An overwhelming selection of new kitchen appliances, cookware and utensils fill the housewares shelves this season, providing the Christmas gift giver a wider range of options.
In last week's issue we listed some of the year's innovative introductions. Rushing to catch up with the culinary round-up and arriving in time for the buying momentum are these newcomers:
Introducing Little Pro, Cuisinarts' compact food processor ($90). Standing slightly over a foot high, this dynamic small appliance takes up less counter space than a copy of TV Guide magazine. Could this be another clone of the Oskar (the first compact food processor, introduced by Sunbeam in 1985)? But with all the knock-offs flooding the market, isn't Little Pro somewhat too late?
"I was skeptical about it at first," said Margaret Radochay, a Cuisinarts representative in Los Angeles. "But, when you do something the best, it doesn't matter when it comes along."
Little Pro at Work
In a short period, Radochay put Little Pro to work in The Times' test kitchen--slicing potatoes and onions, shredding cheese and mincing garlic for scalloped potatoes; shredding red and green cabbages for coleslaw; kneading pizza dough, slicing pepperoni and tomatoes and shredding cheese for the pizza filling. She also demonstrated mincing parsley as well as slicing carrots and cucumber and the slices were close to perfect, with very little waste. We also couldn't believe that it could whip cream and beat egg whites.
Our own testing proved that in single batches, Little Pro can mix about 1 1/2 cups of mayonnaise, knead dough for a single pastry crust or chop 1/2 pound of meat. Most chopped items such as nuts and herbs come out evenly processed due to the machine's pulsing action. I particularly like the way onions come out minced and dry, not mushy and wet as they do in some other units.
With Little Pro's sharp performance, it's easy to realize why Cuisinarts took this much time to come out with their own compact food processor. What they were making was a downsized clone of their largest food processor, the DLC-7 Super Pro, adding an extra feature that works in a big way. In addition to its clear, 3-cup-capacity bowl, Little Pro comes with a separate opaque work bowl that has a chute for continuous processing of unlimited quantities of food.
Unlike most other compacts in the market, the unit is quiet. "We were testing the competition," Radochay said, "and we found ours to be among the quietest. The base, which is very sturdy, houses a powerful direct-drive motor." Little Pro is also equipped with slicing and shredding discs, an adapter stem and ejector disc, a spatula and a recipe book.
On the trail of its forebearers, which have been regaining popularity in recent months for their nutritional and instant meal preparation benefits, is the new pressure cooker from Lentrade Inc. Called the Chantal Speed Cooker, it is available in stainless steel ($169) or in a blue or white enamel body ($150).
The cooker has the only state-of-the-art two-piece stainless main valve, and opposite the long, phenolic handle is the stay-cool side metal handle that Chantal is noted for. A tiny black ring valve rises above the cooker to indicate pressure and goes back down when the pressure is released. As with other safety-minded modern cookers, pressure can be released by pushing a button to release the steam away from the user, and only then can the lid be opened. The enamel version of the Speed Cooker is the only pressure cooker that can be used for induction stoves that require cookware with magnetic properties. Although more expensive than average types of stove tops, the induction stove has the advantage of instant heating as well as immediate power shut off.
Play It Cool ($49) from PN International is another novel gift idea that made it in time for this season's buying spree. A "cool" way to communicate those household messages, this battery-operated tape recording device takes the shape of an old-fashioned white refrigerator. Equipped with two permanent magnets, it is designed to mount on your refrigerator door; or it can be mounted on the wall with bracket and screws provided.
Play It Cool allows 30 minutes of recording time for separate messages. To record a message, push the record button and speak. A flashing light will indicate the message, and, by pressing the play button, the message will be played back. The unit has a volume control, fast-forward button and a reset button for rewinding and canceling messages. Note scribblers can open the door of the unit and write their message using the pen and pad provided.