Slow Cooking With Catherine and Claire

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Hey, I contributed several entries to this Inventory on reality TV cliches.

OK, so for a few weeks I am going to do something a little different. I am internet friends with a lady named Catherine Gelera and we Facebook/Twitter talk about the things we are into, which is largely about the Long Way Down/Round series and cooking. (For the record, Catherine says, "As to how we 'met,' I friended you on FB after reading your interview with Adam Shankman regarding So You Think You Can Dance.") We both are fans of America's Test Kitchen in one form or another and I was jealous happy to hear that the magazine would be printing one of her tips. I was sent a press release several weeks ago for ATK's Slow Cooker Revolution and I was intrigued, because I have this nice slow cooker but I feel like I hardly ever use it, since I don't find great recipes for it. I jokingly (wistfully) Tweeted to Catherine that ATK should have us blog about trying the recipes and she wrote back and then @testkitchen wrote back asking us what we have in mind. So now I guess that's one actual positive thing I've gotten out of Twitter.

ATK sent us each a copy of the cookbook when we expressed interest in writing about trying some of the recipes and writing about it. Unfortunately we can't share all the recipes we make but we can share some--maybe our write-ups will entice you to buy the cookbook, although that's not what we're doing this for. We're not getting paid to write these, but we don't anticipate having a lot of problems with any of the recipes--they are America's Test Kitchen, after all. So you should see one or two recipes a week for the next several weeks. We're mostly do it so we can write about food. And since Catherine and I started talking about food in little notes to each other, we're going to continue doing it:


Hey Claire,

I cannot *believe* we are getting the chance to cook from and review America's Test Kitchen's Slow Cooker Revolution. (I'd give that sentence an exclamation point but wonder if Christopher Kimball would frown upon it.) I'm really looking forward to taking on this project: time is of the essence now that I am working again, plus my shiny new ATK-approved slow cooker is just begging to be used. (Bonus: it looks like a Cylon. Seriously.) I'm a huge ATK fan (with the cookbooks and magazines to prove it), so having the chance to try these recipes and share my experiences is more than I could asked for. I can't wait!

Let's get started, shall we? Where's my white apron?



Hi Catherine:

OK so Wednesday night I got started on my first slow-cooker recipe, so I could enjoy it before American Idol duties Thursday night.

I decided to make the Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce (page 163), which I realize now was dumb since I can't print the recipe for it but I can still talk about it, right? I wanted to make it because it seemed pretty easy (I still can't deal with the fact that you need to do serious prep for some slow-cook recipes--I thought you should just be able to stick an onion and a piece of meat in the pot, cover it with water and then come home from work and it's a delicious meal.) Also I was trying to make something veggie-ful before I got to the inevitable crazy weekend eating.

What I liked about this recipe was that by and large it just involved opening cans, although I became acutely aware that I think I need a new can opener since mine always leaves two sections of the can top uncut which is hard for technically "opening" the can. I also purchased my first bottle of "liquid smoke," something I'd never heard of before. Long story short: I want a candle that smells like it, now. Mmm. I also liked that the cookbook let you use dry oregano because sometimes I just don't feel like spending money on fresh. It's not like the Queen is coming over (she's busy.)

One other thing I learned from this recipe is that I have really weak wrists. I had to mince eight garlic cloves and I got really tired, squeezing them all out (also? I always do this: I put the onions in the pan before I get the garlic ready, so the onions cook for longer than they should since I'm scrambling to get the garlic done.)

Also, I realized I forgot one ingredient before I dumped the mixture in the slow cooker, so I had to dump it back in the pan to add the white wine (the recipe called for one cup but I just had half a mini-bottle left over in the refrigerator, so I hope that worked). This is not really relevant to the recipe but I just wanted to put it out there in case there are other people like who cook but don't read carefully and have to make a last-minute panicky move.

Anyway, if you like smokey flavor I think you'll like this tomato sauce. I don't make a lot of pasta sauces, actually, because I have a Problem when it comes to pasta (I love it so much I'll mainline it right out of the colander) so I tried to double the sauce per the portion serving and put it on some spinach to fill me up, and the sauce is substantive enough for that. It was a little unexpected, taste-wise, just different enough from usual sauce. I can see it being especially tasty in the summer, maybe, next to like a Greek salad, or good for making to entertain a crowd. If you make it, freeze half of it for another lazy night.

So what are you trying, CG?



PS What should we call this series? "The Slow-Cooker Revolution Will Not Be Televised"?

PPS I took some photos, although they were with my cell phone so please forgive the (lack of) quality.
Cooking onions, the start of everything, always. Tomato paste in a tube >>>> can:

Stirring in first can of tomatoes:

Seeing red:

Adding the parsley before eating:

My attempts to get that pasta-eating feeling without eating too much pasta, aka "schmasta":