Goodcooking.com Cookbook Review---

Title: “Slow Cooker; Amazing Meals with Minimum Effort”
Author: Linda Doeser
95 pages; Hardcover Photography---Color
Parragon Publishing, Bath, UK
Reviewed by, Katharine Hauschka for Good Cooking, Inc, April 2007

The review---

“Slow Cooker” is a nicely designed cookbook offering recipes from all around the world. Doeser provides you with a new spin on an older method of food preparation, showing you just how convenient the slow cooker is. For example Doeser points out that summer is a great time of year for using the slow cooker as it produces less heat than an oven allowing for a nice meal and a cool kitchen. She also points out that it’s a great tool for the working person who doesn’t have time to cook. For those of you who have never used a slow cooker, Doeser provides a nice detailed description to help you learn everything there is to know about the device. A majority of the recipes are also beautifully photographed, which for me is a source of motivation.

To cook you’ll need a good-sized slow cooker as well as some other pots and pans for preparing the food. The recipes are organized into 5 sections: Simple Appetizers and Snacks, Every Day Meals, Low Fat, Easy Entertaining, and Desserts. I was surprised to learn that someone would cook a dessert in their slow cooker so I attempted the Magic Lemon Sponge recipe. I found that it was similar to cooking in an oven water bath. Unfortunately the recipe did not look as it did in the photograph nor did it turn out the way the book described. To top it off it had an unpleasant smell and hints of flavor from the previous meal cooked in the pot (lamb). Assuming I had done something wrong, I tried the recipe again…and it resulted in the same non-delicious dessert. I have included the recipe below should you wish to challenge yourself; maybe you’ll have better luck.

Because I love lamb I also chose to test the Lamb Tagine (from North Africa). It was delicious and layered with wonderful complex flavors! If anything I would recommend the book for its wonderful photographs as well as its numerous ethnic and savory dishes. And just like Doeser says, if you’re busy and don’t have time to cook, (providing you can take 20 minutes to prepare), this book offers a great alternative, allowing you to have that tasty home cooked meal waiting for you when you return from a long day.

Recipes tested---

Magic Lemon Sponge
Page 89
Serves 4
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 2 hours

Ingredients:
cup superfine sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 cups milk
3 tbsp. self-rising flour, sifted
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
confectioner’s sugar for dusting

1. Beat the sugar with the egg yokes in a bowl, using an electric mixer. Gradually beat in the milk, followed by the flour and the lemon juice.
2. Whisk the egg whites in a separate, grease-free bowl until stiff. Fold half the whites into the yolk mixture using a rubber or plastic spatula in a figure-eight movement, then fold in the remainder. Try not to knock out the air.
3. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish, cover with foil, and place in the slow cooker. Add sufficient boiling water to come about one-third of the way up the side of the dish. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours until the mixture has set and the sauce and sponge have separated.
4. Lift the dish out of the cooker and discard the foil. Lightly sift a little icing sugar over the top and serve.

Cook’s tip
Don’t worry if the mixture looks as if it is slightly curdled after you have folded in the egg whites. It will be alright.

Lamb Tagine
Page 70
Serves 6
Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 10 minutes’ pre-cooking
Cooking time: 8 hours

Ingredients:
3 tbsp. olive oil
2 red onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, finely chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 lb. 4 oz. boneless shoulder of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
3 cups lamb or chicken stock
1 cup no-soak dried apricots, halved
1 tbsp. honey
4 tbsp. lemon juice
pinch of saffron threads
2-inch cinnamon stick
salt and pepper

To garnish:
cup sliced almonds, toasted
fresh cilantro

1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pan. Add the onions garlic, ginger, and bell pepper and cook over low hear, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until the onion softened. Add the lamb and stir well to ix, then pour in the stock. Add the apricots, honey, lemon juice, saffron, and cinnamon stick and season with the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.

2. Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours until the meat is tender.

3. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Transfer to warm serving plates, sprinkle with almonds, garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve.