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Vegetable curry

It’s my first time making curry, and I decided it shall be a vegetable curry. I made it using Golden curry mix (Japanese brand), since in my opinion Japanese curry is the best one to try for a first timer.

I had a bit of vegetables that are nearing the end of their edible lifespan: a big carrot, three small potatoes, and a very large onion. I chopped them into bite size pieces. The instructions on the packet of curry mix said to saute the vegetables for a bit, then add enough water to cover. I did so, sauteing first the onion, then added the potatoes and carrot. I put in a tallish glass of water, then left it to stew. It seemed like there weren’t enough of the vegetables, so I added a large can of whole tomatoes. It took about 15-20 minutes of stewing before the carrots were soft enough.

At this point, the next instruction was to drop in the curry roux. There were two packets of roux in the box of curry mix I bought. I put in the contents of one of the packets, and almost immediately I thought that there were too much roux. I let the roux dissolve a bit into the water, and it did turn out to be too thick. Another glass of water went into the pot, and it gave me my desired curry consistency. I didn’t add any herbs or even salt and pepper, since the box said that the roux already has all required herbs and spices.

A taste during lunch, and I knew I found the curry I was looking for. It tasted pretty much like the curry I once ordered in Yamazaki in Little Tokyo. The bonus from this whole experiment is that I get to eat the entire pot as none in my household would eat curry. Did you know that curry is a great baon as well? Check it out:



Pardon me, I just wanted to share a picture of my favorite bento box.

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Posted by on May 26, 2012 in Random Cooking

 

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Week 34 of 52: Spaghetti and Vegetables

Double feature this week!

First off, I started with this really nice vegetable dish I found from The Pioneer Woman. It’s basically a bunch of vegetables cut in similar size and roasted. Here, I used a small and a large potato, a medium carrot, and a large zucchini. I seem to have put too much pepper, but it turned out pretty delicious! Addicting, even. I think this is because the whole thing tastes like some sort of chips or fries.

The second dish is Filipino style spaghetti. I’ve been meaning to try this out for the longest time because my husband prefers that to the Italian style spaghetti (non-sweet). Good thing I’ve discovered Jun-blog, as he has a great recipe for this style of spaghetti. I mostly followed his recipe to the dot, except I substituted tomato ketchup for banana ketchup (turns out I didn’t have any?). It may have affected the overall taste and texture. My husband commented that it was a little bit too runny. Next time, I’ll use banana ketchup and see how it compares. I also used jumbo hotdogs so the slices were enormous! I’ll downgrade to regular hotdog next time. It was a very satisfying lunch!

We had the spaghetti and roasted veggies for lunch, with a side of potato chips for him and some Gardenia bread for me. Here’s how our spread looked like:

My plate of spaghetti:

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Week 28 of 52: Potato Gratin

Potato gratin is what I ended up doing for this week. I still had a bunch of potatoes in the vegetable compartment that needed to be consumed, and I thought that this was the perfect dish. My source is again Soup Addict. The difficult thing about this is that she didn’t include the recipe itself because she used a Dorie Greenspan recipe. She just described the process, with beautiful pictures of each step. I had to guess at the proportions and had some of my own substitutions.

I used 4-5 medium potatoes, and sliced them into thin rounds by hand. My mandoline isn’t big enough for those potatoes. I kept the skins on advice from one of Soup Addict’s commenters. I used 2 cans of Nestle cream, and heated them up with a smashed clove of garlic swimming in it. I also grated up half a bar of quickmelt cheese, and half a bar of mild cheddar. I set my salt, pepper, and dried thyme cellars nearby, and prepared to assemble the gratin.

The bunch of sliced potatoes didn’t seem much at first, so I used these two containers I have pictured above. I put a layer of potatoes at the bottom, then sprinkled some grated cheese on top. A dash of salt, pepper, and dried thyme followed, then a generous dollop of garlic-infused cream. I repeated these until I got to the top of the dish. I fired up my oven to about 180C, and put these two containers in.

Here’s a close up of one of those small containers after baking (and after taking a small portion for tasting). I waited until I can see the tops of the dishes melted and a bit bubbly. Unfortunately I wasn’t really marking the time, so I can’t tell you how long it stayed in the oven. I also had a bunch of ingredients left and no more small containers, so I decided to use the small casserole to make a large but rather flat gratin to use up the leftovers. Here’s what came out:

It’s really flat, only about a couple of layers. I should have just gone with this big container to begin with. I left these to cool down, then packed them in individual serving containers for easy grabbing for baon. They were just as yummy as I had imagined, with the potatoes soaked with the garlic-flavored cream. The garlic was just right, not too strong. If your taste can stand a bit more strength, you can add another clove or two in the infusion step. I think I sprinkled way too much salt in some places, as they came out weirdly salty in some of the bites. The thyme was a nice touch, and opens up some other choices of herbs in future experiments. Nice melty cheese is also awesome, and I think putting a layer of grated mozzarella on top would be interesting.

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Instant ramen level up: Chinese style noodles

As I have mentioned a lot here, I am a huge fan of pasta in general, and instant ramen in specific. I’ve been reading a lot about how to upgrade instant ramen past the poor-student-fare stage. I’ve decided to try going with my instincts this time, and see if I can come up with some Chinese style stir-fry noodles with instant ramen.

Chinese style stir-fry instant ramen

Serves 2 (or 1 very hungry person)

2 packets instant ramen, any flavor

2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 small or medium onion, chopped

1 cup grated carrots

4 stalks baby corn

(optional) 1/2 to 1 cup dried mushrooms, reconstituted in water (save soaking water), slice thinly into inch-long strips

1 tbs soy sauce

2 tbs oyster sauce

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil for frying

1. Boil the baby corn in enough water to just cover. Keep in boiling water for about 5 minutes. Drain, slice diagonally, and set aside.

2. Cook the ramen noodles (and any dried vegetable packets) and set aside. Do not use the flavorings.

3. In a wok or frying pan, saute the garlic and onions in the oil until limp.

4. Add the carrots, baby corn, and the optional mushrooms. Saute for about a minute.

5. Pour in about half a cup of the mushroom soaking liquid, or half a cup of water if mushrooms weren’t used. Simmer for about 5-10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and liquid almost gone.

6. Add the cooked ramen noodles and the soy sauce and oyster sauce. Toss until everything is fully coated in sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

It came out tasting like many chinese style noodle dishes I’ve had before. I like the fact that there are so many variations I can do on this recipe, and that it’s chock-full of veggie goodness. The only disadvantage here is the increased time of preparation, but I think the increased nutrition might be worth it. What do you think?

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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Week 23 of 52: Tomato and leftover vegetable gratin

I’m still on a vegetable run this week, as I still have a whole pack of cherry tomatoes in the vegetable compartment. I had always wanted to try out this recipe for Cherry Tomatoes and Leftover Vegetable Gratin at Just Bento, and I thought this would be the perfect time to do so.

It really wasn’t at all complicated, just mix everything together and place in a ramekin. I didn’t have any pesto sauce, so I just mixed together the light mayo, cherry tomatoes, and a bit of frozen peas and carrots. I still can’t believe it’s that simple. I sprinkled a bit of grated cheddar on top, along with a dusting of dried oregano and basil.

Here it is, fresh from the toaster oven. It looked simply delicious, and it is! The Man tried it too, but he’s not really a big fan of cooked tomatoes. I served it during lunch and I loved it! I also tried it as baon: dumped the rest of my leftover cherry tomatoes in a bento-friendly cup. Unfortunately I used a different cheese (Edam) and it didn’t work so well.

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Week 22 of 52: Vegetable Side Dishes

From a recent trip to the grocery, I have a big stash of vegetables that I needed to use up before they go bad. Some of them went into the baked spaghetti I made last week. Some of it will go to making another big batch of veggie soup concentrate, and most of the carrots and potatoes will become carrot kaldereta. That will leave me a bit more carrots, as well as a huge batch of tomatoes, and I need to get rid of them asap.

For the carrots, I turned to my trusty source Just Bento, and found this very easy no-cook recipe for Carrot-Sesame Salad. It was also a convenient outlet for the kinchay/parsley that I thought I needed for the baked spaghetti. I used a cheap plastic/metal grater to quickly grate the carrots into big but short strands.

For the tomatoes, Appetite for China posted a similarly easy no-cook recipe for Sweet and Sour Tomatoes. It called for shallots, but I had none so I skipped it entirely. It also required cider vinegar, but I thought that the rice vinegar I use for making sushi rice would make a good substitute.

I served both of these side dishes during lunch where we also had kamameshi rice and shake-n-bake chicken wings. It created a wonderful contrasting taste to both the rice and the chicken, as the tomatoes were sour and the carrots were very sesame-y. The sweet-and-sour sauce for the tomatoes were a bit too much for only 3 medium tomatoes; it might do better with four or five tomatoes the next time I make this. There was also some leftover carrot-sesame salad, which I doled out into two silicone cups and put into the freezer to be included in a couple of my future baon.

There weren’t enough of the tomatoes to have any leftovers, so I’m not really sure how they would fare as baon. I’m thinking that I’d probably separate the tomatoes and the sauce, and just toss them together when I’m about to eat the actual baon.

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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Week 4 of 52: Mediterranean Vegetable Soup

I wanted to take a break from desserts for a while. I decided I wanted to go back to food that would go well in a bento. In my default bento reference site, JustBento, I found an intriguing recipe for Mediterranean veggie soup concentrate. I said, why not? It seemed like a good idea because 1) I like soup! 2) it promises to store well when frozen and 3) it’s on JustBento.

The first thing that hit me was that it’s going to be using things that I don’t normally use: parsley, celery, tomato paste.. It even listed fennel, but I didn’t even bother looking for that. The second thing was that most of the effort on this dish was going to be in the chopping of the vegetables. I suppose if one had a food processor of some sort it’d be much easier. I had to rely only on my good old knife. The third thing was that this isn’t a fast dish at all. The reduction of the mixture would take some time, and it did. This is a dish that needs to be prepared way ahead of time.

It took me most of the morning to finish the soup. I tried a serving for lunch that same day. A serving, according to the recipe, would consist of 2 tablespoons of the veggie mixture plus a mug of hot water. Here’s the 2 tbs of mixture in a bowl:

Adding a mug of hot water give me this:

Very watery soup, tbh. I think a mug of soup is too much for just 2 tbs of veggie mixture. I added a tablespoon more mixture to balance it out a bit. What about the taste, you ask? It’s very interesting! I haven’t had this kind of taste before. The flavor of the parsley (or was it the celery?) is strong throughout the soup, but you can taste the rest of the vegetables. It’s certainly very healthy, and will conveniently give me a dose of veggies AND soup whenever I have baon. I’ll put in less water though, since I do want to keep the serving size to just 2 tbs.

To store the soup mix, there are two recommended ways. One is to freeze 2-tbs servings in a cling wrap, then put those in a freezer-safe zip lock bag. Here’s how it looks like when packed in cling wrap (not yet frozen):

Kind of weird, actually. But hey, it works. I took one for baon yesterday, put it in a small deep container, and by lunch it was already defrosted. I just added some hot water (I didn’t fill the entire container) and it was delicious! The other packing suggestion is to freeze cubes of it using an ice-cube tray. Unfortunately, my biggest ice-cube tray could only fit 1 tbs of the mixture, so I’ll have to remember to bring two cubes for my baon. Here’s how it looks like, already frozen and out of the tray:

Now that’s more like it! It’s definitely more attractive than a shapeless blob in cling wrap. Not to mention, it’s also environment-friendly since you don’t have to use all that plastic. I’ll be on the hunt for a larger tray so I can put in 2 tbs per cube.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2011 in 52-Week Challenge 2011

 

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