Thursday, March 11, 2010

Vegetarian Cooking Made Easy with The Vegetarian Slow Cooker

More people than ever are choosing to reduce their consumption of meat, instead, eating a diet rich in vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fruit. A varied vegetarian diet can lead to a healthier, more vibrant life and is more environmentally friendly. Best-selling cookbook author, Judith Finlayson, proves that vegetables are both healthy and delicious and has created a vast array of wholesome, satisfying, and meatless recipes for today’s favorite kitchen appliance: the slow cooker. The result is The Vegetarian Slow Cooker (Robert Rose; February 2010; softcover/$24.95; ISBN: 978-0-7788-0239-6) with over 200 new recipes that will appeal to anyone looking to eat well without spending hours hovering over a hot stove.

As with any cookbook by Judith Finlayson, the results are appetizing and innovative. Adding a slow cooker to the mix means that home cooks can be away from the kitchen all day and return to a hot, comforting meal. Featuring not only traditional recipes and updated classics, The Vegetarian Slow Cooker also highlights exotic dishes that reflect the expanding horizons of cooking in our global world.

"In my new book, like those I’ve previously written, I’ve tried to include a wide range of recipes that will appeal to many tastes and requirements,” Finlayson explains. “As enjoyable as it is to recreate many traditional recipes, in developing this book I had great fun experimenting with more exotic dishes that reflect our expanding global view of food. I particularly enjoy using herbs and spices to create unique taste sensations.”

From great family food to more sophisticated dishes perfect for entertaining, Judith has even included more than 130 “vegan friendly” recipes, easily identified for quick access.

The Vegetarian Slow Cooker contains tantalizing and foolproof recipes in chapters including: Bread and Breakfast, Starters and Snacks, Soups, Fondues and Savories, Mostly Veggies, Pasta and Grains, and Desserts. Judith’s recipes have something for everyone. They include:
§ Banana Walnut Oat Bread
§ Spicy Black Bean Dip
§ Turkish-Style Barley Soup
§ Classic French Onion Soup
§ Spinach and Tomato Quiche
§ Louisiana Ratatouille
§ Mushroom and Artichoke Lasagna
§ Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
§ Vegetable Biriyani
§ Eggplant Lentil Ragoût
§ Parsnip and Coconut Curry
§ New Age Succotash
§ Orange-Braised Fennel
§ Cumin Beets
§ Double Chocolate Mousse Cake
§ Blackberry Peach Cobbler

The Vegetarian Slow Cooker allows anyone to prepare healthy and delicious menus with minimum attention and certain success.
About the Author

Home cooks have come to trust Judith Finlayson with their dietary needs. Her previous vegetarian slow cooker cookbook, 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes, sold over 60,000 copies, and combined, her slow cooker books have sold more than 750,000 copies worldwide. Judith strongly believes that eating is one of life’s greatest pleasures and has spent significant parts of her adult life searching out memorable food experiences. She is a well-respected food writer, journalist, and best-selling author. Using her recipes, thousands of people have discovered not only how delicious and convenient food prepared in the slow cooker can be, but also how this handy appliance can be used to create an extraordinary range of dishes not typically associated with a slow cooker. She is also the author of 125 Best Rotisserie Oven Recipes, The Convenience Cook, and The Complete Whole Grains Cookbook. In addition to cookbooks, Judith is the author of four other books including The New Woman’s Diary: A Journal for Women in Search of Themselves. She has a long history of community involvement and has served on numerous committees and boards, focusing on the arts and social issues. Judith lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.

For More Information, electronic materials, and to Request a review copy of the book, Contact:
Trina Kaye / The Lisa Ekus Group, LLC / 310-915-0970 /

Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Crostini

Everyone loves this tasty all-purpose hors d’oeuvre, which is both simple and elegant. It can be used as the first course to a dinner or as a party canapé.

Makes 28 crostini

Equipment: Small to medium (1-1⁄2 to 3-1⁄2 quart) slow cooker (see tips)
Food processor

8 cloves roasted garlic (see tips)
1 pound (500 g) white mushrooms, trimmed (see tips)
2 large French shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons (25 mL) oil
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) dry white wine or dry white vermouth (see tips)
2 tablespoons (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons (25 mL) heavy or whipping (35%) cream, optional
2 teaspoons (10 mL) balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
28 crostini
Crumbled soft goat cheese

To make crostini:
Preheat broiler. Brush baguette slices on both sides with olive oil and toast under broiler, turning once.

In slow cooker stoneware, combine garlic, mushrooms, shallots, oil and wine. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours, until mushrooms are soft. Drain off liquid.

Place mushroom mixture and parsley in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until ingredients are very finely chopped but not pureed. Add cream, if using, vinegar, salt and black pepper to taste and pulse two or three times to combine.

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Spread mushroom mixture over crostini. Sprinkle goat cheese on top. Place on baking sheet and bake until cheese begins to brown and melt. Serve hot.

If you haven’t planned ahead and roasted your garlic in the slow cooker, you can do it in the oven. Simply
peel the cloves, remove the pith (the center part that often sprouts), then place the cloves on a piece of foil.
Drizzle about 1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) olive oil over the garlic, and then fold up the foil to make a tight packet. Bake in 400°F
(200°C) oven for 20 minutes.

Leave small mushrooms whole. Cut larger ones into halves or quarters.

Keep a bottle of dry white vermouth on hand as it makes a satisfactory substitute for dry white wine. That way, you don’t have to open a bottle of wine when you need only a small quantity.

Cover and refrigerate the mushroom cooking liquid. It is a great addition to soups, stews and gravies, along with or instead of broth.

If you are halving this recipe, be sure to use a small (11⁄2 to 2 quart) slow cooker.

Make Ahead:
Complete Steps 1 and 2. Cover and refrigerate mixture for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to make the crostini, heat mushroom mixture almost to boiling point on the stovetop before spreading on crostini.

Turkish-Style Barley Soup

If you’re looking for something delightfully different but delicious, look no further. This simple soup is an exquisite combination of textures and flavors. Serve it as a light main course or in small quantities as a prelude to dinner.

Serves 8

Equipment: Medium to large (3 1⁄2 to 5 quart) slow cooker

1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 leeks, white part with just a bit of green, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
1⁄2 teaspoon (2 mL) cracked black peppercorns
1 piece (2 inches/5 cm) cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons (25 mL) all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) barley (see Tips)
6 cups (1.5 L) vegetable broth, divided
2 teaspoons (10 mL) sweet paprika, dissolved in 2 tablespoons (25 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 long green or red chiles, minced
3⁄4 cup (175 mL) full-fat yogurt or vegan alternative
2 tablespoons (25 mL) finely chopped fresh mint

In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and leeks and cook, stirring, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, salt, peppercorns, cinnamon stick and flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add barley and toss to coat. Add 2 cups (500 mL) of the broth and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

Stir in remaining 4 cups (1 L) of broth. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours or on High for 3 to 4 hours, until barley is tender. Discard cinnamon stick.

Add paprika solution to slow cooker along with chile peppers, yogurt and mint. Cover and cook on Low for 15 minutes to meld flavors.

After adding the yogurt, cooking on Low ensures that the soup doesn’t boil, in which case the yogurt would curdle. Use the type of barley you prefer — pearled, pot or whole. Whole (also known as hulled) barley is the most nutritious form of the grain. Barley, like all whole grains, really soaks up liquid. If you’ve refrigerated this soup and are reheating it, you’ll need to add water to ensure an appropriate consistency.

If you are halving this recipe, be sure to use a small (approx. 2 quart) slow cooker.

Make Ahead:
Complete Step 1. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, complete the recipe. Because the barley soaks up liquid on sitting, add an extra 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) of broth or water before cooking.

Louisiana Ratatouille

Eggplant, tomato and okra stew is a classic Southern dish that probably owes its origins to the famous Mediterranean mélange ratatouille. One secret to a successful result, even on top of the stove, is not overcooking the okra, which should be added after the flavors in the other ingredients have melded.

Serves 6

Equipment: Medium (approximately 4 quart) slow cooker (see tips)

2 medium eggplants, peeled, cubed (2 inches/5 cm), sweated and drained of excess moisture (see Tips)
2 tablespoons (25 mL) oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried oregano
1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
1⁄2 teaspoon (2 mL) cracked black peppercorns
1 can (28 oz/796 mL) tomatoes with juice, 1 coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons (25 mL) red wine vinegar
1 pound (500 g) okra, trimmed and cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths, about 2 cups (500 mL) (see tips)
1 green bell pepper, diced (1⁄4 inch/0.5 cm)

In a skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add eggplant, in batches, and cook, stirring, until lightly browned. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onions to pan and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, salt and peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes with juice and red wine vinegar and bring to a boil. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.

Cover and cook on Low for 6 hours or on High for 3 hours, until hot and bubbly. Add okra and bell pepper. Cover and cook on High for 30 minutes, until okra is tender.

Okra, a tropical vegetable, has a great flavor but it becomes unpleasantly sticky when overcooked. Choose young okra pods, 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) long, that don’t feel sticky to the touch (if sticky, they are too ripe). Gently scrub the pods and cut off the top and tail. Okra can also be found in the freezer section of the grocery store. Thaw before adding to slow cooker.

Place cubed eggplant in a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt, toss well and set aside for
30 minutes to 1 hour. If time is short, blanch the pieces for a minute or two in heavily salted water. In either case, rinse thoroughly in fresh cold water and, using your hands, squeeze out excess moisture. Pat dry with paper towels and it’s ready for cooking.

If you are halving this recipe, be sure to use a small (approx. 1-1⁄2 to 3-1⁄2 quart) slow cooker.

Make Ahead:
Complete Steps 1 and 2. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to cook, complete the recipe.

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