Saturday, October 30, 2010

Slow cooker Overnight Porridge / Oatmeal recipe

I feel a real sense of guilt about this post as I meant to create an overnight porridge for my friend Jessica (Hi Jess!). What I ended up with was totally yummy but I remembered as I ate it that Jess hates cooked fruit. (Sorry Jess). I have it in mind to keep working on this because I love having a cooked breakfast waiting for me when I go downstairs - hey, it's like having staff! - but for now, for those of you who like a fruity breakfast, this may be worth a try. I ought to mention that, for good or for ill, it doesn't taste much like normal porridge. For good or for ill.

Ingredients for 4:

500ml / 2 cups milk
50 g / 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup/ 75 g rolled oats
3 small apples, roughly chopped
50g / 1/4 cup raisins
50 g/ 1/4 cup dried cranberries (any dried fruit is fine)


Dump it all in. Give it a stir. Cook on Low for 8-10 hours.


This is a really satisfying breakfast. My toddler liked it and so did my husband who hates normal porridge. It has a dark golden colour which seems weird at first but I think it's the apples and brown sugar that give it that colour. It was quite sweet and I might tone that down next time but it was also creamy. It was pretty thick as porridges go which I didn't mind but you might like it sloppier. The apple stays in chunks which is nice and the spices are very autumnal. We've made this several times now. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Slow cooker potato, spinach, mushroom and gruyere (except it's cheddar) bake.

I'm not going to lie to you and say this dish is quick to put together, because it's not. However, I'm posting it because my in-laws loved it. Given that my F-i-L is usually dismissive of vegetarian food and my M-i-L doesn't like potatoes (yes, I know, what was I thinking?) the fact they both enthusiastically had seconds is a result in itself. It was really delicious.
This is a great example of how the SC doesn't necessarily always save you time but it can shift the cooking time to another more convenient slot, whilst leaving you free to do the hostess (or host) thing. I put the dish together at lunchtime while my toddler napped and I chatted to my mother-in-law and then it chuntered away in the background while we had a happy afternoon relaxing and going for a walk in the woods. 

Here's how to make it:

Ingredients for 6:
(If you don't have a 6L or 6 quart slow cooker, you may need to scale down)

6 large baking potatoes, sliced lengthways
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp mixed herbs
salt and pepper to taste
2 medium onions, chopped medium fine
3/4 lb/ 300g mushrooms, chopped
7/8 lb/350g fresh spinach, washed
1 cup/250 g ricotta cheese
250g / 1 cup cheddar or Gruyère, grated


In a large and deep pan, fry the onion in the olive oil. After 5 minutes, add the garlic. Once fragrant, add the mushrooms. Add a little salt and stir well. Once they are throwing off their juices, add the spinach, cover the pan and wait until wilted - about 5 minutes. Then uncover the pan and wait for the liquid to mostly boil off, stirring occasionally. This is what took the time for me. Take the pan off the heat and add the ricotta.

Now grease your slow cooker crock carefully. First put a third of the potatoes in the bottom of the crock. You'll need a few layers. Add half the ricotta and spinach mixture, season, and sprinkle with a third of the cheddar. Repeat. Finally add the last third of potatoes, topped with a final layer of cheddar. 

Cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3. It's ready once the potatoes are tender.

Excellent with a glass of red. 


This will be made again. It was robust and full of flavour and you never missed the meat. No one flavour dominated but it wasn't bland or uninteresting at all, just very well balanced. It was somehow hearty without being stodgy or as overpoweringly cheesy as some vegetarian dishes can be. We all loved it.

And that was how a meal-planning FAIL turned into a surprise culinary hit!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Slow cooker Friday Night Stuffed Cabbage recipe

Do you have a recipe which just has so many happy memories connected with it that every time you see it in your recipe book you smile? One that always seems to guarantee a happy and cosy evening with friends either old and treasured or maybe new? This is mine.

I've been cooking this since I was a student. It's easy, although I won't lie and say it's super-quick to put together. It's also very economical but makes people feel like they've been made a fuss of because it took a little effort. It's  not run-of-the-mill, at least not in the UK, but none of the flavours are so unusal that they're going to offend. You just can't lose with this one.

Ingredients for4-5

1 large cabbage, ideally Savoy
500g/ 1lb beef mince/ground beef
1 onion, finely minced
2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp raw white rice
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp oregano


Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Strip the leaves from the outside of the cabbage until you are pulling off leaves less than about 3 inches high. Wash the leaves then dunk into the boiling water for about 2 minutes. You'll probably have to do this in batches. Drain the cabbage leaves, refresh with cold water and then drain again in a colander.

Chop the remaining centre leaves of the cabbage and pop them into your slow cooker.

Go back to the bigger, outer leaves and cut a 'v' shape out of the base, as shown above. This is to take out the inflexible core which will stop you folding up your cabbage leaf parcels.

Mix the beef, rice, egg, 1 tsp paprika and onion in  a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Taking about 2 tbsp of mixture at a time (less once you get to smaller leaves), place the meat just above the 'V' cut on a leaf with the 'V' cut closest to you. Bring in the sides of the leaf then roll the cabbage leaf away from you, over the meat, creating a parcel. Place each parcel, seam side down, onto the chopped cabbage in the slow cooker. You can have more than one layer of parcels, no problem.  It will look like the top picture.

Once you have completed your parcels, hopefully running out of mixture and leaves at about the same time, tip the tomatoes over the entire pile of cabbage parcels. Sprinle the second tsp of paprika, the oregano and the sugar over the top of the tomatoes and season again, although go easy on the salt.

Cook on Low for 7-8 Hours or on High for 3-4.  Serve with mashed potatoes, not forgetting to give each person some of the chopped cabbage on the side with their parcels.


I've never cooked this in the slow cooker before and it was heavenly. The parcels are flavoursome, even non-cabbage-lovers seem to like this and you are left with a wonderful soup in the bottom of the slow ooker which you can use for another meal. The meat cooks gently and the cabbage doesn't fall apart as in some other recipes. The parcels look so pretty, especially with a nice green cabbage like Savoy and the house smelt wonderful when we returned from a bracing walk in the woods - real "log cabin food" as we call it! This remains one of my favourite recipes of all time and it always makes me happy to roll up those little parcels knowing I'm going to have a lovely evening and some scrummy leftovers to boot.

Oh, and why is there no finished product photo? I'm really sorry but it smelt so good we got on and ate and totally forgot until the last plate was wiped that we needed a picture!

If you like this recipe and want to find some more cosy recipes for autumn, why not have alook over at Life As Mom where many other talented cooks are sharing their ideas for what makes for a cosy supper.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Slow cooker overnight sausage breakfast recipe

This came so close to working....
(NB Since I first wrote this post, I've got it to work! See the verdict!)

I wanted to find a few more ideas for overnight breakfasts both for weekday mornings and for when we had company. 

We love sausages so I tried to see what would happen if I cooked them overnight. I think this will work with the modifications I suggest in the Verdict so go with me...

Ingredients for 4:

6-8 uncooked pork sausages
2 onions - red would be nice - sliced
6 tomatoes, sliced
2 sprigs thyme


In a frying pan/skillet, brown off the sausages until very light golden. Pop the onions into your slow cooker in an even layer. Then do the same with the tomatoes. Add the sprigs of thyme - no need to chop. Place the sausages on top and cook on Low for 8 hours. 


The main issue here was that we cooked these for more like 9 hours. By this time, the edges of the by now gorgeously gooey veggies were charring so there was very little edible veggie goodness to go with each serving, although the uncharred bits were awesome (I'm really selling this here, aren't I?).

The sausages looked a beautiful burnished bronze colour but were disappointingly dry. I think the main problem was simply that I used good quality butcher's sausages which have very little fat in them. On this one occasion, a somewhat cheaper sausage would probably have saved the day (although I'm not going to scrape the barrel on the sausage front).

I might have also done better using the smaller slow cooker on this but it's new and I don't yet trust it. We're working our way into our relationship. 

I will try this again one day but probably on a day when I'm in so I can see how it works up close. The flavours though were spot on so I think it will be worth perfecting this one with the above-mentioned tweaks.

A few weeks later....I tried this again with some lovely Italian Sausages (Sainsburys Taste the Difference, if you must know!). I used the smaller slow cooker and cooked them during the day. I also only lightly browned some of them - literally just adding a tiny bit of colour. At 5 hours, they were only just cooked and I didn't try the ones I'd browned least (if that makes sense!) as you don't give a toddler undercooked sausage for her tea, at leas tnot if you want to sleep that night!). At 7 hours, when we had ours, they were glorious, still moist and the onions were only just cooked; in fact one onion which I'd sliced too thickly was still a bit tough. So do try this but don't use posh butchers sausages - use something with a slightly higher fat content. And enjoy!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Slow cooker coconut roast chicken recipe

Imagine you could cross roast chicken and curry? Does that sound like the ultimate food? Thought so!

Ingredients for 4:
1 2-3 lb roasting chicken
2 tbsp balti curry paste
1 tin of coconut milk
2 tsp lemongrass
salt and pepper to taste


Put the chicken in your slow cooker. Mix the balti paste and the lemon grass with 2 tbsp of the coconut milk. Tip the rest of the coconut milk over the chicken. Rub the curry paste mixture over the chicken and any remaining paste into the chicken's cavity.Cook on High for 3 1/2 hours or on Low for 7. Check that the chicken is cooked thoroughly by seeing if the juices run clear from the thigh.


This was wonderful. We had it with brown rice and a baby spinach salad plus some sweetcorn I see in the picture!). The chickeny juices mixed with the coconut milk were delicious!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Slow cooker South Western Pumpkin Soup Recipe

This is my favourite soup of all time and we've started a Sunday Night Soup tradition in our house so I was very keen to see if this would work in the slow cooker the moment I saw pumpkins for sale in Sainsburys. It would be a more than fantastic use for the innards of a carving pumpkin too.

Just a note for my American readers - you will be shocked, nay aghast, to learn that it is almost impossible to buy pumpkin purée in a can in the UK so fresh pumpkin is a seasonal treat. I know! Please rest assured that we do have such modern amenities as running water and even central heating in most buildings....;>)  However, this will explain why the soup is made with fresh pumpkin. You can just use 1 can of purée as my original recipe did.

In case you're wondering how to handle the rest of the pumpkin, I've added instructions at the bottom. We used to grow several every year when we had the space so I'm an old hand.

Ingredients for 6 (it's rich so these are small servings):

3 cups/ 750 ml chicken stock made with 1 cube (see verdict - I'd modify this)
750 g raw pumpkin (or 1 lb 10 oz by weight)
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup/250 ml double/heavy cream
3/4 cup/ 100g mature cheddar cheese, grated, for serving
Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) or use a couple of tbsp minced from a jar


Peel then chop the pumpkin you are using. Usually a potato peeler works fine for this. (See below for further pumpkin wrangling tips). Make up the chicken stock and add both the stock and pumpkin to the slow cooker, along with the spices. Cook on Low for 7 hours or High for 3-4.

Using a stick blender, or a goblet blender if that's what you have, blend the soup until smooth. The pumpkin should be tender by now,

Turn the slow cooker to High and add the cream. Allow to cook another 15 minutes then stir in the cilantro and serve, garnished with grated cheese.


Oh, pumpkin soup, how I do love thee! This is still my favourite soup of all time. It's spicy, complex, creamy, comforting, surprising and warming. I really recommend you try it (And soon, you Brits! Pumpkins disappear the moment Halloween is over!)

The only thing I would say is that the water was still a little too high in this and I would reduce it to just over 2 cups or maybe 600ml as the pumpkin gives out a lot of water.

I've also roasted some pumpkin (see below) and will be seeing if it makes a difference to the flavour of the soup which I think it will.

Pumpkin Prep:

Here's how to make pumpkin purée which is handy for pumpkin pies, soups etc. or roast pumpkin for risottos, pasta dishes and so on.

This will only work if you have a pumpkin which isn't needed for carving, although you can still make the soup above with carving pumpkin innards.

Chop the pumpkin in half. Empty the halves of seeds and the stringy flesh around them. I use an ice cream scoop for this and it works well. You can wash the seeds and roast them later for a tasty snack.

Put each half in a roasting tray, flesh side down. Don't use a baking sheet as these babies give out a lot of water when roasted. If you have, let''s say, cut off a chunk from one half to make a yummy pumpkin soup which a friendly blogger recommended you just had to try (it could happen), then cover  that half with foil as the pumpkin flesh needs to steam a bit so needs to be enclosed.

Bake at 400F/ 180C for 45 minutes or so till the pumpkin flesh is fork tender.

Carefully pour away the pumpkin juices then scoop out the flesh with your trusty ice cream scoop into a large colander. If you need the pumpkin in lumps then cool quickly and store in the fridge for a maximum of 48 hours before using. Pumpkin provides a warm, moist, sugar-laden haven for breeding bacteria so you need to be a little careful in cooling and storing it. You don't want to know how we found this out!

Press down hard on the flesh, maybe using an old plate, and try to push as much extra fluid as you can out of the pumpkin flesh. You'll be amazed how much extra comes out.

Use a stick blender or a blender to purée the pumpkin flesh. I suggest freezing the purée in 500 ml or 2 cup portions as this is what is usually called for in recipes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Slow Cooked Italian Fish Bake

My daughter and I enjoyed this as an easy lunch the other day. It was another adaptation which showed promise but needed a tiny bit more tweaking. Tweaks in the verdict!

Ingredients for 2:

1 tbsp olive oil
1 cod steak
1 tin tomatoes
half an onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp oregano
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 ball mozzarella
black olives - I didn't have any this time but they would be great
capers - ditto, if you like them
salt and pepper


Put the olive oil into the slow cooker and pop your fish on top, skin down. Drizzle the lemon juice over the top. In a frying pan/skillet, make a little tomato sauce by frying off the onion for 5 minutes in a little olive oil, adding the garlic and finally the tin of tomatoes and the oregano. Boil off for a moment or two as there'll be no evaporation in the slow cooker. Add the capers at this point if you like them.

Pour the sauce over the fish. Top with the mozzarella, sliced, and the black olives if using.  Cook on low for 2 1/2 - 3 hours, depending on the size of your fish. 


This is a great gentle way to cook fish and the fish itself was perfectly cooked. The sauce though was way too watery. Next time I would drain the tomatoes before creating the sauce and maybe boil the suace for a few minutes more. Or use a small jar of good quality pasta sauce. The flavours were good though and very balanced. 

Too watery c- drain tomatoes

Lebanese aubergine and lamb bake for the slow cooker

This was an interesting lamby, auberginey, yummy thing. I'm not sure why it didn't get photographed but it wasn't particularly pretty so maybe that's for the best, but it was very nice indeed.

Ingredients for 4:

2 aubergines (eggplant)
500g/1lb lamb mince/ground lamb
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp cinammon
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp garam masala
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp dried mint (or 2 tsp fresh)


Chop the aubergines in half lengthwise. Lay them skin down in the slow cooker. I only got 1 1/2 down in mine which is a huge cooker so I chopped the rest into chunks and popped it in between the aubergines. Fry the onion until slightly transparent then add the lamb to brown off.

Add the spices to the meat mixture then top the aubergine with it. Cook on Low for 3-4 hours. Serve with a garnish of mint, preferably freshly chopped but we know what life's like (!) and with a large blob of natural yoghurt.


The aubergine was gorgeous and meltingly tender. However, the lamb was a bit too "complicated" in the spice department and it didn't quite work. It was the garam masala.. I've been making a similar lamb dish for years which an old house mate taught me where you just add the cinnamon and the cumin, plus some raisins and toasted, flaked almonds. I think that's what I'll do next time because overall the underlying recipe is lovely.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Because no matter how good the recipe, the important thing is the people eating the meal.

Thank you so much to those of you who are reading on a regular basis. Over the next few days my in-laws are coming to stay and, although I'll definitely be trying some more recipes out on them, I probably won't be posting them until they have gone home. Thanks for your patience and more recipes soon!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Slow cooker red beans 'n' rice recipe

Spot the deliberate mistake?
 This recipe has a certain nostalgia for me. I first cooked it from a student cook book as I first learnt to cater for myself and I also enjoyed it on a back packing trip all round the States which included a stop in New Orleans. Ah, happy days!

My old recipe, which has seen many an outing, uses kidney beans, ready-cooked and canned, but this recipe uses Aduki beans which are smaller and apparently more authentic. I did soak them after SkyRider's comments about not soaking beans after my post on black bean soup. I still won't soak them for everything but Aduki beans seem too like kidney beans for me to take any chances. 

Ingredients for 4:

500g / 2 cups Aduki beans, soaked over night
(or use a tin of ready-cooked kidney beans, rinsed, and only 3 cups or 750 ml water)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, sliced (it's a red one though in this photo!)
2 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
4 rings of jalapeno chilli, chopped
2.25L (10 cups) water
Tabasco to taste


Mix together all the ingredients except the tabasco and cook on Low for 7-9 hours. Serve with rice. If you remember! Add tabasco to taste.


I liked this in terms of the taste. It could have done with more bacon (I couldn't get the traditional Andouille sausage and wasn't quite sure what would be the nearest available equivalent) but the smokey flavour was there. I think I prefer my normal version (which I have made in the slow cooker) with the tinned kidney beans because they retain their shape better and give a more interesting texture but it didn't taste bad with the Adukis. I had it with a dollop of natural yoghurt which was really good. .

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Slow cooker lasagne recipe - and it's healthy too!

If anyone can make lasagne look pretty in
a photo, I need to hear from you. And yes,
I already thought of adding parsley. 
Yes, lasagne really does work in the slow-cooker. In fact, you can adapt most lasagne recipes to the slow-cooker. (Shhhh, it's a secret!). I've done vegetarian all-spinach or roasted vegetable lasagnes in it and they all work well.

I had this one ready at 12.30 pm, went out for the afternoon and came back to a ready-cooked meal at 7.30 pm. We even had dessert cooking in the other slow cooker.

See what you make of this recipe. It's quite a healthy version of the old classic.

Ingredients for 5:

500g / 1lb beef mince / ground beef
500g / 6 cups frozen leaf spinach
100g/1 cup rolled oats (or increase meat by another 100g)
440g jar (or 2 cups) basic pasta sauce
100ml water or red wine
1 tsp each oregano, basil and rosemary
650g / 2 cups cottage cheese
125 g/ 1 cup mozarella, grated
1 egg
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
lasagne noodles - the number needed will depend on your slow cooker
75 g/ 1/4 cup grated cheddar
salt and pepper to taste


Brown your beef in a frying pan/skillet. Add the oats and stir in well until they have absorbed some of the beef juices. Tip in the pasta sauce and water/wine and allow meat mixture to bubble away while you do everything else. Defrost your spinach in the microwave or wash and briefly wilt your fresh spinach if you go for that. One it's ready, squeeze out any excess moisture but don't go mad over it. Mix the cottage cheese, mozzarella, egg and nutmeg in a bowl. Season your meat mixture well with the herbs and some salt and pepper and check for taste.

Now layer up your lasagne in the following order, from the bottom. A thin layer of meat, lasagne noodles, broken to fit, spinach, cheese, meat, noodles, repeat spinach, cheese, meat noodles, then top with a final layer of meat, then cheese. Sprinkle the grated cheddar over the top of everything.

Cook on Low for 6-9 hours or High for 3-5.


Overall this was great. My daughter had some at 6 hours and we had some at 8 and it was superb for texture on both occasions, although we got some totally welcome crispiness around the edges. The spinach layer worked well and I was pleased at the overall healthiness of using cottage cheese instead of ricotta or maybe a bechamel sauce. I thought the cheesey layers could have been thicker so would expand on those next time. The major failing of this was my Bolognese layer which was acceptable but really lacked oomph. I'd used a very cheap pasta sauce and it showed. I think next time I'll use the wine, a better sauce with more flavour to it and probably a beef stock cube too. If you have a great Bolognese recipe or a favourite lasagne using a different meat mixture, I'd suggest you use it instead of this version, although padding out the mince with oats is a handy and healthy way to save a few pennies.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Slow cooked sausages in buttery cider and leek sauce

You want to cook this very soon so I'm not going to waste time on preamble. Go. Buy. Sausages. Now.

Ingredients for 3:
(or maybe 2 people who like cold sausages for breakfast ;>) )

6-8 pork sausages
1/2 tbsp vegetable oil.
2 leeks, washed and sliced
1 tbsp butter
3 eating apples, cored and sliced into eighths
1 tsp allspice
400ml/ 1 1/2 cups cider
salt and pepper to taste


Brown sausages in a frying pan or skillet with a little vegetable oil.. Transfer to the slow cooker. Melt the butter in the same pan and add the leeks. Fry for 3-4 minutes then add the apples. Add the leeks and apples to the slow cooker. Finally pour the cider into the pan, scraping up any pan juices as you go. Reduce the cider by about a third, then add to the slow cooker. Add the allspice then cook on Low for 6-8 hours or High for 3-4. Serve ideally with mashed potatoes with a little nutmeg in them.


The house smelt wonderful. My husband was happy all day because he was having sausages for tea. My daughter behaved like an angel. And we hadn't even opened the lid!

The taste was great. Apple-y, sweet and spicy. The sausages were moist and a beautiful colour. There was enough condensed down juice to moisten but not swamp the potatoes. Heaven in a pot. You're welcome.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Slow cooker Huevos Revueltos recipe

OK, first of all, this has a bad name. It sounds like the translation should be "revolting eggs". They really weren't! This recipe, although Mexican in origin, is identical, as far as I can tell, to something we had for breakfast in Israel called Shakshuka. Sounds much nicer and more exotic, eh?

You can cook this as a breakfast overnight as I did or have it as an easy supper.

Ingredients for 4 

1 14 oz/ 400g tin tomatoes (chopped)
3 red peppers
1 onion, chopped (ideally red)
1/2 tsp salt
generous grind of black pepper
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
4 eggs


Pop everything up to the chilli flakes into your slow cooker and cook on Low for 8 hours or overnight. As you get up, nip to the kitchen, create 4 wells in your now lovely tomato stew and break an egg into each well. Try not to have the slow cooker open too long. Turn the slow cooker up to High, leave the slow cooker alone for 20 minutes while you have a shower, feed the chickens or get your toddler dressed (or all of the above!) and return once the eggs are firm, like soft-boiled eggs. Serve on toast. You may enjoy some hot sauce on the side.


I've often tried to make Shakshuka on the hob and always struggled with a very watery stew. This method was great because the stew wasn't watery at all and had a great depth of flavour. The tomatoes and peppers were really sweet and gorgeous. I could have added more seasoning but people are often cranky in the mornings so I think it's very important they get to decide how spicy their breakfast will be. Me, I love a breakfast that involves Tabasco but it's not for everyone. More herbs would have been great though - maybe some dried parsley. All in all, a top breakfast.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Slow cooker lamb boulanger recipe

Lamb boulanger is a classic French recipe which would have been taken down to the village baker's place to be cooked long and slow in his oven. It seemed like a perfect pick for the slow cooker.

I used a bone-in shoulder but, after I'd defrosted it, noted that the glamorous Nigella Lawson (in How to Eat) suggests a boned shoulder. I may not possess her superstar looks or her book deals (sigh!) but mine tasted great! What does she know?

Ingredients for 4:

My camera has gone AWOL!
My hubby had to take this with his Blackberry!
Shoulder of lamb (mine was 1lb/500g)*
1KG/ 2lbs potatoes, ideally waxy, sliced to about 1/2 cm or 1/4"
1 onion, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped into long slivers
1 large bunch thyme
3 bay leaves
100 ml water or lamb or veg stock or water
salt and pepper to taste

* You might want a little more meat than this if cooking for company -  a boneless shoulder would have done it but 500g with bone meant they were fairly dainty portions - fine during the week for our family though..


Place the potatoes into the pot in several layers. They don't need to be too neat. Then pile on the onion, the bay leaves and half the thyme, finely chopped. I just used scissors to chop as I went. Pour over the water or stock and season generously with salt and pepper. Spike the lamb with a sharp knife and insert the garlic slivers into the holes. Place the joint on top of the potatoes and, again, season generously. Cook on low for 7-9 hours or High for 4-5.


We really enjoyed this a lot. The meat had a lovely texture and fell off the bone. The potatoes were very tender but hadn't lost all of their shape. They had taken on great flavour from the meat and there were lovely crunchy bits around the edge. We had them as breakfast potatoes the next day with fried eggs and they were awesome reheated! I under-seasoned this which was a shame so don't hold back on the garlic and herbs or the salt and pepper. This was very easy and took less than 15 minutes to prepare but I would have been happy to serve it to guests with a good wine and maybe a green salad or some glazed carrots. You could veer away from the classic boulanger flavours and use the method with other herbs, lots more garlic and maybe some citrus flavours and I think it would work well.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Slow cooker Moroccan Carrots recipe

This is a recipe I've been using for years as a useful buffet table staple for Middle-Eastern spreads served as a room-temperature salad. It goes well with a couscous and chickpeas and tagines. It's a great BBQ accompaniment. It's very, very easy.

This time, instead of adding a dressing after cooking the salad, we roasted the carrots in the slow cooker with the spices and had them hot with quinoa and my friend Ali's gorgeous Indian spinach recipe (it's keeping me awake at night trying to figure out how to translate that to the slow cooker). It worked really well but the carrots were ready sooner than expected so it kind of helped I'd started preparing dinner late!

Ingredients for 4 (as a side dish):

6-8 large carrots, scraped and cut into 3
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp lime juice (I used bottled)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
bunch fresh parsley as garnish (optional)


Put the carrots into your slow cooker and add the oil and spices. Toss to combine and make sure the carrots are evenly coated with the mixture. Cook on High for 2 1/2 - 3 hours (I'd just check the thickest carrot for tenderness after about 2 hours) or on Low for 5-7 hours. Chop over some fresh parsley if you have any about. I did but it was out in a very wet garden so we enjoyed them without.


I love it when an old favourite works in the slow-cooker. These spices are warm flavours and worked well with the slightly caramelised flavour of the roast carrots. I could even have added a little more spice, or maybe some orangey flavours. Yummy!

This also travels easily in a tupperware and I submitted it to the "pot-luck recipes" category over on the Life as Mom recipe swap here: Go enjoy seeing how other people create food that travels well..

Monday, October 4, 2010

Slow cooker rosemary spiced nuts recipe

This is another old favourite which I have often used as a thank you for dinner party hosts or for an easy Christmas gift. It's unusual and classy but not wacky. My future mother-in-law (as she was then) seemed to like them! Plus, in the slow-cooker, there's less chance of charring them in the toasting phase.


400g/ 3 cups unsalted mixed nuts
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dried rosemary or  6-8 inch sprig finely chopped
1/2 tsp hot chilli powder
2 tbsp brown granulated sugar
1 tsp salt


Mix all ingredients and cook on High for 1 - 1 1/2 hours. Check and stir every now and again because you don't want them to catch too much ( a little charring is fine). Check for spicing and adjust as you see fit.


I suspect these are going to disappear rather fast around here! Rewarming them just before serving is always good but not necessary. This amount would make a couple of jars or bags to give away.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Slow cooker apple crumble (or spicy apple puree) recipe

This is more of a method than a recipe but it's too simple to mess up.

I have a lovely relationship with my apple tree. My favourite garden job is pruning it in the winter. I love the blossom and the apples are a cheery red colour and make apple puree a pretty pink colour.

I usually make an apple puree at some point with the windfalls, or "fallydowns" as they're known in our family. It's like a tradition and I tend to make it overnight to have with yoghurt and cereal the next day. I've also added pears and that's delicious! Apple crumble was the next logical experiment and it worked!

Ingredients for *some* apple purée.

Apples. Chopped into eighths, peeled if you prefer, and enough to fill your slow-cooker to at least a 2" level. (I used about 15 but some of the windfalls were quite icky and had to be amputated severely so that's no guide.)
Cloves - maybe 2-4 depending on how big your slow cooker is.
Cinnamon. 1-2 tsp.
Sugar - depends on how tart your apples are and how sweet you like stuff.

This isn't going very well, is it?


Pop into your slow cooker and cook on low for around 7-9 hours or on High for 3-4.


Fragrant, yumptious loveliness. Heaven in a bowl. The ultimate comfort food.

Directions for *some* crumble

Rub equal volumes of flour (I use wholemeal) into some margarine until it resembles breadcrumbs, enough breadcrumbs to cover the apples to a depth of about 1/2" or 1 cm. Then mix in an equal volume of rolled oats to your breadcrumb mixture and sweeten to taste with brown sugar.  Cover your apples and cook on High for 3 hours, starting from the raw apple stage. If you like a crispy top, remove the lid and pop under the grill in your oven for 3-4 minutes at the end. Our crumble went ungrilled and wasn't sodden but was a bit moister than usual. It was fine though.


A great way of having a favourite pudding (OK, who am I kidding, the only pudding I ever make) cooked in advance, leaving you hands free at dinner time. Or leaving the oven free for a Sunday roast. My toddler loved it and rechristened it "Apple Crumbum". Apple Crumbum it is from here on in!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Mushroom barley lentil stew recipe

I'd been wanting to try this one out for a while as it looked intriguing but I had to wait until my husband was going out for the evening as he's not keen on mushrooms.

I will warn you, even for someone who had much better food photography skills than me (so, that would be practically everyone then), this would be a tough one to make pretty. Forgive the 70's decor effect and please believe me this one is worth trying.

Ingredients for 4 as main course or 8 as a side:

2L/quarts vegetable stock (make with 3 cubes)
250 g/2 cups, sliced chestnut mushrooms
20g/1 oz dried mushrooms - I used ceps
150g or 3/4 cup dried pearl barley
150g or 3/4 cup green or puy lentils
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
good grinding black pepper
salt, to taste


Dump in all ingredients and cook on High for 4-6 hours or Low for 10-12.


I wasn't sure what to expect with this. I thought it might be a bit like my barley risotto in texture but it was sloppier. I think the clue should have been in the "stew" part of the title. It made bog-standard chestnut mushrooms taste like wild mushrooms and the texture was silky but with a nice bite to it, almost like a thick mushroom soup. I mixed it with some natural Greek yoghurt which I'd initially splodged on top as a garnish and it was lovely. I couldn't help thinking though it lacked something - maybe a contrasting element like some petit pois added at the end or maybe lots more fresh thyme or  parsley. I was too wimp to go into the garden and get that as it was chucking it down out there. I put it down to being in a grumpy mood and moved on. I think if I make it again I might push it either towards the soup end of the spectrum or the risotto end. At the end of the day, this was pretty good but I just don't like stew much!