Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Quick post on slow-cooking!

My bro Paul got me a super-sweet slow cooker for my b-day, and I've already used it twice, to make split pea soup and then some luxuriously creamy Irish oatmeal!  I love this thing!  I fill it up, turn it on, and leave it.  It's a workin' lady's dream come true.

I have the Cuisinart 3-1/2 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

This model is pretty perfect for a 1-2 person household.  Most slow cooker recipes are written for something in the 4 quart range, and it's also very easy to adapt other braise/soup/stew recipes to a slow-cooker.  Just reduce the liquid by 50% and double the cooking time (at least).  You always want to keep the meat browning step, but otherwise you can throw all your ingredients together in the slow-cooker and fuggeddaboudit!

Split Pea Soup (adapted from Cuisinart slow-cooker recipe book)
Makes 8 servings

6 ounces shallot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, trimmed and finely chopped
8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
8 ounces carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
1 pound green split peas, rinsed and picked over
6 cups water
1 ham-hock, meaty ham bone, or 8 ounces cubed ham
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1/4 cup dry sherry

Put all ingredients except sherry into slow cooker and set on High for 2 hours.  Switch to Low for another 6 to 8 hours (time needed will depend on your slow-cooker).  Remove ham hock or ham bone, discard the bone, shred the meat and return to the soup.  Stir in the sherry and serve.

And this is a cucumber salad I threw together last night, as far from slow-cooking as it gets!  I wanted to share with you because the combination was lovely: peeled and sliced cucumber, pitted kalamata olives, torn mint leaves, black pepper, and a dressing made of Greek yogurt, red wine vinegar, and a bit of olive oil.  Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and savor every Mediterranean bite!

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