What Stew Looking At?

Well, aren’t I like a bus? No words for ages, then two blogs come almost at once!

As I mentioned last time, winter food drives me wild. Especially winter food that comes with a cheesy, herby dumpling floating on the top. So this stew is just perfection to me.

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Loved ones may see the list of ingredients for this stew and begin to doubt the honesty of the above claim that this is perfection to me. Granted, the barley and spelt mix is found on the LoveLife aisle, whilst I am generally more inclined toward the ‘love carbs’ aisle. Nonetheless, the heartiness of this stew, and the gorgeous warming effect that it had on me in my unheated flat, won me over instantly. And, anyway, it is true to say that I love anything with a dumpling (or two) on top.

Notes on the recipe:
– This recipe is adapted from one found here, on the BBC GoodFood website. It serves 3-4, with 6 dumplings.
– Don’t feel constrained by the veg listed – they simply came in a pack – but just use whatever you like or whatever you have lurking in your kitchen.
– I would normally use uncooked pearl barley in this recipe (about 100g), however the supermarket were out of stock. In its place, as stated in the recipe, I used a cooked mix. Feel free to use whatever you wish. (But note that you will need far more liquid if using uncooked barley, about 1l stock, and it will reduce by around half as the barley soaks it up.)
– Ideally for this stew you would have a beautiful, vast casserole dish, perhaps one by Le Crueset. I don’t have such a thing. I use a large pan for the bit on the hob, then transfer it individual dishes for the oven part.

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1 tbsp olive oil
5 small shallots, peeled
1 big leek, thickly sliced
½ swede, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
250g cooked grain mix (I used these)
About 1/4 bottle white wine
About 200ml vegetable stock, made from a cube
2 tbsp tomato purée
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
A small of bunch parsley, finely chopped


100g self-raising flour
50g salted butter, fridge cold
60g mature cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves


Heat the oil, over a medium heat, in a large pan (or large casserole dish). Add the shallots and cook for 5-6 mins until they start to soften. Then add the mound of leeks, and leave them to soften for a couple of minutes. Stir in the swede, parsnips and carrots. Get them all coated in oil and allow them to cook together for 5-6 minutes.

Pour in the barley mix and wine, and cook, uncovered until the wine has reduced a little (about 5-6 minutes). Add the stock, tomato purée, herbs and some seasoning (be careful as your stock may be salty).

Cover the pan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 mins, until the veg is beginning to soften. (Do stir the stew every so often, to prevent sticking, and to check on the consistency; don’t be afraid to add liquid (stick or just boiled water) if your stew is too dry for your liking.)

Meanwhile, make the delightful little dumplings.

Heat your oven to 200C/gas 6. Rub the flour and butter together to form fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the cheese and herbs and mix well. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of water over the flour mix, then bring it all together with your hands to form a soft dough. Divide the mix into six, and shape into divine little balls.

If using a casserole dish, skip to the next step. If however you have been using a pan, now decant your stew into your chosen oven dish(es).

Dot your dumplings atop the stew and pop it all into the oven. Cook, uncovered, for 20-25 mins until dumplings are golden and plump.


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Anyway, that’s all for now. I’m off to pack, as I am being whisked away to Paris for a couple of nights as a birthday treat. Aren’t I a lucky girl?!

On that note, if you wish to be made green with envy (or just see some snaps of hot chocolate quaffed on the Champs Élysées) please do follow me on twitter (@pyandplate) and instagram (pyandplate). I am occasionally funny.

Anyone got any twitter or instagram accounts that I should be checking out?


2 thoughts on “What Stew Looking At?

  1. I am so easily led by a pretty food picture! These have had me online shopping for little enamel dishes. On a practical note I think my smaller kids would be more inclined to eat their dinner from them, they love anything different to the usual

    • I love these dishes! I make all sorts in mine – pasta bakes, pies, stuffing, etc. etc. And they look lovely on the table too. I hope you found some online!

      Thanks for checking out my blog 🙂 x

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