Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Charlie Brown

I always feel bad for Charlie Brown.

I guess that's the point, but it always bothered me. I think I could deal with the other kids teasing him, but I don't think Snoopy was a very loyal dog, always off having his own adventures while poor Charlie got pooped on...

Despite this, I still like Peanuts and decided to make a Charlie Brown lunch. The lunch contains a Tofurkey and Cheese wrap surrounded by lots of fresh yummy veggies including two Tomato Balloons. Under the balloons are some pickled carrots and cucumbers thanks to the fabulous (and fabulously simple) recipe on Hawai'i's Bento Box Cookbook. After tasting yummy pickled veggies at a local sushi restaurant, I was dying to find a recipe. This one is exactly what I was looking for.

Speaking of sushi, a few days ago I made some:

This lunch is almost half fruit, but that is o.k. because fruit is good for you!

So, bentos done, now on to some non-bento shout outs...

This weekend I made two incredible recipes. First is Celery Root Soup (by Tal Ronnen) which I saw on Oprah last week.  I skipped the apples because I am allergic, and substituted soy creamer for the cashew cream because (again) I'm allergic. Even with my changes, it is so yummy! healthy, and easy to make. I think I may have to get his book:

Second was home made Pita Bread. I discovered this recipe when the lovely @mrsalbrecht tweeted about it. It doesn't exactly taste like pita, more like a white bread, but it has the same shape and texture, perfect for sandwiches or dipping in hummus. Again, this was an easy recipe.

Now that the shout outs are done, time for some rambling Andy Roony style commentary. Is it just me, or is it easier to pack a square box than one with rounded edges? All my expensive Japanese boxes have rounded edges and I find myself favoring the Target sandwich containers with the square edges. Maybe it is just the scientist in me. Also, am I the only one who has no bento motiviation without hunger? If I'm not hungry, I have no interest in making bentos! The worst is when I start a lunch the night before, and while things are cooking or whatever, I eat dinner. I usually abandon the project after I eat.

Maybe it's just me.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Have you tried Goya Discos?

Goya brand Discos are little (10 inch) round frozen dough. They are designed for making empanadas, which are like turnovers full of all sorts of yummy fillings. Discos are fantasticly easy and yummy. You simply defrost, fill, and cook.

This first picture is a veggie turnover. I made a mixture of potato, broccoli, and cauliflower for a veggie pie and used some leftovers to fill my little turnovers. I cut little shapes out of one disco with mini cookie cutters (link to similar ones on Amazon) and stuck them on top by simply wetting the back and placing them where I wished. The vegetable garnishes are somewhat random. I was practicing my garnishing techniques with the book pictured, Japanese Garnishes by  Yukiko and Bob Haydock. This book is cute and has some really interesting garnish ideas. I think it is out of print, but you can get used copies on Amazon.

Next, I have a Taco Salad bento. I pressed a disco into a standard sized cupcake pan and baked until crispy brown. Once cooled I filled it with some leftover vegetarian ground beef (from taco night), scallions, cilantro, and a pinch of shredded cheddar cheese.The rest of the bento is filled with salad vegetables and two small containers of soy sour cream and taco sauce (I got the containers from some takeout and they were the perfect size for bentos, so I had to keep them). I made this at night, and by lunch the next day the disco shell was still crunchy and delicious. 

Here is a shot of two turnovers straight out of the oven so you can see some detail.

This last lunch doesn't feature Discos at all... It is a pasta salad with a few vegetarian meatballs and a kiwi for dessert. The kiwi is cut zig zag using Biggie's technique. I included a small spoon for eating the Kiwi. Have you ever had one of those mini ice cream sundaes from the grocery store? They cost about $1, are barely a mouthful, and come with a small plastic spoon in the lid. Since I eat them at home with real spoons, I keep the plastic ones for bento purposes such as this.

Goya Discos may not be available everywhere. In my grocery store there is a goya section in the frozen food aisle. Another great place to find Goya products are small specialty grocery stores because they usually have a greater selection. Goya sodas are also especially good, so you may want to grab one of those while you are at it.