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Useful thermal cooking site

I just came across this site - it looks like it could be pretty useful:

I haven't looked at it too closely, apologies if I've already posted this link before!

Cooking with a thermos

You can also cook with a thermos - on a smaller scale to the thermal cooker, but the principles are the same!

The main things you have to watch out for are:
  1. Lay the thermos on its side. If you leave it standing up, only the bottom will cook.
  2. Only add salt after the food has cooked (food salted first will not cook properly).

I googled "cooking with a thermos" and got a number of interesting hits, including the following:

Saving money with the thermos bottle
http://www.kurtsaxon.com/foods005.htm - this article recommends only Aladdin Stanley for thermos cooking and has some other useful information

Cooking in a thermos bottle - includes a recipe for tuna macaroni

How to cook in your thermos to save energy and money

Vacuum bottle (thermos) cooking: cheap, wholesome meals
http://thedeliberateagrarian.blogspot.com/2008/09/vacuum-bottle-cooking-cheap-wholesome.html - recommends Nissan over the Stanley

A collection of thermos cooking links

Cooking in a thermos


Mashed potato for dummies!

 This might sound like a really silly post to some, but if you're mashed-potato challenged like me, you might like to know how the thermal cooker can help.

I have a real problem judging when the potatoes are cooked enough. They always always always come out lumpy - and I always get the timing wrong with the rest of dinner, so that by the time things are ready to serve, the mashed potato is usually on the cold side.

But the thermal cooker fixes all of that - the lumps and the crummy timing!

What I do is boil them as normal for 10 minutes or so in the inner pot, then put them in the outer pot and totally forget about them while I take care of the rest of dinner, then I drain them and do the rest as usual. It turns out perfect (assuming you don't leave the potatoes in the water for two hours because by then I think they'd be soggy) and the thermal cooker keeps the mash toasty warm until you're ready to serve.

Tonight, I'm making guinness stew... yum!


 This was pretty quick (and a major cheat, using tinned soup and frozen veges) - I have discovered that I don't always use my thermal cooker like a slow cooker, sometimes it's useful for cooking things where I would ordinarily simmer on low heat. The advantages here being - using less electricity/gas, and I don't have to keep stirring the pot to stop things sticking to the bottom.

So, having said that, this recipe only takes half an hour or so to cook - I started it on the stove, put it in the thermal cooker, then went and did a couple of things around the house, and it was ready! I don't know how long it would take for the pasta to get mushy though.

This is for a two litre pot. I think that if you aren't going to leave it for very long, it wouldn't matter if you used a larger pot that wasn't full. (this is usually important to minimize heat loss if you're leaving something to cook over a number of hours).

I really like how the macaroni came out... 

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
Frozen vegetables (I used broccoli, peas, corn and carrots) - 1-2 cups
Macaroni (dried, not cooked) - about a cup
Chicken stock

Pour the condensed soup in the inner pot.
Using the empty can from the soup, add half a can of milk and half a can of water (or whatever your preference).
Add the frozen vegetables and macaroni, top up with chicken stock.
There should be a good balance of soup to solids.
Heat on low to medium, stirring every now and then, until simmering. Let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, then place in outer pot for at least half an hour.

Cranberry Beef Stew

For Dennis. Since I originally did this one in the crock pot, I'm not sure what size thermal cooker this recipe would need. It might not fill up my 4.5 litre pot so you may need more meat just in case. In any case, congratulations on your new Shuttle Chef!

Where the cranberry sauce is concerned, I used one small jar, which probably amounts to just over a cup of sauce. It was a jellied style with little chunks of berry in it. The whole cranberries in juice (used in addition to the jar of cranberry sauce to make the whole thing less sweet) probably ended up being around one cup in volume. You could probably also use fresh or frozen cranberries and a cup of beef stock instead. Or if you like things a bit sweeter, you could probably use two jars of cranberry sauce instead.

Cranberry beef stew... (adapted from a crock pot recipe)

3 pounds chuck/stewing/casserole steak, diced, excess fat removed
1 small onion, sliced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2-3 sticks celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped

Dash of worcestershire sauce
1/2 glass of red wine (or some Guinness might be good as an alternative)
1/2 sachet of french onion soup
1 small jar of cranberry sauce
1 sml container whole cranberries in juice (no added sugar)
1-2 cups water

In the inner pot, brown the meat (may need to do in batches), onion, garlic and celery, add carrots, sweat awhile.

Put the worcestershire sauce, red wine, french onion soup, 1 cup of the water, cranberry sauce and cranberries in juice in the frypan, heat through.
Note: I don't like things too sweet, which is why I added the container of whole cranberries (no sugar) to balance out the jar of cranberry sauce. You can adjust this to suit your own taste.

Taste sauce. Adjust seasonings. If too strong, add some more water.

Simmer on stove for about 30 minutes and then place in outer pot, leave 6-8 hours...

About an hour before serving, add 1 - 2 cups of frozen peas and a cornstarch slurry (about 2/3 cup water with 2-3 tablespoons cornstarch in it) and stir, let thicken (might need putting back on the stove awhile in order to thicken).

I was very pleased with how this one turned out, in the crock pot. I'll have to try it in the thermal cooker soon! 


Lamb shank stew recipe

Cooking notes:

This recipe was done in  a 4.5 litre Shuttle Chef thermal cooker. It was a crockpot recipe that I adapted. Because thermal cookers have to be full in order to retain the heat effectively, I added a can of tomato soup, which actually made it a bit *too* tomato-ey. Maybe next time I'll buy a few more lamb shanks to fill up the pot, and add more stock if it needs topping up.

You could probably reserve some of the sauce to thicken like a gravy, then strain and freeze the bulk of the remaining sauce for later. What I'm planning is to brown some mince and add the sauce (will probably need reducing / thickening) next time I make spaghetti.

Recipe here...Collapse )


Shuttle Chef 4.5 l

My new shuttle chef arrived last week - so now I have a 2 litre and a 4.5 litre thermal cooker.

I made lamb shanks in the 4.5 litre shuttle chef yesterday, and was really pleased with it. It was still steaming hot (yes, you could see the steam escaping from it when you opened the lid) 9 hours later! I was amazed!

I have to say that the shuttle chef is extremely well made, and quite sturdy and heavy. I imagine that this baby is going to last for years.

The thing that I am finding I need to adjust to with the thermal cooker is that you need to (or are supposed to - haven't tested it) have the pot really full (to minimize the amount of air in the pot, and thus - heat loss). I also read that liquids hold heat better than solids (and viscous liquids hold heat better than thinner liquids) - so with those thoughts in mind, I really had a *lot* of sauce with my lamb shanks. Will have to remember to buy more meat next time to even up the ratio.

One big plus is that with browning the lamb etc, I only need to dirty the one pot, since you can't brown things in the crock pot. The inner pot also fits in the fridge better, and is easier to wash up.

But the taste verdict - we loved it. My conventional (powered) slow cooker runs a bit hot and while the lamb is fall-off-the-bone, the bits that aren't submerged in the sauce can dry out, and also the meat can lose its moisture (I don't know how to put it - it's kind of dry in your mouth after a few chews). The thermal cooker lamb in comparison was fall-off-the-bone and tender, and also lovely and moist. My sweetie said that it's more tender than when done in the crock pot.

I'm finding that food cooked in the thermal cooker has a slightly different flavour. It's a gentler cooking method and this is reflected in the taste somehow. Maybe a lot of my crockpot efforts were actually overcooked?

Anyway, let me know if you'd like me to post the lamb shanks recipe!

Slow cookers vs thermal cookers

 Hey :)

Here's a pretty useful article comparing thermal cookers to slow cookers or crock pots


Three recipes are included at the end - sweet sour spareribs, chinese style oxtail soup, baked beans with portuguese sausage. 

As the web page says: 

These recipes are written for standard cooking on a stovetop or in an oven. To adapt them for a thermal cooker, use the same ingredients and follow the same steps, using the inner thermal pot.

Bring ingredients to a boil, making sure the internal temperature of the meat reaches 203 degrees (this may require 10 minutes of boiling). Place the inner pot into the insulated outer thermal pot; seal and let sit for the same amount of time as called for in the original recipe.

Useful advice if you ever want to adapt a conventional recipe. 

P.S: you guys know that anyone's welcome to make a post here, don't you?

Anyway, here"s the text of the article. I put it here in case the original page disappears...Collapse )


Review: Shuttle Chef

From Choice magazine, Australia

I believe that the Shuttle Chef is the same as the Thermos Nissan Cook & Carry. Shuttle Chef is the European name, while the latter is the U.S. name (could be wrong)

Anyway, I'm just going to cut and paste the review text because URLs can change over time...

Review text here...Collapse )