12 Nov 2014

Time To Get Out The Crockpot

The leaves have fallen, summer clothes have been packed away. Scarves, sweaters and winter jackets have been taken out of storage (sniff). I think it's safe to say that it's time to dust off the crockpot.

Besides the lightbulb, I think the crockpot and the slow-cooker are one of the best inventions of all time. The art of slow-cooking is simplicity at its best; put all ingredients in a pot, switch the pot on high for fewer hours or low for longer hours, put the lid on and let the meal cook itself. Because of the amount of time that it takes to cook slow cooked meals, flavours are given the time to really integrate. If you don't have a slow-cooker then a large pot will work too, just make sure that the temperature is at it's lowest. These two recipes are very different but equally delicious. I've have both quite a few times over the past few weeks.  This recipe is one that a dear friend introduced me to. It is definitely a staple chilli for the winter.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Chipotle Chilli

Serves 4-6

Prep time 15-20 minutes  

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 medium red onion, diced

2 medium/large carrots diced

2 celery stalks chopped

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 teaspoons of chilli powder (or according to taste)

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of ground chipotle chilli (or according to taste)

pinch of salt

2 1/2 cups of water (add more later if necessary)

2 large cans of black beans, rinsed and drained

4 teaspoons of lime juice  

One way of doing this is to throw everything into the slow-cooker, choose a setting and get on with the rest of your day. Low settings usually require 6 hours while high setting take 4 hours to cook.

I like to grab a pot and cook the onions, sweet potatoes on a medium heat for 3 or 4 minutes until the onions are soft, then add the garlic, chilli, cumin, chipotle, cook for 30 seconds to a minute and 1 cup of water. Stir all of the above so that they are well mixed, transfer that to the slow-cooker and then add the rest of the ingredients. Again, select the high or low and enjoy the rest of your day.

Leek and Potato Soup

An absolute favourite. I usually cook this myself but I firmly believe that slow-cookers are the way forward so here is the slow-cooked recipe.

Serves 6

Prep time 15 minutes  

2 large leeks, washed with the ends trimmed and thinly sliced

4 large potatoes, peeled and diced

3 carrots, chopped,

2 celery stalks, chopped

3 cloves of garlic salt and pepper

4 cups of vegetable stock/broth (or enough to cover the vegetables)

Fresh parsley to garnish  

Place all ingredients into your slow-cooker. Select high and cook for 4 hours or low to cook for 6. Once cooked, place the soup into a food processor or blender, a hand held blender work too and blend the soup until it is a thick and creamy consistency. Add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve and enjoy.

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