hot pink bento

27 05 2010

i got this chic black furoshiki as part of my last bento & co. order, and i’ve been waiting to use it because i think it requires an equally chic and “adult” meal. this was my attempt at the required level of sophistication: three ume-furikake onigiris with ooba leaf wrappers, roasted asparagus and brussels sprouts (layered over pan-fried tofu), carved beet flowers, an oribenishiki from minamoto kitchoan, and a couple of blackberry skewers.

i know it’s the wrong season for roasted veg, but i wanted to stick to a limited color palette of hot pink and bright green.

phew, thank goodness tomorrow’s friday. and it’s a long weekend here in the US, too! hope all my bento pals and readers have a good one!

[as seen on love and trash]





penguin meatballs bento

26 05 2010

yikes, someone reading only the titles of this week’s posts would think i have a real thing for eating strange animals!

tomorrow’s lunch has vegetarian meatballs made to look like penguins.  i cut the cheese with a toothpick, and then popped them in the microwave for 9 seconds to make it melt down around the round meatball surface.  then i added steamed sweet potato beaks and nori eyes with sesame seed details.

my penguin couple sits atop white rice, which again is applied in a thin layer over more protein (in this case, about 1.5 additional meatballs that were already somewhat mushed and crumbled in the package).  to complete the meal, i have a fish jun (korean pancake), half a hard-boiled quail egg with a nori star, some pea pods, two tomatoes, some kiwi slices, and three blackberries.  my final decorative accent is two sweet potato fish (cut with one of the cool hand-crafted metal cutters) and one fish sausage fish (i cut the details with half of a drinking straw, a trick i learned from one of pikko’s boy’s day bentos).

i’m packing a few of my wooden utensils, which i accented with removable washi tape.





shikai maki bento

23 05 2010

thank you all for sharing so many wonderful links in your contest entries!  i had a wonderful time this weekend browsing through them — some took me to blogs i already know and love, and some took me to totally new sites i had never even heard of.

tomorrow’s bento has a few sources of inspiration:  one is the luxirare shikai maki bento that brenda posted in the comments, and another is the beautiful work of my good bento pal jenn (bentobird).  i tried to echo the natural elegance that her boxes epitomize, and it seemed fitting to incorporate her style into this meal, since her boxes often include sushi.  for the sushi component, i tried my hand at this interesting square-format sushi (using a handy how-to video on youtube!).  my roll contains shiso rice, kiwi strips, cucumber, and fried tofu… i need some more practice (the kiwi layer, in particular, didn’t hold its structure because the kiwi was so slippery), but i have the general idea and am sure i can improve!

another source of inspiration this week was a long-postponed first trip to minamoto kitchoan, the fine purveyor of gorgeous wagashi (japanese sweets) located on manhattan’s chi-chi 5th avenue.  here is a photo from their display case (these are plastic, but do look just like some of the items they are selling):

alongside tomorrow’s box i have a shobumochi packaged to look like a beautiful iris.  this will cap off my dessert fruit section (kiwi slices, pomegranate seeds, two juicy blackberries and one ripe cherry), which will in turn balance my veggie section (peppery arugula, a tiny sweet red pepper, two asparagus tips, two carved takuwan flowers, and a quail egg). to fill up the empty space in the box, i placed a bottle of soy dressing and a pair of disposable chopsticks (both decorated with washi tape in complementary colors).  the box is packed in a pretty red-patterned furoshiki that i received from another sweet bento friend.

— ♥ —

getting back to the contest… i edited the entry comments in order to number them, and then used the random.org website to generate a random integer from 1 to 95:

the winning entry, number 79, is abby of totoro bento!  congratulations!  please get in touch with your mailing information and i’ll mail your prize package right away.





egg flowers bento

20 05 2010

a quick bento tonight, with may’s BOMB theme in mind:  two flowers made from hard boiled egg slices (i topped the yolks with yellow cheese so that they would be more consistent-looking), with sesame seed eyes, nori mouths, and gochujang cheeks.  i used edamame for leaves, and the flowers are on top of rice mixed with ume powder, which is layered over kidney beans for extra protein.

behind the lettuce baran is a steamed broccoli floret, a vegetarian meatball in a paper food cup, two pea pods, a tomato and some takuwan slices, and some kiwi slices with a blackberry and a raspberry.

have you entered your flower-themed bentos in the BOMB?  and have you entered my new apartment giveaway?  i’m loving all of the links and ideas people have shared with me so far!





“laundry day” bento

8 04 2010

i’ve been hoarding this cute laundry line paper since the winter… the line of paper is appropriately titled “signs of spring,” and i just thought the little clothing items were so cute, but there were no signs of spring for so long in new york, that i kind of forgot about it.  well, spring is definitely here now (it was actually more like summer here yesterday, with temps up to 90 degrees!), and it really is laundry day for me tomorrow, so it seemed like the perfect time to finally break this paper out.

using the toothpick (or straight pin) method, i cut little clothing pieces out of cheese and fish sausage, and lined them up on a spicy chick-n patty.  the patty itself is on top of brown-and-white rice mixed with green peas, and the rest of the box contains purple potato flowers, grape tomatoes, steamed broccoli, a strawberry and a blackberry, pea pods, and two slices of tamagoyaki rolled the round way, like i recently saw in a cute bento made by babykins.

for another adorable take on edible clothing, check out e-obento. hope everyone has a great friday and start to their weekend!





flower piggy bento

28 03 2010

so nice to be back home with the boyfriend and doggy, catching up on my DVR, and back to bento, too!  miami was great (the conference was academically stimulating and i networked up the wazoo!), but like they say, there’s no place like home.

tomorrow’s lunch is a tofu piggy, dyed in 2 drops of red food coloring and water, and then pan fried with salt, pepper, sesame oil and garlic powder.   i fried up all the scraps from cutting the piggy, too, and those are buried underneath the rice.  this piggy is sniffing a takuwan and red pepper flower with parsley leaves.

my fruit and veggie section, separated by lettuce baran, has takuwan, asparagus, broccoli (with a cheese butterfly), grape tomatoes, pea pods, flower-cut carrots, and two blackberry-and-kumquat skewers.

looking forward to catching up on all the bento blog and flickr entries i missed last week!





flowered omurice bento and contest winner!

15 03 2010

a simple one tonight, since last night’s was so involved.  i find that omurice is a great way to use up scraps from bento projects, like the leftovers from cutting flowers.  the filling of this omurice has, well, rice (duh), fried up with some leftover sweet potato scraps, a chopped vegetarian hot dog, some chopped leftover steamed broccoli, one of my last baby sweet peppers, some scallion and gochujang.  i decorated with some simple cheese, sweet potato and purple carrot flowers, with pea pod “leaves.”

the fruit and veggie section is also simple — a few grape tomatoes, a piece of broccoli and some more pea pods, some clementine slices and blackberries with a food pick.  easy, breezy lunch in less than 20 minutes (compared to last night’s 3 hours!).

[as seen on iyoupapa]

— ♥ —

i so enjoyed reading all the contest participants’ GRE vocabulary sentences — you guys came up with really smart and creative uses for those tough words!  i wish i could award extra prizes based on my favorite sentences, but it’s a recession y’all!  so for the winner, i turned to the random.org site, which generated a number between 1 and 67 (there were 67 entries):

the winner is… tami!  some of you may know her as ABQ bento mama on flickr — she does really fun work.  tami, holler at me with your address so i can get this prize package out to you!





kamaboko “mushrooms” bento

28 01 2010

tomorrow’s lunch is all about kamaboko / fish cake / fish sausage / fish paste — whatever you call it, it tastes good and it’s fun to play with!

my faux mushrooms are made from one slice each of a pink-and-white kamaboko “loaf,” and one slice each from the end of a piece of fish sausage. they have peas for spots on their mushroom caps (using a drinking straw, i dug out a little hole in the kamaboko for each pea to rest in), and their faces consist of sesame sides, nori mouths, and ketchup cheeks. they’re propped up on leftover furikake’d-out-the-wazoo rice from last night’s inarizushi dinner.

in the top part of the box, i have broccoli topped by some takuwan and carrot flowers, pea pods, a few grape tomatoes, a strawberry-and-blackberry skewer, a few cucumber slices (hidden in the back), and some home-made lotus chips.

here’s a close-up of my mushroom friends, and then the lotus chip recipe…

gamene’s spicy lotus chips

  • 1/3 pack of pre-sliced lotus root (these will be in the produce or frozen section of your japanese grocer; they are vacuum sealed with liquid in a plastic package)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder and 1 tsp. gochu garu (korean red pepper flakes)
  1. pre-heat your oven to 375. lightly coat a baking sheet (you can use aluminum foil with cooking spray, or a silpat if you have it).
  2. shake most of the liquid off of your lotus root slices (but you don’t have to go crazy drying them with paper towels or anything). in a bowl, toss the lotus root slices with the oil and spices.
  3. spread them out on one even layer on your baking sheet, and bake for about 10 minutes (or until you start to smell them, open the oven, and find they are starting to brown!).
  4. flip them over one by one and continue baking for about another 8 minutes. when the second side is starting to brown, turn the oven off but leave the chips in there. i find that if i just let them cook with residual heat as the oven cools down, they dry out better and end up crispier. voila — enjoy!

ok bento pals, that’s it for me this week… wishing you all a great weekend, can’t wait to bento with you next week!

[as seen on makers of the cutest food on the planet and carnet diaphane: the japanese tradition of bento]





sunshine tofu bento

25 01 2010

i was so inspired by sherimiya‘s and hapa bento‘s recent sunshine bentos that i decided to make my own contribution to the theme!

my sunshine is a fried quail egg (plus about a tablespoon of extra egg white); i trimmed the “rays” with an x-acto knife and added the face details with punched nori.

this happy sun sits atop some korean stewed spicy tofu, and the rest of the box contains leftover spring rolls (from last night’s spice thai delivery), pea pods, baby carrot sticks, yellow pepper sticks, and grape tomatoes.  my sidecar has strawberry halves, some blackberries, takuwan flowers, and pomegranate seeds in a blossom-shaped food cup.

here’s a close-up of the sun:

this egg detail is actually pretty easy to accomplish, provided you don’t screw up cracking the egg and break the yolk before it hits the pan (which has happened to me on multiple occasions, since the membrane of a quail egg is so thick)!  fried egg details are super yummy, and can take many forms — i really liked susan‘s shaped egg today as well!  just make sure you cook the yolk thoroughly so that nothing scary (bacteria-wise) happens to your bento between the time you pack it and the time you eat it.

– ♥ –

my friend irina recently went to japan, and she brought me back the cutest candy bento!  it has 6 individually-wrapped candies (for use in 6 future individual bentos, mwa ha ha), including a sakura, a bunny, and a tiger.

i’ve never seen anything like it and i almost crapped myself when she gave it to me.  thanks irina!!





osechi bento

30 12 2009

apologies for my extended absence — i had a terrible cold for the last week or so, and just wasn’t up to bentoing.  luckily the boyfriend nursed me back to health with multiple nights of soup and grilled cheese (my preferred “sick in bed” comfort food meal), and now i’m back in action…

and just in the nick of time!  tomorrow is the last working day before the new year, so i’m bringing a new year’s bento for lunch.  traditional japanese new year’s food is known as osechi-ryōri, and includes sweet black beans (kuromame), a version of tamagoyaki made with fish paste (i used dashi instead), carrots, snow peas, and kamaboko (layered in the top tier with takuwan). i have added tomatoes, cherries, broccoli and blackberries for color and flavor variety, as well as a radish cut to look like a chrysanthemum, or in the spirit of the new year, a bursting firework.  the “2010” (resting on top of three veggie mool mandoo, a korean new year’s tradition) is cut from kamaboko with an xacto knife.

happy new year to all my bento friends!

[as seen on socyberty and lincoln cooking examiner]