o-tsukimi bento

30 09 2012

my dear twitter friend lisa recently educated me about the japanese holiday o-tsukimi… as a fanatic for all things autumnal, i was eager to try my hand at a bento celebrating this lovely tradition.  but being a bit out of practice with kyaraben, i turned to the best for guidance on how to interpret the themes of this celebration (the harvest moon, bunny, mochi, and fall foods such as squash/pumpkin) into a bento.  hippomum is a bento-maker whose work i have admired ever since i started making my own bento boxes, and looking back through her archives, i found several o-tsukimi-themed bentos.  specifically, these examples from 2009 and 2010 were just the inspiration i needed.  i followed her model of a cheerful rabbit with a mochi pyramid atop a ceremonial stand, and a partially-clouded-over moon against a night sky, switching out only the ingredients.

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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.





totoro onigiri bento

13 04 2011

have you seen anna the red’s cool tutorial on inarizushi totoro-making?  she’s full of awesome ideas, and this one might take the cake.  i have never done a totoro before, and even though i didn’t have inari on hand, i was inspired to try my hand at our favorite neighbor.

my totoro is simplified — no arms, lower body, or whiskers.  but hopefully i’ve captured his essence, including his cheshire-like grin and slightly bugged-out eyes.  i mixed rice with ground black sesame to make the grey color of his coat, and added punched nori Vs from my emoticon puncher for his stomach markings.  the white part of his body is stuffed with a vegetarian meatball, left over from yesterday’s lunch.

the rest of tomorrow’s bento has steamed broccoli with fish sausage stars, tamagoyaki rolled with nori and topped with carrot stars, steamed brussels sprout halves, a few pieces of golden-fried tofu, and a nice vine tomato.  a tangerine for dessert, and i’m all set!





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!





april showers bento

6 04 2011

the  past couple weeks have NOT been spring-like here in NYC, with the exception of this past weekend.  today it rained again, and honestly, i’m getting pretty tired of it — i want to break out cute spring skirts and shoes!

tomorrow’s lunch has umbrellas and rain drops as an homage to the current weather system.  my umbrellas are made from carrot (cut with a tiny fondant cutter), and are affixed with somen to two mixed-rice-and-ume onigiri.  the box also contains steamed broccoli, fish sausage “rain drops,” purple potato, cute strawberries, pea pods, and a silicon cup with a kabocha gratin.  i have a sesame-flavored soy milk drink for a sweet accompaniment.

hope you all had a nice wednesday, and are furiously bidding away on the bento4japan auctions, including the adorable shinzi katoh box which i relisted today!





flowered kimbap bento

4 04 2011

i made dinner with my bestie tonight, and then we drank cocktails together on my couch while commenting on a hot episode of intervention… what can i say, i’m a girl of extremely refined tastes!

needless to say, two vodka-cranberries in, i couldn’t be too ambitious in my bento-making.  pre-made kimbap (from yesterday’s grocery run to flushing’s H-mart) to the rescue!  i quickly packed the kimbap slices in my skinny pink bento with some fruits and veggies from the fridge — two halved, steamed brussels sprouts; 4 takuwan slices; some pea pods and bamboo leaves, clementine sections and two mini strawberries — plus vegetarian chicken tenders for protein a few pink fish sausage blossoms for a pretty accent.   done and done!

in other bento news, thanks to help from sheri and mils i was able to add the “like on facebook” bento4japan badge.  are you a fan yet?  the bento4japan auctions are still going strong… i’ve got my eye on a certain newspaper-printed furoshiki, but there are lots of lovely items up for grabs, so head on over to ebay and help us continue raising money for relief in japan!