Alternative uses for specialized cooking gadgets

Chow rounds up some delicious alternative uses for waffle-irons, ice-cream makers, and slow cookers. The criteria are: "(1) the food should taste as good or better than when made in the conventional manner, (2) the cooking time should be equal to or shorter than normal, and (3) the method should use the appliance in a way that’s totally different from what it’s known for." They were a lot more thorough with the waffle-iron than the other two (muffins, brownies, and hash browns), though slow-cooker souffle sounds lovely.

To make this Smoked Cheddar Soufflé in a slow cooker, start by filling a small saucepan with water and bringing it to a boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and let the water simmer while you prepare the soufflé. Follow steps 1 through 5 of the recipe, without preheating the baking sheet.

Once the soufflé is ready, pour about 2 cups of the simmering water into the slow cooker and place the soufflé dish in the water (the water should come a third to halfway up the sides of the dish). Cover the slow cooker and cook the soufflé on high until it has puffed and is set in the middle, about one hour and forty-five minutes.

Common Appliances, Uncommon Uses - Feature - Food News - CHOW (via Neatorama)


  1. you need to get a wok its good for cooking everything! -except bannana bread

    1. Powdered Baby Flesh is an INGREDIENT, people. It’s what you do with it that makes all the difference.

      I personally find it adds a little richness to my French Onion and Baby Soup that you can’t get anywhere else…

  2. Reminds me of a friend of mine from college who got high one day and somehow figured out how to cook Pillsbury crescents in the only cooking device in her dorm room – a toaster. How she ever got them out once they puffed up is beyond me!

  3. I’ve used coffee pots to make ramen, boiled eggs, veggies – drip coffee pot for ramen, percolator for everything else.

  4. 1) Par-fry some hash browns
    2) Press the par-fried hash browns in a waffle iron
    3) Finish frying waffle-shaped hash browns
    4) Presto, waffle fries!

  5. I would also note that slow cookers or “crockpots” as I call them do vary by manufacture…  Most modern Rival units run hot and will simmer water/broth on low.  I replaced a Rival unit with a Hamilton Beach unit because it would cook a roast in 4-5 hours on low and after 8 there would be no liquid left in the pot.

    1. My Rival cooks hot, too. I only use it for stewish sorts of things, and they are fully cooked in three to four hours.

      1. Newer models are much hotter that the ones mother used. I got one recently and sent a note to Rival asking about the much higher temperature. Seems that the higher temps is do to a federal regulation to prevent bacterial growth.

        1. Well I suppose all the other crockpot manufactures didn’t get the memo then….   The Hamilton Beach unit I replaced my super hot Rival with can cook a roast for 16 hours on low and not loose any liquid.

    2. the trick is to get one with an analog dial and set it between “keep warm” and low, or even directly on “keep warm.” the instructions are very clear that you shouldn’t do this because of the danger zone, which always makes me titter because it reminds me of “she-bop.”

      1. All the units I’ve seen or at least had experience with have more of a rotary switch then an analog dial.  My HB unit not has warm/low/high, but there is no inbetweens spaces, there is no way to make a setting called low-ish.

        Honestly if you are going down that route a corded dimmer control unit would work equally as well.  (Might take some playing with to get the temperatures marked like you want, but it’d work.)

        1. i have a west bend 5 quart and the dial turns smoothly. i suspect it’s just a potentiometer, so it basically is a dimmer. anyway, it has two keep warms, and i’ve noticed that the higher one works well for cooking. in fact, i suspect that the two keep warms are a subtle wink-and-nudge to get around guidelines/restrictions and include a true “low” setting.

  6. I think it’s probably common knowledge, but a really cheap coffee grinder is really great for grinding spices.

    1. You can also use a fondue pot for Hot Pot.  It’s particularly great if not all of your dinner guests are able to use chopsticks, since fondue forks are part of the package.

  7. (2) the cooking time should be equal to or shorter than normal

    Trying to make good food: you’re doing it wrong.

    I’m all for reusing single-purpose appliances, but that’s a silly requirement. If you use your slow cooker to cook your meat sous vide, for example, that’s a great non-traditional use for it, and may taste excellent, but it’s not going to be shorter than searing it on the stove, and nor should it be.

  8. Costco’s Aroma brand $30 rice cooker is incredibly flexible because the “steam” setting cooks anything, for any user-specified amount of time.

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