octobre rose bento

11 10 2010

october is breast cancer awareness month.  like those of my fellow bento bloggers, my life has been touched by this disease, and so i was moved by bento blog’s invitation to participate in a “pink october” awareness-raising project. check out the lovely themed bentos by jenn of bentobird, susan of hawai`i’s bento box cookbook, lia of my bentolicious, debra of hapa bento, and chantale of skinny mini kiki. did you participate? if so, please add a link in the comments!

my “octobre rose” bento is simple — two pale pink onigiri (the rice is mixed with ume vinegar powder, and each one is stuffed with an umeboshi) topped with breast cancer ribbons (made from the outer layer of a kamaboko log), a stamed broccoli floret and purple potato flower, two pieces of veggie tamagoyaki, two pea pods, a vegetarian chicken nugget with a cheese heart, and a two-tone tomato pick with a pink flag.

i should note that the ribbons were inspired by pikko’s cool egg sheet ribbons from her breast cancer awareness bento last year. thanks for the bento-spiration (as always) pikko!

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]

red riding hood bento

21 01 2010

tonight’s bento features a few new goodies i got in the mail today from a bento friend — aren’t those packages the best?!

the entire theme was inspired by the cute red riding hood baran.  love it!!!  to go with her, i made a wolf onigiri (the wolf’s face is ham, with kamaboko ears and nori eyes, eyebrows, nose and whiskers).  the second onigiri has an awesome pre-cut nori shape from a packaged set that i have coveted FOREVER!  my bento pal was kind enough to send it over, yay, thanks again you-know-who!

in the “red riding hood” tier of the box, i have carrot sticks, crinkle-cut cucumber slices, a little bit of pickled carrot, daikon and lotus root salad garnished with cilantro (in a yellow food cup), a few takuwan flowers, half of a vietnamese spring roll, and some cherries.  rounding out the “wolf” tier of the box is some cabbage, and the onigiri are stuffed with tofu and peanut sauce.  before i closed up the box and stuck it in the fridge, i wrapped the onigiri in saran wrap, which will help keep them from drying out, and help keep the wolf’s face stuck on there!

here is a close up of the predator and his prey:

in the next few days i may be implementing some changes to the layout of this blog, to better accommodate the new ad banners.  please be patient if things look a little funky!

new birdie bento

14 01 2010

all japanese flavors in tonight’s bento… clockwise from left, going in a spiral:  two pan-fried gyoza (studded with fish cake flowers), carrot sticks, some steamed broccoli, enoki mushrooms, two pieces of tempura fried sweet potato, cherry tomatoes with two steamed sweet potato stars, miso-sesame-honey eggplant made with a variation of hapa bento’s excellent recipe, a sesame mochi, and some kamaboko slices.

on top of the steamed broccoli is a beautiful takuwan bird, cut with a new handmade cutter, which was a present from my pal sherimiya — thanks so much sheri, i love it!  i think i’ll try cutting something thinner next time, so that the intricate shape of the cutter is reflected more crisply (this was my first time using it, so any flaw in the bird was with my technique, NOT the cutter!!).

i’m looking forward to the the end of the workday tomorrow… i filed a massive brief this week, which had me up working late several nights, and i’m exhausted.  hope you all have a wonderful and restful weekend!

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]