Wednesday, 28 December 2011

And the winners are...



(Click the picture above to find more details about the contest)


It was extremely hard for us to find the winners because all of you really did a good job and we know that every singe of you put in a lot of effort. I am awfully sorry that we could only choose two winners :(. I hope even though you didn't win this contest, you wouldn't feel too disappointed...!

To be honest I am glad that I didn't have to do the judging alone, because I am by no means an expert at bento making or the food arena in general. We, judges, didn't always agree with our choices of the winners ;), but in the end we just had to find the two winners...

And the winners are.........

*Roll drums*

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Congratulations Tataya from Thailand for winning the 1st prize




and Yunita from Indonesia for winning the 2nd prize... :)!!




And of course not forgetting our lucky winner:

Number 45, congratulations!!

You're Haku from France :)!



Winners, congratulations one more time :). I will contact you via e-mail shortly regarding shipping. Casabento will send the prizes to your door in January.




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Friday, 23 December 2011

Crazy Christmas Bunny Bento



Finally I had the time to make a Xmas-themed bento, even though it doesn't look too obvious ;). I wanted to make a cute, yawning bunny, but I failed horribly and in the end it looks more like a crazy bunny ;). I spent hours trying to fix his eyes because he always looked so angry - now he looks more presentable for Christmas, before he looked more like a Halloween bunny ;). Sorry for the rather blurry photos, It was already dark by the time I finished making this bento. I had to use artificial lightning to photograph this bento and the result is not very pretty. Look at those horrible looking gyozas... :(!



I used my new bento box from CasaBento. If you're my long time reader, you would have noticed that I have a thing for wooden bento boxes - I think they look gorgeous! This Moriki bento box is my third wooden bento box :).



This bento box has two compartments. The top part is made of plastic and it includes a plastic lid as well.




It has a small food cup inside.



What I like about the food cup is that it's removable.

If you like traditional bento boxes like I do, you should definitely check out CasaBento's site. It has a quite big selection of beautiful traditional bento boxes.



Do you see those sunflower food picks? I made them myself :)! Aren't they gorgeous? They're extremely easy to make, you just need your favourite stickers and some toothpicks.

Bunny Onigri
  • Rice
  • Ground toasted black sesame seeds - to make the black spots
  • Eyes: cheese and nori
  • Nose: nori and ground sesame seeds
  • Whiskers: cellophane noodles
  • Mouth: ham
  • Teeth: cheese
  • Red hat: mini red pepper
This crazy bunny simply couldn't wait to try the delicious mapo tofu which I made for lunch today :).

Happy Holidays, everyone :)!


BENTO CONTEST


If you participated in my bento contest, you can read an update regarding the contest over here: Bento Contest. I'd like to thank everyone who had participated. There're 60 entries in total and they're all amazing, we'd have a hard time picking out the winners...!!

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Mapo Tofu Ramen




Ingredients
  • 200 grams soft tofu, cut into cubes
  • 200 grams ground pork/beef
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2 tablespoons chilli oil
  • 1 tablespoons chilli powder (or more if you like it extra fiery)
  • 1 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons chilli-bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorn powder
  • 1 teaspoon corn flour (mixed with 1 tbs water)
  • Chopped green onions
  • 200 grams ramen noodles, cooked according to package instructions

Instructions

  • Heat 2 tbs oil. Add the minced garlic, ginger and ground pork. Stir fry until fragrant. Add cooking wine, soy sauce and fish sauce.
  • Then add tofu, chilli oil, chilli bean paste, chilli powder and sugar.
  • When it boils, add in the corn flour mixture to thicken the sauce.
  • Serve on top of ramen noodles.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions and Szechuan peppercorn powder. You can also add julienned cucumber and soft-boiled egg.




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Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Spicy Beef Bulgogi with Shimeji Mushrooms Bento



How do you like my new tiffin bento box which I bought from Amazon.de? I am in love with this box because it looks very simple yet sophisticated and elegant :).

I made this bento meal for my husband yesterday. If you have seen my Marie Antoinette bento post, you'd notice that all the main and side dishes in this bento are exactly the same as the ones in my Marie Antoinette bento. This is because I made both bento boxes on the same day.

This time I used Maangchi's Beef Bulgogi recipe, but we wanted it spicy, so I added a few tablespoons of gochujang and chili pepper flakes to the bulgogi marinade. I also added minced pear for natural sweetness.

Spicy Beef Bulgogi with Shimeji Mushrooms
Adapted from Maangchi
  • 500 grams thinly sliced beef
  • 200 grams shimeji mushrooms
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 pear, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • 1 tablespoons chili pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients together (except the shimeji mushrooms) and marinade for 2 hours (I did mine in 30 minutes and it was fine too...!!)
  • Grill or stir fry the beef bulgogi for a few minutes.
  • Add the shimeji mushrooms and cook together with the beef for another 2 minutes.
  • Serve with rice and toasted sesame seeds.





REMINDER




My Bento Contest will end tomorrow, 20th December 2011, at midnight GMT+1. You still have one day to go if you want to participate in the contest.

You may send me an older bento photo as well, as long as you have never submitted this photo to another contest.

If you haven't got a confirmation e-mail from me within 24 hours after submitting your bento photo, you should let me know by sending an e-mail to cookinggallery@yahoo.de - in case that your submission goes to my spam filter...

So far here are the bento photos from all the contestants. I think they're all really creative, I am sure we'd have a hard time choosing the winners...! Enjoy looking at the lovely bentos :D)!



You can also go to my Flickr Page to read more about the contestants' bentos :).


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Monday, 19 December 2011

Marie Antoinette Bento



Yes, call me crazy. I just ate the head of Marie Antoinette...!

Oh well, she doesn't actually even look like the real Marie Antoinette. My husband said it absolutely doesn't look like her. But hey, it wasn't my intention to replicate Marie Antoinette's real face, I simply wanted to make a Marie Antoinette-themed bento, thus the big, curly white hair, the ship on her hair, some lacy ribbons and the French flag (which certainly didn't exist yet when she was queen). She was after all the Queen of Fashion of her time, and her coiffure was a hit among the noble women, even though nowadays, I doubt that a lot of women would willingly put a few toy-sized ships on their heads ;). But due to my husband's rather discouraging comment, I am sure I'll make another Marie Antoinette-themed bento in the future ;). I'll make sure that her hair would be much bigger, higher and curlier ;).

Here she reminds me of Ganguro girls...;)!!

Why did I choose Marie Antoinette as my bento's theme? Well, it's because when I was a little girl I used to be 'crazy' about everything Marie Antoinette due to the manga series, "Rose of Versailles" by Riyoko Ikeda which I read and treasured. I got hooked on the story of her life and did a lot of research about her and on the French Revolution in general. But I would never have imagined that one day I would make Marie Antoinette's head out of food...!

Anyway, it was a bit weird to dig in something that looked like a human's face, I felt like a cannibal ;). I had to remove all the facial details from her face before I could eat it. It was an extremely yummy lunch though - not very French (well, actually not French at all ;)) since I had spicy beef bulgogi with kimchi, ebi fry and salad. Next time I make a Marie Antoinette bento, I should prepare something really French, so that it would be a real hardcore Marie Antoinette bento and my husband wouldn't have any reasons to say otherwise ;). I should start checking some French recipes from Charles from Five Euro Food and Sissi from With A Glass :).



I hope you enjoy looking at this rather unusual bento of mine - you know, I usually just make 'cute' character bentos or traditional ones.

Some information on how to make the Marie Antoinette onigiri:
  • Face: rice seasoned with soy sauce
  • Hair: rice
  • Ribbons: imitation crab with nori
  • Ship: goat cheese with nori and gouda cheese
  • Eyes: goat cheese and nori. The eyeballs are from goat cheese coloured with blue food colouring (no, I didn't eat the eyes...!)
  • Lips: imitation crab
I think most of you should know who Marie Antoinette is since a few years ago she was popularised by the movie 'Marie Antoinette' with Kirsten Dunst as the lead actress - unfortunately not a really great film, the story line is a bit ughh and it doesn't really tell the story of Marie Antoinette's life at all. The only scenes I can remember from the film are simply the ones when she's partying and partying and partying with 'I love Candy' as the background music. Sophia Coppola shouldn't title the movie 'Marie Antoinette' but 'The Party Life of Marie Antoinette' instead ;). Sorry if you like the film, I am just stating my opinion...:-).
Oh, by the way, if you don't know who Marie Antoinette is, just hop over to Wikipedia :). Enjoy your weekend. I am glad I'll have my Xmas holidays soon :), it's totally overdue!!!

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Two Puppies Bento



HELLO! My name is Boo and my favourite food is ebi fry :).




Another puppy-themed bento for a gloomy Saturday's lunch. It took me around 2 hours making those two puppy-onigiris that this lunch became my dinner too - I started making the bento quite late, that's why.

Both puppy-shaped onigiris are filled with eby fry and I used nori and cheese for the facial details. Like last time, I used Tonkatsu sauce to brown the puppies. The tounge of the right puppy is made out of umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum), if you're curious.




I ate the eby fry together with Cooking with Dog's style Tartar sauce, deviled egg, homemade kimchi and some slices of cherry tomatoes.

Cooking with Dog's Tartar Sauce
Source: Cooking with Dog
  • 1 Boiled Egg
  • 2 tbsp Minced Onion
  • 2 tbsp Minced Parsley
  • 1 Small Pickled Cucumber
  • 2 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • ⅙ tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice



Oh, by the way, my name is Tobi. My creator told me to let you all know how thankful she was with your support in the bento contest which she joined some time ago. She didn't win the contest but she managed to grab the judges' attention and got a special award and a gift voucher too :D)! Many, many thanks, everyone :). If you are into bento making, and especially if you're located in the US and Canada, you should check out BENTO USA by AllThingsForSale, as the store has got various types of cute bento accessories :).



To end today's post, I'd like to say thank you to Neko from Amaineiko's blog who gave me the 'Back & Kochaward' - this means 'Baking and Cooking Award' :). Hey, Neko, I even know the girl in the snowglobe, she's Emma :). I used to read the manga, you remind me that I haven't finished reading the whole manga series...!



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Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cute Puppy Bento



Aren't you all happy that it's weekend? I absolutely am...:)!! Unfortunately I always feel that it's much too short, especially in winter when everything is already dark by five.

The last time I made charaben was about 2 weeks ago, it's indeed time to make something cute again... A puppy...:)! I have always wanted to have a dog, but I don't because it's too much work. Since I can't have one, I made one myself...;). This is just the kind of dog I like...


Cuteness overload...:D)!!!

The little puppy is made out of rice and the brown spot is tonkatsu sauce. The eyes are made out of nori and cheese, the nose of nori and the little tounge of ham. I also had three fried panko-coated shrimps which I bought from my local Asian market and a few pieces of cherry tomatoes.




I wish you all a great weekend!

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Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Prawn Cakes and Chasu Bento



I made this bento at the weekend, on the same day I made the spicy shoyu ramen, thus the blurry photo...! I actually just bought a 'daylight studio set', but I haven't tried it yet, I hope this will help me make better pictures in the evenings...

This bento was for my husband as he's not very fond of noodle soups. But he still got my ramen toppings, chasu and prawn cakes ;). The recipe of my prawn cakes is exactly the same as the recipe of my mum's shrimp balls, but instead of white bread cubes, I use panko. My husband also had blanched arugula seasoned with soy sauce and toasted sesame seeds, soy-sauce seasoned egg, cherry tomatoes, blanched carrots, slices of cucumber, radish and mandarin.

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Sunday, 4 December 2011

Spicy Shoyu Ramen



I had been waiting for the weekend to come because I wanted to try Nami's version of Spicy Shoyu Ramen which I saw on her Monday's post. I love this ramen because it's pretty simple to make and the flavour is quite rich too. Unfortunately I had to omit the chicken stock because I didn't have it, but the mixture of dashi, soy sauce and chili bean paste was good enough for me :).

I am not very happy with my photos though, it was so dark and gloomy today, I hardly could make presentable pictures. I had to sharpen and filled the photos with some light to make them passable to see, but as you can see, they're still pretty blurry.

Anyway, back to ramen making now...!

Spicy Shoyu Ramen - serves 2

Adapted from Just One Cookbook

  • 2 packages ramen noodle, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ½ inch ginger, minced
  • 2 teaspoon spicy chili bean paste with chili (la doubanjiang)
  • 4 cups dashi stock (I used dashi powder + water)
  • 2 ½ tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon sake
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
    Toppings
  • Homemade Chashu
  • Homade crispy prawn cakes
  • 1 soy sauce-soaked boiled egg
  • Chopped green onion
  • 2 Nori sheets
  • Naruto maki (I used regular fishcakes)
  • Blanched mushrooms
  • Blanced arugula
  • Blanched carrot flowers
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • White pepper
Instructions
  • Heat sesame oil in a pot. Add garlic and ginger and saute until aromatic.
  • Add the chili bean paste and stir-fry for around 1 minute.
  • Pour dashi stock, sake and sugar.
  • Cook for 2 minutes then simmer until all your toppings and ramen noodles are ready.



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Friday, 2 December 2011

Please VOTE for my Bento Photos :)!!





Hi everyone, two of my bento photos managed to get into the top 15 of the "Food Deco Contest" by Allthingsforsale.com. You would do me a great favour if you could help me vote for these two pictures in Facebook. Here are the simple steps:

  1. Click this link http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.269819619735411.87650.161843023866405&type=3
  2. Look for my two photos.
  3. "Like" them.
As I have mentioned in my Facebook page, I can't really give you anything in return for this favour, but a promise to make you smile with more of my bento creations :).

MANY, MANY THANKS IN ADVANCE :D)!!



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