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Slow Cookery! (November 19, 2015)

Balsamic-Glazed Beets with Toasted Walnuts
Sheila's Mother's Coffee Pot Roast
Salmon Fillets with Pineapple-Melon Relish
Gingery Pears Poached in Green Tea with Goji Berries
Warm Chocolate Lava Cake

So we finally upgraded our 35-year-old Crock Pot to a new model – not a moment too soon, as the original should be in a museum – and were delighted to find that slow cooker recipes have also grown up, travelled the world and come home more sophisticated, with a wider variety of fresh flavours, cuisines, shapes and textures! The old favorites are still there, pot roast and genuine "red brick" meatloaf, but why not try Lamb Shanks with Oranges and Olives, Fish Almandine in Foil, or Indian-Spiced Beef with Eggplant instead, and finish with Chocolate Lava Cake or Gingery Pears Poached in Green Tea with Goji Berries... You get the drift here, and if your slow cooker has been idle too long, it's time to update with these new and, yes, exciting recipe collections.

All these books give you important "must have" information about today's slow cookers: the benefits of the appliance, understanding how slow cookers work, what they do best, and what not to try. You'll wonder how you've done without one for so long!

Professional Home Economist Donna-Marie Pye's four slow cooker books now have over 500,000 copies in print, and no wonder: in addition to being a food writer and recipe developer, she owns and operates a top-notch cooking studio in Waterloo, Ontario. We had to have this talented author's latest best-seller, Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes, which contains 200 recipes representing cultures from around the world, and all developed with convenience in mind! Read more about Donna-Marie and her partner on their web site,

Judith Finlayson turns out cookbooks like the rest of us flip pancakes! This bestselling author, whose lifelong love of food and passion for cooking has translated into sales of over 1 million cookbooks, has come out with her latest (and second edition) Healthy Slow Cooker, which contains 135 gluten-free recipes for health and wellness. These delicious recipes, which run from breakfast to dessert, focus on being nutrient-dense as well as utterly yummy. Each recipe has in-depth information on diet and nutrition, and hey... because they are all made in the slow cooker, you get the most out of your diet without sacrificing convenience – truly an unbeatable combination! For more, take a look at her web site:

The American Heart Association has always been, for obvious reasons, on the forefront of healthy cookbooks, and their latest, American Heart Association Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook, combines 200 great recipes with our favorite kitchen appliance giving you a plethora from appetizers to desserts. There is excellent information on the benefits of slow cooking and how a slow cooker can help you eat well, plus excellent guidelines and advice for improving your heart health through a better, and tastier, diet. For more information, visit

On today's menu:

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Balsamic-Glazed Beets with Toasted Walnuts

Balsamic-Glazed Beets with Toasted Walnuts

Who doesn't love beets? But they take forever on the stove top. The answer is here: American Heart Association Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook, which says that as it reduces, balsamic vinegar thickens and becomes sweeter (though it does smell pungent), making it an addictively tasty, syrupy glaze for fresh beets. Serve this as a side dish or use a smaller amount on salads!

Serves 4

Need: 1½- to 2½-quart round or oval slow cooker

  • 1¼ pounds beets (3 medium to large), peeled, halved and cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp firmly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, dry roasted.

Put the beets in the slow cooker. Pour in the water. Cook, covered, on low for 3½ to 6 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours, or until the beets are tender when pierced with a fork.

Meanwhile in a small saucepan, stir together the vinegar and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes or until syrupy, stirring frequently (you will begin to see the bottom of the pan as you stir). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beets to a serving bowl.
Drizzle the vinegar mixture over the beets. Sprinkle with the walnuts. Serve warm or at room temperature.

TIP: Peel the beets using a vegetable peeler and wear disposable gloves to avoid having your hands turn red as you peel!

Tony's wine recommendation:
Red Burgundy, Pinot Noir



Sheila's Mother's Coffee Pot Roast

Sheila's Mother's Coffee Pot Roast

Classics are classics for one good reason: they're delicious! Donna-Marie Pye's friend Sheila McKee-Protopapas inherited this recipe from her mother, and it's a perfect example of how a recipe evolves, treated with pride and joy by one generation after another. Sheila's family has made it for years, and you can too; it's gloriously simple with an out of this world flavor. From Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Need: minimum 4-quart slow cooker

  • 1 boneless beef cross rib, blade, chuck or shoulder pot roast (about 4 lbs/2 kg)
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated (or 1 onion, cut into wedges)
  • 1 cup white or cider vinegar (250 mL) (see tip below)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (30 mL)
  • 2 cups strong brewed coffee (500 mL)
  • 2 Tbs; gin or whisky (optional, but we say YES do it!) (30 mL)
  1. Using the tip of a sharp knife, slit roast all over and insert garlic cloves (or onion wedges). Place roast in a bowl or a large sealable plastic bag and pour vinegar into slits. Cover bowl or seal bag and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 48 hours. Drain off vinegar and discard.
  2. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook roast, turning with two wooden spoons, for 7 to 10 minutes or until browned all over. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware.
  3. Add coffee, gin and 2 cups (500mL) water to skillet and stir to scrape up any brown bits from pan. Pour into stoneware.
  4. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 6 hours, until roast is fork-tender. Transfer roast to a cutting board, tent with foil and let stand for 10 minutes.
  5. Skim fat from pan juices. Slice meat across the grain and serve drizzled with juices.

TIP: Donna-Marie says adding vinegar, apple juice or wine to a pot roast helps tenderize the meat while it simmers. Slow cooking helps tenderize less expensive cuts of meat. Pot roast benefits from long, slow cooking on Low, but if you are short of time you can use the High setting – you'll still create fork-tender meat.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Rhône red; Valpolicella Ripasso, Zinfandel



Salmon Fillets with Pineapple-Melon Relish

Salmon Fillets with Pineapple-Melon Relish

Oh yum, and done in the slow cooker makes it even more delicious! Surprise: this recipe calls for steak seasoning blend, which is a surprisingly effective flavoring for most salmon fillets; these made even more delicious with a minty, zesty fruit relish! Thank you, American Heart Association!

Serves 4

Need: 3- to 4½-quart round or oval slow cooker

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 large lemon, cut crosswise into 6 slices
  • 4 salmon fillets with skin (about 5 ounces each), rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp salt-free steak seasoning blend
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder/1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh pineapple
  • 1/2 cup diced cantaloupe
  • 3 Tbsp to 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1 medium fresh jalapeño, seeds and ribs discarded, minced
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped red onion
  • 1 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp sugar

Lightly spray the slow cooker with cooking spray. Arrange the lemon slices in a single layer in the slow cooker. Place the fish with the skin side down on the lemon. Pour the water over the fish.

In a small bowl, stir together the seasoning blend, thyme, garlic powder and salt. Sprinkle over the fish. Using your fingertips, gently press the seasonings so they adhere to the fish. Cook, covered, on low for 3 hours or on high for 1½ hours or to the desired doneness.

About 15 minutes before serving time, in a small bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Set the relish aside.

Using a slotted spatula, transfer the fish to a serving platter, discarding the cooking liquid and lemon. Serve the fish with the relish spooned on top or at the side.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Off-dry Riesling, Viognier



Gingery Pears Poached in Green Tea with Goji Berries

Gingery Pears Poached in Green Tea with Goji Berries

Oh, this combination of ginger, pears and goji berries in this light-but-delicious dessert is irresistible. Sprinkle with toasted almonds for a perfect finish to a substantial meal. From Healthy Slow Cooker (2nd Edition) by Judith Findlayson.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

Need: Small (approx. 3 quart) slow cooker

Timing: This dessert should be made early in the day or the night before so it can be well chilled before serving.

  • 2 cups boiling water (500 mL)
  • 2 Tbsp green tea leaves (30 mL)
  • 2 Tbsp grated gingerroot (see Tips, below) (30 mL)
  • 1/2 cup unpasteurized liquid honey (125 mL)
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest (5 mL)
  • 4 firm pears, such as Bosc, peeled, cored and cut into quarters lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup organic dried goji berries (125 mL)
  • Toasted sliced almonds, optional
  • Vanilla-flavored yogurt or cultured coconut milk, optional
  1. In a pot, combine boiling water and green tea leaves. Cover and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into slow cooker stoneware.
  2. Add ginger, honey, and lemon zest and stir well. Add pears. Cover and cook on Low for 4 hours or on High for 2 hours, until pears are quite tender. Add goji berries and cook on High for 15 minutes, until puffed and soft. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and chill thoroughly. Serve garnished with toasted almonds and a dollop of yogurt, if using.

TIPS: Judith says that she prefers a strong ginger taste in these pears, but some might feel it overpowers the taste of the pears. Vary the amount of ginger to suit your preference.

Tony's wine recommendation:
Alsace Gewurztraminer



Warm Chocolate Lava Cake

Warm Chocolate Lava Cake

Moan... what could be better, especially when all you now have to do is take it out of the slow cooker and top with whipped cream! This decadent dessert is supremely rich and incredibly delicious and originally developed from a kitchen error: the chef simply had no more time to bake the cake, so he called it a "lava" cake! Sometimes less time is a delicious thing! From Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes by Donna-Marie Pye. Another piece? Thanks, and some whipped cream, please...

Makes 8 servings

Need: 4-quart slow cooker, stoneware, greased

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (500 mL)
  • 3/4 cup butter, cut into cubes (175 mL)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar (150 mL)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (10 mL)
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (30 mL)
  • Coffee or vanilla ice cream
  1. In a large microwave-safe glass bowl or an 8-cup (2 L) glass measuring cup, combine chocolate chips and butter. Microwave on medium (50%) for 2½ to 3 minutes, stirring every minute, until melted and smooth.
  2. Whisk in eggs, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Whisk in flour until blended and smooth. Spread evenly in prepared slow cooker stoneware.
  3. Cover and cook on High for 2 to 2½ hours or until edges are set but center is slightly runny. Serve immediately with ice cream.

TIP: Most recipes use large eggs. If a recipe doesn't specify a size, assume you need large.

IMPORTANT: Do not be tempted to use the Low setting to bake this cake. It requires high heat to bake properly.

Tony's wine recommendation:
LBV or 10-Year-Old Tawny Port; cream sherry; Banyuls




We wish to thank the following for permission to publish material and photographs:

Robert Rose, Inc. Toronto, for:

  • The Healthy Slow Cooker, 2nd Edition. Text © 2014 Judith Finlayson. Photographs © 2014 Robert Rose Inc.
  • Easy Everyday Slow Cooker Recipes. Text © 2014 Donna-Marie Pye. Photographs © 2014 Guy Saint-Jean Éditeur.

Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, for the American Heart Association Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook. © 2012 the American Heart Association. Photographs © 2012 Ben Fink.


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Happily enjoyed by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Helen Hatton and Ron Morris at Le Caveau des Gourmets in Gigondas




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