Saturday, February 5, 2011

Close Encounters Of The Slow Cooker Kind

Hail!

That's not a greeting: that's a description of the weather when I went shopping this morning.

Painful on the wallet. Stew beef and detergent are a lethal combination. In more ways than one.

I hadn't realized how little usable leek there was in comparison to the sheer amount of greenery. Undecided whether I liked that part of the stew, but the undeniable fact is that the stew smelled heavenly as it cooked. Meanwhile, grating chocolate turned out to be way messier than I had imagined. I broke off more than two tablespoons, but had to eat the rest because I had melted it with my hand. So tragic.

Of course, I realized right before I went to turn the slow cooker on that I hadn't checked it in months and wasn't sure it would work ... but I lucked out. Of course, then I noticed that my indoor temperature gauge said it was 76 ... I turned the space heater down ... then it said it was 80. I finally noticed that aforesaid gauge was sitting right next to the slow cooker. Yep. That would do it.

Final verdict: The stew is wonderful. There's a faint bitterness to it, but it's a pleasant bitterness and holds up well with the beef. To be honest, you can't tell it's chocolate, and I'm not even sure it was the chocolate imparting that taste - it might have been the wine. I ended up using some extra carrots in lieu of the mushrooms, and I might add more next time.

(Sidebar: I vastly overestimated the amount of red potatoes I would need for three cups. So now I have a boatload of red potatoes. I'm going to have to start plotting ways of incorporating red potatoes into everything. Red potatoes and meatballs? Red potatoes and gnocchi? Wouldn't that be redundant?)

On to dessert, wherein I discover that however difficult you think it will be to get marshmallow fluff out of a measuring cup into a bowl, multiply it by three. And that eight ounces of marshmallow fluff really is an incredible quantity of fluff. Between that and cream cheese, you'd think the electric mixer would have a fit, but it was actually easy going.

Final verdict: This is very decadent and cheesecakey. However, the crust is too crumbly - if you try to pick up the cut bars, it makes a mess. Assuming you're not wanting to follow people around with a dust-pan, I would increase the amount of butter in the crust to get the ingredients to adhere / bake more cohesively. I didn't have a mini-torch for the topping, but that's just for the look of the thing.

The last thing I made was the corn spoon bread. Since I only have one grater, I had some concerns about getting chocolate in the bread, but I think I avoided this. Small modification here: I decided to add some extra red pepper flakes to taste. This bubbles and oozes around the edges, even when fully baked. It looked a bit like an alchemical experiment gone horribly wrong.

Final verdict: I wouldn't bother. The texture is creamy, which is nice, but it's rather bland - and that was after adding additional red pepper. I used some of my leftover herbed cheese spread from last week, and it tasted decent, but just not enough kick for my tastes.

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