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We recently got a slow cooker as a wedding present and this isn't something I had ever used before. After making a beef stew, I realised that I didn't have time to add in the dumplings I had previously bought so I sent my husband off to Sainsbury's to find a frozen alternative that wouldn't take as long to cook. He came back with a frozen packet of Aunt Bessie's dumplings. The dumplings come in a plastic packet which has dark blue edges and the colour also surrounds the name of the product. Just above the name of the product is a lovely, inviting looking picture of the dumplings in some kind of stew. From here, they look crispy on the top and cooked perfectly. The bag tears open or you can cut it if you wish. On the back of the packet are all of the cooking instructions and nutritional information/ ingredients. Although these dumplings are frozen, you can cook them in multiple ways. You can either pop them in the microwave, the oven or in a stew/ casserole. The oven option means that the dumplings only take 12 minutes which is great if you're reheating the stew etc. rather than adding the dumplings in while it cooks. I have never, ever made dumplings from scratch and if I don't use a frozen product, I will certainly be using some form of packet mix. This particular frozen packet of dumplings usually cost £1.50 from Sainsbury's but they were on offer for only £1 when we got them. The packet contains 8 dumplings which for us, will serve two different meals of stew. Upon opening the bag, I wasn't sure what to expect. The dumplings were fairly small but looked nice enough. I put four dumplings into the oven on a tray at 200 degrees and left them to cook away while my stew was being reheated. The dumplings slowly browned in the oven but they did take a couple of minutes longer than they should have done. I cut one in half to make sure they were cooked and they were lovely and crispy on the top while the middle was very soft and moist. After taking them out of the oven, cut all of them in half and I placed them into the pan with my reheating stew so that they could soak up a bit of the liquid. As nice as the dumplings looked, the taste test was the most important thing. As I bit into the first one, I could not believe how nice they were. The gravy had soaked into each dumpling nicely and mixed with the beef and carrot, they really did taste amazing. These dumplings are extremely filling with a stew even though I only had two. I'm glad I soaked the beef stew into the dumplings for a little bit before eating them but I do think they'd taste just as great without doing this. For only £1, I really cannot recommend this product enough. Even though the other non-frozen packet mixes are cheaper, I would still prefer to use these as I know how good they taste now. Now I can't wait to have stew and dumplings for dinner again.
My title is a bit misleading because I have always loved eating dumplings, I just don't like making them very much. I know they are easy and quick to make really, but after chopping a lot of vegetables for a stew or casserole, I somehow feel the dumpling making part is a chore. So my boyfriend bought me an unusual early Valentines Day present - a book of dumpling recipes [Yes, such a thing does exist!] and two packets of frozen dumplings. Before you think he has a terrible taste in romantic gifts, it is a tradition for us to buy small joke presents for each other in the week before Valentines, leading up to the day itself! This review isn't of the book, which was last in print in 1967, but the frozen dumplings, which are made by Aunt Bessie's. THE PRODUCT I had never noticed that dumplings could be bought frozen but on looking I find the Aunt Bessie's version are stocked widely in the supermarkets. They are ususally to be found with the frozen vegetables. My boyfriend bought the two packs of 8 a little while ago when they were on offer in Waitrose for £1 a bag, and he has had them hid in the chest freezer ever since. The regular price seems to be around £1.65. I noticed yesterday that Iceland also offer a pack off 11 for bit more money. Aunt Bessie's make lots of frozen foods but I think I have only tried their roast potatoes before. They were nice so I had high hopes of their dumplings in one way, but in another I was doubtful that frozen dumplings would have a good texture. Aunt Bessie's promise that they will be "light and fluffy" and perfect for serving in a casserole or stew. Importantly or me, the dumplings are suitable for vegetarians as they are made from vegetable rather than beef suet. They come in a standard plastic freezer bag which is a bit large for the products inside but it does compress a bit to store in the freezer, without injuring the dumplings. Thankfully the dumplings are not all stuck together so should you wish to use only some of them at a time, you won't have any difficulty seperating out what you require. If they were in one lump it would be difficult to dot them around the surface of the casserole too. Considering they are in an uncooked state, they are easy to handle due to the fact the freezing process makes them solid rather than soft or sticky. They look like home made ones - apart from being cold of course, and I was immediately inpressed by the fact they were a good size. I had thought they might be a bit on the small side as I like mine large but these were fine and of course expand on cooking anyway. COOKING AND SAVOURING No actual preparation is required - you just just cook them in your prefered way straight from the bag with no defrosting or fuss. The instructions suggest 3 methods - oven baking, microwave, and cooking as part of a casserole type meal. I cooked the first bag as part of a veg stew and the second in the microwave. For me, the former method proved best although the second is quicker. They don't really cook any quicker than home made dumplings when used in a stew - 35-40 minutes so the only time saving is in the fact you aren't preparing them from scratch and the fact there is no washing up to do from that stage. You just drop them onto your stew or casserole and leave them there until the time is up unless you want moist dumplings in which case you are advised to turn them after 15 minutes. I prefer mine with a slightly crisp top so I could happily leave them to cook without any attention form me. When the time was up I was greeted by the sight of 8 perfectly cooked, large dumplings. They had coloured a little which made them look more appetising than in their pale frozen state. Most importantly, they had a genuinely excellent texture - really light and fluffy rather than stodgy. Flavour wise they were fresh tasting and had absorbed all the delicious favours from the stew they were sitting in. The only thing I missed was the chance to have added any herbs to the dumplings as I do like the taste of those especially. In the microwave, they take just 1 minute in an 850w oven to cook 4 from frozen. They did taste nice enough but I think they seemed a bit heavier in texture and not as appealing as when cooked in the other way. The main trouble with microwave cooking is that the dumplings have to be served immediately, and I found that they don't re-heat well. I tried to do that and they went rock hard in 30 seconds so you have to be organised and be ready to eat them ASAP. I would imagine re-heating would be less of a problem when they were part of a stew, because the liquid would help prevent drying out. WOULD I RECOMMEND THE DUMPLINGS? I would recommend the dumplings because they cooked easily, taste as good as home made and have a proper light texture. I won't buy them again myself though, or rather have them bought for me. The reason is that I worked out I make my own for much less than I can buy them frozen, and being a mean old thing, that is sufficent motivation to not moan about making my own. I would be perfectly happy to serve the frozen ones occasionally otherwise, so if you are not a fan of dumpling making, give these a try! It is worth bearing in mind that these are not a low fat food - each dumpling contains 17.5% of an adults recommended maximum daily amount of saturated fat. I am sure that if a nutritional analysis was done of traditional dumplings, that they wouldn't fare too well in the healty eating stakes either. Everything in moderation! [This review also appears on Ciao under the same user name.]
After several failed attempts at making dumplings, I gave Aunt Bessie a call and she told me to try her frozen ones, I asked where to get these and she told me all supermarkets sell them! I went into our local Tesco store and picked up a bag of these for £1.25, for this you get eight fairly sized frozen dumplings. These carried the same branding colours, the dark blue background with Aunt Bessies lovely photo, with pictures of the dumplings on top of a pot of stew, so you get a good idea what they look like. When you open up the bag they appear to be much smaller than expected, but as soon as you cook them they soon expand to a much larger size. As with all Aunt Bessies products, there is no need for help cooking them, just put four of these in the microwave for two minutes and hey presto, they are ready to soak up some gravy! Alternatively you can add these to any stew 40mins before serving and they will cook in the oven or slow cooker. These to me taste as good as homemade dumplings, they're not too stodgy and they soak up the gravy very well. Once they are added into a stew i don't think you would notice the difference from these and homemade, they are nice and fluffy. Each dumpling has 184 calories and 9.8grams of fat, considering the size of these, they do hold a lot of calories, Aunt Bessie just makes good food, and she doesn't care about the fat content, when you taste these, you won't worry either, they're delicious. Overall, this was £1.25 well spent; Aunt Bessie is yet to let me down, another great product! A recipe tip which I like, well it's not a recipe really, but it makes me sound good. What I do is cook two of these in the microwave for one minute, then pour golden syrup over them and serve with ice cream. I find this a delicious desert, I'm not sure if it seems strange or not but it definitely tastes good.
Im not really a fan of much frozen food, i like to make everything fresh, but when it comes to making dumplings, they just never turn out right for me! I saw these dumplings on offer in tesco, 2 bags for £2 and thought why not give them a try. You could also mix and match in this offer, so i got a bag of aunt bessies roast potatoes too. Usually these dumplings are roughly about £1.17 a pack when not on offer. In a bag you get on average 8 dumplings. They look quite small when frozen, but when you cook them they come out bigger, nice and fluffy. They come in the usual aunt bessie style bag which is dark blue, with a red sign saying aunt bessie and a picture of her too! Dumplings are made from wheat flour, mixed with vegetable suet and a pinch of salt and pepper. Aunt Bes assures you on the pack that there is nothing artifical in these dumplings and they are suitable for vegetarians. You cook these straight from the freezer, you can either put them in your casserole, hot pots or stews to cook with it. Or you can just put these in the microwave on their own to cook. Aunt bes suggests putting four of these dumplings in the microwave on full power for 2 minutes. This is the right time for four dumplings, we have 2 each so that is the right amount of time to cook ours. If you are doing less than four however, i did one dumpling on its own once, and 2 minutes made it go rock hard! So reduce the cooking time if you are cooking less dumplings! I think about 30 secs works for just one dumpling. I dont eat much stew or casserole, but these go great with corned beef hash. They are very moist and soak up the gravy well. The pasty if lovely, and breaks away easily. I find them a bit stodgy and heavy sometimes though. Although these dumplings are delicious, they are not healthy! They contain a massive 184 calories per dumpling!! So if you have 2 with your meal like us, thats 368 calories before you have even ate anything else! So dont choose these if you are on a diet! These dumplings need to be stored in the freezer, and used by the best before date. Overall, even though very high in calories, they are a nice treat to go with a meal, and i deffinately wont be messing about making my own again after finding these!
These frozen dumplings are a BRILLIANT idea! We always have a bag in the freezer now because they're as nice as homemade but loads easier to do and don't make any sticky bowls to wash up! You get 8 in a bag for about £1.25 and the dumplings are quite big, I only have 1 of these dumplings when I have stew because they are such a good size. The dumplings have got a bit of a stodgy texture and that's another reason that I only have 1. I love light and airy dumplings but even though these are loads heavier than the ones I make they're still proper nice to eat. You cook your stew as usual and then put the dumplings on top for the last 40 mins. If you want them soft and wet you just turn them over but if you want them with a crispy topping just don't turn them. I prefer mine soft so turn them a few times during the cooking time but have had the dumplings crispy and they're nice like that too. Another good thing is that you can also cook them in the microwave for 2 mins. They're not as nice like that but it's great if you decide to warm some stew up and there aren't any dumplings left! A nuked dumpling is better than no dumpling sometimes! lol The taste of these frozen dumplings is brill, I love them! They're perfect I think and the flavour isn't much different to homemade even though the texture is heavy. They soak the gravy of the stew up wicked and also cut up nice so you can get a nice spoon full with a bit of meat and gravy. Yummy. I think these are a wicked invention, I still make dumplings myself sometimes but mostly I go for these now because they're a lot less stress and are just as nice. Recommended for stew lovers!!!
Aunt Bessie's Dumplings Okay, so I know these are cheating. Every time I mention them in front of my mother, she cringes, but I cannot make my own dumplings, whenever I try, they end up slightly hard and heavy. So, instead, I buy these from my local Morrisons, and this week a bag of 8, cost me only £1 on offer. They normally retail for around £1.50 and are still worth their price. They come in a dark blue bag with the Aunt Bessie's logo and a picture of the dumplings on the front. These are so easy to use, you simply add them to stews or casseroles, cook for a further 20 to 25 minutes and then serve. They are all ready formed and frozen, and a decent size too, I eat 2 each time, but Mr Siamese is greedy and has 3! Within minutes of adding these to the pan, they begin to swell and fluff up, and by the time they are ready, they are big, light and appetising looking. The taste doesn't disappoint, they are rich and soft and exactly like a dumpling should be. Ingredients are as follows; Wheat flour, water, vegetable suet, non-hydrogenated vegetable oils (palm oil & sunflower oil), baking powder, raising agents E450 and E500, salt, pepper Nutritional info (per dumpling, baked) as follows: Calories: 184 Kj: 770 Protein: 4.5g Carbohydrates: 19.4g - of which sugars: 0.6g Fats: 9.8g - of which saturates: 4.6g - of which monounsaturates: 4.3g - of which polyunsaturates: 0.5g Fibre: 1.3g Sodium: 0.6g I like to cook these in a pork meatball and chorizo casserole made with tinned tomatoes, worcester sauce, tomato puree, red wine and mixed herbs. Brown the meatballs and chorizo chunks, add a large tin of tomatoes, and the other ingredients to taste. Simmer for 20 minutes then add sliced carrots, sliced chestnut mushrooms and peas. Simmer for 20 minutes then add the dumplings and cook for a further 20 (or 25) minutes. Serve with warm, crusty bread and if you are feeling really naughty, creamy mashed potatoes - delicious! If you like dumplings then try these - they are fab! They are also a really fast and handy way to add dumplings to a meal straight from the freezer, without having to make them first.
COST: Currently - 7.11.08 - on special introductory offer in Sainsbury's at £1.04 for a bag of 8 dumplings NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per dumpling, baked): Calories: 184 Kj: 770 Protein: 4.5g Carbohydrates: 19.4g - of which sugars: 0.6g Fats: 9.8g - of which saturates: 4.6g - of which monounsaturates: 4.3g - of which polyunsaturates: 0.5g Fibre: 1.3g Sodium: 0.6g INGREDIENTS: Wheat flour, water, vegetable suet, non-hydrogenated vegetable oils (palm oil & sunflower oil), baking powder, raising agents E450 and E500, salt, pepper DIETARY INFORMATION: Suitable for vegetarians ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Aunt Bessie's Dumplings I believe are a fairly new product, and can be found in the frozen food section of Sainsbury's supermarket (I can't say if they are available anywhere else, as I rarely go to other supermarkets). The dumplings come in a dark royal blue plastic bag, and there is a silhouetted image of an old-fashioned kitchen near the top. The Aunt Bessie's logo is underneath, followed by the word "Dumplings" in yellow print. Under that is an image of a very tempting-looking pot of stew, with a spoon suspended above containing a portion of stew and one dumpling. The back of the bag shows all the detailed nutritional information, ingredients, daily general nutritional guidelines, storage instructions, cooking instructions (oven-bake, stewing/casseroling, and microwave - plus advice to cook from frozen) and the manufacturer's contact details including website address. I love stew.....I love dumplings - but, I hate making dumplings! So, imagine my delight when I saw that Sainsbury's very recently have begun to stock Aunt Bessie's Dumplings, which I had until the other day never seen before. I was planning on making a stew that same evening, so I thought I'd be a little daredevil and try a pack of them. I carried out the usual preparations for one of my stews - spent what seemed like hours chopping and frying meat & vegetables, making up my special tasty gravy, then getting the whole thing bubbling away on top of the cooker. When it was ready for the dumplings to be popped into the stew, I opened the Aunt Bessie's bag, and was greeted with the sight of 8 well-formed dumplings, which had rounded sides, and slightly flattened-off tops. They were a lovely creamy pale yellow colour, and quite large - large to the point where I was wondering if I'd be able to eat two, but thought to hell with it.....go on girl, spoil yourself.....so, I dumped two dumplings into the stew, put the lid back on the pan, and waited 40 minutes for them to cook. On uncovering the pan, I was pleased to see the dumplings had risen nicely, and were floating on top of the stew - the whole thing looked delicious. I ladled out a generous portion of the stew and dumplings onto a plate, and began to eat. Taste test time! I always eat stew just with a spoon, and dug the spoon into the centre of one dumpling. It slid in easily, and I scooped up a little piece with some gravy and a bit of carrot, then eased.....almost erotically.....into my eagerly awaiting mouth. My teeth slid nicely into the soft, spongy, fluffy dumpling...and I was instantly transported into paradise. The experience was so good, that I decided to eat the meat and vegetables first, saving the best bit (the dumplings) for last - I also wished I'd cooked more than two of them, despite their large size. Though I was full up after I'd finished the meat and vegetables, I was still drooling over the thought of devouring the saved dumplings mixed with a little gravy left on the plate. I tried to eat the dumplings as slowly as I could, but when it comes to life's more enjoyable experiences, I have very little willpower - and scoffed them much faster than I should have done, simply because they were so very delicious. I estimate that, taking everything into account regarding the ingredients we'd use to make our own dumplings with, the Aunt Bessie's variety possibly work out a little cheaper than home-made....at worst, cost-wise they break even. I therefore in the future can't see any logical reason why I should bore myself stupid making my own dumplings, especially when Aunt Bessie's are so much nicer than mine. Mine do turn out OK, but not quite as light and fluffy as these....plus, the only effort required with Aunt Bessie's is to snip off the corner of the pack, take out the dumplings and pop them into the stew. OK - these dumplings are loaded with fat and calories, but no more than those which you would make yourself....and they are truly, honestly, mind-blowingly divine! I vow that all the time Aunt Bessie's Dumplings are on sale, I shall always use them, and never make my own. This is a very superior product which I recommend strongly, and if I could award more than 5 stars, I'd at least double up and give a resounding 10 out of 10! Thanks for reading!