All posts tagged “healthy

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Healthy elegance at Kitchen 151

Fresh, personable mediterranean meze stop in handy distance from the EU institutions.

Fish kebab

Kitchen 151 serves up mediterranean meze-like dishes and fresh mains with outmost elegance. Their lovely waitor/chef readily tells his guests everything about the menu, and the house wine is sweet and deep. In the almost Scandinavian decoration of the light and wooden-decked restaurant, a Swede feels quite at home. This first time I visited I had their fresh fish kebab with a mild turmeric sauce. Most recently I enjoyed a gorgeous salad with tender asparagus,  grilled sweet cherry tomatoes and courgette, pine nuts, sun-dried tomato and thyme dressing.

Asparagus salad

But the starters are the real stars – you share a few (or many) meze, which comes with fresh Turkish bread and incredibly smooth, almost milky Tahini. Their raita is to die for, the lentil salad fresh and bursting with zingyness and coriander. I like my baba ganoush a bit smokier than their variety, but who cares when everything else is so enjoyable?

Storytelling

Johan telling stories in Kitchen 151

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Lehsuni daal – cumin & garlic lentils

Lentils with cumin and garlicCurries are the most incredibly tasty but difficult thing to get right. Living in gloriously curry-filled Birmingham for three years there wasn’t any point for me in making it at home, when take-away was so reliably tasty and cheap. It seems to me that nothing gets as good, and as unpretentious, as Birmingham curries. No London eateries seemed to mend this feeling, and in Brussels I rarely come across curry houses. These lentils are just perfect, as after lots of trial and testing I think I’ve somewhat managed to replicate a sort of Brummie daal at home.

I believe the trick is in the golden brown abundance of garlic, toasted cumin seeds and fenugreek. As a bonus, your place will smell of curry for three days afterwards.

Lehsuni daalYou need:

– 1 mug red lentils
– 3 mugs water
– 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
– 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed in large pieces
– 1 tsp turmeric
– 8 garlic cloves
– 1 1/5 tsp whole cumin seeds
– 1-2 tbsp butter (or even better, ghee)
– 2 tbsp Worcestersauce
– 1/5 tsp Ground fenugreek
– Salt
– Nutmeg
– Dried chili flakes (adjust to your preferred heat)

Daal ingredientsRinse the lentils, and boil them on low heat together with the onion, potatoes, mustard seeds and turmeric. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the potatoes have softened and the lentils have broken down. You want a consistency somewhere between a stew and a thick soup.

When this is about done, melt the butter/ghee in pan, fry the cumin seeds until they stop sizzling, then add the garlic and fry until it’s light brown. Toss in a few pinches of fenugreek for aroma. Stir this mix into the lentils.

Flavour with chili flakes or cayenne pepper for some heat, add plenty of salt, and worcester sauce until (I know this sounds like an odd addition to a curry, but it’s brilliant). Serve with plenty of condiments (lime pickle, hot sauce, chopped coriander, yoghurt and mango chutney) and eat yourself into a slight food coma.

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Foraging nettles (and how to make nässelsoppa)

Young nettles

Did you know that the best way of taking revenge on being burned by at nettle is to eat its relatives? In Sweden it’s common practice. They are picked by high and low in early spring, and used mostly for nässelsoppa (nettle soup) but also as a healthier substitute to spinach (and even added into smoothies). Nettles contain lots of iron and are a great vitamin boost, and taste like a mild, grassier form of spinach. It’s one of my favourite things to forage, because it grows in abundance just about everywhere and it difficult to confuse with anything else. And as long as you wear gloves, the stinging isn’t a problem.

Caroline foraging

Caroline hunting down nettles in Fôret de Soignes.

They key thing is to be out early  – they should be tall enough to be easily pickable, but not so big that they’ve grown large leaves. If picked too late, their consistency is too wooden and stringy. However, should you miss the first leaves, you can also settle for picking only the youngest leaves at the top – however never after the nettles have bloomed. Avoid picking them from ditches and busy parks, as they tend to grow where chemicals and other fluids abound.

PIcked nettles

Freshly picked nettles – pick the top of the nettle in the forest, then remove the leaves from the stalks at home.

The consistency may not be to everyones liking, but as long as you have a powerful food blender that shouldn’t be a problem. It’s a good way of picking your own tender spring greens for free. In Sweden, nettles are mostly used to make nettle soup (nässelsoppa). It’s easy, tasty and nutritious, and always served with a poached or softly boiled egg. For 4 servings, you need:

– 5 litres newly picked nettles
– 1 small yellow onion
– 1 tbsp butter
– 1 litre vegetable stock
– 1 tbsp flour
– 1 dl creme fraiche
– 2 eggs

Nettle soup

Chop the onion finely, then fry it in the butter until soft. Add the nettles and make them wilt, adding some water. Once the mix has  softened, blitz it with a blender or food processor until it’s a fine paste. Add the flour and let it fry with the nettle mix for a little while.  Add the vegetable stock and get it simmering for a few minutes until it has combined somewhat (although it will naturally separate after stirring, due to the high amount of nettles).  Whilst the soup is simmering, soft-boil or poach your eggs. Add creme fraiche, salt and pepper to the soup, and then serve up on four plats. Carefully add half a soft-boiled egg or an entire poached egg on top. Sprinkle with some newly crushed black pepper and chives. Serve.