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I love pumpkin seeds.  They’re little nuggets of goodness, high in protein, iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium, as well as an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids.  You can throw a handful into all sorts of dishes, especially stir fries and salads and they’re really good roasted with shoyu soy sauce or lemon and sea salt.  I’m always keen therefore to find new ways of using them.

I adapted this recipe from Rose Elliot’s Complete Vegetarian Cookbook, where she used walnuts instead of the pumpkin seeds, but the seeds make a slightly lighter dressing.  As you can see by the ingredients, this is a dressing that functions as a nutritional part of the meal.  It’s also delicious with pasta, hot or cold, or stirred into rice.


Almond and Pumpkin Seed Dressing

25g / 1 oz pumpkin seeds
25g / 1 oz flaked almonds
1 small carrot, roughly chopped
2 tblsp olive oil
4 tblsp water
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (or I used lemon thyme)
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients into a blender and whizz until it is creamy.  Add more water if the dressing seems too thick, and depending how you want to use it.  Serve with your favourite salad.

It seems that even in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the world of cookery books was dominated by celebrity chefs, when cooks employed by royalty or those who ran famous eating houses were the main beneficiaries of the boom in the publishing of cookbooks.  There was also a rise in the number of vegetarian cookbooks published during the 19th Century and the writers of those were often already known too.  Mrs Bowdich for example, who published ‘New Vegetarian Recipes’ in 1892, was the owner of a vegetarian restaurant on Gray’s Inn Road in London.

To celebrate all this, the Keats House Museum in London has been showing an exhibition of the period’s celebrity cookbooks, from the collection at the Guildhall Library.  This coming weekend is the last chance to see the exhibition as it closes on 26th February.

This is a recipe from one of the featured books ‘The Complete Confectioner’ by Frederick Nutt, and what I love about this is the instruction to include carraway seeds, ‘as many as you think proper’!

Judges Biscuits by Frederick Nutt, 1819

Take six eggs and break them into copper pan, yolks and whites together, whisk them well for above five minutes, mix half a pound of powdered sugar with the eggs, and whisk them for ten minutes, put as many carraway seeds as you think proper, and half a pound of sifted flour, mix it well with a wooden spoon, and put three papers on your plates; then take a spoon and drop them on papers about the size of a crown-piece, sift some powdered sugar over them, let them be rather thick in the middle, and the oven rather sharp, and when they come out, cut them off the paper while hot.

Keats House Museum

Regency ‘Celebrity’ Cookbooks
Keats House Museum 
until 26th February 2012
Keats Grove, Hampstead, London NW3 2RR UK

In the last week or so, we’ve finally had a proper winter with several days of snow.  Thoughts turn inevitably to log fires and staying inside to huddle by them!

On the food front, nothing beats the winter blues like a big bowl of stew, especially one that can take whatever ingredients you have in, so you don’t have to venture to the shops if you really don’t want to!   That’s why I’ve called this dish Hotch Potch.  I first came across a Hotch Potch recipe researching Early Vegetarian Recipes from 1865 by Job Caudwell.  That was a simple vegetable stew of onions, carrots, turnip, lettuce and parsley thickened by grating half of the vegetables.  My version provides protein with beans and is thickened with lentils, but sticks to the principle of adding nutrition by using green leafy veg.  It’s such great name for a dish though, that I thought I just had to use it for this toss-it-all-in-the-pot recipe!  Excuse the lack of precise measurements, but the idea is to use as much or as little as you have.

Hotch Potch

1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Carrot, chopped
Potato, chopped
Celery, chopped
Greens, chopped (try cabbage, kale, broccoli, lettuce, parsley)
1 cup red lentils, washed
1/2 tin red kidney beans
1 tblsp olive oil
1 1/2 pints of vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and black pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onion, celery and garlic until soft.  Add the carrot and potato and stir well until coated in oil.  Cook for two minutes.  Add the green veg and stir well.

Add the lentils and beans, stir, and then add the stock.  Add the bay leaf.  Cook for 30 minutes until the lentils have thickened the stew and the vegetables have softened.  Season with salt and pepper.

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