And, of course you know me, no matter what the season, food is never far from my mind. Yep, I’m already dreaming of all I can eat on a cold day to warm up my tum. Hot-pot, cottage pie, soups, curries and good old tasty casseroles and stews!!
Speaking of stews, this was just what I fancied the other day; the weather was a little dreary and I wanted a hearty meal but had so many chores to get sorted around the house. This beef stew was the perfect thing to pop together – and leave cooking slowly in the oven over a few hours, so I could crack on with other things!! Another thing stew for tea gave me was an excuse to try my hand at gluten free dumplings too. Although I have chatted a lot about how to make them, I had never actually had a go at making them myself (or eaten them since I have been diagnosed). Well, I have to tell you, they were stupendous, far exceeding my expectations, tasting just like a dumpling used to taste.
So, if you too loved your dumplings pre-gluten free days, please, please, give these tasty, fluffy morsels a whirl – ‘I need’ you to know how good they are!!!!
For the stew you will need: (serves 4 and is suitable for freezing)
- 500g (1lb) diced beef stewing steak
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- 2 large onions chopped
- 2 large carrots chopped
- 2 sticks of celery chopped
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 Knorr *beef stock cube or stock pot (dissolved in a pint of boiling water to make a stock)
- 2 desert spoons cornflour
- Generous splash of red wine (optional but makes a difference in a good way!)
- Salt and *pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley
For the dumplings: (makes 8)
- 100g (4oz) Juvela gluten free White Mix
- 50g (2oz) lard grated once well chilled (weigh the amount you require, and pop into the freezer for about 1hr before you need to grate it)
- 1 level teaspoon of *baking powder
- Pinch of salt and twist of *black pepper
- Enough cold water to form a soft but not too sticky dough.
- *Check in Coeliac UK’s Food & Drink Directory for a suitable brand.
- Pre heat oven to 180°C/160°Fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4
- Pop the cornflour into a large bowl. Add a good pinch of salt and twist of black pepper. Add the meat and toss until evenly coated with cornflour.
- Heat the oil in a large deep-frying pan and add the meat. Ensure the meat is in a single layer and turn to allow it to colour evenly. Brown as much as possible without burning as this will give your stew a rich colour and a more intense flavour.
- Transfer the meat into a casserole dish.
- Pop the pan back on the heat and if necessary add a tiny bit more oil. Add the chopped carrots, onion and celery and again allow them to colour to a golden brown and then add to the meat.
- If using, pour the wine into the frying pan and gently swirl around the side (if not using wine you can use the stock at this stage) incorporating all the flavour that may be ‘lurking’ there from the meat and vegetables. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 2 minutes and then pour this into the casserole dish.
- Finally, pour the stock over the meat and veg, add the bay leaves and cover with a lid or tin foil and pop in the oven for 2½ hours (have a little peep after an hour or so to ensure not drying out add a little more water if needed).
- Whilst the stew is cooking you can make up the dumplings and chill until required.
- Put the GF Mix in a large mixing bowl, add the baking powder salt and pepper and mix well. Grate the chilled lard into the mix (watch your fingers), gently mixing the lard as you go, coating it with the Mix to keep the fat separated ensuring it doesn’t form a large mound but instead stays in the little bits.
- Add enough water to form a soft but not sticky dough.
- Dust a little mix on your hands and form the dumpling mixture into balls (approx. size of a golf ball). Pop on a plate and in the fridge until you require them.
- After 2½ hours remove the stew from the oven. Season to taste. Gently drop the dumplings in and cover again with a lid and return to the oven for about 20 minutes (If you like the dumplings to be a little crispy, remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes).
- Remove the casserole dish from the oven. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve with whatever takes your fancy. Mash works a treat with this as I’m sure you can imagine!!
Few little extra things to share with you before I head off...
If you have a large enough heat/ovenproof casserole dish that is safe to use on the top of the cooker, you can simply add the meat as I first mentioned, brown and add the other things in the same order to the one big pot (without the need of a separate frying pan).
I have used lard in place of gluten free suet as it is more accessible. However, you can use something like flora white or a ready-made gluten free suet, if you can get your hands on some!
And finally. Although I kept it simple with the veg I used on this occasion, but it would work with so many other veggies too!!
OK, so that’s me for now - Happy Autumn to you - keep cosy!