The slow cooker is such a convenient piece of cooking equipment.
It acts like another pair of hands - a friend stirring the pot while you attend to other things, writes Laura Frankel in Jewish Slow Cooker Recipes (Wiley, $24.95).
It's precisely for that convenience that the author recommends using the slow cooker for food for Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Fall is a busy time of the year, with school starting and college students packed and back at school as well as the anticipation of the religious holidays.
This year Rosh Hashanah begins at dusk on Friday.
The slow cooker, long known for comfort food, can also yield holiday foods that are elegant and sophisticated.
Roasted Parsnip and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup is a creamy, velvety soup that can be made and then frozen. The long cooking time for the parsnips is made simple with the slow cooker.
Cauliflower-Apple Soup not only showcases apples, it has a Duck Confit garnish that's pretty amazing.
Cauliflower-Apple Soup with Duck Confit is a chilly weather recipe which is a perfect first course for a Sukkot (the Jewish harvest holiday) dinner or any special occasion. The soup can be served ungarnished, or duck confit can give a rich, silky texture and flavor. The garnish can be made up to three days ahead of serving and reheated in a saute pan over low heat.
To make Duck Confit in the slow cooke, rub six whole duck legs with three tablespoons of herbs de Provence. Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Refrigerate four hours or overnight. Turn on a slow cooker to high and melt two cups of duck fat or mixed poultry fat in the insert. Remove the duck legs from the refrigerator and wipe off the herbs and pepper with a paper towel. Some will stick. Place the duck legs in the warm fat; cover and cook on low for six hours. Remove the duck legs with a slotted spoon or wire strainer. Cool the fat and duck legs separately. When cool, either wrap the legs in plastic and store in the freezer, or place the duck covered with the fat in the container in the refrigerator for up to one month. To serve the duck meat as a garnish in the soup, place the duck in a small saute pan over medium heat with the other ingredients in the recipe and cook about 10 minutes. Use as a garnish in the Cauliflower-Apple Soup. (See page 2 for the recipe.)
Veal Ragout made with porcini mushrooms is another slow cooker recipe that's perfect for Rosh Hashanah. Poached Fruit Compote takes advantage of the farmers' market stone fruits such as peaches and plums and with the fall pear and apple varieties. The cookbook author says the aroma of the compote is stunning. She spoons the fruit over chiffon cake or honey cake.
Slow Cooker Comfort Food by Judith Finlayson (Robert Rose, $24.95) has recipes that are adaptable for the Jewish holidays as well. From Onion Braised Brisket to David's Dream Cholent to Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup, there's foods that families love.
The Culinary Institute of America reminds us that Rugelach is a traditional sweet treat for a sweet new year. These bite-size crescent-shaped cookies are made with a cream cheese dough and filled with a variety of ingredients such as raisins, nuts, and jams. The sweet fillings symbolize the wish for a sweet year.
The Orthodox Union is also a good source for recipes for the Jewish holidays, including the Yom Kippur fast day which is preceded by a major meal and followed by a break-the-fast meal. Eileen Goltz submitted Tuscan Chicken and Portobello and Asparagus Pasta Salad which are both for the pre-Yom Kippur fast. Smoked Salmon and Dill Cheesecake is break-the-fast. These recipes are available at oucooking.org.
Kathie Smith is The Blade's food editor.
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