lentil-walnut meatballs (aka “amazeballs”!)

4 01 2013

lentil meatballs text revised

earlier this year for a date night, the hubby and i walked over the williamsburg bridge (which is pretty close to our apartment) and headed into the lower east side for dinner at the meatball shop.  the concept of this restaurant is that you order whatever kind of meatballs you want (beef, pork, chicken, veggie, and a variety of often-kooky daily specials, like a reuben-sandwich-flavored ball), and then get to choose from a variety of “bases” (mashed potatoes, greens, etc.) and sauces (tomato, pesto, etc.) to build your own dish.  i had the “vegetable meatballs,” and at the time, i was doing the #plantPOWER challenge — so after a long discussion with my server, we agreed that my dish would be prepped without the standard shower of parmesan cheese that normally tops the balls, in order to keep it plant-based.  i should have realized, but did not at the time, that the mixture for the balls also had an animal-based ingredient: eggs.  oopsie.  my #plantPOWER intentions were good and i thought i was covered!  but then i found a new york times article publishing the recipe, and i realized i had gone astray.

last night, in the face of the unbelievably cold weather we’ve been having in NYC, i was in the mood for some plant-based comfort food, and i decided to modify the meatball shop recipe so that it would be completely plant-based.  click through for the modified recipe!

Read the rest of this entry »

mushroom ravioli bento

30 06 2010

one thing i love about our new neighborhood is all the old-school italian grocery stores, most of whom sell the freshest mozzarella, and some of whom import delicious fresh pasta.  for today’s lunch, i’m using leftover mushroom ravioli from last night’s dinner party… these were fantastic just boiled, drained, and pan-fried with a little bit of butter, salt, pepper, and thyme.

to decorate my mushroom ravioli, i made mini-mushrooms from vegetarian ham and cheese.  the rest of the box has steamed broccoli, two grape tomatoes, a few pea pods, and a fruit section with clementine wedges, red grapes, and more of my crazy CSA blueberry haul.

the mini mushrooms were super easy to make:  i laid a piece of veggie ham on top of cheese, and used a medium-sized circle cutter to make 5 circles.  then i used the smaller of my two tear-drop-shaped cutters, upside down, to cut away the “negative space” on either side of the mushrooms’ stems.  finally, i took the ham layers off the cheese layers and used a drinking straw to cut the mushrooms’ spots, then carefully replacing the ham on top of the cheese so that the yellow was visible through the holes.

— ♥ —

unrelatedly… remember how i said i was making blueberry crisp last night?  it turned out sooooo yummy that i just had to post my recipe (adapted from 3 or 4 crisp recipes on cooks.com).  this recipe will make five or six little ramekins (which i think are prettier for individual servings at a dinner party), or it will make an 8″x8″ brownie pan (or 9″x9″ with slightly less tall and crispier end results).  and i know thyme is a weird ingredient for a dessert, but i really think it’s a great flavor combo — it’s just herbacious enough to taste unusual, but mild and lemon-y enough to go well with (and not overpower) the fruit.

blueberry-thyme crisp

for the filling/base (the fruit part, whatever you want to call it):

  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • zest from half a lemon
  • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed from the woody stem (discard stems)

for the crispy crumbly top:

  • 1 stick of COLD (i actually used semi-frozen) butter
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup quick-cook oats
  • 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon and ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar


    1. preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
    2. in a large mixing bowl, toss the berries with the flour, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, and thyme.
    3. butter your ramekins (or brownie pan) and gently dump the blueberries in (too many mashed berries before it starts cooking will make it too wet).  if you are using ramekins, leave about a 1/2″ of room at the top — the cooked crisp will sink as the berries wilt down, but you need to have room to add the topping before baking.  if you’re using a brownie pan, don’t worry, 4 cups of blueberries won’t come up anywhere close to the top of the pan, so you’ll have plenty of room for topping.
    4. in a food processor, add all the topping ingredients and pulse until you have a coarse mixture (e.g., until the little lumps of butter are about the size that the oats were before you started pulsing).
    5. with a spoon, carefully add the topping to the filled ramekins or baking pan.  you want to fully cover the blueberries (although one poking out here and there is fine), but you don’t want a particularly thick layer of topping — it won’t crisp up if it’s too thick, so it’s ok to end up with extra topping (throw it in a zip-loc bag, it freezes fine and you can use it to top a single ramekin in the future).
    6. place your ramekins on a foil-lined baking sheet (they may bubble over a bit), or if you are using a brownie pan go ahead and put a piece of aluminum foil on the baking rack underneath the pan, and bake for 20-30 minutes (depending on your altitude and oven) or until the entire crisp has sunken down, the topping is golden, and you can see blueberry goo around the edges of the pan.
    7. cool them down!  really, i swear, they are too hot to eat right now (i learned the hard way).  when the ramekins are still warm to the touch, top with vanilla ice cream and a few sprigs of thyme.

    red bahn mi bento

    2 02 2010

    i know, the bahn mi itself is not red, but this is my contribution to hapa bento’s BOMB (“best of the month bento”) challenge.  february’s theme is heart-healthy, holiday-friendly RED!

    a quick and easy bento tonight with no frills — i had a bad day at work and didn’t feel too inspired.  but look, i have a red flower prop, a red box, some red tomatoes with a red flowered skewer, and even a red bento belt!  that counts, right?  and the cute mushroom paper did cheer me up a bit.

    this bahn mi is from a new place that the boyfriend discovered in our neighborhood, bahn mi zon.  i like their sandwiches better than the place i had been going to previously — they are bigger, and the baguette is more tender.  this one’s filled with marinated mushrooms, tofu, and your standard cucumber-cilantro-daikon-carrot combination.

    rounding out the box are a pear fan (the pear is also kinda reddish!) and two takuwan fans, some blueberries, and the tomatoes.  underneath that stuff i buried a babybel cheese and some cucumber slices.  this box is pretty deep, which is why it works for the sandwich halves, but which also means that some food items won’t be visible.

    want a contest hint?   i thought so!  ok — in the country i’ll be visiting, putrified shark meat is a traditional food.  i’m pretty brave when it comes to trying new things (i ate some pretty unimaginable animal parts in shanghai), and i’ll go with an open mind, but the word “putrified” is inherently unappetizing, no?  i bet it wouldn’t look great in bento, either!

    anpanman bento

    18 01 2010

    tomorrow’s lunch features anpanman, the beloved japanese cartoon character.  i made my anpanman out of a vegetarian “chik’n” patty (i like boca brand’s spicy flavor), with a cherry nose, strawberry slices for cheeks, and nori for the eyes, eyebrows and mouth.

    the patty is on top of some rice that i sprinkled with shiso furikake, and filling up the rest of the box is some roasted baby bok choi (made in the toaster again, with just salt, pepper, olive oil, minced garlic and gochu garu), enoki mushrooms, sweet potato hearts (made from two teardrop shapes each), cherries and pea pods.

    — ♥ —

    i know i usually stick to bento on this blog, but i wanted to do a quick restaurant review since i had the day off from work today (for MLK day) and took the opportunity to eat some dim sum in chinatown with friends.   this time we tried jing fong, which gets mixed reviews food-wise but has the classic ambiance we were looking for:  a huge, bustling banquet hall with tons of carts (as well as a hot buffet).

    here are some shots of the hot buffet line:


    and here are a few of the goodies we ordered from carts:

    from the top:  various dumplings, other savories (stewed tofu, fried tofu with shrimp, and eggplant with pork) and sweet sesame pastries.

    overall, the consensus of internet reviewers was pretty spot-on, in that the experience was lively and fun, and the food was ok.

    as you can see from the menu card at the left, we stuffed ourselves (with no less than 21 dishes), until we felt like we needed to be rolled away in wheelbarrows!!! it was a fairly good bargain, at only about $16 per person, tax and tip included.  that said, i preferred the food at ping’s (where the eggplant is so divine i featured it in a previous bento). if choosing based on food alone, i wouldn’t necessarily go back to jing fong (after all, there are still many more dim sum places for me to try!).

    — ♥ —

    finally, i wanted to pass along an award i received from two lovely ladies, lia of my bentolicious, and tata of bonito’s cooking wonderland.  thank you so much lia and tata, i’m honored!

    there are no rules to this award, so if i’ve passed it along, please don’t feel obligated to keep passing or to post on it or anything — but i thought it would be a nice chance to give a shout-out to my favorite blogging bentoists.  so, debra (hapa bento), sheri (happy little bento), pikko (adventures in bento making), and susan (hawai`i’s bento box cookbook), plus lia and tata, here’s to you!  i ♥ all of your blogs!

    “fit for life” bento

    6 01 2010

    tonight is my contribution to hapa bento’s b.o.m.b. (best of the month bento) project, for which this month’s theme is… ROASTING!

    the roasted veg here is really my side dish, but since it’s the b.o.m.b. theme i’ll discuss it first. basically, i kept it simple – asparagus, baby bella mushrooms, grape tomatoes, yellow squash and brussels sprouts roasted in my toaster oven (energy efficient and the perfect size for roasting only enough to feed one) with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, cracked pepper, and thyme. thanks again to hapa for hosting this contest on her awesome blog, and for inspiring us all to use this healthy cooking method more often!

    roasting aside, the sandwich here is kind of the main event. sometimes when the boyfriend and i are feeling lazy we have “sando night” and pig out on crazy sandwiches stuffed with whatever we want. the boyfriend chose hummus and salami (weird, right?) whereas i chose a concoction from his mom’s yummy sandwich shop (ygnacio cafe in walnut creek, ca – highly recommend if you are ever in the area) that she has dubbed “fit for life.” this magical sammie consists of wheat bread (i like mine toasted), with cream cheese, sprouts, avocado, and sliced black olives. i also added baked lemon-pepper tofu to mine to give it a little bit more protein, and added a pretty accent with some nashi-and-beet blossoms (snow pea “leaves,” sesame seed centers).

    fruit sidecar has fanned strawberries, green grapes, the last two slices of starfruit, and a skewer of blueberries (i thought the blue matched the main box nicely).