A while ago I had bought myself The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. My family and I are big Harry Potter fans so this purchase was an easy win. We went through a very long process of deciding what we wanted to make. As we were flipping through the book I noticed that all the recipes in this book contain no exotic ingredients. As in I don’t have to travel to a weird off the beaten path shop to find 1 required ingredient to complete any of the dishes found in this book. Everything needed for each recipe can be easily found at any local supermarket. After much deliberation, we decided to make Beef Stew with Herb Dumplings(pg 64-65) and a Custard Tart (pg 190-191). The recipes we chose were a little more labor intensive than my normal recipes, stew from scratch and 2 different dough from scratch, so I had to enlisted the help of my fiance to get everything done within a reasonable amount of time. First thing we did was sit down and plan out a time table of about how long it was going to take to make each dish. We calculated that it would take a minimum of 3 hours to make both recipes. Our game plan was to make this on a weekend so that we weren’t rushed trying to make everything in less than 3 hours.
We began by making the Tart dough the night before. You can make the dough the day of but once the dough is made it can get refrigerated for up to 3 days.
We started by adding flour, sugar, and salt into our mixing bowl and mixing these ingredients around a little to combine. Then we added in the small pieces of cold butter. Since we do not own a food processor we made due with a manual dough kneader. Knead the dough mixture until the butters is kneaded into a corn meal consistency (grainy instead of powdery).Then we added an egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract and began mixing with a spatula to make the dough come together, It was a tiny bit dry we we added another splash of heavy cream wot make things a little easier. Once the dough has fully come together we transferred it to a piece of plastic wrap and wrapped it up. The dough can remain refrigerated for up to 3 days.
When we were ready to get the crust baked we pulled the dough ball out of the refrigerator, unwrapped it and placed in on a lightly floured table space. We also turned on the oven to preheat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Using as rolling pin and flour to prevent sticking we rolled out the dough from a ball to a roughly 11 inch circle. If its too difficult to roll out the dough, let it set out for a few minutes. This allows the dough to thaw out a little bit and to be more cooperative about being rolled out. Once the dough is rolled out to an 11 inch circle carefully pick it up and lay it over the un-greased tart tin. then carefully begin pressing the dough into the ridges and bottom of the tin, cutting off the excess at the top. Keep the excess pieces in case there is some holes you can press in the excess dough to fill the holes. Once you tart dough is fully pressed into the tin, we placed a sheet of aluminum foil over the top and filled with uncooked rice to use as weight to prevent the dough from puffing up during the blind bake. The recipe in the book suggests freezing the tart shell for 10 minutes before adding the foil and weights. This is to make make sure the butter is frozen before the baking process begins, If you don’t touch to dough too much and have it extra chilled this freeze step isn’t necessary. We placed the tin into the oven and allowed to bake until the dough looked dry( approximately 20 minutes). Once dry, reduce the heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake until golden (approximately 8 minutes). Once the tin goes into the oven you need to begin preparing the Custard.
Begin by adding milk and cream into a saucepan over medium heat. Gently bring to a simmer do not bring to a boil. While waiting for the dairy to warm up, add egg yolk, sugar, and corn starch into a bowl and whisk together until smooth. This next part is difficult. If done incorrectly you will end up with scrambled eggs and goop instead of creamy custard. Using a glass measuring cup, scoop out at least a 1/2 cup of warmed dairy mixture from the saucepan. Slowly pour the warm dairy mixture and whisk into the yolk mixture to temper the liquids. Once both mixtures have been successfully combined pour the tempered mixture into the saucepan and reduce the heat to low. Continue gently warming the custard stirring continuously with a wooden spoon allowing the custard to thicken up. You can tell the custard is thick enough when you pull the wooden spoon out of the mixture and swipe your finger across the back. A cooked custard will still be liquid but will hold the swipe line in place. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add butter and vanilla extract and stir until combined. Once the custard is ready, immediately begin pouring the custard into the tart shell. Fill close to the top but leave a little breathing room at the top. Carefully put the tart into the oven. Raise the oven temperature to 375 degree Fahrenheit and bake until the custard puffs up and is jiggly, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set on a wire cooling rack or a thick towel on an open table space because I have no idea where the wire cooling racks have disappeared to. Allow to cool completely before serving.
Next up, homemade herb biscuits to go with the beef stew. Begin by adding flour, salt, baking powder, black pepper, and all the herbs into a bowl. The recipe uses ground sage, ground thyme, dried marjoram, and chopped fresh parsley as the herbs mix. Whisk by hand or set on low in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and whisk mixture together to combine the ingredients. Add in pieces of butter to the mixture and rub it with your fingertips in the mix until it resembles a coarse meal. I have shoulder problems, which means that sometimes mixing the butter in by hand is a difficult task. One shortcut I use to at least cut down on the amount of time needed to hand mix is cut the butter into smaller than normal pieces and whisk at a 10 second burst of high speed mix with my fingertips for a little bit and then another 10 second burst if needed. Generally a coarse meal is a mixture that is grainy instead of powdery. Once you have achieved a coarse meal texture, add eggs and milk and mix with a rubber spatula to bring the dough together. Once you have 1 large clump of dough wrap it in plastic wrap and put in refrigerator until needed.
My fiancee and I decided that it would be easier for us to use the electric skillet to make the beef stew because the skillet has a really nice lid to use for the dumpling part. To begin making the stew we add some oil to the skillet and turn on the heat to medium-high. Sear all the beef pieces in batches if necessary, remove from skillet to a plate to rest. Once the beef has been removed add a little bit more oil and toss in the chopped onion and reduce to medium-low heat. stir the onions to prevent from sticking to the skillet until onion are softened. Once softened, add in flour and stir until combined. Pour in the chicken stock and stir to combine the flour and onion. Then add in the seared beef and its accumulated juices, salt and black pepper and return the heat to medium-high. The stew will need to be stirred occasionally until chicken stock has thickened and is bubbling. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for one hour. After one hour has passed add the chopped carrots, celery, and potatoes into the skillet. Allow to simmer for one hour stirring occasionally. After one hour has passed give the stew a good mix before adding in the dumplings. Remove the dumpling dough from the fridge and begin pinching off 1 inch dough balls into the stew. It is important that your hands are a little wet otherwise the dough will stick to your fingers instead of fall into the stew. Cover with a lid and let the dumplings steam for 30 minutes.
Dishing up and serving our meal is definitely the best part of this delicious meal. There was no leftovers.
- Tart Crust
- 1 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Salt
- 1 stick cold butter, cut in small pieces
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add flour, sugar, and salt into a bowl a mix to combine. Add butter pieces and mix until the mixture is a coarse meal. Stir in egg yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla extract and keep stirring until well combined. Remove from bowl and form a disk then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. remove dough from fridge. Unwrap and roll out dough on a floured surface. Roll out at to approximately an 11 inch circle. Carefully transfer to tart tin. Gently press the dough into the corners of the pan and remove any excess.
Freeze tart shell for 10 minutes. Line the pan with aluminum foil and fill will pie weights/uncooked rice. Bake until the dough is dry and set, approximately 20 minutes. Once in the oven begin the first step of the custard recipe. Reduce heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue baking until crust is golden brown, approximately 8 minutes.
- 1 Cup Whole Milk
- 1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
- 3 Large Egg Yolks
- 1/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Heat milk and cream in a saucepan until it is hot but not simmering (do not boil). While waiting for the dairy to heat up whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. Scoop out and slowly pour 1/2 cup of the hot dairy mixture into the egg mixture whisking vigorously to prevent the eggs from becoming scrambled. Once well combined add the tempered egg mixture into the hot dairy mixture int he saucepan. increase to medium high heat stirring constantly until the mixture thickens up.Do not let the mixture come to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla extract.
Raise the oven temperature to 375 degree Fahrenheit. Remove the tart shell from the oven and pour the custard filling into the crust. Carefully put the custard tart into the oven to back until the custard has puffed up and is still slightly jiggly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove form oven and allow to cool completely before releasing the tart from the tin and serving
Beef Stew with Herb Dumplings:
- Herb Dumplings
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground sage
- 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 egg
Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, black pepper, and all herbs. Add pieces of butter and rub through mixture with your fingertips until it is a coarse meal.
Whisk milk and egg together and add to the coarse meal mixture.Mix with a rubber spatula until a clump forms.Form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until needed for the beef stew.
- Beef Stew
- 3 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 pounds chuck steak, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 14 ounce can chicken broth
- salt and black pepper to taste
- 2 carrots, cuts into 1 inch pieces
- 2 ribs of celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
- 4 potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wide skillet. Add the meat in batches to sear on all sides. Then transfer to a plate. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet. Add the chopped onion and cook over medium-high heat until until softened.
Add the flour to the skillet and stir to combine. Pour in chicken broth, browned meat and its juices, and salt and black pepper to taste stir to combine. Increase heat to medium-high and stir occasionally until thickened and bubbling.Reduce heat to a simmer and let the stew simmer for one and a half hours.
Add carrots, celery, and potatoes to the skillet. Stir to combine. Let the stew simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Wet hands and pinch off 1 inch of the dumpling dough at a time and drop into the stew.Cover the skillet and let simmer for 30 minutes until the dumplings are cooked.