For the past long weekend, we took a short trip to Hong Kong to attend one of our best friend’s’ 50th birthday party. It was a ravishing, spectacular soirée, with more than a hundred people attending to celebrate her special day. All the guests were dressed in their beautiful chic attire including our daughter, with live music and endless flow of champagne and chatter. I wonder when I had a holiday this much fun last, and that made me feel heavy and hesitant for going back to reality.
As cruel as it can be, it was time to go home to my normal humble life. Our flight back to Tokyo got delayed by an hour, which means arriving home even later than what we thought was already late for a school night. And this means no stop over at a grocery store to replenish our empty fridge.
In the car back from the airport, I quickly assessed in my head what was left in our fridge/freezer for our daughter’s bento the next morning. I remembered about the pesto sauce in the freezer I had made a couple of weeks ago, as well as the frozen steamed carrot slices, blueberries and apple mousse. I also remembered the eggs & ham in the fridge hadn’t gone expired yet. And the outcome was a not so bad pasta bento for our little girl.
Despite my continuous effort on cooking healthy yet time consuming Japanese dishes on a daily basis for our daughter, if we ask her what her favorite food is, she always instantly answers, ‘pasta!’.
For busy morning, I place halved 8- 10 cherry tomatoes, a small can of tuna, little bit of chopped onion in a medium sized frying pan, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt, pepper & oregano to taste, and just let it cook with the lid on while pasta is being boiled in a separate pot. I usually add a small ladleful of pasta water when the sauce gets a bit dry. Drain the pasta once it’s ready, and toss it in the sauce and mix them well.
As simple as it may be, this pasta is quite tasty.
It’s been another busy but short week for us. Monday was a school holiday since our daughter’s school was open on last Saturday for an art event. Tomorrow, 3rd of November is a public holiday in Japan called Culture Day. As such, there’s only 3 days of school, but since I took up this translation assignment for 9000 words of text, which is due tonight, I’ve been working non-stop since Tuesday.
Anyway I thought I’d take a break and post our daughter’s bento images because the bento making happens every day no matter what as long as her school is open!
Tuesday 31/Oct – Soboro bento
Wednesday 1/Nov – Macaroni in tomato sauce with aubergene & bacon
Thursday 2/Nov – Picnic tortilla wrap bento
Our daughter & her friends are on their way to the sweet potato farm for potato digging today. It’s their first time to take a chartered bus on their own, without being accompanied by their parents. Hope they’ll have fun.
OK, back to my assignment, 2000 more words to go!
For the past weekend, we went for a short trip out of Tokyo. We came back to our apartment on Sunday evening, resulting in the usual problem of not having enough food in the fridge for our daughter’s bento the next day.
In such circumstances, frozen stock comes in handy. This morning I defrosted bolognese sauce I made the other day and mixed it with macaroni. I put a lot of veggies (e.g. onion, carrot, celery, garlic) in the sauce, so it’s quite nutritious (actually I put them in the blender so that they almost get pasty, and that gives an amazing flavour to the sauce). I had a leftover cucumber and egg in the fridge, so I whipped this up:
The frozen star-shaped steamed carrots made with cookie cutters are also quite handy. I always make them in bulk with my Le Creuset Steamer and store them in the freezer. It’s really a lifesaver on a day like this!
Menu: Macaroni bolognese (steamed carrot slices on top), Cucumber sticks, Boiled egg
Japanese Nashi for dessert (also leftover in the fridge)
Incidentally when I finished packing my daughter’s bento this morning, I realised that the colours of autumn was everywhere. Tangerine, mustard, forest green, burgundy…
Usually, I would have put a bit more green to make it brighter (afterall this is for a small child), but thought that I would keep it as it was, hoping she would get my intension to teach her the subtle expression of a changing season.
Menu: Macaroni Amatriciana with broccoli, Boiled egg, Mashed pumpkin & cucumber salad
Japanese “Mikan” orange & Kyoho grapes for dessert
Which bento do you prefer? Japanese bento with rice, or Italian bento with pasta?
Pork shabu-shabu salad, Nori seaweed omelet, Stir-fried potato & spinach, Cherry tomato, Rice with furikake sprinkle. Banana & grapes for dessert
Macaroni with broccoli & tuna, Steamed pumpkin tossed with chicken soboro, Cherry tomato. Apple mousse & banana for dessert
Today’s lunch was farfalle pasta with the pork & radicchio ragu which was the leftover from the dinner the evening before. I improvised the recipe using the generous amount of pork slices we received from our dear friends, a lovely family who live next door with whom we became friends through our daughter’s school. They apparently received a huge amount of pork as gift (quite common in Japan to send food as gift), and they kindly shared some with us.
Apart from the pork, there was some leftover radicchio I used for salad the previous day and some cherry tomatoes in the fridge. The three ingredients reminded me of this simple yet highly tasty radicchio risotto I once ate in a small Italian city of Marostica, possibly more than ten years ago. It was the first time for me to eat cooked radicchio – it was delicious with some bitterness and hint of buttery & nutty flavour. And I remember the colours – this dark shades of red sauce on my plate, contrasting beautifully with the white of grated parmiggiano, and opaque steam coming out of the freshly cooked risotto… a divine dish.
The taste came out quite differently for my sauce however, because I used a lot more pork than I can remember from the risotto I had eaten years ago. That’s why I served it with pasta rather than rice, since I thought the meaty flavoring was a bit too heavy for risotto. Nevertheless it turned around to be great ragu, and moreover I enjoyed trying to replicate the dish I had tasted years ago on my own, this time for my dearest family.