Tag Archives: crock pot

Trial & Error | Crock Pot | Eggplant and Portobello Parmesan

Another crock pot recipe for those who care. I’ve actually made versions of this recipe before; but I wanted to see if I could make it in a crock pot. Set it and forget it. It’s typically a high set up, high maintenance, customized presentation piece — a variation of this recipe is what I used as my cook to impress dating recipe.

It worked on my wife so I feel like it was fairly well perfected. Now I needed to figure out how to cook this thing as a husband and a Dad. The game changed. It’s about volume, speed, efficiency, all without compromising taste.

Umm … nailed it?

Summary

I don’t usually start with a summary but for this dish it feels like the right move. The dish stacks up as follows. Layers of eggplant, tofu ricotta, and portobello caps separated by a homemade tomato basil sauce.

WARNING

I just made this up as I went along but the dish should play out well as recreated below. For example, I thought about the pesto at the very last minute, so I whipped it up based on what I had in the house (spinach, walnuts.) I make this dish to taste … so taste everything before you assemble!

Total Ingredient List

  • Eggplant (1 Large)
  • Mushroom Caps (5)
  • Silken Tofu (1 Brick)
  • Parmesan Cheese (Shaved)
  • Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes (32 ounces)
  • Fresh Basil (1 Bunch)
  • Spinach (1 Bag)
  • Pine Nuts or Walnuts (1 Bag)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Garlic (4 cloves, 4 Tbsps Minced)
  • Other Cheeses (optional for a layer and for topping)

Preparation 1: Vegetables

  • Eggplant – Slice them however you want. Lengthwise. In circles. The goal is to leave the skin on, leave them at equal thickness, and enable yourself to cover the entire base of your crockpot. I went with circles for a majority and then cut some of the remaining circles into half circles to fill in the gaps. Salt them generously on either side and leave them on a paper towel for 25 minutes. You’re sweating out the water. Walk away. Walk. Away.
  • Mushrooms – Clean the heck out of the caps. Lightly season them with salt and pepper. Lightly brush them with olive oil. Bake them on 350 for 15 minutes. Expect them to sweat out quite a bit of water so get a plan with some lip. After these have cooked, save the excreted mushroom water in a separate bowl and then put the Mushrooms on a plate, covered.
  • Eggplant Revisited – Brush off the salt and sop up the water (paper towels are fine) then prepare them as you would the Mushrooms, but be a little more generous with the olive oil. Bake them at 350 for 25 minutes.
  • Move on to the tofu and the sauce.

Preparation 2: Blender

  • Tomato Sauce – Easy peasy. Coat a saucepan with olive oil. Pour in the tomatoes and the mushroom water. Season to taste (salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, handful of basil leaves diced, 1 clove of garlic.) Let it simmer a bit. Toss all of this into a blender and get it to the consistency you’re looking for. Taste it and make sure you like it. Consider lemon juice, sugar, or more tomato depending on how the flavor is working for you. Rinse out the blender. You’re going to need it.
  • Tofu Ricotta – Easy peasy, but you’ll need a spatula and some blender shaking experience. Crush the silken tofu to as fine a paste as you can with a fork. Toss in a half a bunch of basil. 4 Tbsps of Olive Oil. 1 clove of garlic, Salt, Pepper and Crushed Red Pepper to taste. Blend it. It should come out the consistency somewhere between a small curded ricotta and a smooth cream sauce. If you’re having difficulty blending it, feel free to add a little bit of water to get the blades whirring. Taste it and make sure you’re comfortable with the taste. This is a texture layer so you should like it but keep the flavor in context of the full dish.
  • Pesto – Take the spinach, the remaining basil and garlic,  equal parts olive oil, walnuts/pine nuts (1 cup), and parmesan, and season to taste (salt and pepper.) Blend. Taste and adjust until you like it. Set aside.

Preparation 3: Assembly

You’ve not got all the components together; it’s time to assemble.

  1. Use 2 Tbsp of Olive Oil to coat the bottom and sides of the crock pot. A spray is fine as a base but use the OO for texture and flavor.
  2. Add a layer of sauce. Then lay down the eggplant on top of the sauce. Cut pieces to ensure you have full coverage.
  3. Spoon and spread pesto over eggplant. Make sure the eggplant is well covered.
  4. Add another layer of sauce on top of the pesto. Keep it thin but make use of it. Consider addint a layer of parmesan here (or any cheese if you’re interested; it’s not necessary.)
  5. Add the mushroom caps. Distribute them the same way you distributed the eggplant. Try and cover the full pot; get creative with how you cut the mushrooms to get there.
  6. Add a final layer of sauce. Top the sauce with parmesan cheese.
  7. Cover. Cook on high for 3 hours. Every hour or so remove the lid and put a knife into the center to see how everything is cooking together. If the sauce is getting too thick, add a little water around the sides of the pot (1/4 cup, no more.)
  8. After cooking, remove the pot from the cooking unit and let set for 20 minutes. Top with basil leaves ribboned if you’d like. But otherwise, you’re ready to eat.

When you’re done, this is heavenly. You can eat it on its own, serve it over pasta, or put it in a sandwich. You’ll enjoy it.

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Trial & Error | Crock Pot | Truffled Five Mushroom Soup

Here’s the next recipe. I went soup again. But this time, I went all vegetarian. If not for the parmesan rinds, it would be vegan. And I think you could substitute two tablespoons of soy sauce for each rind and get pretty darned close to what you have here.

I love mushrooms. I love cream of mushroom soup. One of my favorite specialty recipes when I was young (sub-twelve) was to make an omelette and then spoon some warmed cream of mushroom soup overtop of it as a sauce. I had breakfast game pre-12. Mushrooms were the reason.

For this soup I wanted to find a way to recreate and then elevate my Campbell’s memories. Mission accomplished.

Ingredients

  • Parmesan Rinds (4)
  • 2 Packages Creminis
  • 1 Package Baby Bellas
  • 1 Package Shitakes
  • 1 Package Chanterelles
  • 1 Package Oyster
  • Olive Oil
  • Bay Leaves (2)
  • Truffle Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder
  • Truffle Oil (may be overkill; or a nice touch on top)

Directions

  1. Clean the mushrooms. Probably the biggest pain. Clean them all.Soup
  2. Make the mushroom stock. Put 1/2 of all the mushrooms in a stock pot. Add 2 tablespoons of truffle salt. 4 tablespoons of olive oil. 2 Parmesan rinds. 1 tablespoon of black pepper. 1 tablespoon garlic powder. And then cover all of that with water so the water is level with the top of the mushrooms in the pot. Bring to a simmer and then keep it going for 45 minutes. (This is a good place to add butter if you’d like but I don’t think you’d need it.)
  3. Lightly coat the bottom of the crock pot with olive oil. Add 1 cup of water. Toss in the remaining mushrooms, parmesan rinds, and the bay leaves and start cooking on low heat.
  4. After the stock is completed, split it. Put half directly into the crock pot. Blend half at high speed (Vitamix is clutch here.) Make sure the parmesan rinds are in the blender. This will effectively cream and turn into the base for your soup. Pour that half into the crock pot as well.
  5. Look at your soup and its consistency. Add water to get you to your desired consistency. I’m going to say 1 cup additional minimum. If you want fewer actual mushrooms (I wanted my soup hearty), blend more of the mushrooms.
  6. Turn the crock pot up to high and let this cook for 2.5 hours minimum. The soup itself will cook through all of the mushrooms beautifully though you may want to stir this a few times to turn the soup mixture over. Taste it. If you want or need more salt, pepper, or garlic, add it.

When it’s done, you’re done. And it is beautiful. Silky. Earthy. Rich. But guiltless. In the picture I topped it with some shredded parmesan but it’s absolutely not necessary.

 

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Trial & Error | Crock Pot | Chicken and Mushroom Soup

I love soup. I never make it. My sister does and she’s awesome at it. Which is part of the reason I don’t make it. Relative economic efficiency, I guess. I always make other stuff.

 

But when I looked under my cabinet one day to see these two beautiful crock pots, completely unused, something inside me clicked. And I found myself recently inspired to go crazy with those crock pots.

 

In the past three weekends I’ve made four dishes which have garnered some serious rave reviews. I don’t remember the exact recipes because I kind of made them up as I went along. That being said, I figure I might as well share what I do remember and leave the rest under the “season to taste” category found in many recipes.

 

The first recipe? Chicken and Mushroom Soup.

 

The goal for me first and foremost is hearty. I want to make any food I make feel substantive and hearty. In this case, I didn’t want to do this with noodles. To me, that’s a cop out. So I instead focused on the chicken and veggies to make it work.

 

Ingredients
  • Full rotisserie chicken
  • Fresh mushrooms, sliced or cubes. Go crazy. I used a mix of Bellas and Creminis – 4 small baskets.
  • Baby carrots (20)
  • Celery (5 stalks)
  • Parmesan rinds (3)
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cayenne
  • Bay Leaves (2)
  • Water
  • Olive Oil

Directions

    1. Pull the chicken fully off the bone. Tear it or rough chop it but I kept it in fairly large sizes.
    2. Make your own stock. I put all of the chicken bones in a pot, added (to taste) butter, salt, pepper, cayenne, parmesan rinds, and water, and then boiled it for a good 90 minutes. I used 5 cups of water for reference given the size of the crockpot.
    3. Clean the mushrooms. And then either slice of cube them. But no need to sautee or anything. These preserve themselves well in the slow cooker method.
    4. Mandolin slice the baby carrots. Rough cut the celery (I went about 1/3″ pieces.) I like the contrasting sizes but basically, get carrots and celery into your crock pot.
    5. Lightly coat the bottom of the crock pot with olive oil. Toss everything into the crockpot. Add the homemade stock (including the parmesan rinds.) Add additional water depending on the consistency you’re going for. And cook on high for 4 hours. If you want to start the chicken and soup actually going, put half of the water from the stock, the celery and the carrots into the crock pot to start and go from there.
If what comes out isn’t the best chicken soup you’ve ever had, you’re doing something wrong. Or I have ridiculously low standards.
The soup crushed it. Screw noodles. Overdone with chicken IMHO.

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