Getting schooled

First of all, let me use a Staubtuch to wipe off the dust from this blog. You might have noticed the lack of posts of late, particularly from moi. “Real” graduate student life took over and I personally didn’t have time to properly cook moreso to engage in a hobby. Sorry about that. Hopefully the developments the past month may alleviate things.

Anyway back to food, back in January, since I didn’t have time to celebrate my birthday as I did last year, I gifted myself with a cooking course.

Continue reading

Breakfast in Bed

There are few things more lazily gratifying in the morning than being served breakfast in bed.  You don’t even need to get out of bed, and you’re already being fed – how great is that (especially in the winter, when you dread that first step out of bed onto the chilled floor)?  It’s also a great way to surprise someone, but doesn’t require too much work, skill, or money (only a lot of preparation).

I not-so-recently made breakfast in bed, and I have to say that the time I put into pre-morning preparation was probably the key to finishing on time.  You’ll, of course, need a breakfast tray, some matching plates and cutlery, and some food.  The breakfast tray can be bought anywhere where they sell kitchen things – I bought a wooden one with legs to stand the tray up in bed.  You can tailor the breakfast to the person, depending on what they do or do not like.  If you don’t know, try to extract it (in a subtle way) from them.  Some common components are:

  • eggs – scrambled, sunny side up, boiled, poached (from easiest to hardest)
  • bread
  • cold cuts and sliced cheese
  • cereal or muesli
  • coffee or tea
  • orange juice
  • pancakes
  • meat – sausages, bacon, meatballs

One note about the orange juice – please please please make an effort to squeeze it yourself!  The difference between store-bought and freshly squeezed orange juice is HUGE, and this is one thing you could definitely do on the (late) night before and chill in the fridge.

For my breakfast, I cooked:

  • soft-boiled egg (wasn’t so soft-boiled by the time I served it…)
  • croissant and roll (from the bakery downstairs)
  • sliced cheese and salami
  • freshly squeezed orange juice
  • crêpes with berries and fresh whipped cream
  • Nürnburgers (small sausages)

It took me about a half hour to finally prepare everything before service, but I woke up periodically during the early morning to squeeze orange juice and premake the crêpes and Nürnburgers (I reheated them afterward).

The cold items are easy enough, as is the bread (I assume you will be buying fresh bread and cold cuts from the deli, not making them yourself), but the hot items are a bit tricky.  If you know what time the person is getting up, you just need to get up about a half hour (or however long you think you need) before that to prepare everything.  If you don’t know, then…try to guess.  You can also cook everything beforehand and leave it in a warm oven until it’s ready to be served (not ideal, but will still work).  Of course, this also depends on what you’re cooking.  Use your judgement.

Some final tips about preparation:

  • Buy everything beforehand (the night before, at least) and try to store it where they can’t see it or won’t be suspicious.
  • Prepare what you can ahead of time.  Measure out ingredients for pancakes, set aside enough eggs and sausages to simply throw into the pan and cook as quickly as possible in the morning.
  • Use linens and nice cutlery.  Add a flower if possible.  Small details make a huge difference.
  • Cook with love!  Yes, waking up early is not really that pleasant, but I guarantee it will be worth seeing the smile on their face.

Have fun!

Easy Cheesecake

Welcome to my first decent baking experiment on PhooDJournal.  The reason I don’t bake often is because I’m not very good at 1) following instructions and 2) measuring things precisely, both of which are crucial when it comes to baking.

My brother is probably a better cheesecake baker than me – for a period of about a month, he made a large cheesecake once every couple of days.  I guess he was practicing (for what, I don’t know), but I was the lucky beneficiary, and could always count on a slice of cheesecake whenever I had a craving.  Cheesecake isn’t really a cake; it’s more like a custard.  It’s simpler to make than most people think, tastes delicious, and not so easy to mess up.  In other words, it’s my kind of baking recipe.

My favourite type of cheesecake is New York-style, since the crust is one of my favourite parts.  I haven’t seen graham crackers in Germany, so I substituted with Butterkeks, which don’t have the same crunchiness or honey flavour, but they do the basic job just fine.  And, of course, since I made this recipe up myself, the exact measurements probably aren’t too important – if the batter is easily pourable and tastes yummy before you put it in the oven, it’ll be fine when you take it back out!

Ingredients (makes one 20cm cake)

  • 150g graham crackers/sweet biscuits
  • 7 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 400g Frischkäse (2 pkgs) – you can also use cream cheese, but Frischkäse is cheaper this side of the Pond
  • 6 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 drops vanilla extract

Method

  1. Put crackers into a resealable bag and smash (with fist, cup, rolling pin, whatever) until fine.
  2. Pour in butter and squeeze butter and crumb together.  If the crumbs don’t hold together, add more butter.  If the mixture looks too oily (if there are oil trails on the inside of the bag), add more crackers.
  3. Dump contents of bag into a cake form and press the crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of the pan, making sure the mixture is well-packed.
  4. In a bowl, add the cheese, eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
  5. Blend using a stabmixer (engl: immersion blender) or a hand mixer until smooth.
  6. Pour mixture into crust-lined pan.
  7. Bake at 220C (using the bottom element only) until the edges appear somewhat firm, but the middle is still a bit jiggly (about 20 min).
  8. Remove from oven and cool at room temperature for 2 hours.
  9. Set in fridge overnight at 4C.
  10. Cut using a warm knife, being careful while cutting through the centre (since it’s the most fragile part).

    Careful cutting through the centre...and don't turn on the top burner...
  11. Serve with optional sauce.

Discussion

I make a bit of a strawberry sauce from cut up strawberries boiled in sugar and water…it’s not as bright red as the sauce in restaurants, but I think they add food colouring.  Blueberries, raspberries, or any other type of berry would go just as well.

You can’t really overbake a cheesecake the same way you overbake a normal cake, but if you turn on the top element, the top of the cheesecake burns rather quickly or it can crack, so it’s best to turn only the bottom on and let the heat circulate through the oven.

Right, I thought this was going to be a quick write-up, but evidently not.  Need to sleep NOW – Paris tomorrow.

Cream Cheese on FoodistaCream Cheese

Chocolate Revel Bar with Mango Cream and Raspberry Coulis

Hi Everyone!  I’m back to writing about food.  It’s been a while, ain’t it?  Actually it would have taken longer but I have paper/progress report writing to procrastinate ergo this post.

Because it’s sorely overdue, I’m posting about the dessert we served during my birthday lunch.

I must admit I was doubtful at first as to how well the tangy mango cream and raspberry coulis would go with my revel bars, but David managed to convince me with his little work of art.

The Chocolate Revel Bars, a hit with my officemates, were prepared using the recipe found in Better Homes and Garden which you can find here.  It’s a major crowd pleaser here in Germany.  I mean how can you go wrong with oatmeal, butter, chocolate and sweetened condensed milk?

The other components?  Here’s how we David made them.

MATERIALS and METHODS
Mango Cream

  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup mango puree (available in Asian food stores)
  • 2 gelatin sheets
  • confectioner’s sugar to taste

1 Heat mango puree.  Add two gelatin sheets and let it dissolve.  Cool.
2 Whip the cream until soft peaks form.  Fold in some confectioner’s sugar until slightly sweetened or to taste.
3 Fold in mango puree mixture.
4 Freeze until it has the texture of semi-frozen mousse (almost semifreddo-like)

Raspberry Coulis

  • Fresh raspberries (or frozen ones)
  • sugar

0 If using frozen raspberries, thaw.
1 Puree the raspberries using a stabmixer
2 Cook the raspberries over low heat.  Add enough sugar to make the mixture sweet without losing it’s tanginess.

Everything was put together on a dessert plate and was topped with white chocolate slices and toffee.

It would be nice to find a reason to do something this grand again.  A publication perhaps?

The White Queen Project (or how I decided to join in the PhDJ baking wagon)

February is historically the most stressful time for me.  With only 28 days (or 29 during leap-years), work seems to pile up quicker than other months, not to mention that it’s the month with the notorious commercial holiday called “single awareness day” (SAD – a.k.a., St. Valentine’s Day).  So instead of being crabby and sick (I was, and still am, down with the winter colds), I decided to go on a personal project in which to focus my stressed-out energies.

When the going in the lab (and love) gets tough, the tough goes…to the kitchen. And goes cooking, or baking. Or whatever.

In the spirit of sharing my affection to others, I chose baking.  Challenging for someone whose last memory of baking was when she was a nine-year-old helping her mom make plain cake.  Obviously, I have no solo skills in this area of kitchen-craft.  But I just had the audacity to tackle this famous Julia Child recipe, “Reine de Saba (Queen of Sheba)” .  And, being my contrary self, I changed the chocolate-butter icing for a white-chocolate-with-amaretto version.

Thus, the White Queen Project was done, on St. Valentine’s Eve, nonetheless.

The White Queen

Don’t be fooled by the white-chocolate—this fair lady has a dark, fudgy (and mischievous, with  almonds and amaretto) heart.

The white queen has a dark heart
The White Queen's cross-section before she disappeared somewhere in ACL

And, judging by the oohs and aahs of the Sunday taste-testers (thank you for being my guinea pigs, ACL guys!), and how fast the plate was cleaned off…well, SAD was a happy day for me this year. Despite the colds and the fever.

My rating for this recipe? This was easy to follow…except that  of “folding egg whites”.  Believe me or not, the cake featured here was actually my second attempt that night.  Just don’t ask what happened to the first one. O_O;  For PhDJ purposes, Julia Child’s Reine de Saba is an STFW for newbies like me, but a quickie for experienced bakers like Kookie and David.

And I want to do the White Queen Project again.  For a different occasion, like a status change. 🙂

Valentine’s Day Special: Handmade Chocolate Truffles

There are some people who are eagerly anticipating it, and some who are painfully aware of it – Sunday is Valentine’s Day.  Aside from the ubiquitous red hearts, another enduring symbol of this day is chocolate.  It’s very easy to go and buy some chocolate, of course, but I always think that handmade things convey a better feeling of sincerity.

Chocolate truffles are really nothing more than firm chocolate ganache.  They are very easily flavoured by the home cook – you can add espresso powder, nuts, fruit liquers, and even more exotic things – for example, tea flavours like Earl Grey, chai, and matcha.  They do require a bit of time, mainly for the chopping and firming processes, though the former can be greatly expidated if you buy smaller bits of chocolate (ie. small chips or chips) instead of couverture (block) chocolate.  The downside is that chocolate chips are usually not as of as high a quality as couverture.  The best type of chocolate to use is 70% chocolate (bittersweet), but in principle, it should work with milk and white chocolate too.  I used 0.79€ zartbitter chocolate I found at Rewe, so it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Materials and Methods

  • 200g chocolate
  • 100g 30% cream
  • cocoa powder to dust
  • other flavourings: chopped nuts (almonds, pistaschios, hazelnuts, etc.), 1tsp espresso powder, tea**, fruit oils, liquer **note: if you use tea, you will have to warm the cream separately from the chocolate (infuse the cream with the tea, remove the tea by straining or throwing away the tea bag, then combine it with the chocolate and let it sit for about five minutes)
  1. Chop chocolate and place in a glass cup or bowl.

    Messy, very messy
  2. Add cream to the chocolate and place the cup in a small pot of water (water level should be up to the level of chocolate in the cup).
  3. Turn on the heat to the lowest setting and wait for the chocolate to warm and melt.  This is basically a guerrilla kitchen-style double boiler =)
  4. Stir until there are no lumps left.  At this point, you can add flavouring if you’d like.
  5. Remove cup/bowl from water and place in the refrigerator.  Let it firm up to the consistency of semi-soft ice cream.
  6. Scoop the chocolate with a tea spoon (or a melon baller, if you have one) and form into a roughly spherical shape using another spoon.
  7. Roll the chocolate ball in cocoa powder or nuts to coat and set aside on a plate or tray (you can line it with wax paper if you want).
  8. Enjoy!

Troubleshooting

It took a while for me to establish a proper ratio of chocolate to cream, but I found that a 2:1 ratio of chocolate to cream works pretty well.  If you want softer truffles, you can use more cream, and vice versa.  Another trick for firming up chocolates is that you can leave them in the freezer for a bit, then transfer them back to the fridge.  Even after it reaches the ambient temperature of the fridge, the chocolate will still be firmer than if you’d just left it in the fridge overnight.  You can store the finished truffles for about a month (perhaps in the fridge, depending on what the temperature of the room is), though they don’t tend to last so long…

Oui’s Adventures in Flemish Cooking – Stoofvlees (Flemish Beef Stew)

The situation: Candlemas—K.U. Leuven’s one-day school holiday. Horrible weather—grey, windy and sleet-y.  And the subject at hand—restless and annoyed at the weather, not to mention bored (but not willing to let go of the one-day holiday to do lab-work).

To break the boredom, to challenge myself and to channel the restlessness (what my former chemistry students would term “metaphysical unease”) to do somethiing useful, I hunted for my text-file copy of a typical Flemish dish—stoofvlees or beef stew (or la carbonnade a la Flamande).  It’s the simplest one I could find via Google, although for my version I tweaked the one I found in here (a forum for Americans with Flemish descent) with this one.  I even made my own fries to go with this—I was that bored!

Stoofvlees met friten...lekker!

Oui’s Stoofvlees

Materials

  • 250 g boneless beef, cubed
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Salt, pepper (to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 bottle brown Belgian beer (I used a Trappist beer)
  • 2 Tbsp apple-cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp appelstroop (can be substituted with molasses)

Methodology

  • Marinate the beef cubes with salt, pepper, garlic, dried thyme and Dijon mustard for at least 15 minutes.  Shake with flour until cubes are lightly coated.

Seasoning the beef cubes

  • Fry the floured beef cubes in butter on a skillet until golden brown.  Set cubes aside in a Dutch oven.

Frying the marinated beef

  • Saute the chopped onions in butter (using the same skillet) until golden and translucent. Scoop the onions on top of the beef cubes.
  • Deglaze the skillet with a portion of brown beer. Pour the resulting mixture over the beef and onions.  Pour the rest of the beer and add one bay leaf.
  • Place Dutch oven on top of the stove (set at medium), cover and let it simmer for an hour. Stir every once in a while to prevent sticking.

Mmmm...simmering!

  • Once the sauce has thickened, add the vinegar and appelstroop. Mix very well.  Adjust seasoning (salt, pepper) as you see fit.
  • Serve with hot, crispy fries.

Results and Discussion

What is appelstroop? Appelstroop is literally apple syrup.  Think apple jam, except that this can be used for cooking as well.  If Canadians have their maple syrup, Flemish here swear by their appelstroop.  I like it myself, too—tart but sweet without being so sugary.  Makes me think of being a grown-up, haha. 😛

Spot the appelstroop!
Spot the appelstroop!

Can I use a non-Belgian beer? As long as it’s brown or dark beer, that is.  Dark beer has a more complex taste which makes it ideal for cooking and can stand up to the richness of beef, butter and onion mixture.  Guiness may work, or cervesa negra.

Can I use other Belgian beers? Why not? 😛 I can imagine stoofvlees made with kriek for that cherry kick.  I was torn between using a Trappist brew or a geuze, but I wanted the sweet nuttiness that comes from Trappist beers.

A Trappist beer (sorry, David, not Chimay!)
A brown Trappist beer (sorry, David, not Chimay!)

Does this go well with fries only? You can’t think of fries without stoofvlees, but the sauce has that sweet-sour piquancy that it can go with ANY bland carbohydrate source—I can eat this with rice, provided that it’s steaming hot. 😀 Definitely not traditional Flemish, but Flemish-Asian fusion, haha.

Conclusion

If there’s one thing I’ve noted in this particular Flemish comfort-stew…because of the alcohol and vinegar used in cooking, this dish has the potential of aging well when stored at cool temperatures (makes me think of adobo yet again).  Preparation and cooking take up a lot of time for stoofvlees, so it’s ideal to make this as a weekend dish, to be stored in batches in the fridge.  To save more time, serve this with ready-made fries.

But then again, can you really call yourself becoming Flemish if you don’t make your own fries?

Chicken Adobo on Green Beans and Mini Salad with Sesame Raspberry Vinaigrette

The second dish served during my birthday lunch was the easiest one to prepare.  Adobo we could prepare with our eyes closed.  And the sides?  Idiot proof.

METHODOLOGY

1 This recipe was used to prepare the chicken adobo. The proportions were adjusted for 2.5 kg of chicken breast.

2 Store cooked adobo in a sealed container overnight for post cooking marination.

3 Lay out the chicken breast pieces on a baking tray. Pour half of the adobo sauce over the chicken.

4 Place baking tray on the top layer of the oven and bake at 200 deg C for 20-30 minutes. Baste the chicken with the sauce every so often to avoid drying out.

5 To the remaining sauce, add enough sugar  until there’s a balance of sweet, sour and salty.

6 In a small pot, reduce the sweetened adobo sauce until thick.

7 Blanch the green beans in boiling salted water.

8 Wash the lettuce and tear into smaller pieces.

9 Arrange the green beans and the lettuce on the plate.

10 Lay the baked chicken breast on top of the green beans.

11 Glaze the chicken breast with the adobo sauce reduction.

12 Drizzle the lettuce with the sesame raspberry vinaigrette and serve.

Sesame Raspberry Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raspberry jam/preserve
  • 3 Tbsp sesame oil (depends on the aroma of the oil. when using clear cold-press sesame oil, 3-4 Tbsp will do. When using toasted sesame oil use less.)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whip together until slightly emulsified.

DISCUSSION

Why use chicken breast? Because it means there will be no bones on the plates after. On a normal day, I wouldn’t mind the bones, but for my birthday, I would have found them unsightly.

Because chicken breast is the blandest part of the chicken, I doped the pot with a chicken leg to add fat into the sauce, and eventually to the breast.

Raspberry AHA! moment. Pardon my ignorance once again, but I never thought that raspberry jam would taste so good with meat. We had some leftover vinaigrette after we prepared all of the dishes, so David put it on the table just in case people still wanted some. He told me that it would taste great with the chicken. I was doubtful but was willing to give it a try.

I spread a small amount of the vinaigrette on a slice of chicken. When I put it into my mouth, the first thing I tasted was the meat and the rich adobo flavor. And then I was bombarded with the sweet and tangy taste brought on by the raspberry jam.  The stimulation was like being tickled, but not wanting the tickling to stop.

CONCLUSION
Now don’t you think that was a pretty easy entree to serve? Most of the work was done the day before.  Granted the simmering for adobo takes an hour to do but waiting is kinda effortless right?

All of the last minute prep work for the sides could be done as the chicken breasts are baking.  This already includes the start of the plating.

One caveat: Make sure there’s enough air circulation in the room when you prepare and serve this dish. The smell of garlic will emanate and will stick to anything. Anything might also include underwear. Just saying.

Tofu Sisig – The Vegetarian Alternative

Have you ever let somebody eat something and not tell them what’s inside, and then they’re either horrified or pleasantly surprised when you do tell them afterwards?

I have.

Thankfully, the Tofu Sisig was more of the pleasantly surprising fair.

Not everyone is a fan of tofu on this side of the planet. Some detest the texture, while some are just bored by its total lack of flavor.

This inherent blandness is what makes tofu good. It keeps the flavors you subject it to, making it a very versatile ingredient.

MATERIALS and METHODS
Tofu Sisig (Serves 2 – 3)

  • 400 g tofu, drained and cut into 0.5 cm slices
  • vegetable oil, for deep frying
  • 4 – 6 onions, chopped (chop only after cutting fried tofu)
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Maggi Seasoning Sauce
  • 1 Thai chili pepper, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 eggs, scrambled
  • Mayonnaise
  • Röstzwiebeln (fried onions)

1 Fry the sliced tofu until crispy. Place on paper towels to remove excess oil.

2 Cut fried tofu into tiny cubes.

3 Chop enough onions such that it’s in a 1:1 ratio with the chopped tofu.

4 In a big saute pan, cook together the chopped tofu and onions until the onions have browned.

5 Mix balsamic vinegar and Maggi seasoning sauce together then pour onto the tofu and onions. Mix.

6 Adjust taste with salt and pepper.

7 Mix in chili pepper and allow the tofu sisig to simmer for a few minutes then take off from heat until before serving.

8 To serve, heat  up the tofu sisig on a sizzling plate or a regular pan. Add the eggs and mix well. Top with a small amount of mayonnaise and Röstzwiebeln.

Everyone was surprised to find out that there wasn’t a hint of meat in the recipe. You know when a dish is convincing when the lone vegetarian was still doubtful, even after I assured him that there was no meat inside.

DISCUSSION
The Original Sisig. Had we served the original Sisig, I predict that my European friends would not have spoken to me after my birthday lunch. If you don’t know what the original Sisig is, it is basically parts of a pig’s head chopped and cooked with lots of onion, seasoned with calamansi and Maggi Savor, crisped on a sizzling plate and topped with an egg. It is eaten best with your favorite brand of beer.

Crisping the tofu. If you are like me, you’re not a fan of deep frying. I tried to crisp the tofu once by placing the slices on the top layer of the oven, at 220 degrees Celcius for 20 minutes. After that, I took out the tray and flipped the tofu so the other side can crisp. The texture was the same minus the calories.

Why not dice the tofu before crisping? Good question. I ask myself this too. David has to enlighten us about it.

Adjusting the sauce. I only guesstimated the volume of balsamic vinegar and Maggi seasoning sauce in this recipe. It seems reasonable for the amount of tofu that’s included. I suggest you have some extra vinegar and Maggi available just in case the taste is not savory enough for you.

CONCLUSION

We used in total 1.4 kg tofu, almost 1 kg of onions (chopped by Janet who claimed that she liked doing this. Go figure), and a small bottle of Maggi. This was enough to serve 12 people a cup of Tofu sisig each. Not bad eh?  We even had leftovers.

If we can make a pork version of this that uses the more common types of pork, maybe this recipe will fly in Saarland. Just a little bit of trivia to all of you: people from Saarland love Maggi. So much so that there’s a bottle on every table in our Mensa and giant bottles are available in the supermarket. By giant I mean one friggin liter.

So the Birthday lunch has started. Off to the next, Asian BBQ Pasta (to be posted by David).

German Obento (ドイツなお弁当)

So my first final exam (in German) is tomorrow – Biopharmazie.  It’s going to be two hours long, starting at 12.  However, we also have class from 10:30-11:45, so grabbing lunch at the Mensa is going to be out of the question.  In fact, there probably isn’t even enough time to get something from the Edeka and eat it.  So what’s a girl to do?

Pack a bento, of course!

So instead of utilising my final precious hours before the exam by studying, I decided to spend about an hour preparing a bento.  I’ve been thinking about preparing one for a while now, but have never had a reason to bring lunch – until now.

With a bento (actually “bentou”), the most time consuming thing is actually planning what you’re going to put into it, and arranging it.  Since I really am supposed to be studying, I thought I’d keep it simple (no cute faces or anything on my onigiri…).  I went to Rewe and found quite possibly the most perfect thing to put in my lunch – mini Schnitzel and Cordon Bleu.  I know – what am I doing adding German food to my bento?! – but I AM in Germany, and it’s also MY bento.

I also made tamagoyaki, which is rolled fried egg.  It was easier to make than I thought, though I haven’t cut into it yet, so we’ll see tomorrow morning if it’s any good.

In my bento, I put:

  • mini Schnitzel x 2
  • mini Cordon Bleu x 2
  • 1/3 carrot
  • 4 small leaves of lettuce
  • small amount of rice (palm-sized) molded into a triangle shape (google “onigiri”)
  • Krokketen x 3
  • sausage ends x 4 (with a cross cut halfway into the open end)
  • tamagoyaki slices

Tamagoyaki

  • 5g dashi broth powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 eggs
  1. Dissolve dashi broth powder and sugar in 50mL water.
  2. Add 4 eggs and beat until yolks are thoroughly mixed (but not frothy).
  3. In a hot non-stick pan (or a pan well-greased with oil), add just enough egg mixture to cover the pan.  Let it cook, then push the cooked egg to one end of the pan.
  4. Add more egg, even less than last time, and tilt the pan to evenly distribute the egg.  Cook, then roll the cooked egg mass (on the side) onto the new layer of egg and to the other side of the pan.  Repeat until all the egg is cooked.
  5. Transfer onto a plate and let it cool.  If you have a sushi mat, press the roll into a rectangular shape.
  6. Cool in the fridge, then slice!

Here’s the excellent page that I learned the method from: tamagoyaki.  You don’t need a square pan to make tamagoyaki, though non-stick really makes things easier (and healthier).

After making the tamago, I fried the rest of the bento contents…

…and laid everything out for assembly.

I cut the Schnitzels and Cordon Bleu in half, because they didn’t fit into the box very well whole.  I added one lettuce leaf (actually ripped in half) between each piece, mainly for colour.

That’s my first assembled bento!  It’s not very elaborate or cute, but it’s definitely very filling.

Reflections

The schnitzel and cordon bleu are best fresh, as the coating is the most crisp then, so I’ll probably repeat it tomorrow morning, just before I have to bring it to school.  You might also notice I forgot to add the tamagoyaki – I’m thinking of making just cordon bleu (it stays more moist than the schnitzel), moving the krokketen into the bottom half, then putting the tamago slices into the top half.  If I remember, I’ll add some broccoli to the top half, as well, for more colour and some nutrition.  It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, but I can also imagine that it could take a long time, especially if you want to add faces or other cute things to it.

All together, though, it was a pretty good meal (I had it for dinner).  It’s too much for one person to eat by themselves, so I’ll be sure to share with my classmates tomorrow (we can pass it around under the table in class)!

Now, getting back to studying…