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February 14, 2012

Slow cooker recipe for lemon-garlic chicken and white bean stew {gluten-free}


While it's true that Rival invented the Crock-Pot®, back in 1971, the company didn't invent slow cooking. Clay pots, tagines and Dutch ovens all predate the electric slow cooker. This chicken and white bean stew springs from the French farmhouse tradition of slow cooking in a pot set into the fireplace. Today, thanks to an inexpensive piece of kitchen equipment (the slow cooker I used for this recipe cost less than $20), I can make stew without hauling in wood, building a fire, raking the embers, and lugging a heavy cast-iron Dutch oven from the kitchen to set into the hearth. Lemon and garlic create the flavor base for this healthy, naturally gluten-free stew, which, like most stews, tastes even better the second day.

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January 22, 2012

Recipe for vegan butternut squash and chickpea stew {gluten-free}


When the aroma of cinnamon fills the house, I follow my nose to the kitchen, expecting to discover muffins or baked apples in the oven. Sometimes, the intoxicating smell of cinnamon comes from something even better: a savory, Moroccan-inspired vegan butternut squash and chickpea stew in a tomato sauce infused with cinnamon and coriander. A hint of smoky-hot harissa, the assertive North African pepper paste, balances the sweetness of the squash, and seems absolutely necessary here. (Kathy, my spicy-food-averse cooking assistant, loved the gentle heat, so you know it's not too spicy.) Make this stew up to three days ahead, or freeze it; like most stews, it's even better on the second day. Serve over couscous or rice, as the centerpiece of a vegan meal, or as a side dish with grilled lamb or fish.

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September 22, 2011

Slow cooker ratatouille recipe {vegan, gluten-free}


"Exact proportions aren't terribly important," Julia Child used to say about stews and soups, as she taught us to relax and have fun with serious cooking. Nowhere does that concept apply more than to this slow cooker ratatouille (pronounced rat ah TOO eee), a classic French vegetable stew that uses everything I can find in my garden or at our local farmers' markets right now: eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, potatoes and thyme. If you have more of one thing than another, that's fine. Want to add some olives? Fine. Have white mushrooms instead of portobellos? Fine. Stick in a small sprig of rosemary? Fine. Best of all, ratatouille works as a pasta sauce, an omelet filling, a rice topper, a side dish for grilled fish or chicken, a sandwich stuffer... well, you get the idea. It's versatile, healthy and vegan, and the slow cooker makes it oh-so-easy. I like my ratatouille vegetables cut into big chunks, and they'll hold up much better in the slow cooker if you go big, too.

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December 21, 2010

Recipe for red curry tofu with spinach and mushrooms

Vegan red curry tofu

In Adam's Rib, one of my favorite (albeit dated) movies, married lawyers Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy find themselves with the late-night munchies. They head to the kitchen of their posh apartment, where Kate, in her evening gown, raids the refrigerator and comes up with an armful of leftovers. "How about curry?" she asks, and in a Hollywood second, she's got a beautiful lamb curry on the table. With a little help from ingredients in the pantry, you can whip up a curry in a Hollywood second -- well, in 20 minutes -- and you don't need to be wearing an evening gown or tuxedo to do it. This recipe is moderately hot, so feel free to reduce the amount of curry paste for a milder version. I like medium-hot Thai red curry best, but this recipe will be delicious with any curry paste you have on hand. Look for the Mae Ploy or Amoy brands in an Asian grocery store.

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December 16, 2010

Slow cooker Cuban-style ropa vieja recipe {gluten-free}

Cuban-style ropa vieja

There's no one recipe for ropa vieja, the shredded beef dish that originated in the Canary Islands and migrated to the Americas with Spanish traders, but flank steak, tomato, onion and cumin are common denominators. Sometimes ropa vieja contains potatoes, or olives, or beans, but I stick with a basic Cuban-inspired version: beef, flavored with chopped tomatoes and green chile peppers (a.k.a. Ro*Tel), spices, and a cilantro kick from store-bought salsa. Ropa vieja means "old clothes", a nod to the resemblance of the cooked meat to tattered rags. This recipe starts and ends in the slow cooker (crockpot), and it couldn't be easier. The "rags" practically melt in your mouth.

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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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