29 years of imagining, and then converting into one of my hobbies... I hope you'll enjoy it... (^.^)/ , by Marina

August 10, 2012

Bento: Totoro

Today's Bento was a pleasure to make and eat (^.^). Woke up at 5.30 in the morning yet still in the end I was late for work :D
But  hey! I enjoyed every single step of it! This one definitely made my day better :).
Here's my new and best attempt at making a Totoro themed Bento. I got so carried away that this time I made two Totoro boxes. Usually only my Senpai gets an O'Bento, while I eat it plain old :). Well not today :) This one was so easy to make that you might have a problem stopping making Makurokurosuke :D. Besides you get to see the results so soon that you assemble the rest with a big smile :)!

July 27, 2012

Stuffed Zucchini Flowers


So, as promised here's the first Zucchini recipe. :)
Since my garden is in bloom and the Zucchini plant has a lot of flowers that don't grow into a fruit, I decided to use them instead ;). It might sound strange to some of you, but zucchini flowers are edible. In fact their delicate flavour and sweet taste places them as special dishes in many extravagant restaurants.

The main disadvantage to their more frequent usage, is their frail nature. They grow, flower and die in a matter of few days. Once picked they can last two days at most if kept unwashed - in a dry, cold and dark place. Water damages the petals and contributes to a much faster putrefaction. Sometimes I find rotten flowers still attached to the peduncle after a light rain, which were still great just before it.

This recipe is quite a great one, originally made by Andrew Blake. Zucchini flowers stuffed with fresh cheese, and then fried to a crispy state in beer butter. Mmmmm... just thinking about it makes me hungry! (and it's lunch time ;) )

July 25, 2012

Vertical Garden

I mentioned some time ago that we've been working a lot on our vertical garden, didn't I? Well it's in its' full bloom now. Overcrowded as it is - Zucchini, Cucumbers and Tomatoes spilling out of it... pumpkins growing over the roof... herbs flowering and seeding.

Each morning, when approaching the terrace, quietly... you can hear a silent, deep, rhythmic whisper. Sounds like a jungle voice calling out "Uga chaka, Uga chaka, Uga chaka". And then, just as you open the curtains, there's a general confusion for a second! Shadows dance around for a lingering moment. Each of them searching it's own hiding place. Under a leaf! Behind a pot! Surely - I must have adopted some Makurokurosuke :D

July 19, 2012

Egg Rolls: Salmon and fresh goat cheese

It's summer, the perfect time to use as much raw food as possible. Salads, fruits, vegetables... so many fresh ingredients are now at their ripe time. And with our vertical garden growing bigger each day, we can enjoy raw food at it's most. So today, let's not waste time at the stove but rather make something quick, simple to digest and ideal to give calories to a salad - Egg Rolls.

Ever since my first encounter with Sushi and the Bento world, egg rolls where a big question mark to me. Always looking so yummy and so bright - nothing but a nice touch of yellow in a otherwise pale plate. For as long as I can remember scrambled eggs were thick, easily broken and flexible as Styrofoam can be - so how could they use them so roundly and nicely?
....google...google...gooogle.. :) Just by adding a spoon of sake, or even easier a small amount of starch and taa-daaa: your eggs can be formed into a perfect sheet - ready to be rolled! Whether used for sushi, decorating your Bento or filling in with your favourite ingredients, it will definitely give your dishes a fresh and appealing color!

July 16, 2012

Bento: Berserk - Puck Emoticon


Here's today's Bento! Everyone, meet Puck, the funny elf that follows Guts wherever he goes. For those of you that know him, I'm sure you can think of at least 3 different sketches and funny faces he makes. :) One of my favorites was this one - made in Volume 24, page 20, as a response to Ishidoro's epic declaration { -.-}. How I laughed out loud when I read it! :D

For those who don't know him here's a pretty elaborate dossier of this little fella - one of the main character in Berserk's manga, by Kentarou Miura, rated as one of the top 5 best mangas in almost every rating I could find. (In Example here) The plot centers around Guts, the Black Swordsman, who wanders around in a medieval world slaying demons as they are attracted to a demonic mark on his neck. To his help he has inhuman strength gained from a harsh childhood lived with mercenaries, a gigantic sword, an iron prosthetic left hand and the elf Puck. Check it out, but mind it's not material for underage readers - it can be pretty violent and harsh at times.

July 12, 2012

Carrot Cake


Summer time in it's full season - creamy cakes and delicate desserts are not the best choice for this time in the year, are they? And yet there are plenty of options available for all those who wish for smth sweet and yet not too heavy.

The original recipe of this cake has been given to me by one of my fellow candidates during the culinary TV show I attended. She made a great impression with it, and we all immediately asked for the recipe! :) This is my version, I hope you will like it (^.^)

July 3, 2012

Tonkotsu Ramen #4: Toppings

The final step - Toppings! And your Ramen is ready to be enjoyed.
Based on your liking the topping can vary from the whole range of vegetables, cheese, eggs, nori, mushrooms and so on.
Even thou one could add many different ingredients, it is still important to keep track of the flavours, trying to stick with one or two dominant flavours, and arrange the rest to fit it.

In this case the dominant flavour is the meat. Second to it are the shitake mushrooms, the rest just completes the palette ;).

Tonkotsu Ramen #3: Meat

Among all the toppings in your Ramen, one is surely very important - the meat.
A bite of a tasty piece of meat can change the whole experience when eating Ramen. For this reason I prefer slow cooking my meat, allowing it to drink up all the juices and taste.

Professional chefs surely know how to accomplish it in an instant. I'm not such, so I rather go the old fashioned way :).

Tonkotsu Ramen #2: Noodles

This is the second step in making a great Ramen - homemade ramen noodles.

Very easy to make, this recipe gives you smooth, tasty, tender noodles. A much better option in comparison to the ones you buy in stores.

They can be used immediately, prepared a day ahead or even dried out for future use. Whichever suits you the best!

Tonkotsu Ramen #1: Soup Stock

This is the first step in making a great Tonkotsu Ramen (or Pork Bone Ramen) - the soup stock.
Taking up to 6h of your time, it is the base and thus non avoidable step. However, since the soup will be cooking for at least 5h while needing little attention, you can use those hours to prepare the other ingredients, or on the other hand.... just do whatever you wish to. (^.^)

It's Ramen time!!!

Mmmmm...Ramen dattebayo! Ever since I started watching Naruto I got intrigued by this dish, who wouldn't when that little clumsy ninja never says no to one. :) Well, can't blame him - a big pot full of soup and other delicious ingredients just can't be bad right? And it definitely is not! After trying it in Toronto I got the Naruto fever and decided to make my own :).

Now, this is not a quick recipe, it's the old fashioned make it from scratch - soup stock and all.
If you want to make it easier you can use dehydrated soup stocks (dashi) and ready to use noodles, but those will be taken into account in another post ;).
This one is a long, delicious, homemade ramen :) , soup base: pork.

(divided into a couple of posts to make it easier to read - let me know if you want me to combine them into one)

May 23, 2012

Chocolate chips - Cake cover



As promised here I am with a new post and it's time for chocolate! :)
Few months ago while browsing one of my favorite sites, I ended up on a rather interesting decoration - chocolate chips with a Totoro design. Instantly an idea popped in my mind - this is perfect for the cake I'm planning!
At that time I was planning my sister's 30.bday cake, and the chocolate chips gave me the freedom yet precision I was looking for in it's decoration. It took some planning, a steady hand and several hours but the result was more than satisfying!

May 16, 2012

Oven Baked Mackerel with new potatoes and dried tomatoes


Wohoho. It's been a while now both for writing and cooking. Also it looks as if it will be a while more as well.

It just happens that when you love cooking that much - carefully picking the ingredients comes just naturally, and with nowadays available selection you start thinking what and where to buy it. Long story short (trust me it could be rather long, way back to my childhood :)), we're building a vertical garden on our terrace!
We already have tomatoes, cucumbers, pumpkins, strawberries, herbs, salads and more, growing in small pots. Not to mention medical herbs, flowers, bamboos, a japanese red maple and a wisteria. All waiting up for this weekend, when we'll be assembling the construction that should feed us with fresh fruits, vegetables and spices for the next few months \(^.^)/.

The planning and researching took most of my time, so here am I today, sharing a simple yet tasty recipe - both to cook and to write (^.^).

P.S.
If you wish me to share more info on the vertical garden, aka green wall with drip irrigation system, just say so ;)

May 7, 2012

1000 views :)

And there it is!!! A 1000 hits on this blog :D
To be honest I didn't expect it so soon :)

Thank you everyone! :)
Especially to all the viewers from Croatia, Turkey and Russia.
You've been visiting me the most ... thank you!

\(^.^)/\(^.^)/



P.S.
As a small preview of what's coming up next...
- Pork Ramen (just like Naruto likes it) (posted)
- Carrot Cake (posted)
- Oven-baked Mackerel (posted)
- Chocolate Cake decoration (posted)

April 18, 2012

Aikido Birthday Cake


A big week is ahead of me. My Aikido dojo is celebrating 13 years this Saturday, and I'm making a birthday cake for over 40 people.
It wouldn't be me if I didn't make a challenge out of this one as well :D.

Take a look, this is my plan :) And how it's currently working out ;) And of course, let me know what you think about it

(^.^) /

                     Updates:
19.04.2012.  Day two over...check the progress...
                     Today - tonight, it's baking time!
20.04.2012.  Big night over :) 3 cakes are almost ready for decoration...
                     Check my comments further on :) Guess how long I slept tonight? :D
21.04.2012. DONE!!!! WUUUHUUUUU :)))) My lovely assistant and I were awake till 4 a.m.
                     but in the end we managed to finish it and fit in the fridge (^.^)/.
                     And it doesn't look so bad :D There's always room for improvement thou ;)
                    In the end not all the "Happy 13. birthday" fit, the letters were too big and
                    the cake too small for it all. Thus we have now only:
                    "Juusan Otanjoubi" - "13. Birthday"
21.04.2012. The Cake was a big success :) Everybody loved it, ate it and took some as doggy
                    bag :D
                    Sensei was pretty happy :) Senpai proud :) Me finally sleeping :D 



More details and pictures ready to view :)

Pannacotta


Mmmmm....you just had a nice meal in your favourite restaurant, you're belly is almost full, but no, you have still place for a small dessert. Just that tiny little piece of sugar that will make it complete, yet not leave you with a heavy sensation in your stomach.
The waiter approches, you raise your hand and say: "One panaccota please"

"Yes sir, coming right up!"

April 14, 2012

Easter's Pinca (Istrian Recipe)

It wouldn't be Easter for me if there was no Pinca aroma spreading from the oven, and a warm one waiting for breakfast. Usually done by my Gran ma, who surely knows what she's doing ;), lately tried out by me. One day I hope to get there completely. For now this is a mediocre start, not bad but not great as well.

This is a traditional and very typical dish from Istria, Croatia. It is made only on Easter's morning and usually decorated with an olive oil leaf sticking out from the top.
The original recipe includes raisins, but I'm not a fan, so no raisins in this one ;).

April 11, 2012

Easter Breakfast


Happy Easter to all those who celebrate it!!

This weekend was a real treat for us. We stayed at home and finally rolled our sleeves, took out the useless things and tidied up the mess at our place. I'd say it was about time :).

Now now, don't think I didn't cook (^.^)
In fact it was a perfect weekend for different kinds of fish, ramen and colorful breakfasts ;)
Let's start with breakfast! Njum njum...

March 26, 2012

Gran ma's recipe - Hazelnut kisses


Monday evening, a fresh new week is ahead and I'm resting, trying to get as much rest as possible before the work catches up. And it will catch up soon, doesn't it always?
Well, I'd like to forget about it for a moment here and focus on my promise :) How to use the extra egg whites left from the tropical cupcakes... A quick and one could say very easy recipe, proves actually to have a hidden trick that I still have to master. (°.°)

My gran ma's recipe, and for now, the only lady in my family that can do it right. (^.^)/ Go gran ma!

March 21, 2012

Cuban Party #5 - Capistacchio


Last but not least that evening ...The perfect appetizer for any occasion. Easy to make, delicious to taste and visually great with no effort at all. It was a cold winter day, and I was looking around the fridge for an idea to impress a certain someone ;). First time over for a meal, you've got to impress right? :)
So there it was...I saw my favourite ingredients and decided to combine them in something new!
He liked it... he named it! What's more now he's even more skilled than me in making them (^.^)

After that we used this recipe many times, always with people asking: "mmm this looks nice, what is it?" Or saying "mmmm tasty, what's in it?" Try it for yourself! ;)

March 20, 2012

Cuban Party #4 - Wheat Tortillas


Ai Caramba!!! Whenever I felt a wish for Mexican food I remembered how I need tortillas, and always thought to myself -buy or make my own - buy or make my own? The answer is based on how much time you have on your hands :). Making tortillas is rather easy, but you need time for the dough to rest (2 hours), so keep that in mind while planning your meal.
Ofc, no one says you cannot make them the day before :) Even thou there's noth better than fresh tortillas to fill in with yammi ingredients ;)

March 14, 2012

Cuban Party #3 - Polenta Cups


Now it's time for a bit of salt. Here is one of the salty dishes - not a very quick one but surely delicious!
Polenta with a stuffing made of smoked bacon, smoked tofu and oyster mushrooms. Mmmm..... njammmi!
Rather easy in all steps, except for one that requires a bit of patience ;).

March 13, 2012

Cuban Party #2 - Tropical Cupcakes


Took me a bit, but here it is! :) The second recipe from the Cuban party. It was a complete success! Even thou I managed to make just enough for each to taste one. Well one could say that like this they had an even bigger success :D.
You could only try it once, want more?
A-a, sorry, come back next time :).

March 5, 2012

Cuban Party #1- Chestnut Choco Roll


Big day yesterday! We had friends over for a small presentation of our last trip to Cuba. Great place btw! It's a must see ;). We prepared a projector to show photos, had some rum and cigars, and ofc it wouldn't be a party at my place without food on the table ;). My friends are already used to it, always come hungry :D.
So among else (which I will soon post) we decided to use some of our frozen goods. Winter is almost over, which means chestnut season as well. With 3 packages of chestnut puree in the fridge, it was just the time to use it :).

March 1, 2012

Pickled Ginger

Ever wondered how to make your own sushi ginger, or more commonly known as pickled ginger?
I sure did the first time I was out to buy it :). Here in Croatia such delicacies are not easily found, and when you do the price is not one you can always afford. When I found out the recipe is on the other hand so easy, there was nothing holding me back anymore! Today there's always a fair amount of pickled ginger available in my fridge :) and we use it in so many different dishes.

Moreover for those who don't like their ginger too hot and strong, this is the perfect recipe!

February 26, 2012

Mango and Oyster Mushrooms Soba Noodles

Aaah....Sunday. If there's a day when I have time to cook, it's Sunday. Saturday - too busy resting :D.
Sunday - perfect (^. ^)

So here's today's lunch - a blend of vegetables and fruits, with just a taste of ginger to give it a hot surprise. The mango gives it a fresh taste and mixed with other vegetables it's a nice, light and easy lunch. Just the type for a busy, active day.

February 21, 2012

A Shinobi's delicacy

This one is served in reaaaly small portions :)
As I mentioned yesterday my Totoro Cream Puff went wrong :) So I ended up having extra cream I had no usage for.
After a quick look around, and I notice my containers full of nuts - something I always have available. Some quick thinking and here it is! I bet you will lick your fingers! But beware, this is a true Shinobi's weapon - it's an energy bomb! (o^ . ^o)


February 20, 2012

Bento Bento....

Woke up this morning...with one thought in my head - use the failed Totoro Cream Puffs in todays bento!

As you can see, I got an urge this weekend - an urge to make Totoro Cream Puffs!
I saw them some time ago on Anna's blog, and this Saturday i ran off to the store, literally driving like crazy just to make it in time! Got there 5 minutes before closing time and managed to get out with my portion of eggs. :)


Got home, tucked in my sleeves and here we go! Hajimeru! After 20 minutes they were in the oven....and...the trial was a failure! :D No puffy Totoro, no puff at all. Hmmm let's try it again.....tututu...done!
Looking through the oven glass like a child gazing at a puppy..... 5 minutes... few puffs....10 minutes...still the same...15 minutes....nothing changed. Second trial- FAIL!

Ou well, at least i got myself some nice Totoro bread :).

And this is how i used it in todays bento...

February 19, 2012

Back again...

Dear Luka :)

(since you seem to be the last one checking this) I'm back!
After a 3 years pause i decided it's to be no more! I'm back and kicking and hope to update it more regularly with new cooking tips, tricks and ideas :)

Sooo, in the past 3 years a lot has happened.

First of all, the culinary show. Let me update you on this one ;).
It was 5 days of cooking and serving, 4 different meals and one day of barkeeping. Had quite some fun i must admit, even a small fight on the screen :D. Naughty boys were stealing my spring rolls, and you know they ought to be served hot :D. The five of us in the show were competing for a small money prize and a weekend for two, by serving each day a different dish to 15 strangers who then voted for the best. I didn't win the main prize, but i did succeed to win with my Main Dish - "Turkey in a honey pot", bringing home a nice bottle of wine.

At the beggining of 2010 I started working,my student days were over, free time decreased and therefor my cooking suffered as well. However... it got more inventive too :D and with the standard full fat, low gastronomy, bad cooking brunches we were being delivered i entered more and more the world of Bento.

Today, i enjoy searching for Bento ideas over the web, trying out different recipes,buying all those small and crazy Bento Accessories one can find on Ebay, with one goal: making lunch a special time for yourself!

Stay tuned,
you just might be surprised :)

At least i will give my best
Veza