, my calendar was filling up with work and I needed the extra pair of hands – or blades, rather. To Amazon I went. And that is where I realized it was not time to jump brands. While my Kitchen Aid stand mixer has been my second most loyal appliance, my C3P0, maybe Kitchen Aid was more of a mixing company than a chopping company. I went with the Cuisinart Elite Collection 12 Cup food processor, and found my ultimate sous chef.
The smaller bowl and blade fit perfectly into the larger bowl, making the little jobs I normally do by hand, chopping garlic or ginger for example, a cinch to mince quickly and move on to my next task. I use the machine twice as much as I used to because of the smaller bowl. The whole machine is precise, easy to manage and a breeze to clean.
Thank you Cuisinart, you were my only hope.
A client recently asked me what I eat when I get home after cooking all day. This salad is one of my favorite things for a few reasons- first off, cabbage can sit in your fridge for a while without spoiling. Second, both the cabbage and nuts are full of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and glucosinolates- all big cancer fighting nutrients. I don’t exactly mean that this salad is healthy because there is so much sugar in the dressing that it’s almost like a dessert salad, but you can use the dressing sparingly. It also contains Oriental Flavor Ramen Noodles and flavor packet, which are probably horrible for you but kind of fun to eat.
I like to make a big a big vat of the salad, the toasted nuts/ ramen mixture, and dressing at the start of a busy week and then toss the goodness together when I need to eat something quickly. It takes two seconds once everything is precut and it’s incredibly satistfying.
Of course, this salad would be obnoxious to make without a food processor. I normally use the grating disc because I like the cabbage to be relatively small. Last time I made it, however, I used the slicing disc instead and, after chopping everything, I reached in to take the wheel out and lopped off the top of my finger. So my final recommendation for food processor users is, be careful! You could wind up with finger salad like I did.
Nut/ Ramen Mixture:
- 1 package ramen noodles (oreintal flavor) – crumble noodles & put flavor packet aside
- 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- Place above ingredients on a foil covered baking sheet in a 300 degree oven for one hour mixing occasionally until brown. This can be done several days ahead. Cool and store in ziploc bag.
- 1 half red cabbage, shredded
- 1 half green cabbage, shredded
- One large carrot shredded
- 1 scallion diced
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- flavor packet from ramen noodles
Toss salad with dressing and nut/ ramen mixture and enjoy!
Of course, ANYTHING can be added to this salad to make it even better. Try grilled chicken, or cut snow peas, or roasted turkey, or steamed sugar snap peas.