I made cupcakes this morning. Chocolate ones. They were from a recipe I have never used before and will never use again... I ended up with 15 (the batch was supposed to make 24?!?) mini chocolate volcanoes. There was no way I was going to waste decent chocolate icing on them, so we ate them naked... the cupcakes... not us. The cupcakes were naked. They were surprisingly yummy, considering their bid to be the next Mount Vesuvius but they were not blogworthy in any context other than this brief paragraph.
I felt a need to destroy the evidence of their existence almost immediately. Neil and Josh helped.
There are two left.
The only thing that would cure my disappointment... was dumplings. I find that dumplings can cure just about anything, except maybe cellulite... and tennis elbow... and a fat bum. I have a fat bum. But as I am never actually walking behind it and looking at it, I figure other people can worry about it... whilst I eat dumplings.
Obviously I needed something to put the dumplings in, and as it's bitterly cold outside again I made a Country Beef Casserole. The smell of it cooking in the oven filled the house and drove the dog nutty. Poor old darling's on a diet. She too, has a fat bum... and seeing as I'm the one that's usually walking along behind it, looking at - it's me that has to worry about it.
The dog did not get dumplings.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Serves 3 (easily doubled up for 6)
Prep time - 10 minutes
Cooking time - 2hrs 35 minutes
You will need
A casserole dish with lid
A frying pan/skillet
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1lb/500g beef skirt/braising beef - chopped into 2 inch chunks
2 carrots - peeled and thickly sliced
1 parsnip - peeled and thickly sliced
1 turnip - peeled and chopped
1 onion - thickly sliced
1 leek - thickly sliced
1 stick celery - thickly sliced
1 tbsp plain flour
1 pt/600ml beef stock
14oz/400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4oz/110g self raising flour
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
4 - 5 tbsp water
Preheat oven to 320f/160c/140c fan/gas 3.
Heat the frying pan over a medium heat and the vegetable oil. Throw in the beef and brown lightly on all sides. Use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and place it in the casserole dish. Return the pan to the heat and add all of the vegetables - cook for 5 minutes or until beginning to soften - add the flour and cook for 1 minute before slowly pouring in the beef stock, stirring all the time. Add the chopped tomatoes and fresh parsley. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle boil.
Remove the pan from the heat and pour it's contents over the beef in the casserole. Stir gently, pop the lid on and place in the middle of the oven for 2 hours. Check the casserole after 1 hour and give it a stir. After two hours (or when the meat is tender and the vegetables are cooked), remove the casserole from the oven and turn the heat up to 370f/190c/170c fan/gas 5. Take the lid off and drop in the dumplings (see below), one at a time before returning the casserole -uncovered - to the oven for a further 20 - 25 minutes, or until the dumplings are cooked.
Put all of the ingredients, other than the water, into a bowl. Add the water a little at a time and stir until the mixture forms a dough. Shape the dough into 8 - 9 balls.
Serve hot, scattered with any remaining chopped parsley.