Thursday, 28 April 2016

One pot dinner and dessert

This is an experiment and I really hope it works out, 'cuz it could be a life-changer...
It's dinner and dessert in one (divided) slow cooker.
Imagine being able to set this in the morning, leave the house, and come back to a hot dinner and dessert. Wow.
This 6.5l slow cooker pot has a wall dividing it into two halves, I bought this special insert in Aldi before Christmas, but I think they still have them. And it fits into the Cookworks 6.5l slow cooker from Argos (which just comes with one massive pot, great for roasting a whole chicken and all your veg).
I decided to use up all our vegetables in a tortilla lasagne, which I previously showed on the blog here. And the other side has a rhubarb polenta cake, I adore rhubarb and I'm so excited to move on from apples and have a new fruit in season.

Above are most of the ingredients for the lasagne. I oiled the inside of the pot before I started. Then I put some passata and the first flour tortilla. Of course you could use normal lasagne pasta sheets, or corn tortillas, even slices of aubergine / courgette for the layers.

Then I grated all the root veg (sweet potato and carrot and onion) in the processor. I'm loving this machine this week, I made almond butter in it for the first time, and it was well up to the job. This blog post's alternate heading by the way is "Tales of a demented housewife" because I'm stuck at home all week with sick kids. They're swapping a bug between them and all I'm doing it seems is breastfeeding snotters, cooking and cleaning...

Then I made sure the lower layers were the veg that take the longest to cook. Not for me the faffing making a tomato or cheese sauce for the layers, I throw in the ingredients separately and they blend together just fine.

Above is carrot, sweet potato, passata and onion with herbs.

The higher layers had sliced bell peppers, some celery and cheese here and there. I kept alternating layers with cheese and passata until the pot was 2/3 full. Any higher and it doesn't cook well.

Then a genius move which I picked up from some US blogs, for a creamy cheesy addition, just whisk an egg into some natural yogurt (I've even used milk in a pinch) and pour that over the very last layer, finish with lots of cheese, 'cuz, you know.

At the same time I had lots of leftover chopped veg that wasn't going to fit in this dish, so rather than store it to use another time, I bunged it into my 3.5l slow cooker with the last of the passata, more herbs and salt, topped with some low, low welfare :( chicken breasts and called it Dada's dinner. He's gone 12 hours today, so it's on low and will be delicious for him when he returns.

So savoury meals done (and it was only 10am... eyeroll, what have I become?) I moved on to the dessert. I had two huge bunches of fresh Irish rhubarb and was thinking of a crumble, but we had that last week a few nights and we're a bit crumbled-out. So I found this this recipe online which used rhubarb and polenta, an ingredient I always have but rarely use. Of course I didn't have most of the basic ingredients (namely sugar and flour, as I'm not buying cane sugar or wheat flour any more for health reasons) so I made lots of substitutions.

My baby on my back in the sling enjoyed gnawing on a stick of rhubarb. I chopped the second bunch of rhubarb and froze it ready to be thrown into a dish next week.

Above are most of the ingredients for the cake. I didn't have enough honey, so I used molasses and millet flakes as the buckwheat was running out too.

The batter looked pretty bona fide anyway, but had a HUGE rhubarb:batter ratio. Because of the polenta and millet it looked pretty dry, but I figure the rhubarb will emit lots of juice so it will hopefully even out... I put a greaseproof paper liner under the cake, and a criss-cross of paper to lift it out with.

A LOT of faffing went into this pot. If it's manky I'll be devastated to be honest. I'm hoping the cake won't pick up garlic flavours for example. About an hour before it's done I'll put a tea towel under the lid to catch condensation so the cake dries out okay, and the tortilla layers aren't too soggy. The lasagne is always better the next day. I'd say I've enough here to feed six hungry adults, so that's us in food for a good few days.

I have it on high for the first few hours and then I'll turn it to medium (if I'm not distracted) and if it's ready before we are I can leave it on low (lid off even) to stay warm.

Hope you're all having a good Friday. We're listening to a Bing Crosby record and it feels really chilled at the moment. Nobody's fighting or crying and I'm quite refreshed from my few hours alone in the kitchen. "Alone" as you can be with a baby on and off you. Oh, spoke too soon, the arguments have started...

Nee x

Edited to add: the results are in... it worked!

They turned out as good as I'd hoped, cpoked in the same amount of time and no taste transfer. What I ended up doing was putting a teatowel under the lid after about an hour when I saw the amount of condensation appearing. I was afraid of the cake staying wet, and this totally did the trick. I replaced it with a dry teatowel when the first got too wet.

Cross section of the lasagne above. I also used a random jar of salsa from the back of the fridge which gave it a nice kick.

This is blurry from the steam, it is really delicious, even with my many substitutions. Not too sweet, we ate it with natural yogurt but it would be even better with whipped cream or ice cream. My paper sling didn't work and I dropped it taking it out of the deep pot, next time I'll fold the paper to make it stronger.

Let me know if you try dinner and dessert in one, or just whatever's in your slow cooker.


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