Thursday, January 27, 2011

mushroom pirogi bento

Hi bento pals! We are digging out from another intense winter storm today. Before the storm came, Jamison and I went out for provisions and in tune with the wintry weather, returned to Russian Gourmet!

This time, we purchased some lovely marinated mushrooms, mushroom pirogi, marinated herring, Polish candies in pretty plum wrappers, okra preserves, sour cream and a few more nice things. Back home, we put together this festive platter and waited for the swirling snow to arrive...
This assortment went very well with oven-crisped black olive bread...

Today's lunch featured the yummy mushroom-cheese pirogi with chanterelles, sour cream and dill, rainbow chard, herring, tangy sauerkraut and marinated mushrooms, a slender little carrot, several blood orange slices and a flower-cut slice of poppyseed muffin made by our sweet pal Cheryl.
Have a happy and relaxing weekend!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

celebration weekend, thai rice bento

Hi bento pals! This weekend, Jamison and I celebrated our 8th anniversary with some great meals in D.C. We returned to Kushi, a wonderful Japanese izakaya-style place last visited on my birthday in July. This time we savored a long lunch with lovely food and yuzu-flavored drinks. A refreshing seaweed salad to start:
Awesome items from the grill...scallion and duck:
This tender chicken-scallion sausage was delectable!
Still life behind the sushi bar
Sushi chefs at work...
Beautifully fresh sushi! The pickled ginger here is so vibrantly flavored, best I've tried...

It was very cold indeed this weekend, so we took a super-brisk walk from Kushi to our hotel, passing through Chinatown on the way. I ducked in a favorite housewares spot and found a silk purse (whose colors inspired today's bento) and some cute chopsticks!

We stayed at the fun and elegant Hotel Monaco, across the street from the National Portrait Gallery and in a neighborhood full of vibrant restaurants. Poste is located in the lobby of the Monaco, so we were able to enjoy the following special brunch without venturing into the below-freezing weather Saturday morning.

Some meals just inspire and amaze...this was one. Jamison's beef tartare was a carefully and beautifully composed work of art. Over a delicate bed of salsify, the tartare was topped with a quail egg and bound together with an ethereal dressing:
Served alongside, a flavorful bit of carpaccio and tiny potatoes with a soulful roasted garlic sauce. You can't see it from this photo, but a fresh baked brioche was part of the presentation, adding yet another layer of luxurious texture.

When not sampling Jamison's dishes, I turned my attention to a super tasty duck pastrami Reuben on lovely warm pumpernickel bread:
Eggs Hussarde with delicately poached eggs layered over a perfect hollandaise sauce,  cozily accommodated in two crisp tender potato halves:
Vibrant roasted tomatoes and richly flavored bacon added deep flavors to this beautiful dish. A meal to remember! 

Today's bento was inspired by the vibrant colors of a hyacinth bouquet currently filling the house with sweet aromas, an orange silk pouch, and a large box of well as leftovers from a Thai meal of spicy shrimp that I've extended with brown rice and baby peppers. Fresh salad greens, clementines and blueberries in the bento, too:
Happy Tuesday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

russian flavors bento

Happy Friday bento pals!

 Today's bento is built around treats from the Russian Gourmet shop. Kasha is a very tasty and healthful food, and I'm happy to report the discovery of a recipe that results in wonderful non-mushy kasha with a buttery flavor and lightly crisp top layer--delish!

Savoy cabbage stuffed with goat cheese, dill and roasted red pepper, lamb slices with dill pesto (dill, walnuts, garlic, yogurt, salt whirred in the blender for a unique and yummy green sauce), golden beet flowers and goat cheese stuffed baby red peppers also for lunch.

A fruit drink from Russian Gourmet:

Blackberries, pear and these cute Russian chocolates for dessert...

Have a lovely weekend!

Monday, January 17, 2011

cha soba bento

Hi bento pals!  Lunch for Tuesday features green tea soba noodles with ginger, chives, yellow pepper, maitake mushrooms, chives and snow peas. Teriyaki eel with garlic buds and a slice of Japanese turnip pickle (with a bit of wasabi tobiko on top) also inside.

The turnip pickle in its pretty package:

Yearning for spring as I do this time of year, the bright pink pickle lends a welcome vivid note of color (I used a cherry blossom cutter for the floral imprint)

 Yummy teriyaki eel

Hope your week is off to a good start!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

snowy day bento

For today's lunch, a bento with a Nordic inspiration that reflects the pretty new snow that blanketed our area overnight...

 I lived in Scandinavia for a few years and loved the tradition of decorative open-faced sandwiches there. In my bento version, toasted multigrain bread is topped with (from upper left): cream cheese, herring with dill sauce, cucumbers and fresh dill, salmon pate with dill and yellow pepper, salmon pate with a green apple heart, and finally cream cheese, herring, yellow pepper and more green, refreshing dill (can you tell I'm a fan of this herb?):

Red cabbage cooked with wild plum preserves and sliced kumquats, romaine, lady apples also for lunch.

We are putting out sunflower seeds for the birds and attracting a lively array of feathered friends--so fun to watch the parade of wrens, sparrows, chickadees, cardinals and even crows come to nibble, animating the pale winter landscape with their alert expressions and darting flights from seeds to tree branch and back again.

Here's a small "bird bento" of seeds in the snow!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

tropical escape, cilantro pesto salmon bento

Hi bento pals! On this very cold and blustery weekend, we escaped to the tropical light and lushness of the U.S. Botanic Garden Conservatory, located near the Capitol. Wandering around the vibrant tendrils and bright exotic flowers of the Conservatory and taking in the tall green canopy of palms and other tropical trees was a reviving respite from the chill doldrums of January in D.C.

Walking against the wind, a view of the Capitol as we made our way towards our destination (the building to the right of the horse statue)...
The Conservatory
The light, bright space inside was rich with life and color...
In the Hawaii section of the Conservatory, lush native plants and a soothing waterfall...
In the Jungle, tropical rainforest plants luxuriate in a water-rich atmosphere (cool mists wafted through the space as we sat on a bench, gazing upwards) under a 93 foot glass dome:
Simply amazing orchids!

Jamison's image of some sunny yellow flowers in full bloom:

An awesome papaya tree:

Monday's bento features salmon with cilantro pesto--here's the dish, dinner edition:
To make the cilantro pesto:
Toss in your food processor or blender

one bunch of cilantro, leaves only
two garlic cloves
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
4 Tbs chicken or veggie broth
1/4 cup sliced almonds
a glug of olive oil
salt to taste

Blend to make a bright green, aromatic sauce.
Pour over your salmon fillets and top with additional slivered almonds, bake in 375 oven until done (about 10 minutes, depending on thickness of fillets), enjoy!

Lunch includes salmon in pesto, barley pilaf topped with Japanese ginger and baby eggplant pickles, green beans and a wonderful deep orange carrot variety found at Mitsuwa, stir fried. Kumquats, green apple and a soft jelly in a pretty iris-decorated wrapper also in the bento.

Still celebrating the new Year of the Rabbit...have a lovely week!