Wednesday, June 30, 2010

golden squash frittata bento

Today's bento made use of the beautiful slender squash at the farmers market:
I sautéed several of the sqaush, thinly sliced, with onion, fresh basil, and golden squash flowers. Next, eggs, milk and swiss cheese were added before pouring all in a round casserole to bake. This little heart was made from the frittata and is decorated with golden squash "clouds" and purple sage blossoms:
Snow pea tops, mini peppers, ripe cherries and a vanilla kiwi cupcake round things out!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

almost july bento, szechuan delights

This was a great weekend for foodie pursuits. The local market is bursting with more colorful, sun ripened fruits and vegetable and flowers with each visit. Virginia peaches are here and glorious:
And lovely, festive squash and eggplant have me leafing though my cookbooks...
These round eggplant with varigated deep purple tones, streaked with white and ornamented with starry leaf and stem designs are so delightful. Can an unadorned vegetable be kawaii? I say yes!
The delicate petal-folds of this hibiscus plant for sale at the market caught my eye:
Some of the fresh market items we look forward to this week (ok, most of the tomatoes already went into heavenly BLTs made with amazing Niman Ranch Applewood smoked bacon, avocado, red onion, and many slices of these heirloom tomato beauties...summer's recreational meals have arrived!):
Today it was too hot to do much outside besides water the yard, so we tried a Szechuan place in Fairfax that has received glowing reviews: Hong Kong Palace. The restaurant inherited its name from the former owners of the space, and its cooking is full of Szechuan vitality, heat and savor. They even import special peppers from the chef's hometown in China for authenticity and maximum deliciousness.

We enjoyed crispy scallion pancakes to start:
Spicy beef tendon with peanuts, green herbs:
A refreshing dish of celery and wood ear mushrooms:
Flounder in Szechuan hot pot with special peppers, bean sprouts, ginger--awesome!
The service was helpful, charming and informative--we can't wait to go back and try the Cumin Lamb and a host of delicious-sounding dumplings, just to start! It is such a blessing to live in a diverse area with many proud and passionate food traditions, and we really experienced the benefit of this lucky circumstance today.

Another day near 100 degrees predicted for Monday, so I've made a bento with cooling tastes and textures:
Along with a slice of farmer's market tomato and sprigs of aromatic local basil, baby shrimp with mayo and fennel fronds fill an avocado half; golden zucchini blossoms with goat cheese, Mt Rainier cherries and a watermelon flower mingle for a refreshing lunch...
This rose in our yard is happily producing pink blooms amid the heat and dry weather:
Sophie had the right idea this afternoon, chilling underneath the hydrangea:
Have a great week, bento pals!

Friday, June 25, 2010

tofu bunny bento

Today's bento features a new find: red quinoa. We picked some up at Trader Joe's this week and have really enjoyed its subtle, nutty flavor and burgundy-colored fluffy grains. It shares the magewappa here with crab soboro (made with a generous helping of ginger and red onion), a tofu bunny, edemame and a juicy peach.
Happy Friday, bento pals--here's to a relaxing, refreshing weekend!

Monday, June 21, 2010

hello summer bento

This Saturday's market was full of signs of summer's arrival and the ripening power of the sun:

Local peaches have arrived:
 I found perfect zucchinis at this stand:
 Hydrangea close up:
Our dear pal Cheryl just came back from a wonderful vacation in France and brought us back this sachet of Herbes de Provence:
....which in turn inspired our meal with her on Sunday, along with recipes from The Provence Cookbook by Patricia Wells, and some very fresh finds at the farmer's market. Olives to start:
A highly recommended approach to zucchini, adapted from The Provence Cookbook: saute very fresh zucchini slices and a sliced orange pepper in a wok in which you've just gently sauteed four plump garlic cloves in olive oil and butter.

Add salt, thyme and/or Herbes de Provence to taste, and fresh basil leaves. After the zucchini slices have taken on a golden hue, place in an oiled casserole dish and top with grated gruyere cheese. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about a half hour:
Baby potatoes oven roasted with chicken stock and bay leaves:
Roughy fillets with artichoke cream sauce, tomato, basil and Herbes de Provence.
Green salad with roasted pine nuts, fresh basil, avocado and creamy Dijon vinaigrette:
Cheryl brought these lovely homemade angel food cakes with fresh berries for dessert:
Today's bento includes fish from our big meal, baby potatoes, fresh basil and snow pea tops from the farmer's market, a small goat cheese rolled in Herbes de Provence, blackberries, and watermelon:
Happy summer, bento pals!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

blue butterfly bento, lamb feast

Tuesday's lunch was made with wonderful lamb prepared by hubby Jamison, an awesome, intuitive cook with a knack for combining flavors with a Mediterranean-meets-Silk Road spice twist. This weekend a lovely leg of lamb with a rich, fragrant marinade of fruit and spices was on the menu!

Here, green apples and peaches marinate in red wine with whole cloves, star anise, vanilla bean, coriander, onion, and dates. The leg of lamb was added to absorb the exotic flavors for a few hours. Next, everything was roasted in a copper casserole until the lamb was medium rare.
Beautiful, flavorful lamb at the table:
 Salad with fresh oregano, artichoke hearts, mushrooms...
A new favorite red wine: Klinker Brick Farrah Syrah from Lodi, California with deep vanilla notes (yum!):
Today's bento features the last of the lamb, sliced thin with yogurt sauce and basil, romaine, parsley, blackberries, kiwi, peach, watermelon, dates with coconut:
Some images from the Farmer's Market this weekend:
 Dahlia plants:
And at home, the peach daylily is in bloom...
Japanese Morning Glory seedlings:
Have a very good Wednesday, bento friends!