Monday, 28 November 2011

Angelic Hello Kitty Bento



Please welcome my new Matryoshka bento box, isn't it adorable :)? I bought this bento box weeks ago from Bento&Co. I had to unfortunately pay a quite expensive customs fee because this box was sent from Japan. If you're located in Europe, I recommend you to buy this box from CasaBento, because it's less expensive in total (i.e. shipping fee, no customs fee, etc) and it would arrive much sooner at your door. I found out too late that CasaBento has this bento box too in their shop :(.




Anyway, today I made a Hello Kitty-themed bento. Both kitties were cut out using a teddy bear cutter (for the bear suit) and an oval-shaped cutter (for the face) - the kitties are from cheese by the way. I decorated them with nori (eyes, whiskers, etc), chili sauce (cheeks and the red dots on the dresses), cheese (nose), cucumber (green flowers on the dresses) and carrot (for the wings or coat or whatever they're ;)).

The left box contains cucumber salad, kimchi, cucumber border, mini schnitzel, egg, carrot flowers and boiled shrimps.

There is also some Indonesia-style chicken 'Ayam Bumbu Rujak' in the round box - I used instant spices to make this ;), cucumber slices, tomatoes and mandarin slices.




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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Smiling Frogs Bento



This Smiling Frogs Bento was my lunch :). Making the frogs is very easy as long as you have a teddy bear cutter for the face. I used my decorating tips to make various circles from cheese and ham for the facial features and a nori punch for the eyes.

This bento is pretty healthy as you can see. Lots of greens and protein ;). Yesterday my husband and I went to Okinii, a new Japanese restaurant which specialises on sushi and teppanyaki. We have been there three times and so far we've been very happy with the foods and service. My husband and I tried their grilled beef with teriyaki sauce last night and we're impressed by how tender and moist the meat was.

This morning I noticed that we had some fresh beefsteak in the fridge at the right moment when I was busy thinking of what to make for lunch. Then I remembered the grilled beef from Okinii, so I tried to recreate this dish again, my way.

Beefsteak with White Wine Teriyaki Sauce
  • 2 beefsteak filet, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 50 ml white wine
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Sugar and pepper to taste
  • Chopped green onions

Instructions

  • Heat oil in skillet.
  • Toss in beef cubes and stir-fry until the beef is slightly brown.
  • Add white wine and mix well.
  • Add soy sauce, sugar and pepper and cook the beef until the sauce thickens.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions.
I also had bell-pepper/tomato/egg salad, Tomato & corn-salad tamagoyaki, pan-fried gyoza and cucumber & red-onion salad.



By the way, don't forget the bento contest :D)! So far I have received two very cute entries. You can see the bento pictures in my Flickr group over here :).




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Friday, 25 November 2011

Macaroni with Spicy Bolognese Sauce



After I saw Sissi's Ragu alla Bolognese, I really felt like eating pasta alla Bolognese again. So, yes, don't get me wrong, I don't only eat Asian foods ;)! My Bolognese sauce typically uses ground meat, tomato paste, chopped onion, peeled canned tomatoes, red wine, a little bit of cream and some chopped oregano and basil. However, this time I added some olives and fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones to 'clean out' my fridge - I have the tendency to have too many things in my fridge and freezer ;). I also added a bit of soy sauce and thyme as Sissi did - love the addition of flavours, Sissi :)!

Spicy Bolognese Sauce
  • 300 gr ground beef/pork
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 - 6 fresh medium sized tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 100 ml cream
  • 100 ml red wine
  • 10 - 15 olives, halved
  • 3 tablespoons Tabasco
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Chicken stock, pepper and sugar to taste
  • Dried thyme
  • Grated parmesan cheese
I am so glad it's Friday tomorrow...! It's getting very cold over here and I get tired more easily. I always think to hide and sleep under my blanket instead of going off to work ;). Anyway, I wish you all a nice evening! See you Saturday, I am sure I will make another bento at the weekend :).

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Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Gyudon Bento



Here I am again with a new bento :). My appearance in the blogsphere has been quite erratic the last few months, my job has taken its toll on me I guess... I hope I would feel more relaxed after Christmas!

This is a simple bento which I made last weekend. To be true, I really enjoy making simple, traditional bento, because it doesn't take too much time to make, it's delicious and quite attractive too. I love making charaben as well, because I simple love cute things ;), but with no children at home and only a husband who would pull a long face whenever he sees pink rice with a bear shape in his bento box ;), I've started to make more 'adult bentos' - I think I exaggerated a little bit and have made too many charabens in the past few months ;). FYI, both my husband and I never bring our bento to work, in case you're wondering if my husband really has been going to work with a bento box which contains pink bear-shaped rice with cheese flowers and butterflies in his suitcase ;). I normally make my bento at the weekend, when I have more time to spare. During the weekdays I don't usually cook and we normally eat out or order something from home.




I got this pretty bento box from Bento&Co some time ago but hadn't had the chance to use it until last weekend. I had rice topped with toasted sesame seeds, pickled ume (plum) and a few slices of orange and grapes for dessert. I ate the rice together with gyudon, which unfortunately looks a bit dry in the picture. I guess I took too long to photograph it ;). The taste itself was great though, but next time I'll try not to add beaten egg on top of the beef and use the method from Cooking with Dog instead - onsen tamago (hot spring egg) on top of beef sounds delicious! Oh, and it just came into my mind, I probably shouldn't call this beef dish 'gyudon', because I don't put the beef on top of the rice. I suppose Nami from Just One Cookbook can tell me the answer ;)?

Gyudon
Adapted from Cooking with Dog
  • 200g thinly sliced beef
  • Shirataki noodles *optional
  • 1/2 Onion
  • 5 g Ginger
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Sake
  • 1tbsp Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Hon-Mirin
  • 100 ml Water
  • 1/2 tsp dashi powder
  • 2 eggs
  • Beni Shoga - Japanese Pickled Ginger
  • Shichimi - Seven Flavour Chili Pepper
  • Chopped green onions








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Saturday, 19 November 2011

MY BENTO CONTEST



Finally the time has come :)! I've been so crazy busy lately that I've not had the chance to officially announce the bento contest that I've been talking about since last week. I am so excited, because this is my first bento contest ever :D). I am incredibly lucky that CasaBento has generously offered to sponsor this contest and the talented Lia from Bentolicious and the sweet Nami from Just One Cookbook have agreed to help me co-host this event.

CONTEST DETAILS
  • Photo: Take a good, clear picture of your bento.
  • Theme: Let your imagination fly :). Can be anything really, it doesn't have to be a charaben either, tradional, modern or whatever kind of style is fine as long as it's a meal in a box/container.
  • Description: Please include a description of what you have inside your bento.
  • Contact Details: Include your name or nick, e-mail address and the country where you come from to be eligible for the competition. If you have a food blog, you can also post your entry there and send me the link, but you're still expected to e-mail me your photo, description and contact information to enter the contest officially.
  • Limit: 1 entry per person
  • Send your entry to: Cookinggallery@yahoo.de
  • Can everyone (worldwide) participate? YES
  • Contest Period: 19th November 2011 - 20th December 2011
CasaBento, Lia, Nami and I will judge your bento photo based on the following criteria:
  • Food Balance: We'll not only look at how cute or pretty your bento is, but also if your bento is well balanced. Let's say, a bit of carb, meat, veggies, fruit, etc instead of just rice with a cute nori face.
  • Colour Balance: People would be more attracted to your bento (including us, judges) if your bento doesn't look too dull.
  • Creativity: Impress us with your creativity :)!

PRIZES

I chose the following prizes myself. I hope you like them :).

The 1st prize: 1 Totoro bento box, 1 set of Totoro cutlery (chopsticks, spoon and fork), 1 blue thermal bag, 1 Winnie the Pooh pancake pan, 1 set of bento picks, 1 set of mini sauce bottles and 1 set of mini sandwich cutters.


The 2nd prize: 1 big Yume Sakura bento box, 1 small Yume Sakura bento box, 1 Yume Sakura bento bag with matching chopsticks.


I hope a lot of people would participate in this contest and if you're not so confident in your bento making skills, there's still a chance that you might win the fantastic book 'The Just Bento Cookbook' from Makiko Itoh, the writer of the wonderful and informative sites Justbento.com and Justhungry.com, because I will also draw one random winner using random.org. (NOTE: The 1st and 2nd winners would not be eligible for this).

After I have received your photo including the decription and your contact information, I will post your photo in this Flickr group, so that all of you can see all the entries.

I will announce the winners on Tuesday, 27th December 2011.


Good luck everyone :D)!!


By the way, I'd like to hear what you think about the bento items I chose for the prizes. Do you think that they're something that you would like to add to your bento collections? If not, please do give me some feedbacks on what kind of prizes you would like next time I do another contest or giveaway. Browse CasaBento site and suggest me some items you would love to have from there. Thank you :-)!


UPDATE

You will receive a confirmation e-mail from me that I have received your photo. If you sent me a picture but haven't heard anything from me, please let me know...!!

Another UPDATE :)

This contest is closed. Thank you for participating :)!! There are 60 submissions in total, I didn't expect there would be so many people who would join in the contest, especially because my contest was held at one of the busiest times of the year...^-^.

The slideshow below shows all 60 pictures from the bento contest participants.



You can also check out my Flickr Page to see what the participants say about their bentos.

I will announce the 3 winners on the 27th of December 2011, so stay tuned :D)! Currently Casabento, Nami, Lia and I are still having a headache - we don't really know which photos to choose because all of you did such a marvelous job with your bento creations...;)!!




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Sunday, 13 November 2011

My 100th Bento - Happy Children Bento



Yay! I finally made my 100th bento :)!! It took AGES to make this, but in the end it was worth it, because I think my 100th bento looks pretty cute and festive.



To be honest, I had no idea what to make for my 100th bento. I really liked Nami's idea (from Just One Cookbook) that I should make all the characters I have made so far into one huge celebratory bento. I would actually even do it if I had the time (and the nerves!), but I think I would die in the process ;). So in the end I resolved to do something much simpler but cute enough - little children in animal suits ;).

The children-shaped rice balls (uupps ;)!!) are dyed with decofuri, except the yellow tiger suit, which I coloured with curry powder. As far as I know decofuri is made with natural ingredients, such as edamame for green, pumpkin for orange, etc. But I am not so sure, please do correct me if I am wrong!

All onigiris are filled with chicken katsu with mayo. Eating plain rice is not very yummy as know. So this bento is absolutely not bland in taste :). The 100 numerals are from carrot and cheese. It could have looked much better if I had numeral cutters...:(.

In the other box, I had some teriyaki drumsticks, tamagoyaki (rolled omelet), three radishes and pan-fried prawn and kimchi fritters. My husband loved the fritters - which unfortunately don't look so visible in the pictures. The recipe is very simple even though I don't have the exact measurements, so the recipe below is just based on my estimation). I am very Asian when I cook, I always use my gut feelings - probably the reason why I never really succeed in baking ;).

Prawn and Kimchi Fritters
  • 100 prawns, chopped
  • 50 grams kimchi, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 100 gram flour
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon chopped red onions
Directions

Mix all ingredients well. Drop fritter batter by spoonfuls into an oiled pan and fry until both sides of the fritters are golden brown.



I my previous post I mentioned that I wanted to do something special to celebrate my 100th bento. I have given this some thoughts and I came to the conclusion that holding a bento contest would be the most fun (for me ;)). Everybody around the world would be able to participate and since CasaBento has very kindly offered to sponsor this contest, there will be some super nice bento goodies as well for the winners. I have also asked two very talented ladies from the blogsphere, Nami from Just One Cookbook and Lia from Bentolicious, to help me co-host the contest. I am greatly honoured and touched by their willingness to help me doing my first bento contest...!! I will officially announce the bento contest inclusive the details on how to enter in the near future. So please stay tuned :D)!!


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Szechuan Noodles with Spicy Meat Sauce



I have not been posting for a while because I was stuck on what to make for my 100th bento ;). Finally I made my 100th bento today, but I'll post about it tomorrow. For now, I am simply posting a noodle dish which I whipped up last week. Basically it's got the same recipe as my Szechuan Noodles with Wontons and Meatballs, but I added some boiled shrimps and soy-sauced seasoned boiled egg this time minus the wontons. If you're a noodle-lover like me, this is a must-try recipe. It's extremely simple to make but very flavoursome.


Ingredients - serves 2
  • 400 g Udon noodles
  • 250 g ground pork
  • 100 chopped mushrooms
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 3 tbs 'Fried pork with chili in oil' (click my previous Szechuan noodles recipe to see what it is.)
  • 2 tbs oyster sauce
  • Pepper to taste
  • Frozen meatballs
  • Boiled shrimps and eggs - optional
  • Chopped green onions and fried onions for garnish
Instructions
  • Heat 1 tbs oil in a wok.
  • Toss in the ground pork and mushrooms and stir fry until slightly brown.
  • Add fish sauce, 'fried pork with chili in oil', oyster sauce and pepper.
  • Simmer the meat sauce, stirring occasionally until cooked through.
  • Place cooked udon noodles in a bowl. Top with the meat sauce, cooked meatballs, shrimps and eggs. Garnish with green onions and fried onions.

Have a lovely evening and see you all tomorrow :)!


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Friday, 4 November 2011

Bulgogi and Kimchi Bento



This was our yesterday's lunch. I made bulgogi again, but the non-spicy version. I got the recipe from Maangchi and we loved it! Next time I'll try Aeri's version. Her recipe is very similar to Maangchi's but she uses pear juice as well, which I think would add nice extra sweetness to the bulgogi.

Bulgogi - Korean BBQ Beef
Adapted from Maangchi
  • 500 grams beef, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  • Mix all ingredients together and marinade for at least 2 hours.
  • Grill or pan-fry the bulgogi.
  • Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds before serving.

Since we haven't had kimchi for a while, I decided to make it again yesterday, especially because I thought it would be nice to eat Korean dishes with kimchi as a side dish. I used to make kimchi following Maangchi's recipe last year. It was a success and I even gave some to my MIL and she was thrilled. But this time I wanted to try another kimchi recipe which doesn't use glutinous flour porridge (I am too lazy to make it...!!). A few days ago when I browsed some kimchi recipes, I found Anna Kim's kimchi making video. I directly wanted to try her kimchi recipe when I saw that she used apple and pear in her kimchi. I love the idea of adding fruit to food for natural sweetness!




I tend to cook too much, as you can see, the other bento box has got some shrimp temari sushi again and some kimbap filled with leftover spicy bulgogi from the day before, cucumber sticks, carrot&cabbage salad and mayo.



Oh, by the way, I just realised that this bento is my 99th bento :D)! Wow! I started bentoing in February, I can't believe that I have made so many bento meals throughout the months...! How should I celebrate my 100th bento? Should I hold a bento competition with prizes ;)? Any ideas? Suggestions would be greatly appreciated :)!

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Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Doejibulgogi - Korean Spicy Stir-Fried Pork Bento



Korean Spicy Stir-Fried Pork or Doejibulgogi or Jeyuk bokkeum is my husband's absolute favourite Korean food. When I was still studying in Sydney, my husband (then boyfriend) visited me quite regularly and when he was there, we would go to the various food courts in China Town and tried different kinds of delicious Asian foods. We got to know Doejibulgogi in one of those food courts. We loved it that we always got kimchi and cabbage salad as side dishes for free everytime we bought something Korean - we were just poor students back then ;).

Since finding Korean restaurants in Germany is like looking for a needle in a haystack, I've converted to watching cooking videos from YouTube instead ;) and tried to make
Korean dishes myself at home. My references usually come from one these talented ladies: the cool Maangchi, Aeri from Aeri's Kitchen and Anna Kim from Korean Cuisine.

Spicy Stir-Fried Pork
Source: Aeri's Kitchen
  • 2½ cups pork (Shoulder or Loin)
  • ½ onion
  • 2 green Onions
  • 1 green hot pepper
  • 1 red hot pepper
Pork Ingredients
  • 1 Tbsp cooking wine
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
Sauce Ingredients
  • 5 Tbs gochujang (hot pepper paste)
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper powder
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • ¼ apple, minced
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • ½ Tbsp sesame oil
Check out this video from Aeri to see how to make Doejibulgogi.






We also had some shrimp temari sushi, Korean cabbage and carrot salad, cherry tomatoes, cucumber sticks, mini pepper and soy sauce-soaked hard-boiled egg. It was a great lunch...!


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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Crispy Duck Breast with Peanut Sauce Bento



Fried crispy duck breast with peanut sauce is one of my husband's favourite Asian dishes. He likes to order this from our local Asian eatery. Asian food is generally fairly inexpensive in Germany, unfortunately this means most Asian foods here taste pretty much the same from one restaurant to another. This is one reason why I love to cook Asian foods myself at home.

Crispy Duck Breast
  • 1 duck breast filet
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon flour
Instructions
  • Rub the duck breast with salt, pepper and soy sauce.
  • Marinade for 10 - 15 minutes.
  • Coat the duck breast with flour. Fry duck breast until golden brown.
Peanut Sauce
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sambal oelek (minced chili)
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 - 2tablespoons sweet soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, sliced - *optional
Instructions
  • Heat the wok and add 1 tablespoon cooking oil.
  • Add onion and pan-fry for 1 minute.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, except bell peppers and lime juice. Cook for around 2 minutes.
  • Toss in the bell peppers and cook for another 1 minute.
  • Add lemon juice before serving. Mix well.



Do you see the pretty, round yellow ball on top of the rice? Guess what? It's a hard-boiled egg yolk! Don't ask me how to do it. When I peeled the egg, the egg yolk fell out by itself ;). I wish it happened all the time, because I don't really like egg-white that much.

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Halloween Bento - Green Eyed Wizards



To be honest, I have never celebrated Halloween in my life. Even though I am quite fond of watching thriller and horror films ;), I was never interested to join in the 'fun' of Halloween.

This is the first time that I make Halloween-themed meal, which, I am aware, looks more cute than scary :-). Well, I don't really like the idea of disgusting-looking food. It's interesting to see, but I don't think that I have the guts to eat something that looks like severed fingers or bloody eyeballs ;).

I have seen so many other bento sites with Halloween-themed bentos. Today I finally had the chance to make one as well!

I made two soy-sauce flavoured wizard rice balls. Somehow the wizards look a bit like Powerpuff Girls ;)! I guess, it's because of the humongous eyes! I used cucumber to make the green eyes, nori for the pupil and goat cheese for the shiny, starry-eyed look. The wizard's hat is from nori and cheese.

The three little Jack-o-lanterns are quail eggs which I coloured with orange food colouring. I also made two radish Jack Skellington look-alikes (next time I'll make the eyes bigger!)



Happy Halloween, everyone! I will spend the evening watching a horror film with my husband :-).



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