It's Crocktober. Have You Taken Your Crockpot Out Yet This Fall?
(HealthCastle.com) I was recently invited by Cohn & Wolf Public Relations to attend a media event for a Crock-Pot slow cooker introduction and meet & greet with spokesperson Korey Kealy, co-founder of Enerjive Food. As part of their promotion, October has now been cleverly renamed 'Crocktober', and why not, October is a great time to get reacquainted with your Crock-Pot for easy to prepared hearty one-pot meals. Synonymous with stews, chilies, soups and roast dinners, Crock-Pot has been a staple and must-have small kitchen appliance for Canadians for over 40 years.
Crock-Pot has come along way since they were introduced in the 1970s. Models back then were much simpler with an 'on or off' dial unlike today with programmable options allowing foods to be cooked and switch to warming mode after they're done; ready to be served as soon as you get home. According to Korey, "what's great about cooking in a Crock-Pot slow cooker is that it allows food to simmer and stew, which is key when it comes to creating savoury meals'. True words indeed. I love my slow-cooker.
New Kid On The Block
One of the newest additions to the line of products is the upgraded design of the Trio Slow Cook & Serve. Circular rather than rectangular, this new concept swivels like a Lazy Susan allowing for guests to enjoy the different foods being kept warm from any angle - it even comes with cubbies to hold crackers or flat breads, vegetable sticks like celery, carrots or zucchini and serving skewers. When I visited, Korey has prepared a three cheese dip, mini meatballs and ratatouille - yum!
Crock-Pot slow cookers are super versatile too. Admittedly I've only used mine to make pot roast, pork loin (both with loads of vegetables), chicken stew or vegetable stew but as I quickly found out, slow cookers are great for making meatloaf, applesauce, ratatouille [yes the eggplant was tender] and even bread pudding or brown Betty pudding. I was hooked. Thankfully I received a great Crock-pot cookbook so I won't have to wing it anymore....
Time To Get Cooking
Figs poached in red wine
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
- 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
- 12 dried calimyrna or Mediterranean figs (about 6 ounces)
- 4 Tbsp heavy cream (optional)
- Stir together wine, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, orange zest and figs in 2 to 4 1/2 quart Crock-Pot. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours or on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours
- To serve, spoon some figs and syrup into a small serving dish. Top with a spoonful of cream. May be served warm or cold
Cran-cherry bread pudding
- 3 large egg yolks, beaten
- 1 1/2 cups light cream
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp cherry extract
- 2/3 cup dried sweetened cranberries
- 2/3 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup whole, candied red cherries, cut in half
- 3/4 sherry
- 9 cups unseasoned bread stuffing croutons or 18 slices of bread, dried in oven and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 cup white chocolate chips
- whipped cream
- Combine egg yolks, cream, sugar and salt in medium heavy saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture coats metal spoon. Remove custard from heat; cool at once by setting saucepan in sink of ice water and stirring 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cherry extract. Place custard in large mixing bowl, Cover surface with clear plastic wrap; refrigerate.
- Combine cranberries, raisins, and cherries in small bowl. Heat sherry until warm. Pour over fruits; let stand 10 minutes.
- Fold bread cubes, and white chocolate chips into custard, until coated. Drain fruits, reserving sherry. Mix fruits with bread cube mixture. Grease 2-quart baking dish that will fit in 5, 6 or 7 quart Crock-Pot. Pour bread and fruit mixture into prepared dish. Lightly press with back of spoon. Pour reserved sherry over bread mixture; cover dish tightly with foil.
- Make foil handles and use them to set dish in the Crock-Pot. Pour water around the dish to depth of 1 inch. Cover; cook on LOW 3 1/2 to 5 1/2 hours or until pudding springs back when touched. Carefully remove dish using foil handles; uncover and let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm with whipped cream
Note: To make foil handles, tear off 3 (18x2 inch) strips of heavy-duty foil or use regular foil folded to double thickness. Crisscross foil strips in spoke design and place dish on centre of strips. Pull foil strips up and over dish.