A slow day today…..in the morning, we went to the marché in nearby Argeliers but found it to be a little too small….only five vendors…..two produce, one cheese, one jewelry and one “emporter” (food to go) so we went home and took a walk along the canal picking up pinecones for tinder.
The afternoon was absorbed by preparing dinner. I saw a recipe on a British television show that I wanted to try…..Braised Beef and Herby Dumplings…..and today seemed a good day to give it a try. Combining an American mindset with an English recipe using French ingredients proved interesting.
First, I had to buy the ingredients. English recipes are given in grams….not a conversion my mind has readily adapted, but I gave it a go. Next problem…..France doesn’t seem to have items that Americans and Brits take for granted….tomato puree, beef stock and self raising flour were nowhere to be found at the Intermarché, so I improvised.
Within two hours, we were happily dining on this delicious casserole….it’ll remain in my repertoire and will be made again and again. The recipe (with comments and modifications) follows:
Braised beef and herby dumplings
700g x cubed stewing steak (chuck steak) – France sells meat in Kilograms….how many kilograms is 700 grams? Heck if I know…..I bought a piece of beef that was a little over a half kilo…..about one pound
30 g x plain flour – I used about ¼ cup
1 x tbsp tomato puree – I couldn’t find tomato puree, but since I only needed 1Tbsp, I used ketchup instead
3 x tbsp olive oil
1 x sliced onion
1 x sliced large carrot – we like carrots….I used 3 and thought it was just the right amount
1 x sliced white of leek
2 x cloves of crushed garlic
350 ml x red wine – I guessed this to be about 1 cup but added more
400ml x beef stock – I couldn’t find beef stock, so I used boullion…about 1½ cups
1 x bay leaf
200g x self raising flour – I decided this was about 1 cup….and made self-raising flour by adding 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder and ½ teaspoon salt to 1 cup flour
100g x beef suet – I didn’t even look for this at the market….I used about 7 Tbsp of margarine instead
125ml x ice cold water – I used about ½ cup
1 x tbsp chopped flat leaf
1 x tbsp chopped thyme
Heat a thick bottomed casserole pan on a stove top, add a splash of oil, add the diced onion and cook for 3 minutes until browned. Next toss the diced beef with the flour and coat all over to season then add to pan. Sear beef all over so it’s browned, add the tomato puree, stir in and add the red wine and remaining vegetables, bring to a simmer and reduce wine by half. Pour in stock, add bay leaf, bring to a simmer again then cover with a lid and cook for 2 hours, simmering gently in an oven at 180 degrees C (350 degrees F).
Whilst beef is cooking take the dumpling ingredients and sieve the flour and a pinch of salt. Mix with the suet and make a well in the centre, add the cold water and herbs and mix to a firm paste. Mould into small balls and in the last 30 minutes of cooking the beef, pop the dumplings on top of the stew. Cook through for the remaining 30 minutes, season and serve.