Sunday, December 19, 2010

korean-style spicy octopus bento

Hi bento pals! We've had our first snow of the season this week, about an inch of icy white that has stayed as on the ground amid near freezing temperatures. This radiant pink camellia has remained in bloom...amazing!

While I enjoy authentic Korean anytime, it seems so well suited to chilly temperatures... last night we visited Goong Jeon in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Crispy Korean-style pancakes with seafood and scallions are a weakness of mine...really good version here:

Nakji bokeum was lovely with an abundance of octopus in a mellow, lightly spicy sauce served with fat, chewy noodles, peppers, carrots--perfect dish for a cold night:

Marinated cuke banchan:


Monday's bento includes nakji bokeum tucked into an avocado half and a wedge of scallion pancake. It gains vibrant color from stir fried purple cabbage, pink radish pickles, scallion, romaine leaves, purple potato slices, orange pepper, green apple and a lavender foil-wrapped chocolate...a little gold bird ornament on the right looks ahead to Christmas, which is coming up so quickly, lots of last minute preparations to attend to this week!

Hope you are enjoying the season and its spirit of love and warmth...

Sunday, December 12, 2010

dreaming christmas kitty bento

Monday's bento features a peaceful (goat cheese) kitty dreaming under an asparagus holiday tree...her gift may well be some salmon, like the spicy salmon salad that lies underneath the multigrain pilaf layer of this bento!

In the upper small compartment, fig and orange slices dusted with coconut. Also for lunch: a slice of a rich casserole of pumpkin, Gruyere cheese and bread cubes from this fun recipe. Cooking the savory elements (garlic, shallots, thyme and Gruyere are such a lovely combination) inside the pumpkin works beautifully--after long baking, the bright orange pumpkin flesh tasted sweet and delicious and we were transported by the aromas of this dish to the French countryside...

Stuffed pumpkin, hot from the oven:

With asparagus, at the table...
Images from a twilight walk after a misty, rainy Sunday...

Have a great week!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

maizbon afghan restaurant, mediterranean bakery and bento

Hi friends! This post is a celebration of two delicious discoveries in our area for Afghan cuisine and gourmet Mediterranean baked goods and groceries. Northern Virginia is such a fabulous crossroads of diverse food traditions...there is always something new and wonderful to discover!

Case in point: the recently opened Maizbon Afghan restaurant, where we've enjoyed excellent, homestyle meals cooked with great finesse and care. On a blustery, chilly day with an icy blue sky, can anything offer more warming comfort than sweet-savory squash, Afghan-style or a hot cup of cardamom tea?
House specialty Keccheri Quroot: mung bean, dill and rice risotto with meatballs...made with delicacy and care and memorably good!
Sinfully delicious squash with cinnamon-butter bread triangles...

Lovely comfort food

Amazing eggplant with yogurt and roasted tomato

Jamison's snap of a pretty lamp
Next we went to nearby Mediterranean Bakery and Cafe, an emporium of homemade breads and filled pastries with an extravagant selection of prepared salads, cheese, olives, preserves, spices and other treats...
Pistachio pastries

Friday's bento is an easy no-cook affair with goodies from the Mediterranean Bakery:
Cheese and meat pastry over lemony tabbouleh, pink radish pickles, spinach pie triangle, Greek yogurt and asparagus and Armenian-style eggplant salad.

Have a fun and relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

babykins inspiration bento

This bento was inspired by the beautiful lunches made by Babykins at her very fun and colorful blog, Soul, Soup, Soap. I love the cozy and inviting look of her bento meals and am excited that she has started sharing recipes for her yummy dishes. I had to try this delicious and seasonal mushroom preparation, and it was sooo good! I used Enoki, maitake, and chanterelles to make this recipe.

I've followed Babykin's soft and vibrant bento palette with fresh greens and pink crab tossed in a light ginger dressing with scallions...
Radish sprouts, mixed rice with daikon radish seeds, green peas, hard-boiled egg, and accents of avocado and decorative wheat gluten "fu" are in the bento, too. For dessert, crisp green apple, clementine and a sweet Japanese candy.

Camellias and pansies in chilly bloom today after a night of rain:

Happy cooking, friends!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

thanksgiving bounty bento

Hi bento pals, hope my U.S. bento friends enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving celebration! We had a good and varied feast here--the centerpiece was a beautiful turkey that Jamison glazed with wild plum preserves:
My stuffing changes a bit from year to year, but its essential elements are toasted bread cubes, lots of sauteed onion, ground beef, celery, sauteed fennel, sherry, several types of mushrooms...and this time, whole roasted chestnuts:
Succotash with corn, lima beans, edamame, red pepper and zucchini squash:
Cranberries with port and cinnamon sticks...wonderful flavors, recipe here!
Not pictured but also part of the feast: roasted butternut squash puree with cinnamon and a hint of brown sugar, oven roasted brussels sprouts and baby potatoes (delicious from long cooking next to the turkey!), and a green salad with watercress, baby lettuce, orange glazed fresh figs and goat cheese.

We enjoyed cat-sitting for our neighbors over the long weekend and hanging out with sweet Sophie...
Monday's bento incorporates Thanksgiving's abundant leftovers with an open-faced sandwich layered with stuffing, turkey and cranberry sauce. More cranberry-port sauce is in the little jar; figs, baby greens, watercress, acorn squash and colorful radicchio also for lunch.

 Have a great week ahead!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

annangol korean bbq restaurant and grilled duck bento

Hey bento pals, hope you had a fun weekend! We went to our current first choice for Korean, Annangol BBQ restaurant today. Excellent and flavorful from start to finish!

The banchan here are really superior, so fresh and a changing blend of subtle, spicy and pungent tastes...the sesame eggplant and ginger celery were outstanding. Annangol is Jamison's favorite Korean restaurant in the area, saying it provides the most authentic taste of Korea he's had stateside, bringing back fond culinary memories from his years of living in Korea. The elegant, rustic quality of the cuisine is nicely reflected by the simple dining space at Annangol, and the service is friendly and warm as well.
Eggplant in sesame oil
Duck slices, ready for the tabletop grill:
Great aromas...
So tasty!
The authentic little touches here are so the inclusion of dandelion greens with romaine leaves, adding a wonderful bitter note to the mellow duck. Yum.

Wasabi marinated daikon slices
Mellow kongbap
This little gem is located at 4215 Annandale Center Drive in Annandale, VA in a cute shopping plaza with a French-Korean bakery and an upscale Korean deli/caterer, to complete your Korean-immersion experience!
Monday's bento includes some lovely duck from our meal and a stir fry of autumn veggies including brussels sprouts, acorn and butternut squash, rainbow chard and mushrooms. Edamame-shrimp dumplings and kongbap also for lunch.

Have a great week, guys!