BRUSSELS

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Brassicas — a family of vegetables which includes cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts — present unlimited cooking options.
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

“Eat your vegetables.” It’s a phrase people love to emphasize, but more often than not, the action is easier said than done. Just imagining slimy kale and mushy boiled Brussels sprouts will instantly diminish your vegetable appetite.

Here’s the good news: With tender loving care, vegetables can be delicious. In particular, the Brassica family of vegetables — which includes cauliflower, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage — deserves some extra attention. 

Brassicas are all low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals. Many Brassicas, in season from mid-fall through winter, elevate your cooking and health in one fell swoop. They’re flexible vegetables that can be prepared in a variety of ways while still retaining their fresh flavors.

The smell that emanates from cauliflower and broccoli derives from glucosinolates, or sulfur-containing compounds which activate detoxification within the body and help to prevent cancer and other diseases. 

The more you cook cauliflower and broccoli, the less the nutrients will stay intact — a result of overheating. Break the heads into small florets and dip them into hummus raw, or throw them into a skillet for a quick cook with some garlic and onions. Process florets in a food processor to make rice-sized bits and quickly pan-fry them in some olive oil for a guilt-free side dish.

Kale is a tender green that comes in several varieties, including both flat and curly. Kale won’t keep as long as its Brassica relatives, so be sure to buy it fresh and keep it cold in your refrigerator. Also, be sure to de-stem the kale before cooking. Throw kale into smoothies or roast it to make kale chips to snack on in class.

Cabbage, the least-celebrated Brassica member, deserves some TLC, too. It’s often found in Asian or European kitchens, but it’s full of cancer-fighting antioxidant compounds and low in calories. Cabbage comes in several forms, including typical red and green varieties found in grocery stores and bok choy. Use it for soups or grill large chunks for a healthy backyard party.

Brussels sprouts grow on stalks and resemble baby cabbages when they’re removed. They’re high in fiber and vitamins C and K and are full of the same cancer-fighting properties as their Brassica cousins.

Shred your sprouts and eat them raw in salads, or pan-fry them for extra crispy treats better than any French fry you’ve had. When cooking whole, trim off any excess leaves on the outside of a sprout, but keep the rest intact.

Want to test the Brassica waters? Try this recipe for honey lemon Brussels sprouts and kale:

Ingredients:

  1. – 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  2. – 3 cups Brussels sprouts, halved
  3. – 1 cup kale, chopped
  4. – 1/2 lemon, juiced
  5. – 2 tablespoons raw unfiltered honey
  6. – Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. – Heat olive oil in a large pan skillet over medium-high heat. Add Brussels sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to brown slightly and are tender. 
  2. – Add kale, lemon juice and honey and cook for several more minutes. Add salt and pepper according to preference, then serve and enjoy.

BRUSSELS — EU finance ministers, condemning the Feb. 12 nuclear test by North Korea, have imposed trade and economic sanctions on the Asian nation.

A statement by the 27 European Union finance ministers, who met Monday in Brussels, said they condemn the test “in the strongest terms” and demand that North Korea abstain from further tests. The statement also urged North Korea to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty without delay.

Monday’s action brings the number of North Koreans subject to a travel ban and an asset freeze to 26, and the number of sanctioned companies to 33. The ministers also banned the export of components for ballistic missiles, such as certain types of aluminum, and prohibited trade in new public bonds from North Korea.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

BRUSSELS — Less than a year after Mali’s military was heavily criticized for seizing power in a coup, it will now start receiving advice from European experts on how to maintain control of its vast territory.

On Monday, the European Union officially launched a training mission to the African nation. Its goal is to make the disparaged Malian army good enough to patrol the whole country, including its huge northern region, where French and African troops are fighting to unseat Islamist rebels who used the coup’s chaos to grab control there.

The mission will “support stability in Mali and the Sahel, both now and in the future. Respect for human rights and the protection of civilians will be an important part of the training program,” said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Critics have accused the new Malian military government of being undemocratic and abusive. Still, the European Union ministers felt they had no choice but to offer support and oversight because of fears that — if left alone — northern Mali could turn into a new Afghanistan, with Islamist groups given free rein to hatch deadly plots carried out around the world.

The 27-nation bloc was so eager to help that it sent the first 70 advisers to Mali 10 days ago so they could hit the ground running when the decision was made. More EU military experts will begin arriving in Bamako next month and the training will begin in April.

The decision by the bloc’s 27 foreign ministers who were meeting in Brussels authorizes the deployment of about 500 people to Mali for 15 months at an estimated cost of $16.4 million.

About 20 EU countries will participate in the mission, which officials say will not be involved in any combat.

Some of those groups have imposed a harsh version of Islamic law, executing violators and performing punitive amputations on thieves.

International officials, including those in the EU, have turned to the enemy of those militants — Mali’s military government in Bamako, a former pariah.

That military’s record over the past year has drawn little praise. It ostensibly handed power back to civilians, but then in December it arrested the prime minister, who announced his resignation on state television at 4 a.m., hours after soldiers had stormed his house.

Human Rights Watch’s senior researcher for West Africa, Corinne Dufka, said those events fit the pattern of abuse by Malian soldiers since the coup in March 2012.

The goal now, EU officials say, is create an army not only capable of holding the retaken territory but willing to respect international law and civilian control.

BRUSSELS — Serbia’s ambassador to NATO was chatting and joking with colleagues in a multistory parking garage at Brussels Airport when he suddenly strolled to a barrier, climbed over and flung himself to the ground below, a diplomat said.

By the time his shocked colleagues reached him, Branislav Milinkovic was dead.

His motives are a mystery. Three diplomats who knew Milinkovic said he did not appear distraught in the hours leading up to his death Tuesday night. He seemed to be going about his regular business, they said, picking up an arriving delegation of six Serbian officials who were to hold talks with NATO, the alliance that went to war with his country just 13 years ago.

“It was indeed a suicide,” Ine Van Wymersch of the Brussels prosecutor’s office said. She said no further investigation was planned.

The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release details, said they knew of no circumstances — private or professional — that would have prompted him to take his own life. Milinkovic, 52, had mentioned to colleagues at diplomatic functions that he was unhappy about living apart from his wife, a Serbian diplomat based in Vienna, and their 17-year-old son.

Jave Del Rosario and AJ Elumn, senior neurobiology majors, eat the Squid Ink Curry Ramen and Sapporo Beer Bacon Miso Ramen at East Side King Monday afternoon. The newly opened East Side King is Chef Paul Qui’s first non-food truck location. 

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Yesterday, local chef Paul Qui opened the fourth location of his East Side King food trailer in the back room of the Hole in the Wall, the long-loved bar and music venue on Guadalupe Street.

In the back room, East Side King has re-decorated by painting bright murals, installing Japanese beers on tap, and rearranging the furniture they inherited from the Hole in the Wall. Still, a line of vintage pinball machines stands at attention along one wall, harkening back to the bar’s beginning as an “arcade restaurant.” The division in the new space between the front room, where live music is played, and the back room, where East Side King serves food, is noticeable, but Hole in the Wall owner Will Tanner says he’s not concerned about the venues being perceived as separate.

“People kind of seem to flow out and spill,” Tanner said, gesturing toward the back room.

Of course, there are those who remain concerned about the integrity of the Hole in the Wall after the addition of East Side King. Since winning the 2012 season of Bravo’s “Top Chef,” Qui has gained popularity in the foodie world, while the Hole in the Wall has remained, well, that hole-in-the-wall on the Drag. Unhappy fans of the Hole in the Wall feel that bringing the likes of Qui, a former executive chef at Uchiko, into the back will ruin the dingy authenticity of the bar. This reporter, like many UT students, can’t speak to that dingy authenticity: prior to Qui’s venture, minors weren’t allowed inside the Hole in the Wall. Now all ages are welcome in the back room.

In that room, ramen is served hot and unceremoniously in disposable paper bowls, and the food is the better for its lack of pretension. The menu at the Hole in the Wall is intended to be a collection of “greatest hits” from the three other East Side King trailers. From the Liberty Bar location, for example, comes beet home fries and a Brussels sprout salad.

The latter is a favorite of Hole in the Wall general manager Alex Livingston, who sounded only a little out of place when he exclaimed,“I’m psyched about the Brussels sprouts. I’ve recently fallen in love with that vegetable, and it makes me really happy to think I’ll be able to eat
it every day.”

His ardor for the dish isn’t unearned. The salad is a hearty and refreshing mix of fried Brussels sprouts and shredded cabbage, with three dainty slivers of deep-fried bun for garnish. The beet fries are memorable for their bar-food-grease-meets-fresh-vegetables taste. Tiny chunks of deep-fried beet are accompanied by thick Japanese Kewpie mayo. The first taste is of spice, grease and all the good things a dark bar like the Hole in the Wall should offer, but the second bite gets you nothing but the fiber of fresh vegetables. The combination may not be for everyone, but it makes for enjoyable innovative dining.

After the appetizers, order the Gekkeikan Sake to wash it down (provided, of course, you’re of age). A friend put it best when she said that Gekkikan is what you imagine children’s mixed drinks must taste like: refreshing, smooth, magical.

But the real standouts of the menu are the three ramen options (which, incidentally, are the only ones that don’t come in vegan or gluten-free options). Sapporo Beer Bacon Miso Ramen may seem a little heavy, especially when you read that it’s made with two different forms of bacon, beer, butter and pork belly, but you didn’t come to a dark bar to behave healthfully, did you? The beer foam that tops the ramen is the answer to every time you tried to slurp the foam off the top of your cup, and the option to add an extra egg — a soft-boiled, soy sauce-cured egg — shouldn’t be missed. The pork belly is as tender and tasty as Thanksgiving turkey.

Now, the real question: do the dishes still taste good the morning after, in the cold hard light of your refrigerator? Well, results are mixed. Some leftover-samplers wrinkled their noses and said only “tastes like fish,” while others, like this reporter, ate the gelled ramen in all its salty, fishy glory till her spoon scraped the bottom of the paper bowl.

Printed on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 as: Top chef debuts new Asian venue

BRUSSELS — For more than a year, European Union officials have called for austerity, austerity and more austerity as a means to solve Europe’s debt crisis. Now people who don’t want to pay the price are taking their fight from the streets to the ballot box.

Governments have fallen, more are at risk and in some places, a stark streak of nationalism is on the rise that could swing Europe ever deeper into a fortress mentality.

At stake is the future of the continent, where countries rich and poor are struggling with mountains of debt and moribund economies — a toxic combination that often seems to require contradictory remedies of belt-tightening and economic stimulus.

Increasingly, the long focus on austerity is convincing Europeans that the German-led mantra of fiscal responsibility is creating a vicious circle of more misery leading to lower growth — leading to even greater debt distress.

“What is happening in Europe is the austerity drive is actually slowing down the necessary rebalancing of European economies,” said Simon Tilford, chief economist at the Center for European Reform.

Austerity measures aimed at balancing national budgets have led to drastic spending cuts by governments across the continent, including layoffs and pay cuts for government workers, slashing of key services including welfare and development programs, as well as tax hikes to boost government revenues.

Many in Europe have had enough of this harsh medicine.

In France, President Nicolas Sarkozy, one of the architects of the EU’s response to the financial crisis, is in danger of being turned out of office in next month’s runoff with Francois Hollande — a Socialist who is promising not to cut, but to increase public spending by €20 billion by 2017.

Hollande is also promising to re-negotiate a much-vaunted budgetary pact among 25 EU countries meant to enforce national fiscal discipline.

Greece votes in elections next month in which fringe parties hostile to international bailouts requiring steep austerity are expected to make big gains — possibly endangering efforts by the current technocratic government to rein in the nation’s debt.

And the Netherlands’ 18-month-old conservative coalition resigned this week after it failed to agree on cutting its own budget deficit to meet the EU limits it had demanded so fiercely of other countries.

Beyond that, in the Czech Republic, almost 100,000 people rallied in Prague’s downtown Wenceslas Square last weekend to protest government reforms and cuts, calling on the government to resign in one of the biggest demonstrations since the fall of communism. And earlier this year, tens of thousands of Romanians bitter about savage public-sector wage cuts took to the streets and the government collapsed.

Analysts say it’s no surprise that people are fed up.

“I don’t think there are any examples of countries accepting endless austerity and downward standards of living,” Tilford said. “There has to be light at the of the tunnel.”

Voters may have good reasons to reject unrelenting cuts. But in their desire to avoid pain, they may also be prompting politicians to put off decisions that Europe must take to remain competitive globally.

Many experts say government protections for workers need to be loosened — for example, by making it easier for employers to hire and fire workers — in order to halt the flight of jobs from Europe to regions deemed more business-friendly.

And the anger appears to be driving voters to the extremes. In the first round of the French presidential election last weekend, nearly one voter in five cast their ballot for the National Front, a hard-right party previously known primarily for its anti-immigraton platform.

That, along with the 11 percent showing by far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon, shows a high level of anger, said Piotr Kaczynski, a research fellow at the Brussels-based Center for European Studies.

“The big winners of the French elections are the extreme parties — extreme right and extreme left,” which together won more than 30 percent of the vote, Kaczynski said.

The rise of the fringes is not limited to France. In Greece, the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party is marching ahead in the polls — and may win a dozen or so seats in parliament. And it was a right-wing politician stridently critical of Islam who brought down the government of Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte this week. Geert Wilders, whose support was critical to Rutte’s minority government, decided to withdraw his support over the government’s budget-cutting plans.

“With the Rutte government’s resignation, the pro-cyclical austerity course in Europe has once again proven to be the biggest disposal program for governments in recent history,” Germany’s Financial Times Deutschland commented in an editorial Tuesday.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble criticized Wilders’ actions in acid tones.

“We have always known that, if one votes for radical right-wing euro-skeptic parties and xenophobes, one makes democracy not more stable but more unstable,” Schaeuble said. “That can be seen now in Holland. So my advice is, don’t vote that way.”

But as Europe evolves, the Germans may wind up the big losers. They have been the most insistent on enforcing austerity, warning of the “moral hazard” of helping out countries that have not endured sufficient pain as a result of past lapses in discipline.

Now, it is possible that the future of Europe may lie with politicians like Hollande, who is favored to defeat Sarkozy in the presidential runoff. Hollande has promised to increase taxes on the rich, create 60,000 new teaching jobs and subsidize 150,000 jobs for young people.

On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was still staunchly defending her insistence on austerity.

“I want to say clearly, it is not the case that we say saving solves every problem but, if you at home talk about how you want to shape your life tolerably, then one of the first conditions is that you somehow get by with what you earn,” she said.

Still, at least some economists are now calling for a return to priming the pump — even at the cost of higher deficits.

“There can be no fiscal sustainability across Europe as a whole without a return to economic growth,” Tilford said.

Printed on Wednesday, April 25, 2012 as: Europeans tired of austerity are voting for extremists

BRUSSELS — Eurozone ministers offered Greece €8 billion ($10.7 billion) Christmas rescue package Tuesday to stem an immediate cash crisis yet failed to resolve fears that the common euro currency might be doomed.

The 17 finance ministers insisted they found a veneer of credibility to coat the euro’s rescue fund with enough leverage to deal with potential financial crises much bigger than the one facing peripheral Greece. And they called on the International Monetary Fund for resources to help further protect Europe’s embattled currency.

“We made important progress on a number of fronts,” Jean-Claude Juncker, the eurozone chief, said late Tuesday.

After saying earlier that the eurozone’s rescue fund would be able to leverage up to one €1 trillion ($1.3 trillion), the fund’s chief remained vague on how beefed up it was after Tuesday’s meeting in Brussels. Klaus Regling said it would grow according to demands and market conditions, but assured reporters it was more than big enough to deal with Europe’s immediate financial debt problems.

Still, making progress on the fund — a firewall to keep Europe’s debt problems from engulfing nation after nation — “shows our complete determination to do whatever it takes to safeguard the financial stability of the euro,” Juncker said.

Italy remained an enormous concern. Carrying five times as much debt as Greece, Italy was battered for the third straight day in the bond markets, seeing its borrowing rates soar to unsustainable levels of 7.56 percent. Investors appear increasingly wary of the country’s chances of avoiding default — and making matters worse, the eurozone’s third largest economy is deemed to big for Europe to bail out.

The ministers still insisted Italy’s new prime minister would come through, saying he has promised to balance Italy’s budget by 2013.

“We have full confidence that Mario Monti will be able to deliver this program,” Juncker said.

BRUSSELS — Rebels fighting to topple Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi committed unlawful killings and torture, Amnesty International said in a report released on Tuesday.

The 100-plus page report, based on three months of investigation in Libya, draws no equivalency between the crimes of Gadhafi loyalists and those of the former rebels, who now hold power in Tripoli: The Gadhafi forces’ crimes were greater, the list of them is longer, and they may have amounted to crimes against humanity, the report said.

But it said the crimes of the rebels were not insignificant.

“Members and supporters of the opposition, loosely structured under the leadership of the National Transitional Council (NTC) ... have also committed human rights abuses, in some cases amounting to war crimes, albeit on a smaller scale,” the Amnesty report said. 

It said opposition supporters “unlawfully killed” more than a dozen Gadhafi loyalists and security officials between April and early July. And just after the rebels took control of eastern Libya, the report said, angry groups of rebel supporters “shot, hanged and otherwise killed through lynching” dozens of captured soldiers and suspected mercenaries, with impunity. 

Mohammed al-Alagi, a justice minister for Libya’s transitional authorities said that describing the rebels actions as war crimes was wrong.

“They are not the military, they are only ordinary people, “ al-Alagi said. While rebels have made mistakes, he aknowledged, they cannot be described as “war crimes at all.”

In addition, the report said both sides stirred up racism and xenophobia, causing sub-Saharan Africans to be increasingly attacked, robbed and abused by ordinary Libyans.

“In February, there was this rumor about Gadhafi using black people as mercenaries; that’s wrong,” Nicolas Beger, director of the Amnesty International European Institutions office, told Associated Press Television News in Brussels on Monday. “But the NTC has not done a lot to curb that rumor and now there is a lot of retaliation against sub-Saharan Africans.”

Beger also said abuses were continuing under the new government.

“We have even spoken to guards who admit that they use force,” he said. “They say, ‘Yeah we use force in order to get confessions, in order to force people to hand in their weapons.’ So this really needs to be controlled. This is one of the priorities that the new authorities have to really get a clear act on.”

The report also listed an extensive list of crimes allegedly committed by Gadhafi’s regime. The loyalists killed and injured scores of unarmed protesters, made critics disappear, used illegal cluster bombs, launched artillery, mortar and rocket attacks against residential areas, and, without any legal proceedings, executed captives, the report said.

Thousands of Libyans were kidnapped from their homes, mosques and streets, including children as young as 12, the report said.