Carrot men eating my lunch…

imageHelp, my lunch is being eaten by the carrot men!

Made a very quick lunch today and thought to add some fun by punching out these little men out of some carrot disks. I have not really gotten around to make a lot of bento recently. Partly that’s because I am so busy with decorating this year’s Christmas cakes. I made 4 (!) which will all be decorated differently and although it’s fun to do, it does take a lot of time. I’m hoping to post a photo of them all before Christmas. Currently no 2 is finished and have started on no 3….

Another reason why I haven’t been making a lot of bento is because I have been eating a lot less rice in recent weeks. Since winter has started, and temperatures dropping, I have been craving lots of comfort food like stews and oven dishes. Although I did make some Korean comfort food like Sundubu Jjigae, most other food has included potatoes and pasta. My taste buds seem to work that way, some months can go by without me eating any pasta at all, but than suddenly all I seem to want is spaghetti, macaroni cheese and lasagne! The same for potatoes, for the last weeks I’m yearning for mash, mash and more mash!  At some point my taste buds will call out for rice again, but for the moment I am indulging them.

However, even potatoes can be turned into a lunch, and I have packed them in the past, like with this Gamjajorim dish. Today’s lunch had potatoes in the form of a tortilla, always easy to make,  it can be prepared in advance and you can use up any left overs you have.

Recipe: Heat some oil in an non stick, oven proof, frying pan and add your filling of choice. I used onion, potatoes and garlic sausage. Fry for a few minutes until lightly coloured, whilst stirring regularly, and until potatoes are halfway cooked. Preheat oven or grill. Beat 2-3 eggs with some seasoning and add to frying pan, making sure the filing is evenly distributed. Fry for a minute more until slightly set and finish off under grill/in oven until firmly set. Can be eaten warm, tepid or cooled down and cut in pieces for your lunch🙂

 

More (decorated) bakes

As you might have noticed, I changed the subtitle of this blog! It used to be Japanese and Korean inspired lunchboxes and some baking but as I have been baking so much lately – and as I want to show off my bakes🙂 – I changed it to Bento and Baking.

I have already shown some of my bakes in previous blog posts (what about a Hamburger anyone? Or how about going to the farm?) but below are some more cakes I have baked and decorated this year:

Vanilla cupcakes with cute strawberry/rose decoration. A chocolate cake with sugar roses. Rainbow cake with chocolate buttercream and a Victoria Sponge.

A cake with spots! It was a vanilla sponge with caramel buttercream. And a daisy/rose cake with a checkerboard effect (vanilla & chocolate).

A woodland tree trunk – chocolate sponge with chocolate (fudge) buttercream. A gluten and dairy free vanilla sponge with vanilla “not-butter”cream. And two emoji cakes: a lemon one filled with lemon curd buttercream and a chocolate cake with dark chocolate ganache.

Don’t worry, I have not been eating these all by myself🙂. They mostly get shared with friends and colleagues. Obviously they’re not complaining…

I think my favourite of these cakes is the tree trunk one, I had so much fun making it and Iike how much it resembles a tree trunk. The most challenging one was the gluten and dairy free one, I made this for a colleague of my OH, as she hadn’t been able to enjoy any of the other cakes before. Measuring out all the pleats was a bit tricky and also because I had to adapt my recipe to be gluten and dairy free. Luckily it worked out well and she really enjoyed it.

Which one do you like most?

Sundubu Jjigae

Some more Korean comfort food, Sundubu Jjigae or aka Spicy Tofu Stew!

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I love this stew! So nice and comforting, especially now it is getting colder.

There are lots of different versions of this stew, with seafood (my favourite one) or with kimchi and pork, but they will all have this lovely soft dubu (tofu) in it which gives it an amazing creamy-melt-in-the-mouth texture. Hyosun on Korean Bapsang posted recently a very interesting white variation which had Perilla seeds. I quite like perilla but am often not sure how to use it, so her recipe is on my list to try out. A good recipe for the classic seafood version can be found on Maangchi, and she shows how to make the soup-broth-stock base for it.

I actually cheat a bit and use this packet:

wp-1479421800474.jpgI buy these at the Korean supermarket – where they even sell an instant version of sundubu jjigae (which is quite ok actually) – together with the soft dubu. I can’t read the instructions on the packet, but I just put it in a pan, add some water to it and some seafood and veggies.

This time I used mini corn, crab sticks and spring onion. Sometimes I also poach an egg in the stew just before serving, but that doesn’t really work for a packed lunch. This lunch was packed in my Ms Bento set, which is supposed to keep it warm until lunch time. Unfortunately, it had cooled down a bit though, but luckily only needed a quick minute in the microwave to become piping hot again. I always eat rice with this stew, and the other container had some spice garlic scape and cucumber.

Chasing away the rainy Monday Blues…

A cold, grey and wet Monday. Some days I just want to stay in bed! Obviously only with the remote control within reaching distance and copious amounts of tea, biscuits and other goodies 😀…

Unfortunately staying in bed was not an option today so I consoled myself with the second best alternative: comforting Korean food. 

Regular readers will know how much I love Dolsot Bibimbap so what better way to chase away my rainy Monday Blues than treating myself to a lunch out!

A lovely comforting bowl full of rice, veggies, beef and egg crisping up. Spicy gochujang sauce for that extra kick. Some soup and side dishes, the kimchi side will help combat any cold and sniffles the rain might bring on. 

Am feeling much better already 😊

Do you have any food favourites to combat the Monday Blues?

Left over salmon

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Trust me, this lunch tastes better than it looks!

We had some salmon for dinner last night, and I saved some to pack for my lunch. I also saved some of the skin to make salmon crisps (you can read how to do this here) and packed this separately to avoid them going soggy. The cooked salmon was simply mixed with some cucumber and spring onion and I also drizzled some sesame oil and soy sauce over it.  I ate it with some rice (packed separately, not in photo) and added a satsuma.

Simple but tasty!

Halloween Pumpkin Bride & Groom (mini cake)

Mr and Mrs PumpkinLast weekend we went to a wedding. Or actually, we went to a party to celebrate a wedding.

The happy couple already had their wedding last month, outside the UK, but this weekend they wanted to celebrate with all their UK based family & friends. It was a great party, we had a lovely time, lots to eat & drink, plenty of laughing and dancing and it was wonderful to be able to share this special event with the newly weds.

As part of our gift, I thought it would be nice to make them something. Knowing me, the first thing that came to mind was cake! Of course there was already plenty of cake provided at the party – including some lovely gin & tonic cupcakes which came with their own little gin filled pipette to add an extra boost! (have to admit I emptied that directly into my mouth..not into the cupcake..),  but I thought that they might like a little mini cake, just for him & her.

And because of Halloween, why not a Mr and Mrs Pumpkin?

The mini cakes are actually made from cake pop mixture – chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. I shaped the mixture into two pumpkin shapes about the size of a satsuma (his is slightly larger) and covered in orange sugarpaste. With the help of a cocktail stick and a veining (fondant modelling) tool, I then marked the “grooves” of the pumpkins. I also gave each a pumpkin stem.

After that I had much fun decorating him & her. Despite it being Halloween, I didn’t want them to look scary but happy so I gave them smiling faces. The groom was given a top hat – with white rose, and the bride has a veil, flower tiara and a small rose bouquet. The veil has some edible silver lustre on it, and I made a broderie anglaise effect with little cut outs. So funny, I only noticed later that these made the veil look like it had little ghosts (faces) on it 👻

Finally I decorated the board with some flowers, pumpkin plant trails/leaves and of course a red heart.

I was really happy how these turned out and the bride and groom seemed to like it🙂

 

Avocado salad and corn fritters recipe

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Today’s lunch was another healthy one… at least… until I mixed in the goat cheese and bacon😛

The Sistema lunch box was used again again, and the big compartment holds an avocado salad. Very simple, just cubed avocado with sliced cucumber and scattered with crispy bacon and some goat cheese. Delicious! I also added some radishes, blueberries, tomato and some corn fritters to my lunch.

I quite like corn, especially corn on the cob with lashings of butter and salt, but often forget about this vegetable. I guess it’s because – other than the corn on the cob when in season – you don’t really see fresh corn in the shop, mostly it’s tinned or frozen. I keep tins, cans, unopened packets of flour, pasta and such in our utility kitchen, so I tend to overlook these when cooking. The other day I had to rearrange the shelves (to fit in another few kilo of flour for all my baking..) and discovered 4 tins of corn, so I thought up these corn fritters to make.

There are probably plenty of corn fritter recipes out there, I didn’t really look any up but just sort of guesstimated a recipe/method. Basically I blitzed 3 small tins of corn in the food processor, together with some green onions, 2 eggs and 2 heaped tablespoons of SR flour into a rough batter. I added another tin of corn to this mixture and seasoned it. Then I just fried large spoonfuls of the batter in a lightly greased frying pan and that’s it. Quick and easy.  The mixture made quite a few so I froze several ready for packing in my lunches.

These can be eaten hot, cold or at room temp. You could also pack them frozen (it will keep your lunch cool) and just reheat in the microwave. Anyway, not really a recipe but you sort of get the gist of how these were made. All kind of variations are possible, adding herbs, or maybe some chili peppers would be nice, something to try out next time🙂

 

Healthy snack box

healthy snack box

After eating way too many cakes in the recent months, I thought I’d better pack myself some healthy snacks🙂

I have cut cucumber and carrot into small sticks, and rolled these up – together with some crab sticks – into lettuce leaves. Lettuce wraps are a great way to pack up all kinds of foods, like Thai inspired shrimps, Mexican taco meat, Chinese sweet chicken and so on. Or even better, make Korean Ssambap and wrap up some rice topped with grilled beef, chicken or pork!

Anyway, I digress, and even though I would love to have some Korean Samgyeopsal-gui (grilled pork belly) now, I was quite happy with how my crab-cucumber-carrot-lettuce wraps turned out. The lettuce kept the veggies moist and crisp and they were actually quite filling. To go with my wraps I also packed some radishes, blueberries, a satsuma and some nuts.

It all packed very neatly in my new Bento Box. Found it some time ago, it’s from Sistema and quite practical. It has a main compartment with a movable divider, two small compartments with individual lids, and a side compartment which comes with a small lidded pot. Of course all food, freezer and dishwasher safe. The packaging says that it can also go in the microwave, but without the lid. The lid is hinged though, and although you can detach it from the box, it’s a bit fussy, so I think I’d rather use it for cold lunches only.

And I have still lots of cake ideas that I want to make, so I guess I’d better come up with some more healthy lunch ideas as well!

Bibimbap Hetbahn cup

Do you remember that I bought some instant Hetbahn cups at the Korean supermarket? Well, I tried some and they turned out to be pretty good. Actually much better than expected🙂

The one I tried was the assorted vegetables Bibimbap. Bibimbap is mixed rice with vegetables, and I usually eat mine mixed in a hot stone bowl (a dolsot) so that you get some nice crusty rice. Of course that was not possible with this instant meal, but taste wise it was quite good. The Hetbahn cup consists of a pack of rice, some gochujang sauce and sesame oil and a packet of (vacuum packed) vegetables. It even comes with a little spoon.

Basically you heat up the rice in the microwave and add it to the cup before adding the other ingredients. I was surprised how good the vegetables were (carrot, beansprout and mushroom), they tasted really fresh although I do think it could benefit from some green vegetables like cucumber, courgette or spinach. But maybe these are not so suitable for vacuum packing?  The sesame oil and gochujang sacue were quite generous in quantity, you could adept it to suit your taste.

It is quite a small portion of rice though, compared to my usual bowl of Bibimbap this Hetbahncup was tiny. But a very tasty  and quick snack/lunch solution when you’re craving Korean food and can’t pack/make your own.