Beef and Mushroom Stew with Dumplings

Beef and Mushroom Stew with Dumplings

I do like my slow cooker, but I certainly could use it more often, if I had the time! My most recent recipe was a beef and mushroom stew with dumplings.

To make this I took some shin of beef, which I cubed and then coated in seasoned flour. This was then browned in a pan before placing it in the slow cooker. The flour not only helps with the browning process but also helps thicken the stew during the stewing process. In the pan I used to brown the meat, I then added some carrots, leeks and onions. You could at this stage adding some other root vegetables such as parsnips or swede. These were cooked in the pan for a short time before also adding to the slow cooker. I then added some water from the kettle to the pan to deglaze it, before adding it to the slow cooker as well. I then topped up the slow cooker with water to not quite cover the ingredients.

I then added a Knorr Rich Beef Stock Pot. I quite like these stock pots, not just for the flavouring, but how they thicken the stew as well. One of the challenges with a slow cooker meal is that the sauce doesn’t thicken in the same way that cooking in a oven does.

The stew was then cooked in the slow cooker on the medium setting for four hours. My slow cooker has two settings, low for eight hours or medium for four hours. Though you can change the time manually.

After four hours the stew was allowed to cool and was then left overnight. I do like leaving stews or casseroles to “stew” overnight as it seems to improve the flavour.

The next day I put the stew in the “normal” oven.

I then cooked some bacon lardons in a pan and once nearly cooked added a range of mushrooms. I used chestnut mushrooms, some chanterelles that I had alongside a range of woodland mushrooms. These were cooked lightly before the bacon and mushrooms were added to the stew and stirred in.

I have been using the woodland mushrooms from Morrisons for a while now. Now I know they are not from woodlands, but are farmed, but they make a nice difference to dishes that usually use common mushrooms. The woodland mushrooms include oyster, and some others that I haven’t identified! According to the Morrisons website the pack contains three of the following: oyster, shiitake, eryngi, maitake, shiro shimeji, enoki, and buna shimeji.

Woodland mushrooms

Tesco use to sell wild mushrooms in my local branch, however they haven’t for a while, but you may be luckier at your own branch.

Wild mushrooms

The chanterelles on the other hand were found amongst the range of exotic mushrooms mini packs that they do stock in my local Tesco. This range includes varieties such as oyster, shiitake amongst others.

Exotic mushrooms

On top of the stew I added some dumplings and the whole thing was cooked for about 25-30 minutes. The idea was that the dumplings would have a nice crust and the stew would be bubbling underneath.

Overall the stew was lovely, full of deep flavours. The beef was tender and melt in the mouth, whilst the vegetables still had texture. The bacon and mushrooms added a new dimension and by adding them later in the cooking stage they weren’t lost within the stew.

Yes I will be cooking this again.

I would like a croissant please

Croissants

Without looking where do you think it costs more to buy a single croissant, Tesco or Marks and Spencers?

You know that by asking that very question that the answer has to be Marks and Spencers don’t you.

The other morning I was on my way into work when I stopped off to buy some skimmed milk for my coffee at work. I popped into the local Tesco Express (or are they called Tesco Metro) and picked up a two pint bottle. I looked at the date, it looked familiar and realised that the date was that day’s date. A quick check across the shelf, and all the other bottles had the same short date on them. So leaving the milk I decided to go somewhere else, I had been considering buying a croissant at 80 pence but thought not as I was in a bit of a hurry.

I walked down to Marks and Spencers to get my milk and was pleasantly surprised to see that their loose croissants were only 69 pence. They also looked a lot nicer and fresher than the ones from Tesco.

I was surprised as I wasn’t expecting Marks and Spencers to be cheaper, but was pleased that they were. Oh and before you ask the milk was the same price.

Paella Time

Paella

One of the reasons I write this blog is to remind me of places I have eaten and dishes I have cooked. One thing I have noted is how much I cook paella, so much so that I took a break from cooking it. I have made it recently, to go with a seafood platter, we liked it so much that I cooked almost the same meal again!

The key I have found with a decent paella is good rice and a decent stock. I have found though that the paella seasoning from Tesco is a good compromise if you don’t have any saffron.

In a large frying pan, heat some olive oil. I really keep thinking I should really invest in a proper large paella pan. It’s okay using my current frying pan, but I think it ‘s a little too deep. Using a larger shallower paella pan would make for a more authentic paella and get it cooked just right. Into the hot pan I added some cubed pancetta to which after it cooked, I added some vegetables. This time I did extra vegetables, so I took some diced onion, pepper, courgette, mushrooms and aubergine. This I cooked in the pan until it had softened. I then added the paella rice. I also added the paella seasoning mix to the pan, this contains saffron, as well as some dried tomato, onion and spices. It adds a depth of flavour and that authentic yellow colour. If you want a deeper yellow you need to add more saffron. This was all mixed with the oil, pancetta and vegetables.

I boosted the heat up and added a large splash of white wine. I then added stock to the pan so it covered the rice. As the dish cooked I added more stock.

I did stir now and again, but not too much. With a risotto you want to stir a lot to break down the rice a bit and create a creamy sauce. With paella you want to avoid that, but also get the paella to stick slightly to the bottom of the pan.

Just before serving I added some lemon segments and some griddled seafood. I am sure that some would say I should cook the squid and prawns in the paella, however I have found that they can overcook, becoming tasteless and rubbery. I now cook the squid and prawns separately, using a griddle normally and then place on top of the paella. If I am using chorizo I will do something similar.

I was very pleased with the end result and it was liked by everyone at the table.

Persian Jewelled Rice

Persian Jewelled RiceI’ve had a jar of Tesco Persian Jewelled Rice Paste in my cupboard for a while. Having a little time today I decided to go ahead and use it.

I took some onion, pepper, courgette and mushrooms and sauted them off in a frying pan with a little butter and oil.

I then added the Jewelled Rice Paste and cooked it off for a couple of minutes. I then added 200g of basmati rice and 400ml of boiling water.

Placed a lid on the frying pan and let the rice simmer for 15-20 minutes until the rice had absorbed the liquid and was tender.

With spices and citrus flavours, it was really very nice. It was quite dry so you might need some sauce or chutney to go with it. According to the jar it recommended having chicken in the dish, I didn’t I went with vegetables instead.

It’s not “cheap” at £1.99, but the thing is with a dish like this, that you have basically cooked yourself, it does taste a lot fresher than reheating a chilled ready meal from the fridge. I think in the future I might have a go at making my own version of the paste using the ingredients as a guide.

Orange Juice From Concentrate (26%),Carrot (25%) ,Sultanas (10%) (Sultanas, Sunflower Oil) ,Lemon Juice From Concentrate (7%) ,Onion Purée ,Orange Zest (5%) ,Butter ,Vegetable Oil ,Sugar ,Cinnamon Powder ,Cornflour ,Sea Salt ,Roasted Cumin Seed ,Black Pepper ,Ground Cardamom ,Ground Saffron.

Overall I found it an easy dish to make and it was really nice to eat.

Another great offer from that Tesco

Another great offer from Tesco

Not sure that Tesco quite understand that these kinds of offers aren’t in fact offers.

If you are going to do two for £4 then ensure that everything within that offer is over £2 otherwise what is the point? I have even seen stuff included that was (if it was in this offer) less than £2 in a two for £4 deal.