Archive for the 'curry' Category
In a break from my usual “speed bento” lunches that only take about ten minutes to pack, the other week I made more of an effort for Valentine’s Day and packed a special lunch for my four-year-old son to take to preschool. You can see his whole classroom’s Valentine bentos lunches here if you’re curious. (If you’ve got any special Valentine’s lunches of your own, today Feb. 23rd is the last day for entries in this month’s Valentine bento contest with a chance at winning a bento box prize.)
It took me a while to post this as Bug & I were in a car accident last week where we were badly rear-ended, and I’ve been a little discombobulated and tied up with all the post-crash red tape. Thankfully both Bug and I were able to walk away from the wreck, but our car may be totaled (jury’s still out). If you’d like to see a photo of our smashed-up car, I posted one on the forum with some details.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Heart-shaped onigiri rice balls filled with Gohan Desu Yo! seasoned seaweed paste (colored with red or green hana-ebi shrimp powder, decorated with nori seaweed and mamenori soy wrappers described below), blueberries, steamed zucchini with Korean barbecue sauce, and chicken from a homemade Indian curry (lal shorve vala murgh).
Morning prep time: 30 minutes, WAY longer than my usual speed bento, but fine for a special occasion Valentine’s Day lunch. My shortcuts were leftover curry, frozen rice, and a heart-shaped molds for the rice balls. In the morning I assembled the rice balls and made the zucchini in my microwave mini steamer. (Read on for decoration and equipment notes, a review of Uncooked Roti-Chapati Indian flatbread dough from Costco, and an additional preschooler lunch…)
Published by Biggie on February 23rd, 2009 tagged bento, curry, decorative, equipment, for kids, onigiri or sushi, phyllo or pancake or other, potatoes, poultry, review, rice | 17 Comments »
Croquettes are a cross-cultural tool for breathing new life into leftovers, perfect for any mashed potatoes that survive Thanksgiving dinner. There are versions of these breaded, fried balls of leftover potatoes or meat found around the world: bitterballen and kroket in the Netherlands, korokke in Japan, alu-tikki in India, and the list goes on. I demonstrated this recipe today on Fox40 live TV news in Sacramento for a segment on Creative Ideas for Thanksgiving Dinner Leftovers, and will post a link to the video once it’s up.
(UPDATE: The video links for the Fox40 “Creative Ideas for Thanksgiving Dinner Leftovers” are up; click for the first TV segment with turkey mole enchiladas, and the second TV segment with the croquettes and ways to repurpose leftover cranberry sauce.)
The basics are simple, and can be tweaked with whatever leftovers and seasonings you have on hand. Take some cold mashed potatoes, add vegetables or proteins, flavor, form into shapes, roll in bread crumbs, and fry. I chose to add leftover turkey and curry powder, and served them with a trio of dipping sauces: stone ground mustard, tonkatsu sauce, and leftover cranberry sauce. (Read on for the full recipe.)
Published by Biggie on November 25th, 2008 tagged curry, leftover remake, phyllo or pancake or other, potatoes, poultry, recipe | 30 Comments »
(ADDENDUM: Please accept my apologies for the downtime Lunch in a Box has been experiencing lately. My hosting company has had an unprecedented number of issues lately, and I will be switching providers shortly.)
I’ve seen fun little aluminum bento boxes for children in stores from time to time, but have always been puzzled by their lack of watertight lids. Why use metal boxes that leak? I asked the moms at Bug’s Japanese immersion preschool and searched through my Japanese-language bento cookbooks to find some answers.
In Japan, evidently preschools have special ovens to warm up the children’s metal boxes in the winter, but because most of the cute aluminum boxes lack watertight seals, Japanese parents have had to get creative with how they pack lunches in them. Benefits of metal boxes include being able to cook food directly in the box (when using an oven-safe container, also true of tempered glass boxes), the absence of health concerns associated with packing food in plastic, and lighter weight than glass boxes. Drawbacks include not being able to microwave metal containers and potential leaking caused by the loose, non-secure lid.
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Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Mini Shepherd’s pie (seasoned ground beef with vegetables, topped with mashed potatoes and melted Cheddar cheese; simple web recipe here), and a side dish container with a black Mission fig, Concord grapes, and different colored cherry tomatoes.
Speed Tip: When you’re making dinner, make a little extra that can be saved and eaten for lunch (either as is or as a Leftover Remake). The Shepherd’s pie didn’t take extra time when cooking — I just separated out a little, assembled in lunch-friendly containers, and threw them into the fridge for later.
Morning prep time: 8 minutes, using pre-made Shepherd’s pie from dinner earlier in the week. In the morning I grated some cheese and ran it briefly under the broiler in my convection toaster oven to melt the cheese. I let it cool before putting the plastic lid on top. (Read on for details, tips for using metal bento boxes, sample pages from Japanese bento cookbooks, and additional lunches.)
Published by Biggie on October 6th, 2008 tagged bento, curry, decorative, equipment, for kids, glutenfree, meat, onigiri or sushi, potatoes, rice, tips | 16 Comments »
I usually wind up packing my son’s lunch in the morning, but if I really had my act together I’d pack more lunches the night before when we’re cleaning up from dinner. Leftovers feature prominently in our lunches anyway, so evening packing would just be getting a leg up on the next day. But what I CAN manage is partial packing: where I throw one or two elements into a box for the next day, then finish up the rest in the morning.
Some foods do better without an overnight stay in the refrigerator, though. The texture of rice particularly suffers in the refrigerator, and needs reheating before packing to make it soft and warm again. If you have a cool rice cooker with a timer, though, you can set it to have freshly cooked rice ready in the morning.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch & snack: Roast chicken drumstick, baby carrots, cherry, kiwifruit, blueberries, and mild curried mushrooms (khombi tarkari).
Cooking: For dinner this weekend I tried out a mushroom recipe from Moghul Microwave, Julie Sahni’s cookbook of convenient Indian food. I didn’t need to tone down the spiciness for my three-year-old as I used a mild Madras curry powder for flavor. It didn’t thicken sufficiently with the amount of cornstarch called for, though, so I wound up doubling that. I don’t think I actually saved much time by making this in the microwave oven as opposed to the stovetop, but it was a warm afternoon when I was cooking and it was nice not to heat up the kitchen in the summer.
Morning prep time: 6 minutes, using leftover rotisserie chicken and curried mushrooms. The night before, I put the drumstick in the box when cleaning up from dinner. In the morning I peeled and cut the kiwi, and plated the mushrooms. To speed up my morning even more I could have assembled the entire lunch the night before and kept it in the fridge overnight — no rice to get hard and unappetizing in the cold. The kiwi is a little nicer when sliced fresh, though. (Read on for packing details and a Singaporean skate wing lunch.)
Published by Biggie on July 8th, 2008 tagged bento, curry, fish or seafood, food jar, for kids, glutenfree, lactose free, poultry, recipe, rice | 21 Comments »
At first glance this may not seem like a particularly interesting lunch, but I’ve actually taken a couple of new approaches to packing that can be applied to other dishes. Double-decker heating of multiple dishes in the microwave oven saves time and energy, and I created a do-it-yourself thermal donburi bento box for a child out of an adult-sized thermal lunch jar.
Morning prep time: 6 minutes, using leftover curry and rice. In the morning I microwaved the rice and curry in microwave-safe ceramic bowls while preheating the outer thermal food jar with hot tap water. Preheating the outer thermal jar helps the container retain heat longer, keeping your food nice and warm.
Gear: Although microwave ovens are usually a pretty good size on the inside, the limiting factor on how much food I can warm at once is usually the diameter of the round glass carousel on the bottom. It makes sense to take advantage of the oven’s vertical space to warm multiple dishes at once, though, reducing the time the microwave is running and saving money on electricity.
I’ve found a few different stands and plate covers that let you stack plates and bowls on top of each other in the microwave or refrigerator. I keep them next to the microwave and reach for them every day — the covers are faster than reaching for plastic wrap when nuking even a single plate of food, and the plastic doesn’t touch the food directly. An added benefit is that they’re reusable and reduce kitchen waste. I happened to pick them all up at at the Daiso discount store in Daly City, CA (branches internationally) because at US$1.50 they’re cheap there, but you can also find these sorts of microwave plate covers on Amazon in different designs. (Read on for more microwave covers and lunch packing details.)