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 🙂

 

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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 🙂

 

Bread Blunch

Lunch bread bentoAnother Blunch (boxed lunch), this time with bread.

I never liked packing prepared sandwiches for lunch because they would get soggy and I have a dislike for bread that is not super fresh. When I eat bread for lunch, I tend to buy it on the day itself, or I make toast.

Packing toast for lunch works, just cool it down properly before stacking it & closing the lid, plus if you pack anything with moisture, use some “seperatators” or make sure it is completely dry on the outside. The toast will loose some of its crispness but I prefer the taste of toasted – but slightly limp – bread to the taste of 1 day old non toasted bread if that makes sense….

My Bread Blunch today has 3 pieces of toast, which I quickly cut with a cookie cutter to fit in the lunch box (cut offs for breakfast). There is some babybel cheese, hardboiled quail eggs, cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks and a clementine. The little container has some mayo/mustard mix so that I can create egg-cheese-toast-sandwiches when I want to eat. Oh and there is a tiny sachet of salt.

 

Roast Chicken Blunch with Jerusalem Artichoke

This Blunch is dedicated to Bentolily from Einfach Bento.

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Last week I put out a challenge to my readers. Never having cooked with these before, I asked my readers to come up with suggestions on how to use Jerusalem artichoke in my lunchbox (read more here) and promised to dedicate the resulting lunch to the reader who came up with a workable suggestion.

Well, Bentolily came not only up with one suggestion, no, she made lots of different suggestions and even sent me a recipe of her favourite way to use Jerusalem artichoke (aka topinambour or sunchoke) as a spread for bread.

One other reader (Ad – no blog, so I can’t link back) also suggested cooking them sous vide, with a bulgogi or kimchi marinade. Although I liked the idea of trying out the souse vide (never done that before either), I felt that an bulgogi or kimchi marinade might be too overpowering for the slightly sweet, nutty flavour of the Jerusalem artichoke.

Aside from the spread,  Bentolily also suggested that roasted slices might work best for a Bento, and that gave me the idea for this Roast Chicken Blunch.

Here in the UK one thing that the British cuisine is known for are their Sunday Roast lunches, served with “all the trimmings” ie roast potatoes, roast veggies, cooked veggies, yorkshire puddings (with beef only). As it’s just two of us, I don’t often bother with a huge beef or lamb roast, instead we opt for the roast chicken with the bonus that I can use the leftovers for my lunches 🙂

So yesterday I duly roasted a chicken, carefully saving the drumsticks for today to pack into my Roast Chicken Blunch. –  I am calling it a blunch = aka boxed lunch, as it doesn’t contain Japanese or Korean food. It was a great excuse though to pack it in my lovely shokado bento box, a very traditional box that you often see in use at Japanese restaurants. I bought mine at Japancentre – . I also saved some of the roast potatoes & carrots. I roasted some J. artichokes separately, very simple with just some olive oil, garlic, rosemary and salt and kept some of this for today as well. I didn’t peel the J. artichokes, and with hindsight, next time I might as the peel was a bit chewy to eat, think I will have to experiment a bit more with this vegetable.

Today I sliced the left over J. artichokes in 1 cm thick slices and steamed these. After steaming, I used my flower cutter to create the flowers, adding a pea for the heart. I also steamed some more veggies and reheated the roast potatoes and chicken drumsticks, arranging it all in the bento box. Finally I added some redcurrant jelly in the smallest compartment and parsley to decorate.

And as traditional with a Sunday Roast.. – even if it’s Monday – I ate my boxed chicken roast lunch at lunch time! 😛

P.s. Bentolily also warned me about the flatulence inducing capacity of Jerusalem artichoke (caused by the inulin it contains). Luckily it is a Bank Holiday today, so no need to expose my co-workers to this risk ….. 🙂

P.s.s. BentoLily has a great blog called Einfach Bento (Simply Bento), and the only reason why I hadn’t found her blog previously is probably because she writes in German. But – like me – she makes Bento for herself, ie an adult not for children, and the subtitle of her blog says it all: Ausgewogene Bento für Erwachsene (Balanced Bento for adults). Her Bentos look balanced in ingredients, colours and healthy, but more important very attractive!

If you don’t read German (luckily I am reasonable ok with German), don’t worry Google translate is your friend :-). It’s definitely worth checking out her blog!

Seafood Ramen

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I confess….Instant ramen…..

Yes, of course I know that these are very unhealthy, because of the high content of sodium, calories, fat and possible other nasties…but they are also very convenient, cheap and sometimes just what I need 🙂

To give my instant ramen a healthier disguise, I’ve combined them here with extra seafood and vegetables. I actually packed the seafood and vegetables as a bento. The seafood and various vegetables (spring onion, broccoli, boksoi) is in the bottom part of the container. The top part holds some more spring onion and cress to add after “cooking the ramen”. There is also (as if it’s not salty enough) some soy sauce.

I kept this bento in the fridge because it contained seafood. When I was ready for my lunch, I added the ramen and the 2 packets of flavouring to the bowl, poured on some boiling water and put that in the microwave for 3 more minutes. I then added the cress and spring onion before giving everything a good stir.

Yummie!

Avocado cheese sandwich (to be)

Avocado cheese sandwich to be

You might wonder, where is the sandwich?

Well, the title says to be…the bread is still missing, but this box contains all other the ingredients to make avocado sandwiches.

Apparently avocado on toast is very “trendy” right now, think they call it AVO toast or something like that. It made me smile when I read this as I have been eating avocado on bread/toast for years…Anyway, it gave me the idea for this lunch box.

It contains an avocado, sprinkled with some lemon juice to keep it from discouloring, babybel cheese (admittedly not the best cheese in the world – ha, understatement of the year – but practical for packing in a lunch), cress and some tomatoes on the side. The little containers (which I rediscovered when making photo’s of my bento accessories) contain (salted) butter and mustard.

I will buy some fresh sourdough bread on my way to work. There is an artisan bakery on my route, and I always have to resist being lured into the shop by it’s delicious fresh bread smells (plus by their extremely decadent chocolate fudge cake, but at least I can’t smell that when walking by).

I love bread, I’ve been known to eat a whole loaf of freshly baked bread (topped with salted butter) in one go. Unfortunately, bread doesn’t really love me…get all bloated and stuff…so I try to eat it no more than once a week.

I wrote the draft of this post in the morning just after packing my lunchbox but now I can include a photo of the result: tadaa….

Avo sandwich

Couscous salad

couscous salad

A very simple but delicious salad!

After my previous post about “thoughts on blogging”  & all the lovely comments & likes received, I don’t feel guilty at all for showing you this lunch, which isn’t even in a lunchbox!

I actually forgot to make a picture of the same salad I took to work for lunch, this is a picture of the salad eaten at home 🙂

Somehow, I never manage to make this salad in a small quantity,  so I have been eaten this twice for lunch now and once for dinner…plus there is still a bit leftover…

Basically prepare some couscous by following the instructions that are on the pack. Most will tell you to add boiling water to couscous, let is stand for a few minutes and fluff it with a fork, but some require you to cook the couscous for a few minutes.

I always use the easy, almost instant version and instead of plain boiling water, I use vegetable stock with a table spoon or two of olive oil, some lemon juice and salt. If you add more liquid (in the form of olive oil /lemon juice) just make sure you add a little bit less water, otherwise you end up with very soggy couscous.

After fluffing and cooling down, I mixed in the other ingredients, in this case cucumber, tomato, spring onion, black olives and feta cheese.

 PS some readers might have noticed that I changed the design theme of my blog.This was mainly because the old theme had problems with categories and archives. I hope it works now but please let me know if not. 

Not that I can promise to solve it…(without changing design theme again)… I‘m learning/struggling to learn about the technical side of blogging on the go and welcome all advice! For example does anybody know how to get ALL my widgets together instead some of them on the side bar & others lurking somewhere deep down the page…they seem to be all over the place depending on what  device you read my blog on…????

Courgette Salmon Blinis

courgette salmon blinis

 Too be honest, I am not sure if Blinis is the correct term for these!

But I don’t know what else to call them, and they do resemble a savoury blini. However, there is no flour in them. The recipe is very simple and has only 3 main ingredients: courgette, smoked salmon and egg! I am not quite sure of the exact quantities, I sort of mix and see, but it is roughly this:

Grate 1 medium courgette into a sieve/colander and sprinkle with some salt. Let stand for few minutes, meanwhile cut about 50-75 gram of smoked salmon in tiny pieces.

Squeeze as much liquid as possible out of the grated courgette. I find that the easiest way to do this is to literally take a handful of the courgette and squeeze and squeeze and squeeze. It is surprising how much liquid comes out (and a good exercise for your arm muscles 🙂 as well).

In a large bowl beat the egg, add the smoked salmon and courgette and mix all together. Add a bit of pepper if you want but limit any additional salt as the courgette has been salted already and smoked salmon is salty as well.

Oil a non stick frying pan very lightly and add the mixture in small blini size portions (about 1,5 tablespoon) to the pan. Press the mixture carefully down so it is even, and pan fry at medium heat on both sizes for about 3 minutes each side.

I sometimes serve these as a starter and add a yoghurt/mint dip to it, but as you can see they are great for a lunch as well! I have added the mangetout between the courgette salmon blinis to avoid them sticking together. There is also some mini corn, some Korean egg roll and a clementine.

Salad & new lunch box (preview)

The last few days have been so hot & humid (between thunderstorms) that on some days I just made a very simple salad for lunch.

Eggs, cucumber, tomato, carrot and cress:

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The picture doesn’t show it clearly, but I used the Sistema salad to go box (see also here),  but without the insert this time. The bowl is quite deep, so this was quite a large (if boring) salad.

I also want to show you a new lunch box that I found in Paperchase! I’m addicted to buying  lunch boxes and bento accessories my collection is growing!….

I tend to buy most of my Bento accessories online (Bento & Co is great, so is CasaBento and JapanCentre also has a selection) or at the Korean supermarket, but sometimes I find Bento stuff in other shops as well.

It seems that large stationery chains such as Paperchase are stocking more and more lunch boxes and related things, aside from the one I bought, they also had a 2-layered one, but I didn’t like the pattern on that one.

I chose the swallow snack box because it has a clip & close lid, which should make it leak proof (haven’t tested it yet) and also because it has a divider and came with cutlery on a little tray (the little tray insert rests on the ridge in the box (if that makes sense).

And of course because I liked the colour and decoration!

I will soon make a Bento using this lunchbox 😉

new lunchbox

Please note that I have not been asked nor paid to mention any of these companies