Sunday, April 29, 2012

Slow cooker Indian pudding recipe

Just so there's no confusion for UK readers, this should probably be called "Native American" pudding. However, although puddings like this were eaten by early settlers in the USA, the name comes from the cornmeal (or "Indian meal") it contains rather than referring to the recipe's ethnic origins. The pudding itself is a simplified version of a typical English pudding of the time. Food history lesson over. All you need to know is, it's yummy. 

I got the molasses required for this pudding in Holland and Barratt as they're hard to come by in supermarkets here but black treacle is a pretty good equivalent.

Ingredients for 4 - 6 portions:

3 cups / 750 ml milk (I used semi-skimmed and it was fine)
1/2 cup / 90 g cornmeal or polenta (fine)
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1/4 cup / 60 g light brown sugar
1/3 cup / 120 g molasses or treacle
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
2/3 cup / 100 g raisins or chopped dates

Directions:

Lightly grease the slow cooker pot. Switch it to High while you prepare your pudding. Bring the milk, cornmeal and salt to the boil in a saucepan. Boil, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. In a large bowl, mix everything else except the raisins or dates. Gradually add the hot cornmeal mixture to the egg and treacle mixture, beating as you go. Whisk until smooth. Stir in the dried fruit. Pour the mixture into the slow cooker and cook for 2-3 hours or, if you prefer, switch it to Low and cook for 6 - 8 hours.

Verdict:

This was unlike any dessert I had ever tried before.  It had a smooth, velvety texture, somewhere between a baked custard and a baked semolina.  Despite the reassuring texture of a nursery pudding, the taste was quite grown-up; spicy but not overpowering. I could imagine it would be fabulous with some vanilla ice-cream. The smell was quite Christmassy and it was definitely a winter or autumn pudding. It's not hard to make so, if you like unusual recipes, give this historic treat a go.




Sunday, April 22, 2012

Jambalaya recipe for the slow cooker

I'm pretty proud of this recipe. I first learnt to oook this tasty mix of rice, chicken, sausage and shrimp on a half day's course at the New Orleans School of Cookery many, many years ago. The fistful of recipes I learnt to cook that day beat leaving 'N'Orlins' with a souvenir T-shirt and this dish in particular has remained in my repertoir ever since. However, rice can be a tricky beast in the slow cooker so it took me a while to figure out how to make this work. Work, though, it does, and beautifully. 

Ingredients for 4:

1 lb / 500g meat - a mixture of cooked chicken and chorizo, or Andouille sausage if you can get it
1 cup brown rice - this is inauthentic but ends up giving you the right texture so humour me on this
1 14 oz tin chopped tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp cajun or creole seasoning
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 green pepper, sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped 
2 bay leaves
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 chicken stock cubes or enough bouillon concentrate to make 500 ml / 2 cups of broth
1 cup / 250 g large prawns/shrimp - frozen is fine

Directions:

Drain the tomatoes, retaining the juice. In a measuring jug, make the tomato juice up to 3 1/2 cups / 850ml with water. 

Put the liquid and all of the other ingredients except the prawns/shrimp into the slow cooker and combone well. Cook for 3-4 hours on Low then switch to High and add the prawns for the last 30 minutes. Check the rice is cooked. Enjoy with friends!

Verdict:

Try this. It's awesome! It's not overly spicy but has superb flavour. We really like the mixture of meat and fish and it's hearty without being stodgy or cloying. The brown rice means you still get distinct grains and a little bite whereas white rice will disappear into a mush leaving a still tasty but less authentic dish.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hungarian Goulash slow cooker recipe

Blighty regulars will know it has to be very, very good if I'm recommending a stew. It turns out there's a reason that this one is a classic. Goulash has somewhat fallen out of fashion over the last few years  as we've discovered food from further afield but it's definitely overdue a revisit, especially on a rainy spring day.

Ingredients for 4

1 large onion, finely chopped
1 lb / 500g braising beef
1 tsp white sugar
1 tbsp tomato purée
2 tbsp sweet paprika (or what is commonly sold as plain old 'paprika' in Britain)
3 tinned tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 carrots, thickly sliced
500 ml beef stock
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1/2 lb / 250 g new potatoes, cubed (optional - I didn't use them, possibly because I hadn't realised we'd run out when I started cooking)

Method:

Simply put everything in the pot and cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 8. You could add extra flavour by browning the meat first in a little vegetable oil but it depends on how much time you have. We didn't bother and still loved it.

Verdict:

I thought I knew what I was getting with goulash but this was better than any I'd had before. I adapted it from a special on Hungarian food in the Waitrose food magazine which, I suspect, speaks for its authenticity.  The flavour profile was sophisticated, complex and intriguing and there was none of the wateriness I associated with goulash. I'd never had caraway in a meat dish before and it added definite panache to the taste although I was only able to identify it because I knew it was there. The paprika was warm rather than fiery and the only thing which would have improved this dish was if I'd remembered to buy more spuds. 




Monday, April 9, 2012

Slow cooker Cuban Roast chicken recipe

Out of the hundreds of recipes I have tried in the slow cooker, this easily comes in my top 5. It might even come close to being my favourite ever. This dish is just a riot of different flavours and I urge you to try it. The photo just doesn't do it justice. I bored my husband silly by going on and on about how delicious the sauce and the stuffing were. He had to agree though. It was outstanding. It was a little more involved than some of my other recipes but not difficult in any way.

I am going to be bossy on just this one occasion though and suggest that you follow the instructions very carefully. This recipe involves stuffing a chicken with pre-cooked rice and, if you get this wrong, the chances of getting food poisoning are a little too high for my liking. And I wouldn't want to inflict that on you., given how delicious this is. 

Ingredients for 4:

1/4 cup/ 50 g raisins
1 cup / 250 ml boiling water
2 Italian sausages, mild or spicy (I used Sainsburys Sicilian style)
2 cups / 250 g cooked white rice*
1/2 cup /  50 g pine nuts, toasted (optional) 
1/2 cup / 100 g green, pimiento-stuffed olives, halved
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 roasting chicken, approx 3 lbs, rinsed and patted dry
(if your chicken has been frozen, it must be fully defrosted when you begin cooking)
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp paprika
1/2 cup / 125 ml hot chicken stock
1/4 cup medium dry sherry

* Rice must be cooked, cooled quickly and then refrigerated for a maximum of 24 hours before reheating. You must be sure it is piping hot when reheated.

Directions:

Switch your slow cooker to High. Pour the boiling water over the raisins in a small bowl and let soak for 15 minutes. Then pop the raisins into a large bowl.

In the mean time, cook the sausages until lightly browned in a frying pan / skillet. Allow to cool and slice into 1 inch / 2 cm lengths. Add to the raisins in the large bowl.

Stir the cooked rice, pine nuts, olives and salt and pepper into the sausage and raisin mixture. Moisten with the olive oil and stuff the chicken loosely with the mixture, reserving any that does not fit. Truss the chicken then rub the chicken with the butter and sprinkle it with the paprika and black pepper. 

Brown the chicken briefly in the leftover sausage fat in the frying pan.

Put the chicken into the slow cooker, on top of the leftover stuffing mixture. Pour over the chicken stock and the sherry. Cook on High for 3 1/2 - 4 Hours. Do not cook this recipe on Low. 

To be sure your chicken is ready and safe to eat, use an instant-read meat thermometer or similar to check that the centre of the chicken has hit 80 C or 165 F or more. Our rice was well over this when I tested after 3 1/2 hours. Juices should also run clear when the thigh of the chicken is pricked. 


Verdict:

You may have already realised that we really, really enjoyed this. The rice kept a slight bite to it, the fiesta of different flavours all kept their separate identities but harmonised with each other and we just couldn't stop eating it. It was insanely good. Make this!


 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Slow cooker chicken paprikash recipe

I've wanted to try this recipe ever since I watched "When Harry Met Sally" about 20 years ago. I'd never heard of Paprikash until Harry said "Waiter, I need more pepper on my paprikash" in the museum scene, but it sounded good. I was right. It is very, very good. I'm starting to learn that finishing a braised meat dish with sour cream, as they often do in Eastern European cooking, works extremely well. I'll soon be posting a stroganoff recipe that works the same way. In the mean time, do try this. And if you can think of any other meals from movies I can try, let me know!

Ingredients for 4:

8-10 chicken thighs and/or drumsticks (or breasts, but I find they have less flavour)
4 tsps sweet (i.e. standard, not hot) paprika, ideally Hungarian
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
3 tbsp flour
1 cup / 250 ml chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup / 4 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp flour

Directions:

This looks long-winded but isn't complicated or time-consuming in reality.

Put the chicken pieces into a large frying pan / skillet. Sprinkle half of the paprika, salt and pepper over them. Turn the chicken over and sprinkle the other half of the seasoning over the other side. 

Put the pan onto the burner on medium to high heat. Watch the chicken pieces carefully as you're adding no extra fat which means they will brown quite quickly - that's exactly what you want as it adds flavour. Cook for 2-4 minutes each side until browned without moving them about too much.

Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker and throw the onion into the frying pan to fry using any drippings left by the chicken. Sauté the onion for several minutes until it starts to soften then add the flour and cook, stirring well, for around 90 seconds. Add the chicken stock and allow it to bubble until the sauce starts to thicken. Tip the sauce and onion over the chicken.

Cook on Low for 6-8 hours or on High for 3-4.

30 minutes before you want to eat, mix the sour cream with the remaining 2 tbsp flour in a small bowl. Add a few spoonfuls of stock from the slow cooker to warm the sour cream. This prevents it from curdling when you add it to the chicken. Add the sour cream mixture to the slow cooker and stir well. Through all of this, try not to leave the lid off the slow cooker for any longer than necessary as it takes a while to regain heat. Continue cooking for 30 more minutes.

Serve with noodles, rice or mashed potato. Lick the plate clean and put me in your will. Leftovers freeze well. Apparently!

Verdict:

You may have picked up that this was absolutely awesome. The house smelt amazing. The method meant that the chicken had good colour and that lovely, slightly charred "umami" taste. The sauce was creamy and had body but wasn't hot or spicy. 5 stars all round. Love it. Love it. Love it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Slow cooker Lamb Navarin recipe

Navarin means "Spring-y" (I think!) so this is the perfect stew for this time of year. Imagine replacing the pasta in Pasta Primavera with lamb and you get close. I'm not that into stews so you know this has to be good.

Ingredients for 4:

1- 1/2 lbs / 500-750 g stewing lamb, cut into bite size pieces
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
3 tbsp flour
5 cups/ 1.25 L lamb stock, made up with 1 cube (i.e. a light stock)
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
2 large onions, chopped
12 small or new potatoes, scrubbed
4 carrots, scraped and cut into 1 inch/ 3cm lengths
2  cups or about 400 g fresh  or frozen peas
1 cup / or about 300g green beans, cut into 1 inch/3 cm lengths

Directions:

Put the potatoes, onions and carrots into the slow cooker.

Sprinkle the meat with the sugar, flour, salt and pepper and brown it in a large frying pan or skillet, using the olive oil. Add to the cooker.

Add everything else except the peas and beans to the slow cooker and cook on Low for 6 - 8 hours or High for 3-4.

Check the potatoes are cooked and add the peas and beans half an hour before you want to eat. Check everything is piping hot before you serve if you used the frozen peas.

Verdict:

This was a pretty and very flavoursome meal. It looks like a lot of ingredients but, because the vegetables are in big chunks, it wasn't too labour-intensive to prepare. Good, rustic French cooking at its best with a refeshingly light touch after all the heavier food we've enjoyed over the winter. Bon appetit!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Slow cooker candied parsnips recipe

We're still in the hungry gap here in the UK when spring is definitely on its way but the only seasonal veg is the end of what was stored over the winter.

We love parsnips in this house anyway but if you want to taste the true essence of pasnip, then cooking them like this may be just the ticket, especially if you're a bit sick of them roasted or mashed after so many months of winter veg.

Ingredients for 4:

6 parsnips, peeled
1/2 cup (about 120 g) of brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup / 120 ml orange juice
1 tsp grated orange rind
4 tbsp butter

Directions:

Grease the insides of your slow cooker. You'll thank me later.

Add all of the ingredients to the slow cooker and combine well. A qucik stir 15 minutes into cooking won't go amiss either once the butter has melted but it's not crucial.

Cook on High for 7-8 Hours.

Verdict:

Awesome. A deep but not inappropriately sweet taste, I guess balanced out by the orange notes. The parsnips still had some bite to them but no crispiness. These woul d be great with roast meats, sausages or alongside some cold ham.