For a number of years now, my husband and I have been obsessing over a recipe in Nigel Slater’s Eat for a chicken, leek and fennel braise. We make it all the time, and it is so tasty with some couscous on the side. This recipe is inspired by Nigel Slater’s recipe, but cooked in the slow cooker in a large batch for added convenience – both time saving and it makes an extra meal for the freezer stores.
As my baby is starting to be able to eat what our family eats, I have been starting to create recipes that will be adaptable for his meals as well. This saves doubling up on the cooking, and ensures that the transition to family dinners will be simple! Once his portion was put aside, I added pomegranate molasses for added depth of flavour and yumminess.
Pork, fennel and leek braise
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1.5kg pork loin roast
- 1 leek, halved and sliced
- 1 fennel, thinly sliced
- 1 tbs plain flour
- 1 ½ cups low salt liquid chicken stock
- 1 tbs pomegranate molasses
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup giant couscous to serve
- Heat the slow cooker up to ‘sear’ function or use a fry pan for this first step. Heat the olive oil and sear the pork on all sides until golden.
- Add the leek and fennel, and toss to soften for several minutes. Add the flour.
- Add the chicken stock and 1 ½ cups boiling water, then turn the heat down and cook on ‘slow cook’ function for 3 hours.
- Once cooked, remove the meat and vegetables to a saucepan and cover to keep warm. At this point, remove a portion for pureeing for baby if applicable. Turn the heat on the sauce up to ‘sear’ function again and reduce, adding the pomegranate molasses and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the liquid by approximately half, so that it will form a thick coating on the meat and vegetables.
- Add the meat and vegetables back to the liquid, and serve on a bed of giant couscous cooked according to packet instructions with chicken stock. Top with fronds of fennel for garnish.
Ah rice pudding; another dessert that I fell in love with last year while pregnant. It fits the ‘cold and creamy’ bill exactly, if served cold. But I’d never made it from scratch before now, and I don’t know why because it is very simple to make and infinitely less expensive!
I wanted to create a recipe that even a lazy cook would want to attempt. Whenever we cook rice to accompany our dinner, we always use our rice cooker. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to ‘put some rice on’. No need to tend to it after that, it is done and will be waiting for us when we are ready!
So I decided that wouldn’t it be cool to ‘put some apricot rice pudding on’ and have dessert smashed before I even began dinner? This recipe is definitely for people who want a luxurious dessert, but only have a few moments to put something together. It is also great for an easy dessert when entertaining too, because it is so easy to scale up or down, whatever the occasion.
The apricots become jammy and the whole thing is so creamy and filling. It can be eaten warm, straight out for the rice cooker after dinner, or can be chilled and eaten cold, which is my favourite. What is your favourite way to eat rice pudding?
Rice cooker apricot rice pudding
- 1 cup Arborio rice
- 3 cups milk
- ½ cup caster sugar
- ½ cup diced dried apricots
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Greek yoghurt or cream, to serve
- Place rice, milk, sugar, apricots and cinnamon in rice cooker and stir. Cook the rice in the cooker.
- Once finished, stir through yoghurt or cream to add creaminess. This is equally delicious warm or cold.
There is something about having dinner bubbling away by noon that makes you feel like a boss for the rest of the day. It makes dinner hassle-free, and even the prep seems quicker earlier in the day. With a new baby in the house, and being the middle of winter, the slow cooker has become my best friend.
I wanted to create a slow cooker beef dish that would be the ultimate comfort meal. I make a lot of slow cooked beef dishes that involve tomatoes, but I wanted something richer, something creamier, and something that seemed more indulgent. However, this dish still has lots of veg and makes getting your ‘five-a-day’ easy.
So in addition to carrots, celery and mushrooms, a classic beef combination, I decided to go with the often overlooked Brussels sprout. I am a fairly recent convert myself. When I lived in Cambridge for a year I subscribed to a weekly veg box and received many many Brussels sprouts which necessitated learning how to cook them a variety of ways. And I realised that when cooked well they can be delicious! In this dish, the Brussels sprouts soak up the flavour of the mustard and provide a crunchy texture and a nutty depth of flavour to the casserole.
Serve with mashed potatoes and red wine, for a cosy supper on a cold night. I made this on a night when the wind was hammering at the windows and the rain was lashing down and it was wonderful.
Slow cooker creamy beef casserole with Brussels sprouts and mustard
- 1kg chuck steak, cut into 2cm cubes
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 tbs plain flour
- 1 cup beer
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thick rounds
- 2 celery sticks, cut into thick slices
- 1 tbs Dijon mustard
- 2 cups Brussels sprouts
- 1/2 cup cream
- 1 cup button mushrooms, sliced
- Handful of parsley, to serve
- 1 lemon, to serve
- Mashed potato, to serve
- Heat oil in the base of the slow cooker set to ‘sear’ function. If you do not have this function, use a frying pan. Add the onion and sear the meat until all surfaces are browned.
- Add the flour and stir to evenly distribute and coat beef. Cook for 1 min.
- Add beer and stock, deglazing the base of the pan with the liquid. If using a frying pan, move beef to the slow cooker at this point.
- Add the garlic, carrots, celery and mustard.
- Set your slow cooker for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.
- Add the Brussels sprouts and mushrooms 10 mins before the end of the cooking time.
- Once cooking is complete, add cream and stir. Serve with mashed potato. Garnish with parsley and a spritz of lemon juice.