Friday, 24 August 2007

Bento this week

We had gammon roast for dinner on Sunday. Leftover gammon ended up in wraps with sliced peppers. Leftover potatoes were transformed into potato salad, with some edamame. Sliced peaches and raspberries on the side.

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Tuesday's lunch is teriyaki meatballs with stir fried mange tout and yellow peppers. Rice with furikake topping and side container of melon.

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More gammon on Wednesday. Gammon and cucumber sandwiches on multiseeded bread. Slices of Double Gloucester cheese on the side and half a peach.

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No bento yesterday. Today's lunch is stir fried noodles with spring onions and sesame seeds topping. Stir fried red peppers and bok choy on the side. The small container holds some soy sauce mixture to 'revive' the noodles later. Not shown is a small container of melon. I was going to pop in a prawn and fish cake but it needed to go into the oven and I realised that only after I've put banana bread in to bake (at a different temperature) and I had to leave the house as soon as the baking was done. So no prawn and fishcake for me :( But the amount is alright actually, it might have been too much food otherwise.

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Andy and I are going to be away for a week and I was looking to clear the fridge as much as possible before we go. So I prepared a snack box for the train ride later this afternoon. I didn't want to use one of my usual containers (that has to be brought back) so I went for a plastic container that I kept from a Chinese takeaway. It's actually quite sturdy and can be reused but oh well.

Contents: Slices of leftover Double Gloucester cheese and cucumber batons wrapped in the one slice of prosciutto that I've got left.

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No bentos for the week ahead. I'm planning to hit some shops in London (Japan Centre, Oriental City, Chinatown) for bento and food supplies, wish me luck!

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Wednesday, 22 August 2007

flat rice noodles with egg gravy 滑蛋河

I've always loved Wat Dan Hor 滑蛋河 (flat rice noodles with egg gravy) since I was a kid. The gravy is absolutely delish. Normal stirfried hor fun (flat rice noodles) are good too but it's the addition of the egg gravy, with laces of just-cooked egg clinging to the edges of the sauce, that makes it irresistable to me. It's one of the dishes I miss when I'm away and I'm very pleased to have finally learned to make it for myself.

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Ingredients (serves 2):

450g rice noodles
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp oil

Gravy:

8 medium-sized prawns (shelled and deveined)
100g pork or chicken slices (marinate with chinese wine, soy sauce, bit of cornstarch, salt and pepper and bit of sesame oil)
Fishcake, sliced
Bak choy or choy sum, cut into sections of stalks/stems and leaves
1 tbsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp water
450ml chicken/beef/fish stock
2 eggs
Pepper and salt to taste
Oil for cooking

Directions:

1. Loosen the fresh rice noodles. If using dried noodles, soak in water following packet instructions until soft. Drain.
2. Heat oil in frying pan/wok at high heat add in rice noodles, then add soya sauce and stir fry briskly (Note: You can allow noodles to burn a little at the edges for that smoky taste). Set aside on plates in a warm oven.
3. Add more oil into wok and fry the chicken/pork and prawns till just cooked. Set aside.
4. Add in garlic and fry until fragrant. Add in vegetables. Pour in stock and bring to the boil. Add in the cornflour mixture. Bring gravy back to simmer to thicken the sauce.
5. Add in the cooked prawns and fishcakes. Season to taste.
6. Turn the heat right down and crack in the 2 eggs, stir a few times and then turn the heat off, allowing the residual heat to cook the eggs
7. Ladle over the cooked hor fun and enjoy with pickled green chillies.

So the only thing that was missing was pickled green chillies :( I love green chillies, sliced thinly, drizzled with some soy sauce. I need to buy some the next time I see any available and then put them in a jar of white vinegar. Unfortunately they don't last that long and turn soft and slightly icky when soaked for too long so it's not like I can keep them for ages in the fridge. Maybe a couple of weeks. Ah well, we shall see.

I have not had fish cake for so long and it was worth spending the money to buy them at Hanson's. I'll do it with beef next time , perhaps, and over rice. Andy likes the Chicken Tama Rice at Wagamama's which is very similar except on rice and without the egg. He seems to prefer the gravy on rice rather than hor fun. I told him that he likes mui fan but he's never had it in Singapore before.

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Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Grilled chicken wrapped in prosciutto, roasted mediterranean veg and banana bread

I saw this recipe on Saturday kitchen over the weekend and decided to try it tonight since I already have a few of the ingredients. Two chicken breasts, halved so that they are thin and flat, sprinkle with rosemary and pepper, put a layer of cheese (I had some last bits of creamy Caerphilly which worked pretty well), top that with a layer of prosciutto (Italian dry-cured ham), thread a skewer through to hold it all together and then pan fry on both sides.

For veg: layer thin slices of alternating courgettes and aubergine (the recipe used tomatoes but I already had aubergine in the fridge) and drizzles of olive oil. Top with grated parmesan and chuck it in the overn for about 30 minutes. Instead of potatoes, we had corn on the cob instead. They were so sweet and utterly delicious with a smear of butter. We've not had corn on the cob for ages and it felt like a real treat.

After dinner (and after packing tomorrow's lunch), I made an experimental batch of banana bread. I want to make a batch to bring with us when we go down to Bedford for the weekend but since I've not made it for years I figured I should do it again just to make sure I've got it right. The smell of baking filled the entire house, absolutely gorgeous. I'm glad to report that it was good in both looks and taste. Pass. Liz and Hugh had some when they were in the house and Andy is bringing some into work tomorrow. Yes, I'm practically giving them away so that we don't have too much in the house, given that I'll be making it again on Friday.

I'm now feeling slightly guilty though, having had a rather sinful (if still balanced) dinner, a chocolate truffle with tea and then a slice of banana cake too. Heh.

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Friday, 17 August 2007

This week’s bento

A simple one for Monday. Bacon and cucumber sandwich with cherry tomatoes and grapes, divided by Caerphilly cheese.

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I made claypot rice (except without claypot) for dinner on Monday and it also became lunch for Tuesday. Claypot rice with chicken and bacon (because Andy doesn't like dried Chinese sausage), broccoli and cherry tomatoes on the side. Side container of grapes and strawberries for Andy and grapes and blueberries for me.

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No bento on Wednesday since we were both home for lunch. Thursday's is potato salad with egg and pepperoni. Cucumber batons, cherry tomatoes and grapes on the side.

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I think Andy's egg says, 'Keep off my potato salad!' He thinks it says, 'Stop making faces on my lunch!'

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Lunch for today is pepperoni pasta salad with diced cucumbers in a honey mustard dressing. Cherry tomatoes as gap fillers and fruit on the side. Grapes and raspberries for Andy and grapes and blueberries for me.

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Friday, 10 August 2007

Bento update

Andy is not too keen on avocado but likes hard boiled eggs, and I would rather not have hard boiled eggs but like avocado. So that sort of determined which bento we had.

His: Sweet pepers foccacia bread with cherry tomatoes on the side. A dish of melon. Hard boiled egg with niro faces on a bed of salad leaves. Small container of olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the side.

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The egg on the right looks rather sheepish, maybe because I messed up the yolk a bit?

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Mine: Rosemary foccacia bread. Sauce container with olive oil and vinegar with cherry tomatoes. Parma ham roses and a fan of avocado leaves.

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Cheese and onion foccacia bread with salad on the side - chicken and sweetcorn mayo on top of mixed leaves and beetroot salad.
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Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Bento for Monday and Tuesday

Monday's lunch was just for Andy. I had leftover burger buns from the barbeque but no ham or filling, so I fried an egg instead, since I always have eggs in the fridge. So it was an egg and chive omelette in wholemeal bun, strawberries and cherry tomatoes. Some bits of Caerphilly cheese are tucked in at the side, separated by salad leaves.

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It looked a bit on the 'red' side. I should have put in melon instead (light green) to balance out the colours but then the strawberries needed eating :p

I made wontons last night and had leftover pork and prawn filling. So I made little patties for lunch today.

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Pan fried pork and prawn cakes on top of Japanese rice, stir fried bok choy on the side with cherry tomatoes and a side container of fruit. Mine with blueberries and Andy's with melon and strawberries.

It was the first time I used these lunch containers to pack rice (usually sandwiches). There was too much space actually, I didn't pack the food tightly enough, so everything moved all over by the time I got into work and opened my lunch. I should have packed the rice more tightly to one side, pile on the meat patties and then put in dividers on the side for veg as well as fruit (without using a separate container).

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Wonton noodles

I made wontons for dinner yesterday. Bought some fresh wonton wrappers as well as fresh egg noodles (just like the ones at the noodles stalls) from Hanson's, and thankfully managed to get pork mince and raw prawns at Sainsbury's. These are not always available because prawns tend to be sold cooked (wtf) to be used in salads and sandwiches (these Brits don't know how to treat seafood with respect, I tell you) and minced meat tend to be beef rather than pork.

Anyway, here's the result: wontons in soup, egg noodles tossed in oyster sauce, dark soy and an assortment of yummy oils, and steamed bok choy in oyster sauce. The only thing lacking was pickled green chillies in soy sauce :(

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The noodles tasted good. The bak choy was normal, I've made it hundreds of times. The wontons on the other hand didn't turn out as great. I think I didn't season it enough and the pork might actually have been too lean! (I bought extra lean mince) So it tasted too meaty and not tender enough. Or I didn't put in enough cornflour as seasoning. Anyway, Andy doesn't mind eating my various experiments :)

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Thursday, 2 August 2007

Lunches this week

Lunch on Tuesday was more leftover sushi with a small container of soy sauce and edamame on the side.

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Yesterday's lunch was green leafy salad with smoked salmon and a fan of avocado, topped with some chives. The small blue container nestling in the salad holds olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Yellow peppers and strawberries on the top left, with a small container of cheese and chive dip. Grapes in the other section.

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I found the avocado really filling. I felt really full after having only the salad and peppers and still had the fruits left for a mid-afternoon snack.

Today's lunch is German Brunwick ham, Caerphilly cheese and salad leaves in a tortilla wrap. Strips of yellow and red peppers and grapes on the side, with a small container of sour cream and chive dip. Andy's box was the same except he had sour cream and chive. I wanted that dip actually but I gave it to him because I am nice like that :p

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Just got this book Bento Boxes from Amazon. Fantastic little book with great ideas. Also bought another Japanese recipe book which is stuffed full of simple, authentic and delicious recipes. I love how you can make almost all the dishes with just mirin, sake and soy sauce. And the books are so slim, a refreshing change from the huge hardback tomes that you usually get from Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, Gordon Ramsay or Rick Stein. Happy cooking days ahead!

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Imperial to metric (aka: well, if NASA could make the same mistake...)

Lemon cream pie didn't quite happen on Tuesday evening... I've made it before so I knew what it's supposed to be like and when I was beating the lemon, jelly and condensed milk mixture, it just didn't seem quite right. Way too fluid and it didn't thicken no matter how long I was beating it (and spraying all over, ugh).


The original recipe was from Andy's grandmother so everything was in pints and ounces. Fine, I'll just convert them into ml. 1 pint = 568ml and I wrote that down to bring into the kitchen. The error occured when I then forgot to divide that figure by 4 because it called for 1/4 pint of hot water, instead of a full pint.

D'oh.

No wonder it was much more fluid that I remembered and it didn't set by the time we had to go out for dinner. So Andy and I popped into Sainsbury on the way and bought a chocolate tart instead. It's not all bad because we bought the most sinful and rich chocolate torte from (senses overload) but really annoying because I was really wanting to bring something I made. It was a bit of a surprise to find that the lemon cream filling had actually set when we got home that evening, so it just took longer than normal (usually 30-45 mins in the fridge). We had some for pudding last night and it still tasted great. Just slightly less intense and more mousse-like texture. We've eaten eaten a quarter of it though between the three of us... Thinking what to do with it over the next few days... (It's a huge flan dish and taking up tonnes of precious space in the fridge).

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