Turning Trix

I’ve been using my fabulous new electric cooker, Trixie, to the outmost of his/her potential. Most recently out of the depths came a really great cheesecake! Can you believe that?

Well, think about it… cheesecakes like to be baked at a low, even temperature, thus the sometimes used water bath, right? I followed a recipe from a slow-cooker book, sort of. It came out, not the best cheesecake I ever made (that would be the final fulfillment of my lifetime of cheesecake wet dreams thanks to Cooks’ Illustrated’s New York style) but a darn good one. It’s uber creamy, straight through. (I love a creamy cheesecake, but I do also love a gradient of texture, from silky creamy in the middle to firm cakey at the edge. And a slightly caramelized graham crust.)

Trixie’s cheesecake, not so much on the gradient, or the caramelized crust. But, like I said, perfectly delicious, and hardly heats up the kitchen at all!

Here’s some other Trix we’ve been turning:

Pasta. A top fave thing to cook in Trixie. Cuz don’t you love eating pasta when it’s hot? But don’t you hate cooking pasta when it’s hot? All that heat and buckets of steam pouring up into your personal atmosphere. Ick. Trixie keeps it pretty well contained, and I’ve permanently 86ed myself from the Gourmands of the world by discovering that simmered pasta can be just fine. I turn Trix on ‘brown’ and put the lid on until the water boils (it starts to hiss out through the pressure valve) then I add the pasta, let it come back to a boil, then turn it to ‘slow cook’ and put the lid back on, with the valve closed for ‘pressure’ (it doesn’t reach pressure of course, just keeps every scrap of steam inside). About 15 or 20 minutes later, even though it falls off of a boil and down to hardly even a simmer, the pasta is pretty much perfect! Good enough I say. And almost no steam except for the cloud when I drain the pasta in the sink.

Chocolate Pudding Cake. This is apparently a thing. An old fashioned cake that makes it’s own chocolate sauce as it bakes…? I found it in a slow cooker book. It was a spare, thick batter, and a lean, chewy cake. Pretty good, not the greatest. But I feel there’s room for improvement. Like of the butter and eggs variety. Though the cake does have to stand up to the boiling water you pour on top before baking.

Oatmeal. For some reason, even though winter is the obvious season for oatmeal, we’ve been on a bit of a kick lately. Maybe it’s the fact of having to buy granola (cuz I can’t bear to bake it). Or the frequent presence of fresh strawberries and blueberries in our fridge. Anyway, couldn’t be easier. Just bring water to a boil on the ‘brown’ setting, add oats and salt and ‘slow cook’ for 15-30 mins. No need to stir, go read your favorite blogs till it’s done.

quinoa cooked in Trix, black beans too, under pressure, then frozen in pint jars. vegies on grill. yum.

Dinner every night. Almost anything you cook stovetop Trix can do, with less waste heat, and way less steam. (*Sigh* I’m in love.) The ‘brown’ setting caramelizes an onion perfectly. I mean, better than I usually manage in my cast iron, because the heat is just right. One of the reviews said the ‘brown’ setting was “a joke” but I suspect that person was trying to brown like a 5 lb roast or something. There are limits set by physics for size of pan/quantity of food to brown. I find a medium onion gets just the space it needs in Trixie’s 6-quart pan, or up to 2 lbs of meat.

Sometimes I use the pressure setting, and sometimes the slow cook. I do wish there was something in between, but we can’t very well have it all, can we?

potato gratin took one minute of pressure!
this potato, chard and tomato casserole got topped with fried eggs and called "hash"

Roasted Garlic. Just did this tonight, and worked a treat. I peeled 3 heads of garlic (whew!) and put the cloves in Trix, with several tablespoons of olive oil. I started it out at ‘brown’ and once the cloves had toasty deep golden color, I turned it to slow cook for an hour. Soft, buttery garlic caramel nuggets. Yum!

Dessert. Because isn’t that what you really want? Many things traditionally baked can be steam baked. List of all your favorite desserts. Now just cross off the ones that have crispy edges. What’s left can mostly be Trixified. I have really enjoyed custard lately, which could hardly be easier. I mean, there are recipes that start on the stove, but you don’t need to. Just whisk together eggs, milk and sugar, pour into half pint jars, and set into an inch of water. Viola!

But, back to that cheesecake. Like I said, slow cooker ought to work fine too. The recipe just called for a sprinkling of graham crackers on the bottom, but I felt it needed a real crust, even if it wouldn’t be nicely golden brown.

Trixie’s Keep It Cool to Make It Hot Cheesecake

(Prepare to the soundtrack of Prince’s Cream)

  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • some graham cracker crumbs, 3/4 cup?
  • 1 1/2 lbs cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 Tablespoons buttermilk (this is my twist)
  • 4 eggs

First figure out how you’re going to cook it.

silicone "spring form"

I cut a silicone cake pan to make a (teflon safe) springform pan of sorts. Works fab. The cheesecake recipe said to put it in a souffle dish, set in a couple inches of water, and then you have to carefully parchment, then foil wrap the dish so that the top doesn’t get wet from all the steam. My way was far superior, to be frank, and I don’t see why it wouldn’t work in a regular slow cooker, even with a souffle dish or any kind of oven safe dish for that matter, setting right on the bottom, sans water. What’s the big deal?

Anyway. Mix up crust and pack into your pan. Cheesecakes only need a bottom crust, don’t know why I tried so hard to make the damn crumbs stick to the sides for so long. Completely unnecessary.

Beat cream cheese till creamy, then add the other ingredients, in order, beating till smooth between each addition, and also making sure to scrape the bowl often. Add eggs one at a time, beating between. Hmmm. There’s an awfully lot of beating in this hot, creamy cake.

Scrape batter into pan, on top of crust. Cook however you’ve decided.

Now, here’s the secret to cheesecake. Okay, there’s two secrets. Knowing when it’s done (this took two hours on Trixie’s slow cook, after a five minute ‘brown’ start, but the recipe said 6-8 hours in a regular slow cooker, with the whole double boiler action), because it doesn’t look done when it’s done, etc, etc. consult some other foodie blogger for more info. But with the slow cooker’s low temperature I think it might be a lot harder to overbake.

But, no, what I was going to say was, you have to wait till it’s cool! And I don’t mean room temperature. Room temperature cheesecake is good. Hell, it’s even good hot out of the oven, believe me. But cool cheesecake is transcendent. That means some time in the fridge baby. I’m sure there’s an ideal temperature to eat cheesecake at. Consult said foodie. In the meantime, just make sure it feels cool on your tongue. And creamy.

Did I mention creamy?

Slow Cooker Leftover Granola Bread

I don’t know about the rest of you homemade-granola-makers-with-kids, but we end up with a fair quantity of leftover, soggy granola. Never all at the same time, mind you. A bit here, and a bit there. But it adds up.

Where it adds up at our house is in a pint jar in my freezer.

The idea of re-purposing the stuff came to me last fall and is one of those small life changes inspired by Riana. ‘That stuff is still perfectly good, albeit soggy.’ I said to myself one day. ‘I worked hard for that granola. There’s quality foodstuffs in there. Not to mention the milk.’ When I had collected a jar full, I used it in some bread.

The first few loaves were just regular bread. The granola wasn’t enough to make it seem sweet, there was only an occasional raisin. But after a few loaves I figured why not capitalize on the granola?

So I started adding in extra raisins and nuts to make a delicious morning bread, perfect for those of us who can’t handle granola for breakfast (which is to say– me. Ironic isn’t it that the granola maker doesn’t eat it? Don’t know why, I wish I could feel good eating granola in the morning. It’s so quick and easy, and I never feel like cooking. But it makes my tummy feel bad. Partly the milk and partly the undercooked grains I think.)

Yesterday, I tried “baking” my first granola bread in Trixie. And it came out stellar! Best bread yet in the multi-cooker. I don’t know if that’s because of the way I baked it, or the fact that I added 2 eggs maybe? Who knows.

Since I used the slow cooker function, any of y’all with one of those could do this recipe. Although, since Trix has a “brown” setting, I started it out on that for 10 minutes, and got a delightfully brown crust. When the bread was mostly set, I flipped it over to brown the top, so the whole loaf had a nice crust. Not bakery quality, mind you, but something to work yer teeth on.

Anyway, you know I’m not much of a recipe cook, but here’s approximately what I put in my bread yesterday.

Leftover Granola Bread

  • 2 cups soggy leftover granola
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 Tablespoon yeast
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sucanat
  • 1 cup white bread flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat
  • 1/4 cup gluten flour
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup dried currants, raisins or any kind of dried fruit (I recently discovered the dried currants at Whole Foods. They’re not organic, but they’re only $2.99/lb! That’s a steal! I like them even better than raisins, which I’ve always found too sweet really…)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • drizzle of molasses
  • good glug of oil
  • splash of vanilla

Add more flour as necessary, I think I used another 1/2 cup of wheat, or was it one and a half...? I usually make fairly soft doughs, but since I figured this slow cooker loaf didn’t need any extra help in the ‘moist’ department, I made it a bit on the stiff side. This did make it a slow riser, so next time I think I’ll use a full tablespoon of yeast.

Note: This made a very large loaf! Since Trixie’s got, as I said before, “back” she was capable of… “accommodating” …such…. “proportions.” As you all well know, size does matter, so those of you with the standard sized crock pots had probably better cut this recipe in half.

Proceed as usual with mixing the dough. Set in your well greased insert/pot for the second rising, then “bake” on high. I’m guessing on that last part. Trix doesn’t have a high and low (another unfortunate feature I forgot to mention) and the single “slow cook” function must be low, because it takes a loooong time to cook stuff. So, as I mentioned before, I started it out on brown for 10 minutes, then turned it down to slow cook. For oh… about an hour and a half? I think. ish. When the loaf was somewhat set on top, but still not truly done, I flipped it over and “brown”ed the other side for another 10. Then I turned the cooker off, but left the bread in for another half hour. Got that?

I forgot to mention that I used a silicone mat under the loaf, to make getting it out really easy. It worked great. I got a set of four different silicone baking things at a garage sale for $5. I cut a round the size of Trixie’s bottom out of the cake “pan,” and it’s perfect.

You can also just bake things in a souffle dish or anything else that will fit in your cooker (oven proof of course). My first loaf I did in a stainless steel bowl, set in a couple inches of water. But that sure wasn’t gonna get me any kind of crust, and seemed like an unnecessary extra dish. If there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s an extra dish! Even now that I have a new fangled washer machine thingy.

There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but I’m pretty happy with this bread all things considered. It’s really hitting the spot for breakfast lately, slathered with butter. I usually need something more substantial than toast for breakfast, but now that it’s Hot here again, toast feels about right. Especially when it has plenty of yummy nuts and dried currants in it!

Trixie’s Dark Side

I actually wasn’t even thinking of that last post as product advertisement until your comments came in. I was just show and tell-ing my new toy. But of course it would make you all want one too! And hell, if you can get ’em at Costco for $30, make haste! My online order was a full $100, and even that was worth it to me.

But just so we have it out in the open, ole Trixeroo ain’t perfect. The biggest fault for me is that the insert pot is teflon, or some such non-stick. I swore teflon out of my life years ago, but here it is again. When I swore it out, we were living in such a way that various hippies were often in my kitchen, cooking in my pans and washing my dishes, and I hated standing behind them as the Teflon Nazi. Now, for better or for worse, it’s usually just lil’ ole’ me cooking and washing my very own dishes, so it’ll be easier to ensure that this pot is treated with ultimate care.

This is especially important because, other downside, I don’t know if it’s possible to order a replacement pot. A few of the bad reviews on Amazon were from people who had had various problems but had been unable to illicit a response from the company. I actually intend to try to order a replacement pot immediately, so that I have it and am ready for the inevitable Scratch and subsequent Flaking. But, we’ll see if that happens.

And you couldn’t rig in a different, unrelated pot. The bottom heat element is slightly convex, fitting into the slight concave of the pot. I guess to transfer heat more efficiently? Also, the top lip of the pot is what hits the rubber gasket of the lid to seal for pressure cooking.

Hmmm…. what else?

I guess I really can’t think of anything else. Otherwise, Practically Perfect in Every Way. Oh. I see I should have named it Mary.