Friday, August 21, 2009

Not Just for Kids- salmon cream cheese press

Today's lunch is a little more grown up, but that doesn't mean kids won't like it. This makes enough for a whole crowd.

One loaf unsliced bread (I use the flattish pugliese bread at Trader Joes)
One container of cream cheese and chives spread- you can mix this yourself, but I buy mine pre-made from Trader Joes
Romaine lettuce, ribs removed
4 oz of smoked salmon (more if you prefer)

Slice longwise from the thin side the entire length of the bread so you end up with two large flat halves. Hollow out each half to remove some of the bread. Be careful not to weaken the shell of bread too much. I try to leave about 1/2 inch of bread. (I use the saved bread for egg frittata- just throw it in a baggy and freeze it for later if you feel lazy.)

After the bread is hollowed out spread both sides thinly with cream cheese and chives spread. Next, layer the bread on one side with romaine. Then layer on the smoked salmon and close the sandwich. Wrap it in plastic wrap or put it in a gallon baggy and put it under something heavy in the fridge to press it flat.

Then I slice mine to fit a bento, and arrange them as you see in the picture. The garnish is mint and a mint flower. There was enough left over for me to leave sandwiches in baggies for my kids who aren't in school yet.

The fruit section of the bento has organic pluots, organic red flame grapes, and mint flowers. (Mint flowers are edible, and look beautiful in tea or on cakes, as well as being pretty in a bento.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

8-20-09 Hey You Pikachu

Today was very easy. Remember yesterday when I told you I made 3 cups of rice (3 cups dry) and several hard boiled eggs? Now I'm using what I made yesterday. While the rice was still hot yesterday I put some in a pikachu mold, and some in ball molds- and today all I had to do was use the rice from the molds.

Pikachu sits surrounded by edamame beans. Pikachu is made of solidly packed sushi rice (rice mixed with mirin, seasoned organic rice vinegar and a small amount of organic cane sugar). After the rice was unmolded, I coated pikachu with about 1 tsp of egg yolk mixed with about 3/4 tsp crème fraiche. I had some egg yolk left over from the eggs I cut this morning, and I threw it in a baggy, because I thought it might be the perfect color for pikachu.

Pikachu's eyes and ear tips are nori- hand cut, but a hole punch works great for the eyes (mine has disappeared!). The highlights in the eyes are made from small pieces of egg white. Pikachu's cheeks and mouth are carrot- but they could also have been made of pimento or roasted red pepper- or any other red or orange food. Some people use food coloring for this step, but I like to use natural ingredients we'd eat anyway- and the egg crème fraiche mixture is delicious!

I had a whole bowl of rice balls that I made yesterday (even though my kids ate some for breakfast). These are super easy and fast to make with a mold. It's a clam shell mold, and you just scoop and press, and you are done! So I colored one half of the ball with paprika- that makes the red side of the pokeball, and the black stripe is nori. I used nori strips, so I didn't even have to cut a large sheet down. I have both sheets (for sushi) and strips (for garnishing).

The pokeball is surrounded by romaine lettuce, and in the small cups are cous cous salad which I bought at Costco (it has super ingredients), and some German celery salad, which I buy in a jar at Whole Foods. The celery salad has a nice mild pickle flavor that goes very well with sushi rice. A few egg slices finish off the bento. Very quick to make- and if I'd had the hole punch in the kitchen it would have been even quicker.

I'll be sending a clementine in a baggy with this lunch. Tomorrow I'll be sending rose flavored black tea from Harney's (see link at bottom). Today I sent Harney's Hot Cinnamon Spice, with a little bit of cream top milk (I like the non-homogenized milk at Trader Joes). Hot Cinnamon Spice by Harney's is one of our favorite teas.

Sushi rice- some recipes (I just do it by eye):

I like to use mirin as in this recipe (I don't use salt and I've never tried kelp- but it looks interesting- so maybe I'll try this):

Harney's teas (and make sure you look on the web for a coupon before you order. Sometimes they have coupons out there that you can find at places like Fatwallet):

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

8-19-09 first lunch

This is my daughter's first lunch for the school year. This is a 2 part bento- the bottom compartment has edamame, eggs shaped like hearts (there are molds for shaping eggs, see below), a small silicone cup of clementine slices, and a small silicone cup of cheese curds (you can buy these at Trader Joes.)

The top compartment has a plain rice base. The sun and the flower pots are made out of carrots. The leaves are thin slices of green onion, and the "flowers" are olive slices. My daughter will also take some Japanese rice crackers with this, and some tea.

I'll take pictures of my egg molding cups tomorrow. Right now they have eggs in them. They come in all kinds of shapes. I had stars, hearts, fish and cars. I see Winnie the Pooh there now, but I don't see the other shapes. I have put the link to the site where I got some of my more esoteric bento equipment below. My wonderful mother gave me a zojirushi rice cooker with fuzzy logic and it cooks sushi rice perfectly every time! It's the best :-) I've put a link to the zojirushi rice cooker below also.

This lunch does not take long to make, and when I made the rice I made 3 cups, so I'll have plenty of rice for lunches for the rest of the week. Also when I cut veggies, I cut a lot of different pieces, so I can just pull from a plastic bag what I need.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Knives, thermoses, bento boxes, etc

Here are some pictures of some of my favorite lunch things. You'll find links to descriptions on amazon at the bottom of this post. I've got a separate stash of sushi implements that I'll photograph later. In the upper left you see some thermoses that I use constantly. I use a big thermos, and send the kids with slightly smaller 20oz thermoses, and you can see a 16 oz food jar. Food jars are fantastic for sending chili and soup. Right underneath the thermoses you see the Vivo bento boxes I use (I got them off Amazon when they were on sale.) These can carry a huge amount of food.

Under the Vivo bento picture you see my GoGo salad keeper, which I send with the kids when I send a salad with dressing, and the plastic veggie stick and dip container (both of these are available at Bed Bath and Beyond and Amazon). The little blue boxes I got at Target- perfect for blueberries or raspberries. Below the salad keeper you see some traditional bento boxes. These are excellent for sushi lunches, or lunches with rice, or small thin cut sandwiches stacked into the box. The tight fitting plastic lid works perfectly. You will find these on Amazon.

At the bottom you see my favorite knives- the Shun (the 8" chef's knife) I use all the time. It's an amazing knife. I like it better than all my other knives- and I have some lovely other knives. The Kershaw single sided is really important for cutting sushi. You just can't use a double side sharpened knife on sushi. I can make almost anything using these two knives- and nothing, nothing, is as sharp as a Shun. I recommend you use blade guard edges on your knives- they keep your knives sharp, AND they prevent accidents. win win

On the right hand side of the page you see my orange water bottle. I bought these water bottles at Costco, one for each member of the family- they are by Contigo, 24 oz. BPA free.