It takes a confident kitchen hand to toss this one into the mix of holiday season cookbooks: “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More” (Chronicle, 2013; $35, 94 recipes). Given the enormous popularity of quick, easy and five-ingredient come-ons, the subtitle might as well be “Recipes That Most of You Don’t Have Time to Even Shop For.”
But you’d be wrong not to pick it up and at least thumb through – especially you, Millennials. Author Andrew Schloss persuades with dishes that can take 10 minutes to prepare before an application of low and slow heat transforms them. It’s a matter of convenient timing, he writes: “By keeping the temperature moderate, proteins firm more gently, making finished meats more tender, custards softer, fish moister, and casseroles creamier.”
A slow-cooker is one of the ways to do so; Schloss did, after all, produce “The Art of the Slow Cooker” in 2008, which is holding up well in its genre on Amazon.com. The oven, the steamer basket, the grill and cast-iron pots and pans are more vividly put in play here, as is that sous vide appliance some of you might have splurged on two years ago.
Philadelphian Schloss is a veteran cooking instructor and one of the clearest, most thoughtful recipe writers working today. In “Cooking Slow,” you’ll find the bases well covered. The time required to make each dish is broken down in mini-chart specifics after each headnote. Chicken wings in a spicy soy glaze: 12 to 24 hours of chilling time; five minutes of prep time; and about three hours of cooking time, with storage and reheating information.
Almond-Stuffed Apricots Candied in Amaretto Syrup
15 to 20 servings
For the apricots
2 cups blanched whole almonds or skinless slivered almonds
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg white
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2 pounds dried whole large apricots (see headnote)
For the syrup
3 cups granulated sugar
3 cups amaretto
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
Pinch fine sea salt
For the apricots: Pulse the almonds in a food processor just to the consistency of coarse meal; if you overprocess, you might end up with nut butter. Add the brown sugar; pulse to form a uniformly fine blend.
Add the egg white and almond extract; process until the mixture forms a ball. Scrape the mixture onto a medium-size piece of plastic wrap and form it into several thin logs 1/2-inch in diameter. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Use a very sharp knife to cut a slit in each apricot, forming a pocket at the center of each one.
Cut the chilled almond filling into slices – one for each apricot – then roll each slice into a shape that will fit in the pocket. Stuff each apricot, gently inserting the filling deep enough so that it won’t fall out. Press around the edges of the apricot to gently seal.
For the syrup: Combine the granulated sugar, amaretto, vinegar and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
Carefully add the stuffed apricots to the hot syrup, stirring gently to submerge. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low. Cover and cook for about 2 hours or until the apricots are plump and silky-soft.
Cool the apricots completely in the syrup, then transfer the apricots and syrup to an airtight container and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour, before serving each portion with some of the syrup.
NOTES: These taste wonderful, and they make the house smell that way as they poach slowly. If you made a batch and jarred them as hostess gifts, you’d be awfully popular.
The orange-colored dried apricots you find at Middle Eastern markets are best to use here, but organic dried Turkish apricots will do.
MAKE AHEAD: The log of filling needs to be chilled for 1 hour, and the stuffed apricots need to be chilled for 1 hour before serving. They can be refrigerated (in their syrup) in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Adapted from “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More,” by Andrew Schloss (Chronicle, 2013).
NUTRITION Ingredients are too varied for a meaningful analysis.
Triple Chocolate Bypass
16 to 20 servings
2 cups heavy or light cream
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 pound semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
8 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
Raspberries, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees. Grease the sides and bottom of the pan with cooking oil spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper.
Combine the cream and brown sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the mixture begins to bubble, reduce the heat to low. Stir in the chocolate until it has melted. Remove from the heat.
Stir in the salt plus the vanilla and almond extracts, then the egg yolks. Pour into the pan. Bake (on the middle rack) for about 4 hours. The cake will be solid yet not quite set at the center. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours until firm.
Unmold, carefully remove the parchment paper and transfer the cake to a plate. To serve, dip a sharp, thin knife into very hot water before making each cut. Garnish with raspberries, if desired.
This takes 15 minutes to assemble and 4 hours to bake in a slow oven. When you take it out, it will look like chocolate pudding, but after a cooling period and refrigeration, it will become firm.
You’ll need an 8-inch springform pan. For best results, do not substitute a different kind of chocolate.
Serve with whipped cream, too, if desired.
MAKE AHEAD: The cake needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours before serving. It can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Adapted from “Cooking Slow: Recipes for Slowing Down and Cooking More,” by Andrew Schloss (Chronicle, 2013).
NUTRITION Per serving (based on 20): 260 calories, 3 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 18 g fat, 11 g saturated fat, 120 mg cholesterol, 45 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 21 g sugar