Vegetarian Cookbook Review with Cheese Fondue Recipe

When I was offered a look at the new cookbook, The Vegetarian Slow Cooker: Over 200 Delicious Recipes by Judith Finlayson, I was intrigued.  As you may know I’ve been toying with the idea of purchasing a slow cooker.  Read about my hesitations in my blog.  My family is also doing Meatless Mondays and I am always looking for new vegetarian dishes.  And my sister is vegan and while many of the recipes use dairy, there are some which note how to make them vegan, which I find helpful.  Anyways the cookbook arrived and the recipes looked great.  I wanted of course to make something, but still am not sure I want another appliance (especially to store).  The great thing is, I can and have made some of these recipes without a slow cooker with great results.  Of course some dishes (those with beans) need extra work (soaking) not required of the slow cooker, but it can be done.  Also some of the dishes can be cooked in a braising pot for a few hours (which I already have) – but no I wouldn’t leave the house.  The convenience isn’t there without the slow cooker.   The author does give info about various slow cookers and use, which is helpful if I do buy.

So while I didn’t buy a slow cooker I did buy a retro 70’s fondue pot.  Why?  Because it is lovely and orange.  Seriously my friend put a photo of this fondue pot on her blog and I immediately bought it on Etsy.  Who knew Etsy had kitchenware?  I’m in trouble now.  I’ve had it over a month and it’s only been a display item on the open shelf in the kitchen.  The slow cooker wouldn’t have such a prominent place.  Not sure what I was waiting for to use it.  However the perfect opportunity came with the arrival of the The Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  There are some inspiring dishes that are from all kinds of food flavors and origins and then I saw the section on fondues.  One in particular is a new favorite at my house… Kid’s Fondue.  This is like a bowl full of rich gooey pizza.  I am not kidding.  So while the recipe said to cook in the slow cooker for 1 hour, I simply heated and cooked low on the stove and then poured it into my fondue pot.  Super simple.  My family loved it.  My son was quite skeptical at first.  He likes fondue and is not a huge tomato lover.  When he saw it he said he wasn’t going to eat it.  However after dipping a piece of baguette and red pepper he exclaimed “This is the best fondue I’ve ever had!” 

And really I think the whole book is straight forward and pretty simple.  It may end up putting me over the top to buy a slow cooker…  But for now I’m enjoying the book without it.  I think making a recipe your own is what cooking is all about, and me wanting to use the book not as intended means the book is interesting.  So whether you are vegetarian or not, or have a slow cooker or not you can make this book yours too.  Here’s the recipe…

Kid’s Favorite Fondue

(page 108, The Vegetarian Slow Cooker)

Need: small (max 1/2 quart slow cooker)

fondue forks

1 can 28 ounces tomatoes (I used Pomi)

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

3 cups shredded cheddar cheese

sliced baguette, celery sticks andsliced red pepper to serve and dip

Process tomatoes with juice.  Transfer to cooker.  Add spices and cook on high for 1 hour, until hot and bubbly. (I used a pan on the stovepot on low for about 30 minutes)

Add cheese in handfuls, stirring to combine.

Reduce heat to low and serve.  Dip bread and/or veggies into fondue.

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Snow or Bust

snowman

We made it to the snow!  Every year we have plans to go, but someone gets sick or we’re not brave enough to make the drive in a storm (my husband and I have many stories of getting stuck in the snow).  My six year old was excited from the get go.  He was up for it all sledding, learning to ski, eating icicles, catching snowflakes, etc.  My daughter, age three had never seen snow.  I thought it would be quite interesting.  She only wears ballet clothes (whether it’s dance day or not) and does not like long sleeves, outerwear and cold.  I had a feeling I’d be inside with her while my husband and son snow enjoy the great outdoors.  

 

I planned on a game marathon with her and cooking some hearty slow foods.  Whenever I think of snow I think of chili and soups.  Yum!  However, she proved me wrong.  She loved the snow – after the initial shock that it is cold and turtlenecks and snow suits are made for a reason.  She even wanted to go to ski school like big brother.  And we all had too many hot chocolates in the lodge not to have fun.  I have a feeling we’ll be heading up again soon. 

 

I made and brought my white bean and chicken chili for this trip.  It’s an easy make ahead dish for transporting in an ice chest and makes enough for hungry people for lunch or dinner after snow play.  You can make this without the chicken too for the vegetarian skiiers.

 

White Bean and Chicken Chili (from Petit Appetit: Eat, Drink and Be Merry)

The origin of this recipe is from San Francisco Flavors, by the San Francisco Junior League. The original is great, but not many parents with small children have two hours to allow a stew to cook, let alone remember to soak dried beans overnight. The prep time is reduced in this recipe by using canned beans and sautéing the cooked chicken in the spices to soak up additional flavor that would come out from the slow-cooking process. You can reduce your time further if you have leftover chicken on-hand or buy pre-cooked chicken and pre-shredded cheese. This version for busy families takes only 35 to 40 minutes from start to finish.

 Makes 12 cups

 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

½ (4-ounce) can chopped mild green chilies, or 2 fresh chilies, roasted, seeded, and chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds cooked boneless, skinless, organic free-range chicken (can be left over or purchased pre-cooked)

2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

4 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water

2 cups shredded Monterey jack or mozzarella cheese (rBGH free)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

In a large stock pot over medium heat, heat oil. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic, chilies, cumin, oregano, cloves, and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Mix in chicken and cook for 2 minutes. Add beans and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.

 Transfer 1 cup of the broth to a small bowl and whisk in cornstarch mixture. Stir cornstarch mixture back into pot, cover, and cook another 5 minutes, stirring, to thicken.

 Add 1 cup of the cheese to the pot and stir until melted. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with remaining cheese.

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