Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O'Dea

Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O'Dea is a collection of slow cooker recipes.  Many of them sounded yummy so we tried some.

We tried the Pizza Soup recipe.  Yummmm.  Very much enjoyed by  the whole family.  Rob and Marc ate it with garlic bread and Rob sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top of the soup for added oomph.  But really, there's nothing more to say about this recipe because it was just yum yum yummy.  However, for those who want to cook only from scratch, these and most of the other recipes use some form of pre-packaged products.  A truly creative cook can easily modify and figure out how to do it without a can or jar, no doubt.

Next we had the 3-Packet Pot Roast.  We had to modify the recipe slightly because we could not find one of the "packets" but Rob rated this a clear winner.  Wow!  Two recipes loved.  (She also makes suggestions throughout the book for those who are gluten sensitive.)

At this point Rob finds out that this is a library book and wonders if we should just go ahead and buy it for ourselves.  I have to say, I concur.  He had marked quite a few other recipes he wanted to try and I found a few that I was aching to sample.  With so many choices, it was hard to narrow ourselves down and keep focused on the task at hand.

For a poultry recipe, we tried Chicken Masala because we had all we needed for that recipe except the chicken thighs and plain yogurt.  I made it too early in the morning because I mistakenly put in twice as much cayenne pepper (oops) but thankfully nobody noticed (shhhhh . . . don't tell them).  This recipe fell a little flat for us.  The flavors were just right (and I dislike spicy foods so that extra pepper had me worried but the taste didn't bother me at all) but there was something missing. Rob thought it would taste good with mushrooms.  Perhaps.

Our next recipe to try was Vegetarian No-Noodles Lasagna which we agreed is quite yummy but hardly passes for a lasagna.  It turns out to be entirely too soupy so it seems more like a stew than a layered pasta dish.  Okay.  I get it.  No-noodles means no pasta but it was, in that respect, a disappointment.  But now that we know how it will turn out, I know we will make it again because we definitely liked it.  Rob however, said he would have liked to have some sausage in it so I may end up converting this vegetarian meal into something with a little meat.  Perhaps cooked up and sprinkled, not sliced.  Anyway, we liked the recipe enough to think of ways to make it even better.

Our last recipe tried was the Thai Coconut Soup which we found hugely disappointing and quite tasty.  Quite the contradiction, don't you think?  Well, we have a lovely local Thai restaurant that makes a decadent Thai Coconut Soup which Rob and I both love.  The prices are so reasonable and their ginger chicken makes me swoon.  So we went into this recipe with certain flavor expectations.  That is where the disappointment comes in because, even as we were making it we knew the ingredients were not quite right.  I used 1 tsp of chili paste and that was just the right amount of heat for me.  And now we know what we will do the next time we make the recipe as we try to get the flavors closer to the one at our restaurant.  With that said, I served this to my friend Megan when she came for a visit and she was well pleased, enough so to ask for a second bowl.  Aha!  See?  It is a winner of a recipe if you have no expectations for a different flavor experience.  (Hint:  we already know that on our next try we will not add the tomato and red bell pepper and we will add another can of coconut milk.)

I would have to say that this recipe book is a winner simply because there were no recipes we flat out refused to eat as leftovers and we always tried to think of ways to tweak the recipe to meet our personal preferences.  That is remarkable, given how nit picky some people are around here.


We borrowed this book a second time and tried the Pound Cake recipe.  We made it with Splenda instead of sugar and it burned around the edges.  This is a simple cake.  Very plain.  Even burnt on the edges it was good, very dense.  The perfect cake for a bit of ice cream or maybe a fresh fruit puree and a dollop of whipped cream.

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