Showing posts with label crockpot. Show all posts
Showing posts with label crockpot. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Apple Butter #BloggerCLUE

Low slow cooking transforms apples and a little sugar into apple butter by evaporating most of the juice until it creates a smooth, luscious spread that is concentrated appleness personified. And, despite its name, is completely dairy free.

It’s Blogger C.L.U.E. time again, when I get assigned a blog to hunt through to look for recipes which fill September’s “clue” or theme: fall fruit. I’m not ready for pumpkin yet (Is pumpkin even a fruit?) and frankly I’m not a fan of pears so I was hoping that A Mama, Baby and Shar-Pei in the Kitchen would have some apple recipes. I was not disappointed.

The eponymous mama behind the blog is Alice who is a fellow expat, living first in England – before I knew her so I had some catching up to do – then back in the US for a few years, and now she is making a home in Japan. Sadly, her first child, the Shar-pei, is no longer in the kitchen but over the years one baby became two so I am sure her household is just as crazy.

I had a hard time choosing from Alice’s many apple recipes. Tipsy apple pie with rum or her Ever American apple pie? Both looked delicious. Or baked Apple-y Donut Holes? Alice lived for many years in Washington state so she is really, really fond of apples. I was so tempted by her homemade apple chips and her apple cheddar scones as well, but as you can see, I finally settled on apple butter, which Alice makes in a crockpot.

Her original recipe calls for 30-60 apples so I scaled mine back to a more manageable level, but it is so good that next time I just might go all in! Oh, and I also added some lemon just to add a little more tartness because I used only Red Delicious instead of a mix of apples and I subbed ground ginger for cloves and allspice.

1/4 cup or 60ml fresh lemon juice
11 apples - about 4 1/2 lbs or 2 kg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 cup or 200g sugar

Pour your lemon juice into the crockpot.

Peel, core and slice your apples, putting all the sliced bits in the crockpot as you go.

Give it a stir every now and then to mix the apples through the lemon juice.

Add in your spices and sugar and mix well. Alice’s instructions said to cook on medium for 10 hours, stirring occasionally, then turn to low but my crockpot only has two settings - low and high - so I put it on low. She also said that if the apples are cooking down too fast or burning to turn it to low so I figured low was better than high if you only have two choices.

I started a little late in the morning so I turned my crockpot on about 11 a.m. stirring the apples every hour or two all day long. By 9 p.m. that evening, they had cooked down and softened but they certainly weren’t anywhere near apple butter or even applesauce. So, following Alice’s advice, I left them on low overnight.

It was glorious the next morning to wake up to a whole house still smelling of apples and cinnamon. I used my whisk to break the apples down completely into sauce; they were still quite juicy though. You can use an immersion blender, as Alice did, but I found the whisk worked beautifully since the apples were already so soft.

Leave them on low for another few hours, with one change of method. Every time you take the lid off to stir the crockpot, use a dry cloth to wipe the condensation off of the inside of the lid, rather than letting it run back into the pot, which is what I had been doing.

Could I have turned the crockpot up to high at any point in this process to speed things up? Sure, probably so, but I enjoyed the leisurely stirring and the completely relaxed, no stress method more. Because even if I was just reading a book or watching tv, I was being productive! Most importantly, I had time to take a few photos of a spectator outside my kitchen window. I've been reliably informed that he's a bee-eater but he also seems to eat other bugs and ants, bringing them all up to the windowsill and knocking them on the concrete to remove stingers and extract venom.

At the 24-hour mark, I ladled the hot, thick apple butter into sterilized jars. You should do the same to yours as soon as they reach a consistency you like. Remember that the apple butter will thicken up a little more as it cools.

Aside from peeling, coring and slicing the apples, this apple butter feels almost effortless and the full jars make that time spent well worthwhile. Thanks, Alice!

Enjoy your apple butter spread on buttered toast or stirred through some plain yogurt. It also makes a great filling for tarts!

Are you ready for fall fruit? Check out all the lovely recipes my fellow Blogger C.L.U.E. participants are sharing today.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Slow Cooker Beef and Guinness Stew - or Pie

When weather turns chilly, my thoughts turn to my slow cooker and a nice beefy stew with Guinness. Serve the warming bowls of deliciousness as is or top the stew with puff pastry and bake for a beautiful beef and Guinness pie. 

Whenever we are traveling and have the chance to eat a pub lunch, my husband almost invariably orders the beef and Guinness pie, if there is one on the menu. He loves the filling and the flaky puff pastry top. When decent pub grub is not available, I make my own. For stew beef to become tender, slow cooking is the way to go, so I like to use my crockpot to make the filling. After browning the meat, everything goes in the pot and I can get on with other projects like baking his favorite apple rhubarb strawberry pie. Pie for dinner and pie for dessert and he’s a happy man.

For the stew:
5 slices streaky smoked bacon
2 lbs or 950g braising or stew meat
1.1 lb or 500g marrow bones (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons or 15g flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 large onion (about 7 oz or 200g)
1 large carrot (about 5 1/2 oz or 155g)
1 large parsnip (about 5 1/2 oz or 155g)
1 can (14 oz or 400g) chopped tomatoes with their juice
1 can (12 oz or 355 ml) Guinness stout
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground pepper

For the pie:
1 sheet puff pastry (8 oz or 230g)

Cut your meat into bite-sized pieces, removing any gristle you can see.

Lay it out in a single layer on your cutting board and season it with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle it with the tablespoon and a half of plain flour and toss it around with your clean hands until well mixed.

Peel and cut the parsnip and carrot into pieces. Cover the parsnip with water in a small bowl until ready to use, to stop it from turning brown. Chop your onion roughly.

Cut the bacon into small pieces and fry until crispy in a non-stick pan. Remove the crispy bits from the rendered bacon fat and set aside.

Fry the meat in the bacon fat until browned on all sides, in two or three lots so that the pan doesn’t get crowded.

If you put too many pieces in at once, it will just steam instead of browning. As the batches get browned, remove them to a bowl.

Now you are ready to put everything in the slow cooker.

Start with the meat, then add the onion, parsnip and carrot. Top with the bacon, thyme and bay leaf. Pour the canned tomatoes in and then the can of Guinness.

Tuck the marrow bones down into the vegetables, if using.

Cook on high for three to four hours or until the beef is tender. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper to taste.

This can be served exactly as is or it can be baked as pie topped with puff pastry.

If you cooked your stew with the optional marrow bones, these can be put under the broiler or grill in the oven to brown. They are lovely served as an appetizer with toast on which to spread the marrow.

To make the pie, preheat your oven to 400°F or 200°C.

Spoon your beef and Guinness stew into a baking pan and allow it to cool a little while your oven preheats. I like to use a small pan that holds the beef and vegetables with a good amount of the broth that is created while the stew slow cooks. Then I thicken the rest of the broth with a little flour and serve it as extra gravy with the pie.

Slice the outside edges off of your puff pastry sheet and cut a few slits in the middle.

When your oven is up to temperature, cover the filled baking pan with your puff pastry. Fold the sides up so they don't hang over the edges. Press down all around the edges to seal the crust to the pan. You can use the trimmed pieces to decorate the top, if you want.

Pop it in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the puff pastry is golden.

To serve, cut a piece of the puff pastry off the top and fold it back. Scoop the stew into your bowl and top with the puff pastry.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Crockpot Borlotti Beans with Smoked Pork

Cream and burgundy Borlotti beans are sometimes called cranberry or French horticultural beans but they all seem to come from the same original new world source, the cargamanto bean first cultivated in Colombia. Near as I can figure. 

Strangely, or perhaps not so strangely considering how small the world has become these days, I first discovered Borlottis (or one of their close cousins) as fresh beans in a small vegetable stall in Kuala Lumpur. They were already shelled but their distinctive red marks attracted me immediately. This was years ago (2007, in fact) when Nigella was still doing her quick dinners on television. She was home alone and had pan-fried a thin steak to eat with some mashed white beans as her side. I tried some version of her recipe with the fresh borlottis and fell in love with them. Nowadays, I can’t find the fresh ones so I make do with dried. But, you know what?  They are also fabulous. Maybe I’m just a bean person. Are you?

I made this one-pot dish in my crockpot a while back and I’ve been wanting to share it with you. I love the slow cooker for busy days when I can’t be standing around stirring a pot. Fill, turn it on and walk away! Come back in a few hours and you’ve got dinner. If you can’t get smoked pork neck steaks, by all means use whatever you’ve got. A smoked ham hock would be great, as would any kind of sausage.

2 medium onions
2 handfuls cloves garlic (Let’s not get anal about how many. You like garlic? Hum more in.)
2 lb 3 oz or 1 kg smoked pork neck steaks
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 lb+ or 500g dried Borlotti beans
2 bay leaves

Slice your onions and lay a third of them at the bottom of your crockpot or slow cooker. Add a third of the garlic cloves.

Top with a third of the smoked pork steaks or whatever meat you are using. Sprinkle with sea salt and a few good grinds of fresh black pepper.

Add on one third of your Borlotti beans.

Keep layering, onions and garlic, pork steak, salt and pepper then beans until you get to the final layer of beans.

Add water to cover the beans by at least one inch or two centimeters.  Add another few grinds of pepper, if you are so inclined and tuck a couple of bay leaves into the water. Cover the pot and turn it on low.

Totally forgot to take a photo with the bay leaves but they did go in!

You’ll have beans and pork ready to eat in six to eight hours, depending on how old your beans were to start. Older beans have dried out more so they take a little longer to cook. Check them in around four to five hours and add more water, if necessary. You don’t even need to stir.

When they are done, I like to take a half cup or so of beans out and mash them with a fork.  I add the mashed beans back into the crockpot to thicken the broth beautifully.

Serve with rice or a crusty loaf to sop up the broth and, if you are me, some pepper sauce.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Crock Pot French Onion Soup #FeaturedFriday with Momma's Meals

Hours of simmering make this delicious crock pot French onion soup the perfect bowl of rich stock and silky onions. Topped with melty cheese toast, it will warm your heart as well as your belly.


Today I am doing something a little bit different around here. I was invited by the adorable Tammi from Momma’s Meals to do a blogger exchange she calls Featured Friday. She chooses a dish from my site and I choose one from hers and we post the results together. It sounded like a lot of fun!  

I’ve been reading Tammi’s blog for a while now and her friendly, casual writing style makes every recipe approachable. I especially love the letters she writes to her two sweet children. She’s honest about the challenges of motherhood while still clearly head over heels in love with them both. 

I chose to make her French onion soup because it’s still a little bit chilly in Dubai, and this soup is one of my favorites. I was almost tempted by her Baked Parmesan Pork Chops and her Honey-Roasted Carrots with Walnuts.  Such lovely dishes.  But I love a good crock pot recipe, so soup it was! I can't wait to see what she has chosen to make of mine!

Ingredients for four or five good bowls
1 purple onion
1 white onion
1 yellow onion
1 large shallot – total weight of oniony things: 1 lb 9 3/4 oz or 730g
5 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons or 30ml balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 can (11.1oz or 330ml or your nearest equivalent size) medium to dark beer  (I only had lager so my soup ended up lighter but still tasty.)
6 1/3 cups or 1.5 liters beef stock
Leaves from 2 sprigs fresh thyme (plus some extra for garnish)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Few good grinds of fresh black pepper
Bread – one slice per bowl.  I used slices of baguette but any will do nicely.
Cheese to cover each bread slice. (Pick your favorite, semi-hard to hard) I used a Tomme made from sheep’s milk.

Peel then slice your onions and shallot very thinly. Mince the garlic.

Turn the crock pot to high. Add onions, garlic, sugar, butter and balsamic vinegar.

Cover, and let cook for at least one hour, stirring midway through.

After that hour or so, sprinkle on the flour and give the whole thing a good stir.

Add in the beer, stock, thyme and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook for eight hours.

Prior to serving, put the broiler or grill on in your oven. Toast your bread slices in the toaster then top with slices of your chosen cheese.

Put the toast on a piece of foil on a baking pan and pop it in the oven. Cook until the cheese is all bubbly and melted. When it’s almost ready, serve your portions out into bowls.

When the cheese toast is ready, lift the pieces off the foil, making sure to scrape up any cheese that melted over the side, and gently lay one on top of each bowl of soup. Garnish with more fresh thyme.


Thanks again for choosing me for this week's Featured Friday, Tammi! It was such fun!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Indian Corn Pudding with Date Honey for #RandomRecipeChallenge

This simple cornmeal pudding is flavored with date honey but you could easily substitute any syrup you love.  Cooked in a crockpot or slow cooker, it makes an easy, belly-warming sweet finish to any meal.

I’m now in my second go-round of living in the Middle East, but the fact of the matter is that I fear I have barely touched the surface of the ingredients available here. Take date honey, for instance.  I first noticed date honey, or date syrup as it sometimes called, when we moved to Dubai back in November last year but I’d never bought it because I had no idea what to do with it.  Then, last May, on a holiday with my mother in the region, our hotel had a bowl of it out at breakfast.  I put it in my plain yogurt and everyone else was spreading it on buttered toast.  But I still never bought any of my own.  So I was delighted when Dom from Belleau Kitchen set using a local ingredient as our Random Recipe Challenge for this month.  I love Dom’s challenges because they are the impetus I need to try something new, even when sometimes it’s just a recipe in a book I’ve had for years so I bought a big bottle of date honey and prepared to use it in a recipe.

Unfortunately, an EatYourBooks search of date syrup and/or honey showed up zero recipes in my own cookbook collection.  It tastes more like molasses rather than honey or syrup, so I changed the search parameter to molasses and my chosen number lead me a recipe in a book I have never, ever cooked from, Lora Brody’s Slow Cooker Cooking.  I bought it online several years ago meaning for it to be a gift for my elder daughter, along with a crockpot, but she declined the gift idea, saying, quite rightly, that she didn’t need a heavy appliance to lug around.  So I was left with the book and I popped it on my shelf and forgot about it.  It’s actually quite a nice cookbook and I regret neglecting it.  That said, I halved the recipe because I wasn’t sure about a slow cooker sweet dish.  I shouldn’t have worried.  It was delicious, especially with a big slurp of pouring cream.  My husband declared it very good, in fact.  So go ahead and double everything and cook for nine hours.  Live large!  And try something local that is made or grown in YOUR neighborhood.

random recipes #33
Click on the badge to see the Random Recipe Challenge rules.

1/4 cup or about 70g yellow cornmeal
2 cups or 275ml whole milk
1/4 cup or 60ml date honey or syrup (or sub molasses/treacle as in the original recipe)
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon butter, cut into two pieces, plus extra for greasing slow cooker
1 egg, lightly beaten

In a small mixing bowl, whisk your egg, a half cup of the milk and the date honey. Set aside.

Check out how dark this stuff is! 

Butter the inside of your slow cooker.  Do not turn it on yet.

Place the cornmeal in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Pour in a half cup of the milk; whisk constantly as you pour, so that the cornmeal does not form lumps.

Add your sugar, salt and baking soda to the egg/milk/molasses bowl and whisk again.  Add this mixture to the saucepan along with the butter and whisk well.

Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the mixture, whisking constantly and making sure to reach into the corners of the pan, until small bubbles start to form on the surface and the mixture starts to thicken.  This takes just a few minutes.

Remove from the heat and immediately add the remaining cup of milk, whisking vigorously to dissolve any lumps.

Pour the mixture into the buttered insert of the slow cooker.

Cover and cook on LOW for about four and a half or five hours, or until the outer edges and top have darkened and the middle just jiggles a little.  Turn off the slow cooker and let the pudding cool slightly, uncovered.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or a good helping of thick pouring cream.

It rather makes its own sauce as well.