Thursday, March 24, 2011

Curry in a Hurry Bento

As usual, I have to bow my head in shame for such a late post. This bento was produced last week, but as has been the usual mantra lately work and life obligations have kept me from making lunch for my eaters. I'm helping out with a friends wedding and another party so I'm still busy in the kitchen, just not doing anything exciting enough that I feel the need to take pictures and talk about it.

Sadly, I was in a giant hurry to make lunch for this bento. I felt so bad about not getting to cook for such a while but I still had such a crunch on time that I couldn't really devote myself to a long planned out lunch. I picked a menu that I knew I could execute quickly and still keep light and healthy. Asian cuisine is good for the quick and healthy constraints and of course Thai is a favorite amongst my diners. In fact when I shouted over the cube walls, "hey I need a theme" there were quite a few chirps of "Thai, curry, Indian" seems like my audience had an Asian craving.

I've done a green curry before so this isn't anything new. I opted for japanese eggplant and chicken. The beauty of a lot of these curries is you can quickly turn out a giant pot of curry and throw in ingredients that suit your mood. You start out with a base of coconut cream and fry the curry paste, add the meat stir fry, add your veggies, and add the remaining coconut milk from the can until you get the desired consistency. I personally like my curry a bit thinner so it blends well with the rice. Prep work took the longest amount of time, once you hit the stove 15 mins is about all you need to get lunch/dinner on the table. (just make sure you start the rice before you start your curry)

For a nice light side, I went with this spicy thai cucumber salad. Lots of Asian cuisines have a variant on cucumber salad. They mostly amount to a quick pickle. I find the typically sour cucumber salad is a nice offset to a rich curry, and it's a nice way to cleanse the palate. The dressing was sweet, sour, hot and salty all of the components of the fours tastes (I suppose I could have used some soy sauce for the umami and rounded out all the tastes)

Finally, I have a simple shrimp cocktail with spicy thai peanut sauce. I used peanut butter as the base, but added a bit of fish sauce, lime juice and hot sauce to give it some kick and flavor. The peanut sauce turned out to be quite a hit. The shrimp was simply boiled with a bit of ginger and salt in the water.

At the same time I was making this bento, I was whipping up a batch of my father's hot and sour soup just for myself. I ended up with so much leftover I went ahead and packed it in.

Sorry for the light post. I'm just happy to have gotten it out there. I'm have to take another break this weekend as both party events that I'm helping out are happening on Friday and Saturday leaving me with no time for planning and executing a bento.

Oh in other news, someone here in austin is organizing a bake sale to help with the good folks in Japan. I've agreed to whip up some baked goodies to help with the effort. I'll put up a post on more details as I get them, I believe the bake sale is on the 2nd of April. So please, if you get a chance come by and buy some goodies to help out!

Box Contents:
  • Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Japanese Eggplant
  • Spicy Cucumber Salad
  • Shrimp with Spicy Peanut Sauce
  • Hot and Sour Soup

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Foodblogger Event: Haddingtons

This post is like two weeks late and even later trying to deliver content. Work and my personal life have picked up (mostly in a good way) and I've been delayed on doing bentos as well as writing out a few posts. Anyhow I was recently invited to visit one of Austin's newest restaurants: Haddingtons. It's aspiring to be Austin's first "Gastropub". What is a Gastropub you ask? If you've followed any of my posts while abroad in London you'll notice what was once labeled "pub grub" (fish and chips, shepherd's pie, all that comfort food feel you get when you think "pub") has somehow found new entrees such as sweetbreads, foie gras, and invariably truffle something or other. The hob nobbing of "higher end" food with pub offerings is what (as far as I can tell) a Gastropub, the art of bringing delicious uncommon food to the most common of places: a Pub.

The decor was wonderful. Lots of wood and earth feel to it, but it was a bit shiny to be a proper English pub. The restaurant had quite a few nooks and crannies so it definitely gave you a cozy feel. We were situated in the back bar. I was pleasantly surprised to find Bill Noris to be the head bartender. He was the bartender at Fino when I was invited to their blogger event. The guy makes some tasty and mean drinks!

I'll run thru the food and give you some fly by comments:

First up I got a nice Rabbit Rillette with whiskey Cherries, I didn't really know what to expect. Very tender rabbit meat that tasted a little rich by itself but with the sour cherries the whole bite just mellowed right out. Next up was the duckliver Mousse with Golden Raisins. Again the sweet raisins helped to soften blow of the richness of the the duck liver.

Scotch eggs, the scotch eggs were a mini version they used a pickled quail egg in the center. Delicious! the raspberry sauce was a great complement. Next was my favorite of the night. the TLT - Smoked Tomato, Bruno-ostoo cheese, lettuce and truffle aioli (whew) this was AWESOME! I would definitely come back for this. There was a great sweet smokey flavor and the sweet sun-dried tomatoes YUM!

Last was the Foie Link and the Grilled Strip. The foie link was delicious, I missed the flavor of the foie gras but the pear mustard was very tasty, the texture was very soft. Finally the Grilled Strip, the sauce was a nice creamy earthy sauce. The beef was very tender and the sauce was fun.

Thanks to the staff and PR folks for Haddingtons I had a great time and the food was wonderful, Thanks for having me!