forbidden violets bento

29 09 2010

this is my entry for mademoiselle.m’s “passion bento” contest.  there are still 2 days to enter; why not join the international fun and put together a bento reflecting the things (or people, places, etc.) about which you are passionate?

this bento reflects my passions of art (including the art of bento-making itself!) and nature.

the above composition is made from a black-and-brown rice blend, purple potato (with white cheese, yellow cheese, and sesame seeds), basil leaves (from the plant on my windowsill), shredded takuwan, baby pear tomatoes, a kiwi berry, two raspberries, steamed broccolini (i used only the stems, which are tender and less woody than regular broccoli, and very tasty), vegetarian meatballs, and sweet potato.  the forbidden rice is layered on top of my favorite spicy stewed korean tofu.

i originally saw the three-petaled violet idea at akinoichigo’s blog, and decided to put my own spin on it.  this is another thing i’m passionate about — i feel so grateful to be part of this supportive community where everyone shares ideas and inspiration, and where this type of adaptation is encouraged!





milk bread bento

27 09 2010

have you ever heard of milk bread?  well, i hadn’t — that is, until last week’s visit to paris baguette, a new bakery in koreatown.  i saw the softest, fluffiest loaves of bread ever, labeled 우유식빵, literally, “milk bread.” the green loaf has green tea in it, and tastes slightly sweeter, but both are like a more decadent, moister, thicker version of wonder bread.  growing up, my mom never stocked our house with white bread, so occasionally it’s a real treat for me.

i cut two slices of white and one of green each in half, and made three half-sandwiches with some basic egg salad (just boiled eggs, mayonnaise, gulden’s deli mustard, salt, pepper and garlic powder) and, in the white halves, frilly lettuce.  this box just barely holds these puffy sammies, but there was room for four pretty pear-shaped baby tomatoes.

a sidecar filled with red and yellow raspberries, a halved lady apple, and kiwi berries completes this super simple work-day lunch.





confetti rice bento

8 09 2010

tired work nights call for quick, easy meals; it’s no surprise that fried rice is one of my favorites. this batch has everything but the kitchen sink (leftovers from the last few weeks of summer produce): red and yellow peppers, serrano chiles, mushrooms, kosher hot dogs, spanish onion, kimchi, and zucchini, plus freshly-ground black pepper, soy sauce, gochujang, and a bit of sesame oil for flavor. the boyfriend hates peas and carrots, so i added a few of those, plus some takuwan strips, on top (rather than mixing in, which would mean he couldn’t pick them out) — i think the scattered effect looks a bit like festive confetti.

the rest of the box has steamed broccolini, cucumber sticks sprinkled with black sesame seeds, a fried quail egg, and a grape tomato. for dessert, i have a sidecar with green and champagne grapes, plus beautiful early-fall raspberries from my CSA share, garnished with a bit of mint.  that’s it; no fancy decorations this time (save for one pick), just a quick transformation of leftovers into a reasonably appealing lunch for tomorrow.

i need to take ruby on one more walk tonight, and then i’ll probably fall asleep watching the giants game.  g’night bento pals!





tamagoyaki chicks bento

21 01 2010

tomorrow’s lunch has a musubi (yes, another musubi!), this time with brown rice and wasabi-mayo salmon filling.  the box is lined in cabbage, and in the bottom right-hand corner is a piece of the garlic-pepper salmon we had for dinner tonight (pan seared and then finished in the oven).  the “space fillers” in this bento are snow peas, grape tomatoes, a few cherries and raspberries, baby carrots, and a piece of steamed broccoli.

you may have noticed my musubi is decorated with another of my new pre-cut nori shapes — i love these!  i added a few hearts made with a different punch, just to fill up the rest of the musubi’s surface.

for a cute touch, i added two chicks made of tamogayki slices.  these are super easy to do — just use the non-cut side of the tamagoyaki slices (so that the swirl made by the filling doesn’t distract from the chicks’ faces), stick a pick in the top of their head to approximate the cocks’-combs, and add features of your choice (i did nori eyes and carrot beaks made from two different sized triangles each).

i definitely didn’t make this idea up, but i can’t remember where i saw it.  so, hey bentoists out there — if you’re reading this and want to be credited for this idea, please let me know!  i’m happy to update this post to link to your fantastic work!  UPDATE:  i found it!  i have been a fan of lucky sundae’s blog for a while, and i saw this entry months ago.  but then today i noticed it’s also on the cover her upcoming yum yum bento box book with pikko, and seeing the cover triggered my memory.  so thanks for the inspiration, lucky sundae!

here’s a close-up of the chicks’ faces:

the beak on the left one is a little bit jacked up, but maybe he’s just mid-tweet… yeah, that’s the ticket.

anyway, most of the CSS-related funny business i alluded to yesterday has been resolved, thanks to my awesome, life-saving, technology guru friend.  thanks vivi!

you may have already noticed my sweet new foodbuzz and j-list banners, and now i’ve also put together an amazon store filled with bento goodies hand-picked by me (some based on having used and loved, others based on still wanting — hint hint, boyfriend, if you are reading)… anyway, if you’re in the mood to feed your bento addiction, check out some of my selections!





cat and birdies bento

12 01 2010

first of all, a big WELCOME to any new readers who clicked over from bento central — thanks for stopping by, and i hope you like what you see… as my dad would say, take off your coat and stay a while!

tonight i made garlic-ginger salmon filets and sesame-sauteed broccoli for dinner. i flaked the leftover salmon, mixed it with wasabi and mayo, and made a MONSTER-sized onigiri (i swear it’s mostly salmon, not that much rice!)…

the kitty onigiri’s ears and nose are made of fish sausage, and her eyes and mouth are made of nori. because i had some quail eggs, i wanted to do a whole cat-and-bird theme. i dyed the eggs in a little bit of turmeric, cut beaks from carrots, and stuck on some nori eyes. the birdies are sitting in an orange silicone food cup on top of some leftover orange bits from the “twist cut” carrots towards the lower left corner. i also had a birdie baran, so i stuck that in.

filling up the rest of the box are some cherry tomatoes and enoki mushrooms, some slices of peach, three ripe raspberries, a sesame mochi, and a piece of broccoli that didn’t make it into the sautee pan for dinner.  two fish sausage flowers and a cheddar flower accent the broccoli.  if i had to make up a story about this bento, it would be about a kitty taking a nap in a garden, dreaming about the birdies she wants to catch.

here’s a shot of the sleepy kitty from a different angle:

happy hump day (wednesday) — hope your week is going well!

[as seen on dannykitty]





bunny bahn mi bento

11 01 2010

most of you probably know how tasty bahn mi sandwiches are, and for those of you who are lucky enough to have a vietnamese sandwich shop in your neighborhood, they are usually pretty cheap and easy to pick up.  because of the convenience factor, i fall back on a bahn mi bento every couple of weeks — it’s a great “fill in” on nights when i don’t cook dinner or don’t make enough to produce bento-able leftovers for the next day.

today, in an effort to showcase the versatility of this lunchbox item, some of my favorite bentoists and i have put together a variety of bahn mi bentos!

my bahn mi bento is geared towards my relatively physically inactive lifestyle (i pretty much sit at a computer all day!).  in order to tailor the lunch to my nutritional requirements, i simply added a lot of fresh fruits and veggies.  the bahn mi already has fresh carrots, cilantro, and cucumber in it, as well as tofu for my protein element.  but because the yummy baguette is a processed carb (it’s plain white, not whole wheat or anything), i do need to be careful not to add other carb elements to the meal. the fruit is even pushing it, because it has so many natural sugars. to keep my body working to process those sugars, i will pace myself over the course of the day, eating part of the fruit section as a mid-morning snack.

the bunny decoration is made from mozzarella and american cheeses, with vegetarian ham and nori accents.  in the bahn mi tier i also have a steamed sweet potato flower, three takuwan-and-beet flowers, some enoki mushrooms, pea pods, and grape tomatoes.  once i eat the sandwich i will probably rip up the lettuce leaves and eat the rest of the veggies mixed with the lettuce as a small salad.

my fruit tier has nashi and plum fans, with a baby orange in a food cup, some strawberries in a food cup, blueberries in another food cup, and grapes and raspberries to fill the gaps.  both sections of this 2-tier ccomotti box are pretty deep, so the food cups are propped up on additional slices of nashi and plum.

for other ideas on how bahn mi sandwiches fit into various lifestyles (with various nutritional needs), please take a look at these other gorgeous bentos:

  • sheri over at happy little bento, who makes lunch for her son and his big appetite, made a bahn mi bento focusing on balanced nutrition for a full and active school day.
  • debra of hapa bento is a vegetarian, and her post discusses enjoying a bahn mi in nutritional moderation.
  • finally, susan over at hawai`i’s bento box cookbook makes lunch for her cutie-pie daughter paige, so she made a bahn mi bento focusing on incorporating veggies into a kid’s diet.

in the comments, i’d love to hear about your favorite bahn mi sandwich shop, or your favorite accompaniments for a bahn mi bento!

and many thanks to debra for coordinating this fun exposé on bahn mi bentos!





kong bap bento

10 01 2010

this is my second entry into hapa bento’s b.o.m.b. contest, so i’ll discuss my theme-requisite roasted veggies first.  i roasted sweet potato slices and brussels sprouts in the toaster (great for saving energy on a small batch), with olive oil, salt, pepper, and gochugaru (korean red pepper flakes) – yum!  the roasted veggies are propped up on some lemon-pepper tofu.  in the top left we have nashi and peach fans with a few strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.  in the top right is a small green salad (just a few slices of cucumber and carrot, with two takuwan flowers and three grape tomatoes).  in the center hole i have a bottle of citrus-yuzu dressing for the salad.

what, you may be thinking, is that weird brown-ish rice-and-beans mixture in the bottom left compartment?  drumroll, please… it’s kong bap (공밮), and my boyfriend’s mom is pretty confident that it’s the key to a long and healthy life!

i finally took the plunge and invested in a new cuckoo rice cooker… it’s a korean brand that uses “fuzzy logic” technology (like the zojirushis, which i also looked at but passed up because the cuckoo seemed more versatile, allowing me to cook soups and stews as well as all kinds of rice… more on my plans for jigae and kalbi-jjim in the future!).

although kong bap is historically associated with prison food, it’s still a staple in many korean homes, and it’s SUPER healthy.  there are many variants on this extremely basic recipe, but the all-korean “cooking guide” that came with my rice maker (causing me to spend more than an hour on google translate to figure out just three recipes, grrr) is as follows:

  • 2 cups white rice
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/3 cup dried red beans
  • 3.5 cups water

i substituted black beans and mung beans for the red beans, and used closer to a 1/2 cup than a 1/3 cup of beans in total, and it still came out fine.  i used the “turbo” (pressure) setting on my cooker, and it took about 40 minutes, which is a dramatic time saver compared to soaking the beans overnight.

if you don’t have a fancy-schmancy rice cooker, don’t worry!  you can make brown rice on the stovetop, using between 2 and 2.5 cups of water for every 1 cup of uncooked brown rice (i like to add a tbsp. of olive oil as well), and simmering in a 2-quart or larger saucepan for 45-50 minutes until tender.  fluff with a fork once all the liquid has been absorbed.  you will want to make the beans in a separate pot (if you are using dried beans, cooking them is a much longer process that you should start the day before; however, you could also used canned beans), and mix with the rice when both components are fully cooked.

i love the nutty flavor and wettish, sticky texture of kong bap… plus, when i feel like i’m eating something good for my body, that often makes it taste better.  at least that’s what i’ve convinced myself!