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On Sunday March 25th we had a very special — BIG — picnic bento to celebrate spring with our friends. Like every year, we held our own Hanami Matsuri (cherry blossom feast) in the Amsterdamse Bos sakura garden. Unfortunately the Japanese cherry trees were only just starting to bloom, but there hasn’t been a better spring day afterwards so we were lucky anyway!
First of all I had to bake ‘something cherry’. Browsing brought me to a Martha Stewart recipe for vegan chocolate cupcakes with a cherry frosting, tried by BakedBree (substituting raspberry vinegar for plain and using cherries from a jar as fresh are not in season). Bree and her omni friends were quite positive so the choice was easily made!
At the risk of sounding immodest: don’t you think they look awesome?? :) And yes, they were nice as well.. but I don’t think I’ll make them again. I didn’t much care for the buttery topping and you can’t really have the cupcakes without.
Here’s the rest of what we brought to the picnic.
Up front is my sakura box loaded with tofu puffs or inarizushi (a recipe from The Vegetarian Table: Japan cookbook by Victoria Wise), onigiri rice balls filled with umeboshi (pickled plum) and chickpea-wasabi mixture, rolled in respectively plum furikake and nori seaweed.
Both tiers of my yellow Circle bento box are filled with raspberries; behind that stands a small bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce. There’s an oval tier with Japanese style coated peanuts (the other two contain more sushi), a can of wasabi peas (which we didn’t eat) and white chocolate Mikado “Pocky’s” that are not vegan but a leftover from my life as a vegetarian that I wanted to get rid of. ;)
For drinks: plum wine, sake and lots of hot water for a choice of sakura hoija tea, plum vert, sencha, gyokuro asahi and genmaicha.
Dôh, of course we overdid it. But it’s o-hanami only once a year, so who cares? ;)
And if you thought that would be all… There’s more! Because our friends are foodies too. :D They contributed their own yummy goodies, like vegan apple pie, dolmas, dorayakis (sweet red bean paste pancakes) and cheese cookies for the non-vegans among us, cucumber and more nibbles. We think alike because additional batches of inarizushi and onigiri (with cucumber and plum filling) were brought to the party.
Here’s a picture of our belly-pleasing banquet…
Are you getting hungry yet? ;)
Next up is my Bihun Bento!
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Join Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking with a food-related post!
On Thursday, Ascension of Jesus — a national holiday, the weather was so good we decided to take our Mexican dinner to the park. A great opportunity to use my new sakura bento!
I know: baaaad picture — sorry! But I was so hungry that I didn’t have the patience to make a good one… Not to mention the growling tummy of Mr Gnoe next to me. ;)
Contents: flour tortillas with chili (kidney beans, zucchini & red bell pepper), rice, salsa picante, avocado with lime and sea salt, blanched spinach with red onion and jalepeño, salad (lettuce, tomato, spring onion, gherkin, black olives) with balsamic vinegar dressing and nachos. The beer is Grolsch, which I prefer over Heineken any day.
Now it would be foolish to tell you this was supposed to be a burrito bento that I messed up, right? ;)
With our CSA veggies from Amelis’Hof comes a leaflet, de Amelisbode, usually containing a recipe for some of the week’s vegetables. This week it’s a savoury ‘Picnic Pie’ with oven-roasted garlic, tomatoes and rosemary. I only had to substitute the anchovies to make it vegan/vegetarian! The rosemary came from the herb garden on our balcony.
This recipe is definitely a keeper so I’d like to share it with you for Beth Fish’s Weekend Cooking and the Whip Up Something New! challenge (which I’m hosting this month btw). It’s the ultimate summer pie! And since I made a few more adaptations I feel it’s okay to rename it. :)
Amelis’Hof Summer (Picnic) Pie with Garlic and Tomatoes
- olive oil
- 3 sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 head of garlic
- 350 gr tomatoes
- 1 small or 1/2 big red onion
- 3 sheets of vegan puff pastry
- 12 black olives
- 1 tbs caper berries
- 1 tbs of chopped rosemary
- (optional) some chopped oregano or other fresh herb of you choice
- freshly ground salt & pepper
- Preheat oven at 200 degrees Celsius.
- Soak sun-dried tomatoes in hot water.
- Separate garlic cloves — leave the skin on! — and put them in some olive oil in a high oven-proof dish.
- Cut tomatoes in thick slices, put them in an oven dish.
- Slice red onion and add to tomatoes.
- Pour a tablespoon of olive oil over the tomato-onion mix, and add some freshly ground salt & pepper.
- Roll out pastry dough and fill baking dish, punching a few holes in the bottom with a fork. Layer with beans or ceramic beads for pre-baking.
Whatever you’re using for blind baking; it’s always smart to put some parchment paper in first to prevent your beans/beads from sticking to the dough… I often forget. ;)
- Put all three dishes in the oven and bake puff pastry for 10 minutes, tomatoes and garlic 15 minutes.
- In the meantime mince olives, caper berries (you may want to rinse these first if they’re really salty) and soaked sun-dried tomatoes.
- After 10 minutes take your pie dough out of the oven, remove blind filling and bake for another 5 minutes.
- Now your tomatoes, garlic and puff pastry should be ready at about the same time. Allow the roasted garlic to cool for a few minutes.
- Peel the garlic cloves, mince, and mix HALF of it with the olives, sun-dried tomatoes and capers.
- Spread the mixture on the bottom of your pie, layer with tomatoes and onion, add rosemary (& other fresh herbs of your choice) and the rest of the crushed garlic. Sprinkle with a little more salt & pepper.
- Put your picnic pie into the oven for another 5-10 minutes.
We had this quiche accompanied by a green salad with asparagus, more fresh herbs from our ‘garden’ (thyme & oregano), chopped walnuts & pistachios and a balsamic vinegar dressing with extra virgin olive oil, agave syrup, salt and pepper. I’m afraid the picture has a weird colour: we had the shades down because it was so sunny!
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Yesterday we had our yearly celebration of Hanami: cherry blossom viewing, in the Amsterdam Woods’ Japanese sakura garden. The weather was FABULOUS and I have not seen so many people in the blossom parc before! A sign with flowers in remembrance of the earthquake/tsunami victims attracted quite some attention too.
Mr Gnoe was reading part 3 of Murakami’s 1q84 but Poor Me had to do some homework for my film review class: writing about Barney’s Version — a movie that was more entertaining than I had expected and evoked thoughts about Rossetti, Dante, (William Blake), heaven and hell. I wonder if my fellow classmates had the same associations.
Hanami 2011 Bento (#139)
Of course there can be no Hanami Matsuri without a picnic — meaning: bento. I didn’t have much time to prepare so it was a small afternoon snack/late Sunday lunch. But GOOOOD. :) Unfortunately my cute usagi picnic bento *died* on the way back from Amsterdam Woods two years ago and I still haven’t gotten myself another Big Box. So we used some Emsa lock & lock containers instead. They’re leak-proof and that’s always great for transport. ;)
- Italian Linghue crackers with rosemary
- Root vegetable crisps
- Cherry tomatoes & Cherry Belle or Champion radishes (de ‘ballenbak’)
- Pistachio nuts
- Sesame bread sticks
- Edamame hummus — another yummy recipe from the La Dolce Vegan! cookbook I got on my birthday
- Apricot-coconut treats from Vegalicious (super easy!)
- Drinks: shincha tea (first flush sencha) and ‘prosecco royale’
Quick Snack Bento (#140)
Since I had to finish and mail my review of Barney’s Version when we got home from our day under the sakura trees, I had only a little time to make a Monday bento. So it was just regular sammies today, accompanied by an apple, banana and this snack box. No complaints here though! ;)
- Edamame hummus
- Sesame breadsticks
- Nuts & dried fruit: apricots, cranberries, hazelnuts, walnuts
- Vegetables: spinach leaves, gherkin, radishes, cucumber, cherry tomato, caper berries, parsley
Have you been celebrating the blossoming of trees?
This snack bento was a Thank You present for elm@, who was kind enough to lend me her copy of Iris Murdoch’s The Sea, The Sea. It was sort of a “mea culpa” at the same time, because I’ve held on to the book for way too long!
Elm@ is the same sweet person who gave me a load of bento goodies in March, so this seemed like an appropriate gift.
- Lollo Rosso lettuce
- emmental Babybel cheese
- usagi ringo (apple bunny) with sesame eyes and Smarties candy nose, which refused to stay stuck, sitting on..
- a container of powdered sugar for the home-made pumpkin cookie
- sweet ’n spicy nuts (pecan & almonds) with dried cranberries
- mini plum tomato ‘pears’ with basil
- baby fig
- Dove chocolate
- vodka filled chocolate candy
- fake hamburger sweet (hiding under nuts)
- rice crackers
Sweet ’n spicy nuts
We have enjoyed this nutty snack on picnics, shared it at ‘bring a dish’ buffets (potluck) and even served it as mezze.
- 250 g white almonds
- 250 g pecans
- 3 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- just a pinch of ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Preheat oven at 180 ºC.
- Line griddle with baking paper and spread almonds & pecan nuts over it. Roast for 5-10 minutes in oven until golden.
- Let them cool.
- Mix sugar & spices in a bowl.
- Heat a large skillet.
- Scoop nuts into pan and toss sugar/spice mix over them.
- Bake for 5 minutes on medium heat while stirring: the nuts need to get covered by melted sugar. Shake pan when necessary and use a wooden spoon to keep the nuts from sticking together (too much).
- Spread the nuts on a baking sheet to cool down again.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Servings: plenty :)
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Join Beth Fish’s weekend cooking with a food-related post!
On the last day of our summer holiday the weather was really quite nice — although not as good as in Paris, France ;) So when we returned from the birthday party of our just-turned-five-year-old grandniece that Sunday, Mr Gnoe and I grabbed our books and quickly assembled this snack bento for a picnic in the park. We had to eat something with our bubblies, didn’t we? :P
Here’s what we enjoyed.
- Salad of organic plum tomatoes, fresh basil, pickled white onions and dressing of balsamic vinegar.
- 2 types of cheese brought back with us from France: on the right Beaumont de Savoie (nice!), but I forgot the name of the other one… (as if you can see the difference ;)
- Smiths Nibbit Cocktail potato chips (my favourite — with some others).
- French honeydew melon.
- Pink Prosecco wine.
Not only was it the last day of our summer vacation, it was also one of the last sunny days.
*SIGH* I’m already nostalgically looking back.
Vegan Picnic Bento (#110)
People, you didn’t do so good on the vibes I requested, did you? ;) The weather was BAD on Sunday so our picnic was relocated indoors. We got a call beforehand informing us, so we decided to bring fresh mint for tea instead of the planned menthe á l’eau lemonade. Hey, we’re flexible! ;)
Here’s the complete contribution to our friend Ruth’s birthday lunch.
Details can be found in Saterday’s post, but if your memory needs instant refreshing: tortilla triangle toast, carrot dip, mushroom-cashew pate, broad bean spread, Lebanese bread and Ciappe crackers. Rosé wine (and mint tea) for drinks.
Bad Weather Bento #111
Today it was rainy again — judging by the weather you wouldn’t have guessed it’s the height of summer! But this colourful bento absolutely perked me up :)
Purple potato salad (purple potatoes and red onion in mustard-lemon dressing with dill and parsley), broccoli cress.
Atjar ketimoen (pickled cucumber & red onion), fava beans spiced up with some lemon juice, dill and… spices ;) a yellow and a ‘purple’ wild cherry tomato.
Some picnic leftovers: mushroom-cashewnut pate, carrot dip, minty broad bean spread and half a boiled egg on a bed of lettuce.
Summer fruit: peach and red berries.
On the side
Mint for tea and a small bag of Italian scrocchi crackers and the last tortilla triangle.
Homegrown: broccoli cress.
Organic & local: lettuce, carrots, fava beans, mint, purple potatoes, cucumber, wild cherry tomatoes, parsley, red berries.
Organic: egg, mushrooms, red onions, lemon juice.
I was away and didn’t get to post about bentos #107 and #108 until today. Yes, I’ve even been bentoing during my holiday!
Clearing Out the Fridge Bento (#107 a.k.a. #1)
This travel bento was quickly put together by Mr Gnoe on June 25th, when we went away on a short trip to one of the Dutch Wadden Islands: Schiermonnikoog. Of course we had to clear out the fridge for our absence, and what better way to do that than bento-wise? ;)
I must say that Mr Gnoe has previously contributed to some of my bentos, but never before did he make one all by himself. Or should I say — without me meddling? :P So that’s why bento #107 is also known as Number One.
Left tier: salad of small plum tomatoes, onions pickled in balsamic vinegar, gherkin and basil
Middle tier: boiled eggs, asparagus and capers
Right tier: basil, falafel balls and … sauce (I can’t remember what kind: I’ll have to ask Mr Gnoe later today! > look here)
Birthday Boy Beach Bento (#108)
During our short holiday we celebrated Mr Gnoe’s birthday by having a sundown picnic on the beach. Together we compiled this summer night bento, with several additions from the deli — as you can see ;)
Ah, it was such a lovely evening with a beautiful sunset!
Top row: egg salad, red pepper-sundried tomato spread, pesto, Provençal olives
Left tier: cucumber and marinated goats’ cheese (homemade) on a bed of rocket
Middle tier: Père Joseph trappist cheese, tomato
Right tier: more cukes and peach
On the side: Italian scrocchi crackers
Not shown: mini ciabbatas, prosecco rosé
Recipe for marinated goats’ cheese
Marinated goats’ cheese is delicious and very easy to make. Just get yourself a good cheese (preferably ripened), cut it into chunks and refrigerate these for several hours in a marinade of good olive oil and (balsamic) vinegar with garlic, salt, pepper and herbs of your choice. We had brought a mix of dried Italian herbs from home and made do with that :)
Organic: all veggies and fruit, goats’ cheese, falafel and egg.
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Why don’t you join Beth Fish’s weekend cooking with a food-related post?
These yummy and easy to make (!) poppy seed scones are a recent discovery. I promised to share the recipe, so here it is!
Dutch readers can look up the original. Note that I used raspberry jelly instead of strawberry; Mr Gnoe and I actually liked that better because of it’s subtle (& less sweet) taste. For this blogpost I made a double batch; you can view the baking process on Flickr.
Please use organic dairy for animal welfare?!
Here’s what you need for approx. 18 small scones.
- 300 gr self-raising flower
- 4 tbs sugar
- pinch of salt
- 50 gr butter
- 100-150 ml buttermilk
- 1 egg, whisked loose (not two eggs; I made a mistake taking the picture above)
- 2 tbs poppy seeds
- Preheat oven at 225 ºC.
- Mix self-raising flour, sugar and salt in a bowl.
- Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips to make a crumbly dough.
- Pour in the whisked egg and part of the buttermilk. Be careful not to make the dough to wet (that’s why you won’t want to pour in all the buttermilk at once) and make sure you leave a little milk for a golden finishing.
- Add poppyseed.
- Knead into a smooth (elastic) dough. If it is too wet you can add a bit more self-raising flour.
- Flatten dough by hand on a floured surface, until about 2 cm thick.
- Use a small glass our cookie cutter to cut out circles of approx. 4 cm and put these on your baking sheet.
- Coat with a little buttermilk to give them a golden shine.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
These poppy seed scones can be eaten either cold or lukewarm and they make great picnic food, bento stuffing, or an addition to your breakfast, lunch or high tea. Serve with mascarpone or clotted cream and jam.
Another one of Gnoe’s tips
Now what to do with the rest of that whole liter of buttermilk? Yes, of course I could drink it, but I do not particularly like buttermilk :\ So I made curd out of it by hanging it in a (clean) moist tea towel from the kitchen cupboard for 8-12 hours.
Buttermilk curd is a bit thicker than quark and much more creamy. Yesh, I like :) The best part is that you can put the curd on your scones instead of mascarpone or clotted cream. A healthier alternative, although I like to indulge on the bad ones ;)
Why don’t you join Beth Fish’s weekend cooking with a food-related post?
Today’s bento-for-two was assembled in a hurry before going on a 16 km (10 mile) hike across the Kampina nature reserve (walking from Boxtel to Oisterwijk). The picture was taken quickly too — there was no time to mess around with furoshiki’s etc. because Mr Gnoe and I wanted to be on our way before the cleaning lady arrived ;)
(So the clear background has nothing to do with your picture preferences, elm@! ;)
We threw together some edamame (with African peper) and salsa picante as dip for a veggie nugget. Mini wiener sandwich rolls with garden cress, two boiled eggs, and a small bag of cashews to put in between the mini bread rolls. It may not look too great but it actually was quite good; kept us on our feet when we got tired & hungry.
The hike was wonderful, even though the weather could have been better; it was foggy and we even had some rain. Photos of our day can be found on Flickr. Today was extra special because for the first time in my life I have seen real life wild cranes! They are beautiful birds! Let’s hope they bring us luck, like the Japanese believe :)
I want to use the opportunity for a progress report on my 100 Mile Fitness Challenge. Last update was on the first day of autumn (Wednesday October 21st), when I had managed a total of 7 miles. My main ‘workout’ activities since then have been yoga, some cycling, walking around our city canal and last Sunday I danced A LOT on the Shabushabu, Oruutaichi, La Veuve Moustachue and maho+thaidisco concert in Rotterdam. I must have been swinging uninterrupted for at least two hours! It definitely was a great night out :)
I’m down to a total of 37 miles! And in only three weeks, since I didn’t join the challenge before October 20th. With 7 1/2 more weeks left of 2009, it must be possible to walk those 100 miles before January 1st!
Some strange coincidences happening this week. Today we met just one party of other hikers — including someone of my yoga group! That’s weird since the Kampina is in a whole different province. And the concert on Sunday attracted a maximum of 50 people… among which a former best friend of my brother I hadn’t seen in years! Holland really isn’t that small LOL! Many things happen in threes… what chance occurence will happen in the next few days???