26 July 2010

Sesame beef bento


I woke up at 6am determined to get used to assembling bentos in the morning. They taste much much better (the rice and fruit) and there's no mushiness. This week I planned my food and chose to follow a recipe from Bento Love cookbook of sesame beef.


At first I thought I wouldn't like it because sesame oil is a bit strong for me but in the end I was sad I didn't get to eat any (I made it specifically for the bf)
The recipe is very simple and it was done in under 10 minutes (serves about 2 portions) which is a plus for when I'm still sleeping :) not too many ingredients, just toss in the pan and voilá! you have a delicious tasty meat done.

I used japanese rice topped with some sesame seeds, a kiwi (almost whole *munch munch*) broccoli and raw star, flower and clubs shaped carrot. All of it assembled in about 30 minutes, from scratch.

22 July 2010

Pea Stew - Defrosting pt. 2

This was more of a mix-in-the-pot thing than a proper recipe. My grandma used to make something similar, I just tried figuring the ingredients by memory.

Also, I made use of the tripod we bought for the camera. No more asking love to take pictures while I cook so I don't get the camera dirty.

Here's the recipe (serves about 6):

- 3 table spoons Olive oil;
- 2 onions, diced;
- 3/4 sliced chorizo, peeled;
- 2 bay leaves;
- 600g of diced meat;
- a splash of white wine;
- 3 chopped tomatoes;
- 3/4 kg of peas;
- 1 farinheira (Optional, I only used it for the defrosting purpose);
 - Enough boiling water;

- Salt and pepper to taste.

This is a VERY caloric meal, used to be made for farmers who work all day long and need them, so if you're trying to lose weight, I'll advise you not to eat it :)

Grab a big pan, and heat up the olive oil. When it's hot enough, drop the diced onion in the pan.

 Add some salt and stir until the onion is translucent. Add the sliced chorizo.

Add the bay leaves and let the chorizo cook until lightly fried, then remove it. It should look somewhat like this.

At this point, add the meat.

Add the wine and let it cook for a few minutes.

Add the diced tomato and be patient.

This next part will take about 15 minutes. I hate waiting while stirring but it pays off, really.

It should look like this:

Add enough boiling water to the mix and put the chorizo back. Add the peas:

Put the lid on and let it cook. At this time I prepared some rice and 5 minutes before the rice was done I set this aside and added the farinheira pieces.
Instead of the rice, you can put some small sized pasta in the pan along with the peas. Grandma also used to put some beans but love doesn't like them.

Only a few things to go from the freezer. Stay tuned I'll be posting soon.

20 July 2010

Defrosting: when the freezer resembles the north pole!

It's that time again, when I have to think of various dishes to put together what's in the freezer.

This time I'd like to share the process (last time I only showed the freezer's pictures) and start by telling you what I have in there:

- Frozen tomatoes; Corn; Peas; Brussels Sprouts; Red and green bell peppers;

Meat & fish:
- 2 chorizos and 1 farinheira;
- 3 random beefs (I'm almost sure they're all pork);
- Turkey breasts;
- Crabsticks;
- White fish filetts;

- Corn bread;

Adding to the freezer stash, I have some other things I need to use from the fridge like tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber and more bellpeppers that came from my grandparents' farm.

For the next few days I'll be showing how I'm going to use all of these ingredients in delicious plates! They're probably not so apropriate for bento but I'll put them in bento boxes because I am watching my portions and it's the easiest way to do it.

So, here's today's meal:

Whitefish fillets with onion, frozen tomatoes, frozen bellpeppers, 1/4 of sliced chorizo for taste and some spices sided with plain white rice and brussels sprouts.

I am stil dwelling with the new camera on food photos, they all come out a little grainy but I'm getting there :D

In my previous post, I mentioned this bento box, I'm not sure how much I can fill the lower tier with, remember? Well, That's why the brussels are all squished and have the upper tier's print on them, it looks big but I can't fit much in it... I wonder if it's for rice only?

19 July 2010

Bento gear

I found it! In my country! It was an accidental finding but I got a bento book and acessories in one pack in Fnac. Even though the book is in french, I was shooting stars through my eyes with the gear

Sorry for the grainy picture but this is what came with the book:
A 2 tier bento box (i still haven't measured how many ml go in it) with an elastic band, a star-shaped egg-mold, a plastic fork and spoon, a sushi rice mold, a star shaped cutter, 6 picks in the form of fish and seals in 3 different colours, soy sauce bottles in the shape of a duck and of a fish.
I was so delighted with it, I couldn't wait to put all this to use. Still missing some nori punches :)

Since I have a little ammount of things, I bought an Ikea storage box to organize them all :)

I also used some space for other things like chopsticks, skewers, my old soy sauce bottles, a cup to measure rice, and a small one to measure liquids, my silicone cups and my cookie cutter box. Since I'm putting this inside a drawer with the bento boxes, I don't need to close the lid, so here's a bit more vertical space.

From right to left: star-shaped egg-mold, sushi rice mold, 2 small plastic forks, foodpicks, 3 different soy sauce bottles and a salad dressing bottle. This last one is useful because of the large opening because it allows me to put oregano inside for example, along with olive oil and vinegar etc.

I almost forgot to show the inside of the cookie cutter box and my heart shaped silicone cups. I'm glad I got 2 different sizes of star cutters, it made me curious what can I do with it.

Last but not least, the bento box!

The top tier is a bit strange, it squeezes the bottom tier, I'm still figuring out how much I can pack below so that it doesn't get too squeezed. I still have to check the capacity, will edit when it's empty :)

EDIT: The capacity of this box is 250ml on the top tier and around 150ml on the bottom tier. Because the bottom tier is tricky I only measured up to half and even just half, the top tier was already pushing the water. So i'd say between 100ml and 150ml is the limit to fill it.

18 July 2010

Bento Cookbooks

I have been acquiring some literature to better understand how to improve my bentos. Of course I can look for so many things on the Internet, but there's that something about it being a book and not a screen. I know of no one in my country that makes bentos.

Kawaii Bento Boxes and Bento Love are written in English and were ordered. Mes petits bento was a gift with some more bento things :) I am currently waiting for Makki's book from Just Bento to come out so I can order it together with some other. I'll post more books when they get here!

17 July 2010

Bento for a long trip

I've been sooooo busy running around town and other towns over bureaucracy I haven't posted much, but it'll soon be over!

Last week I packed these bentos around 2 am to get up at 6. Due to some paperwork, I had to travel to Porto, one of the major towns in Portugal. It was a 7 hour trip. Just for paperwork you might ask?
Nope! The only store that sell bento related items is located there, by coincidence :) not like I planned it on purpose.

My lunch consisted of peach, kiwi, hard boiled eggs, broccoli, carrot and rice with flavours and nori.

His lunch: same thing except instead of eggs he got some teriyaki salmon with a pinch of miso.

For the onigiris I bought 3 different flavour packs:

- wakame and salmon;
- arame and shiitake;
- nori, bonito and ume.

I enjoyed them while the onigiris were warm, but while cold, I couldn't eat it.

I was very excited to go to the store because they sell tamagoyaki frying pans and powdered green tea, had actually saved up some money for wasting at the store but they had ran out of both things and the variety was a bit limited. The owner had one of those furry rabbits walking around the store, it was so adorable!
I ended up buying...

Strawberry flavoured pocky~ There was one "for men" with dark chocolate but the price wasn't worth it.
I loved the inside package :D it has a dog, a cat and a hamster.

and here's the back side:

I guess there's no other way than to order on the web.

05 July 2010

Salmon filled Onigiri

Now that I have a rice cooker, making onigiri has been so much easier! I used to make it in a normal pan but since it took so much time and timing it, waiting,washing, I used 1Kg of rice and froze in batches.It was okay but sometimes the rice would over-cook and there'd be a LOT of overcooked rice to eat because I couldn't just throw it away.

So we finally got a little extra money and bought the rice cooker.

It comes with another section to cook veggies so that helped a lot as well  and it's super easy to wash. Thus meaning I don't feel so lazy to wake up in the morning and make/arrange lunch, it actually motivates me because I can concentrate on the rest  while the rice and vegetables cook and it's 2 pans less to monitor.

I usually make onigiri in the morning but it was our dinner too so I had a little more time to grab my camera:

I am so happy for being able to photograph white food! It was impossible with my old camera...

I'm still getting the hang of the size of the onigiri... Sometimes they come out too small, others too big. What would be your advice for finding a good size for them? I' ve seen a japanese friend make them very big and smaller so I'm not sure what the "regular" size is.

This time I filled them with this:

Salmon, green onions, some salt, mirin and soy sauce. I've also tried i with canned tuna and it works great. Maybe next time I'll try putting some meat inside. For now *nom nom nom* these are just wonderful :D

02 July 2010

The Mother of Zucchini


OR the father? My grandparents have a fair-sized piece of land where this year they decided to plant a larger variety of vegetables, including zucchini. The green beans were also big but when I got home and found 2 of these in the kitchen counter, I thought they were pumpkins!

I have had a bad experience with big zucchini before, and they WERE actually pumpkins, I couldn't pierce through the skin. So I was a little drawn back by the size. The result? The skin is so thin I almost couldn't believe it, and they're not sour like most supermarket ones.

One of them went to some rice and a soup. I'm still thinking what I'll do with this one considering it's size (it weighs 2,1 Kg) ... Maybe I'll stuff it? or just slice it into some dish?

For a better notion of the size: I placed a normal sized pencil next to it.

Now I'm waiting for the tomato season which should be in a few weeks to see how big they'll turn! If I get a chance to go to their farm soon, I'll show you what other things they have planted there.