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A Tasty Introduction to Slow Cooking
200 More Slow Cooker Recipes - Sara Lewis
Member Name: CarolineR-D
200 More Slow Cooker Recipes - Sara Lewis
Advantages: Good range of everyday recipes, colour photos
Disadvantages: Some of the 200 'recipes' are just adaptations of other recipes
When I bought my slow cooker I didn't really know what to expect, so I wanted a book that was easy to follow and offered me friendly, inspiring advice. I appreciate recipe books that are practical rather than ostentatious, geared towards the needs of busy, working people who have families to feed and don't have time to make 'fancy' dishes.
The introductory section put me at ease straightaway. I am often daunted by a new kitchen appliance, but this book opened my eyes to the difference my slow cooker could make to my routine, how it could help me organise my day more efficiently, as well as saving me time and money. All my initial questions as a slow cooker novice were answered comprehensively from how to work out timings to safety tips.
I love the layout of this book. All the recipes in this book contain a modest number of ingredients. (I find long lists of ingredients off-putting) and the ingredients are all easy to track down in local shops, with nothing too exotic and elusive. I find it helpful that the ingredients are listed in bold type as I can quickly spot anything I need when compiling a shopping list. The measurements are given in both ounces and grams, which is so much handier than having to keep referring to a conversion chart. The clear, colour photographs accompanying the recipes are excellent and certainly helped to whet my appetite.
Although the title refers to 200 recipes, it is a little misleading. The 200 is made up of suggested variations on other recipes. For example, on the same page as the recipe for Vegetable Goulash, there is an alternative recipe for Pork Goulash. This doesn't worry me too much, however. I don't need to count the recipes in this book to know that there are a lot of very appealing ideas here. Whether you want to call them proper recipes or adaptations of existing recipes, the end result is the same - inspiration!
I find the system of alternative recipe ideas very useful. For example, the recipe for Cauliflower and Spinach Balti looks wonderful apart from one small problem, the fact that nobody in our family likes cauliflower. It was therefore very handy to know that you could tweak the recipe, making the sauce exactly the same way but replacing the cauliflower with mushrooms and sweet potato.
I like the fact that this book provides a good balance between traditional old favourites - Irish Stew, Chicken Korma, etc. and exciting new combinations such as Beetroot and Mascarpone Risotto and Tomato Braised Squid with Chorizo. The range of recipes are drawn from different culinary traditions and suited to different moods. If you're feeling adventurous and a bit avant garde you may be inclined to have a go at Spiced Date and Chickpea Pilaf. When you need comforting, nursery food, you might be more tempted by good old Fish Pie.
Many recipes make use of shop bought sauces and other convenience foods. For example, the Chicken and Sweet Potato Balti uses a jar of Balti curry sauce. I suppose some might consider that cheating, but frankly I find this quite a refreshing touch. I hate culinary snobbery and I would never dream of being a kitchen martyr who has to make everything from scratch. The point about this book is that it aims to provide workable solutions for busy people. It shows how you can legitimately use a few short cuts but still produce tasty, nutritious meals.
This recipe book has made me realise that there is far more to slow cookers than endless casseroles. Pates, terrines and warm salads are things I would never have considered using my slow cooker for. I certainly would never have thought pasta dishes would be suitable for slow cooker adaptation, but have been pleasantly surprised by a delicious recipe for Mushroom and Tomato Rigatoni. Admittedly, the pasta is a little softer than it would be if cooked conventionally, but the flavour of the dish is good.
Desserts have been another revelation for me. Along with some seriously calorific offerings such as Jam Roly Poly or Chocolate and Coffee Custard Creams, some healthier puds are also presented. A delicious Berry Compote made from blueberries and strawberries cooked for 2 hours until beautifully tender is meant to be served with naughty but nice Syllabub Cream but I have found it works very well with low fat yoghurt. Raspberry and Rhubarb Oaty Crumble and Cider Poached Apples with Granola also offer healthier alternatives for those with a sweet tooth.
Although I have sampled many of the recipes contained in this book, there are some that don't appeal as they seem to be a lot more complicated than the conventional version of the recipe. For example, Venison Puff Pie involves cooking the filling in the slow cooker but baking the puff pastry topping in a conventional oven. (There I was, getting all excited about a pie being cooked in a slow cooker!) I was even more disappointed when I saw the recipe for Toffee Apple Pancakes and realised that no, you can't toss pancakes in a slow cooker and that shop-bought pancakes are required to accompany the slow cooked filling.
I am glad I tried out the Mulled Wine recipe over Christmas because not only did the 3 hour cooking time intensity the flavour, but it also filled my home with a gorgeous, seasonal aroma. There is even a recipe for Hot Chocolate. (A big vat of this was most welcome when we were snowed in last week!) This might also be a popular offering for children's sleepover parties.
I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to get the best out of their slow cooker. There are plenty of everyday meals as well as some more indulgent offerings. I love the user-friendly, down to earth style and I find that the included recipes often trigger my own creativity and lead me to come up with an idea of my own. This is good, as I don't always just want to follow recipes to the letter but want to be sufficiently inspired to improvise and explore.
This book can be purchased new from sellers at Amazon from £1.16 plus post and packaging.
Summary: A very handy little recipe book
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