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Techniques - Extras and Toppings

DK PublishingDK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks
Photo: Vegetable casserole with herby dumplings © Provided by DKBooks Vegetable casserole with herby dumplings

Artichokes, beans, and peas with bread crumbs stirred in

Photo: Artichokes, beans, and peas with bread crumbs stirred in © Provided by DKBooks Artichokes, beans, and peas with bread crumbs stirred in

Vegetable casserole with herby dumplings

Extras and Toppings

Adding dumplings, a cobbler topping, or bread crumbs to a stew or casserole can make a dish inviting, more filling, and substantial. All are easy to prepare while your dish is simmering; simply add them to the pot to get a complete one-pot meal without any additional cooking.


Dumplings

The secret to light and fluffy dumplings lies in handling the dough as little as possible. Add 51/2oz (150g) vegetable shortening and 51/2oz (150g) self-rising flour to a bowl and mix together with your hands. Season well with salt and pepper.

If you wish, some extra flavorings could be added to the mixture at this point, such as 1oz (30g) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, a teaspoon of horseradish or mustard, or 1–2 teaspoons of fresh chopped herbs like parsley, thyme, and rosemary. Mix any flavorings into the dry ingredients.

Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and slowly drizzle in cold water a little at a time. Mix with your hands until the mixture starts to come together and leaves the sides of the bowl easily.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and roll into a sausage shape. Form into 6 large or 12 small dumplings (they will double in size as they cook). For the slow cooker, add the dumplings in for the last 45–60 minutes of cooking. For the traditional method, add them to the pot for the last 30 minutes of cooking. They should be just immersed in the liquid and covered with a lid.


Butter dumplings

This recipe uses butter instead of shortening to make a light, moist version of the dumpling. Add 31/2oz (100g) white bread crumbs, 31/2oz (100g) self-rising flour, and 5oz (140g) butter to a food processor and blend into a crumb mixture. You could also add some extra flavorings to the food processor, if you like, such as freshly grated Parmesan cheese, horseradish or mustard, or fresh chopped herbs like parsley, thyme, and rosemary.

Add 2 eggs to the food processor and season with salt and pepper. Blend again until the mixture comes together as a moist dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and roll into 6 large or 12 small balls (keep in mind that the dumplings will double in size as they cook). For the slow cooker, add the dumplings to the pot for the last 45–60 minutes of cooking. For the traditional method, add them to the pot for the last 30 minutes of cooking. They should be just immersed in the liquid and covered with a lid.


Bread crumbs

Using a food processor, pulse 2 slices of torn bread into coarse crumbs. Add any flavorings of your choice, such as herbs or grated cheese, and pulse again. If your recipe calls for fresh bread crumbs, then they can be used at this stage. For the slow cooker, lightly toast the bread crumbs in a dry frying pan; sprinkle over, or carefully fold into, the finished dish. For the traditional method, sprinkle into the pot and cook in the oven for the last 30 minutes of cooking; remove the lid for the last 10 minutes, or until the topping is golden.

For fine, golden bread crumbs, spread them onto a baking tray and put in the oven at 400°F (200°C) for about 10 minutes until golden. Remove, add back into the food processor, and pulse again until fine. You can add any flavorings at this time, if you wish, such as fresh herbs or grated cheese. Use to top the dish for the last hour of cooking for both the slow cooker and for the traditional method.

If you are not using the bread crumbs immediately, they can be frozen for up to 3 months. They don’t require defrosting before use.


Cobblers

A cobbler topping is a savory biscuit that makes a wholesome and filling dish. Use them to top chicken, beef, lamb, or vegetable stews and casseroles. Put 7oz (200g) sifted self-rising flour and salt and pepper in a bowl and mix together. Add any flavorings, such as grated cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, or ground walnuts to the mixture, if you wish.

Cut 31/2oz (100g) butter into cubes and rub it into the ingredients in the bowl with your fingertips until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add 2 lightly beaten eggs and mix until the dough comes together, then add 1/4 cup milk, a little at a time, mixing until it becomes a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and roll out so it is fairly thick. Using a 1in (2.5cm) metal cutter, cut out 6 rounds. For the slow cooker, add the cobblers to the top of the dish for the last hour of cooking. For the traditional method, add the cobblers to the top of the pot, brush the tops with the milk, and cook in the oven, uncovered, for the last 30–45 minutes of cooking.

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