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A brilliant slow cooker book
Hamlyn: All Colour Cookbook - 200 Slow Cooker Recipes - Sara Lewis
Member Name: cerys82
Hamlyn: All Colour Cookbook - 200 Slow Cooker Recipes - Sara Lewis
Advantages: Great variety of ideas and techniques that you might not have thought of
Disadvantages: Maybe not for you if you are just looking for solely traditional ideas
*This review refers to the paperback version*
This book is the one of the first of a selection of slow cooker books that I now have. I bought mine on Amazon where at the time of writing it is available for £3.44 on Amazon and £2.49 on Kindle. I have also seen this book available on occasion in Tesco.
I have a vast array of cookbooks and as a rule, I am quite a big fan of Hamlyn cookbooks as they tend to be very reasonably priced and have really good ideas contained within them. That is why I did not hesitate to pick this one up.
The book itself is quite small as regards to height, probably ¾ the size of a standard paperback novel but deeper in width. The cover is made of firm cardboard and has a textured finish so will withstand a bit more bashing about in the kitchen than standard paperbacks. The pages inside are glossy so withstand a few splashes and spills. The spine of the book is pretty good; if you don't have a recipe book holder you can lay it down relatively flat to cook from, but with it being a relatively cheap book I wouldn't overdo that at the risk of pulling out the pages.
The book starts with a very good introduction which I would highly recommend for anybody new to slow cookers. It details that principles behind slow cookers, settings, timings, how to prepare different foodstuffs beforehand and there is also a really good bit about adapting your own recipes which is incredibly useful in the long term if you really take to slow cookers.
Then we come to the recipes
To give you a good idea of what the book contains I will give you a sample list of recipes from each section. Each recipe is displayed over 2 opposing pages with one being taken up with the recipe, the other with a picture of the finished article. The method for each recipe is emphasised by the main description for each step being in bold e.g. Preheat, add, transfer, heat etc. Along with the ingredients list , there is also rather helpfully a breakdown of what cooking temperature it needs to be set to (which will only ever bee low or high) and it also points out the preparation time as well as the cooking time. Each recipe also has relatively detailed instructions on how to make variation of this idea to make a completely different meal; I assume this is the way that they managed to get 200 recipes in such a small book!
Breakfast & light bites: banana and cinnamon porridge, easy sausage and beans, Cajun red bean soup, chicken and noodle broth, gingered sweet potato soup, beery cheese fondue, chunky chickpea and chorizo soup
Meat, poultry and game: lamb shanks with juniper, Thai green chicken curry, cidered pork with sage dumplings, baked ham in cola ( a favourite), the obligatory beef stew with dumplings, sun dried tomato and chicken pilaf, maple glazed ribs, olive and lemon meatballs, beery barley beef (another favourite)
Fish and seafood: salmon in hot miso broth, smoked mackerel kedgeree, chermoula poached salmon, macaroni with smoked haddock
Vegetables: herby stuffed peppers, green bean risotto with pesto, sweet potato and egg curry, pumpkin and parmesan gnocchi, tarka dahl. Ratatouille with ricotta dumplings,
Desserts, drinks & preserves: sticky rum bananas with vanilla, crème caramels, lemon custard creams, pineapple upside down puddings, sticky toffee apple pudding, iced Jamaican ginger cake, winter fruit compote (another favourite), tangy citrus curd, pickled plums, hot Mexican coffee, lemon cordial, hot Jamaican punch, mulled cranberry and red wine.
I have to say that this is one of my most used cookbooks, not just slow cooker cookbooks, but overall. It really does push the limits of what you think your slow cooker can do as I have friends who have given up on theirs because they only thought you could do stew and mulled wine in theirs. I only have a bog-standard Tesco own-make one which cost about £15 about 4 years ago and I have managed to cook everything that I have wanted to try from this easily. So of course I have done the stews but the ideas within have inspired me to experiment more with curries (which work particularly wonderfully because of the time taken to marinate the flavours) as well as porridges and my first steps into preserves. Once you have seen how successfully these things can be it encourages to test out your own ideas which is an added boon.
One thing I would say about the puddings, cakes that you can make using the slow cooker is that due to the design of the slow cooker in general it means that these aren't always the prettiest of dishes when they come out but they still taste great, typically very moist.
As you can see from the list above it touches on a lot of different cuisines which is great and also the variety means that although yes, it does have some slightly more unusual ideas the standard stews and curries etc are also included. It may not be for you if you are fully traditional about the type of food you like but for everyone else it gives a really good idea of just what you can really do with your slow cooker.
The recipes themselves are well described and I have not had any disasters yet (touch wood!) It has also encouraged me that it is entirely possible to use your slow cooker all year round because for a time I was tempted only to use it at winter. For the most part, the ingredients are cost-effective and easy to get. What is also great is that because of the way the slow cooker cooks you can get away with cheaper cuts of meat without compromising on taste and texture so you can experiment a bit with some of the meats that they list here.
For such a cheap book, a lot of thought has actively gone into it. This is typified by small details like the fact it makes it so clear what the preparation and cooking time is without you having to trawl through the recipe. It seems to recognise that a lot of people are interested in using slow cookers because they are quite time poor and need to be able to know whether leaving a particular recipe in the slow cooker for a given amount of time will fit in with their schedule i.e. whether they are leaving it on whilst they are at work or because they want to knock something wholesome up for lunch whilst they are doing other things in the morning.
In conclusion, I would really recommend this for anybody who either a beginner to using a slow cooker or for anyone who is looking to do more with theirs as it will give you the ideas and confidence to really experiment with interesting meal ideas that actually work!
You will also see that I have recently reviewed its successor 200 more slow cooker recipes so take a look at that as well as that is also very good.
Summary: Get the best out of your slow cooker with this book
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