The dumplings were actually supposed to be lavender but I nixed the idea because the stew itself was on the "sweet" side and I wanted something more savory to contrast it with.
In retrospect, I would use less orange peel than the recipe called for. A good 3" slice would have been more than enough, in my opinion, to flavor the stew.
Dude Ranch Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings
4 lb beef roast, well trimmed and cut into 1" chunks
3/4 cup flour
5 tsp lavender, well ground in spice grinder, divided
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 3 tbsp
2 white onions, diced
1 medium leek, chopped
1 tbsp garlic, minced (about 4 cloves)
4 cups beef broth
1/4 cup whiskey
2 bay leaves
2 tsp thyme
1 tsp parsley
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3/4 lb yukon gold potatoes (about 4), cut into 1/2" chunks
8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
for the dumplings
3/4 cup flour
1/8 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
Combine the flour, 2 tsp lavender, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add beef chunks and toss to coat.
Heat large stock pot over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup olive oil and heat thru. Working in batches, add beef to pan and sautee, stirring occasionally, until beef begins to brown. Remove beef to bowl and set aside.
Add remaining olive oil to pot. Add onion, leek and garlic and sautee about 5 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add beef broth and whiskey to the pot, scraping the bottom to loosen any browned bits. Add beef back to pot. Using a vegetable peeler, peel a 3" strip of orange zest from the orange and add to pot. Add remaining lavender and herbs. Stir well, cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer 45 minutes until the beef is tender. Add carrots and potatoes, cover again and simmer another 30-45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile, to prepare the dumplings, combine the flour, cheese, thyme and salt in a medium bowl. Add buttermilk and stir until just combined. Set aside.
One the carrots and potatoes are fork tender, add the mushrooms to the pot. Gently spoon dollops of the dumplings - about 1 tbsp each - to the pot. Let simmer on low 5-10 minutes uncovered. Then replace cover and let simmer another 10 minutes or until dumplings are fluffy and cooked all the way thru (test with a skewer). Ladel stew into bowls and serve immediately.