Archive for the 'rice' Category
Because I’m not my son’s personal short-order cook, I love to use dinner leftovers in our bento lunches to minimize prep time. But eating the exact same thing for multiple meals can get boring pretty quickly, so finding new ways to quickly transform leftovers into different dishes is always welcome. Today I’ve got a simple Leftover Remake recipe for pan-fried risotto cakes.
With these lunches, I took cold zucchini risotto left over from dinner the night before, and made it into little pan-fried risotto cakes that my five-year-old ate as finger food. They’re reminiscent of Sicilian arancini (deep-fried rice balls stuffed with cheese, meat, or vegetables), but I improvised as I didn’t have a good melting cheese on hand.
Contents of kindergartener bento lunch: Pan-fried zucchini (courgette) risotto cakes (recipe below), teriyaki & pineapple chicken meatballs (my favorite, Aidells brand), red grapes, and steamed broccoli with onion-based salad dressing. For dinner, I’d made the zucchini risotto from a recipe in Marcella Hazan’s classic cookbook Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
Morning prep time: 22 minutes for the two bentos, including cooling time for the risotto cakes, meatballs and broccoli. In the morning I formed and pan-fried the risotto cakes from leftover risotto, microwaved the frozen meatballs, and steamed the broccoli in my microwave mini-steamer. (Click for full lunch details, an adult variation on this lunch with additional fruit & veggies, and a basic recipe for the risotto cakes.) Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on March 24th, 2010 tagged bento, for kids, leftover remake, meat, phyllo or pancake or other, recipe, rice | 122 Comments »
Today I’ve got two lunches that represent both ends of the bento spectrum: one is fast and simple, the other is time-consuming decorative food art. My usual preference is for the fast and easy bento made through speedy prep techniques and leftovers, but once or twice a year I go the extra mile for a holiday lunch. Think of it like a birthday cake: even if you make cake regularly, you probably don’t put as much effort into decorating each unless it’s for a special occasion.
I realize that by posting one of my rare ornate lunches right after recent bento articles in the New York Times and the Globe and Mail I’m at risk of falling into a fussy stereotype. Maybe I should reread Need for Speed: A Mommy’s Lunch Manifesto? Anyway, I cut myself a break when I remember the wide variety of real-life special occasion bentos I saw at my son’s old Japanese immersion preschool and read about other parents’ lunchtime adventures on the Lunch in a Box online community forum.
I have to admit that although I get a feeling of accomplishment once I finish an elaborate creation like the one above, I do feel time pressure while I’m making it and wonder, “Why bother?” Am I a bad attitude mom? Guilty as charged! The simpler lunch below was made quickly with the leftovers from the fancier one above, and is much more my pace for an average school day.
Contents of preschooler bento lunch: Fried shrimp (recipe forthcoming), steamed broccoli with vinaigrette dressing, round onigiri rice balls (stuffed with Gohan Desu Yo! seaweed paste and decorated with strips of nori seaweed), wrapped triangle cheese, grapes, and kiwifruit.
Morning prep time: 15 minutes, using frozen rice and fried shrimp left over from the shrimp rolls the day before. In the morning I assembled the rice balls, nuked a couple florets of broccoli in my microwave mini steamer, and peeled/sliced the kiwifruit. (Read on for the full post. with details on the fish-shaped sushi lunch..) Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on September 9th, 2009 tagged bento, decorative, fish or seafood, for kids, onigiri or sushi, rice | 44 Comments »
On Saturday we hosted a hanami, the Japanese tradition of a picnic under cherry trees when they’re in bloom. Sakura cherry trees blossom only during a brief time during the spring and the pink petals soon fall from the trees, so there’s an urgency to enjoying that ephemeral moment when they’re at their peak. In Japan, you’ll find all kinds of people crowding onto blankets under cherry trees even on busy sidewalks, sprawling out with bento meals, and beer or sake. For our California Hanami, we invited friends to our favorite hanami location in San Francisco, a small clearing of cherry trees in Golden Gate Park across from the Buffalo Paddock. The only thing that was missing were drunk Japanese salarymen in suits trying out their English!
Foodbuzz sponsored the food as a part of their monthly 24, 24, 24 food blogging event, so we were able to put together the most elaborate hanami picnic I’ve had to date, instead of store-bought bentos or quickly slapped-together sandwiches. I always used to envy the well organized people at hanami who were able to cook meat or chicken on little portable grills — if you were lucky they might strike up a conversation with you and offer you a bite of their tasty food. I decided that this was the year that we would have the great-smelling grilled feast.
Food: We had a variety of marinated meats to grill: chicken thighs, marinated beef short ribs (kalbi), skewered bulgogi beef, and spicy pork sliced thin and skewered. Vegetables like enoki mushrooms and bell pepper strips went on the grill, while salad vegetables like cucumbers, baby carrots and celery were easy to dip in ranch dressing. Rice balls are good finger food, so I made a variety with different fillings: grilled salmon, umeboshi sour plum, Gohan Desu Yo! seaweed paste, kimchi, and plain furikake. Seasoned noodles, sliced ripe strawberries, tiny tangerines, beer and a big bottle of Onigoroshi sake rounded out our little feast. (Read on for food details and reviews of the different picnic containers.) Read the rest of this entry »
Published by Biggie on March 30th, 2009 tagged Containers, bento, equipment, for kids, meat, onigiri or sushi, review, rice | 22 Comments »
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 »
Teaching kids how to use chopsticks can be tricky. Bug has used a variety of different learning chopsticks that I picked up in local Asian markets, but this weekend I came across a cheap and ingenious workaround that uses regular disposable chopsticks, the paper chopstick wrapper, and a rubber band. A tip of the hat goes to Sushi to Dai For restaurant in San Rafael, CA, where I saw this trick (their omakase sushi special is, indeed, to die for).
To make these, pull apart disposable chopsticks or use regular reusable ones with rectangular ends that will stay securely together. Use a rubber band to tightly bind together the non-eating ends. Take a small strip of paper or half of the wrapper from the disposable chopsticks, and fold it up small. Wedge it in between the chopsticks up near the rubber band, and hand them to your child! Kids can just squeeze the chopsticks together to grab things, and the tips are aligned properly. (Read on for additional tricks for making these, reviews of Edison learning chopsticks and the Fun Chop chopstick learning gadget, and where to see me on TV this morning.)