Title: Sensational Slow Cooker Gourmet
Author: Judith Finlayson
Review Summary: Very focused on convenience and does a good job of spelling everything out – plus it finally got me to use my crock pot.
This book of slow cooker recipes was a great fit for my busy schedule and most recipes don’t look like they’d be too pricey for my poor college student budget either 🙂 In fact, the recipe I made cost me less than $20 for ingredients and will probably make at least 6 meals. But before we get into the recipe, lets start with the book…
The introduction included some very useful information, such as tips for getting to know your crock pot and advice on avoiding mistakes that could lead to food poisoning. Unfortunately, this is buried in some of the typical fluff one finds at the beginning of such a book (“slow cooker recipes are awesome and convenient” kind of stuff), but I would strongly recommend reading this section any way. Where the book really starts to shine though, is the slow cooker recipes themselves.
The recipes all have great pictures, which is a must for me when picking a cook book. It’s by far the easiest way of identifying recipes I want to make. Nearly every recipe begins has a wonderful section called “Make Ahead” in the sidebar which tells you what you parts of the recipe you can prepare several days in advance. This makes it very easy to do the cooking when it’s convenient for you! Most of these slow cooker recipes can cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low, which means it’s possible to complete a recipe in a day or let it cook over night depending on your schedule. Although I certainly don’t plan on going out and getting a new crock pot, I did appreciate that the author specified the best sort of crock pot for each recipe. Like many cook books, this book does include some cooking instructions in the ingredients list (“barley, rinsed and drained”, eg) which it’s easy to miss until you actually need to add the barley. Aside from that small and common problem, I liked everything about it.
To truly test out the book, I decided to try making the “Miso-Spiked Vegetable Soup with Barley” and everything went fairly smoothly. I spent about 15 minutes chopping vegetables and another 30 minutes frying them and figuring out my crock pot. I spilled a few things, missed that I needed to drain and rinse the barley until it was time to add it (immediately) to the frying pan, and discovered that the author was serious when she sad a larger crock pot would be better (5 quarts instead of 2.5 like mine). To deal with the smaller crock pot, I only added about half of the called for chicken broth.
In the morning, I discovered that a tiny bit of my barley had burned to the crock pot and my soup was more like a stew – even after adding the rest of the chicken broth. I added an approximate amount of parsley, which ended up being the strongest flavor in the finished product. However, the soup was very tasty any way and even with mistakes the time required to make it was under an hour in the evening and about 30 minutes in the morning. I’ll definitely try making it, and other slow cooker recipes, again 🙂