Garlic mushroom bento

Garlic mushroom bento  - 31.03.2010

How time flies. The blink of an eye and it's already the middle of the week again. And this time there is a three day weekend urging me on, as a carrot on a stick. :o) I really look forward to it, as I have so many pending projects I would like to start on. If the weather decides to finally give in to spring and the rain and wind would subside, this would indeed be a perfect break. Fingers crossed that the sun will be quicky rerouted to my part of the world. :o)

Back on the bento front, there isn't anything special today. I have been thinking of making a bunny/Easter themed box, but don't seem to be able to come up with something nice ... maybe tomorrow, maybe (don't get your hopes up).

Anyway, my bento has sausage slices (left over from last night's dinner), some white rice with cheese sakura, fresh carrot kinpira (made a whole new tupper of it yesterday) and baby mushrooms sauteed with garlic and shives. A cucumber baran separates main course from dessert, being the usual fruit selection (orange, plum, nectarine, grapes, apple and kiwi).

Mediterranean stirfry bento

Chicken sesame bento #1 - 30.03.2010

I love stirfries : they are easy to make, quickly done, the veggies keep more vitamins than by cooking/boiling them and as you only use a wok, the amount of dishes to be done afterwards is also reduced to a minimum.

The only downpoint, as you can tell by looking at this picture, is that it looks so downright messy in a bento,which everything poking out in every possible direction, as if the greens were hit by some kind of natural disaster. :o( Luckily the taste didn't suffer from this lousy presentation.

Back to the contents : for today, I packed balsamic sesame chicken pieces and a mediterranean stirfry composed of green beans, red and yellow bell pepper, zucchini, potato wedges and baby carrots. For dessert, there are grapes (black & white), strawberry, nectarine, kiwi, orange.

Mediterranean stirfry bento #2 - 30.03.2010

Exact same ingredients as the previous one, so nothing to add :o)

Because food doesn't always come in bento

I didn't have time (or rather the motiviation) to make a bento last night.  I rather spent the evening on the couch watching the "La Vida Loca" DVDs, which I gave Sweetie as a birthday present on Saturday.  Watching these younsters and the way they face death on a daily basis is quite chilling. Entering a gang is a personal choice of course but can you really speak of choice when you have no other options?  For short, I highly recommend this documentary to anyone.

Back to food. Even if I didn't make a bento, I kept busy in the cooking & baking field this weekend, so I am going to share some of it. Incidentally it will also help me to keep the blogging rhythm. :o)

This post will have like my bentos a savoury and a sweet part.

Tagliatelle a la carbonara

I made Tagliatelle a la carbonara for last night's dinner, and I did it the Italian way i.e. with eggs and NO CREAM. I wonder why they always insist on putting cream in carbonara in my neck of the woods, when it's obviously unnecessary. Now I won't pretend that my version is the only legitimate one, because in the end it's just the taste that matters.  But this one was really good.

Googling up recipes for this dish, will lead you to hundreds of different recipes and variations, something for every taste. I'm going to add my version to that pile of recipes as well, who knows one of you might find it useful :o)

Ingredients I used (for two servings):

* tagliatelle (or any other larger size pasta - fettucine, linguine, ...)
* 3 eggs (if you want to make it in larger amounts, count 1 to 1,5 egg per person)
* 180 g of bacon (you should use pancetta if you have it available, but I couldn't find any)
* 60 g of grated pecorino cheese
* 1 tsp of garlic paste
* lots of ground black pepper
* chopped parsley

Separate the whites from the yolks and put the yolks in a bowl. Whisk them as if to make scrambles eggs, season with salt and pepper, add the grated cheese, mix well and set aside.

While cooking the pasta (in salted water), fry the bacon (or pancetta) sticks with the garlic paste in olive oil until it's nice and cripsy .

When the pasta is al dente, remove from the cooking water (without draining it too much) and add it to the skillet with the bacon, still on medium heat. Toss the pasta and the bacon, season with fresh ground black pepper.

Remove from the heat, pour the egg mixture on top of the pasta and toss until everything is coated with the eggs. The residual heat of the pasta will cook the eggs. If it seems to be too solid, add a bit of the pasta's cooking water to "loosen it up".

Add some freshly chopped parsley and serve hot.

And because no meal is finished without desert, I made a Baileys & Mascarpone cake.

Baileys & Mascarpone cake

I saw the recipe for this cake on Miriam's blog, The Winter Guest, and as I had leftover mascarpone in the fridge, I decided I'd give it a try. After all, anything sweet AND containing Bailey's can't be anything but delicious.

The mascarpone was storebought but I will be making my own next time, because it seems rather easy to make (have a look at the link Miriam referred to in her post).

Miriam used agave syrup in her recipe but because I never encountered that type of syrup while shopping, I asked her if I could replace it with sugar. She advised me to increase the sugar amount to 200g, as the syrup sweetens more than regular sugar, and add an additional 80g of vegetable oil to the batter to make up for the syrup's liquidy.

The kitchen smelled deliciously of Bailey's (attracting all kind of curious houseguests to the kitchen) and the taste of this cake is simply divine. I think I will leave it in the oven just a bit longer next time (there will be a next time for sure!), because when the wooden testing stick came out clear, I took it out of the oven immediately for fear of the cake becoming too dry and just a bit less moist would have been better. In my rush to get it out, I managed to burn my arm but it's nothing I won't survive. This delicious cake was worth any blister :o)

L'heure de vérité

Taboulé & falafel bento

Taboulé bento - 25.03.2010

I was a bit at a loss last night as to what to pack in today's bento. My main problem is that I don't plan ahead. I try, really, I do, but somehow it just never works out the way I want it to. This means that by Tuesday, all my good intentions have already gone down the drain and I have given up on the whole "let's plan ahead and save precious time in the evening" plan.

Yesterday was no exception to the rule: like on other evenings, I found myself staring blankly at the inside of the fridge. And then I saw the M4SB on the kitchen cupboard, waiting to be put away and inspiration hit me : the magic of the M4SB was operating :o)

I didn't plan it to but when I finished assembling the bento, it was quite colour coordinated again. I guess it's a virgo thing that takes me unawares, whether it be colours or symmetrical lines, I always come back to "neat and orderly".

Anyway, enough rambling. My M4SB of the day has :

* yellow section : taboulé with bell peppers, parsley, scallion, tomato and raisins (and a drizzle of olive oil). Taboulé is more of a summer dish but with temperatures up to 20°C today, a sunny dish was in order. :o)
* purple section : storebought falafels (because I still can't make them myself, at least not edible ones) and a cherry tomato
* green section : steamed greens (brocoli, zucchini, peas)
* red section : strawberry, nectarine, plum, apple, grapes

Fried rice with shitake bento

Fried rice shitake bento #1 - 24.03.2010

For some odd reason, I never made fried rice. Come to think of it, even back in the days, fried rice never came out of my mom's kitchen. I used to get some from a good Chinese take-away nearby but when that place closed down more than a year ago, I never bother to look for a replacement supplier. All the more reasons to dive into my favourite cookbook (aka internet) and see how to reproduce the yummy dish in the privacy of my own kitchen.

So yesterday I decided to throw myself in at the deep end ... until I realised that I wasn't at the deep end at all, rather in the toddler's section. This is such an easy dish to make, why didn't I give it a try years ago?

Anyway. I had some leftover brown rice in the fridge and turned that into fried rice together with some sliced shitake, scallions, smoked ham strips and a diced omelet. The fried rice took up almost the whole bento, but for some extra veggies, I added a little cucumber baran, two cherry tomatoes and a few green manzanilla olives.

I spotted some strawberries at the store yesterday and although they're still expensive (almost 3 EUR for 250g) because out of season and therefor imported (from Israel this time), I couldn't pass up on the juicy red sweetness. My fruit section has strawberry (of course), kiwi and apple slices, some orange wedges, a piece of yellow plum, two lonely black grapes and some cantaloup melon. It was a pleasure to encounter a cantaloup, it's a telltale sign that spring finally getting here :o)

Fried rice shitake bento #2 - 24.03.2010

As always the main ingredients of Sweetie's bento are the same as mine. Besides the fried rice, I added 2 slices of manchego cheese, boursin (garlic & herbs) balls, a tomato & oliver skewer and some carrot sticks which I attempted to cut into flowers (attempted being the key word!).

The fruit sidecar has again strawberry, kiwi slices, a piece of apple, some orange wedges, a piece of yellow plum, black grapes and some cantaloup melon balls.

Let the sunshine in ...


On this almost springlike day, Lia from MyBentolicious surprised me by passing on this Sunshine Award to me and as I don"t have any bento pic to post today, this pretty flower is getting a post all by itself.

Receiving an award by a fellow blogger is always an honour, so not only do I graciously accept it, but I also want to thank Lia (whose charaben bentos and other culinary delights are an inspiration to us all) for thinking of me.

According to the rules, the award should be passed on to 12 other bloggers. I don't know if the award is limited to foodies, but as there are many things that brings happiness (aka sunshine) into my daily life, I thought it fitting that my nominees were active in different communities.  These are the few of the blogs I follow on a daily basis (ever since I discovered Bloglines, my blogroll is rapidly expanding) and deserve this award for bringing the sunshine in my daily reads.  Some of these have probably already received the award, but you can't have too much of a good thing, so here you go ...

French Bento was one of the first blogs I discovered when I decided to try my hands at bento.  One of the few French language Bento blogs (because most write in English, even if it isn't their mother tongue, just like I do), she provides her readers with everything they need in order to venture into this world : recipes, book reviews, tutorials on how to use all those cute accessories, ...

Hapa Bento by the talented Debra is offering lots of tips, tricks and easy to make recipes for anyone interested in merging multiculteral cuisines in quick & healthy bento.  Whenever she posts one of her short recipes, I feel compelled to try them out.  Check out her new ongoing bento stash series.

And yet another bento blog is called to collect the award : Bento Zen, vegetarian and healthy foods (with particular interests in Korean dishes, which I never heard of before venturing out into her food world) presented in a cute and stylish bento ... it's Megan's specialty.

Amuses Bouche is another French language blog (by a published author) on everything a sweet tooth like myself craves : fabulous pictures and tons of recipes for patisserie and other baked delights.

The Winter Guest is a another food blog by Miriam this time.  Her blog also exists in a Spanish version and I usually switch between the both of them ... it helps me keeping my Spanish up to date (which I don't use a lot anymore since my MIL passed away).  For accessible recipes and mouthwatering pictures, this is the way to go.  If you are familiar with the Foodbuzz website, you'll regularly see the produce of her skillfull hands featured in the "Today's Top 9" section.

I recently discovered another awesome blog by Sasha, who set off on a great aventure of cooking up 195 meals from as many different countries and for as many weeks. Global Table will be like a culinary roadtrip exploring not only the foods but also the customs of all those nations who call Earth home.  The next best thing after going to these places myself. Check it out.

One of my flickr contacts, Ana Fuji also has a blog with never ceases to marvel me Acúcar com arte.  Her sugary creations are so precious that I wonder who would have the heart to actually eat them. Undoubtedly sunshine award material coming from one of my favourite countries, Brasil.

Besides bento-ing and being "into food", I am also active in the arts & crafts deparment, so some crafty blogs were also limelightworthy :

Through Etsy (my favourite shopping channel !), I discovered the incredibly talented Afi who has created a little place called JooJooLand, a sunny place filled with exquisite jewelry, fabulous mini sculptures and gorgeous watercolours.  Quite a few of JooJooLand inhabitants have emigrated to Belgium last year and they would love more of their fellow critters to follow in their foodsteps.  Looking at her creations always make me happy, so she definetely deserves this sunshine award.

Sandrine, who is also a talented scrapbooker and customiser, posts the most gorgeous projects on her blog ... check it out.

I also like to present you Noialand, a little corner on the world wide web which filled with gorgeous creations, from jewelry over doll faces to fimo minatures ... a real treasure cove.

And because some blogs are just plain fun to read, as they let you have a glimpse in the life of total strangers, I couldn't pass up on these.

Misadventures With Andi , a blog I discovered only a short time ago but is a fun read as it touches all kind of subjects.  One that I will definetely keep following and what better way to show your appreciation than by passing on this award, so that she keeps up the good work.

Charlie's Blog, because it's funny to see your country through the eyes of a foreigner for a change :o) (quite an eye-opener sometimes too).

Cajun Turkey Bento

Cajun Turkey Bento - 22.03.2010

A very simple and straightforward bento for Monday's lunch because I just didn't have the time nor energy to come up with clever ideas last night : my parents returned home after a small vacation and I had to pick them up. Between driving to the airport, waiting for what seemed an eternity (their luggage didn't make it to Brussels so they had to do some paperworks), driving them home and having a little holiday debrief, it was already passed midnight when I finally saw my kitchen again.

So today's bento just has whatever was leftover from last night's dinner, which had been "quick & easy" also. I went to Stonemanor last Friday and while strolling through the aisles looking for novelties, I came across the Discovery Food range. The packaging looked appetizing, so I grabbed the Cajun and Creole stirfry sauces for those times when you need a quick turnaround to get dinner on the table. I used the Cajun sauce and spices last night and it turned out really good. I was afraid it might be a bit too spicy but it was just perfect. (Completely off topic, but I also found for the first time Reeses pieces at Stonemanor's, oh boy, after sour skittles I feel a new addiction coming up ... I only wish my addiction involved readily available candy, instead of me having to depend on my friends abroad to get my candy fix :o( )

Anyway, I disgress. Back to today's bento which has brown rice, cajun turkey and a cucumber baran separating it from some grapes, orange, kiwi and plum slices and an apple piece.

P.'s bento has the same items but my camera battery gave up on me before I could take a pic of it. It looked quite simliliar though :o)

ETA : I got a shunshine reward from MyBentolicious (thank you Lia !!) and I will upload a post dedicated to this award later tonight or tomorrow. I'm still thinking about the blogs I want to nominate for this award. Stay tuned :o)

The M4SB feat. risotto gremolata

The M4SB feat. risotto gremolata

After having eyed up the M4SB for two days, I decided that the time had come for this bento to make its long awaited debut and accompany me to the office.
I was surprised at the capacity of the box : it holds way more than its compact size would lead you to believe.

So for this inaugural lunch, I packed leftover risotto gremolata with an olive skewer, soy nuggets with bell pepper stars, aubergine slices on top of carrot kinpira and red bell pepper strips and finally the red dessert section holds nectarine, red plum, a part of a pink lady apple and a small Easter egg.

Bon appetit.

St. Patrick's Day bento

St Patrick's Day bento #1 - 17.03.2010

Not a drop of Irish blood is running through my veins, nor is Lá Fhéile Pádraig celebrated around these parts, but any holiday involving drinks, food and having a jolly good time in general is worth dedicating a bento to :o)

In my pursuit of using green items, I clearly went "a bit" overboard but the sun is shining, trees are budding, the birdies are singing to their heart's content and they even announced a peak of 18°C for tomorrow, so I think I am entitled to some green euphoria :o)

My Paddy Day bento has green rice (coloured using Maki's technique posted on with a cucumber peel shamrock in a green lettuce cradle, brocolini, asperagus, baby pak choi, brocoli sprouts, leftover sausage covered with snowpeas, goat cheese maki and a orange bell pepper heart for that dash of colour. :o)

The fruit section is equally green with granny apple, grapes, kiwi slices and kiwi berries, separated from the rest with cucumber baran. And for the final touch, as Easter is nearing, pistacchio Easter eggs :o)

St Patrick's Day bento #1 - 17.03.2010

Sweetie's bento is also ... green, what did you expect? :o) It has as usual roughly the same ingredients : green rice with a cucumber peel shamrock, leftover sausage, snowpeas & sugarsnaps, goat cheese maki, carrot slices and orange bell pepper hearts. On the other side of the cucumber baran : granny apple, grapes, nashi, kiwi slices, kiwi berries and a little Easter egg.

Lemongrass scampi & beef/pork patty bento

Lemongrass scampi bento - 16.03.2010

Two slightly different bento for me and P. today, as both the scampi and the minced meat had to be cooked up before they turned bad. I know that the date on the packages is indicative and says "best before" and not "unfit for consumption after", but still, I don't like taking risks.

My faithful sakura bento (I love that one so much, I keep using this one every single time) has some white rice topped with bellpepper flowers, scampis stirfried with scallions and lemongrass surrounded by carrot baran, a cherry tomato, brocolini and green asperagus covered with snowpeas, some cauliflower roses and carrot kinpira to the left. The whole veggie section is separated from the fruits by red lettuce leafs, and those fruits are the usual clementine, grapes, plums and nectarine.

Beef patty bento - 16.03.2010

P. has a lunch bento and a dessert sidecar today. The lunch bento consists of beef/pork patties with scallion and red onion, white rice topped with red pepper flowers and surrounded by red lettuce baran, brocolini with snowpeas and sugar snaps, carrot kinpira, a cherry tomato and the last of the mozzarella balls.

The dessert sidecar holds beside the usual fruits (clementine, grapes, plums, nectarine, apple and nashi), also a small cup of the spring edition M&Ms I found during grocery shopping last weekend.

Baby pak choi & stuffed eggplant bento

Baby pak choi & stuffed eggplant bento #1 - 15.03.2010

I went to the Asian supermarket last Friday and for once I found some baby pak choi in the fridge. I guess that the regular Asian buyers get them all before my normal shopping day i.e. Saturday and that's why I never saw them before. I also encountered some white thai tomato eggplants, and couldn't wait to put these in our bento.

So for Monday's lunch, I packed carrot kinpira, steamed pak choi (quickly tossed into the pan I made the kinpira in), stuffed mini eggplants, a plain rice onigiri, the remainder of the stuffing, cherry tomatoes and mashed sweet potatoes seasoned with parsley and coriander.

The sweet department features clementine, white grapes, nectarine, red and yellow plum and some kiwi slices.

How-to stuffed mini eggplants :

For the recipe of the eggplants, I'm going to refer you to Chubby Panda's recipe, as that was the one I used to make these. The main difference is that I didn't have thin-sliced beef in the fridge and used beef mince instead.

I could copy the recipe here, but that would deprive you of the mouthwatering pictures her post contains. So, check it out :o) Hers ended up looking way better than mine anyway :o)

Baby pak choi & stuffed eggplant bento #2 - 15.03.2010

Same ingredients in P.'s bento, except for the sweet potato mash, which is without any additives in this one and the extra slice of nashi.

And then the main news of the day ... the M4SB arrived :o) Can't wait to fill this baby up (although I'll have to think of some cool colour coordinated ingredients for its inaugural lunch :o)).

I present to you ...

Chicken Curry bento

Chicken curry bento - 12.03.2010

I had dinner at my parents' thursday evening and as my mom makes a yummilious chicken curry, I didn't hesitate to ask for a "doggie bag". I really should ask her for the recipe. When I have it, I'll add it to this post.

Meanwhile, let's have a look at P.'s last bento of the week. The top tier has the chicken curry leftovers and some white rice. The "weave" on top of the rice is made of carrot and spring onion.

The bottom tier has green manzanilla olives, cucumber sakura, two mozarella balls, two mini carrot/boursin cheese skewers, carrot kinpira, cherry tomatoes and quail egg on brocolli sprouts.

The daily vitamin section holds half of a tamarillo (see more about this new strange fruit below), white grapes, red and yellow plum, nectarine, kiwi, clementine, blueberries, kiwiberries and a piece of apple.

Bento - 12.03.2010

My attempts at making an attractive bento layout for myself all failed miserably. Some days it just doesn't work out. So I ended up covering everything up with some eggs. Everything clean and out of sight. :o)

Below the egg, there is a quinoa salad with cucumber, red lentils, spring onion and smoked ham. Sakura cutouts in the egg sheet were filled with cucumber sakura and a little pansy delivered the splash of colour.

The second tier holds the same fruits as in Sweetie's box: half of a tamarillo (see more about this new strange fruit below), white grapes, red and yellow plum, nectarine, kiwi, clementine, blueberries, kiwiberries and a mini nashi bunny.


Last instalment of the strange fruits series. After this one my fridge's fruit & veggie drawer only holds the commonly known items, except for the kiwiberries maybe. But I guess these are easily found everywhere these days.

Back to our fruit : the tamarillo. The tamarillo is a nice egg shaped fruit and as it appearance might already have given away, it is related to tomatoes (same family as eggplants too by the way). It is also often called tree tomato.

This andine produce (called Japanese plum in frenchspeaking Africa - wouldn't know why) should, according to what I have just read, best be eaten orange. Apparently the taste grows sharper and more bitter as the fruit matures. Mine would therefor be a bit "overdone". I'll let you in on the final verdict after lunchtime. The peel is not fit for consumption (bitter) and the proper way to eat this fruit is scooping the flesh from a halved fruit, sprinkled with sugar if desired.

Oh and the juice stains easily, same as with tomatoes, just so you know :o)

ETA : After tasting the thing, I have to say that I don't like it. I found it tasting oddly acid and sweet at the same time. I shared half of it with my colleague (who eyes up my bentos and their contents every day during lunchtime - we're the only ones who don't go out for lunch btw) and he liked it even though he found the flavour not very pronounced. "Tastes like a mix of tomato and kiwi, with a lingering bitter aftertaste", to use his words.

Check it out : Announcing The Spring 2010 Bento Contest

When my three favourite sites FrenchBento, Justbento and Bento&co join hands to hold a great contest, I have to share the good news with all of you.  One bento per participant and deadline for submitting your entry : March 29, 2010. 

Check it out !



I’m very excited to to announce the Spring 2010 Bento Contest, together with top French bento site FrenchBento and the awesome online bento boutique Bento&co.

Here in the northern hemisphere, the days are getting longer and the weather is slowly but surely turning warmer. Spring is the perfect time to bring delicious, healthy bento lunches from home. Whether you’re just starting out, or already an experienced bento crafter, you can never have too many bento boxes or cute bento accessories, right? Right! So, now’s your chance to win one of 10 great bento prizes.

The Spring 2010 Bento Contest is sponsored jointly by FrenchBento, JustBento and the supplier of the great prizes, Bento&co - who have just launched the English version of their site!

The contest details
  • Theme: Spring! Just create a spring-themed, balanced and healthy bento. It does not have to be a charaben! We want to see colorful, delicious looking bentos that reflect the season.
  • Photo: Take as good a photo of your bento creation as you can. It doesn’t have to be professional quality, but how clearly we can see your bento will make a difference in the judging process.
  • Include a description: Include a description of your thinking behind the bento, who the intended recipient/eater is, any ingredient notes, etc.
  • Include your contact information: Be sure to include your name (or nickname), email address and country, to be eligible for a prize. You can also include your blog name and URL if you have one.
  • Email your entry to: contest [at] bentoandco [dot] com.
  • Limit: One entry per contestant. Take your time choosing your best creation.
  • Contest period: March 12, 2010 to March 29, 2010. Your entry must be submitted on or before March 29th.
The prizes!

The following prizes will be awarded to ten lucky winners:
  • One (1) Gold Medal: A geniune wood lacquerware shokado bento box worth 7500 yen (approx. 60 Euros or US$82) plus a 75 Euro (about US$102.50) gift certificate from Bento&co
  • One (1) Silver Medal: A 75 Euro (about US$102.50) gift certificate from Bento&co
  • Three (3) Bronze Medals: A 40 Euro (about US$54.50) gift certificate from Bento&co.
  • Five (5) Runner-Up Winners: A 25 Euro (about US$35) gift certificate from Bento&co
The fine print
  • Anyone who lives anywhere that Bento&co ships, and is not associated with Bento&co, FrenchBento or JustBento is eligible. Bento&co ships worldwide, except within Japan, so if you live in Japan you can’t win a prize, sorry!
  • To repeat: Only one entry per contestant will be accepted.
  • The entries will be judged by Mook of FrenchBento, Erico and Thomas of Bento&co, and Maki (that’s me!) of JustBento. We will choose the top ten entries, which will then be put up to a public vote to see who will emerge with the medals!
  • The finalists and the winners will be announced on both FrenchBento and JustBento, as well as on Bento&co’s official blog; the winners will be announced on or after April 9, 2010.
So…good luck everyone! I’m really looking forward to seeing your great entries!

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Pasta Salad Bento

We had Capellini Bolognese for dinner last night and I have taken up the habit to cook more pasta than necessary as I know it will be a welcome ingredient in the bento. Today's bento will therefore have ... pasta ! :o)

Pasta Salad bento #2 - 11.03.2010

Because I turned the pasta into a salad, with different ingredients, I didn't add any additional vegetables to my bento.

The salad consists of cappellini pasta, spring onion, cucumber, tomato, smoked ham & lean bacon strips, a chopped up scrambled egg and parsley. I mixed a dressing of oliver oil and strawberry vinegar (a Taiwanese product I found in the Asian market, smells and tastes delish) into the pasta to avoid it drying out and getting sticky.

Some cucumber baran is separating the pasta from the different fruits : clementine, red and white grapes, red and yellow plum, nectarine, kiwi and the jelly like substance is a new strange fruit, the grenadillo. More about that below).

Pasta salad bento #1 - 11.03.2010

Sweetie took the owan tsukumi bento to the office today which has the same pasta salad as the sakura bento in the bottom tier. In the top tier there are mini tomato/mozarella skewers, green olives, quail egg, snow peas and sugar snaps, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, bell pepper flowers and two pieces of manchego cheese.

No working day being complete without the essential vitamin break, I packed quite a few fruits in one of my new Kutusitanyanko boxes. The first really kawaii box, P. is taking to the office. As I have packed up both boxes in a solid colour furoshiki, it will be the lunchtime surprise. Let's see how that one will go :o)

Anyway for the fruits : half of the grenadillo (see more below), white and black grapes, red and yellow plum, kiwi, clementine and a piece of apple.


On my continuous quest of trying every strange thing in the supermarket, this is the latest instalment.

With a name like grenadillo, I thought the inside would be more like a pomegranade. As you can see for yourself, it is not.

The grenadillo is the size of an average orange, although slightly elongated, has a nice apricot coloured rind and was very lightweight, feeling kind of hollow. No particular smell from the outside. Opening it up neatly proved more difficult. The rind was papery dry and hard and after initial resistance, broke like an egg shell would have. The structure reminded me of an egg shell in general, somewhere in between hard and brittle.

Now on the inside, it doesn't look very appetizing, does it? Green/greyish jellylike substance with lots of seeds ... I sure know how to pick them :o) The taste however is delicate and sweet (if you can block out your apprehension - closing your eyes helps ;o)). I never had fresh passion fruit but it looks quite similar and I think tastewise they mustn't be too far off. I tried eating one of the seeds but it was like an apple seed, quite hard, so I don't think these are edible. Slurp it up and spit out the seeds seem to be the way to eat this baby. Upon googling the grenadillo, it appears that I should have cut it lengthwise instead of through the middle as I did. I don't think the cutting method alters the taste though.

More strange fruit tomorrow ... I got a last strange thing in the fridge :o)

Wortelstoemp bento

For those of you unfamiliar with Belgian "cuisine", the title of this post will have raised some eyebrows.  Stoemp is a popular dish over here, eaten by everybody up and down the social ladder. It evokes cosy family dinners and hearty winter meals. But what is it exactly? Stoemp consists of mashed potatoes with another vegetable, and is usually named after the other vegetable used. In this case, the stoemp has carrots in it and therefore it is called wortelstoemp (wortel being the Dutch word for carrot). But you could also make spinaziestoemp (spinach), erwtenstoemp (green peas), preistoemp (leek), koolstoemp (cabbage), ...

The recipe is also quite straightforward : cook the potatoes and the veggies, mash everything roughly together (you should still be able to make out the pieces), season to taste with salt, pepper, nutmeg and the herbs you like.

Anyway, this bento almost didn't make it because I was dead tired yesterday and went to sleep around 10 PM. (If you know that my normal bed time hour on working days is somewhere between 0.30 AM and 1.00 AM, you can appreciate my effort.) So, I didn't feel like making a bento last night and went to sleep thinking I would grab a sandwich on my way to work. When the alarm went of at 6.00 AM however, I felt completely refreshed and decided in the spur of the moment, to make a bento anyway. A morning bento ... now, that's a first.

I made this one in half a hour's time. Quite an achievement!

Wortelstoemp bento - 10.03.2010

In here you'll find two wortelstoemp cones (leftover from last night's dinner) topped with cheese sakura and lined with broccoli sprouts. On top of the green sprouts, there is a quail egg and some baby corn slices. In order to go with this month's B.O.M.B., I used red lettuce leaves and cauliflower to separate the broccolini and snowpeas from the rest of the bento. The protein part consists of storebought falafel (I have given up on trying to make my own) and for the sweet section I have red and yellow plum, nectarine, black and white grapes, blueberries and kiwiberries.

Smakelijk. :o)

The nameless bento

Ok, the title of this post is lame, but frankly there's isn't anything special that stands out in this bento and as my mom says "if you don't know what to say, better say nothing at all". So there you go.

This bento has a few leftover items in it : the sliced meatballs are from last night's dinner and there was still a bit of vitelotte mash left, so I took that one along as well. For the veggies I have red lettuce (under the meat), brocolini (finally found some in the stores last weekend), sugar snaps and two cherry tomatoes/mozarella/mini corn skewers. The fruit part of the bento has black and white grapes, kiwiberries, half a strawberry, blueberries, plum, nectarin, clementine and a slice of kiwano (see more about that below).

P. only took a fruit snack to the office today as a lunch meeting had been sheduled.


Ok, so most of my friends know that I can't resist anything marked new or looking unfamiliar while grocery shopping. I'm the dream of any marketeer : the volunteer human guinea pig :o)

Anyway, this fruit is the result of that weakness. I saw this strange looking thing in the exotic fruits section and I just had to buy it (truthful to my "try everything at least once" motto). Kiwano : the name sounded promising and called to mind images of sunny tropical islands. Needless to say that I had high expectations...

and it didn't live up to it. It doesn't have any particular taste and could best be compared to a lightly sweetened cucumber. Very fresh (even for a fruit that has to stay out of the fridge) but otherwise tasteless. It looks pretty as decoration but I will pass on this one next time around. Definetely not worth its price.

Spanakopita bento

I have been out of the bento blogging running for a while, but here I am, ready to jump on that train again.

I might post of few of the bentos I made for the last two months. But before looking back it's more interesting to look ahead and more particularly look at today's lunch. :o)

Inspired by Blorgie1's mouthwatering Spanakopita snail bento picture, I decided to give that Greek pastry a try. Googling the name for recipes lead to many posibilites and variations, and unable to choose the "right one", I opted for making my own version of it. It's probably not traditional (nor very greek for that matter) but in the end, it's the taste that matters.

I have to admit however that I made the triangle just for the bento and haven't tasted it yet, but the filling was good in itself (yep, I'm the type of girl that can't help snacking on whatever she's making), so baked and wrapped in filo it can only be better :o)

P.'s bento for the day consists of a spanakopita triangle, two skewers composed of cherry tomatoes, smoked duck and mozarella, a grilled chicken sausage, vitelotte mash in a lilac cup, cucumber baran and beetroot sprout. The fruit section has a selection of mainly dark fruits : blueberries, grapes, strawberries, kiwiberries, nectarine, clementine and plum. I also added a mini blackberry macaron for sweetness.

How to Spanakopita, the BentoBliss way :o) :

The following ingredients make 4 triangles

* 250g fresh spinash
* 100g greek feta
* 100g mascarpone (I wanted ricotta but didn't have any available)
* 2 spring onions
* 2 garlic cloves
* 50 g of melted butter and 1 TBS of olive oil
* 8 filo sheets
* 1 egg
* 1 tsp chopped mint
* chopped parsley
* salt, pepper, nutmeg

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
Blanch the spinach, drain, squeeze the excess water out of it and chop it up.
Chop the spring onions and fry them shortly in a pan. They have to be a bit tender but not brown.
In a large bowl, mix together the spinach, the onion, the crumbled feta, the mascarpone and the herbs and spices.
Beat the egg lightly (as you would for making a scrambled egg) and add it to the mixture.
Take your filo sheets and lay the first sheet open, brush the butter/olive oil mix on the sheet and cover with a second sheet. Repeat until putting the forth sheet on top.
Cut the sheet in half lengthwise, add a fourth of the spinach mix on the bottom of filo rectangle and twist it into a triangle. It's the same method as for making briouats, see the pic below on how to do this.

Repeat the same procedure with the remaining 4 sheets to have 4 triangles in total.
Put the triangles on the baking tray lined with baking parchment paper, and bake them in the oven until the colour golden brown. The exact time depends on your oven, in my case, it took about 20 minutes.

Spanakopita bento #2 - 08.03.2010

My bento for today, has roughly the same ingredients as the one Sweetie got. I just left out the duck skewers for me and replaced the chicken sausage by surimi & tzatziki rolls.