Slow cooker cook books

If you are keen to try more slow cooker recipes then a cook book may be the way to go but, as an avid collector of cook books, I have to say there are some real lemons out there! The situation is changing but some authors seem to associate slow cookers with the type of cooking popular thirty years ago or to see very limited uses for this amazingly versatile gadget. I don't actually own that many slow cooker cook books as I tend to adapt conventional recipes instead but here are some I have found useful, plus some of my favourite sources of conventional recipes.

My favourite slow cooker cook book to date by a long way is definitely Slow Cooking: Easy Slow Cooker Recipes. I can best describe this as slow cooking for the Nigella generation. The recipes are a mixture of cosmopolitan favourites (Lamb Kleftiko, Coq au Riesling, Moroccan chicken with preserved lemons) , new ideas (Rosti-topped fish pie, Beetroot, thyme and goats cheese salad, Cardamon scented baba ghanoush) and updated British classics (Roasted root vegetables with gammon and cider, Boozy Christmas pudding, Vegetarian shepherd's pie with celeriac topping). I also bought the sequel, More Slow Cooker Recipes a couple of months ago . If anything, this one is even more useful for typical week night cooking.  It has lots more curries and chillis (Jamaican Goat (or Lamb) curry and Pork and Borlotti bean chilli are two of our favourites so far) as well as more of the same offered by the first. Thanks to this book, I have now ended my search for the definitive Bolognese recipe. I have already cooked around 25 recipes from it in 2 months. Both books will expand your ideas on what slow cookers can achieve with everything from overnight breakfast dishes (Overnight sausages - oh yes!) to interesting jams and chutneys, desserts (Poached pears with Ameretto and vanilla, Baileys bread and butter pudding), baked goods, custards and hot salads. There are also the standard stews, soups and braises but done well and in imaginative ways. If you buy one book to go with your slow cooker, I'd seriously suggest choosing one of these.

I got AWW Slow Cooking from my dear Mum for Christmas and it is my second favourite slow cooker recipe book. The photography is beautiful and, while it doesn't really show the full breadth of what a slow cooker can do like Slow Cooking: Easy Slow Cooker Recipes, the recipes are varied, inspiring and work beautifully. We haven't had a dud meal out of this one yet. It showcases European classics such as ribollita and borscht whilst also having a broad range of Asian dishes such as Char Siu pork ribs, Indian vegetable curry and Lamb rogan ghosh. An excellent resource, it also has sections on oven-cooked and casseroled meals which can pretty much all be cooked in the slow cooker too.

Slow Cooking Properly Explained: Over 100 Favourite Recipes has been around for years and basically does what it says on the tin. However, although the recipes work well, they are mostly a bit old-fashioned and unexciting for my tastes (Traditional beef stews and chicken casseroles) and there aren't particularly many of them. However if you enjoy straightforward cooking of the more traditional British style, you will get a lot out of this book and it isn't expensive. There are also fewer ingredients per recipe, making it more budget friendly in general than the two above.

Slow Cookers for Dummies (For Dummies (Lifestyles Paperback)) is very informative on the technique side of slow cooking and has taught me an enormous amount about how to adapt conventional recipes for the slow cooker. As such, it has made some of my favourite recipes doable in the crock pot. However, as an actual recipe book, I haven't found it so great as a British cook. Many of the ingredients aren't available in the UK and the measurements are in cups which may put others off although I personally quite like using cups.

Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home has been a brilliant source of recipes for the slow cooker (Chorizo and chickpea stew, Turkey meatballs, Choc chip bread pudding) as have Feast: Food that Celebrates Life (Split pea soup with Frankfurters, Kedgeree risotto, Sephardi roast lamb) and How To Eat: The Pleasures and Principles of Good Food (Cookery) (Lamb boulanger, Chicken from the Venetian Ghetto, Ham in Coke etc, etc). Here's the hilarious thing: Nigella actually says in the introduction to "Kitchen" that she doesn't rate slow cookers and actually got rid of hers!!! Nigella, honey, we need to talk! There are so many recipes in each of these books which adapt beautifully to the slow cooker if you know how to tweak things and we have had some brilliant meals from the pages of these three. Any one's a winner but I would pick Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home as my favourite and as the best source of family-friendly meals for the pot. I counted well over 60 recipes that would easily adapt.

Please don't laugh but Cooking with Friends has been one of my most-used cook books for years! I don't normally 'do' merchandising in any way but saw the book, laughed and then looked through it. I think it was the chapter on Comfort Food that sold it to me. This is where my basic chilli, chicken wings, potato bake and vegetarian lasagne recipes came from. In fact, the author was a lasagne specialist so there are several different versions in the book. All are delicious and it's a little known fact that the majority of lasagne recipes transfer extremely well to the slow cooker with no adaptation. So now you know my guilty secret!