Size matters with new cheese roll

It’s beginning to seem like I’m writing a series called “The Saga of the Cheese Rolls.”

Last week, I mentioned a reader who warned that the jalapeño cheese roll and the garlic cheese roll manufactured by Parkers Farm are “more cheddary” than the discontinued Kraft cheese rolls originally used to make the popular holiday dishes Spinach Madeleine and Garlic Cheese Grits. She suggested using a smaller amount than usual to keep the cheese from overpowering the dish.

After that column ran, Mark Calandro, of Calandro’s Supermarket in Baton Rouge, wrote with a likely explanation for why that reader found the Parkers Farm cheese rolls gave her holiday dishes a strong cheddar taste.

The Parkers Farm cheese rolls are 8 ounces while the discontinued Kraft products were only 6 ounces. “That’s the reason it’s probably too cheddary. The old recipe calls for a whole roll, and we try to inform people that there are 2 more ounces in the Parker Farms rolls and to use a little less,” Calandro said.

Now you know. Use three-fourths of a cheese roll in those dishes — and have some wonderful, yummy holiday meals.

“Slow Cooking for Two: Basics Techniques Recipes” by Cynthia Graubart.

Gibbs Smith, $19.99.

159-page hardcover.

The Advocate’s slow-cooker guru, Julie Kay, will be pleased. As she knows, my slow cooker rarely moves from its spot in the cabinet but I decided to pull it out to test recipes from a couple of new cookbooks on slow cooking.

Author Cynthia Graubart has written a cookbook sure to be welcomed by those in one- and two-person households. If you like the idea of the slow cooker’s convenience but don’t want leftovers for days, her new cookbook has the answer for you. “Slow Cooking for Two: Basics Techniques Recipes” is aimed at newlyweds, empty nesters and those in small apartments or other small spaces like RVs.

It offers basic instructions and tips for cooking almost effortless meals. It opens with information on selecting and using a slow cooker, including how to use slow cooker liners as separate cooking bags to cook two different meat recipes at the same time. There also are recipes for soups, poultry, beef and lamb, seafood, side dishes, desserts, dips and appetizers, and basics like chicken stock.

The book has numerous full-color photographs although not every completed dish is illustrated.

“Southern Living Big Book of Slow Cooking.”

Oxmoor House, $22.95.

288-page softcover.

One realizes the slow cooker has become a kitchen mainstay when Southern Living editors celebrate the convenience appliance with a new cookbook. The “Southern Living Big Book of Slow Cooking” features 200 recipes plus full-color photographs of every dish.

The book includes a variety of recipes that will appeal to both beginner and experienced cooks.

The recipes are clearly and concisely written and include plenty of tricks and tips to make the cooking experience easier. Recipes range from Caramelized Onions and Turkey Meatball Stroganoff to Moroccan Lentil Stew and Cinnamon-Pecan Breakfast Bread Pudding.

If you need an easy pick-up dessert for a New Year’s, Twelfth Night or Super Bowl party, make the book’s recipe for Triple Chocolate-Covered Peanut Clusters. The recipe says it makes about 60 clusters, but I got about two dozen more. Perhaps my “heaping tablespoonfuls” weren’t as large as those of the book’s recipe testers, but my candies were certainly ample in size.

Wishing you a happy new year!

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s Food editor. Her email address is csonnier@theadvocate.com. Advocate-tested recipe

Triple Chocolate-Covered Peanut Clusters

Makes 5 pounds or about 60 clusters. Recipe is from “Southern Living Big Book of Slow Cooking” (Oxmoor House), which says this recipe is ideal for a 31/2- or 4-quart slow cooker.

21 (16-oz.) jar dry-roasted peanuts

1 (16-oz.) jar unsalted dry-roasted peanuts

18 (2-oz.) chocolate candy coating squares, cut in half

2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) semisweet chocolate morsels

1 (4-oz.) pkg. German chocolate baking squares, broken into pieces

1 (9.75-oz.) can salted whole cashews

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a 31/2- or 4-quart slow cooker.

2. Cover and cook on Low 2 hours or until melted. Stir chocolate mixture. Add cashews and vanilla, stirring well to coat cashews.

3. Drop nut mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls onto wax paper. Let stand until firm. Store in 2 airtight container.

Note: Clusters may be frozen up to 1 month.

2