Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Soba Bento

Cold soba noodles make for a great bento, especially when they look so pretty nestled in a magic round bento box. This bento features noodles with veggies, topped with basil and toasted peanuts, steamed broccoli, carrots, and a nice big radish.

Soba noodles cook up quickly, so I threw together a quick sauce for the noodles as the water was heating up and the noodles were cooking. Here's a rough recipe.

Soba Noodle Dressing 

1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
pinch of freshly grated ginger root
1/2 teaspoon pressed garlic
grind of black pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
squeeze of lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce

Add all ingredients in a bowl and whisk. Add about 1 ounce cooked hot soba noodles to sauce and toss to combine. Add veggies to taste and cool in refrigerator. Makes one serving.

Note: my old url was snapped up, so I have changed to Bookmark it today!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Steak and Tamagoyaki Bento

Tomorrow is my bento demonstration at the Sonoma Marin Fair! I hope you can make it. I will be at the Chef's Tent at noon, showing you how to make a bento with both traditional, Japanese style foods, and with non-Asian foods. Here is my latest bento:

In this bento: sauteed zucchini and carrots, tamagoyaki rolled omelette, steak with pickled onions over rice, slices of cucumber (from a coworker's garden!), Hi-Chew candies, and a tangerine. I used a bit of cabbage as a baran (separator) between the zucchini and the tamagoyaki. 

Here is a recipe for Tamagoyaki:


1 egg
¼ teaspoon soy sauce
1 small pinch sugar
Oil for pan


Whisk together egg, soy sauce, and sugar in a bowl. Heat a small non-stick pan over medium low heat. When hot, add about ½ teaspoon oil (you can also substitute a little bit of butter if you prefer). Twirl pan to coat with oil. Add about ½ of the egg mixture. Tilt the pan to make sure the egg mixture coats the bottom of the pan. Allow the egg mixture to cook until mostly set, then use a rubber spatula to carefully roll the egg over itself, rolling until the egg is on one side of the pan. Add the remaining egg to the pan, allow to cook for a moment, and then roll the omelette back over the rest of the egg mixture to complete the omelette. You can flip it a few times to make sure the egg is cooked through. Remove from pan. Allow to cool (I usually put it on a paper towel and then put it in the refrigerator while I am assembling the rest of my lunch). When ready to add the omelette to your lunch, slice into preferred sizes, and place into your lunch box (bento box). Makes one serving. 

I hope to see you at the Sonoma Marin Fair tomorrow!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Beets and Sausage Bento

I used more of the delicious items from my weekend trip to the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market in today's bento. I roasted one of the chioggia beets from Singing Frogs Farm in a 425 degree oven, wrapped in foil, for about 45 minutes. I sliced big chunks of it and then cut those chunks with cookie cutters to make the flower shaped beet slices in this bento.

Also in this bento: beet greens, rice, Texas Style Hot Links from Franco's One World Sausages, sugar snap peas, and cherries. The little seeds in the middle of the beet are black sesame seeds.

I also sauteed the beet greens with olive oil, garlic, and shallots as a bed for the beets. After the greens were done, I squeezed a bit of lemon juice on them, then tossed them with a bit of crumbled Point Reyes blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and chopped Italian orange peel. Italian orange peel is preserved orange peel, similar to candied fruits you might find in a fruitcake. But not disgusting, ha ha. 

A big ol pile of assorted beets at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market.

I hope you will join me on June 28th at the Sonoma Marin Fair for my bento demonstration. It will be at noon and I will show you how to pack a bento, and I will also have a starter bento kit for a lucky member of the audience. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Steak and Berries Bento

I headed to the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market this morning to stock up on delicious spring foods. It's been a while since I've been, and it was a homecoming of sorts, seeing lots of faces I haven't seen in a while. Jill is back, and now she is part of the team behind Beet Generation. And Les was there with his wonderful salad mix. And I got some great strawberries, asparagus, and shallots from Tom. Of course I always check the One World Sausage stand to see what delicious sausages Franco has, and it was wonderful to see Dennis at the booth. I also saw Dominique setting up her booth with lots of sweet baked goods. I really missed my friends at the Market!

My bento today was filled with delicious foods from the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market. There's rice with some grilled steak topped with a few tiny sprigs of green garlic, strawberries from Tom at Armstrong Valley Farm, cherries (the gentleman who sold them to me says he and his family come to the Bay Area during cherry season and stay from Tuesday to Saturday in different hotels, then travel three and a half hours home. He says it is tough, but it is worth it for the relatively short cherry season), oven roasted asparagus from Tom, radishes, tamagoyaki egg omelette, and a little container of homemade marinade for the rice and steak.

Whenever I buy strawberries, I always think of a tip from my friend Marcy. She says you should dip the strawberries in hot tap water for 30 seconds, then dry them and put them in the fridge. They will last up to 3 days longer with this method. Apparently it kills the bacteria on the berries. Check out Marcy's book Snacks for more cool facts!

Baskets of delicious cherries from the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market. Heads up: I will be hosting a chef demonstration about bento at the Sonoma Marin Fair in Petaluma on Sunday, June 28th at noon! I hope you can make it to learn more tips on how to prepare bento using seasonal ingredients. 

Have a great day!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Arancini Bento

Today I used leftovers from yesterday's bento to create this one. Arancini are fried rice balls with cheese inside of them. Um, thanks Italy for the AMAZING idea. I used leftover brown rice as well as some of my exploded sweet potato to form these rice balls, and each has a cube of white cheddar inside. Also in this bento: steamed broccolini from the West End Farmers Market, and a yellow tomato also from the West End Farmers Market.

I used a recipe from Giada de Laurentiis as the basis for my recipe. I have included a loose recipe below, but the measurements are not exact.

Look at that oozy yummy cheesy goodness! These are the best soon after they are made, but they are also a delicious bento staple.

Exploded Sweet Potato Arancini
1 small egg, beaten
1/2 cup cooked short brain brown rice
1/8 cup exploded (mashed) cooked sweet potato
1/4 cup breadcrumbs, plus more for coating
1 teaspoon minced fresh green onion
1 teaspoon minced fresh cilantro
salt and pepper

Combine above ingredients in a bowl. Mixture should hold together but still be sticky. Take about two tablespoons of mixture and then put in a little chunk of white cheddar cheese. Use your hands and fingers to mold the mixture around the cheese, then roll the ball in reserved breadcrumbs. Heat oil over medium heat, and fry balls in oil until browned on all sides. If you have a deep fryer, good for you. You can deep fry the balls at about 350 degrees for about 4 minutes until golden. Serve either warm, or cool and add to bento box lunches. Makes about 4 large arancini.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Hippie Bento

One of the go-to lunches I used to eat in Seattle was brown rice, greens, and sweet potato. Sometimes I would add tofu. My boss, Shawn, used to call this "Hippie Lunch #1" and that always cracked me up. I guess Hippie Lunch #2 might include hummus.

In this bento: brown rice with black sesame seeds, sauteed kale from Sebastopol, sweet potato mash*, and chunks of heirloom tomato from the West End Farmers Market in Santa Rosa.

*I ended up with sweet potato mash because I was baking a sweet potato in the oven, and when I went to check on it, it exploded! So instead of just a half of a baked sweet potato (which was my original plan) I ended up scraping out some exploded sweet potato into this bento box. LOL

And as soon as I am done eating this, I will order a pizza with everything. Kidding.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Circular Logic Bento

Today's bento is in fact NOT from today. I never posted this lunch (which I actually made LAST summer), but I saw this picture and it got me thinking...

One of the most pleasing box shapes for preparing bento box lunches is not actually a box with sides, but a circular shaped container like this one. Bento makers call it a Magic Round Bento. Food placed in a circular bento box naturally falls into place, with one food gently resting on the next, echoing the circular flow of the outside of the container. There really isn't a need to plan placement in a circular container, because each bit of food fits easily next to the other bit. And an empty pocket is the perfect spot for the tiny globe of a cherry tomato. I also photographed this bento on a piece of scrapbook paper dotted with circles. (whoa, dude!)

In this bento: baby carrots, bbq pork, tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette), radishes, edamame, and a cherry tomato. Happy bento-ing!