shikai maki bento

23 05 2010

thank you all for sharing so many wonderful links in your contest entries!  i had a wonderful time this weekend browsing through them — some took me to blogs i already know and love, and some took me to totally new sites i had never even heard of.

tomorrow’s bento has a few sources of inspiration:  one is the luxirare shikai maki bento that brenda posted in the comments, and another is the beautiful work of my good bento pal jenn (bentobird).  i tried to echo the natural elegance that her boxes epitomize, and it seemed fitting to incorporate her style into this meal, since her boxes often include sushi.  for the sushi component, i tried my hand at this interesting square-format sushi (using a handy how-to video on youtube!).  my roll contains shiso rice, kiwi strips, cucumber, and fried tofu… i need some more practice (the kiwi layer, in particular, didn’t hold its structure because the kiwi was so slippery), but i have the general idea and am sure i can improve!

another source of inspiration this week was a long-postponed first trip to minamoto kitchoan, the fine purveyor of gorgeous wagashi (japanese sweets) located on manhattan’s chi-chi 5th avenue.  here is a photo from their display case (these are plastic, but do look just like some of the items they are selling):

alongside tomorrow’s box i have a shobumochi packaged to look like a beautiful iris.  this will cap off my dessert fruit section (kiwi slices, pomegranate seeds, two juicy blackberries and one ripe cherry), which will in turn balance my veggie section (peppery arugula, a tiny sweet red pepper, two asparagus tips, two carved takuwan flowers, and a quail egg). to fill up the empty space in the box, i placed a bottle of soy dressing and a pair of disposable chopsticks (both decorated with washi tape in complementary colors).  the box is packed in a pretty red-patterned furoshiki that i received from another sweet bento friend.

— ♥ —

getting back to the contest… i edited the entry comments in order to number them, and then used the random.org website to generate a random integer from 1 to 95:

the winning entry, number 79, is abby of totoro bento!  congratulations!  please get in touch with your mailing information and i’ll mail your prize package right away.





lovebirds bento

10 02 2010

i know, i know, sheri did a gorgeous lovebirds bento on monday, and i swear that 1) i sketched this similar idea in my notebook over the weekend, and 2) i’m by no means trying to top hers (there’s no way i could!)… that said, maybe we can get a theme going (like when everybody did penguins)?  i just couldn’t pass up using this beautiful, intricate cutter for a holiday themed bento.

my love birds are made from egg sheet (i used mothering corner’s super-helpful instructions, and learned that adding cornstarch produces a pretty durable and smooth sheet; mine has 3 drops of red food coloring) on top of cheese, and the heart they’re sitting on is more egg sheet and cheese, topped by a daikon heart.

in the top portion of the box we have yellow carrots, pea pods, a grape tomato, broccoli, purple potato slices, pomegranate seeds in 2 silicone food cups (i doubled for stiffness and a more recognizable heart shape), a strawberry, and garlic-pepper salmon (leftover from tonight’s dinner).

this is my last valentine bento, as tomorrow i’ll be posting my “year of the tiger” contribution.  i hope you all have a wonderful valentine’s day, either with your sweethearts, your kids, or friends who love you!





winged heart bento

9 02 2010

i have seen some beautiful naturally-colored rice this week (two great examples are sheri’s pink heart and mils’ love hearts), but — call me a cheater — this week i will be using good old fashioned food coloring to add some holiday spirit to my bentos.

tomorrow’s lunch has a winged heart onigiri (the strawberry fans look like wings to me — go with it!) seated on a bed of pomegranate seeds (with a tomato heart accent on the front) in the red section.  the yellow section has baby yellow carrot sticks, kumquats, and takuwan flowers.  the green section has two different kinds of veggie dumpling, with a few pea pods.  finally, the blue section has purple potato “chips” (roasted in the oven) and purple carrot discs.

in the center hole is some dipping sauce for the dumplings, the container for which is topped with a cool valentine’s sticker a generous bento pal sent me.  are you digging how i matched the food to the compartments?  that was an idea shared by multiple participants in hapa bento’s last 4-compartment-box giveaway!

[as seen on love and trash]





sunshine tofu bento

25 01 2010

i was so inspired by sherimiya‘s and hapa bento‘s recent sunshine bentos that i decided to make my own contribution to the theme!

my sunshine is a fried quail egg (plus about a tablespoon of extra egg white); i trimmed the “rays” with an x-acto knife and added the face details with punched nori.

this happy sun sits atop some korean stewed spicy tofu, and the rest of the box contains leftover spring rolls (from last night’s spice thai delivery), pea pods, baby carrot sticks, yellow pepper sticks, and grape tomatoes.  my sidecar has strawberry halves, some blackberries, takuwan flowers, and pomegranate seeds in a blossom-shaped food cup.

here’s a close-up of the sun:

this egg detail is actually pretty easy to accomplish, provided you don’t screw up cracking the egg and break the yolk before it hits the pan (which has happened to me on multiple occasions, since the membrane of a quail egg is so thick)!  fried egg details are super yummy, and can take many forms — i really liked susan‘s shaped egg today as well!  just make sure you cook the yolk thoroughly so that nothing scary (bacteria-wise) happens to your bento between the time you pack it and the time you eat it.

– ♥ –

my friend irina recently went to japan, and she brought me back the cutest candy bento!  it has 6 individually-wrapped candies (for use in 6 future individual bentos, mwa ha ha), including a sakura, a bunny, and a tiger.

i’ve never seen anything like it and i almost crapped myself when she gave it to me.  thanks irina!!





holiday chef bento

17 12 2009

had soup for dinner tonight, and since i don’t have a mr. (or ms.) bento that seals tightly enough to bring that to work, i used some of my trusty, reliable trader joe’s mini-pizzas for tomorrow’s lunch.

lots of props again tonight.  and i FINALLY remembered to bring home the massive econo-pack of batteries i got on sale at CVS, so i was able to replace the almost-dead batteries in my flash (i use an SB-600)… i think the difference is noticeable, much less need for light editing in picnik.

anywho, back to the food.  three little pizzas, and the top one has some pepper jack (painted with green food coloring) and pom seeds for a “holly” garnish.  my holiday chef is tossing the pizzas (get it?!), and he’s made out of mozzarella and cheddar with nori facial features.  grape tomatoes and baby carrots with my mesclun greens and one romaine leaf (will bring a small container of dressing with me to eat all the veg together as a salad), with pom seeds and kumquat slices in a food cup and two godiva truffles (present from the boyfriend) for dessert.  doily, chenille ribbon, and cool pencil chopsticks from moma for props.

chanukah is almost over, but there’s still that exciting pre-christmas mood at my office!





portobello slider bento

15 12 2009


yummy leftovers from dinner tonight with the boyfriend at counter, a vegetarian restaurant in our neighborhood.

top portion: portobello slider with rosemary mayo on a tiny cute poppy seed bun. purple carrot skewers, cherry tomatoes, and olive skewers, and two carrot-cheese flowers. bottom portion: leftover confit fingerling potatoes, red quinoa-and-fennel salad, roasted eggplant with pom seeds and cumin, and red saurkraut. topped with a few carrot music notes and cheese stars.

doily, kids’ chopsticks, and the last gummy cherry candy.





flirty empanada bento

6 12 2009

the boyfriend was sick all day today, so i picked up a quick dinner from ruben’s empanadas to cheer him up — breakfast for dinner always does it! he had sausage and egg, but this leftover for tomorrow’s lunch has a spinach filling.

her eyes are cheese and nori, her mouth is nori, and her hair bow is a pasta bowtie.  she’s surrounded by — clockwise from top right — purple carrot sticks, a starfruit slice, pomegranate seeds in a food cup, half of a deviled egg, snow pea pods, an orange-and-red grape tomato skewer and an olive skewer, some nashi slices and a few more pea pods.

[as seen on “cute food – the adorable, edible art of kawaii cooking”]