PROCESS THIS! is actually Jean Anderson’s third book about food processors—the first being “Jean Anderson’s Processor Cooking” published by William Morrow in 1979, followed by Jean Anderson’s NEW Processor Cooking” published in 1983. What made Jean decide to write a third book of recipes for food processors? Award-winning cookbook author Jean Anderson spent two years putting the new processors through their paces and developing recipes specifically for them. But, not to worry—these recipes will work in older machines too—in fact, they’ll make them perform better than ever.
The Introduction to “PROCESS THIS!” written by Jean, provides a number of clues to explain how this book came about.
“Compared to today’s racy new food processors,” says Jean, “those early machines hailed as miracle workers back in the 1970s look positively Smithsonian…”
She explains how the food processor came about; Carl Sontheimer, an American traveling in France, happened one day upon something called Le Magimix, a scaled-down version of Le Robot-Coupe. “This was,” Jean writes, “an industrial strength machine that chopped, shredded, sliced, and pureed, streamlining the labor-intensive classics of haute cuisine. French chefs loved it; American chefs called it ‘the buffalo chopper’…”
Sontheimer, it seems, was a retired engineer who knew his way around the kitchen and he immediately realized what a reconfigured Magimix could do for the American cook. He shipped some to his home in Connecticut and began tinkering. Sontheimer came up with a food processor that would serve restaurant chefs as well as home cooks.
“The grand unveiling,” Jean writes, “took place in 1973 at the National Housewares Exposition in Chicago, but strangely, Sontheimer’s new Cuisinart food processor generated no buzz. Indeed,” she explains, “it was only after Julia Child, James Beard and other culinary supernovas began using the food processor that it would become the hot new kitchen ‘toy’. And spawn slews of imitations….”
By the time Carl Sontheimer died in 1998 at the age of eighty-four, he’d seen, says Jean, his food processor become a kitchen staple, he’d seen clones come and go and he’d seen many refinements and improvements.
“As the twenty-first century approached,” Jean writes, “there was a strong new contender for market share. KitchenAid, long known for the supremacy of its electric mixers, launched a line of food processors. With nearly thirty years of hindsight, they knew what worked on the early models and what hadn’t. They knew, too, the kinds of innovations it would take to make their new machines shine….”
Jean laments that consumers have failed to keep pace. Some are still using antiquated food processors. Others have banished their machines to the top pantry shelf because they never learned to use them properly.
As for herself, Jean says she couldn’t cook without one. She has been working with food processors since the early 1970s and has tried almost every brand. Today she keeps three “at-the-ready” for the recipes she needs to test for cookbook and magazine articles. I was bemused to read that she named her food processors “Bridie”, “Gracie” and “Mary” after the tireless assistants in the New York recipe test kitchens of the Ladies Home Journal where Jean began her career – “pre processor”. Bridie, Gracie and Mary, she says, were their “food processors”, chopping, slicing, and shredding whatever was needed.
Jean spent two years developing recipes for “PROCESS THIS!” and says she has learned a great deal about the new generation of food processors and how to adapt recipes to suit them. “In baking, for example,” she explains, “I discovered that if I turned certain cake and cookie recipes upside down and completely changed the method of mixing, I could prepare them almost entirely by food processor…”
Jean also discovered that she could turn her food processor into a bread machine!
You’ll love the detailed information in “PROCESS THIS!” that starts with a chapter called “Getting Down To Basics” – Jean has taken all the worry out of trying to decide which food processor would be best for you, providing detailed comparisons with the top models, – KitchenAid, LeChef, and Cuisinart (which she describes as “racy as a new Ferrari…”)
She explains how to use your food processor safely and provides a dictionary of foods and how to process them. Another section lists various foods and amounts, tells you how to process them, and what you can expect in an equivalent yield.
“PROCESS THIS!” starts out with basic recipes, covering such subjects as making soup stocks, sauces, mayonnaise, and your own homemade salad dressings. There are recipes for salsas and flavored butters.
Jean says that the food processor churns out flavored butters so fast, she rolls them into logs, wraps them in foil and keeps them in the freezer so that all she needs to do is slice off a pat or two whenever she needs them.
“PROCESS THIS!” provides recipes for hors d’oeuvres, cheesecake and flan, dips and sandwich spreads. Check out the mouth-watering recipes for Spicy Potted Shrimp, Ham Salad Sandwich Spread or – one of my favorites, – Pimiento Cheese spread.
You will be delighted with Jean’s recipes for Shrimp de Jonghe (and bet you didn’t know this is an old Chicago recipe that was the specialty of the de Jonghes, a Dutch family of hoteliers), or the Four Onion Tart with Smoky Bacon…Old Timey Corn Custard and Yankee Hashed Onions.
Jean provides detailed instructions for making quick breads and yeast breads with your new food processor and shares with us a wealth of processor bread-making tips so that you can whip up (literally) orange-cranberry muffins or popovers, Cinnamon-Oatmeal Loaf with Dried Cranberries and Pao – a Portuguese Farm Bread and a nod to one of Jean’s earlier cookbooks, “THE FOOD OF PORTUGAL”, published in 1986.
For dessert, you may want to check out Jean’s recipe for Toasted Hazelnut Tart, Apple-Oatmeal-Walnut Crumble, nor perhaps, Clafouti with Dark Cherries, Almonds, and Dried Cranberries. I also enjoy the chatty, personal introduction Jean provides with her recipes
Jean Anderson is, I believe, one of the most versatile and interesting cookbook authors of our time; she continues to amaze us with wonders such as “AMERICAN CENTURY COOKBOOK” (one of my favorites) and ”DINNERS IN A DISH OR A DASH”, published by William Morrow in 2000. Since then she has published three more cookbooks—
Quick Loaves, published in 2005 by William Morrow, “A Love Affair With Southern Cooking”, published in 2007 also by William Morrow, and her latest, “Falling Off The Bone” published in 2010 by John Wiley & Sons. (I just bought “Falling off the Bone” and will get back to you about this latest book of Jean’s, after I’ve had time to read it).
What is perhaps most unique about all of Jean’s cookbooks is that many cookbooks become ‘dated’ after a few decades—not so Jean Anderson’s cookbooks. I can pick up something like “Grass Roots Cookbook”, originally published over 25 years ago-and find it really interesting reading—and cooking.
“PROCESS THIS!” by Jean Anderson is from her long-time publisher William Morrow, and was published in 2002. It was released in paperback in 2005 and Amazon has the book, new, for $8.83 and 28 pre owned copies starting at $3.81.
Happy cooking and happy cookbook collecting!