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Book Reviews
'The Vegetarian Slow Cooker'
By: Judith Finlayson
(Paperback / 304 pages / Robert Rose / ISBN: 0778802396 / $24.95)

Description: More people than ever are choosing to reduce their consumption of meat, instead, eating a diet rich in vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fruit. A varied vegetarian diet can lead to a healthier, more vibrant life and is more environmentally friendly.

Best-selling cookbook author, Judith Finlayson, proves that vegetables are both healthy and delicious and has created a vast array of wholesome, satisfying, and meatless recipes for today’s favorite kitchen appliance: the slow cooker.

The result is 'The Vegetarian Slow Cooker' with over 200 new recipes that will appeal to anyone looking to eat well without spending hours hovering over a hot stove.

Verdict: My editor gave me this book, as a mother of three and someone who is trying (slowly) to remove meat from my daily diet) and I have to say that I am more than pleased with it. The pictures are absolutely gorgeous and also give you an idea of what the recipe should look like as finished product.

What I found most satisfing was that this was a vegetarian cookbook that was down to earth, unlike many of the cookbooks I have bought in the last ten years and not used - I found several recpies to make right away.

They were simple to follow, didn't take a long time and did not require me to be able to perform any advanced cooking maneuvers. Indeed, many recipes (probably more than half) are stunningly vegan friendly. Some do contain dairy and eggs. But, as an aspiring vegan, as noted before, I found that this cookbook was worth the purchase price - even though this copy was handed to me for free!

Even most of the recipes that contain dairy and eggs can be substituted out with vegan alternatives. Recipes run the gamut from breakfast, main meals, and desserts. A must have for vegetarians and anyone with a slow cooker, I highly recommend this cookbook for any vegetarian looking to make "normal" dishes that non-veggies won't balk at!

Some of the tantalizing recipes are:
Onion-soused beans
Braised tomato bruschetta
Wild mushroom soup with miso
Smoky tomato soup with cheesy crostini
Broccoli and cheddar cheese cake
Caramelized onion quiche
Leek and potato cobbler with stilton
Wheat berry ragout
Vegetable biriyani
Butter bean and barley risotto

Book Purchase Page

Mushroom and Roasted Garlic Crostini

Everyone loves this tasty all-purpose hors d’oeuvre, which is both simple and elegant. It can be used as the first course to a dinner or as a party canapé.

Makes 28 crostini

Equipment: Small to medium (1-1⁄2 to 3-1⁄2 quart) slow cooker (see tips)
Food processor
8 cloves roasted garlic (see tips)
1 pound (500 g) white mushrooms, trimmed (see tips)
2 large French shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons (25 mL) oil
1⁄4 cup (50 mL) dry white wine or dry white vermouth (see tips)
2 tablespoons (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons (25 mL) heavy or whipping (35%) cream, optional
2 teaspoons (10 mL) balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
28 crostini
Crumbled soft goat cheese

To make crostini:
Preheat broiler. Brush baguette slices on both sides with olive oil and toast under broiler, turning once.

In slow cooker stoneware, combine garlic, mushrooms, shallots, oil and wine. Cover and cook on Low for 8 hours or on High for 4 hours, until mushrooms are soft. Drain off liquid.

Place mushroom mixture and parsley in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse until ingredients are very finely chopped but not pureed. Add cream, if using, vinegar, salt and black pepper to taste and pulse two or three times to combine.

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Spread mushroom mixture over crostini. Sprinkle goat cheese on top. Place on baking sheet and bake until cheese begins to brown and melt. Serve hot.

If you haven’t planned ahead and roasted your garlic in the slow cooker, you can do it in the oven. Simply peel the cloves, remove the pith (the center part that often sprouts), then place the cloves on a piece of foil.

Drizzle about 1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) olive oil over the garlic, and then fold up the foil to make a tight packet. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for 20 minutes.

Leave small mushrooms whole. Cut larger ones into halves or quarters.

Keep a bottle of dry white vermouth on hand as it makes a satisfactory substitute for dry white wine. That way, you don’t have to open a bottle of wine when you need only a small quantity.

Cover and refrigerate the mushroom cooking liquid. It is a great addition to soups, stews and gravies, along with or instead of broth.

If you are halving this recipe, be sure to use a small (11⁄2 to 2 quart) slow cooker.

Make Ahead:
Complete Steps 1 and 2. Cover and refrigerate mixture for up to 2 days. When you’re ready to make the crostini, heat mushroom mixture almost to boiling point on the stovetop before spreading on crostini.