Saturday, October 1, 2011

Weekend Cooking and a Cookbook Review - The French Slow Cooker

Beth Fish Reads sponsors this weekly meme where we foodies can chat about cookbooks, cooking gadgets, recipes, or anything else gustatory. Be sure to stop over there to find other terrific weekend cooking posts.

This weekend, there's another one of those fabulous Net Galley e-book reviews: The French Slow Cooker.
Author:Michele Scicolone
Publisher/Format: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, e-book, 237 pgs
Year of publication: 2011
Subject: French cooking
Genre: cookbook
Source: electronic ARC from publisher via Net Galley

It seems a shame to waste the precious short Maine outdoor grilling season we have, so I've been pushing this one to the side waiting for the right weather. Therefore, it's taken me a while to get through this marvelous cookbook, and it's another one that is going onto my Christmas wishlist.  I do a lot of winter cooking in the slow cooker, and found myself wishing for some cool foggy days to try out some of these recipes.   This past week, while winging my way back from the heat of California to a forecast in the low 50's in Maine, I spent some time with my NOOK taking a good look at this one.  Michele Scicolone has another winner here.

The author seems to have hit a perfect bulls-eye target audience: those of us who love the flavors of the French countryside, but who have neither the time, talent, array of pots and pans, or over-sized kitchen to indulge in Julia Child type 8 hour cooking marathons but would love to be able to serve some of these classics at home.  She really resonated with me when she talked about the first time she made a cassoulet and the three day marathon it involved.  Many of us have "been there, done that" and found the results nice but definitely not worth doing again.    And who would have ever thought about doing souffles, fish and other delicacies in a slow cooker?  Not I, but I certainly intend to try out a few of these over the upcoming dark days of Maine's snowy "wintah".

In additon to the recipes, she points out the many ecological and economical benefits of these most friendly appliance: it uses less energy, it allows us to use less expensive (read tougher) cuts of meat, it doesn't heat up the house when it's warm outside, and it doubles as a 'keep it warm' buffet server -  I use mine a lot for mulled cider!  The tips for cooking in a slow cooker, plus the discussion of how to shop for one and the many new features available are invaluable to both new and veteran slow cookers.  And the glossary and explanation of basic French cooking ingredients are a definite plus for those of us who are willing to admit that we would never pass "Julie and Julia".

I actually got inspired earlier this week to do a version of the Sunday Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Lemon and Thyme.  It was yummy and it was wonderful to be able to throw the ingredients into pot, turn on the switch and walk away to do other things.  Being able to smell that melange of melding flavors while I was reading and blogging made it an afternoon to remember.  There are several lamb and pork recipes just waiting for the right moment to whip up.

This one will be a definite addition to any cookbook shelf.
  My thanks to Houghton Mifflin for the opportunity to review it.


  1. I love my Crock-Pot but wish I had a bigger slow cooker so I could do things like your roast chicken. Time to do some hinting, I believe.

  2. I use the ceramic insert to my slow cooker for proofing bread. It's the perfect size!

  3. I will certainly check this one is slow-cooker weather for sure!


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