Do you know how to make stew and dumplings? I tend to steer clear of trying knowing I cannot possibly do it as well as my mum. I remember coming home from school to the ultimate comfort food bubbling away and the dumplings were out of this world. My dumplings always go wrong so I am keen to try this stew recipe with parsley dumplings and show that I too can be the queen of stews!



Serves 6-8


For the stew:

3 tbsp olive oil

800g chuck beef steak, trimmed and cut into 5cm (2in) cubes

3 onions, thinly sliced

1 tsp chopped fresh thyme

2 tbsp plain flour

500ml can Guinness or stout

300ml beef stock

4 carrots, sliced on the diagonal

1 tsp light brown sugar

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

For the parsley dumplings:

175g self-raising flour

3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

2 tbsp snipped fresh chives

75g beef shredded suet

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 160ºC. Heat a heavy-based casserole dish with a lid on the hob. Add one tablespoon of the oil and as soon as it starts smoking, tip in the beef. Quickly brown on all sides, then transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and then tip in the onions to and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in the thyme and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Sprinkle in the flour and continue to cook over a low heat for another minute or so, stirring constantly.

Gradually pour in the Guinness or stout, stirring until smooth after each addition. Pour in the stock, stirring to combine and season lightly, then add the carrots with the sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and tip the reserved beef, mixing well to combine. Cover with a lid and transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour until the beef is almost tender and the liquid has reduced and slightly thickened.

To make the dumplings, mix the flour, herbs and seasoning in a bowl and then mix in the suet. Add 6 tablespoons of cold water to make a fairly stiff but elastic dough that leaves the bowl clean. Knead it lightly and shape into 12 dumplings. Remove the stew from the oven and take off the lid. Increase the heat of the oven to 200ºC. Pop in the dumplings into the stew and return to the oven for another 30 minutes or until the dumplings are golden brown and crusty. Serve straight to the table.

Braised Stout Beef And Carrot Stew With Parsley Dumplings


Why not try this recipe for Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Ravioli, created by Felice Tocchini for the Love Sweet Potatoes campaign?


Serves 4

Preparation: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes


For the filling

1 large baked sweet potato, cold

100g goat’s cheese

2tsp chopped thyme

½ tsp grated nutmeg

For the pasta

250g gram flour (chick peas), sifted, plus extra for dusting

2 eggs

For the sauce

2tbsp rapeseed oil

5 garlic cloves, crushed but still left in cloves

1-2 chillies, cut into large pieces

200g choi-sum, cut into pieces and the white part separated from the leaves

Leftover cooked sweet potato from the filling, broken into small chunks

4tbsp extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil

30g toasted pine nuts

Salt and cracked black pepper


1. Make the filling by crushing 200g of the baked sweet potato in a bowl with a fork and mix with the goat’s cheese, thyme and nutmeg. Adjust the seasoning and keep cold.

2. Make the pasta by putting the flour on a work surface and create a well in the centre. Break the eggs into the well and mix together. Carry on kneading until the pasta feels like ‘playdoh’.

3. Roll the pasta in small quantities with a rolling pin until you reach the thickness you desire and cut out circles with a 9cm diameter cutter.

4. Place a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of the pasta. Fold over the other side of the pasta to create a half moon and press around the edges to seal the parcels. Place on a tray sprinkled with a little flour, ready to cook later.

5. To make the sauce cook the rapeseed oil, garlic and chillies in a hot sauté pan for a couple of minutes or until light golden. Add the white part of the choi-sum, cover the pan and leave to wilt for 2 minutes. Add the sweet potato chunks and green part of the choi sum, cover and remove from the heat.

6. In the meantime, cook the ravioli in a large pan of gently boiling salted water for approximately 3-5 minutes, depending on the thickness of your pasta.

7. When the ravioli are cooked, drain and toss into the sauce with the olive oil. If the sauce is too dry add a couple of spoonfuls of the water used to cook the ravioli. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and serve.

Hijacked By Twins

We would like to share our Cafe Rouge review as first time visitors to this particular restaurant. We had an amazing lunch at the Portsmouth branch yesterday.


We have just moved and meals have had a degree of lack of planning about them as we have cleaned, moved furniture and explored a new area. So it was a real treat to take time out for a special lunch at Cafe Rouge. Why special? Because I feel compelled to give a glowing review.

Our day did not start well as due to extremely heavy traffic we missed our booking. The staff were wonderful with us offering us a table inside the stylish interior or outside on the Historic Waterfront.

We fancied outdoors and settled down to take in the vibrant atmosphere. It soon became clear that my daughter was feeling the cold. We asked if we could move inside and the staff facilitated this with speed and understanding smiles.

I love the menus in this restaurant. There is, of course, a French theme but not a daunting one so that although there are some French words on the menu, a non French speaker would not be unable to work out what they wanted to eat. In any event, all the staff we came across were so well trained and keen to assist.

The food was exceptional. My children are not the fussiest of eaters but they rarely clear their plates when we are out and about. That is always a little frustrating when you are paying good money for their meals.

Both children loved the warm fougasse artisan bread with crudites and tomatoe dip. My children are 9 and 11 but I could see this really working for a much younger child who enjoys finger food.

My son enjoyed ordering Le Burger which was of a large size and he loved the presentation. He did need help cutting it into manageable portion sizes but he found the whole dish very exciting.

My daughter had chicken and was very quiet during the meal which is always a great sign that she is enjoying her food.

Both children ordered profiteroles with my daughter wolfing them down with gusto and my son finding them slightly too rich for his taste. Mum was more than happy to help with that one!

My husband enjoyed a steak and I went for my favourite Croque Madame served with frites.

We had desserts and I was delighted after studying the menu and being tempted by 3 options that you could have them as a trio of mini desserts. More eateries should offer such delights!

Café Rouge say “Using only the finest ingredients served in a stylish and relaxed environment, Café Rouge’s carefully designed menu has been created to tickle even the pickiest youngsters’ taste buds. To cater for fussy eaters, Café Rouge is offering easy first courses of warm fougasse bread finger with d’signy butter and crudités with a tomato dip. Other (hopefully) tantrum-busting dishes include the new tasty Macaroni Cheese, Le Burger which uses the best Aberdeen Angus beef and the sautéed ‘Poulet Ooh la la’ with all the trimmings. For children who like to eat like an adult, there is a selection of mouth-watering desserts such as traditional French crêpes with chocolate sauce or children can get their ‘five a day’ the Café Rouge way with a simple bowlful of fresh fruit salad. Ice cream is a classic summer indulgence and is available in six tempting flavours. All of the petits enfants favourite dishes can be washed down with flavoured milk, bottle of green cordial or a selection of soft drinks. We look forward to hearing your verdict!”

Here are our scores on the doors!

Starters – 10 out of 10

Mains – 9 out of 10

Desserts – 9 out of 10 with a proviso that you need to think about what your children might enjoy most as some of the mouth-watering desserts may be a little bit rich for some tastes. Ice cream and fruit salad provide milder options.

Service – 9 out of 10

Affordability – 10 out of 10 – where else can a whole family dine out with starters, mains, desserts and drinks for around £50-£70

Atmosphere – 10 out of 10 – we felt very relaxed, unrushed and enjoyed how the restaurant seemed to actively welcome all age groups.

Location – perfect with great views and people-watching opportunities. It was lovely to have a choice of eating inside or outdoors.

Conclusion – I wondered why we have never visited before as we have missed out on a real treat. I very almost went back for breakfast the next day! I love going for a meal where at the end of it you are satisfied but not uncomfortable. Sometimes as you eat the food, it feels of good quality and this was our experience at Cafe Rouge. We will be back and regularly both for family meals and for the occasional date night.

Family Fever

I am a member of the Mumsnet Bloggers Network Research Panel, a group of parent bloggers who have volunteered to review products, services, events and brands for Mumsnet. I have not paid for the product or to attend an event. I have editorial control and retain full editorial integrity.

This blackberry jelly is sweet and wobbly. You can also eat it as a savoury dessert with a thick piece of crumbly English cheese.

blackberry jelly recipe

So fruity!

Makes approximately 1 kg

1 kg of blackberries
450 g (16oz) cooking apples, cored and finely chopped
4 bay leaves, washed and torn
Preserving jam sugar


1. Wash the blackberries and apples. Place all the fruit and bay leaves into a preserving pan with 600ml/1 pint water

2. Cook over a low heat gently for about 30 minutes until soft and very mushy

3. Strain the pulp through a nylon sieve set over a bowl.

4. Measure the resulting liquid and return it to the pan, adding 500g of sugar for each 500ml of liquor

5. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, bring the mixture to the boil and then reduce to a simmer, stirring regularly for 40-60 minutes.

6. Check the bubbling mixture is ready by drawing a wooden spoon across the bottom of the preserving pan leaving a clean line.

7. As soon as it is ready, pour the hot jelly into sterlised small jars, cover with waxed discs and seal. Skim away any scum from the top of the jelly and fill the jam jars to the brim. Cover, seal and label.

8. Store in a cool, dark place until required.

9. Alternatively pour the mixture into a greased mould that can be turned out for presentation. The blackberry jelly is best served with a few sliced of Lancashire cheese or cold, sliced roast beef.

Discover more tempting recipes at Seasonal Berries.


National Barbecue Week 2015 starts very soon. I know the family will love meatball kebabs as we experiment with a new barbecue.

Meatball Kebabs with Pressed Cucumber Salad and Flatbreads

National Barbecue Week

Meat feast

Serves: 4 people

Preparation: 20 minutes, plus chilling time

Cook: 25-30 minutes / Baking 15-16 minutes / Grilling 12-15 minutes/BBQ


• 1/2 cucumber, sliced wafer thin

• 1/2 small red onion, sliced wafer thin

• 1/2 tsp table salt

• small handful fresh finely chopped flat leaf parsley

• small handful fresh chopped dill

• 2 tbsp white wine vinegar

• 2 tbsp caster sugar

• 395g pack Scan Swedish Meatballs

• 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks

• 1 courgette, trimmed and sliced

• 1 tbsp runny honey

• 2 tsp wholegrain mustard

• 2 tbsp Kecap Manis

• 100g (4oz) spinach, rocket and watercress salad

• 1 bulb fennel, trimmed, halved and thinly sliced

• natural yoghurt to serve


Soak eight wooden skewers in water for 10 minutes. Arrange two sheets of kitchen paper onto a dinner plate and layer the cucumber, red onion and salt alternately until you have used all the cucumber, red onion and salt. Lay another two pieces of kitchen paper over the top and lay another dinner plate on top. Arrange heavy weight or tin on top and leave for 1 hour. Discard the kitchen paper and any residual liquid. Toss the cucumber and red onion with the herbs, white wine vinegar, caster sugar and 100ml (4fl oz) water and place into a jam jar or Kilner jar. Chill for at least 1 hour.

In a large bowl mix together the runny honey, wholegrain mustard and kecap manis. Add the meatballs, peppers and courgette and toss well to evenly coat all the ingredients. Thread the ingredients alternatively onto the wooden skewers. To cook: either arrange the skewers onto a foil lined baking tray and bake in a preheated oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/Gas mark 6 for 25-30 minutes until piping hot, or cook under a preheated hot grill for 15-16 minutes turning frequently. Or barbecue away from direct heat for 12-15 minutes turning frequently.

Drain the cucumber and mix with the watercress and fennel and pile onto serving plates. Serve with the meatball kebabs and natural yoghurt to drizzle over.

No Swedish BBQ or Midsummer celebration would be without meatballs and the UK’s and Sweden’s no.1 meatball brand Scan Authentic Swedish Meatballs has some deliciously simple yet super tasty recipes for you to try on your own barbecue at home – perfect if you’re bored of burgers and bangers. And what about taking a packet or two with you next time you’re invited to a family or friend’s BBQ? Don’t forget the kebab sticks!

Scan Authentic Swedish Meatballs are available from Morrisons, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Ocado in two handy pack sizes: 230g (£2) or 395g (£3) and can be used in a variety of recipes, from salads and quiches to pies and sandwiches.

How will you be celebrating National Barbecue Week 2015?