Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Spicy sausage and kale bulgur salad

I've never tried curly kale. For some reason I've been a bit intimidated by the thought of cooking with it, as I don't really know how to use it. Anyway, curly kale is supposed to be very nice and also very nutrious, so when I was aimlessly wandering around in Waitrose trying to find something to cook for dinner, I thought that I should try something new and use kale. But what to eat and cook it with? I knew that you can steam and stir-fry kale, and that I had a lot of bulgur at home, so I decided on a warm salad with kale and spicy sausages. Spring has finally come to London, but it's still been freezing in the mornings so if I'm having a salad it has to be a warm one.

I'm very happy with my first attempt of using kale, turns out it's easy to use, with a nice taste, cheap, and apparently good for me, so I will defentely try it again.

Spicy sausage and kale bulgur salad (4 portions)
200 g curly kale
1 large leek, chopped
1-2 red chillies, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
200 g plum tomatoes, halved
1 lemon, zest and juice
400 g spicy sausages, I used Waitroses sweet chili pork sausages, but merguez or chorizo would be really good as well
2 dl bulgur, you can substitute the bulgur for quinoa or couscous
5 dl chicken or vegetable stock
salt and pepper

Add bulgur and stock to a pot and cook on low heat for around 10 min until soft. If there is any water left, drain it and fluff the bulgur with a fork to separate the grains

Fry the sausages in a frying pan. For pork sausages like the ones I used, fry them whole and then slice them. If you use chorizo, you might want to slice them first and then fry to them to get them a bit crispier and release some of the fat.

Steam the kale lightly for 1-2 min. I think it's easiest to steam using the microwave. Just add kale, and a couple of tablespoons of hot water

Fry the leeks, chillies, garlic and ginger for a couple of minutes in a large frying pan. Add the kale and tomatoes and stir-fry for another couple of minutes until the kale is soft and starts to wilt.

Stir together the vegetables and bulgur with the lemon juice and zest.

Serve the kale and bulgur topped with the fried sausages.

Asian soups in Vancouver

I came back from a conference in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago. It was a great meeting, with lots of interesting science, and Vancouver was a great city to visit. To be in a city and be surrounded by sea and mountains, fantastic! Vancouver is known to have a big Asian population, and there is lots of Chinese, Korean and Japanese shops and restaurants. I've really indulged in great, and cheap, Asian food. In particular lovely soups, like the won ton soup above that I had at Hon's wun tun house in Vancouver's Chinatown, or the udon noodle soup with spicy pork and kimchi below that I had at small Korean restaurant, Donburiya, on Robson street in downtown Vancouver.

Here is a couple of pictures of beautiful Vancouver, with the view of the mountains from Stanley park and from the harbour and seawalk around the city.

Red lentil and feta lasagne

I'm going to move out of my flat in West Hampstead in about a month's time. As I'm putting all my stuff in storage for the first 6 weeks while I'm lucky enough to go traveling in China and Laos, I'm trying to finish off all the food in my cupboards. Feels a bit unnecessary to pack lots of dry goods like rice and bulgur in boxes to store for two months, and believe me, I have enough stuff that needs to be packed as it is....

This recipe come about so that I could finish off my red lentils, some leftover red wine, and because I was in a mood for comfort food, and to me lasagne is for sure all about delicious comfort.

Red lentil and feta lasagne (4-6 portions)
2.5 dl red lentils
1 can of chopped tomatoes
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
0.5 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp oregano
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of dry flaked chili
2 dl of chicken or vegetable stock
2 dl of red wine
250 g of fresh or dry lasagna sheets (if you use dry lasagna sheets, you can speed up the cooking time in the oven by
5 dl milk
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp butter
300 g feta cheese, grated
olive oil
salt and pepper

Saute onions and garlic in a little olive oil in a large frying pan for a couple of minutes.

Add the lentils, wine, stock, sugar and spices. Let simmer for 20-30 min until the lentils are soft. Add more water if the sauce starts to go dry before the lentils are cooked. Add salt and pepper to taste. It shouldn't be too salty as the bechamel sauce with feta will be quite salty

Make a bechamel sauce: Start by melting the butter in a medium sized pot, then add the flour and stir on low heat to form a paste.

Add the milk and bring up to nearly boiling, all the time stirring to avoid the sauce to burn. Continue to simmer, whilst stirring, on lower heat until the sauce reaches desired thickness.

Add 2/3 of the feta cheese to the sauce and stir until the cheese is dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat, and add nutmeg, pepper and salt to taste.

Layer lasagna sheets, the lentil sauce and bechamel sauce in a oven dish. Top with a layer of bechamel sauce and the remainder of the feta cheese.

Cook for 20-30 min in the middle of the oven.

Enjoy with a fresh salad like rocket, spinach and watercress with a little olive oil and lemon juice.