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on December 12, 2008
This is a great recipe book for slow cookers. It is not a dump and go recipe collection, there is some prep time, usually between 5 (the shortest amount of time) and 20-30 minutes. About 20 minutes looks to be the norm. But by taking this prep time what comes out of your slow cooker is a great meal. The author states that he only wants to give recipes that would be as good made in a slow cooker as if you had made them in a traditional way. What I have made lives up to this expectation.

Also, there are many recipes that I am looking forward to preparing. That is the problem with many slow-cooker books, there just aren't that many recipes that look all that appealing to me - how many different chili recipes do I need? This book has a good selection of recipes that I had not seen before with easy to find ingredients for foods that I think that my family will enjoy. Not that there aren't several company appropriate recipes, because there are, but, there are also great week-night recipes.

I didn't intend to buy another slow cooker recipe book, I already owned 3 or 4 in addition to my collection of other cookbooks, but after seeing this one in a book store and looking through it, I had to have it. I've only made a couple of recipes from it, but both have turned out great, and there are many more that I intend to make.

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on February 19, 2009
Andrew Schloss has created some slow cooker recipes that really up the flavor interest. I agree that this is not the best collection for someone who wants to dump ingredients and then head off to work. Reading his introduction, Mr. Schloss makes a point of explaining why some of the prep cooking, such as browning meats or veggies before adding them to the crock, develops their sugars and that browning is more than a color --it is also flavor. A crock cannot brown on its own.

He has also been careful in what he chooses to use the slow cooker for, ie cuts of meat that benefit most from slow cooking and some twists on conventional dishes. For example, his brisket recipe is luscious and very tender. That one took me about 20 min total prep, but then the cooker was on its own for 9 hours. Lots of time to spend my day being elsewhere. We also love the mushroom risotto recipe that uses pearl barley instead of rice - wonderful complex flavor made all the more interesting by using dried mushrooms as well as fresh, wine and adding fresh Parmesan at the end. The Teriyaki Chicken is not to be missed.

Most of his recipes call for a 5 or 6 qt cooker, but for just the two of us we found the recipes can be cut in half and they do well in a 3 or 4 qt cooker. The West Bend 3 qt oval slow cooker has done very well with these recipes.

For others like us who are cooking for only one or two, I would also recommend Beth Hensperger's "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two" Both these books emphasize flavors that can only be developed with slow technique and raise slow cooking to gourmet delights.Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two: For the Small Slow CookerWest Bend 84343 3-Quart Oval-Shaped Crockery Cooker
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on October 23, 2009
I understand that many people love the slow cooker because with 5 minutes of prep they can have a home cooked family dinner. I would love that too but I can't bring myself to put lovely, healthful fresh ingredients in the slow cooker with 2 cans of condensed soup - the ingredients of which read like a chemistry experiment.

The recipes in this book suit a slow cooker - root vegetables, cheaper, tougher cuts of meat.

Here is an example: Today I made the Tunisian Lamb, it took me about 40 minutes to chop and brown all the meat and vegetables. I wouldn't have thought that a long time to prepare a meal at all if I was then able to sit down and enjoy it but I have to wait 6 to 8 hours. So it would be fair to say that it doesn't take "too" long to prepare, it just seems long because you don't get instant gratification! Also, I could have done it in 15 to 20 minutes if I had peeled and chopped the night before but that would take organizational skills that I don't possess. Anyway, what I get is a hearty, warming, healthy and delicious meal for 6 with only 40 minutes work (thanks to my husband for pointing out that the slow cooker wasn't actually plugged in!) What I don't get is "E" numbers and lots of things ending in "-ate".

Who is it for?
People who have a few too many spices in their cupboard and live to eat.
Who is it not for?
People who have absolutely no time and eat to live.
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on September 1, 2010
I, too, bought this book when I got my slow cooker at Crate and Barrel and have since given this book to every person I know who has complained that they don't know what to make in their slow cookers and because a lot of the recipes they have found on-line or in other cookbooks are unappetizing, full of ingredients like ketchup or mushroom soup, which is fine but not the point of cooking in the slow cooker, which draws out the natural flavor of food. This cookbook is fantastic. Sometimes the prep takes me longer than the specified 30 minutes, especially if you are including cleanup, etc... but nothing has taken more than 45 mins to an hour and the results are truly amazing. The first thing I made was the Osso Bucco Milanese and it was so delicious I could not believe I had actually made it. I have since made about 10 recipes and they have all been great. I have noticed that, if possible, it's better to do the poultry dishes on the high/fast setting option because when cooked super slow, the bones really fall apart and that is not my preference for duck and chicken. That said, it's still very tasty. Most of the recipes follow the basic structure of braise meat, sautee veg, add broth and throw it all in the pot and slow cook. This is pretty manageable. The vegetable soup is incredible. The only thing I wasn't blown away by was the chocolate chili and that was just because everything else has been so good. I have made both bread puddings and the cheesecake as well, all great. Because of this book and the slow cooker, I have started to entertain again and surprised myself every time with the results. Is it terrible for a host to say about her own food--This is so good!?? I have also purchased the Williams Sonoma slow cooker book but haven't even done any of those recipes yet because they seem more of a time commitment and a little intimidating. This book is nicely written and has some inspiring photos.
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on April 23, 2010
I like this cookbook very much. Mr. Schloss has evidently done his homework, because with one or two exceptions each recipe has been excellent. I especially like the Thai ribs, the sweet beef goulash with smoked paprika, and the pork sirloin with white beans (although I suggest you use a pork shoulder instead, its tastier and cheaper). The flavors of each dish are well thought out, and require a fairly complete spice rack. Nothing is very hard to prepare, and most of the work involves browning the meat in a skillet or the oven before loading it into the slow cooker.

My favorite recipe so far is the braised turkey thighs with posole and lime. I had never had posole (hominy) before, and the taste was a revelation. It turns out that using turkey or chicken thighs (with the bone, without the skin) is a good way to get white-meat taste on a dark-meat budget. The thighs don't fall apart even after 8 hours in the pot, nor do they dry out. You wouldn't know the hominy started out as corn from its taste, which is rich and sharp, especially when paired with fresh lime.

The cassoulet recipe is great for a guest dinner. It features lamb, duck, sausage, beans and vegetables. Our guests were quite impressed. My only change would be to swap out the nutmeg for some other spice, perhaps cardamom. Nutmeg tends to overpower other flavors, at least to my palate. Another great guest dish is the oxtails braised in coconut milk - this is like industrial-strength beef flavor-wise (a good thing).

My Carolina-born wife approved of the pulled pork recipe. The pork shreds nicely after 10 hours in the cooker. On the second try, I cut down the sugar and increased the vinegar, which gave it a bit more zing.

There is even a recipe for fruitcake. It's dried fruit and nuts with barely enough flour to hold it together - delicious!

Not so good is the recipe for salmon slow-cooked with herbs. It calls for cooking the fish in an aluminum sling above the vegetables, after first browning it in a skillet. The results were disappointing and definitely not worth the effort - I don't think a crockpot is a natural choice for cooking fish fillets, though I'll give Mr. Schloss credit for trying to expand the slow-cooking repertoire. Another problematic recipe was the jerk pork with yams. The sweetness of the yams overwhelmed the jerk flavor - I would try it again with regular potatoes, even if that is less authentic.

Nonetheless, this book is light-years beyond the old standby crockpot cookbooks that rely on canned cream of mushroom soup and other ghastly abominations. If you like to use fresh ingredients in your crockpot and are looking for a wide variety of flavors, this book is for you.

P.S. I bought a crockpot before I knew a lot about using one. My regret is not getting one that has a start timer. If you are thinking about buying one, look for this feature. With it, your food will be ready on time without having to sit for hours on warm.
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on January 17, 2011
I have seldom kept a cookbook for more than a year or two, quickly giving them up after one or two disappointing experiences, and returning to my habit of googling recipes for the ingredients I have at home. But this book is different. I've made ten of the recipes so far. Each one has been equally impressive in taste, richness and diversity, so that I keep coming back and wanting to try more, and have made several repeat batches of favorites like the chicken cacciatore and curried vegetables and daal. We don't own a crock pot, but slow cook these recipes on an enameled iron pot on the wood stove. Very, very highly recommended book from a girl who has only a few cookbooks on the shelf.
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on September 17, 2009
I will absolutely agree that there is a significantly higher level of prep work than I have ever seen when using a slow cooker, but that is exactly the reason why the recipes turn out so well. I love to cook, but quite simply don't always have the time or energy. So if I can spend 15-20 minutes in prep work on a recipe that turns out as beautifully as Tunisian Lamb Tagine or Beef Carbonnade, I am all over it! The Blue Cheese-Walnut Cheescake is a simply amazing appetizer, and I cannot say enough about the wonderfully flavorful Sweet Potato Pumpkin Pudding.

If you are looking for your umpteenth cook book with "recipes" calling for throwing some chicken and a couple of cans of condensed mushroom soup into a crock pot, definitely don't buy this book. But if you are looking for a book that will help you to produce gourmet-quality meals using a slow cooker, please do. I have actually adapted many of the recipes to conventional cooking methods as well. I really LOVE this book!
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on May 9, 2010
I bought this cookbook along with "Slow Cooker Magic" and "The Gourmet Slow Cooker" and this one blows them both out of the water. The recipes are so creative, and the results are just outstanding. This is not the cookbook if you're hoping for simple, quick recipes (though some of them are), but they are well worth the effort.
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on October 5, 2011
I've been using this book for two years now. The recipes I have tried have all been very good and not hard to make. I get it all going before heading out for the afternoon and when we get home---its yummy dinner time! I love this book.
The stellar ones that stand out are:
Beef Carbonnade- very comforting on a cold winter day
Braised Sweet and Sour Brisket- awesome flavor and oh so tender
Pork Sirloin Braised with White Beans, Rosemary and Sage- used thick boneless loin chops and it cooked in less time 4-5 hrs, good recipe
Slow-Cooked South Carolina Pulled Pork- delicious! We love it and the kids gobble it all up. I add a little liquid smoke and it makes it even better.
Marrakech Chicken Stew with Preserved Lemon and Olives- not for the faint of heart-- strong flavors - we like it!
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on November 21, 2010
This book offers solid contemporary recipes, relying on fresh ingredients rather than condensed soups and packaged mixes. There are variations on many crock pot standards like beef stew and chili, as well as some unusual fish and dessert recipes. Most of the recipes included require some prep browning or sauteing. The idea is that the additional steps will bring up the flavor and richness of the dish.Overall, this is a great book for cooks who want to build their repertoire of slow cooker recipes, but shy away from processed ingredients.
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