Thank Goodness for Bad Weather

Beef and Guinness Stew with Parmesan Cheese Dumplings

We are into our second month of Spring here in Melbourne but today you wouldn’t know it…it’s freezing!

Last week we were bathed in sunshine – beautiful mid to high 20’sC – not today however, with a top temp of only 13C. The sky is dark and the rain has been on and off for most of the day. Just as well really as I had a craving for a rich, dark and tasty stew with cheese dumplings.

It’s probably what I love most about my home town. I’ve written about this before. There are times when I just get a little tired of Summer food and can’t wait to settle down to a hearty stew or pumpkin soup and warm from the oven bread. There’s a dreamy quality to Winter for me.

Living in Melbourne gives me just what I need…when I’m sick of the unbearable stickiness of another 40C day, I’m happy in the knowledge that the sky will inevitably turn dark and the temperature will drop about 20C within 30 mins and the next few days will see us all digging out our Winter clothes and turning on the Central heating ( actually if you come from Melbourne, you never really put your winter clothes away!). No jokes, I had the cooling on one day last week and the central heating the next day.

Might sound just awful to you, but I find the unpredictability of Melbourne’s weather quite comforting. I also don’t really care much about what the weather does – can’t control it so don’t really worry about it…dress and eat accordingly…that is all!

With so many bloggers posting about cooking stews as the weather gets colder, I have been unable to get my mind off Winter food today. So I sent my man out to buy some Guinness and settled in for the day preparing the evening meal.

As my daughter is now 18 years old, it’s not often she hangs around for dinner at the weekend, but she did tonight and as my man was out visiting his father, it was a rare Saturday night at home with my girl.

We already had our pjs on by 3pm and it was so cosy and warm inside that I was positively radiating relaxation (any more relaxed and I would’ve been in a coma – or was that just the red wine I was drinking?)

Food – magnificent!

Company – lovely!

Pj’s and my awesome couch – heavenly!


  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1kg chuck steak, trimmed, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 2 brown onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 200g Swiss brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 – 2 cups Guinness
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • thyme
  • cheese dumplings


  1.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large pan over medium heat. Cook steak, in batches, for 3 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Heat remaining oil in pan over medium heat. Add leek, onion, carrot and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until tender.  Add flour and continue to cook for a minute or two. Add worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. Cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Gradually stir in Guinness. Add stock and bay leaves. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Return steak and any juices to pan. Cover and simmer for 1 – 2 hours.
  4. Remove lid. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until steak is tender. Remove bay leaves. Stir in parsley. Season with salt and pepper.  *See below for dumpling instructions…Serve, eat and then nap on the couch for a while 🙂

 Cheese Dumplings

  • 4 oz/ 100g self raising flour
  • 2 oz / 50g shredded suet
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • chopped thyme and parsley
  • salt
  • cold water
  • In a large baking bowl mix the flour with the suet and a pinch of salt.
  • Add  grated parmesan, chopped thyme and parsley to the mixture
  • Add 3 tbsp cold water and stir. If the dough is dry add more water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough.
  • Divide the dough into 8 and shape into balls with floured hands. Leave to one side.
  • After the stew has cooked for 2 hours, add the dumplings, cover with the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes. Serve hot.