Saturday, May 14, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Slow Cooker Revolution

I know I've mentioned this only about two million times, but I like to hear myself whine (wine!) so I'll say it again.  Once football season starts on August 1st, and there is practice five days a week, and this simultaneously conflicts with basketball, and all I do is drive around like a nut, the slow cooker is my savior.  Otherwise my family would get nothing hot for dinner unless it came from a drive-through.

I have one massive slow cooker cookbook, and that is the "Crock-Pot Original Slow Cooker Recipe Collection".  Plus I google recipes.  But I felt I needed one more source.  When I won an Amazon gift card from the lovely Dar, I barely blinked between the time I wrote down my code and went shopping for "Slow Cooker Revolution" from America's Test Kitchen.

I know several bloggers have already reviewed this cookbook.  Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books. Kathy at Bermudaonion.  Caite at A Lovely Shore Breeze.  I trust these women when it comes to books and especially to food.

For a couple of weeks now, we have been putting this cookbook through the paces, and will continue to build my repertoire until we "go live" on August 1st.  One unique thing I noticed about these slow cooker recipes is the use of fresh ingredients (no cream of mushroom soups, thank God!) and partial microwaving.  I assume that microwaving some of the food before slow cooking makes for a better final product, but I've never been required to do it before.  It does add to the preparation time, but wasn't a big deal for me.

So far, I've made Asian-Style Beef Stew, Chicken Vesuvio, and Easy Pesto Meatballs.  Everything was excellent, but I think the Asian Beef drew the most groans of pleasure at dinner from my meat-eating boys.  Here is the recipe:

Easy Asian-Style Beef Stew
2 cups frozen chopped onions or 2 onions minced
3 TBL tomato paste
2 TBL vegetable oil
1 TBL ground ginger or TBL minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder or 6 minced cloves fresh garlic
1 cup beef broth
3/4 cup chicken broth
8 ounce baby carrots
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 TBL Minute tapioca
2 bay leaves
3 pounds beef steak tips
6 ounces snow peas
1 8 ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained and patted dry
4 scallions sliced thin
1 TBL brown sugar

1.  Microwave onions, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon oil, ginger, and garlic in bowl, stirring occasionally, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker.

2. Stir beef broth, chicken broth, carrots, soy sauce, sherry, tapioca, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Season beef with salt and pepper and nestle into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.

3.  Transfer beef to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-sized pieces.  Let stew settle for 5 minutes, then remove fat from surface.  Discard bay leaves.

4.  Microwave snow peas with remaining oil in bowl, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir shredded beef, peas, and water chestnuts into stew and let sit until heated through, about 5 minutes.  Stir in scallions and brown sugar, season with salt and pepper, and serve with additional soy sauce.


Just so you know, I did not include the peas or water chestnuts in my recipe, else there would have been trouble.  The males in the house proclaimed it to be the best stew I'd ever served them.

There are 200 recipes included here, many with big beautiful pictures.  The chapters are in 13 categories, ranging from the expected like stews and soups, but also branch out into desserts, eggs and brunch, chilis, enchiladas and tacos, and even basics such as jam, gravy, caramelized onions and applesauce.  This is one stop slow cooker shopping.  I don't think you need anything else.

5 out of 5 stars

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.  Be sure to check out the other entries this week, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


JoAnn said...

Sounds delicious! I'm still on the library waiting list for this cookbook, but have a feeling it's one I'll end up buying. I love my crock pots!!

Unknown said...

It sounds lovely. I don't have a slow cooker yet, but I can see I might need one when my boys start to use me as a taxi a bit more.

Unknown said...

Sounds good and it looks like it would be much better for me than the sour cream hash brown casserole was. It was excellent by the way.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Sounds good - especially the endorsement!

Zibilee said...

I also really like the slow cooker, and have a few books that I really like. One of the books has you adding ingredients at different times during the cooking process, which I don't like very much, so I am going to have to see about this book. I have a really easy recipe for a great crock pot roast that I will have to give you the next time I see you. I think it will be right up your alley, and it's delicious!

Beth(bookaholicmom) said...

I love my crockpots! I have two going in my kitchen as I type this. I am going to put this on my wish list. It seems like everyone likes this cookbook and I am always looking for new crockpot ideas.

Julie P. said...

I've never had much luck with crockpot recipes with my family, but maybe I need to try this one. The stew is allergy friendly -- not always the case with crock pot recipes.

Beth F said...

I ran out and bought this one on Dawn's recommendation -- I don't think I've cooked from it yet, though. My problem with crock pots is that you have to remember to think about dinner in the morning. I usually think about dinner at 4:30pm. Oops.

Marg said...

We are just getting into slow cooker weather now. I bought pumpkin today to make soup, but I do really want to try out some new recipes this winter.

Johanna Garth said...

Okay, I'm convinced. Not only do I need a crockpot but I also need that cook book. Especially with two kids signed up for soccer in the fall :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds awesome! I definitely need to make that for my hubby, who is as meat-loving as it sounds like your boys are. This cookbook sounds excellent too.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Ah, another one drinking the ATK SLOW COOKER REVOLUTION Kool-Aid!

So good, isn't it?!

My faves so far are the Old-Fashioned Tamale Pie and Mac & Cheese w/Tomatoes.

That microwaving releases some of the flavor (I think they call it "blooming," before adding it to the rest of the ingredients). Like you, I've found those few extra steps are well worth it.

Serena said...

i've been a bit out of the loop lately, but I love slow cooker recipes!

caite said...

It is a great book, isn't it?

Kathleen said...

I could never have survived being a single mom without my trusty slow cooker!

Heather said...

This is already on my wish list. I am looking forward to my next book order.

Melissa said...

I'll have to check this book out! I've been so busy lately with all of C's appts that dinner suffers. This might get me back in the swing of things.

raych said...

I am making this stew as we speak. It smells amazing.