Sunday, July 31, 2011
The world of dumplings
It seems I am entering the world of dumplings and I am in unknown territory.
On Friday, I made Beef Stew and Parsley Dumplings to take along to a family dinner.
I have made two types of dumplings before, on both occasions I was a little clueless. About 10 years ago I made a potato style dumpling, it was a Lithuanian recipe (maybe Latvian or Estonian??) I can't remember what I served them with, but I remember how much I loved the process of making them: hand rolling them and boiling them in water and I remember how yummy they were. I guess they were a little bit like gnocchi. I wish I knew what happened to that recipe, hopefully I will stumble across it again some day. Recently I made German meatballs, but to be honest I found them a little stodgy. I didn't think I would be cooking dumplings again anytime soon.
I have only eaten dumplings on two occasions before, once when I was young, I didn't like them, again I found them and heavy and stodgy. And once in a little cafe in Cesky Kromlov (Czech Republic) on a Good Friday many years ago. Here they had been rolled into small balls and added to a delicious soupy goulash.
When I went to make the dumplings yesterday, I was uncertain about dropping spoonfuls of dumpling mixture into the stew. Wasn't I suppose to be rolling dumplings? I realised that the dumpling mixture would be like a scone in texture. Is this more of an English style of dumpling? I was expecting something different.
When I arrived at my aunts house with my dish, there was much discussion about how to make dumplings. My aunt was quick to point out the following points:
• I should have added the dumplings at the last minute, right before serving, as they had soaked up almost all of the moisture. With the addition of some extra beef stock we were able to rectify that problem, with the dinner guests, none the wiser.
(this image and recipe are from Taste)
• I should have used a smaller pot and had the dumplings looking like this (above), making a light and fluffy scone like top to the casserole, therefore keeping more liquid in the stew. I have always had in my mind, that dumplings are small and floating in a stew.
• Even though I had made the exact recipe, adding the amount of liquid that was listed, my aunt told me that her mother (our Nana) always made them with much more liquid. Her dumplings were floating in a bowl of soup-like stew. I had already double checked with a few recipes on line about how much liquid should go into a casserole with dumplings and the quantities that I used seemed fairly standard.
But when all is said and done, it comes down to taste. The dish looked good and tasted fantastic, the dumplings were a hit with everyone, including my children, who were bargaining for the last dumplings. Even my aunt wanted more.
(these images and a recipe I might try are from Not Quiet Nigella)
But for me, I think I might play around a little bit with dumplings. While the flavour of the scone like dumplings were delicious, I still think of dumplings like the ones I ate in Europe: hand rolled and swimming in a soupy stew.
How do you like your dumplings?
Maybe you don't like them at all.