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April 12, 2015

Slow cooker North African beef and rutabaga stew

North African beef stew with rutabaga, lemon and cilantro, made easy in the slow cooker. From The Perfect Pantry.

"That's really, really good," my husband Ted declared as he inhaled his second helping of this beef and rutabaga stew. We're reaching the end of stew season, but this year's crazy New England weather has left snow on the ground where there should be daffodils, and stew on the stove where there should be fiddleheads and ramps and asparagus. No complaints in my house. Ted loves beef stew in all forms, at all times of year, and this version is so very different from the heavy stews I usually make for him. I cheated a bit, and used a bag of frozen, diced rutabaga; it was my first time trying this convenience food, and for a long-cooking dish like stew, it was great. You can swap fresh rutabaga, of course, or white turnips if you like those better. Warm spices, harissa, lemon, and a hit of fresh cilantro infuse this stew with an unusually bright flavor. Substitute gluten-free flour to make this easily gluten-free.

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January 21, 2015

Slow cooker shredded beef chili with beans

Slow cooker shredded beef chili, topped with guacamole and lime. Sublime!

On a cold day a few weeks ago, my husband Ted and I had pre-theater dinner with our friends Mary and Mike at our favorite across-the-street-from-the-house restaurant. We shared an appetizer-sized portion of short rib chili, just a few heavenly rich and sweet bites for each of us. When I decided to make my own version, I knew I wanted something a bit leaner; after all, some of the amazingness of the chili came from the fatty short ribs. So, instead, I used my stand-by, brisket. Coffee and cocoa give this chili a deep Mexican mole undertone. A hit of fresh lime juice at the very end is an absolute must, and a blob of guacamole on top makes the dish just about perfect. The chili freezes well, so make the full recipe and you'll be all set for weeknight dinners or that upcoming big football game.

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January 11, 2015

Slow cooker chicken stew with onions, mushrooms, and at least 40 cloves of garlic

The more garlic, the merrier in this crockpot chicken stew.

Cross a traditional French coq au vin, chicken with forty cloves of garlic, and old-fashioned chicken stew, and only good things can happen. And then, add more garlic! This recipe sprung from my husband Ted's craving for chicken stew, a half bottle of unspectacular red wine that needed to be used, and my own wish to toss something into the slow cooker that would make the house smell wonderful all day. Please don't be afraid of the amount of garlic in this recipe; it mellows and sweetens with the long cooking, and is essential to the success of the dish. Serve the stew on its own, or over rice or egg noodles, with a bowl of sliced crusty bread for mopping up every last bit of the sauce. Like all stews, it's wonderful on the day you make it, and even more wonderful the following day.

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December 17, 2014

Sweet and sour slow cooker red cabbage with apples and onions {vegan, gluten-free}

Slow cooker red cabbage, just as good on hot dogs as on the holiday table! #vegan #glutenfree #crockpot

Nothing revolutionary here, just a reliably delicious traditional side dish that you can serve hot or cold. In fact, my husband Ted's first reaction after taste testing was, "This would be great on a hot dog!" And so you see it, served at room temperature, piled on an organic beef hot dog. Ted was absolutely right; it's a great pairing. I'd love to see this sweet and sour cabbage on the holiday table, slightly warm and oh-so-holiday-red. The stunning color and tangy flavor, which comes from a mix of vinegars, compliment a range of menus, from Christmas goose to roast chicken to fish tacos. The recipe calls for pomegranate vinegar, which I buy at Trader Joe's (or online); if you can't find this, substitute a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar plus a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, or swap in pomegranate juice. Top a rice bowl with red cabbage and some chunks of cheese, for a quick vegetarian lunch. With five minutes of prep, you can set cabbage in the slow cooker to do its thing all day, while you are at work or running errands. Make it a few days ahead, and let it get happy in the refrigerator for up to a week.

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October 15, 2014

Slow cooker spicy shredded beef with soy, ginger and garlic

Spicy shredded beef with garlic and ginger makes a perfect rice bowl topping.

If there were a contest for Brisket Queen, I'd toss my tongs into the ring. I've shared so many beef brisket recipes with you, starting with my grandmother's brisket, barbecue brisket, Mediterranean brisket, apple cider brisket, hoisin brisket, Pakistani brisket, and Southwestern brisket, that I deserve the title and a sparkly little crown. Just when I thought I'd done it all, however, I remembered this spicy Asian brisket, with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and chili paste. I make it in the slow cooker, using my new method of cutting the meat into quarters and browning the edges (more pieces, more edges, more wonderful chewy bits when you shred the meat). This is a super-simple, slightly salty, slightly spicy brisket, perfect served on a rice bowl with any steamed vegetables. Crunchy snow peas provide a nice contrast; broccoli, bok choy, or green beans are good, too. If you have a sweet tooth, you can add a spoonful of brown sugar near the end of the cooking. There's sugar in dark soy sauce, and that's plenty for me, but you can (and should) adjust to your own taste.

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives. Thanks so much for visiting.

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