Saturday, October 17, 2009

Confessions of an Appliance Addict

I admit it; I am addicted to clever kitchen electrics. I bought my first Cuisinart when they first appeared on this shore, and recently dumped old faithful and bought the new FP-16 the minute it came out. Here's what sounded so great about it:

• large capacity; 16 cups, which is big enough to really make bread, large loads of cookies, grate a LOT of cheese, etc.
• small bowl option for all those little jobs that are just too small for the Cuisinart, like chopping garlic and herbs, mixing up the dressing for coleslaw, etc.
• the feed tube is at the front. How smart is that?
• the slicing blade is adjustable (whoopee!!!!) and the grating blade has a small and a large side. I may be able to pass on the ever-dangerous mandoline.

So I ran up to Williams-Sonoma and bought the FP-16 even though I never go to Montana Avenue, and the machine only comes in industrial steel (I like traditional white appliances), and I had only read a couple of reviews on, and I really couldn't afford a new appliance, and there was really nothing wrong with my old Cuisinart.

Before I could change my mind, I took the old one over to the local shelter kitchen and immediately cut my finger on the blade as I was showing the women who live there and cook there how to use this great old machine. Not a great start to this adventure.

I've been using the FP-16 for a couple of weeks now, and I do like the stronger motor, the nifty storage box for the blades, the small bowl, and the front feed tube. However, I have yet to become anywhere near proficient at this tool, and will try to document my efforts to learn by describing my successes and failures here on the blog.

My biggest frustration to date is the difficulty of separating the different sized bowls when trying to remove the small or medium one from the machine. It seems to require all three bowls to be in place if I'm using the mini, and the big bowl needs to be there if I'm using the medium one. This means that all three of them get dirty because my hands are messy when I'm trying to remove them.

Another cleaning challenge is that the top has a lot of crevices that collect food. I now keep a toothbrush handy at the sink to get those stubborn little bits.

It is difficult to tell which blade is which, although the storage container is quite fetching.

Dough was mixed and kneaded nicely in the large bowl.

I made a nice tuna salad to go in Jeremy's lunch by pulsing some celery in the small bowl, then adding the tuna and mayo and pulsing a little bit more. It made me think that what I might really need is a regular big Cuisinart and a regular tiny Cuisinart, not this behemoth do-it-all thing.

I have yet to have success with the slicing blade. I have tried to slice onions, which were way too thin, and sausages, which were quite a disappointment. I had these chicken apple sausages that are pre-cooked, and I wanted to slice them thin to go on pizza. I set the blade at #4, expecting sausage that resembled pepperoni. I stood them up neatly in the feed tube, but they got caught between the top and the blade, and look like chipped lunch meat. The pizza still tasted fine, but the presentation suffered.

I used those pre-fried onions instead of raw onions on the pizza, which is why it is a little dark, but it was delicious nonetheless. I really must watch the rest of the darned video before I use the FP-16 again.