Serves 4-6

I remember the beef stew with dumplings at school. The dumplings weren't flavoured with horseradish but I thought it might be a nice little addition. The beef stew, come to think of it, wasn't flavoured with anything either. Buying meat to braise can be a bit tricky ­ it is sometimes diced from different cuts and packed so you will end up with different cooking times. The best thing to do is ask your butcher for either shin, featherblade, ox cheeks, if you can find it, or flank. Or just buy a piece of beef from a supermarket and cut it up yourself. f

1kg braising beef cut into 2cm chunks
1 glass good red wine
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1tsp chopped thyme
1 bay leaf
Vegetable oil for frying
30g butter
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1½tbsp plain flour
1tsp tomato puree
1.2 litres beef stock (a cube will do)
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into rough 2cm chunks
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into rough 2cm chunks
½ swede, peeled and cut into rough 2cm chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the dumplings
125g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
60g beef suet
1tbsp chopped parsley
1tbsp freshly grated horseradish
Water to mix
Salt and pepper

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy frying pan, lightly flour the meat with ½tbsp of the flour, season with salt and pepper and fry the meat on a high heat until nicely browned. Remove the meat and put to one side.

Heat the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and gently fry the onions with the garlic and thyme for a few minutes until soft. Add the flour and tomato puree and stir over a low heat for a minute. Slowly add the red wine and beef stock, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming, bring to the boil and add the pieces of beef. Simmer gently on the stove with a lid on or transfer to an ovenproof casserole and cook in the oven on 175°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 for about 2-2½ hours until the meat is tender. Add the vegetables to the stew after two hours. It's difficult to put an exact time on braised meats; sometimes an extra half an hour may be required depending on the meat. The best way to check is by tasting it.

Meanwhile make the dumplings. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl and add half a teaspoon of salt. Mix in the suet, parsley and horseradish, then add enough water to form a sticky dough. Flour your hands and roll the dough into 12 little balls. Poach the dumplings in boiling salted water for 10 minutes, then remove and put to one side.

Once the meat is cooked the sauce should have thickened to a gravy like consistency, if not, dilute a little cornflour in some water and stir into the sauce and simmer for a few minutes. Add the dumplings, replace the lid and gently simmer for a further 15 minutes. Check seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve with a green vegetable like sprouting broccoli, or mash if you're feeling indulgent.