Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook: A review

What does a busy mom need most (besides an extra pair of hands and more hours in the day)?

A slow cooker.

After baby #2 was born and my mat leave had run out, I put the kids in daycare and headed back to work thinking I could do it all.

I quickly found out that my lifestyle choice provided me with two healthy dinner options (the third option—fast-food take-out—is not a dinner option in my house; it’s a treat). So the first option was to cook all day one day each weekend and stock my freezer with oven-ready dinners. The second was to feed my family at 8:00 every night because it would be that late by the time I got home from work and cooked dinner. Frankly, I preferred neither option.

Enter the slow cooker.

My mother-in-law suggested it when I was getting ready to go back to work. But I just couldn’t wrap my mind around eating chili or pulled pork all the time, because that’s all I thought a slow cooker was good for.

Alas, the suggestion drifted through my family and my sister bought me a slow cooker for Christmas despite my protests. It sat in the cupboard for the better part of 8 months.

Then I received the most amazing cookbook on review: Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook by Sally Vaughan-Johnston and the Ladies of Bridge.

With my limited knowledge of my slow cooker’s abilities, I had no idea where to start or how to manage a slow cooked meal.

But right from the Introduction and the Slow Cooker 101 sections, the Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook gave me all the knowledge I needed to turn this stressed out mommy into a gourmet slow cooker chef.

Now, I already had my slow cooker thanks to my sister, but this cookbook even gave me a rundown on what to look for when buying one.

Another thing about slow cookers that always used to stump me was my misunderstanding of what they were supposed to do for me in terms of churning out an easy meal. So every time I dragged my slow cooker out and Googled a recipe, all I could see was how much advanced prep every meal required. I may as well spend all day Sunday cooking and freezing dinners.

But the Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook provided all the tips I needed to make advanced prep a cinch and now I understand the beauty of my slow cooker’s abilities. There’s even a section called How to be a Good Slow Cooker Cook!

The recipes are easy to read. (I love the font used in this cookbook!) The recipe titles are so enticing! Each recipe sounds so delicious. There are even funny little quips throughout the cookbook that I found very entertaining. Let’s face it, a happy cook makes a delicious meal, so why not laugh while you’re cooking!

I’ve thrown many a meal together using this cookbook. It has become my go-to resource for delicious dinners, not to mention breakfasts, lunches, desserts and snacks!

Here are a few recipes I have tried:

Beef Goulash (page 134)

What’s not to love! Serve with buttered noodles.

3 lb         boneless beef chuck, blade or cross rib roast,                1.5 kg

cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes

1 tbsp       vegetable oil                                 15 mL

3           onions, thinly sliced                             3

4           cloves garlic, minced                           4

1 tsp        dried marjoram or oregano           5 mL

1 tsp        caraway seeds (optional)                5 mL

Salt and pepper

2 tbsp       tomato paste                                  30 mL

1⁄4 cup      all-purpose flour                          60 mL

11⁄2 cups    beef broth                                   375 mL

1⁄4 cup      tomato-based chili sauce          60 mL

1 tbsp       sweet paprika                                 15 mL

1 tbsp       freshly squeezed lemon juice    15 mL

1               red bell pepper, thinly sliced             1

2 tbsp       chopped fresh dill or parsley    30 mL

Sour cream

Place beef in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, garlic, marjoram, caraway seeds (if using), 1 tsp (5 mL) salt, 1⁄4 mL (1 mL) pepper and tomato paste; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Stir in flour. Whisk in broth and chili sauce, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan; bring to a boil. Pour over beef and stir well. Cover and cook on Low for about 8 hours or on High for about 4 hours, until beef is tender. In a small bowl, combine paprika and lemon juice until smooth. Stir into slow cooker, along with red pepper. Cover and cook on High for 20 minutes, until red pepper is tender. Stir in dill. Serve garnished with a dollop of sour cream. Serves 6.

Tip: We use tomato paste in many of our slow cooker recipes because it greatly boosts flavor and richness. The long, moist cooking dulls other aromatic ingredients, such as onions, garlic and herbs. Microwaving or browning a dollop or two of tomato paste with these ingredients makes all the difference.

Excerpted from Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook by Sally Vaughan-Johnston & The Best of Bridge Publishing Ltd. © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

And for dessert the night that I made Beef Goulash, we had Banoffee pie! Super delicious and super easy!

Banoffee Pie (page 300)

An irresistible British dessert. The toffee sauce is easy to make in the slow cooker.

1           can (14 oz or 300 mL) sweetened condensed milk                    1

Very hot water

2 cups       crushed digestive cookies                              500 mL

1⁄2 cup      melted butter                                                       125 mL

2                bananas, sliced                                                      2

1 cup        heavy or whipping (35%) cream                  250 mL

Grated chocolate

Use a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Pour milk into a 2-cup (500 mL) glass measuring cup, cover with foil and place in slow cooker. Add very hot water to the slow cooker until it reaches the level of the milk. Cover and cook on Low for about 9 hours, until milk is very thick and caramel-colored. Whisk thoroughly, then let cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine cookies and butter. Pat into the base and up the sides of an 8-inch (20 cm) pie plate. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Arrange bananas over chilled base. Pour toffee sauce over bananas. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, until chilled, or overnight. In a bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. Spread over pie. Sprinkle with grated chocolate. Serves 6.

Make Ahead: Transfer the cooled toffee sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

Tip: For best results when whipping cream, be sure that the cream is very cold. Also, chill the bowl and beaters in the freezer for a short while beforehand. Use a deep bowl to prevent spatters. Recipes usually specify whipping the cream to soft peaks (which bend over slightly) or firm peaks (which are more pointy and upright). Be careful not to over-whip cream. If it starts to look grainy, you have gone too far. You may be able to rescue over-whipped cream by adding a little more unwhipped cream to the bowl and whipping on low speed.

Excerpted from Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook by Sally Vaughan-Johnston & The Best of Bridge Publishing Ltd. © 2012 Robert Rose Inc. www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

I’ve also done the Cowboy Pot Roast with Sweet Potatoes (although I left out the sweet potatoes because, for some reason, I just can’t convince my family [husband included] to eat sweet potatoes).

Allow me to tempt your taste buds with some delicious pictures…

It’s true what they say.

“Slow cookers are like good friends. The better you get to know them, the stronger your relationship becomes.”

If you’ve got a slow cooker collecting dust in your cupboard, might I suggest that you get it out, dust it off and pick up a copy of the Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook? You won’t be disappointed.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Title: Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook
Author: Sally Vaughan-Johnston and The Best of Bridge Publishing Ltd.
Publisher: Robert Rose Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-7788-0413-0

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook for this review. I was not compensated in any other way. The opinions expressed above are my own.

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6 thoughts on “Best of Bridge Slow Cooker Cookbook: A review

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