Gluten-free Bento in Japan 1: Roasted Broccoli Side Recipe

July 23rd, 2012 yum Posted in Bento, Easy, Japan, Vegetables, broccoli 8 Comments »

Toddler Yum needs a new nickname, I think. Even before my sweet girl turned three, she didn’t seem much like a toddler any more. She’s fully adjusted to going to a yochien, or preschool, here in Japan, and even adapted to riding on a bus all by herself. Actually, who am I kidding. She loves riding the bus to school so much she actually thanked me for LETTING her ride on it! lol. And I thought my little baby would be scared to ride all by herself. Anyway, the fact is that my little girl is growing up, and I think I just might have to start calling her “Kid Yum.” Sniff.

Kid Yum has been enjoying the delicious school lunches at her Japanese yochien. I have been enjoying the luxury of having someone else feed my kid nutritious meals from scratch. The yochien has its own kitchen with see through windows, and you can see the chefs working on prepping vegetables and other ingredients all morning. It puts American schools to shame, really. But unfortunately, this blissful respite is over for the school is now having a kind of summer vacation, when many students go off and do other things with their families. They have what they call “waku waku time” or exciting fun play time instead, offered for working mothers or those with new babies etc. so Kid Yum is attending that. But the downside is that she no longer gets those delicious lunches during break, and I have to make her her own bento every day. Eek!

I made a bento before for the oya-ko ensoku (parent-child outing) when we went to a camp wilderness area and did scavenger hunts etc, but that was basically just a lot of things that I like. I didn’t pack it up in a real bento. For that, I made roasted kabocha pumpkin slices, inari zushi, and spring rolls with peanut sauce, boiled eggs, and Roasted Chickpeas. So, today I made Kira her first official kid-serving bento.


Today’s Bento included:

  • gluten-free brown rice pasta (Trader Joe’s that we had packed in our suitcase here) and mixed it with a little olive oil, tomato basil sauce, and herbamare.
  • a double serving of Just Bento’s tamagoyaki recipe
  • Matchstick raw carrots
  • sliced baby tomatoes
  • And last but not least,

    Roasted Broccoli
    Ingredients
    1 head of broccoli, washed, cut into long stemmed florets
    olive oil
    herbamare
    bouquet garni
    smoked paprika

    Directions
    Preheat an oven to 450 (or use a toaster oven). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place your broccoli florets on the pan and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Rub the olive oil into the florets and sprinkle them with herbamare, bouquet garni and smoked paprika. Yes, I brought all of these herbs from the states because I love them so.
    Roast in preheated oven for 15 minutes and check. Turn and cook for another 5 to 15 minutes depending on how roasted you want them to be.

    Snapshots of School Life and Events in Japan:



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    When gardens go wild: Low Carb Pattypan Crustless Pizza Recipe

    July 26th, 2011 yum Posted in Egg Free, Garden, Hide your Veggies, Low Carb, Nut Free, Pizza, Rice Free, Soy Free, Vegan Option, Vegetables, Vegetarian, corn free, grain-free, low-sugar, tapioca starch free 14 Comments »


    The DH and I have always dreamed of having our own garden. It is a bit hard to do when you live in an apartment, and the only access you have to the great outdoors is on your balcony. Nevertheless, we managed to grow a few tomatoes and basil plants, and were happier because of it. When we bought a house we went a bit wild, and transformed a fourth of our back yard from a neglected underutilized corner to a bustling organic gardening paradise, complete with homemade redwood planters. Once we had the planters, we had to put something in them. We chose a wild assortment of the most exotic things we could think of- purple bush beans, dragon carrots, candy radishes, purple tomatillos, and a ton of squash and gorgeous heirloom potatoes. Ok, squash isn’t usually exotic, but it has a certain appeal to lifetime apartment dwellers because it is not generally something that you can grow on a balcony. (Amazing container gardening magic aside.) The plants were in, the DH put in a drip watering system, and then we waited for the bounty to come rolling in. And roll in it did, with pattypan squash seemingly bursting into existence on the vine right along with fourth of July fireworks.
    This gave me pause. I had the basics of organic gardening thanks to reading and a class at Love Apple Farm, but one thing I hadn’t researched was when to harvest my beauties. When was I supposed to take the pattypan off the vine? I wasn’t really sure, but they rapidly grew to an impressive size that I’d never seen at farmer’s market harvest. Why did they pick them when they were so small? I felt rather proud of their size.

    Then I went online to research the correct harvesting of pattypan. Whoops. Turns out if you let them get large, supposedly they get rather woody and coarse. I was disheartened but couldn’t believe they could really be that bad. People let zucchini get big, after all. Besides, looking at them gave me an idea. They were such nice, round shapes, and I was reminded of my old traditional eggplant parmesan recipe. They would be the perfect size for a personal pizza un-crust. So, I dipped them in a spiced oil and vinegar marinade and put them on the grill to soften them and add flavor. Then I topped them with a really good pizza sauce and cheese. For my dairy-free Mother, I made a few with Daiya cheese instead. The cheese melted and got all bubbly and delicious, and when I got a bite, I didn’t miss a grain crust at all! They were delicious, and the “hard” rind added structure and texture to the crust but the soft squash interior was still soft and delicious. I did notice that the larger they got, the larger their seeds were, and the center of the round was a bit softer than the rest. It could still hold up to a pizza topping, though, and was easy to eat with a fork, although I wouldn’t try to eat it with my hands just because it is a bit messier than a regular pizza.

    I’ve been experimenting with my other giant pattypan and have found that they taste just as good as the littler ones. I like a sturdier squash anyway, and one of my biggest complaints over (bad) zucchini or yellow squash recipes is when they get mushy. It is hard to make these giant pattypan mushy, and they take on flavor and are just delicious sauteed in oil. I did prefer to peel them for sauteed applications as otherwise the rind is hard to eat. It reminds me of kabocha squash, actually.

    So, if like me you have monster pattypan growing out of control in your garden- take heart! You can still enjoy them, in a fun way generally only possible when you have a home garden or belong to a garden co-op. You could also try mini pattypan pizzas with farmer market or supermarket babies. In that case, you would probably have to simply slice them in half and take care not to overcook them. They should be just as delicious either way!


    Other Pattypan Recipes:
    Fried Pattypan Squash Recipe
    Pattypan Squash Recipe
    Stuffed Pattypan Squash Recipe
    Herbed Pattypan Squash Medley Recipe
    Simple Pattypan Squash Recipe
    Vegan Stuffed Pattypan Squash Recipe

    Other innovative recipes using squash as a “crust”:
    Butternut Squash Crust Quiche Recipe

    Shared with Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays and Seasonal Sunday

    Pattypan Crust-less Pizza Recipe
    Ingredients
    Mutant, overgrown pattypan squash (5 or more inches diameter)

    Marinade:
    Olive oil
    dash of white balsamic vinegar (brown is fine but will discolor your “pizza” crust)
    your favorite multi-herb blend seasoning (italian or other)
    salt (if not included in above herb blend)

    Topping:
    High Quality Pizza Sauce such as Muir Glen Organic
    Grated mozzarella OR Daiya equivalent for dairy-free, vegan

    Fresh basil for garnish

    Directions
    Slice your monster Pattypan beasts into 1/2 inch thick slices appropriate for mini-pizzas.

    Whisk oil, vinegar, spices and salt together in a pie tin or other medium-sized dish with sides. Keep in mind that pattypan are like eggplant. They are greedy little sponges for oil. Make more than you think you need. Dip both sides pattypan slices in seasoned oil and reserve on a large plate.

    Heat your grill or grill pan to a high searing temperature. Lightly shake off any excess oil from your pattypan slices and place them on your grill. Sear and then lower temperature to medium. Let slices soften, and then turn to sear and cook the other side. You want your pattypan tender but not mushy.

    You have two options for the pizza preparation if you are using a grill. You can either place your topping on top of your seared pattypan crust in the grill, close the lid and allow the heat to melt the cheese, or you can reserve your slices and heat the topping in the broiler of your oven. The latter option will result in more browning, so I found I preferred to use the broiler. For broiler option, place pattypan slices on a baking sheet and place under broiler on high. Remove when cheese is melted and has browned. You can use Daiya cheese as a dairy-free alternative, but it will not brown in the same way so just remove when melted.

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