Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Slow Cooking with Dina Cheney

I love cookbooks. I read them as thoroughly as I do novels. I own about a hundred in print and at least another fifty on my Kindle. Believe it or not they all have different recipes. Of course some recipes are printed in multiple books. Favorites are favorites for a reason. 

I also am in love with my slow cooker. It was my salvation as a working mom. I cannot express enough how delightful it was to come home to a wonderful smelling house and dinner ready. That changed a bit as my children aged. I soon learned unless dire warnings were strategically place around the slow cooker, smell would be all I got. 

So when I saw Year-Round Slow Cooker in Net Galley's offerings, I had to get it. Having enough slow cooker recipes to get through a year of cooking, I was interested in what she could bring to the pot. She brought a lot. In addition to the recipes she provide tips and other help. The tips are strewn throughout the book like hidden gems. Recipes are divided up by the four seasons.

My highlights from the book the times for cooking certain foods. I know the manufacturer gave guidelines. That paper went gone with the wind since I have been using a slow cooker since I was twelve. I think most of us tend to read through it and go this is easy, at which point we promptly forget what we read. Okay I am trying to make myself look good - I skimmed it. Consequently I needed Ms. Cheney to tell me that dessert should not cook longer than 4 hours and may burn if left longer. She also explains that chicken can get tough if left cooking over 6 hours. I don't know why I didn't figure out is was my cooking time that was messing up certain dishes. She includes a handy meat temperature chart that new cooks will appreciate. I have referred to it even while cooking a recipe from a different book. She even has a tip for converting recipes to oven or stove top.

A most helpful section was Ms Cheney's  list of power ingredients. These are not your regular list of "the well stocked pantry"  but is tailored to the recipes in the book. It consist of items she uses most in her recipes which allows you to make sure you have most things on hand before you go looking for a recipe. I really like that. I can pick up those items as they are on sale. Speaking of  saving money , Ms Cheney has included budget-minded options. Awesome! Who isn't budget-minded today? She also has a list of power tools. No silly, she is not talking about a chain saw. It is a list of non food items that are used most in her recipes. 
Another very helpful part of the book were the picture steps to making sauces. I had a computer copy and the photos looked very nice and made making sauce a breeze. Speaking of photos, there are many included that made my mouth water. Just thinking about them makes me salivate. *wipes drool.* 

Here are my favorite recipes that were in the computer copy I received. 

Favorite for winter:
Brisket with Promegranate, Red Wine and Caramelized Onions
Japanese -Style Chicken Soup with Udon Noodles and Lime
Latin American Seafood Stew with Lime and Coconut
Cassoulet  with  croĆ»tes and Lemon- Parsley Butter
Pork Posole with lime and avocado – like mine but with added orange juice – wow
Cowboy Beef and Bean Stew with Chiles, Coffee and Fried Plantains –wow
Beef Chili with Beer, Lime and Sour Cream

Spring Favorites:
Pork Stew with Wild Mushrooms, Red Wine and Fresh Herbs
Braised Vidalia Onions Stuffed with Pork and Currants – can use chicken or turkey in place of pork. Why didn’t I think of stuffing onions? I love this recipe.
Arugula Mashed Potatoes
Arroz con Pollo with Peas, Peppers, Green Olives and Chorizo
Lemony Strawberry -Rhubarb Cobbler

Summer Favorites:
Braised Pork Shoulder Soft Tacos with Watermelon-Tomato Salsa
Philly Cheesesteak  Sandwiches with Tomato Chutney
Braised Chicken with Red Peppers, Olives and Raisins
Slow Cooked Ratatouille over Goat Cheese Polenta
Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Peach Barbecue Sauce and Pickled Cucumber and Fennel
Fresh Tomato Toast (not made in the slow cooker but I LOVE this)
Pulled Chicken with Cherry-Chili Barbecue Sauce
Corn -Vanilla Pudding  with Triple -Berry Sauce

Fall Favorites:
Hungarian Beef Goulash with Yams and Caramelized Onions
Short Ribs with Stout, Root Vegetables and Sauerkraut
Barley and Mushroom Risotto with Swiss Chard
Cholent with Apples and Yams – never heard of this before but it was so good
Chicken with Paprika, Poatoes and Rosemary
Chorizo and Kale Stew with Cornmeal Dumplings – don’t know why I haven’t made cornmeal dumplings before
Shepherd’s Pie with Red Wine, Cheddar and Root Vegetable Topping
Cinnamon –Maple-Apple Dessert Sauce

 That is a long list of recipes and there are still many more in the book. These are just ones that I have made that came out exceptional. This is a book that is well worth having in your kitchen. The recipes are not very difficult - I would say they range from novice to competent cook. Ms Cheney tells you the size of slow cooker she used for making the recipes so novice cooks can get the same size slow cooker while more experienced cooks can adjust the recipes to fit their cooker. Matter of fact the author goes into great detail to explain how to choose a slow cooker. Overall this is a five star book that is useful for all cooking types. If you have never tried cooking with a slow cooker I would suggest you buy this book and a slow cooker. You will be amazed at the ease of cooking and how delicious the food is. 

Ms Cheney also has a two other cookbooks.

Tasting Club: Gathering Together to Share and Savor Your Favorite Tastes Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Salads: Classic Recipes Redefined

Taunton Press has many excellent cookbooks and magazine subscriptions available on their website. They have recipes available on their fine cooking website

You may connect with author on her blog, Dina Cheney

Do you have a favorite cookbook? Have you picked up Dina'Cheney book? What is your favorite recipe? 

Comments Welcome!

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