Archive for Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Pots de Crème

Last week, I got to have lunch with one of my culinary heroes.

I got an email from Margaret, a local publicist, inviting me to a lunch with the new writers of the Best of Bridge series of cookbooks: Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Sue Duncan and Julie Van Rosendaal.

best of bridge crew

Now, I’ve been a big fan of @DinnerWithJulie for ages, and even worked with her briefly a few years back when she did a cooking demo at The Wellness Show while promoting Spilling the Beans (Sue has a co-author credit on that one, too). So I was stoked to hang out with these ladies (whom I aspire to be when I grow up) and learn more about what they were currently working on.

Over Najib’s Special and falafel at Nuba, we chatted up a storm, and they talked about their latest venture: Best of Bridge.

The Best of Bridge cookbooks have been an institution in many Canadian kitchens since 1957. These are real recipes. They’re not frou-frou or chi-chi. These are real ladies, cooking real food in real kitchens, which is why they are so immensely popular.

Just over a year ago, it was announced that the original ladies were retiring, and the crown (spatula?) was being passed to Julie, Sue, and Elizabeth.

Their first cookbook? The Family Slow Cooker.

If you know me at all, you know how crazy I am for my slow cooker. And especially this time of the year. I’ve flagged a bunch of recipes to try over the coming, cooler months, but Julie and I got into a conversation about dessert in the slow cooker. Not traditional, but doable.

She mentioned a recipe for a pot de crème that uses the slow cooker as a bain marie, and it blew my mind a little. Of course! It makes perfect sense that you could cook any kind of a custard-y dessert (like a flan, creme caramel, creme brulee) in a slow cooker in a few inches of water. So, I rushed home to try it.

It works. Really well. Try it.

I love this kind of a dessert, because it’s creamy and rich and I loved this particular salted caramel take on it. I will eat anything salted caramel.

slow-cooker-salted-caramel-pots-de-creme

Slow Cooker Salted Caramel Pots de Creme

(recipe courtesy of Best of Bridge: Family Slow Cooker)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp packed brown sugar, divided
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp corn syrup
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Large-flake sea salt (like Maldon) for garnish

Method:

  1. In a medium saucepan over low heat, place the milk and whipping cream, and slowly bring them up to the boil, but don’t let them actually boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a larger saucepan, combine 3/4 cup brown sugar with the salt, water and corn syrup. Bring up to a boil, and then allow to boil until large bubbles form and being to pop at a slower rate. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the hot milk cream/mixture.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the 2 tbsp of brown sugar and the egg yolks. Whisk in the vanilla. Now, add in a few spoonfuls of the hot caramel/milk mixture and whisk well to temper the eggs. Finally, slowly pour a stream of the caramel/milk mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to catch any eggy bits that might have cooked, and skim off the top foam with a spoon (wish I’d done that).
  5. Divide the mixture between 4-6 ramekins, 500 ml wide-mouth mason jars, or cute coffee cups. Fit them all into the bottom of your slow cooker. You can stack ramekins on top of each other if need be to fit them all in.
  6. Boil some water and carefully pour it into the space surrounding the ramekins, so that it comes about halfway up their sides.
  7. Cover, and cook on high for about 2 hours, or until the custard is set but still slightly jiggly in the centre. Carefully, with tongs, remove the custards from the water bath. Allow to cool in the fridge, then sprinkle with a little Maldon sea salt before serving.

 

 

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Slow Cookers for the DTES

As a food blogger, I often work closely with PR agencies around the city. They invite me to events, to try new products and restaurants. It’s a great relationship, and it is beneficial for both of us.

I recently had an email from Rachel over at Dunn PR, alerting me to a new project that they are volunteering on. Let me tell you about it.

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Last month, I wrote a post about food deserts, and how tough it is to eat healthy on a tiny budget. Many people who live in the DTES live on a budget of $25 or less a week for their food. As you can imagine, this is a big challenge, and they often can’t get through the week without the help of food banks, or soup kitchens.

Whole Way House is a charitable organization located in the DTES, and they service the residents of an SRO called The Avalon, located at Main and Pender. Whole Way House provides community services, like family dinners, games nights, haircuts, pet therapy, and a community garden.

One of the challenges of living in an SRO is that you have no kitchen. Many residents have a small fridge or maybe a toaster oven or a hot plate. But they don’t have a full, functioning kitchen. Cooking healthy food can be a real challenge.

Whole Way House is partnering up with Chef David Robertson, of The Dirty Apron cooking school, to do crock pot cooking classes for the residents of The Avalon. Slow cookers are the perfect tool for people who live an SRO. You can cook an entire meal in there, start to finish, and you make those meals healthy soups, stews and curries. In addition, they are incredibly safe, and the long cooking process makes most things you make in there quite flavourful and delicious.

Chef Robertson has been a supporter of Whole Way House for a while. He lives in the neighbourhood, and has a friend that works there. In the past, he’s hosted fundraisers for the charity, has offered his Dirty Apron kitchen so they can cook their Christmas turkeys, and and regularly donates leftovers from the cooking school.

“We all have a role to play in the community,” he says, when I interview him in the kitchen classroom at The Dirty Apron. “I see food as a medium to help in the community.”

Whole Way House’s mandate is combat lonliness in the DTES, and create that sense of community, so when they asked him if he would teach a slow cooker cooking class, he said yes.

He will teach the first class on February 29, and it will be a riff on the Boeuf Borgignon recipe in his recently published Dirty Apron Cookbook.

“Stew is perfect for slow cookers,” he says. “It’s rustic, and it doesn’t demand a lot of specialty tools. They basically just need a knife and cutting board.”

The recipe is inexpensive, and can easily feed a number of people. The class will include a shopping list, including how much each item costs.

I took Chef Robertson’s recipe to the Sunshine Market on the DTES and shopped for the ingredients. All together, it cost me under $12.71 to purchase the ingredients (with bacon left over). This recipe will feed 3-4, especially if you include a side dish, like pasta, potatoes or bread.

Here’s the Chef demoing the recipe on a recent episode of Breakfast Television:

How can you help?

UPDATE: the slow cooker cooking class was a big success! Thanks to everyone who donated.

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