Monday, January 08, 2007

HUNGARIAN STEW WITH DUMPLINGS

We think of stew as very British, but it's also eaten a lot in Eastern Europe. When we went to Prague last year, there were lots of beef goulashes and dumplings on the menus (along with soured-cream heart-attack pancakes for vegetarians). And don't start me on the cocktails. Anyhow, seems like we're not the only nation to seek comfort in stew at this time of year.

Last week we were invited for dinner next-door, to the promise of "vegetable stew". Made with potatoes, tomatoes, soy sauce, good stock, carrots and peppers, and served with dumplings, it was plate-clearing good. I didn't have the recipe, but I took it into my head to try it - and I also had a goulash recipe floating around, so I decided to combine the two, and make a goulash stew with sour-cream dumplings.

Don't you love the word dumpling? That's enough of a reason to make this.

THE STEW
1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped finely
1 parsnip, peeled and chopped

Handful of mushrooms, halved
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped

0.5 red pepper, chopped
0.5tbsp plain flour
0.5 tin tomatoes, chopped (I do this in the tin with a knife!)
1tsp smoked paprika
Vegetable stock (enough to cover)
Salt and pepper

THE DUMPLINGS
4oz self-raising flour
2oz grated vegetable suet (sold as TREX)
1 tbsp sour cream
Up to 2tbsp water
1tbsp chopped chives (optional)
Salt and pepper

For the stew: soften the onion in the olive oil, and add the rest of the chopped veg. Cover, turn down the heat, and allow everything to soften for about 10 minutes. Stir in 0.5tbsp flour and stir until it's all gone. Now add the paprika, and stir through. After a minute, pour in the chopped tomatoes and cover with vegetable stock. Replace the lid and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Make the dumplings: Combine the flour and grated suet. Season and add the chives, if using. Combine the cream and water in a cup, then gradually stir it in, stopping when the dough is soft and pliable. Shape into 6 dumplings, and put them on the surface of the stew. Replace the lid and simmer for another 20 minutes, then check a dumpling for doneness.

Dish up into deep bowls and eat with crusty bread.