Thursday, April 28, 2011

british tea sammies bento

Today's bento reflects some of the flavors and traditions of British foods, all things British being very much in the air this week! I'm a big fan of the food sections of UK newspapers the Guardian UK and Telegraph: they both offer inspired recipes for seasonal salads and vegetables that are exciting, creative and mouthwatering.

The salad section of today's bento with arugula, pear, English cheddar, garden violets (and out of view, tangy yogurt dressing) was inspired by Nigel Slater's wonderful recipe for pear and cheese salad.

Inside the tea sammies: the radish-garnished side contains thin-sliced leg of lamb, mayo, mango chutney and fresh mint, while the cucumber-decorated half contains curried egg salad with lime zest and cilantro.

In my fav British stoneware (note bird motif!), English tea and a mini tart with coconut cream and raspberries. Have a bright and happy weekend, pals!

Monday, April 25, 2011

easter weekend fun

Hi bento pals! Did you have a nice weekend? Ours was fun and tasty, with a visit to a cool wine bar-restaurant in Fairfax with our friends Adrianne and Kip on Saturday and a return to fabulous Yetka on Easter Sunday to share its wonderful food with pals and fellow Persian food fans Chris and Sharon.

Unfortunately photos from dinner at the Wine House did not turn out well, but our evening was delightful in this convivial spot with an excellent selection of wines and cheeses...a perfect place to get lost in great conversation!

Jamison's beautiful capture of our backyard dogwood tree in bloom...

Easter morning, stopped in to visit with Cheryl, our dear friend and frequent supplier of yummy baked items in my bentos! She was setting a festive Easter table for a family gathering...and I fell instantly in love with her spring-flower embroidered tablecloth:

Later, at Yetka for Easter lunch we were seated directly under the Easter-egg splendid chandelier...

Could any appetizer be more encouraging of spring appetites than fresh bright herbs with tangy cheese, radish and fresh bread?

We were excited that a wonderful eggplant dish was available this visit called Kashk-e Badenjan: Persian eggplants blended with "Kashk" (a creamy cheese sauce made from sun dried whey) garnished with hot mint sauce...amazing. (Thank you, Sahel!)

Cornish hen kabob, perfectly cooked and paired with sunshine yellow saffron rice:

A lovely sampler of three Persian stews and crispy rice

Afterwards, very happy with the delicious meal and elegant warmth of Yetka's welcome, we all walked down to European Gourmet, an emporium of exciting flavors: tasty Russian/Eastern European prepared foods, seasonings, sweets and more...

Layered salads and really prepared salads of all kinds are a huge temptation here. I had to try the mushroom salad with mayonnaise and the beet salad...they both appear in today's bento.

They go so beautifully with this shop's abundance of smoked fish, a flavor marriage made in heaven...

Today's bento is an amalgam of Yetka and European Gourmet treats, lent sparkle by gifts from a special bento pal:

Half of a spiced chicken piroshki sits close to a savory piece of Yetka Cornish hen; the little green bowl holds rich "mushroom salad": dried and fresh mushrooms blended with sour cream and mayo--yum! In the little sakura container, beet salad from the European Gourmet is blended with zippy chrain, beet-colored horseradish sauce.

Mint, dill, green grapes and a frisky green apple puppy also inside...

I had hoped to include these very cute and folkloric Russian cookies in this time!

Some sweets left by the Easter Bunny...what do you suppose these fancy-dress fellows are grinning about?

Have a super week and happy cooking, friends!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

japanese curry soba bento

Hi bento pals--hope you are having a great week! Spring continues to unfurl...some images from our garden:

I planted these purple tulips for Jamison, purple is his favorite color...

An incredible wisteria in Old Town Alexandria


Loved this turquoise door with kitty cat knocker!

Today's bento features yummy Japanese curry (medium hot) chicken. For dinner last night, we cooked four chicken thighs with one and half pieces of S & B Golden Curry sauce mix...its a nice savory version of curry with mellow, peppery finesse. Enjoyed with soba noodles and had a little leftover of both for today's lunch!

Also in the bento: asparagus, brussels sprouts, beni shoga pickle...

and a rosette of butter lettuce and baby carrots with a pink pickle heart.

Have a great Thursday, guys!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

pasta primavera bento

How was your weekend? After a rainy, stormy Saturday, Sunday has unfurled like a spring flower...and provided sunny inspiration for this bento to start the work week. My pasta primavera includes pastel farfalle pasta with asparagus and shrimp (both quickly cooked in butter), sugar snap peas, edible violas.

Also in the bento: golden beets, butter lettuce and a sprig of oregano, already in spicy green bud in the garden!

In a little gelato cup, amaretti cookie and ripe raspberries:

Sunday's relaxed lunch featured this pasta with additional sauteed garlic and Parmesan cheese--yum!

The afternoon was breezy and bright...perfect for planting seeds: zinnia, nasturtium, morning glory and a wildflower/herb mix. It will be fun to see what comes up in the weeks ahead!

Scenes from our post-lunch walk...

We met cool and friendly Leander the cat...

Have a great week, happy cooking!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

spring greens and flowers bento

Hi bento pals! Today's bento was a light snack of a lunch for hubby and myself, a blend of arugula and pea shoots, garden violets and a tangy goat cheese heart topped with walnuts and honey. A mini pastry shell holds three juicy raspberries. A spicy Dijon vinaigrette was added to the greens after I snapped this picture...

So many pretty spring flowers are blooming right now, each day brings a new member of the floral parade:

Virginia bluebells

Korean spice bush has a wonderful scent that travels on the spring breeze:

Romantic pink dicentra

Magical pink-purple redbud is in bloom

The violets that grow wild around our little pond have spread and multiplied! Right now it feels like a fairy garden with all of the jewel toned nodding blossoms...

Have a lovely upcoming weekend, friends!