We'll start the bento with the main entree: Crab artichoke stuffed raviolis with pine nut butter sauce. I have to admit, I spent a *lot* of time on this bento, by the time I got to the raviolis I was so tired I decided that instead of standard raviolis I would make two giant raviolis per box, it worked out as a nice novelty and a good time saver. I stuffed the homemade pasta with crab, artichokes and my homemade ricotta (more on that later). I toasted some pine nuts in butter and finished the dish with lemon juice. I got a chance to learn how to make pasta from a pasta chef from a local restaurant some years back and I've been threatening for some time that I'd deliver hand made pasta, I just didn't have the chance until now.
Next up caprese salad. Yes the picture you see to your right is the epic fail of my attempt to try making homemade mozzerella. I had to lean on store bought (that you see on the left) this was probably what stretched out my cooking time since I went thru two batches of failed cheese before giving up. I suppose the good news is that my failure resulted in the best ricotta I've tasted. I pulled two kinds of basil from my aerogarden for this salad, a standard basil and a purple basil. In a side by side taste test the purple basil is a bit more mild than it's more minty cousin, just in case you were wondering.
Rounding the corner we have a standard garlic sauteed green beans. Everything I was delivering was so rich that I felt a bit guilty and launched into a quick healthy side dish. Nothing too special, a simple blanch and shock, infused a bit of extra virgin olive oil with some garlic and a quick saute.
Our last side is the blue cheese polenta cake. I was originally going to try to fry the whole thing for some texture but they fell apart during testing so I had to settle with the creamy texture on reheat. I think if I had packed them a little tighter, I probably would have gotten away with it, but the water content caused such a violent bubble that it just disintegrated in the fryer. This was a big crowd please-er to all my blue cheese fans and I'm pretty happy with the final product fried or not.
Finally dessert, I pulled out the stops and delivered a individual creme brulee. No cheaping out here, real vanilla beans were harmed in this process. The seeds just add something to a creme brulee that extract can't do. Creme Brulee is a favorite dessert (heck even I'll break my dessert rule for it) and a nice treat to top off my last bento.
So there you have it, the last hurrah, but just when you thought it was all over gentle readers, there is another chapter. I've managed to grow a following at my current employ. In fact I've had someone in line ever since he discovered my blog. So I'm happy to bring my culinary experiments and experiences to my coworkers. Chapter two on the way, it might take a small break for me to recover (I need some me time) but the bentos will continue. Look forward to new cuisines and new ingredients previously "verboten". I've also got a queue of side projects that I've been meaning to post on, so you'll see all of those coming up. Thank you all for reading and happy eating.
- Homemade Crab and Artichoke Raviolis with lemon pine nut sauce
- Caprese Salad
- Sauteed green beans
- Blue Cheese Polenta Cakes
- Creme Brulee