Monday, August 30, 2010

late august farmer's market and savory dumpling bento

This weekend's farmer's market combined ripe summer tomatoes, peppers, melons and wildly colorful zinnia bouquets with the first hints of autumn as early squash, apples and amber-toned grapes graced a few stands:
This bee happily buzzed amid the bright bouquets, perhaps as enchanted by the intense colors as I was:
We were treated to a yummy meal with homemade dumplings at a friend's house on Saturday and she insisted we take home all the extra dumplings, yum. Today's bento features one of those savory dumplings, wrapped in romaine lettuce with mint, Thai basil and avocado tucked inside, all secured with a scallion band:
Red cabbage and carrot slaw dressed with lime and sweet chili sauce, plus some little orange tomatoes and nasturtium cushion the romaine-dumpling packet. The purple pepper was sliced and munched with a little salt after I took this photo. Greek yogurt with cinnamon, honey and coconut was lovely with honeydew and mango stars, a combination I'll definitely want to enjoy again!

The angle of daylight is just starting to soften and diffuse, the evening chorus of crickets and cicadas an intense and enveloping late-summer song...think I'll take a walk outside and listen.

Friday, August 27, 2010

ume soba bento

Happy Friday, bento pals! Today's bento features pink ume noodles topped with dried plums, scallions, avocado, plus blackberries and green figs, snow pea tops and teriyaki saury:
The avocado was threaded on a clematis vine with starry flourishes, inspired by the organic and lovely bento stylings of Blorgie1, whose bentos sparkle with inventiveness, delicacy and natural beauty...I love the shared inspiration (and information) that flows through our bento community and feel so enriched by how it has led me to new culinary advenures!

The pink ume noodles had a pleasingly tart flavor, echoed by the dried plum topping; I started thinking pink for today's bento after coming across these fringed mimosa blossoms on a walk yesterday:
The mimosa's pretty pastels brought to mind these noodles in my pantry...
Hope you'll have a fun weekend--we are looking forward to a dumpling feast with a good pal and to seeing what the farmer's market holds...Cheers!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

stuffed purple pepper bento

Hi bento pals! A quick post, lunch was a spicy bento with chickpea-chipotle chili and my new fave bento element, purple bell peppers!
We really enjoyed the flavor combination of organic beef cooked with Penzy's dried chipotle chili powder, onions, garlic and chickpeas (definitely one of my favorite beans) for dinner last night and it seemed a natural for bento tucked into a local purple pepper (garnished with goat cheese and sage flower).

A super-sweet peach and cherries were a nice contrast to the sizzling chili. For a toothsome snack, almonds roasted with olive oil and sea salt and a skewer of quince paste and manchego cheese.
Enjoying a wonderfully mild day in the 70's, perhaps the grip of summer's heat is easing at last. The farmer's market had some lovely nectarines and eggplant on Saturday, yum!

I've added this bento to Shannon's What's for Lunch at Our House Wednesday roundup, so many interesting bentos to browse and be inspired by!

Friday, August 20, 2010

indian chickpea treat bento

Hey, happy Friday! Today's bento was a chance to sample an interesting Indian entree we found in the freezer section of Spice Depot, a cool Indian grocery in our area. The golden square is a chickpea cake (surti khaman) has a soft, spongy texture and a mild, inviting chickpea flavor sparked with green chilies and spices. Turmeric-yogurt chutney adds an extra savory dimension.

Baby greens, golden tomatoes, purple pepper and zingy peppermint also for lunch. Up top, a layer of dried coconut curls cushion ripe plums...and new carved elephant pal:
Happy and relaxing weekend, all!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

summer eggplant bento

Hi bento pals! Today's bento was based on this beauty of an eggplant from the farmer's market. I've been admiring its round, happy form and pretty purple/ivory colors since Saturday!

Here's how I cooked it today: 400 degree oven, eggplant halved and scored. For a soboro style filling: four minced garlic cloves, one inch piece of fresh ginger, diced and sauteed with a quarter pound of organic ground beef. Remove eggplant from oven after about 50 minutes or until tender. Carefully scrape out its custardy flesh, retaining skin/shell. Combine eggplant pulp with beef mixure. Add mirin, tamari, sake to taste. Mound eggplant shells with savory filling and bake for a few more minutes. Yum!

Eggplant half garnished with colorful beni shoga and scallions:
Pink grapefruit and golden kiwi:
These baby tomatoes were juicy and sweet! The farmer's market has been great bento/cooking inspiration this summer--for you, too? Speaking of farmer's market inspiration, Sonoma Bento is hosting a wonderful giveaway to celebrate her 50th market-sourced post--check it out!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

korean seafood rice bento

Monday's lunch is based on yummy Korean seafood dolsot from a big portion at H-Mart's always satisfying food court. I've added extra shrimp, and sliced golden squash and peppers and baby tomatoes, all from Saturday's farmer's market. Ripe apricots and a golden plum also inside.

Speaking of the market, it was a riot of intense colors this weekend:
We bought two fresh-baked almond's mine before it got devoured!
Morning glory tendrils are coiling across our shrubs and sending up new blooms, fleeting and beautiful:
Jamison's picture of our peppermint plant:
These fun new bento items came over the weekend, love the bright colors and happy animal faces!
Have a great week ahead, guys!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

purple pepper bento

Hi bento pals! Today's lunch was a vegetarian affair including a wild rice pilaf cooked with my fave Russian mushroom bouillon, plus pistachios and green peas for balanced protein (and more color!).

A cute purple pepper from the farmer's market also inside along with an orange nasturtium bloom and its green, spicy leaves (which I ate) and a rose from my garden (which I did not)...thin slices of golden zucchini and snow pea tops fill the lower section, honey-sweet cantaloupe flowers with blueberries and zingy peppermint are up top.

A friend came by last night with a wonderful and thoughtful summer treat: fresh-picked figs with goat cheese and toasted pecans (thank you Cheryl, you are the best!). Only a couple are left...and will be savored  for dessert tonight!
Some vibrant pink flowers are blooming and re-blooming at the moment...
Including this unexpected revival from a rose bush quiet since May...what a delightful surprise to see this today: