Having achieved hard-cover success with his New York Times column ""60-Minute Gourmet,"" Franey now offers a basic photo-illustrated guide to kitchen equipment, which he also covers for the Times. Complete with recipes, Franey's guide is more selective, more humanly in touch, and a good deal more readable than Beard's imposing Cook's Catalog. Sensible from the start, Franey expresses refreshing doubt as to whether even the serious home cook really needs a professional range--and he casts a semi-jaundiced eye on the now-ubiquitous food processor. He traces the Cuisinart's history from the days when Americans were running off to buy this machine but at a loss as to what to do with it . . . to the period of the ""baby food party"" when guests sat down to meals chopped to mush. Then came the public battle, conducted with ""all the passion of a marriage gone sour,"" between the straying Cuisinart and the indignant Robot-Coupe, charging back under its maiden name. Franey rates both machines ""just about evenly"" except for Cuisinart's edge in slicing--but the venerable washboard-like mandoline is Franey's choice for slicing. In the end he concedes the food processor's near-indispensability but finds the array of accessories ""somewhat bewildering."" In a similar vein he devotes as much serious attention to the humble vegetable peeler (his has a swivel action), trussing needle (deplorably underused in America), and rubber spatula as he does to more special items such as a shrimp deveiner or pasta maker. The recipes partake of the same classic virtues. Many are familiar but there's not a dud or a gimmick in the crowd.