Crêpes salées aka savoury crêpes bento

Crêpes salées bento #2 - 28.04.2010

I had crêpes salées at my parent's last week and as it had been a while since I last ate them, I kind of had forgotten how much I love them. So yesterday evening I decided to make some and then a few extra to pack in our bento. Moreover these are extremely simple to make, which of course is a lovely bonus :o)

So my bento has, the leftover savoury crêpes containing ham and zucchini topped with some cheese flowers, some carrot sticks, steamed brocoli and a cup of coleslaw. The fruits are the usual apple, orange, cantaloup, Belgian (!) strawberries, black and white grapes, nectarine and kiwi slices.

How to crêpes salées :

Ingredients :

- 8 savoury crêpes (bake them as you would sweet crêpes, just omit the sugar)
- 3 zucchini
- bechamel sauce (I used storebought one, because I ran out of milk, but with just milk and flour you can make your own)
- 200g diced ham
- 100g grated cheese (preferably gratin cheese because it melts evenly and colours nicely but any grated cheese will do)

Preheat the over to 200°C

Wash the zucchini, cut it into thick slices and cook them until tender with some water in which you have diluted a stock cube (elminates the need for more salt or spices down the line). Once cooked, drain.

Mix the zucchini and the ham dices in the bechamel sauce. If you like you can keep some of the sauce aside to pour on top of the crêpes before adding the cheese, but I didn't this time.

Grease an oven dish. Spoon some of the zucchini mix in a crêpe and fold it up (I just make rolls) and put it in the dish. Repeat until the dish is full. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top of the crêpes and put the dish in the oven for 20 minutes. And there you go ... bon appetit :o)

Crêpes salées bento #1 - 28.04.2010

Sweetie's bento has the same ingredients, minus the broccoli and with some diced ramiro pepper. The ramiro pepper should have been in my bento as well, but as I don't like raw peppers that much, I tried grilling them. Tried being the keyword here. But cooking and watching Cold Case on TV at the same time isn't really a match made in heaven (multitasking fail). The carbonised pepper ended up in the bin instead of in the bento ... Lesson learnt? We'll see :o)

Back to bento

Back to bento

Due to some family issues (I don't want to get further into), the last two weeks have been kind of an emotion rollercoaster, draining all our energy and leaving us mentally and physically exhausted every single evening. Not the best circumstances to put a bento together. So both our lunches have consisted of sandwiches from a nearby snackbar for the last 10 working days. And although the snackbar near my office makes a delicious "boursin méditerrannée" sandwich, after eating those for such an extended period ... you can indeed have too much of a good thing. :o)

Now that things are looking up on the family front, I felt the urge to make a bento again for lunch. For my first day back "on the job", I didn't strain myself : orzo, grilled veggies (eggplant, zucchini, bellpepper) and some souvlaki skewers I had to take off the skewers to get into the box. The dessert section has lots of different fruits today, as the return of sunny days (24°C yesterday !) calls for this colourful sweetness : cantaloup, orange wedges, apple, black and white grapes, kiwi, strawberry, nectarine and plum. I am really longing for some blackberries but haven't seen them in ages. I wonder when they'll be in season again.

My "back in bento" will be relatively short by the way, because I will be on a plane to sunny Turkey for a week on May 5. I just hope that Icelandic volcano with the unprounceable name doesn't act up and doesn't spit out another ashcloud in my direction, because I am really looking forward to this break and don't want to be grounded like so many other travellers last week. This is a new hotel we'll be staying in, but if it is anything like the one from last year, many food pics on my flickr will make up the lack of bento pics. :o)

I am also seizing the occasion to show off my new round two tier box. I found this one at a discount (8,99 EUR) the day I made my last bento and I couldn't pass up on this purple goodie. They had a few other colours as well (included a hot pink one), and if they still have them when I come back from vacation, I might be tempted by an additional box. I like the metal handle, which makes it rather sturdy and very picknick-like. It makes me feel like a schoolgirl, instant rejuvenation minus the pimples :o)

Chinese takeaway bento

Chinese takeaway bento - 09.04.2010

I was dead tired yesterday evening, the result of sleeping for a mere 4,5 hours the night before. Because I didn't feel up to cooking, we had Chinese takeaway for dinner and the fact that there were leftovers, allowed me to take this bento to work today without any culinary nor creative effort from my part. I love cooking and bento, don't get me wrong, but every once in a while, it's nice to have someone else do it for you :o)

So the M4SB has fried rice, babi panggang (according to wiki, it's known in "English" as Char Siu), pork in satay sauce, a bit of chop suey (which I spread over the two meat sections) and lychees for dessert.

I also added a fortune cookie I had in the cupboard (I bought a box of them when they were in the supermarket on the occasion of the lunar new year -> we don't get these in Chinese restaurants over here). The fortune cookie is bilingual (Dutch on one side and French on the other) and today's fortune is : "You have the talent to create order in disorder". Hmm ... if you saw the state of my desk, you'd pray for that talent to manifest itself soon. :o)

myspace comments

Have a great weekend everyone and "see" you next Monday!

Peas & ricotta moelleux bento

Peas & ricotta moelleux bento #2 - 08.04.2010

Another day, another bento ... and we're Thursday again already. The weekend is almost there ... I can smell its sweet scent, beckoning me :o) But I still have to more working days to go, which will need lunch-boxes.

Today's bento has a moelleux as center piece.  I looked for the correct English word, but couldn't find it.  A moelleux is in fact a cake with a soft core.  The most famous example would be a moelleux au chocolat, a chocolate cake with a gooey centre.  The cake in the bento is a savoury variation of that concept, although the core is clearly not runny like the chocolate version.  The recipe for these cakes can be found below.

My bento has white rice with green asparagus layered on top, brussels sprouts, steamed broccoli, a moelleux with ricotto and peas, and some cordon bleu pieces (breaded veal scallop with gruyère and ham in the centre). The vitamins can be found in grapes, blueberries, nectarine, oranges and cantaloup balls.

Peas & ricotta moelleux bento #1 - 08.04.2010

The second bento has the same ingredients except for the veggies, because brussels sprouts are a no-no in my other half's bento and Sweetie isn't too fond of broccoli neither. So I replaced those by green beans, snow peas and sugar snaps ... also green greens, but different ones.

How-to Moelleux Ricotta & peas (for 9  pieces):

Ingredients :

* 100g (frozen) peas
* 140g ricotta
* 3 eggs
* 20g grated cheese (gruyère)
* 60g all purpose flour
* 25 cl milk
* 40g demi-sel butter (i.e.lightly salted butter)
* salt & pepper

Cook the peas in salted boiling water for 10 minutes.  Drain and mash them and mix with the ricotta.

Preheat the oven to 210°C.

In a bowl, wisk the eggs as it to make scrambled eggs.  Add progressively the sifted flour, while mixing with a fork.

In a pan heat the milk with the diced butter.  When the butter has melted, pour the warm milk in the bowl with the egg/flour mixture. Mix and add the peas/ricotta mash.  Mix again and season with pepper.

Pour the dough into 9 individual recipients, sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake for approximately 20 minutes (according to the size of your molds).

Let them cool slightly before taking them out of the molds.

My talented bento friend Lia from MyBentolicious surprised me yet again by passing on two awards to me.  I'm paying it forward to all my fellow bentoists whose blogs are such an inspiration to me.  Feel free to grab the badges here :o)

BlogAward10        BlogAward9

Empanada de atún bento

Empanada de atún bento #2 - 07.04.2010

Spanish flavours in today's lunch, as I decided to make empanadas de atún last night to pack in our bento boxes. As it was a kind of a "spur of the moment" idea, I didn't have the time to make it completely from scratch as my MIL used to do. Luckily for me, the "organised business woman" I am, has everything she needs in her fridge and cupboard to produce these savoury pastries in a relatively short time.

As my (Spanish) Sweetie grew up with these flavours and with MIL's comida casera, cooking up a Spanish dish is always a bit tricky. No matter what I do, I'll never make things exactly the way she did. And as she sadly passed away a few years ago, I can't ask her for advice anymore neither. Nevertheless, I had to shoo someone out of the kitchen last night, who had picked up the familiar scent, trailed it back to the kitchen and was intent on stealing a few scraps out of the hot pan. I guess I can consider that a compliment :o)

So both our bento have an empanada de atún on a bed of young lettuce leaves, radishes, cucumber, tomato/mozzarella skewers and a green olives skewer. It's nice to include raw veggies again, it reminds me that sunny days are on their way and that it will soon be BBQ weather again :o)

The dessert section has grapes, cantaloup balls, orange parts, nectarine and blueberries.

Empanada de atún bento #1 - 07.04.2010

How-to speedy Empanada de Atún :

Ingredients for 8 empanadas:

* 3 garlic cloves (or less, if you're not a garlic fan as we are)
* 2 red onions
* 400g of canned tuna (I used tuna in olive oil, but on brine would work too)
* 2 (bell) peppers (traditionally you'd use green ones, but I used the two red ramiro peppers I had in the fridge)
* 1 jar (400 ml) of tomate frito (my fave brand : Solis)
* 2 hardboiled eggs
* 1 egg
* 2 puff pastry sheets

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Dice the onions and peppers and finely chop the garlic. In a skillet, fry the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil, and add the peppers when the onions have glazed over.

Once the peppers are starting to tender, add the tomate frito and let it simmer for a while on low heat.

Meanwhile, drain the tuna and crumble it. Chop up the hardboiled eggs and add them together with the crumbled tuna to the tomate frito. Stir all the ingredients together and let it simmer a while longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove from heat and let cool a bit.  The filling should now be rather consistent and not watery or liquid.

Roll out the pastry sheets. The ones I had in the fridge were round ones, which aren't the easiest to use. If you make your own pastry dough you can make roll it out in a sheet, cut out round shapes, reshape the remaining dough into a new flat sheet, cut out again, etc. (empanadas are normally presented as half circles, like goyza)... But I just cut the round doughs in four, filled them and then (painstakingly) tried to close them.

Whisk the egg and brush it on top of the empanadas, before putting them in the oven for about half an hour (depending on your oven).

The empanadas are delicious hot and cold, which makes them ideal for bento.

Creole turkey bento

Creole Turkey Bento #1 - 06.04.2010

We just had a three day weekend (Easter Monday is a holiday in Belgium) that passed way too quickly, as usual. I sometimes think I wouldn't mind two day workweeks and 5 day weekends, but on the other hand, I guess you have to work for a longer time to really enjoy the time off :o) On the positive side, it will be weekend again in 4 days ... yay.

Today's bento is not sophisticated. I have been busy with creative things this whole weekend and didn't think about what I would pack for bento, until it was already quite late.

So my lunch is composed of white rice with some cheese decoration, creole turkey with baby mushrooms (leftover from diner), green beans and sugar snaps for that dash of colour. I used some slices of spinach savoury cake (which I found in the frozen bento stash) as a baran to separate the savoury from the sweet. The fruit section has my usual fruits : grapes, plums, nectarine, apple, strawberry, blueberries.

Creole Turkey #2 - 06.04.2010

Same thing for P.'s bento, nothing to add.

And to end this post I just wanted to show off what I baked this weekend : oriental cupcakes. :o)

The cupcake has almonds in it (powder and pieces) and is flavoured with cinnamon and orange flower water. Because I didn't have any rose water left (it met an untimely end on the kitchen floor), I flavoured the white chocolate and cream frosting with orange flower water again and used food colouring in order to have it look orangy. I wanted it to be a rather funky orange but it ended up way more pastel, oh well. They were delicious and that's what counts in the end, right?

Easter Bell bento

Paasklokken bento - 02.04.2010

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Easter tradition in Belgium and France, seeing a bell as an Easter theme will probably raise some eyebrows. Bells bringing Easter eggs is part of the catholic Easter tradition, although nowadays we also have Easter Bunnies as seasonal decoration. Trivia fact : in Dutch it's not a rabbit, but a hare, the Paashaas :o)

Back to my Easter bell. I am sure you're eager to know how it is related to Easter (and even if you aren't, you're still getting the full story :o) ).

Children are told that after Mass on Maundy Thursday, all the bells leave the bell towers of their respective churches and fly to Rome (hence the wings). This explains why you can't hear any churchbell toll from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday (the silent bells are actually a sign of mourning, but that's not half as fun as imagining flying bells). In the night of Saturday to Easter Sunday, the bells return with their bellies full of Easter eggs, which they drop in the gardens on the way to their churches. On Easter morning the children have to search the garden to find the eggs the bells dropped.

So far the Easter trivia. Now the bento. Under the forbidden rice, I have a stirfry of green bell pepper, bean sprouts, leek and carrots, and mini schnitzels. The carrot kinpira acts as a baran. The vitamin section is composed of white and dark grapes, plum, nectarine, clementine, nectarine and strawberry. I even added two chocolate eggs ... because it's the season :o)

The Easter bell deco is made of cheese (coloured with turmeric), with ham and nori decorations.

To all my friends & readers