Posts Tagged ‘raw food’

Slow Food

December 10, 2014

This is the time of year when we crave slow foods; comforting dishes filled with tender protein and flavorful sauces. It’s time to bust out the slow cooker and make some magic.

Last year at this time, we were novices, fearing that the food would be dried out and overcooked, or raw. Now that we have made friends with our slow cooker, we have a few tips to share to ensure the tastiest and safest outcome.

1.Don’t put raw meat or chicken into the slow cooker. For added flavor and texture, brown the meat on the stovetop before putting it into the cooker.


2.Don’t add too much liquid. Unlike other methods where high cooking temperatures cause the liquids to evaporate, slow cookers don’t allow the sauce to reduce. If you are using wine, deglaze the pan after sautéing the meat to allow some of the alcohol to burn off; don’t just pour it into the slow cooker, or you might get a harsh flavor.


3.Start heating the cooker while you are preparing the ingredients. This allows the food to come to a safe temperature more quickly.

4.Slow cookers work by trapping the heat inside the pot over a long period of time. Lifting the lid, however tempting it may be, lets the steam and heat escape, reducing the temperature. To make sure the food is cooked at the specified time, resist the temptation to peek inside.

5.Dairy products ( milk, cream etc. ) are likely to curdle if placed in the slow cooker. If your recipe calls for dairy, add it at the end of the cooking cycle. Coconut milk is non-diary and won’t curdle during prolonged cooking, so it’s safe to put it in right away.


6.Don’t leave raw food sitting in the cooker set on a timer to turn on after you leave the house. The food can start to spoil before the cooker starts. Place the food into the slow cooker when you are ready to begin  the cooking process.  Chickpeas and other beans can be used as a vegetarian protein, and don’t need to be sautéed first. If using canned beans, add them towards the end of the cook time so they don’t get mushy.

7. Fattier meats often withstand the slow cooker better than leaner ones. Think chicken thighs on the bone, vs. boneless, skinless breasts for a more tender and juicy outcome. Fish and seafood are more delicate, and not good choices.

8. Smaller pieces of protein will cook faster than a large piece of meat, so if time is of the essence, or you need to leave the house for a long period, gauge what is best based on how much time you have available to cook.2117900485

9. Be creative! Many recipes which require cooking in the oven or on the stovetop in a sauce can be interpreted for the slow cooker. It may take longer, but you can leave it unattended safely, and get the mess out the way early!

10. Enjoy!

photos: Glasshouse Images

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Unrecipe of the Week: Summer Salad Rolls

May 19, 2014

These vegetable rolls are riff on the traditional Vietnamese Summer roll. A study in simplicity, these rice paper rolls are filled with fresh julienned vegetables. The secret lies in the sauce: we dipped ours in a carrot, sesame oil and soy based dressing that brought the flavors to life. The best part? We’re torn between how healthy and low calorie they are, and the fact that nothing needed to be cooked.  Twice the reason to try this unrecipe!


For the rolls:

Julienne a variety of vegetables, including cucumbers, carrots, diakon, red bell pepper, radishes and beets. Mix it up to suit your tastes. I used a mandolin, but depending on how many you are making, you can just cut them by hand. Be sure to peel the carrots, diakon and beets first!

To assemble:

Dip a large rice paper wrapper* in warm water to soften. There is no need to soak them, just get them hydrated enough to be pliable.

Place the rice paper on a work surface. Lay a small piece of lettuce and a fresh mint leaf or two at the bottom of disc. Layer on the julienned vegetables. Begin rolling the rice paper, tucking it tightly, but gently as you go. Roll it twice, fold the sides in, and continue rolling to the top. It should look like a fat, transparent egg roll.

Lay the finished roll on plastic wrap. The rolls will stick together, so be sure to keep them from touching. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat.

For the sauce:

Peel about 3-4 medium carrots, and cut them into chunks. Place them in the food processor, along with a small shallot, peeled and quartered, a good sized chunk of peeled fresh ginger, about 1/4 cup of rice wine vinegar, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce, about a 1/2 or 1 teaspoon of sesame oil. Puree until everything is finely diced and combined. With the machine running, add about 1/4 cup or so of vegetable oil ( We used grape seed oil, which has a neutral flavor. Do not use olive oil, as the flavor is too strong!) Add about 1/4 cup of water, and continue mixing until it forms a a chunky dressing. Check flavors, and add more vinegar, or soy sauce as needed. If the dressing is too thick, add a little bit more water. Refrigerate until ready to use.

We served the rolls cut in half lengthwise, on a pool of drizzled dressing, and then put the rest on a platter with a bowl of sauce on the side. Sounds like the perfect dish to toss in my lunch bag tomorrow!

*rice paper wrappers are sold packaged in the international foods section of grocery stores, or at Asian markets.

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