Well, that was always going to happen. No sooner do I commence a ten-part winter cooking series to help me deal with endless biting Antarctic winds, glowering skies, buckets of rain and circulation-stopping temperatures, than the sun races up into a glorious azure sky and magnanimously scatters seventeen lovely degrees about the landscape; a warmth not felt for months on skin of man, fur of beast or leaf of tree.
But having caused spontaneous global warming is not going to stop me. I'm going to go right on posting my ten favourite winter pot dishes. Today's recipe: it's all about the dumplings.
Pot #9: Beef with Herb Mustard Dumplings.
Whatever happened to dumplings? They are the lost tribe of modern cuisine. When I was a kid, we hardly ever ate a beef stew without dumplings: steaming creamy-yellow balls of doughy goodness infused with all the flavours of the stew and dripping in delicious gravy.
My global bring-back-the-brussels-sprout campaign met with moderate success; now I'm calling for the Return of the Dumpling.
The stew: in a large pot, brown about a kilogram of flour-dusted cubed topside steak in batches. Remove. Fry three chopped onions in the same pan until transparent. Add four medium carrots chopped into rounds, two chopped celery sticks, a bay leaf, two sprigs of fresh thyme and two cups each of beef stock and dark beer. Bring to the boil, add a tablespoon each of brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce, add the meat back to the pot and simmer for two hours. Easy.
The dumplings: Rub 30 grams of butter into a mixture of a cup of self-raising flour and 50 grams of dried breadcrumbs. Add two teaspoons of mustard seeds and a tablespoon of chopped fresh combined parsley and thyme. Now add five to six tablespoons of water, mix to a soft dough and divide into eight balls. Add to stew pot twenty minutes prior to end of cooking time. That's not hard, either.
Serve with creamy mashed potatoes, or are mashed potatoes getting boring?
Drink a nice shiraz or merlot. Red wine will never get boring.