February 24, 2011
It has been very difficult to cook or do anything proper in my kitchen lately :/ . I explain… our dishwasher went broken last weekend and what followed is not even worth telling here.
To sum up, my dishwasher couldn´t be taken for repairing (yet), my kitchen pipes need fixing and my tap is leaking at the moment. Makes me cry ;_; .
And adding more to the chaos-scenario, hubs has been at home, sick with throat-ache and flu. BAAAH!
I gathered myself from the misery and made a bento to the girls. Uplifting ..
Contents of the boxes: mixed grain rice (with barley and white sesame seeds), furikake, homemade chicken meatballs, steamed carrots and broccoli, mini plum tomatoes, apple and orange cubes, red grapes. Lamb made with rice, cheese, carrot “cheeks” and nori.
February 22, 2011
Sometime ago I was invited to make a guest post about obentos for a really nice Brazilian blog/site that I follow. Superziper is maintained by two lovely ladies (Cláudia and Andrea) and they write about crafts and the wonderful world of handmade in general. The blog is in Portuguese but totally worth for a visit! ^__^
Inside the box: a three layer sandwich made with whole wheat bread and rye bread slices, gouda cheese, cream-cheese and turkey ham. Pac-man made of cheddar and processed white cheese. Pink (
monster) enemy ghost made of a baguette slice, cream-cheese and turkey ham, white cheese and nori for its eyes. Lettuce, dark grapes, half clementine and cherry tomatoes.
It was a really nice opportunity to introduce the world of bentos there and to show how to make a simple sandwich one. My tutorial pictures look a bit clumsy (and let me say, those who make tutorials I salute you! Wow, they are really time consuming … XD) but I think you can figure out what I did . EH!
I also made a small step-by-step of how to make decorative picks using tape and normal toothpicks. Nothing fancy, you can check up the pictures in the same places I mentioned above.
Hope more people will get interested about the lunch box – obento style. For the newcomers: the bento community online is very friendly and supportive, there are really great people you can count on and get inspiration from!
February 21, 2011
Sunday evening. Nobody was really hungry and I wasn’t in the mood to cook anything difficult.
I had a small package of aburaage (fried tofu) in the freezer and I wanted to make something “soupy”. What came to my mind? Kitsune udon!
Kitsune means fox in Japanese, so the dish translates to “Fox Udon”. I don’t have any idea why it´s called this way… maybe because foxes like aburaage ^_^? Or… because aburaage reminds the color of a fox? Oh well… belongs to the unanswered questions in life… (ahaha)
If you have time, please make the soup with a homemade dashi stock. And… if you can, use fresh udon. It is a simple meal but tastes very good with quality ingredients :)
The recipe is written with approximate amounts. I’ve learned how to make traditional udon soup/broth with my mother and as far as I remember, she never relied on exact measurements :P.
Serves 2 hungry adults (was enough for 2 adults and 2 children here ^__^)
- 250 g dried udon noodles, cooked and rinsed according to the instructions of the package
- 1L dashi stock (I used instant dashi powder mixed with water but added a small piece of dried kombu seaweed when simmering the soup)
- 2-3 tbsp of soy sauce (I used reduced sodium organic shoyu)
- 1-2 tbsp of mirin (sweet rice wine)
- 1 tsp sugar (or less, I don´t like too sweet soup)
- salt (adjust according to your taste. Remember that ready-made dashi stock and shoyu are already salty)
- 4 aburaage (deep-fried tofu), cut into triangles
- thinly sliced spring onions or scallions
- Shichimi togarashi – “seven flavor chili pepper” to serve (optional)
Put the aburaage in a bowl and pour hot water on it. Drain the pieces and put aside. This will remove some excess of oil from the fried tofu.
Heat the dashi stock in a medium pan, add the soy sauce, mirin, sugar and the small piece of kombu.
When the liquid starts boiling, low the heat and add the pieces of drained aburaage. Cook for about 10 minutes. Adjust the flavor by adding salt.
Reheat your cooked udon by putting it in a colander and pouring boiling water over. Another option is to add the noodles to the simmering soup (I prefer like this so the udon can “absorb” some flavors just before serving)
Divide the noodles into four bowls. Pour the hot soup over the noodles and top with the aburaage and spring onions. Sprinkle shichimi togarashi if desired.
Notes: I also topped with a piece of nori because Luonnonvoima likes it a lot. Kamaboko (fish cake) slices are good too. My daughters´ portions didn’t have shichimi togarashi but I like with it.
Alternatively for a stronger flavored topping, simmer the pieces of aburaage separately in soy sauce, dashi, mirin and sugar (resembling the method for making inarizushi skins).
February 14, 2011
Hyvää Ystävänpäivää! (Happy Friend´s Day!)
As I mentioned before, in Finland we celebrate the “Friend´s Day” on February 14th. It is the day we celebrate the friendship and all the great friends we are lucky to know and have ^_^. ( Including lovers, husbands, boyfriends too… :D)
In this romantic, sweet and sugary spirit, I made doughnuts! Ahahaha, isn´t it just lovely :P ? Chocolate heart shaped and baked ones! Yay! Can´t get better than this :P.
Oh… I must warn those who are expecting a real doughnut feeling… Sorry guys, these are more like doughnut cakes than the yeast fried ones… but still good ;)!
Chocolate baked doughnuts
slightly adapted from here
Yields 12 normal sized doughnuts
- 130 gr all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp dark cocoa powder (I used Dutch-processed)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 75 gr sugar (I used my own vanilla scented one. You can add 1tsp of vanilla extract to the batter instead)
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (I used 1/4 tsp only)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup natural yogurt
- 1 large egg
Heat oven to 175°C. Lightly grease your doughnut pans. If you don´t have a doughnut pan, use a muffin tin or better, a mini-muffin one (they are just cuter ^_^)
In a large bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk in the sugar, nutmeg and salt.
Add the butter by rubbing it into the dry ingredients with your fingers, until it becomes coarse crumbs.
In another bowl or jug, whisk the buttermilk, yogurt and egg. Pour over the flour mixture and mix gently until just combined. The mixture must remain “lumpy” for a fluffy result.
Fill the holes in the pan to 3/4 full using a piping bag for easier and even distribution. Overfilling the pan would result the loss of the “doughnuts holes” as they rise in the oven.
Bake for about 10-12 min (takes less if it is a mini-pan). Test the doughnuts with a skewer or press the surface with your finger, if it springs back, they are ready.
Let cool totally on a wire rack. Decorate if desired (I used white chocolate and sprinkles) or dust with sugar.
P.S. Happy Valentine´s day too ^_^!
February 12, 2011
Last year a sweet friend of mine asked me if i could craft a small charm to a little dude she knows that is fanatic for anything octopus. She saw one felt octopus in my Flickr sets and requested if I could create something similar.
I tried to make a little tako (that´s what I call him :), octopus in Japanese) using the crochet amigurumi technique. I think he became really cute ^_^.
And for some extra treats, I also crafted two bunnies (celebrating 2011, the year of the Rabbit) to my friend´s lovely daughter and her best friend. I hope they enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making the little buddies!
Please check out my friend´s lovely blog too! Chantale writes about the adventures of her sweet daughter as well as darling discoveries in the world of childhood and design. It is pure delight !
February 10, 2011
Not exactly a Valentine´s day bento, but I think it fits the theme :P. In Finland there is what we call “Ystävänpäivä” (translated to “Friend´s day”), celebrated on Feb 14th. According to Wikipedia, it seems to be the second most important reason to send cards and postcards (Christmas is the 1st) in Finland, but to tell you the truth… I didn’t get much since I moved here.
Well… I remember making Valentine´s cards at my English school when I was a kid and that was it… XD
I prepared the bentos in the morning so the girls could eat them after coming home, at lunch time. (And I just noticed I don´t have heart decorative picks! How non-romantic I am…)
Contents of the boxes: whole wheat bread sandwich with sun-dried tomato cream-cheese, turkey ham and cheese. Bear made out of rye bread (taikaruis-leipä), cheese and nori, “bird” made with cheddar, a tiny carrot piece and nori. Lettuce, steamed carrots and edamame pods, cherry tomatoes, clementines and apple slices.
Ehehe, yep I noticed the bear on the left has weird eyes ^_^. It is the love ♡♥ ! :D
February 2, 2011
I was supposed to visit the grocery store today (well, actually yesterday)… but the slushy weather, the fact I need to take the girls with me, carry stuff back home alone and all the blablas made me so lazy… I didn’t go. uh (anyone there like me? please?)
No grocery shopping, not much ingredients to make dinner with. I had to think fast… feta cheese and one big sweet potato in the fridge… adding this and that we had something to eat! :)
Feta cheese garbanzo beans couscous with roasted sweet potato
- 2 dl dry couscous
- 200 ml boiling water
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 (400g) can of chickpeas, drained. I used organic chickpeas in water with no added salt
- 1 big onion, chopped
- cumin, salt, pepper, paprika to taste
- cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 big sweet potato (orange fleshed variety), peeled and cut into chunks
- garlic powder
- white pepper
- olive oil
- 150g feta cheese, cut in cubes
- 1 tbsp parsley (I used dry. Use fresh herbs preferably)
Heat oven to 200°C. Combine the sweet potatoes chunks, olive oil, salt, garlic powder and pepper in a large bowl, toss to coat. Spread evenly on a baking sheet and bake until golden and crisp, about 20 minutes (check if soft with a fork). Reserve.
Bring water to boil in a small saucepan, add the salt and olive oil. Stir in the dry couscous removing from heat. Place the lid and let stand until all liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and add a dash of olive oil (or a knob of butter)
In a large skillet fry the onions and add the cumin. When it gets fragrant, add the drained chickpeas, paprika powder, salt and pepper to taste. My chickpeas were without salt but if you are using salted ones, be careful when adding the spices. Keep in mind you are going to mix everything together in the end (couscous and feta cheese).
When the chickpeas get warm enough, remove the skillet from heat. Add the ready couscous, using a wooden fork to combine everything. Toss in the chunks of sweet potatoes and feta cheese. At last, add the tomatoes and sprinkle with parsley.
I like to add drops of lemon juice before eating but it is totally optional.
You can eat this as salad for the next day. It tastes good cold too ^_^.