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Vegetable Stew with Cheese Puff Dumplings

*Vegetable Stew with Cheese Puff Dumplings*
Serves 4

Comforting and quite tasty.

1 1/2 tsp sugar
4 TBS butter
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
1 medium onion, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 cups shredded white cabbage (1/3 of a small head)
2 stalks of celery, diced
1/2 of a small swede, peeled and chopped
1 medium eating apple, peeled and diced, core discarded
400g tin of chopped plum tomatoes, undrained (2 1/2 cups)
2 1/2 tins of water
1 vegetable stock pot
fine sea salt and black pepper to taste
splash of balsamic vinegar
few grains of cayenne pepper

For the dumplings:
200g of plain flour (2 cups)
4 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1 TBS white vegetable fat
2 ounces grated strong cheddar cheese (1/2 cup)
180ml of milk (3/4 cup, you may not need it all)

Measure the sugar into a large saucepan.   Heat over medium heat until it begins to caramelize and turn dark brown.  Add the butter all at once and stir to melt.  Add all of the vegetables, stirring, and cook until they are lightly browned, stirring occasionally.   Add the apple, tomatoes, water, stock pot, vinegar and seasonings.  Cover and simmer for about 40 minutes, or until very tender.

To make the cheese dumplings, whisk together the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt.  Rub in the fat until crumbly.  Stir in the cheese and then add milk to give you a thick dough which you can roll out..  Roll out to 1/2 inch thick on a lightly floured board.  Cut into rounds or squares as desired using a sharp biscuit cutter.  Drop on top of the bubbling stew, cover tightly and cook for a further 20 minutes.  Restrain yourself from peeking.  They are done when they look set and glossy on top and you can see air bubbles in them.

Ladle the stew out into heated bowls, topping each serving with a dumpling or two.
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