vintage stamps bento

26 04 2011

a recent trend in wedding stationary is to use a mix of vintage postage stamps for a unique and stylized look. i think this idea is really cute, but it can be cost-prohibitive (some vintage stamps cost up to 10 times their face value!).

inspired by the trend as well as cute bentos by akinoichigo and lucky sundae, and evolving the scottie dog “stamps” bento i made a few weeks ago, i made two vintage postage stamp sandwiches for tomorrow’s lunch. each stamp sits atop a sandwich of pumpernickel, vegetarian ham, cheese and mustard. the provolone stamps are topped with fish sausage roses, as well as green pea and nori accents and hand cut 12-cent demarcations.

posted in “what’s for lunch wednesday” — what are you having?





happy matryoshka bento

25 04 2011

tonight for dinner i made an awesome pan-seared cod dish, served with shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (recipe below) and a fat slice of oven-roasted beefsteak tomato.

for tomorrow’s lunch, which is my last passover lunch for the year (YAY!), i packed some of the cod beneath a layer of the quinoa salad, topped with a cheese-and-nori matryoshka.  the side portion has steamed broccoli, a fish sausage heart, steamed asparagus, sweet potato “doilies”, pea pods, and a lettuce border.

quinoa has been a controversial grain for those observing passover — because it was not a part of the diet of the jews who fled slavery in egypt, it was never placed on the list of forbidden passover foods, even though it expands like rice and other forbidden grains.  that’s good enough for me, and because quinoa is protein-packed, it’s a nice change from rice.

the basic recipe is simple, and the number of potential add-ins is infinite.  here’s the combo i came up with tonight:

shitake-miso-arugula-quinoa salad (if you can come up with a better name, let me know!)

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 8 medium shitake caps, julienned
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • olive oil to coat a medium skillet
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. shiro miso paste
  • 3 big handfuls of arugula
  • pepper to taste
  1. coat your skillet with olive oil and heat it up.  add the sliced garlic and julienned shitake caps, and sautee until golden.
  2. add the quinoa to the pan and stir until it’s evenly toasted but not burned.  (this is the same process you would use when making risotto and toasting the arborio rice prior to adding liquid.)
  3. in a separate pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil, and then whisk in the miso paste.
  4. add the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to the boiling miso broth, cover and reduce to a low simmer.  allow to cook for 10-15 minutes until all liquid has been absorbed and the individual quinoa grains are plumped.  turn off heat and leave lid on to steam for an additional 2 to 5 minutes.
  5. transfer the quinoa-shitake-garlic mixture to a mixing bowl, and fold in the arugula.  it will steam/wilt in this process; make sure fold until it’s evenly incorporated.

that’s it!  it’s good hot or cold, and very nutritious.





twin geese bento

24 04 2011

tomorrow’s lunch has two hanpen geese with egg sheet beaks and feet, nori eyes, and fish sausage cheeks.  they’re sitting on a bed of basmati rice sprinkled with furikake i received in a surprise package from a bento pal — it’s got a combination of sesame seeds, dehydrated green bell pepper, and yuzu, which gives it a very unique, tangy flavor.  i love it!

i punched some little clovers out of fish sausage, and the back portion of this box has steamed sweet potato and broccolini, a takuwan rosette with asparagus leaves, tiny red vine tomatoes, and a cheese flower.  i think i felt like using my goose-shaped cutter because the resulting geese look like they would lay nice fat easter eggs.  did everyone have a nice easter weekend?

don’t forget that the auction for the lovely hand-crafted crane earrings ends in a few hours — all proceeds are to benefit japan relief, so get your bid in while you can!





flying rilakkuma bento

18 04 2011

tomorrow’s bread-free lunch is my take on soboro, mexican-style: a layer of spanish rice (cooked in my rice cooker with peas and corn), a layer of monterey jack cheese, and a layer of vegetarian ground beef sauteed with cumin.  plus a bunch of fresh fruits and veggies — cuke, yellow and red vine tomatoes, steamed broccoli, pea pods, a big fat strawberry, and a few tangerine sections.

the star of this lunch is rilakkuma, cut with an exacto knife from two colors of egg sheet.  i recently bought a package of onigiri cases with rilakkuma on them, and the package had two funny/cute rilakkuma designs:  in one he is flying with cooking utensils in his hands (this is what i reproduced for my bento, without the utensils), and in another he is totally relaxing (per his name!), with one arm leisurely propping up his head.

just a reminder: the fabulous play bento set — consisting of adorable, hand-crafted fabric food items traditionally found in a bento box — is still up for grabs on ebay.  the bento4japan charity auctions are winding down, but this item is like a grand finale!





flowered meatballs bento

12 04 2011

for dinner tonight, we had a HUGE salad, and i’m bringing leftovers from that to work tomorrow.  because of that, i knew i only needed to pack something small for my actual bento.

the salad didn’t have much in the way of protein, so to compensate,  i took 3 frozen vegetarian “meatballs” (from trader joe’s), popped them in the microwave for 45 seconds until they were mostly defrosted, glazed them with a bit of bulldog sauce, and then topped them with cheese flowers.  i nuked them with the cheese for another 13 seconds so that the flowers melted slightly, and then stuck some peas on.  not a kyaraben, but quick and easy.

the back of this skinny tier has some steamed broccoli and brussels sprout halves, and two fresh mini vine tomatoes.  i guess it’s salad day, because i also packed myself a cute fruit salad cup (grapes and strawberries).  what are you having for lunch this wednesday?





poodles in love bento

10 04 2011

tomorrow’s lunch has two poodles in love.  the poodles are cut with a fondant cutter from hanpen, which i was able to find at my japanese grocer.  the poodles are set on a bed of rice mixed with the very last of my hana osushi no moto… for some reason i can’t find that product anywhere!  if you know of an online source for it, please share in the comments!

the rest of my lunch has some thai-basil mock duck, a steamed carrot slice, a few pieces of steamed broccoli, a few pea pods, a nice yellow tomato, half each of a strawberry and a steamed brussels sprouts, and some pretty purple japanese pickles.

have a happy start to your week, and don’t forget, the auction for the cute shinzi katoh box ends early tomorrow morning, but there are lots of other cute boxes to bid on for charity!





spring sailboat bento

3 04 2011

i hope everybody had a nice weekend! we finally got some nice, spring-like weather, with temperatures in the mid-50s and two days of fairly consistent sunshine.

tomorrow’s bento has a nautical theme, with a sailboat (nori and colored soy paper on cheese) and an anchor (cut from steamed carrot). i have a small piece of broiled salmon, with more flaked underneath the rice (which is mixed with seaweed and sesame seed furikake). a few steamed broccoli florets, a mini yellow pepper, and the cutest mini-strawberries round out this meal.

happy start of the week!