A long overdue update

Everything seems to prevent me from updating this blog this last week and yesterday being a day off, I thought I'd do it then ... but I just hung around the house all day doing ... nothing. In Dutch we have a saying that "Idleness is the devil's pillow" (Ledigheid is des duivels oorkussen), but I find that being lazy every once in a while is perfect for recharging one's batteries.  So after almost a complete week of absence, I should now be able to hang in there for a good while, or at least until Christmas :o)

An overview of the bentos of the last few days :

Nov. 12, 2009 : Quinoa pancakes & sweet potatoes bentos

Reading other bento blogs is always an inspiring process a browsing through HapaBento's blog is no exception to the rule.  This week she posted bentos with quinoa as well as sweet potatoes, and her recipes seemed so easy and yummy that I decided to give them a try.

So, this is how my sweet potato mash / quinoa pancake bento ended up like.  For this first time, I tried lining the box with green salad bowl, a technique gamene uses in almost all her bentos and which makes them look extra appetezing.
Then I added the quinoa/red lentils pancakes, the sweet potato mash in a silicone muffin cup, the regular carved cucumber and radish, three little rolls of cooked ham topped with cheesy stars and carrot triangles, a quail egg, the last of the snowpeas, alternating carrot and parsnip slices and a parsnip/carrot flower with a tomato heart.

For the recipes for the sweet potato mash and the quinoa pancakes, I refer you to the postings on hapabento's blog I linked to above.  I didn't use mirin (because my other half isn't a big fan of the taste) for the pancakes but added nutmeg (a spice I add in every dish, I have to admit) and my sweet potato mash is chili-free.

My other half also had a bento of course, containing roughly the same ingredients : Quinoa/red lentil pancakes and sliced sweet potato in the bottom tier; ham roll skewer,brocoli, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, radish, snowpeas and carrot/parsnip slices and flower (with a quail egg heart).

Nov. 11, 2009 : Armistice Day -> holiday -> no work -> no bento :o)

Nov. 10, 2009 : Butternut pumpkin bento

As the main part of my bento was going to be a mixed salad, I took my little round bento again to work, filled with lots of beggies.

For the bottom tier, I made a salad of mini witloof (a typical Belgian vegetable, although I'm not sure what it's called in English. Chicory? Endives?) with cucumber, kumato and some leftover turkey from dinner, which I diced. All seasoned up with the usual parsley, salt and pepper.

For the vegetables in the top tier I tried out some of my new carving equipement, with varied success : a cucumber garland, a carrot twist and flower, cherry tomato, babybel cheese, radish, leek sprouts and half a kumato filled with the potato/butternut pumpkin puree leftover from last night's dinner.

The same ingredients also went in the other bento :

In the pink tier : another carrot swirl, a radish which was supposed to be Crysanthemum Flower but ended up strangely spiky, a bit of the witloof salad from the other bento and an ovenbaked sweet potato. It was the first time that I tried making a sweet potato and apparently P. found it so yummy that half of what I baked, never even made it into the bento.  :o)

In the black tier : butternut pumpkin/potato puree rolled in ham, yellow zucchini, olives, carrot flower with a cherry tomato heart.

How to butternut pumpkin/potato puree :

It wan't really my intention to turn this into a puree, but running back and forth between the study (facebook addict), the TV (trying to catch some of the news) and the kitchen, I overcooked the potatoes, leaving me with no other aesthetic possibility than mash them up.

What I used :
1 butternut pumpkin
1 onion
4 potatoes 

Dice the onion and flash fry it in a bit of olive oil.  Peel the butternut pumpkin, remove the seeds and other mush interior, keeping only the firm flesh and dice it. Add the pumpkin to the onions, add a bit of water to cover the bottom of the panand let it simmer until the pieces are tender. Keep an eye on your pan and make sure your pan always has a bit of water in the bottom to prevent scorching your veggies. I let it simmer for half an hour, but everything depends on your cooker of course.  As for the seasoning, I always cook my vegetables using a bouillon cube (a half one or a complete one according to the amount of water I am using), making it unnecessary to add salt or a lot of spices (especially since I cook with very little salt, much to my dinner's partner dismay). The only thing I always add is freshly ground nutmeg, but then again, I'm a nutmeg addict :o)
Meanwhile, boil your potatoes in salt water as usual.  When cooked, drain them and put them back on the heat for a few seconds, to evaporate the remaining water.  Take off the heat, add the pumpkin to the potatoes and mash everything into a even puree.  I added freshly chopped parsley, but you could also add coriander leaves.    And that's it, can it be easier?

Nov. 9, 2009 : Apple/fennel bento

In case you're wondering about the different colours of top and bottom tier : I only realised after I filled them up, that I inverted the bentos, so P. and I both got bentos in Swedish colours today. If I had known beforehand, I might have made köttbullar to stick with the theme :o)  Maybe I should hold on to that thought, it might come in handy ...

My blue top tier had a organic rice mix I found in the supermarket consisting of red, black and white longgrain rice as well as wheat; and a leftover of the fennel with apple I made for Sunday night's dinner (made this with a yummy salmon/scallop "roast" ~ I'm not sure if the word is also used for fish in English, but you catch my drift).

The yellow bottom tier had surimi, green asparagus, yellow beans with spring onion, daikon flowers/carrot slices and yellow turnip flowers on green salad bowl.

Again, rougly the same things in the second bento :  

Top tier : same rice mix as in mine with smoked trout on some salad leaves.

Bottom tier : apple/fennel, yellow zucchini, yellow beans, carrot skewers and daikon/turnip flower skewers.

Nov. 6, 2009 : Symphony of green & orange

Last Friday, the neko bento had the privilege to accompany me to the office, filled with a orange & green colour scheme.

In the top tier : radish, olives, leek sprouts, cherry tomatoes, carrot stars and carrot/orange bell peper bundle, green veggies stirfry (brocoli/asparagus/snowpea) and a strangly cut cucumber (which should have been star shaped but ended up alien-like :o))

In the bottom tier : crayfish with spring onions and spirulina tagliatelle with cheese flowers.

 And P. needed lunch as well, so the second bento I made had :

On the left : two kumato halfs filled with surimi salad, spirulina pasta (Again I wisely omitted to inform the other half that spirulina are algae :o) ; orange bell pepper flowers, another attempt at creating a lotus cucumber flower (I hope I'll get better results with the carving tools I ordered today), cherry tomatoes and olives.

On the right : green veggies stirfry, yellow kiwi, clementine, the last two pineapple chocolates and to end the week on a positive note, a green tea fortune cookie.

That's it, an extra loooong post to make up for my absence last week. See ya tomorrow :o)

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