Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Pumpkin Seeds for Thanksgiving

For us Brits the pumpkin season has been and gone as the witches’ hats and ghostly Halloween trimmings are put away for another year.  But for our American chums, pumpkin fever continues to burn.  As a stalwart favourite on dining tables State-side all year round, it also has its supporting role in the cast of Thanksgiving Dinner.

Not an expert in the traditions or protocol of Thanksgiving feasting, I’ll leave Pumpkin Pie suggestions to my fellow American bloggers.   (Although, by the way worth noting, Jamie Oliver has a very nice Pumpkin Tart recipe in his ‘Jamie Does…’ book). 

As Thanksgiving approaches and pumpkin flesh is prepped and ready for family dinners, this blogpost steers away from all things flesh and goes to the very core of the pumpkin, focusing on the positives of pumpkin seeds.

We often see green pumpkin seeds on sale in packs at health food shops and don’t really think about how they get there.  When you carve into pumpkin flesh, they’re there, buried in amongst the stringy fibres in the heart of the pumpkin.  By keeping them and preparing them, with a little patience, you could have your own snack stash without having to resort to pre-packed versions.
Drying out the seeds on a tray

  • First things first, scoop out all the seeds and detach any flesh/fibres.
  • Wash the seeds to remove any debris.
  • Pat dry with a tea towel.
  • Spread the seeds out on a baking tray and either put them on the middle shelf of a warm oven or by a fireplace to dry out taking care not to burn them.  This process timewise in the oven it may take an hour or so and by a fireplace, it may take a day or few days to accomplish.
  • Once the seeds have dried out, perhaps shrunk a little and attained a more ‘matt’ appearance, they will be ready to eat.
Pumpkin Seed - Outer White Shell
The actual seed itself is within the outer white shell and to gain access to it, simply twist the top half of outer shell, the green pumpkin seed will be visible, pull it out and then discard the outer shell as appropriate.
Breaking the White Shell - Green Seed inside
I suppose it can seem an excessive exercise to achieve just an edible bowl of seeds but the health benefits make it a worthwhile task.  Here are some of the documented benefits they contain:

  • Packed with minerals including phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper.
  • Good source of vitamins B, E and K.
  • High in zinc which can protect again osteoporosis.
  • Contains Omega 3
  • Contain good quality protein levels (30g of protein per 100g of seeds)
  • Is one of the very few foods that increases in nutritional value as it decomposes.

Green Pumpkin Seed

So when you carve up your pumpkin for Thanksgiving this week or even for Halloween next year or in fact for any time in between, think twice about throwing away your seeds and keep them as you’ve got a little snack goldmine in the palm of your hands  just waiting to be devoured.

Note:  Health benefits have been extracted from online sources – Link one and link two
To gain a full overview of pumpkin seed benefits, refer to a qualified nutritionist.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Dried Green Beans with Walnuts

Avid readers will note that this year has been my baptism into the world of tibits, whose sister outlet, Hiltl, is recorded as the world’s old vegetarian restaurant.  Further to dining at their London outlet in the summer and joyously working my way through their recipe book, I wanted to replicate one of their signature dishes for myself.

The dish in question is their Dried Bean Salad with Walnuts.  Having tried it (and gone up for seconds) at their London restaurant, this was something I wanted more often than just having it whenever I was in the big smoke.  So, when speaking to Lidija, the Manager on duty when I visited tibits, she explained that the dried green beans are brought over from Switzerland and in the main can’t be purchased over here.  However, bags of dried green beans could be purchased from tibits directly with accompanying recipe postcards. Acknowledging my enthusiasm, Lidija gave me a bag and suggested I give it a go at home and see how it works.

Dried Green Beans in the Pan - Ready for Cooking

I was pleased to see that I didn’t have to re-hydrate the beans overnight as you have to with some pulses, although soaking them for a couple of hours prior will make them a little less 'wrinkly' post-cooking.  Otherwise, it was a case of boiling them in water until tender, cooling them, then adding the other ingredients which include coriander and walnuts.  

Onions & Walnuts Ready for the Salad

Although the recipe states using certain oils or vinegars, you can experiment with other ingredients and make substitutions as required, but note by doing this, you will alter the original recipe and taste.  I enjoyed serving the beans hot as a side dish for my main course but you can, as the dish is intended, to eat it as a tepid or cold salad.  In addition, the recipe is rich in vitamins and as such is promoted on their menus as having 'concentration booster' benefits.

The beans once cooked, tasted a lot sweeter and almost chewier than standard green beans but this for me I found a tastier and a more interesting spin on your average green bean ensemble.   

Dried Green Beans - Ready for Eating

This is a definite recommendation to try this for yourselves with additional praise from my carnivorous husband, who doesn’t always gravitate towards his ‘greens’  who has asked - “when can we have this again?”
As mentioned above, the beans are only available from tibits, so to obtain a pack, contact them directly.  The recipe is available on cards from their restaurant or can be found in their tibits at home recipe book (or see images below).

For me, dried green beans have created  the perfect excuse to nip back to tibits in London where I will treat myself to another pack and/or have lunch there again.  And what would I have?  Well it would have to be a whole of plate of Dried Green Beans with Walnuts all to myself.  That would suit me just fine…….
Other Links
To read my review of 'tibits at home' cook book, click on this link.
To read my review of tibits restaurant, click on this link.

Sponsored Post:  This post was written following receipt of a pack of dried green beans from tibits Restaurant London.  This review was conducted with honesty, without bias and I was not required to produce a positive review.  For further details of my PR policy, please see the Press, PR & Food Writing page of this website. 

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Bistro 1847 Birmingham Launch

It’s always a delight when a new restaurant comes to town and for me, the delight is no greater than when that restaurant is vegetarian!
Following the huge success of their Manchester & Northern outlets, Bistro 1847 have opened their central Birmingham branch in the beautiful Victoriana-esque Great Western Arcade just off Colmore Row by Snow Hill Station.  

Attending their launch evening recently, it was a chance for myself and other guests to sample what we can expect from Bistro 1847 and an introduction to their offering.
The restaurant’s décor is contemporary with modern wooden seating both downstairs (although removed for the night to accommodate the launch) and upstairs which then leads out into a balcony area overlooking over the rest of the arcade.  It is arranged in such a way that it is perfect for intimate dinners or can accommodate larger private parties.

Bistro 1847 - Launch Party

The sensational food is directed by the restaurant’s chef Alex Claridge whose vision of combining ingredients, flavours and tastes together takes vegetarian food beyond the normal predictability of vegetarian menus.  
Canapes based on the restaurant’s menu were served which included:  Beer Battered Halloumi with Caper & Lemon Tartare, Mushroom & Liquorice Pate and Blackberry dessert pots.

Beer Battered Halloumi with Caper & Lemon Tartare
A singing jazz duo brought an atmospheric element to the evening which in turn promoted the restaurant’s plan for regular jazz nights.

Blackberry Dessert Pots

I’m absolutely enchanted with Bistro 1847 and I for one will be going back to dine there soon to sample more of Alex and team’s creations.
Website including Christmas menu:

Monday, 4 November 2013

Veggie Polish Food at The Karczma

Bar Area - The Karczma

I regularly dine at The Karczma – Birmingham’s only Polish restaurant.  I love their cosy, rustic, homely décor and for me, I get the chance to eat Polish food without having to do any of the work!

Appetiser Table - The Karczma

Based on a recent visit with friends, I conducted a review for Dine Birmingham focusing on The Karczma’s vegetarian offering.

Bread & Gherkins

Dine Birmingham is a fabulous site that showcases the restaurant scene in Birmingham with accompanying reviews.  An ideal reference point if you’re looking to find a restaurant specialising in a particular cuisine or just to see what’s new in the city.  Take a look at the site for details here.

Potato Placki at The Karczma

As the Christmas shopping season approaches, if you’re looking to escape the crowds and fancy a change from the annual German market, then  exchange the gluhwein for a vodka toddy and make a detour to The Karczma.  

Wisniewka - Cherry Liqueur
To see why it is one of my favourite haunts, take a look at my Dine Birmingham review link here.