We all want to eat healthy, delicious meals. But at the end of a hectic day, who’s got the energy to put together a dinner that’s hot, creative, and appetizing? For a lot of savvy home chefs, the answer is Slow Cooking. An added benefit is that you can use cheaper cuts of meat and save money.
If you’re just getting into this method, you must get THE SLOW COOK BOOK, by Heather Whinney. It features recipes for both slow cookers and traditional ovens. In fact, all the recipes include instructions for both systems. Just as important, the beginning of the book is all about technique, including tips for success, such as adding hearty woody herbs like rosemary and thyme at the beginning of the cycle, and delicate ones, including parsley, at the end. It’s also a good idea to sear meats first, and to sauté onions and garlic prior to adding them to the pot.
For those of us still trying to stay with our weight loss resolution, there’s THE EVERYDAY LOW CARB SLOW COOKER COOKBOOK, by Kitty Broihier, M.S., R.D., and Kimberly Mayone. You’ll find over 120 recipes, ranging from breakfast to dessert food, each guaranteed to be tempting to the palate and friendly to the waistline. There’s also a macronutrient count for each recipe, serving suggestions, and info on how best to care for your slow cooker.
As skills develop and trepidation subsides, go a little wild with flavor. Michele Scicolone’s THE FRENCH SLOW COOKER features recipes that will turn your crock pot into a Gallic chef- without the temperament. Scicolone is a renowned wine and food expert; she’s traveled extensively to nearly every region of France, and has become a master of traditional French cuisine. We reap the benefit of her knowledge by being able to concoct County Pate, Fallen Cheese Soufflé, and Crustless Quiche. Personally, I think I could die happy if I could leave my house for the day and come home to a Bouillabaisse as irresistible as the one that is pictured.
If you, like me, feel that nothing surpasses really good Italian food, Michele Scicolone will make you very happy with THE ITALIAN SLOW COOKER. Her version of Osso Buco, here called Roman Oxtail Stew, includes bittersweet chocolate, pine nuts, and raisins. It’s easy to cook, and you can dazzle your friends and family with very little work and a whole lot of flavor. If you’re daring, now is the time to get in step with the “Snout to Tail” method of cooking, since innards come out tender and succulent when slow cooked. A word of praise must be given to Alan Richardson, whose photos grace both Scicolone books. Absolutely scrumptious!
I can’t leave you without recommending two books you may have missed. THE NEW SONOMA COOKBOOK is the updated version by international bestselling author Connie Gutterson RD, Phd. Not only are there over three hundred tempting recipes to help us eat right and keep healthy, but there are also great ideas for cooking with wine- hallelujah! Gutterson features taste treats from around the globe, seamlessly mixing Asian, Mediterranean, and Latin American cuisines with her easy California favorites. Need to whip something up in a hurry? Sonoma Express meals are ready in thirty minutes or less.
It’s rare to find a book that’s both a wonderful romantic read and an homage to good food. WHITE TRUFFLES IN WINTER is N.M. Kelby’s imagining of the life of the great Auguste Escoffier. He lived from 1846-1935, yet his influence is still in evidence in the haute cuisine restaurants of our day. Presented as a memoir written at the end of his life, the legendary chef tells of his experiences cooking in both Paris and London, and of his love for two dynamic women, famed actress Sarah Bernhardt, and poet Delphine Daffis. Escoffier’s challenge is to perfect, in one dish, food that perfectly expresses his passion.
Foodies of the world, unite! There are brave new worlds to conquer, and sometimes a little patience leads to a delicious outcome.
Michall Jeffers is an accomplished Cultural Journalist , an unrepentant foodie, and an avowed bibliophile. She writes extensively about food, restaurants, and books, both in print and online. Her eponymous cable TV show is syndicated throughout the tri-state area, and features celebrity interviews, reviews, and commentary. Michall is a voting member of National Book Critics Circle. www.michalljeffers.com