Category Archives: Slow Cooking

Farmers Market Friday

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Friday, on the way home from work, I stopped by the Buford Highway Farmers Market.  It’s my favorite thing to do, and I was making good time, so I decided to make a detour.  The only thing is that I usually spend at least an hour and a half there – I could easily spend more time, but I try to limit it.

When you enter, the first thing you see is the produce.  I wandered around, looking at all of the fruit – fresh guava, horn melon, mangoes… I settled on a pound of strawberries for $1.49. I also bought some red seedless grapes and HUGE Red Delicious apples for my husband.  The only “unusual” fruit I got was a variety of apple called Prince.

Then, I spied the rhubarb. I have never had rhubarb before.  I guess it’s not a big thing in my family, or in Louisiana, or Texas.  It was $3.99 a pound, but I was feeling adventurous, so I grabbed a fistful that came to just over a pound and a half. I used them to make a rhubarb crisp – gluten free. I just followed the recipe and replaced the flour with Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Flour Mix.

Last Christmas, I roasted my own beets, and made an Ensalada de Nochebuena from a recipe by the Homesick Texan.  I found not one, but three different varieties of beet, with greens intact, and bought them.  The were regular beets ($1.79), golden beets ($2.49) and Candy Striped beets ($2.39).  I have to admit it was the Candy Striped beets that sold me. Who can resist cooking with three colors of beets? Not I.  So far, I have roasted the beets and cleaned the greens. I will probably saute the greens in garlic and shallots and olive oil. Two side dishes in one veggie.

In produce, I also picked up herbs: sage, tarragon, oregano, mint, Italian parsley, and cilantro.  I plan on chopping them up and freezing them. I want to buy mini ice cube trays to freeze them in.  I have still not forgiven Trader Joe’s for not offering ALL of the Dorot frozen herb trays at their store.  I have heard claims of people finding them in regular supermarkets, but I have not had that luck yet.

Then, I went to the meat department. Now, there are a plethora of meats to choose from.  I almost got some marinated quail, but they were advertised a “spicy”, so I passed. Instead, I perused the beef “offal” aisle, and espied something called “beef cheeks” (in Spanish, cachete).  There was a meat clerk nearby, so I asked him “Como se cocina? (How does one cook this?).  He explained that it is usually boiled (or simmered) in a pot of water for a long time – 2 to 3 hours. So then I asked him, “Usted sabe que es un ‘slow cooker’?” 😉

My original plan was to cook it in the slow cooker, but I found a recipe for Barbacoa Beef Cheek Tacos.  So they have been marinating overnight, and I’m about to brown them in my oddly shaped Dutch oven and braise them in the over for 3 hours. Thank goodness I bought fresh tortillas while I was there.  Next time, I may make Beef Bourguignon – I got 1.67 pounds for $3.74, so I want to work with it some more if this barbacoa works out.

I wandered the Asian, Philippine, and Indonesian aisles for a while, but only picked up a small can of Massaman Curry Paste (89 cents) and a packet of Instant Miso Soup Individual packets in Clam flavor (8 servings for $1.49). I just had a big bowl of Miso Soup using two of the little pouches – I added shrimp, rice noodles, a sliced boiled egg, and garnished it with cilantro.  Not bad!

Finally I picked up some snack food and candy oddities to share with my students. I bought some Indonesian tamarind candy – I have one student from Indonesia, and the most of the rest of my classes are from Mexico and Latin America.  They also enjoy tamarind, so I thought this would show something their cultures have in common. Then, I bought a bag of , which will surely be vile to everyone EXCEPT my Indonesian student. I also have two African and one Nepalese student, and that will just probably be a new experience for them.

Okay, my beef cheek barbacoa is slow cooking, and I need to go and get some avocado and red onions to go with it.  Can’t wait to see how it comes out!  The rhubarb crisp was sure great, as were the beets.

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Three Kings Day is today

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I bought two rosca de reyes yesterday at the Buford Highway Farmers Market.  Today is Three Kings Day and also the first day back for the students.  I thought that I would treat them to a little celebration.  By the way, I may not have been looking in the right places in the past for rosca, because it now seems pretty easy to find.  This morning, when I went to get serving plates at WalMart, they had them too.  They were bigger than the ones I bought for the same price.

While looking around for juice boxes or something for the kids to drink with their cake, I made up my mind to make some atole to serve as well.  The tradition is to drink chocolate atole, called champurrado, with the cake.  I bought some packets to make rice atole, knowing that I would have to augment the chocolate factor, and add sugar as well.  When I got back to the internet, I found that I had all of the necessary ingredients at home to make atole with harina de masa.  I still needed milk.

Here are some links on atole, while I’m at it:

I worked on the atole for a while, using bowls, two different sized pots, a strainer (to get the broken cinnamon sticks out), and whisks and spoons.  I can’t really describe what I did, but I followed the package directions and kept adding Hershey’s cocoa, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon and vanilla and even a little more milk until I got something that was thick without being chocolate pudding.  Then I wondered how I was going to serve it hot at school…

I washed out an Igloo drink cooler and put it in there.  Then, my mother came up with the brilliant idea of using my slow cooker.  That’s what I did.  I brought it to school, poured the hot chocolate liquid in, and set it on high until it got hot, then turned it on low to keep warm until after lunch.  Worked like a charm.

We only ate one of the king cakes in class – there were two little babies in it.  That’s strange to me, because there is only one in a Louisiana or French cake.  I have another left over.  Maybe I’ll offer it up to the teachers, or maybe I will make bread pudding out of it.

Two years ago, I made bread pudding from pan de muertos.  I think I will do something similar with the king cake.  It already has candied fruit on the top. I may take that off and chop it up instead of putting in the ate candy as I did in the recipe below.

Bread of the Dead Pudding

1 pan de muertos (large) cut into 1/2-inch cubes
8 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar and 1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup calvados (apple brandy) or dark rum
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup ate candy (or buy a brick of ate and cut into cubes)
1/2 cup raisins (I only had brown, but golden might be nice)

Preparation
Place bread cubes in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. Whisk eggs, whipping cream, milk, sugar, calvados, and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Pour over bread cubes (I used a square baking pan and was afraid it would overflow, so I used a 1/2 cup measure to add the custard a little at a time.  I worked out perfectly) Let stand 30 minutes, occasionally pressing bread into custard mixture. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake until pudding is set in center, about 50 to 60 minutes. Cool slightly. Serve warm.

Happy Three Kings Day!

Tongue in Slow Cooker, Part 1

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I know that I have spoken of beef tongue in the past.  Today, I thought I would try and record measurements and ingredients for my recipe.  Today was just the beef tongue braising day.  Tomorrow, I will add more ingredients to make a stew.

Tongue in Slow Cooker, Part 1

Place the following in 6 quart slow cooker:

1 beef tongue, 3 1/2 lbs.
4 cups Progressorecaito_1 beef broth, 4 cups
1 white onion, coarsely chopped
3 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
8 – 10 baby carrots, chopped in half
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Then, in 2 cups of water, dissolve and mix the following, then pour into the slow cooker over the tongue (tongue should be completely covered with liquid, so add water if needed):

3 – 4 Tablespoons Goya recaito
1 cube Dorot chopped garlic
1 cube Dorot chopped cilantro
1 Knorr mini seasoning cube parsley
1 Maggi Seasoning Cube, Cumin-flavoredmaggi_cumin_cubes

You may put the mixture in the microwave 30 – 45 seconds to speed the dissolving of the cubes, but it doesn’t have to all be dissolved to pour over the tongue.

And, of course you may use fresh parsley, garlic, and cumin if you like.  I do have to tell those that are sensitive that the Knorr and Maggi cubes have MSG in them.

Top with a bit of extra virgin olive oil poured into the slow cooker.

Cook on High for 1 hour, then change to low for 7-8 hours or until fork tender.

Here is a link to a good-looking beef tongue recipe for taco filling.

While looking for Maggi Cumin cubes, I came across CocinandoConNestle.com.  Anyone interested in Peruvian Chicken Stir Fry?  I know I am!  As for a definitive link, Maggi doesn’t have one.  I have seen them in the Latino food section of Super WalMart and at the Buford Highway Farmers Market.

I always keep three trays of Dorot frozen garlic, basil, and cilantro in my freezer.  I wish that Trader Joe’s would expand into the other products, such as chopped ginger, dill, and parsley.  dorotcilantroThere is even a Tex Mex mix.  I just read here that they are available at Ingle’s.  I will have to see it to believe it.

One other little tip – I have bought jars of the Goya Recaito and Sofrito sauces, and one of them went bad in my fridge.  One thing I think I could have done was to top it off with oil or water.  This time, I bought some small cubical containers and divided the jars among them and froze them.  I added a bit of water to the jar to make it easier to pour.  One jar filled about four little containers.  I am going to see if I can pop them out and put them in plastic bags so I can re-use my containers.

I have also strained out all of the veggies from my beef/tongue stock and am going to preserve that as well.  It smells delicious.

Update on the Turkey Curry…

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It came out great! About 3 hours into the cooking, of course, I started fiddling with it a bit. I stirred it up and moved the turkey thighs closer to the bottom. I also added a little bit of coconut milk that I defrosted.

At around 5 hours, I pulled out the thighs and took the meat off of them (ouch!). I coarsely chopped the meat and put it back in the slow cooker to soak up more sauce.

I plan on serving it on brown rice. Give it a try! If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby, please be wary of the red curry paste – it is way stronger than the TJ’s sauce, even cut with coconut milk.

Slow Cooker Turkey Curry

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Well, Friday afternoon, instead of battling traffic, I decided to go straight to the movie theater after school.  I was trying to wait to see Julia and Julie with my husband, but when I saw that there was going to be a thunderstorm in addition to Friday afternoon traffic, I tossed that notion and went to see it by myself.

I liked it fine, and even appreciated it from the Julie point of view.  Being a blogger myself, I could identify with the excitement of having someone actually respond to your writing… and the disappointment to find that it was only your mother writing in your guestbook.  Ha!

When I got home, I jokingly threatened to choose a cookbook and work my way through it in a year.  I told my husband I would maybe do the Cake Doctor’s first book.  Of course, my husband in gluten-intolerant, so that would leave me eating all the cakes…  That won’t do.

Anyway, as much as I admire Julia Child and the other chefs that approach cooking as a science (Alton Brown comes to mind), I have a hard time sticking to a recipe.  Just ask my mother…  I usually end up changing something, or substituting an ingredient.  Baking is different – I do try to stick to the directions there, even when the results are not as I would have hoped.

But for me, there’s nothing quite as much fun as throwing a bunch of things into a pot, adding spices or sauces, and seeing what happens.  I am a big collector of pre-packaged herb blends and sauces that I find at the Buford Highway Farmer’s Market – I am fascinated by moles from Mexico, curries from Thailand, Malaysia, India and the Philippines, stir fry sauces from Asia and Morocco.  Fun!

Today, I am experimenting with Trader Joe’s Red Curry Sauce (the Yellow Curry was fantastic – I think I used it with tuna filets).  Last night, I picked up two turkey thighs with skin and bone for $4.00 (about a pound).  Around noon, I looked through the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to see what I could throw together.  Here goes…

Turkey Curry in a Crock Pot

2 turkey thighs (about 1 lb) with skin and bone
3 smallish potatoes (gold finns?), chopped
2 onions (Vidalia), chopped
baby carrots (about a cup), larger pieces chopped
1 red delicious apple, chopped
prunes, dried pitted
1 jar Trader Joe’s red curry sauce
2 tsp. Thai red curry paste
1 can petit diced tomatoes
2 roasted red peppers from a jar
2 cubes Dorot frozen cilantro
some flaked coconut
2/3 cup green peas, frozen

In the bottom of the slow cooker, I put in the onions, potatoes, carrots, and apple.  I scattered about 10-12 small dried prunes on that.

I washed the turkey thighs and put those on top of the vegetables.  Then, I poured the bottle of curry sauce on top of the thighs.  I added a little more water and the cilantro cubes and red curry paste and shook it up to get the dregs mixed in and poured that on top of the turkey.

I spread a can of petit diced tomatoes around the edges of the curry sauce, to fill in the space where the sauce was not covering the thighs, then added chopped jarred red bell peppers and coconut (just because I had it) to the mix.

On top, I put the green peas.  I turned the slow cooker to High for 6 hours.

I just found some more coconut milk in the freezer, and may add that later.

Now, I want to make beans and greens soup.  I just need some canned white beans…  I’ll let you know how the curry turns out!

Sick – but still cooking…

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I have not overcome my illness.  After going to school Wednesday and Thursday, I got home yesterday with a headache. an earache (not good), and a sore throat.  And with no Thursday night shows to cheer me up.  I stayed home today, and will go to a nearby clinic if I don’t feel better.

Last night, I made some shrimp enchiladas verdes – I had the recipe printed out at school, so I stopped at a Kroger on the long way home (via Roswell) to get the rest of the ingredients.  Can you believe they did not have any fresh corn tortillas?  They had every other flatbread known to man, though.  Yuppy hangout.   I bought a package of guacamole and some sour cream to garnish.  I sent my husband to the Mexican grocery down the street for the tortillas.

This morning, I didn’t sleep very late – I had to get up and take a hot, steamy shower to try and get my sinuses to drain.  That’s all I will say.  To the doctor tomorrow.

I have all of this veal that I have been stockpiling since there was a sale on it at Publix.  I was saving it to make a Catalonian stew involving amaretto cookies.  This morning, the theme was “things we can cook with only what we have in the house.”  I dug out some coconut milk, beef broth, canned whole tomatoes in basil, two potatoes, one onion, two shallots, two bell pepper (1 yellow and one green), the bunch of cilantro from last night, two lime halves, celery, crystallized ginger, peanuts, red Thai paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, mango chutney (I didn’t have any tamarind), and rice.

So, I decided to make some sort of Thai beef stew.  First, to the internet for some inspiration.   Here’s one recipe.  Here’s another.  And finally, for good measure, a Vietnamese beef stew.

Then,  I just chopped up all of the ingredients, sauteed the veal, pureed the pastes and spices, and popped it all in the crock pot.  I added the peanuts later.  It’s been simmering away all day.  I am going to try it on rice.  It may be a little too spicy – it doesn’t take much curry paste to  blow you away.  Anyway, spicy soups are supposed to be good for a cold.

After a rest, I decided to make a dessert.  Last weekend, I discovered that baked goods could be made without a mix.  That’s bad news for my husband and me.  Normally I have to go to the store before I cook something.  But, you know what?  If you have eggs, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, milk, and other basic ingredients, things like brownies can be made at home.  That’s what I made last week.

Today, I discovered that I had all of the ingredients to make Cajeta Pound Cake.  Yes, including a bottle of cajeta (Mexican goat milk caramel).  Instead of making one big pound cake in a bundt pan, I decided to use the two small bundt pans I just bought, along with the double heart pan, a 6 cup muffin pan, and finally, one of my 6 inch cake pans.  This recipe makes a LOT of batter.

This time, I decided to try something different and follow the recipe as closely as possible.  That meant sifting flour (I never sift), using a hand mixer for almost 15 minutes (ouch, my shoulder), and preparing most of my ingredients ahead of time.  I did add something different to the recipe – 2 tsp. vanilla, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder.

Everything came out pretty good – I may up the cinnamon next time.  I am working up the courage to try my beef stew.  It’s already hot where I am – we’ll see what happens.

Slow Cooking

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Last night, I visited Star Provisions with my mother and my aunt. While I was there, my mother pointed out that they had flageolets, which are small white or light green beans that are grown in France. I have has some memorable flageolet dishes in France, but was disappointed to find that the flageolets that I purchased through Williams-Sonoma turned out hard. Perhaps it was the fault of the recipe, which included the late addition of tomatoes. But, I think that I just had old or bad beans.

Last year, in the Cooking Light issue that prompted me to buy a slow cooker, there was a recipe that included flageolets. Unable to find them at the time, I used some unusual canary beans that I had found at the farmer’s market. It turned out fine, but I am looking forward to trying it with flageolets! I also purchased some home-made fennel sausage at Star Provisions, and think I will use that in the beans, instead of smoked turkey sausage…

I was lucky enough to find someone who published that recipe on their website, so I am saved the typing myself!

Tiny French Beans with Smoked Sausage

Lora Brody
Cooking Light March 2003

2 lb smoked turkey sausage, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
1 Tb vegetable oil
1/3 c minced shallots
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 c dried flagolets or other dried white beans (about 1 lb)
2 c water
1/4 c minced fresh (or 1 Tb dried) thyme
1 tsp celery seeds
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 14.5 oz cans fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add Sausage and saute 5 min or
until browned. Remove from pan and place in slow cooker. Heat oil in the same
skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic, cook 1 min, stirring
constantly.

Sort and wash beans. Add beans, shallot mixture, water, and remaining
ingredients to slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 8 hours or until beans are
tender.

8 – 1  1/4 c servings

Per serving: Calories 397 (30% from fat); fat 13.1g (sat 3.7g, mono 4.3g, poly
3.7g); protein 29.7g, carb 41.4g; fiber 8.6g; chol. 75 mg; iron 5.2mg; sodium
1,105mg; calc 143 mg

NOTE: Find flagolets – tiny French kidney beans – in specialty food stores or
online at http://www.indianharvest.com For a nice presentation, garnish with thyme sprigs.  I think I will make them on Sunday!

Here is another recipe that I did try from that article. I still have a lot of tamarind paste left over!

Tamarind Sweet Potato Bisque

Lora Brody
Cooking Light March 2003

3 1/4 c peeled cubed (1 inch) sweet potatoes
3 c vegetable broth
1 c water
1/2 c chopped onion
1/2 c orange juice
2 Tb plum vinegar
2 Tb low sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 tsp tamarind paste
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 fresh lemongrass stalk, halved lengthwise

Place all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 5 hours. Discard lemongrass. Place half potato mixture in a blender, and process until smooth.
Pour the pureed potato mixture into a large bowl. Repeat with remaining potato
mixture.

5 – 1 c servings

Per serving: calories 133 (14% from fat); Fat 2.1g (sat .3g, mono .6g, poly .7g); protein 3g; carb 27.2g; fiber 3.1g; chol 0mg; iron .8mg, sodium 627mg; calc 27mg)

NOTE: The pods of the tamarind tree yield a sweet-sour pulp that flavors many Dutch, Indonesian, and East Indian dishes. You can find tamarind paste in specialty stores or online at http://www.spicesgalore1.com and http://www.quickspice.com A little goes a
long way, so measure carefully.

Here is one more that I tried – it was very good!

Guiness-Braised Beef Brisket

Lora Brody
Cooking Light March 2003

2 c water
1 c chopped onion
1 c chopped carrot
1 c chopped celery
1 c Guiness stout
2/3 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c tomato paste
1/4 c chopped fresh dill or 1 Tb dried
1 14.5 oz can low salt beef broth
6 black peppercorns
2 whole cloves
1 3 lb cured corned beef brisket, trimmed

Combine everything but the brisket in a large slow cooker, stirring until well blended. Top with beef. Cover and cook on HIGH 8 hours or until beef is tender.  Remove beef, cut diagonally across the grain into 1/4 inch slices. Discard broth mixture.

6 – 3 oz servings

Per serving: calories 226 (39% from fat); fat 9.7g (sat 3.2g, mono 4.7g, poly .4g); protein 17.9g; carb 15.2g; fiber .9g; chol 87mg; iron 2.2 mg; sodium 1,105mg; calc 28mg)

NOTES: Tender from gentle cooking, this entree is a classic preparation made without the visual pot watching. Serve it with grainy, coarse grained mustard. Use the leftovers in a classic Ruben sandwich, sliced with thousand island dressing, swiss cheese and sauerkraut on sourdough, rye or pumpernickel bread.

And, last, but not least, here is a recipe that was in the article that I haven’t tried yet!

Stewed Dried Plums in Marsala

Lora Brody
Cooking Light March 2003

1 orange
1 lemon
3 c pitted dried plums (about 1 lb)
2 c orange juice
1 c sweet marsala wine
1 cinnamon stick about 3 inches long
Yoghurt cream (see recipe below)

Carefully peel rinds from orange and lemon with a vegetable peeler, making sure to avoid the white pith. Discard fruit or use for other purpose. Place rinds, plums, juice, wine, and cinnamon in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 4 hours or until plums are very tender. Discard rinds and cinnamon stick. Cover and chill overnight. Serve at room temp with Yoghurt Cream (below).

8 Servings, each comprised of 1/2 c plum mixture and 2 Tb yoghurt cream Each serving (with yoghurt): calories 272 (5% from fat); Fat 1.4g (sat .6g, mono .5g, poly .1g); protein 5.2g;carb 60.8g; fiber 4.7g; chol 3.5mg; iron 1.9mg; sodium 48mg; calc 151mg)

NOTE: Marsala is a deep, robust fortified wine from Sicily. It comes in both dry and sweet varieties. For the best flavor, marinate the dried plums overnight in the refrigerator, then let them come to room temp before serving.

Yoghurt Cream

1 16 oz carton plain low-fat yoghurt
1/3 c packed brown sugar

Place colander in a 2 qt glass measure or over a medium bowl. Line colander with
4 layers cheesecloth (Kim note – I do this for tzatziki using coffee filters when I don’t have cheesecloth), allowing cheesecloth to extend over outside edges. Spoon yoghurt into colander. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate 12 hours to drain. Spoon drained, thickened yoghurt into a bowl and discard drained out liquid. Stir in brown sugar. Cover and refrigerate.

Yield: 1 c (serving size = 2 Tb)

Yoghurt cream alone per serving: calories 58 (14% from fat); fat .9g (sat .6g, mono .2g); protein 3g; carb 9.8g; fiber 0g; chol 3mg; iron .2mg; sodium 42mg; calc 109mg)

NOTE: This is called yoghurt cheese when unsweetened

Prepare for NaNoWriMo

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How do I make sure that I:

Don’t run out of enthusiasm before Nov. 1? I know that it sounds silly, but my life is so wacky at times that something could come up before that – or I could be off on another great creative idea (that also won’t get finished…)

Don’t become daunted by the task ahead of me? I really enjoyed visiting the NaNoWriMo site and reading the suggestions of others. I am aiming for 1,700 words per day – that was the suggestion of another participant. That way, I would be ahead of the game: 30 x 1,700 = 51,000.

Don’t get distracted with other work while I am supposed to be writing? This year, I am head of the Cultural Diversity committee, for which I have published one newsletter, and need to publish one for this month. I will try and do that this week. I am also supposed to help a colleague with a video we are planning for the newcomers to our school who don’t speak English. That is also something that can be done before – maybe.

I am trying to make my lesson plans “teacher friendly” – easy planning, easy grading. Computer Lab on Fridays.

I went on the Internet to find some links to Angers – to remind me of what it looks like! I also made some mental notes about things that I did while I was there. One thing that really came back to me was my Walkman. I had lots of tapes made and would walk around town, listening to music from home. I definitely have a recollection of playing “All Right With the Boys” by Joan Jett, as I descended the stairs of the cathedral to walk home by the ramparts of the castle.

There are lots of music memories. I had the soundtrack to “The Big Chill” – my friend, Chris, said he never wanted to hear that again! I remember Chris DeBurgh’s “I Love the Night” – my British roommate would blast that and sing along. I think her boyfriend gave her the tape. Boy George, “99 Luftballoons” – and, of course, all sorts of French music. I hope I can find that tape!

I may change this template – I don’t see links along the side for quick reference. I might want to add links to relevant city websites. I also visited La Fleche, Vetheuil, Saumur, Paris, La Rochelle, St. Malo, the chateaux of the Loire, St. Rafael, La Foux d’Allos, Jersey, Birmingham, the Cotswolds, Bath, Barcelona, Madrid, and Toledo!

Much fun with the crockpot!

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Much fun with the crockpot! I have a Rival 6 Quart Smart Pot – in white, and I hadn’t used it in a while. I took it down last week, and my husband is now saying that I can’t cook anything new for a while… It is true that the 6 quart does make a lot of food! That’s what the freezer is for!

I had originally wanted to make some sort of Indian curry with lamb. I have all sorts of spice packets that I have collected at foreign markets (here in Atlanta!) and haven’t used them lately – except for my Indonesian gizzard adventure (not my best effort!

I made a stew with vegetables and chickpeas with spice packets from Parampara. The only mistake I made was not to have everything start at the same level of cookedness. I took red bell peppers, onions, potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, peas, and broccoli. I added a can of chick peas. What I’m talking about as far as cookedness is concerned, is that the bell peppers, onions, and potatoes were not cooked. The other ingredients were. I also mixed two spice packets – something I am sure that the Indian makers of the spice mixes would raise their eyebrows at! – Pav Bhaji and I think, Veg Jaipuri. After all, I had a lot of veggies, and I didn’t think one packet would do it. After starting out on the stove, I ran out of patience and moved the mess to the slow cooker. I think it cooked in about 3-4 hours, but the frozen veggies were a bit soft! I also thickened the sauce with a couple of Tbsp. of corn starch.

Then, I had a hankering for – you guessed it – BEEF TONGUE! I got a nice 3 pound tongue, and cooked it for my new recipe:

Burritos de Lengua in Salsa Verde

Stage One – Preparing the beef tongue.

3 1/2 pounds beef tongue

2 quarts water

20 whole coriander

5 crushed garlic cloves

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

20 whole black peppercorns

1 tsp. cumin

a pinch of salt

4 bay leaves

Combine all ingredients in slow-cooking pot. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until tender. Remove from pot; drain. Cool slightly; remove skin with sharp knife.

Stage Two – Stewing the beef in Salsa Verde

1 Tbsp. olive oil

2 medium-sized sweet white onions, chopped

1 – 15 oz. jar of Dona Maria Nopalitos

1 cooked beef tongue, chopped in 1/2 inch cubes (approximately)

1 – 7 oz. can of Herdez Salsa Verde

1 – 10 oz. can of Green Enchilada Sauce

1 cup chopped cilantro

2 cloves garlic, chopped or 2 tsp. dried garlic

Sautee onions in olive oil on high until soft, then add the nopalitos. Then, add the chopped beef tongue. Stir fry for a couple of minutes, then turn the heat to medium-high. Add the salsa verde and the enchilada sauce and stir to evenly coat tongue and onions. Add cilantro and garlic and stir again. Cook until heated through, then simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.

That’s all I’ve done so far. I stored the tongue in the fridge, for consumption tomorrow. I patterned this recipe after my favorite tongue burritos at El Taco Veloz. They usually prepare them with chopped cilantro, raw white onions and a spicy green sauce. I thought that I would tame it a bit. Tomorrow, I will probably serve it in a burrito wrapper, with some chihuahua cheese. After heating, I will put some sour cream and chopped cilantro on top. Lime might be a good addition. Should be good.

I also made a bread pudding in my slow cooker. It’s a recipe from another Lora Brody cookbook I have called Plugged In. To save typing, I was able to find the recipe on the internet:

RUM-CROISSANT BREAD PUDDING

2 Tablespoons Butter

2 cups whole milk

2 cups heavy cream

4 large eggs

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/3 cup dark or light rum

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup pecan halves

5 large stale croissants cut into thirds — horizontally

Grease the cookery insert of a slow cooker generously with the butter. Combine the milk, cream, eggs, sugar, rum, vanilla and pecans in a large bowl and stir well to combine. Divide the croissant slices evenly into four piles. Place one pile in an overlapping fashion in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour in one third of the milk mixture. Add another layer of croissants, then another third of the liquid. Repeat one more time, finishing with a layer of croissants. Cover, set on high, and cook for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to low and cook until the custard is set and an instant read thermometer inserted in the center registers 190 degrees F. Serve hot or at room temperature.

I used almonds instead of pecans, 4 cups of half and half instead of 2 cups whole milk and 2 cups heavy cream, and kirsch instead of rum. I made a sauce of canned cherries, frozen peaches, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup kirsch, and 1 Tbsp. corn starch, heated on the stove. It was pretty good – we’ll see if it has more flavor the second day.

When I purchased Slow Cooker Cooking by Lora Brody…

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When I purchased Slow Cooker Cooking by Lora Brody, I had already decided to try the recipe for Caramelized Onions which was in a preview article in Cooking Light magazine. If you click on the link above, you can look inside the book at her recipe, which calls for the onions to be sliced first, unlike the recipe below. I would slice them first, so as to avoid the danger of dealing with slippery, whole onions later!

Unfortunately, the recipe in Cooking Light said to cook the onions for a full 24 hours! I kept looking and looking at the onions as they reduced more and more, and turned browner and browner. I finally cried “Chicken!” at around the 15-16 hour mark! Then I read the recipe in the cookbook, and it said 12-14 hours, but she added that it was almost impossible to overcook them. I disagree! I also tried skimming off and saving the onion butter, because it can be used to season things, but I finally threw it out – maybe next time!

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

Yield: About 5 cups onions and 2 cups liquid

“Whenever Vidalia or Sweet Maui onions show up in my local market, I buy a whole case, run home, and get out my slow cooker. I promise that the heavenly aroma of onions gently simmering will make your kitchen the most sought-after room in the house. The addition of these sweet golden brown onions and their cooking liquid will enliven a multitude of dishes in a way you never dreamed possible. Be sure to make extra to freeze – having them safely tucked away is like having extra money in the bank.” – Lora Brody

Ingredients:

6 to 8 Vidalia or other sweet onions (approximately 2-1/2 pounds), 3 to 4 inches in diameter, stem and root ends removed, peeled and left whole

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine

one 10-ounce can chicken or vegetable broth

Place the onions, butter, and broth in a slow cooker set on low and cook until the onions are deep golden brown and very soft, 12 to 24 hours. Different slow cookers will take different amounts of time. It’s almost impossible to overcook this, so go for the deepest brown.

Use the onions and liquid to flavor soup, stock, and stews. They make a wonderful addition to risotto, a perfect pasta sauce, and the world’s best pizza topping (first drain off the liquid).

Store in zippered plastic bags in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer up to 1 year.

Variations: Add cloves of peeled elephant garlic or a handful of shallots along with the onions.

Here are some recipes that I plan to try with my caramelized onions (safe in the freezer!):

French Onion Soup

2 (14 1/2 oz.) cans beef broth
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can fat-free chicken broth
1/4 c. dry Sherry
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. bottled minced garlic
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
2 c. caramelized onions with juice (see recipe)
2 c. plain, butter-flavored or garlic-flavored croutons
4 deli slices (about 4 oz.) Swiss cheese
4 tsp. Parmesan cheese, or more to taste

Place a broiler rack 6 inches from the heat, and turn on the broiler. Remove fat from the beef broth and pour the broth into a 4 1/2 quart Dutch oven or soup pot over high heat. Add the chicken broth, Sherry, Worcestershire, garlic and thyme. Stir well. Cover the pot and bring it to the boil.

Meanwhile, place 4 ovenproof bowls on a large baking sheet and set aside. When the broth boils, add the caramelized onions and cover. Reduce the heat to medium and boil for 1 minute to incorporate the onion flavor. Remove thepot from the heat.

Divide the soup among 4 bowls and sprinkle each bowl with 1/2 cup croutons. Lay a cheese slice over the croutons. Sprinkle each cheese slice with 1 teaspoon Parmesan cheese (or more to taste). Place the baking sheet under the broiler for 1 minute or until the cheese melts. Using pot holders, serve at once, making sure to warn diners that the bowls will be very hot.

Caramelized Onions can also be used in Pissaladiere, a Provencal pizza with onions, anchovies, and black olives. I also found an recipe for Risotto with Caramelized Onions and Roasted Chicken, which I may make on Sunday.