It’s been a long time since I blogged a recipe, and a slow cooked one at that. It’s not that we haven’t been eating slow cooked meals, in fact it’s been a good thing to have on during the day in the warmer weather so I don’t have to slave over a hot stove (so to speak) in the evening, but I’ve just been sticking to our favourites rather than thinking of new things. I’ve also had plenty of nappy stuff and editing work to be getting on with, so something has to give.
A work colleague of Tom’s offered him some marrows this week, and, after consulting me, he accepted them. I remember having marrows stuffed with minced meat and vegetables in France when I lived there for a few months, so I thought that this would be a good thing to try in the slow cooker. I wanted to make it veggie (rather than using minced turkey – I wouldn’t use minced beef anyway), so opted for a butter bean filling with other veg and herbs to add flavour.
It turned out very well. Tom and Joel wolfed it down, Andrew was less keen, but we know he’s not a big fan of courgettes so was not impressed by the size of courgette that I put on his plate! He ate the filling at least. We have another marrow, and I think I’ll make some soup with that. Here’s the recipe for stuffing, if you fancy having a go…
Ingredients – serves 2 adults and 2 toddlers
1 tin butter beans, drained
2 cloves garlic
1 beef tomato
100g grated mature cheddar
Cut the marrow into lengths that will fit into your slow cooker (ours has a divider in the middle so I cut it into shorter bits than I would need to for a non-divided slow cooker).
Half the pieces down the centre lengthways, and cut out the seeded bit in the middle.
Chop the onion, mushroom and tomato into small cubes, and chop the garlic cloves finely.
Roughly mash the butter beans in a large bowl, then add the chopped up other veg and stir until well combined.
Fill the centre of the marrows with this filling and place in the slow cooker pot.
Cook on low for 8 hours, then serve with the cheddar sprinkled on top and some fresh crusty bread on the side: delicious!
I haven’t written up a food post for a while. It’s partly because our oven has been broken for a few weeks – I know, shocking, I’m not sure how I’ve coped without baking therapy; well actually I do, it’s been sewing therapy instead, making some funky wet bags for the boys’ nappies! And it’s partly because I’ve been busy writing breastfeeding posts and doing stuff for the Nappyness Cloth Nappy LIbrary. The oven is now fixed so hopefully I can do some more baking next weekend.
With a broken oven, I’ve been so glad that we have a slow cooker. Last week we had an aubergine in the veg box, and as I was thinking about what I could do with it, moussaka sprang to mind. I think traditionally this is done with lamb, but as I can’t stand lamb, I went for turkey instead, as that’s the meat that I often substitute when a recipe calls for minced beef or lamb (I also make a turkey shepherd’s pie for example). I had a quick google and the first hit for slow cooked moussaka was another blog with a recipe that seemed to fit the bill. So, as usual, I adapted it to what we had in and my own tastes, and this is what I came up with….
The verdict from my boys was very positive, so much so that Tom suggested I cook it again when the younger boys’ Godmum came round for lunch on Sunday.
3 cloves garlic
1 tin tomatoes
3 tablespoons tomato purée
handful of herbs (I had fresh sage in the tubs)
400g turkey mince
1 pack feta
Slice the aubergine and courgette into fairly thin rounds.
Chop the onion and garlic, and heat in a frying pan with some olive oil, until they start to brown.
Add the minced turkey and cook until just grey.
Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and herbs, and stir well.
Put about one third of the turkey mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker pot.
On top of this, place a layer of sliced aubergine and courgette.
Put about another third of the turkey mixture on top, then another aubergine/courgette layer, and repeat with the last third of the turkey mixture and the last of the veg.
Cook on low for about 7-8 hours.
In the last hour of cooking, add the feta to the top and replace the lid.
Serve with rice, and freeze any that you don’t eat – it defrosts to make a yummy meal later in the week 🙂
I love finding bargains on the reduced shelf in the supermarket – I only really buy fresh fish when it’s there because I think it’s too expensive at full price and I think about how little a tin of tuna costs in comparison. But there is a biig difference in taste between tinned and fresh fish, which is why I grabbed the pack of mackerel fillets that were about half price last week, and stuck it in the freezer until I had chance to think what to do with them!
As I was thinking, kedgeree popped into my mind – we haven’t had it for ages, and although I know it’s usually made with smoked fish, I still just fancied it and thought it would still work with unsmoked fish. So I adapted my usual basic risotto recipe to make it into kedgeree, which is basically a curried fish and egg risotto as Tom and I joked. The veg we had in the box this week included chard, and given that it’s similar to spinach and I absolutely love spinach in curries (my favourite is Chana sag – chick peas and spinach), I chucked that in too to make it an all in one dish with no need for a side veg.
The verdict amongst my three boys was very positive. Daddy was very impressed and asked for seconds, Andrew was even more impressed and asked for thirds, and Joel excitedly rocked to and fro in the high chair whilst shoving fistfuls of egg and caked on rice into his mouth! If you don’t believe them, why not give it a try yourself….
Ingredients – serves 4-5 adults
250g mackerel fillets
900ml hot stock
1tbsp corn flour
1 onion, chopped
100g chard or spinach, roughly chopped
2 tsp hot curry powder
2 tsp turmeric
Put the rice, chard, onion and stock into the slow cooker pot.
Add the curry powder, turmeric and corn flour and stir.
Place the mackerel fillets whole on top of the liquid where they will float.
Cook on low for 3 hours on low.
Whenever you have time during the cooking, hard boil the eggs, and when they are cooled, peel off the shells and chop into quarters.
After the 3 hours, take the fish out and flake on a plate, then add the flaked fish back into the pot and stir until evenly distributed.
Add the egg quarters and fold in carefully so that they stay in tact.
Cook for a further half an hour on low.
Serve straight away and you can freeze any left-overs.
Wow a meaty recipe, can you believe your eyes?! It is true that I don’t cook or eat a lot of meat (and when I do it’s only chicken or turkey), but as Joel is starting solids, I want to give him the opportunity to taste meat along with all the other foods he is trying as part of a very varied introduction to food. So I bought some turkey last weekend and cooked a dish in the slow cooker that was suitable for him to eat with us – most of what we eat is baby-friendly anyway.
The turkey went lovely and tender as it was slow cooked, so this was perfect for him who has no teeth quite yet. The vegetables were some of those that we got in our box that week. The ‘crunchy crust’ is a basic suet pastry that I baked separately in the oven as pastry doesn’t work in the slow cooker – it’s not hot enough to get it crunchy rather than soggy. I assembled the turkey and leeks with the crust on our individual dishes when serving the meal. Joel enjoyed munching on some turkey, mushroom and pastry (which went soggy after he gummed it for a while), though he wasn’t sure about the leeks – they are a bit weird to it without teeth I think.
Here’s the recipe, which was a bit more time-consuming than some of my ‘chuck it in the slow cooker’ recipes, but still only took about 20 minutes to prep then 7 hours to cook in the slow cooker plus a quick shove of a baking tray into the oven half an hour before it was ready.
Ingredients – serves 4
3 small leeks
3 large mushrooms
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
400ml hot stock (I use low salt)
120g self-raising flour
60g vegetable suet
Fry turkey for a few minutes in olive oil to seal it.
Chop the leeks and mushrooms and put in the slow cooker pot.
Crush the garlic cloves and add to the pot.
Add the tomatoes and stock.
When the turkey is sealed put it into the pot and stir.
Cook on low for 7 hours.
Mix the flour, suet and herbs together, and add just enough water to form a dough.
Roll it out on a lightly floured surface and cut out four large squares.
Place on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and chill until about half an hour before the turkey mix is cooked, then put it in the oven at 180ºC and bake for 20-30 minutes until it is crisp and lightly golden.
Assemble the pies individually in bowls by spooning the turkey mix in and placing the pastry on top.
Another week, another recipe with beetroot! As you can probably guess if you’ve read my previous posts recently, we had beetroots in the veg box again this week. I love beetroot, so this isn’t a problem, I just don’t know many recipes that use them, so we often eat them roasted as a side veg. Having already made chocolate beetroot cake and savoury beetroot crumble, I had a brainwave for this week’s beetroot: red + white = pink! I knew that Andrew would love pasta (his favourite food) even more if it was brightly coloured, so I thought why not cook the red beetroot in a milky sauce and add pasta to make a pink dish. The addition of red kidney beans as well as the deep red/purple of the beetroot chunks complimented the pink colour very nicely.
I’ve not done much pasta cooking in the slow cooker because I’ve heard that it can be very difficult to get it just right in texture between being crunchy and mushy, but I was impressed by how good Aly’s macaroni cheese recipe over at Plus 2.4 turned out when I made it, so was motivated to try one myself. The pasta turned out quite well, though on the mushier end of normal for someone who usually likes quite al dente pasta – next time I would have the pasta in for a little less time. But it was perfect for Joel to try sone, so I wasn’t disappointed. Andrew was very impressed with his pink pasta – he even managed to eat some beetroot, which hasn’t always been his favourite vegetable. So an all round good family meal. If Andrew was into a certain pig called Peppa, I might have called it Peppa Pig pasta! Maybe worth a try if you have a Peppa Pig fan who is a fussy eater?
Here’s the recipe – it did us two meals
About 400g beetroots
200ml boiling water
450g pasta shapes – we had shells
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tin red kidney beans
1 tsp chilli powder (optional – we like spicy food)
100g soft cheese
Chop the beetroots into chunks (I left them fairly large) and place in the slow cooker pot with the boiling water. Cook for 2 hours on high.
After the 2 hours, add the rest of the ingredients except the soft cheese and stir well.
Cook on high for a further 2 1/2 hours (more like 2 hours if you want firmer pasta).
When it’s cooked, stir in the soft cheese and serve immediately.
This week in the veg box we got some beetroots. Last time we had beetroots in the box, I made a chocolate beetroot cake (it was so much yummier than it sounds!) But this time, as much as I was tempted to make another amazing cake, I decided we really needed a good all in one pot meal from them, that I could prep quickly in the morning and it would be ready for dinner. So of course in came the slow cooker.
I love crumbles, and think they work just as well as a savoury dish as with fruit in a sweet dish (here’s a previous recipe that I blogged). They are real comfort food, and if you slow cook it, you don’t have the hassle of having to cook it about an hour before you eat in the evening when the kids are tired and hungry and therefore you get some stress mixed in with your comfort. Andrew was also very interested to watch me chop the veg and make the crumble, so I let him ‘help’ rub the crumble together (it was already done really, but he dipped his hands in and copied me for about 10 seconds).
I was originally thinking of this recipe as a ‘traffic lights’ one – toddler-friendly you see – as it has beetroots, carrots and green pepper in. But once it was cooked, the beetroot colour basically took over the dish and made it look completely red. This was a hit with Andrew, who loves bright colours, though perhaps not so much actually eating beetroot! He didn’t put up much of a fight though, and was easily persuaded to put the exciting looking red bits in his mouth once the offer of some of his favourite fruits was mentioned for pudding, if he ate all his main course. The red colour also makes this savoury crumble look like a more common fruit crumble that has berries in.
As always with my slow cooker recipes, it was so simple to make….
4 medium beetroots
2 medium carrots
1 small green pepper
100g dried red lentils
900 ml hot stock (I use low salt)
2 tbsp cornflour
270g plain flour
dried mixed herbs
Wash the lentils thoroughly and leave in water whilst you prep everything else.
Chop the beetroots, carrots and peppers into small chunks.
Make the crumble topping by rubbing the margarine with the flour and a good sprinkling of herbs until you get a bread crumb texture.
Drain the lentils and add them with the veg and stock to the slow cooker pot.
Mix the cornflour with a small amount of water to form a paste, then add to the pot and stir all the ingredients together.
Cook on low for 4 hours.
Then add the crumble topping and cook for a further 4 hours.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a recipe for chilli with chocolate by Chrissie aka Slow Cooker Queen as part of the Slow Cooker Sunday linky. I’ve been meaning to make a chilli with chocolate for a while. We have chilli quite often, and there’s always chocolate in the fridge, so I don’t know why I haven’t done it before now – maybe because on the surface it seems like an odd combination so I don’t automatically think about reaching for a bar of chocolate when making chilli. As we currently have even more chocolate to get through than before Easter, I thought this would be a good time to use some in cooking as well as eating on its own.
This recipe is quite different from Chrissie’s, mainly because I made it veggie, and used my usual ingredients for a veggie chilli. I don’t eat any red meat, I just don’t like it; I will eat chicken and turkey if cooked for me, but in the last year or so I haven’t cooked any meat myself. We eat fish or pulses instead.
Despite the perhaps odd combination, it actually works really well. The chocolate flavour is subtle but there, and adds something to my usual simple chilli recipe. It’s a great way to get toddlers to eat vegetables too. I’d definitely recommend giving it a go…..
Ingredients – serves 6 (3 of us ate it and half went in our freezer for another day)
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin borlotti beans
1 tin sweetcorn
1 carton chopped tomatoes (approx. 400g)
1 tsp hot chilli powder
250ml hot stock (I use low salt)
Chop the onion into small pieces, and chop the chocolate into small chunks.
Drain all the tins of vegetables.
Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook for 6 hours.
Put some rice on to boil 10 minutes before it’s ready.
Serve the chilli and rice together, with a dollop of soured cream if you like the spice toned down a bit.
Last Sunday we went for lunch at Andrew and Joel’s Godmum’s house. She cooked us a very yummy risotto with leek and Parmesan. Andrew was very keen on it, and gave it the sign of approval ‘ “Yummy yummy!” This inspired me to do a risotto for my slow cooking this week. We didn’t get leeks in the veg box this week, but we did get a Savoy cabbage, so I used that instead, but still paired it with Parmesan because I thought it would go just as well. And the amount of Parmesan I used made a really cheesy dish – I believe that if you’re going to have cheese in something, you need to be able to taste it and taste it well!
Although I like the texture of risotto rice, I don’t normally buy it (unless it’s a special occasion) because it’s so expensive compared to the basics/value stuff; instead I use ordinary long grain rice and add some cornflour to give it a bit of creaminess like risotto rice gives. Recently I haven’t put wine in risottos because I haven’t been drinking it myself for ages (pregnancy, breastfeeding and generally not being up in the evenings!). But the risotto that we had cooked for us last Sunday reminded me that it really does add something to the taste – not in a very strong alcoholic way, but in a subtle way. So I decided to open the one bottle of wine we had in the flat and add some of it to this meal.
Here’s the recipe (again a very easy one)….
Ingredients – serves 3-4
250g rice (either risotto or long grain – add 2 tbsp cornflour for long grain)
1 litre hot stock (I use low salt)
150ml white wine
half a medium savoy cabbage
2 cloves garlic
80g grated parmesan
Shred the cabbage finely, chop the mushrooms into quarters, and crush the garlic cloves.
Put all the ingredients except the cheese into the slow cooker pot and stir.
Cook on low for 2 hours.
Add the cheese and stir well.
Cook for a further half hour on low.
Serve immediately with a good grind of black pepper; leave any leftovers to cool and freeze for future meals.
This week in the veg box we got 3 different sorts of root veg – carrot, parsnip and suede. I decided to make a chunky and hearty soup, which we ate with some crusty bread. The two flavours that I picked to go with the vegetables were honey and cumin, because I think these go particularly well with root veg. Until recently I haven’t been too keen on having honey with main course dishes – I’ve always thought of it as something to put in sweet eats. But as I’ve got more into parsnips, which I used to also find weirdly sweet for a vegetable, I’ve mellowed to the idea of having a hint of honey with them. It’s funny how your tastes change as you get older (or at least that’s what I’m finding!)
The recipe is really very simple, with not many ingredients at all; you just bung it all in the slow cooker and blend it when cooked – I kept it quite chunky so didn’t blend it too much. Here it is….
4 medium parsnips
1 small suede
2 medium carrots
1 litre hot vegetable stock (I use low salt)
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp cumin seeds
ground pepper to season
Cut the vegetables up into rough chunks – they don’t have to be very small or even.
Put the veg, stock, honey and cumin seeds into the slow cooker pot and cook on low for 6 hours.
Using a stick blender, blend the contents of the slow cooker pot until some of the veg has pureed but there are still some chunks left.
Season with a grind of pepper to taste.
Serve immediately with crusty bread. This also freezes well if there is any left over.
Although I knew you could put pearly barley in soups and stews to give a thicker texture, I’d never thought of making a meal in which pearl barley was the main ingredient, used like rice to make a risotto, until I saw it used like this in a recipe in my slow cooker cookbook from which I’ve taken inspiration for various recipes that I’ve come up with. The barley gives it a slightly different taste and texture compared to ordinary risotto with rice, and I like having this for a change. Plus barley is supposed to be good for breast milk production.
The recipe for pearl barley risotto in my book isn’t really my cup of tea because it contains blue cheese, which I don’t like. So I’ve changed all the ingredients except the pearl barley and created a risotto that’s more to my taste. I included a tin of chopped tomatoes because, for risottos in general, I’m into using chopped tomatoes as part of the liquid for cooking the rice – it gives it a good flavour without having to use as much stock, which is great in terms of salt reduction for little ones, and Andrew isn’t too keen on raw tomatoes but will happily eat cooked ones from a tin in sauces on pasta and rice like this. The vegetables in this risotto were those which came in our veg box this week – all our meals these days are planned around what veg we get, and I like this because it makes me think of new things rather than always buying the same kinds of veg week in week out. I also chucked in a tin of canellini beans as the protein in our meal. The final touch was a sprinkling of grated mature cheddar to give an extra boost of flavour.
My boys approved, and Andrew even asked for seconds of ‘zotto’, so it must have gone down well. This recipe was enough for 2 meals for us, so that’s 2 evenings of not having to cook just at the time when we’re all tired and irritable. Result!
230g pearl barley
half a large savoy cabbage, finely chopped
1 medium leek, finely chopped
400g tin chopped tomatoes
900ml vegetable stock (I use low-salt for toddler)
400g tin canellini beans, drained
3 tbsp dried oregano
50g mature cheddar, grated
Put all the ingredients except the cheddar into the slow cooker pot and stir to mix them together.
Cook on low for 8 hours.
Stir well before serving with a sprinkling of grated cheese on top.