Archive for February, 2008
One of our two cats has started scratching under our bed and on our door when we shut her out, so I wake up early some mornings when Squirrel decides it’s time for us to get up (grrr). I’d rather be sleeping, but figure as long as I’m awake I may as well do something a little more ambitious for Bug’s bentos than throwing something into the microwave and reheating leftovers. (On the cat front, please feel free to give me advice on how to change our cat’s behavior! I’ve tried squirting her with water and putting contact paper under the bed, so now she jumps at our hair through the headboard slats. I’d love to get that extra hour of sleep in the morning again, but short of putting her in a cage I’m not sure what to do…)
Contents of preschooler lunch: “Rice cubes” with salmon-flavored furikake rice sprinkles, Moro blood orange, teriyaki chicken cubes (recipe below), Chinese egg custard tart, and roasted mushroom cap stuffed with chevre, pancetta, sauteed broccoli rabe, garlic and butter (recipe below). This is the lunch I referenced last week in the recipe for roasted mushroom caps.
Morning prep time: 20 minutes, using frozen rice and a quarter of a leftover egg custard from a cheap takeout dim sum meal (from Good Luck Dim Sum in San Francisco). In the morning I popped the mushrooms in my convection toaster oven to roast while I microwaved the rice and made the onigiri rice cubes with a little rice cuber (details and how-to here; you can also use a shaped silicone ice cube tray for similar results). The chicken and mushroom filling took the remaining time — I was ambitious for this lunch as I was awake anyway. (Darn Squirrel! At least her brother Moose is chill.) (Click for cooking and packing details, plus an additional preschooler lunch.)
Published by Biggie on February 20th, 2008 tagged bento, for kids, glutenfree, lactose free, onigiri or sushi, poultry, rice, vegetarian | 51 Comments »
Japanese donburi is a type of meal with food served right on top of rice in an oversized bowl; examples include dishes like simmered egg and chicken (oyako-don), tempura, Japanese curry, sukiyaki, eel, etc. When making a bento lunch, though, donburi toppings with a lot of moisture tend to make the rice soggy when packed together. I’ve previously described the “rice lid” method where a layer of rice is packed on top of curry or stew in a thermal jar, keeping most of the rice intact and allowing the use of a thermal lunch jar’s non-sealing larger rice container for liquidy foods. Another method is to pack rice totally separate from the stew or curry, and put them together just before eating, which keeps the rice from getting soggy. This is the best way provided both rice and curry are nice and warm, and your container is large enough to contain both easily. I recently picked up a microwave-safe bento box for donburi meals that’s designed to address just these issues. (Click for the full review and an additional preschooler lunch.)
Published by Biggie on February 18th, 2008 tagged SF Bay Area local, bento, equipment, shopping | 26 Comments »
San Francisco Bay Area readers should be sure to check out Sanko, a small store in Japantown I’d browsed before but hadn’t noticed their bento box selection. Currently having a Presidents’ Day 10%-off sale until February 23, 2008, Sanko has San Francisco’s best selection of higher-quality men’s bento boxes, including Asvel and Hakoya brands. Look for the innovative microwave-safe donburi bento box from Hakoya (”Don Don Lunch Box”, full review here), which I haven’t seen locally before. Prices are not extremely cheap, but you’ll find excellent quality things here you won’t find elsewhere. Courteous and helpful, their staff is known to occasionally serve tea to customers in lovely Japanese tea cups. (Click to read the full review…)
Published by Biggie on February 16th, 2008 tagged SF Bay Area local, shopping | 5 Comments »
Tiny fried quail eggs are just the right size for bento lunches, and taste like regular chicken eggs. Simplify prep and cook them in a ladle! The small rounded bowl of a metal ladle keeps the quail eggs in a nice circular shape, conducts heat well for quick frying, and uses less energy than heating up even a mini frying pan. Hat tip to Japanese-language book of energy-saving tips “Setsuyaku no Urawaza Shittoku Memo” from Shufu no Tomo publishing house, which also recommends a ladle for boiling bento-sized portions of vegetables like snow peas. Read on for directions.
Published by Biggie on February 14th, 2008 tagged eggs, recipe, tips, tutorial or how to | 46 Comments »
I went to a Japanese-Brazilian friend’s party this weekend where there was a gorgeous array of Brazilian savory appetizers called salgadinhos. Salgadinhos encompass a variety of different savory bites, including inverted cone-shaped stuffed “coxinhas“ whose dough is made with yucca and chicken broth, “bolinhos de peixe” fish balls, “risole” thick fried half-moons stuffed with fillings, “empada” pies baked in mini muffin tins, and Middle Eastern stuffed meat kibbeh (ground meat & bulgur wheat) that reflects the immigrant influence in Brazil.
Often eaten with hot sauce, evidently salgadinhos are popular snacks at bars and parties in Brazil. They were definitely a hit with the three-year-old birthday party crowd, who staged repeated strikes on the finger food table. Also popular were brigadeiro chocolate fudge candy and beijinho de coco coconut kisses, little Portuguese-influenced sweets made from condensed milk and rolled in either chocolate jimmies or shredded coconut. We finally had to move the plate out of reach of the children, who took up positions nearby to snatch up the chocolate balls.
I was so taken with the salgadinhos that I asked the hostess if I could take a few home to feature in a bento lunch, and she was gracious enough to give the green light and fill me in on the details. They may seem unusual for a packed lunch, but they’re in keeping with other ready-made appetizers that lend themselves nicely to the small scale of bentos, such as puff pastry appetizers, spanakopita, mini crab cakes, meatballs, etc. (Click to read the full post with lunch details…)