Monthly Archives: May 2009

Berlin bento shopping.

I just came back from 3 days in Berlin and managed to squeeze in some  bento shopping…

I took my cues from Biggie’s Bento Store Locator, which had a couple of options, and ended up coming home with a super cheap white, green and clear plastic two-tier box from K-mart on Frankfurter Allee (search for Berlin in the store locator; this was right near our hotel, in fact), as well as an awesome insulated bento set from Muji!

It cost an arm and a leg, made worse by the current exchange rate, and would have been sooooo much cheaper in the UK… But I’m not going near a well stocked Muji any time soon, so I sucked it up… (We do have a Muji in Norway — in a franchise operation with the Swedish houseware store Ahlens — but there is an incredible mark up and they only stock a pair of stainless steel tiffin-like boxes that don’t really suit my needs).

So as of next week, I am sure the new boxes will make an appearance here on the blog!

Advertisements

Green tea white chocolate cupcakes.

These were a great success with my guests yesterday, although the plain dark choc/white choc ones went first (people tend to be a little skeptical about green cake…)

Elisabeth and a cupcake.

Elisabeth and a cupcake.

Green tea cupcakes

  • 1 1/3 cup ap flour
  •  A bit less than 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp matcha/green tea powder*
  • A bit less than 1/3 cup canola or other mild oil
  • 3/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/4-1/2 cup water if necessary

Mix the dry ingredients. Use a sieve for the flour and particularly for the matcha powder, making sure everything is blended very well.

Add the wet ingredients, stir to a smooth batter. Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full, bake at 180C/350F for about 15 minutes, until you can prick them with a toothpick and nothing sticks.

*I don’t use the very fancy high grade matcha for baking, because it is so expensive. I have a stash of “lower grade” green tea powder which I bought for cheap last time I was in Toronto, and I believe it is something like this.

White chocolate buttercream

I have no idea about the proportions for this, because I don’t ever measure.. I just take a fair amount of butter, or half butter/half margarine, and cream it.  Then I melt a block of white chocolate (100 g) and let cool so it won’t melt the butter. I then add it to the butter and cream it some more. Then I start to add sifted icing sugar and keep creaming it until it gets nice and fluffy.

Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes. I have decorated mine with homemade purple fondant flowers. I bought white ready made fondant and gel dye to dye it purple. I then rolled it out and used special mini “cookie cutters” for this purpose to make flowers in different shapes. Pretty, non?

What I ate on my holiday.

My four-day weekend away involved two days in Geneva, and most importantly a 28h food fest in Lyon. Lyon, where I lived for three years and which holds a very special place in my heart, is also an incredible city for food. You can eat spectacularly well, and very reasonably. It’s not really a place to go for ethnic food, but it is THE place to travel for real French fare. And if you stay away from the very touristy streets (Rue Mercière and Rue St Jean), you can’t really go wrong with your choice of restaurant either.

The Saône towards Presqu'Ile right after the rain.

The Saône towards Presqu'Ile right after the rain.

 

 

Here’s what we ate…

La Gargotte d’Ivan Peric

We were initially aiming to lunch at a place recommended in the essential Lyon guide, Le Petit Paume, called L’Oursin qui Boit. However, it was fully booked (for lunch!), and it was pouring rain, so we randomly entered this piece of heaven on a corner in Rue Royale (near metro Croix Paquet). It’s located in a converted old boulangerie, and it looks amazing. There are lovely pictures of the place here! 

Our lunch was without a doubt the best value meal I have had in ages! 15€ got me some lovely scallop risotto, an amazingly decadent hamburger with magret de canard (slices of perfectly cooked duckbreast) with all the fixings (yes, ketchup and kraft cheese, and lovely onion confit), and a chocolate tart with crème anglaise.

Ingeborg ate a mousse made from chicken liver served with escargots, a stuffed eggplant, and an amazing “nuage de fromage blanc” — it was a sort of pale green mousse made from fromage blanc, meringue and lime.

The house wine, at €10 for a big carafe, was a truly excellent Côte du Rhône. The service was super friendly — It was Ivan himself who took the orders and chatted up the customers — and when we left he showered us with red lyonnais pralines to take home with us. A really amazing dining experience!

Le Fournil de l’Opéra

This bakery, on Place Louis Pradel, is worth a visit just for the amazing boules au chocolat blanc… Buns with lots of white chocolate, warm out of the oven if you are lucky. Pure pleasure. We also had a fougasse there for Saturday lunch — we weren’t up for another three course meal…

Le Potager des Halles

A true gem, this little restaurant serves up market fresh menus that change daily. I had salmon carpaccio with a Japanese vinaigrette, a seafood parillada and a divine dessert with stewed strawberries and mangoes and a sort of chevre mousse. Ingeborg had white asparagus and an amazing “burger” with slowcooked beef cheeks in red wine, mi cuit foie gras and onion confit. This fancy burger thing is a trend apparently. This one was if possible more divine, the foie gras was perfect! Her dessert was a rhubarb trio, with rhubarb crumble, rhubarb tiramisu and some other rhubarb concoction. (Ingeborg, what was it again?)

I had an amazing glass of Chassagne Montrachet — a VERY fine Burgundy white — for a mere 5 euros, followed by a lovely Viognier dessert wine.

Chocolate

We discovered that Monoprix had a promo on chocolate from the Belgian chocolatier Newtree. My mother once brought me a Newtree chocolate bar, with flax seeds and chili, so I knew what luck we had… I ended up with two chili ones, one thyme, one “pure” (all of these are made with flax seeds and are downright healthy), as well as a bar of milk chocolate with lavender. I also picked up a Lindt dark chocolate with Fleur de Sel. Yum yum yum!

Nardone

Nardone, on the Old Town side of the Saône, has the best ice cream in the city. If not the best ice cream around, period… They have a vast array of more or less usual flavors (licorice?), and weekly specials. When we were there, the special was kalamansi. There was really only one choice for me, however: Caramel salé! So, so good!

We also found a great wine store on the Quai de Saône (Presqu’Ile side, quai St Antoine) and had some really good quality croissants at the Marquise bakery in Rue St Jean, and we tested some new Irish pubs in the Old Town (Wallace and James Joyce). I also tried the 1664 Blanche beer for the first time, which was delish. 

That was a pretty intense 28 hours in Lyon, the city of my heart. I’ll be coming back again and again, and La Gargotte d’Ivan Peric is now added to my list of must dos..

Bento roundup.

I haven’t had time to upload the past few bentos, so here’s a round-up of this week’s lunches. There won’t be a lot of bentos in the next little while, as I am doing some travelling etc. We’ll see. I’m passing through the amazing food city of Lyon, capitale gastronomique de la France, and there might be something blog-worthy to eat there 🙂
Monday’s bento:

Bento #7

Bento #7

To the left, blanched spinach with gomashio and a soy sauce fish, carrots and an apple muffin.

To the right, a heart shaped onigiri, two homemade meat balls (lean ground beef, soy sauce, ginger, garlic shichimi togarachi; baked in the oven), bits of super ripe yellow mango.

Tuesday’s bento

Bento #8

Bento #8

To the right, apple muffin, meat balls and brown rice onigiri.

To the left, edamame, carrot, kiwi and red grapes.

This didn’t really feel verycreative…

 

 

Wednesday’s bento

Bento #9

Bento #9

This, on the other hand, I was quite happy with 🙂 Something about the mango, so delicious…

To the left, flower shaped onigiri with gomashio, steamed broccoli, two leek dumplings.

To the right, yummy yellow mango, edamame and an apple muffin.

The apple muffins kept quite well, really, and it was still moist today.

Another vegan dinner.

Contrary to what one might assume from reading this blog, I’m not vegan. I’m not even vegetarian. I’m just trying rather half-heartedly to eat less meat, and I enjoy experimenting with new food. I just love lamb, and cold cuts, and chicken… But eating less meat seems like something sensible to do for my health and the environment. I also find that vegan cooking quite stimulates my creativity. Making tofu taste good is much harder than doing it with chicken! So I see it as a bit of a challenge, really.

I picked up some fake beef strips yesterday at the A Food Market, mostly out of curiosity. They’re made from soy protein and wheat, and essentially contain just protein and fibre. I think I used them quite successfully. The dish looked super tempting, and tasted yum. The only thing that leaves something to be desired is the actual texture of the “meat”. Not much to do about that… The key to using fake meat, I find, is using strong seasonings, because the fake meat in itself doesn’t have much taste. Hoisin sauce fit the bill perfectly — it’s damn tasty and it caramelizes so nicely.

This is not something I will eat every day, but it’s definitely I nice thing to have on hand in the cupboard for last minute dinners. Combined with rice, as here, I get a full protein, as the fake meat is soy based.

Vegan dinner #2.

Vegan dinner #2.

There’s not really a recipe here. You just soak the “beef” to rehydrate in hot water for 10 mins, then squeeze it. Add 1tbsp of ready made hoisin sauce and coat. Leave for a bit to absorb. Stirfry with broccoli and bell pepper, add a little more hoisin. Serve with rice.

Apple-oat-flax muffins.

I was so happy with my carrot muffins last week, I have devised an adapted recipe to make apple muffins! These are even lower in fat and higher in fibre, without refined sugar. Which means you can have even more of them!

I think next time I will use flax meal, ie properly crushed flax seeds, because the whole ones stick in your teeth, lol.

Also, these do tend to stick to paper muffin cups, which makes them tricky to eat, so I highly recommend the wonderful non stick reusable silicone ones! They used to be expensive, but they have gotten a lot cheaper recently. For those of you in Norway, I saw a set of 12 at Europris for about 50 kr. They’re also great for bentos, as food dividers. I use them all the time for grapes etc.

Anyway.

Apple-oat-flax muffin-

Apple-oat-flax muffin-

Apple-oat-flax muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup quick oats (“lettkokte havregryn” around here..)
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 1 tsp baking soda (aka “natron”)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 coarsely grated apple
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce (mine was homemade and only very slightly sweetened)
  • 2 tbsp dark molasses
  • 3 tbsp canola or other light flavored oil (like soya)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup soy milk

Whiz the oats and the flax seeds in the food processor. Breaking up the flax seeds a little will make the nutrients (such as omega 6) easier to absorb, as far as I understand, because our bodies cannot break down whole flax seeds. (Whole flax seeds still serve an important purpose as fibre in our digestive system, of course).

Add all the dry ingredients and blend in a bowl. *Here in Norway vanilla is usually sold as “vanilla sugar” — vanilla blended with powdered sugar. So it is dry and is added with the flour. If using vanilla extract, add to the wet ingredients.

Peel and grate apple, and mix into the flour.

In a separate cup or small bowl, mix apple sauce, molasses and oil. Mix into flour mixture. Add soy milk. The batter should be “soft”, but not really runny.

Pour into muffin tins and bake at 190C/375 f for approximately 18-20 mins. Check with a knife or pin to see that they are cooked through.

Magic chickpea flour.

So I bought a whole kilo of chickpea flour to make the chickpea terrine, and I figured I need to find other uses for it. Maki, of course, always has the answer! I just tried her recipe for zucchini chickpea pancakes, and they are magic! Literally just shredded zucchini, chickpea flour and seasoning. I did the whole thing in the food processor (which has a mixing attachment to make dough etc).It was super quick and easy and a had a total four ingredients, plus salt (I omitted the basil and chili powder, and just put garam masala and curry powder). Healthy, too!

Check out the recipe here!

Zucchini chickpea pancake.

Zucchini chickpea pancake.