All of us at Baboon HQ cook and this time it was Yaya's turn to cook one of his winter favourites, vegetable hot pot with cheesy dumplings. Yes, most vegetarians think they can't have dumplings any more because of the suet, but you can have dumplings with cheese instead.
You need a heavy casserole dish with a lid.
This recipe comes from the book Favourite Dorset Recipes, by Amanda Persey, published by Salmon, Sevenoaks, England. We have made adaptations which I will point out to you.
This dish takes a bit of planning ahead and seems like hard work but actually the cook does a lot of sleeping on the baboon futon while the oven does the work. It will need 1 1/2 hours in the oven.
Yaya started by getting the ingredients ready.
Ingredients for the hot pot
Four four people (with comments about dividing this up for 2 people)
2 oz butter - we used two table spoons of olive oil instead.
2 medium onions sliced - we use red onions for two people we use one onion.
2 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed for two people we use one, and we tend to only use one for four.
1 oz plain flour
1 pint of vegetable stock, we use an Oxo or Knorr vegetable stock cube for two people we find we still need the same amount of liquid.
1/4 pint of white wine, if you do not what to have alcohol the cooking does burn it off but if you prefer to avoid it completely you still need the extra liquid and something with some acidity, some friends had success with some dilute apple juice.
3 large carrots cut into 1/4 inch slices for two people we use two
2 sticks of celery we don't use this because our man person says absolutely no to celery, but if you like it use it.
2 medium parsnips cut into 1/4 inch slices for two people we use one large parsnip
8oz tin of red kidney beans drained for two people we use half a tin and then use the rest in other dishes
8 oz button mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon of mixed dried herbs
salt and pepper to taste - we don't use much salt because of the salty cheese that will be used later.
Ingredients for the dumplings
We make the whole amount for two people and then don't need potatoes or other accompaniments.
4 oz self-raising flour
1 oz butter
2 oz Cheddar cheese, grated (any hard cheese will do)
1 level teaspoon of dried mustard powder
Heat up the oven to 350 F, 190 C or Gas Mark 4.
Heat up the olive oil or butter in a casserole dish, on top of the cooker and cook the onions and garlic gently with 10 minutes.
Stir in the plain flour and cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the stock and wine slowly, stirring all the time to make a sauce.
When the sauce has been made add all the remaining hot pot ingredients.
Put the lid on the casserole dish and put it in the oven.
At this point you can have a rest on the baboon futon for a while but you do need to make the dumplings.
Rub the butter into the self-raising flour, stir in the cheese and mustard and just enough cold water to make a soft, but not sticky dough. Yaya added this slowly to make sure he didn't get too much, you really need very little and trial and error is the only way for this, but if you add the water in drips you will get to a good consistency. Yaya found he needed to add a little more at the end for the last few bits. Be very careful with this.
The recipe says make 10 balls but we always seem to get eight, its just the way it works for baboon paws but it does make good sized dumplings.
These can sit around until your casserole has been in the oven for one hour.
In the meantime Yaya found he needed to do some washing up, no napping on the futon for him.
Rubber gloves keep your paws nice and soft.
Next Yaya had to add the dumplings to the pot. He took it all out of the oven to do this so as not to burn his soft paws.
Put it back in the oven for a further 1/2 an hour, we usually turn the oven up a little to 200C at this point to thicken the sauce a bit, use your judgement on that one.
At this point Yaya thought he would relax a bit.
No don't worry he's not really allowed to drink that. So he decided to watch the hot pot cooking instead, no Yaya it doesn't cook any quicker just because you are watching!!
Finally, 1/2 an hour after putting the dumplings in, Yaya carefully took it out of the oven, using the oven gloves to protect his nice soft paws and served it up in warmed bowls.
We all had some and it was lovely, it is a great winter dish and not half as much work as it looks, except for the oven of course.