kimchi grilled cheese bento

9 06 2010

late last week i received an awesome housewarming gift from one of my sweet bento pals:  a small, detailed, mouse-shaped cutter.  thanks a million, you-know-who, i love it!  and what better way to use a mouse cutter than in a cheese-filled bento?

inside this box is a yummy kimchi grilled cheese sandwich (inspired by the sandwiches we saw being sold by one of the vendors at last weekend’s renegade craft fair!) cut into thirds, topped by beet mice.  in the top section is a piece of panko-fried chicken, some pencil-thin asparagus wrapped in thinly-sliced turkey, a few tomatoes, a piece of steamed broccoli, and the wedge of cheese those mice are looking for!  i made the cheese by cutting a small wedge of parmesan off the block in my fridge, and then topping it with a piece of american out of which i cut holes with a round cutter and a drinking straw.

kimchi grilled cheese

for each sandwich:

  • 2 slices sourdough bread
  • 2 slices american cheese (or another yellow cheese of your choice; cheddar would be great)
  • 2 slices monterey jack cheese (or another white cheese of your choice)
  • 2 tbsp. diced kimchi
  • 1 tbsp. each butter and canola oil
  1. cover your cutting board or work surface with saran wrap or tin foil.  butter one slice of bread and place it on your work surface, butter side down (this is why we covered!).
  2. place a slice of yellow cheese and a slice of white cheese on the bread.  spread your diced kimchi evenly over the surface of the cheese.  place another slice of white and then another slice of yellow.
  3. butter your other slice of bread and place it on top of the stack, butter side up.
  4. in a frying pan, heat your oil and then turn the heat to medium-low.  place the sandwich in the pan, and then cover the top of the pan loosely with tin foil.
  5. place another heavy pan (or whatever comes in handy — i used my teapot) over the tinfoil, thereby weighing the sandwich down.  this encourages even heating and compresses the sandwich so that everything melts together more smoothly and the crust gets crustier.
  6. after 2-3 min. (or however it takes on your stovetop for the bottom side to get crusty golden brown), lift up the weight and the foil, flip your sandwich, and replace the weight and foil.  continue cooking for another 2 min. or until the other side is golden brown too.
  7. rest the sandwich on your cutting board for a few minutes — if you cut right away, all the cheese will ooze out.  but maybe you like it that way!




blue elephant bento

17 02 2010

a while ago, i ordered this cute blue elephant cutting board from fred flare, and then i promptly forgot about it.  well, tonight i went out for dinner (with the fab crew of sean, tabor, jesus and jason — hi guys!), which meant resorting to my last-minute, no-leftovers bento gameplan of grilled cheese.  plain old grilled cheese on wheat bread can be pretty boring to look at, so i decided to jazz it up with a blue elephant theme to match the cutting board.

the blue elephant on my sandwich is made from egg sheet (egg white, cornstarch, and 2 drops of blue food coloring), and i modeled him after the blue elephant baran you see in between the two sandwiches.  the grilled cheese has pepper jack and provolone in it, and i cut two mini-sandwiches out of one bigger sandwich, using the crinkle-cutter tool from this set.  the baran is from napa japan, although i don’t see it on their website right now (the cute froggie baran i used yesterday is still available on their site, though.)

to fill up the rest of the box, i added a bit of steamed broccoli, some yellow carrots cut in lia‘s famous style, some steamed sweet potato stars and grape tomatoes, a few baby pear slices, some pea pods, and a few blueberries.  i actually added more blueberries after i took the photo, but i didn’t want to block my elephant sandwich!





lioness bento

1 02 2010

another quick bento tonight, since i got back from a completely bananas movie pretty late and (shamefully) ate pizza and popcorn for dinner, thereby producing no leftovers for bento purposes. what do you do when you have no leftovers? grilled cheese to the rescue! and what makes a grilled cheese better? fried egg!

recently a sweet bento pal sent me this cool nesting onigiri set with a family of lions on the lids (thanks again, you-know-who!). i’ve seen susan of hawai’i’s bento box cookbook use this same set beautifully, and i thought i’d try my hand at a lion kyaraben. using susan’s technique, i cut the bread with the medium-sized onigiri case, making perfect sized sandwiches for the larger case. i used lucky sundae and pikko’s toothpick technique for cutting the lioness’ cheese muzzle; then i used manicure scissors to cut her nose, and a nori punch to cut her whisker holes and eyes/eyelashes. i added a fringe of yellow baran to simulate a mane!

filling the medium and small-sized onigiri cases i have a simple assortment of fruit and veggies: roasted butternut squash, pea pods, and grape tomatoes in the medium case, and blueberries, grapes, kiwi slices and clementine segments in the small one. i added a sunshine baran to cheer the fruit section up a bit. as props, i have a doily i received from another bento pal (aren’t my friends the best?!), and one of the pieces from this lego utensil set.

ready for another contest hint? well, i was starting to worry about what kind of bento withdrawal i will experience on vacation, and so i did a little research to see what my japanese takeaway options would be in the city i’m visiting. turns out i can get some simple sushi-based bentos to go, and they’ll run me from 990kr to 1480kr, depending on the size.

keep guessing, bento friends — i’ve so enjoyed the bento links you’ve shared, but so far nobody has guessed the correct destination!!

[as seen on i’d eat that, lego express, sticky brain, jeenious, bento box love, and lin loves]