The cold has finally set in here at the cottage. With a couple of radiators refusing to do their job properly, we’ve taken to living in the kitchen again until the plumber can fit us in. To be honest, I love the warmth of the kitchen and couldn’t live without our Everhot – its glow of soothing, hospitable snugness the perfect antidote to November wind and rain. Everyone in the countryside needs something to warm bottoms, damp socks and trousers after long muddy walks yelling after a purposefully deaf spaniel who has strayed into the next county. Time to rustle up some central heating of my own.
The perfect culinary cosiness arrived in the form of a lovely parcel from The Happy Foodie and Ebury Publishing, a new cookbook entitled Slow Cooked. Written by Miss South, the girlie half of North South Food and presented with fresh and bright photography from her equally talented and foodie brother, Mister North, this is a cookbook determined to reinvent the slow cooker for a new generation of cooks. A self-taught cook who hails from Belfast but now lives in SW London (Mister North is unsurprisingly living….up North), Miss South has featured in Observer Food Monthly, BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme and was a winner of the Young British Foodies Fresh Voices in Food Writing Award 2013.
Turning the page on the ‘crockpot’ stereotyping of the brown and sludgy slow cooker 1970s, Miss South offers an array of mouthwatering slow cooked dishes, prepared with minimal fuss which can be left to cook away whilst you muck out the chickens, trawl the internet for piglets and pig arcs, do a bit of writing, extract toddlers from muddy bogs and hike across country lanes on the school run……just me? Well, dear Reader….left to cook whilst one is out at the office all day then. The book is jam packed with recipes – over 200 of them in fact – from breakfast, lunch and supper, a whole section on curries to rival even the poshest take away, cake for afternoon tea all the way through to pickles and relishes. I would hazard a guess that if there were just a handful of ingredients left in the larder, Miss South could come to the rescue with a slow cooked recipe for them!
I don’t have a slow cooker but here’s the thing I’ve discovered, Miss South’s recipes are not just for slow cookers….with hardly any tweaking at all, they can all be adapted for Agas, Rayburns and the ever faithful Everhot (like an Aga but electric and can be set and temperature controlled at the touch of a button). After all, the ‘slow’ oven is designed for slow cooking and we’ve often left something bubbling away gently, whilst we take Monty out for a stroll. SO I gave some of Miss South’s recipes a whirl with the Everhot. First up, the wonderfully unctuous Chorizo Butter Beans with a little side of homemade garlic baguette – perfect for an autumnal midweek supper for Jerry and me.
Very little effort to put together and eight hours of gentle cooking later….we could have eaten the whole pot in one go!
Quickly getting into the spirit of the book, I decided one of the curries should be up next for a weekend curry night treat – the nearest takeaway is a few miles away and doesn’t deliver unsurprisingly. Miss South’s Aubergine and Spinach curry did not disappoint.
Even Jerry who is normally only a small step away from Neanderthal meat eating proportions enjoyed the soft and silky curried aubergine and declared he would happily eat vegetarian dishes more often if they were as good as this.
However, determined to road test the cookbook in its true spirit though, I enlisted the help of my dear Mamma and her Crock Pot – one of the traditional slow cookers on the markets without the handy timer of the modern versions but still a trusty kitchen addition in Ma’s household as she is not of the Aga persuasion and cooks on gas, in all forms of the phrase! She was tickled pink to see puddings (crème brulée, poached meringues and even BREAD) in the book so we decided to road test Miss South’s Cinnamon-Spiced Buns. Everhot versus Crock Pot…… The results were stunningly good and we both conceded that this recipe was a definite keeper. Both the Everhot and the slow cooker produced the most wonderful fluffy heaven-sent buns that Poppy and Primrose devoured in seconds for breakfast. At a mere 1 1/2 hours cooking time on High in the slow cooker and the same time given in the Everhot’s slow oven which is set at a steady 100 degrees (the same as the High setting on the Crock Pot), the Cinnamon-Spiced Buns turned out to be a winning little breakfast number if like me your children have been up since 6am on a Sunday…..
Slow Cooked is a triumph all round. A great cookbook for the time strapped who love something that can be whisked up in minutes and will be ready and waiting when you get through the door and slump into a chair at the end of the day. Best thing about it? Not only can so many of the tasty recipes be done on a budget and with speed, but there’s almost NO WASHING UP as all the ingredients go straight into the slow cooker. What could be better than that?! I’ve already got my eye on the Oxtail with Dark Chocolate and Guinness recipe, not to mention the Apple-Glazed Ribs, the Stuffed Squid, Dulce de Leche Coffee Cake, Black Forest Chocolate Pots, Fig and Pomegranate Relish……..I could go on and on. Looks like I may be needing to borrow Mamma’s Crock Pot again to stop the old Everhot wearing out with all this slow cooking!
If you fancy testing out these delicious recipes too, then enter my little competition to win a signed copy of Miss South’s fabulous cookbook, Slow Cooked, courtesy of The Happy Foodie and Ebury Publishing. Simply tell me your all time favourite slow cooked recipe in the Comments below and then follow me @Margotgoodlife and The Happy Foodie @TheHappyFoodie on Twitter. Competition closes at 5pm on 19th November 2014. One winner will be picked at random and contacted within 72 hours. UK entrants only.
Good luck! Can’t wait to hear all about your favourite recipes! The Happy Foodie are also posting on Twitter and acebook every day for the rest of this week, tagging different bloggers. On Wed 12th November, they’ll mention Foodie Quine and Farmers Girl, Thursday 13th we’ll see Selma’s table and Belleau Kitchen and Friday 14th will be Margot’s turn! Do go over and take a look at all the slow cooked recipes from the challenge.