Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bento Returns

Back in the saddle, bento returns to its former glory with vengence.  The week is off to a fine start with two fine tasting bento boxes; even received the stamp of approval from the head chef. 

Monday featured a shrimp roll with scallions and avocado {in the large compartment resting on a bed of baby spinach}.  Very tasty; I could live on this stuff.

The small compartment is green beans {boiled with soy sauce, mirin, wine, and sugar}, mushrooms with garlic, onion, hot pepper and seasonings, and a fruit mix of strawberry, bannana, and pineapple. 

Tuesday has some leftover tuna and shrimp.  The tuna is cut into 1/2" strips, sauteed in cooking oil, and then boiled in a glaze of soy sauce, mirin, water, and wine { about 1/2 tblsp of each}.   And as a last step wrapped in a strip of seaweed.  Very good but the tuna was a bit overcooked and the cost of tuna is a bit over ridiculous.

A little hard to see in the small comparment; I will have to speak with the photographer.  Okay I'll try to do better.  Also in the small compartment is orange-cabbage salad [cabbage, orange, oil, vinegar, salt, pepper]; and a mix of red and green bell peppers blanched with white and black sesame seeds.  The large compartment is sweet potato rice {cooked together in the rice cooker, just put the diced and soaked sweet potato on top}, and apple.  A nice mix, very tasty, a reasonable amount, it's all good.

Hope I can keep it up.  Two days to go; we are off to the beach Thursday evening for more gardening and beach pleasures.

Just thought I'd throw this in.  A collage by Jane of a beach house where we stayed on Long Island, Bahamas.  The owner/cook was a French/Canadian chef from Montreal; meals were part of the deal, it was a very good time.   http://www.chezpierrebahamas.com/

Cheers, Gary

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Bento Slow

Thursday and Friday ended a busy & long days at work; a kitchen low on ingredients, and bentos made as best possible with what was on hand {both food & energy}.

Thursday is a chicken stir fry with peppers, raw carrots, and fruit in the large compartment {using a cupcake paper to keep the fruit free of the seasonings}.  The small comparment is a pinto bean salad {pinto beans, cherry tomato, hard boiled egg, scallion, parsley}, and pickled cucumber & onions. 


Friday is a pasta salad with yellow bell peppers, scallions, & parsley; asparagus, carrots & radish, and the balance of the fruit.

Neither very exciting, Friday was certainly visually more appealing, and both were tasty enough.  Pasta is always a good, easy, and quick fall back; lots of asparagus in the spring; and radishes & carrots keep well in the refrigerator. 

Whatever gets you through the day.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bento On

Monday and back at work; still tired from the massive gardening weekend; Jane picked up scallops and shrimp at the store and I was on my way for the bento box without a plan. Luckily plenty of vegetables, fruits, and the basics around so it was not a major problem.

In the small compartment are three sea scallops with a soy sauce, mirin, sesame oil glaze; asparagus and cherry tomatoes with a bacon vinagerette; and tangerine.  The large compartment is a rice/vegetable medley with cilantro.  The bacon cooked the night before failed to stay crisp and was a disappointment; the balance was easy and successful.

Tuesday is a shrimp donburi.  Donburi style cooking is just basically rice with toppings {as opposed to a medley which is rice mixed with other ingredients}.  In this case there is cooked shrimp with the tails left on, a few slices of hot green pepper, a cherry tomato, and scallions all served over sushi rice. 


The small comparment is cucumber with toasted black and white sesame seeds: sauteed bell pepper, carrot, and celery with a couple of  drops of soy sauce added after cooking: and a fruit mix of blueberries, bananas, and strawberries {that would be an American red, white, and blue fruit mix}.  Another simple and very tasty bento box.

Wednesday was an off day as we had a business event that included lunch.  Thursday and Friday are to be rice free bentos {we ran out and there have been some complaints of having rice every day - don't want to get stuck in a bento rut}.  Should be interesting.

Cheers, Gary

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Delayed Blogging

I left Thursday afternoon for a massive gardening weekend at Lewes so the blogging is a bit behind schedule.  And will be brief.  One note on the gardening; we started a large vegetable garden, twice the size of last year, got it all turned and laid out, plus early plantings of scallions, bulb onion, radishes, spinach, carrots, lettuce, brussel sprouts, and bought and planted a couple of fruit trees {pear & peach}.   Let the joy of spring begin {plus the sore body until the proper balance of gardening time and sofa time is achieved}.

Wednesday featured guest bento chef Jane who made the egg omelet rolls {egg, red pepper, & shallots}.  Broccoli and a fruit mix of strawberry, blackberry, and banana finished the small comparment.

The large comparment is turnips with cumin in a rice medley; basically cubed turnips, chopped canned tomatoes, peas, and carrots with cumin seed, red chili, and trumeric.  Takes about 20 minutes for the turnips to cook with the spices, tablespoon of vegetable oil, and a half cup of water.  Then mix all with the rice.  To the right is sliced avocado with lemons.

Thursday was the final lunch of the work week and was put together quickly with what was on hand.  The top small comparment is quick  boiled red bell pepper with black sesame seeds, three rice balls, three olives, and the balance of the brocolli.

The larger comparment is sliced boneless chicken filets {from the freezer} with pototoes, chopped tomatoes, garlic, fresh ginger, red chili, salt and pepper.  The fruit is a repeat of Wednesday to finish up the fruit on hand.

And that was the week.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bento Meets Indian

As promised Monday and Tuesday this week had some Indian elements.  The Indian spices are fairly pungent; especially when cooked on a high heat.  So springtime with the windows open is a plus in our small kitchen that is open to the living and dining area.

Monday eased into India.  The small compartment is a sushi roll with smoked salmon, asparagus, and avocado; a cornichon, and the fruit mix - blackberries and strawberries.  The large compartment is sauteed red bell pepper with sesame seeds, two olives, mung bean sprouts quick fried with a little soy sauce, and kale with ginger and green chilies {the Indian part}.  For the kale cut a small piece of fresh ginger into thin slivers, cook over high heat with vegetable oil until the ginger starts to brown,  add  the kale and a chopped hot green chili, open the windows, cook until the kale has wilted, add salt, garam masala, sugar, and cayenne, stir and cook another five minutes.  Pretty tasty.  The mung bean sprouts also had a nice crunch.

Tuesday I dived on in.  The main dish in the large compartment is shrimp with garlic and chilies.  The shrimp is peeled and deveined, washed and sprinkled/rubbed with tumeric and cayenne.  Put a little vegetable oil in a large frying pan over high heat, add mustard seeds and as soon as they begin to pop {very quickly} add the garlic.  Once the garlic turns golden add hot green chili, add the shrimp, and cook 2-3 minutes.  Sprinkle with cilantro and add to the rice.  {Plus turn on the fans, open the windows, and break out the hankerchiefs.}  The shrimp were chopped into large pieces {these were shrimps on steroids} before adding to the rice.   A good bento although it may have been better while hot rather than the next day room temperature. 

In the small comparment is stir-fried green cabbage with fennel seeds, cumin seeds, sesame seeds, onion rings, cayenne, lemon juice, garam masala, and salt.  Very tasty.  Plus asparagus with fresh mozzarella, and the fruit mix {strawberries and apple}.

All the Indian recipes are from Madhur Jaffrey's "Quick & Easy Indian Cooking."  Highly reccomended by the Baltimore Bento Man.   There's also a nice article in this past Sunday's {March 14} New York Times travel section on Goa and Indian food in Goa.

Tomorrow's bento includes a dish by a guest chef, actually the head chef in my world {head critic also}.  Check back on the weekend for the results.

Cheers, Gary

Saturday, March 13, 2010

International Bento

Indian food is a good match for bento.  Thursday's bento was a curry rice with pork, carrots, potatoes, peas, and fresh ginger.  Basically saute the sliced pork in a little salad oil {like a tablespoon or two} and ginger, add spices {tumeric, curry, cayenne, garam marsala}; quickly boil the pototoes, carrots and peas; and add it all to warm rice.  Easy and very tasty for those who like life a little hot.  Added in the small compartment some asparagus, a couple of small white boiling onions, and a raspberry, banana, orange fruit mix for a very good bento box.  I think I will explore this more next week.

Friday I thought we were off to the beach but weather and life intervened so had to do a quick bento with little in the house.  Pasta is always dependable and easy to store.   This pasta is organic pipe rigate bronze cut.  If you know what that means you get a prize.  It's sort of a weird little seashell type thing.  Anyways added red pepper, scallions, grated parmesan, parsley, and jalapeno {what was left in the refrigerator that would work}, plus some olive oil  and dried spices and off we go.  The small comparment is green beans with sliced red onion, sesame seeds, butter, and sliced almond.  Picking up a sliced almond with a chopstick is a lesson in patience {learn while you eat}.  Sliced radishes with kosher salt and pineapple ended the week.

And just to keep the international theme here is the famous bento dog - Welsh Corgi Morgan.  Renown bento box cleaner if in a pinch there is no kitchen available.

Never met a bento box she didn't like, although somewhat picky with the fruits and vegetables {loves carrots, but not green beans or tomatoes}.

Cheers, Gary

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bento Goes BIG

Just a preview of what's to come.

Monday started an ordinary bento week although I had not shopped on the weekend and so was dependent on what was in the kitchen/pantry and what the head chef picked up at the store.  We actually had a good amount in house from the weekend and some stuff frozen so no big deal.  Monday's  bento had spinach with shredded Nori seaweed and mushrooms { a bit bitter but good}, beets with a shallot/mustard vinagerette {very tasty}, a couple of cherry tomatoes, and oranges, raspberry, and pineapple in the large compartment.  The small compartment had a shrimp, scallion, okra and egg medley with rice.  I thought the egg gave it kind of an unattractive color but medleys are easy; just mix the ingredients with warm rice.


Tuesday's goal was to use up the final sticks of fake crab.  A cup of rice, about 4 sticks of fake crab, 4 pieces of asparagus and one big fat roll.  Amazingly it held together and sliced well.  Took about four bites to eat each slice so it was a bit over the top.  It did make a nice looking roll.

Here is the whole bento box.  A little parsley to add color is on the slice sushi roll.  The smaller compartment is snap peas with mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt.  Plus some cherry tomatoes with garam masala, cumin, lemon juice, and oil; carrots and radishes with more of the shallot/mustard vinagerette from Monday; and finally pineapple and banana.  A nice color and taste mix.

Wednesday's bento continued with some Indian spices {I browsed through an Indian cookbook we had and got some good bento ideas - but that's the next blog to be}.  The large compartment is chicken, bell peppers, jalapeno {India meet Mexico}, scallion, and celery all with curry and a little soy sauce.  Plus broccoli with soy and sliced almonds.

The small compartment is rice with black beans and parsley plus chunks of apple. 

And three days done.  Thurday is cooked and cooling; Friday depends on work schedule {no work - no bento --seems fair}.

Cheers, Gary

Saturday, March 6, 2010

End of the Week Bento

End of the week bento for those who shop only on the weekends means planning ahead, having some basic ingredients always on hand {rice, soy sauce, mirin, cooking oils, etc}, using leftovers, frozen food {chicken, peas, okra} and using the food choices that last longer at the end of the week {apples, carrot, radish, peppers}.  Or making an emergency store stop which I had to do when I ran out of nori; the sushi wrap.  So it goes.

Above is Thursday bento.  California rolls again {I had to buy the fake crab in a little package that has enough for about three lunch bentos; thus the repeat}.   This time I kept the roll simple; just the fake crab and avocado; worked out well.  Along side is asparagus and in the other compartment is a raw vegetable mix of cherry tomatoes, radish, and carrot; some cornichons, and an an apple/banana fruit mix.

Friday included some mahi mahi fried fish left over from fish tacos the night before {hiding under the lemons}, snap peas in soy sauce, radishes, and apple in the small compartment.  The large compartment is mostly plain rice with a couple of dried tomatoes and some sauteed spinich and mushrooms.  The plain white rice works well for visual interest and contrast but is a bit of a hassle to eat for the chopstick challenged.

Not so much to write on this blog so thought I'd add a little visual excitement; street art in Barcelona.

Ciao, Gary

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Most, The Oops, The Recovery

It's not a perfect world and sometimes even bento goes sideways. Monday's bento box led to some continued moaning about quanity and weight gain. Good flavor though and at least one bento diner had no trouble emptying the box {that be me}. So here it is: the large compartment is rice, chicken, cooked peppers, and cashews with curry and soy sauce {a winning combination}. The small comparment is cooked seasoned carrots {boil, drain, add sesame seeds, mirin, soy sauce, and sesame oil}; asparagus with a mustard vingarette; a couple of stuffed olives, and oranges. Seems reasonable.

Tuesday went bad; the stress level was to high.  It started with running out of nori {the seafood wrap} after all the ingredients were prepared.   So I tried to ad lib with one wrap {california roll with fake crab stick, avocado, cucumber, lemon juice} and one nigiri sushi {where the ingredient sits on top of the sushi rice}.  Okay, even if it did not quite hold together.  Added some broccoli, beets, a mixed salad with cucumbers and radishes, a couple of olives, some cherry tomatoes; completely forgot the fruit, and the whole thing was less than successful.  Live and learn.


Wednesday {today} I'm back.  A little less sushi roll {shrimp & avocado with wasibi}, fried sweet potatoes {slice about 1/4" thick and fry in a little canola oil and add kosher salt}, brussel sprouts for a winter treat, a small salad of mixed bell peppers, broccoli, scallions, cherry tomato, and radish with oil and vinegar, and the fruit {apple, grape, banana}.   Switched compartments and put the rice in the small comparment and the veges in the large.  Peace in the family.  A reasonable amount for light weights and enough for the man of the house.  If all life's problems were so easily solved.


Back on the weekend to review a 2nd attempt at california roll and a fish bento.

Cheers, Gary