Slow cooking is back. Dust off your slow cookers. Get a copy of the Best of Bridge‘s The Family Slow Cooker and have endless fun trying new recipes. A cookbook publicist sent me a copy of this cookbook to review. The book is available to buy on Amazon or Chapters Indigo.
This is a book you can’t judge by its cover; my husband was critical of the book’s simple looking cover. Recipes we have tried are boeuf bourguignon recipe on page 126; easy and quick pasta recipes (Baked Ravioli on page 242 and Meaty Lasagna on page 243); Grandma Ruby’s BBQ ribs (page 177). Oh my goodness, is the sauce ever delicious and so simple!
I love that the slow cooker boeuf bourguignon is inspired by Julia Child. (I may never resort to my oven again!) Here is my written interview with Elizabeth Chorney-Booth and Julie Van Rosendaal on October 6, 2016 at the Duchess Bake Shop in Edmonton.
About Best of Bridge
Best of Bridge cookbook is about working together with friends. Sue Duncan, Julie and Elizabeth grew up with the cookbook and its legacy (since 1975) meant a lot. Julie knew the Bridge ladies. Four of them are still living. They had a lunch party in May 2016 and met with the Bridge ladies. Mary Halpen is the most outspoken of them all; she was nicknamed “Mary the Mouth” and has often been in charge of the book’s publicity. This particular cookbook has a lot of funny quotes and sayings — as Julie and Elizabeth calls them “Groaners”. Mary regularly sends a batch while the authors and their families came up with the rest.
What are the authors’ favourite recipes?
Sue’s are Shashuka and Pumpkin Risotto with Fried Sage. (Page 20 and Page 256)
Julie’s are the Pulled Beef with Stout Sandwiches (page 144) and anything with saucy barbecue.
Elizabeth’s is the Polish Hunter’s Stew (page 118 – 119).
It took the authors 8 months over the summer to finish writing the cookbook; it was a lot of cooking with slow cookers every day. At most, 2 slow cookers would be used to test their creations. Their neighbours would be getting food. At the end of the cookbook process, Elizabeth’s family needed a break from slow cooker meals. Since they wrote the book, they have never (insert laughter) dared to try another pulled pork again.
However, Elizabeth is looking very forward to trying Sue’s recipes now that she’s got more time and space.
What is the maximum amount of time you would keep meals in the freezer?
Julie: You can keep them for 4 to 6 months before they start getting freezer burnt — once you have cooled it down.
What was the most challenging part of writing the cookbook?
Biggest challenge was trying to be really specific with items from their pantries.
And yes, the cookbook’s recipes are very robust. The authors actually encourage using what you have got on hand. I love how easily this cookbook inspires to cook!
(And thanks to Best of Bridge, my husband now butters his noodles.)
BEST OF BRIDGE’s Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon RECIPE
(Obtained and excerpted with publisher’s permission)
6 bacon slices, chopped
3 lbs (or 1.5kg) lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 large onion, halved and sliced
2 cups full-bodied red wine (such as burgundy or Chianti), divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 fresh thyme sprigs
2 cups beef stock (page 284) or ready-to-use beef broth
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 TBSP butter
20 small white pearl onions*, peeled
1 lb small mushrooms
(Note: * I couldn’t find white pearl onions in November. Instead, I used one shallot instead by marking an ‘X’ with the knife, with peels off.)
In a large, heavy skillet, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat, saute bacon until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a 6-quart slow cooker.
Pat beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper, working in batches, brown beef in bacon drippings. Using a slotted spoon, transfer beef to the slow cooker as it’s browned. Sprinkle with flour and stir to coat.
Cook sliced onion in bacon drippings for a few minutes, until soft. Transfer to the slow cooker. Pour a bit of wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan; pour into slow cooker. Stir in garlic, thyme, stock, tomato paste and the remaining wine. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours or until beef is very tender. Discard thyme sprigs.
In a skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat. Saute pearl onions and mushrooms until both are deep golden. Stir into stew just before serving.
TIP: If you only have large mushrooms on hand, halve or quarter them.
Thank you so much for the interview, Julie and Elizabeth! It was such a pleasure chatting over coffee and delectable desserts while Julie visited with my 4 month-old Art.