Summer Bento Box

Summer Bento Box
Summer Bento Box

Can I just start by saying veggie sushi is a load of old shit. Bits of raw vegetables wrapped in nori and cold rice tastes exactly how it sounds. But it’s getting warm out there guys, freakishly warm and I need something that’s as healthy as sushi but more exciting than a salad, so what about a bento box?
“But isn’t that a bit hard?” I hear you ask.
“Err dunno… Lets try it anyway”… So I did and it wasn’t all that hard but you have to be an organised bunny about it and as I feel more elephant seal than bunny these days, I had to pull my socks up…
Now, as a Japanese food virgin I had to buy rice vinegar, mirin, miso and all that jazz but it was all surprisingly easy to find. The only thing I couldn’t get in Sainsbury’s was ‘gochujang’ (a type of Korean fermented chilli paste) but it’s not an essential ingredient, if you can’t find it then a couple of drops of tabasco should do the trick.
Anyway, after I did my shop I realised that once I’d bought the key Japanese gubbins, the fresh ingredients cost very little, making my bento my new best friend (sorry Philippa and Rosie). So over the next few months I’m going to try and add to my bento repertoire so that we have plenty to mix and match with in the future, booyah!.. Also, this is an excellent excuse to use the bento boxes my mum bought me for Christmas. I can hardly contain my excitement.

Summer Bento Box
This recipe made roughly 4 bento boxes for the week

Cucumber and ginger pickle
Takes 15 minutes / makes 1 small bowl / lasts 5 days in the fridge/ Make the day before/
Vegan

Half a cucumber
Half a conference pear (the more unripe the better)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp light soy sauce
3 tbs rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp caster sugar
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
Knob of fresh finely grated ginger
Method:
1. Slice the cucumber in half lengthways and scrap out the seeds with a spoon. Slice in half lengthways again and cut into chunks. Peel, core and finely chop your pear and pop in a large bowl with the cucumber. Sprinkle with a 1/4 tsp of salt and put to one side.
2. In a small bowl add the rest of the salt, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar and chilli flakes and finely grated ginger. Give it a good stir and pour over the cucumber and pears. Put in an air tight container and leave over night or for an hour before serving in the fridge.

Sesame wilted greens
Takes 5 minutes / lasts up to 2 days in the fridge /
Vegan
200g of spinach, kale or cabbage
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
Pickled ginger (optional)
Small handful of sesame seeds
Method: 
Pop a 1 tsp of oil in a saucepan on a medium heat. Add the greens and fry for 5 minutes. Add a couple of Tbs of water throughout cooking to help the greens steam. Finish with a tsp of soy sauce and a sprinkle with a handful of sesame seeds.

Tamagoyaki (Japanese omelette)
(This isn’t as hard as it looks and it doesn’t matter if it goes a bit wrong, it will still taste great). Takes 20 minutes to / lasts up to 3 days in the fridge
4 large eggs
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs mirin
1 tsp sugar
Pinch of salt
Vegetable or sunflower oil
Kitchen roll
Chopsticks (These are handy to fold and roll the pancake but not necessary)
Method: 
1. Beat the eggs in a jug and add the mirin, soy sauce, sugar and salt. Give it another good beating to make sure it’s fully combined.
2. Put a 1 tsp of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Once hot, carefully absorb up and rub the oil around the pan with a folded piece of kitchen roll. Keep this piece of kitchen roll close to hand.
3. Pour a quarter of the mixture into the pan and spread it around. Once the egg has cooked fold in the edges creating an oblong shape and then carefully roll up the omelette. Brush the free side of the pan with your oiled kitchen roll and then push your omelette over to that side, then oil the other free side. Add another quarter of the mix and lift up your omelette to make sure it goes underneath so the two omelettes can join as one.
4. Once cooked repeat the process of folding in the edges and rolling the omelette up. Repeat this a couple more times until you’ve run out of mix. Turn your omelette out and leave to cool. Refrigerate and slice.

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Brown basmati rice
Takes 45 minutes

Half a cup of brown basmati rice
1tbs soy sauce
Method:
Put half a cup of rice in a pan with a 1 cup of water. Stir in the soy sauce and bring to the boil. Bring the heat down to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and leave covered with a lid for a further 20 minutes. The rice will continue to cook until you’re ready for it. Works every time.
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Tofu and Tender stem broccoli
Takes 20 minutes / Vegan
100g tender stem broccoli
400g firm tofu
Small onion finely chopped
1 garlic clove finely chopped
2 tsp miso paste
1 tsp chilli paste or gochujang (gochujang is a Korean fermented chilli paste you can find in most Asian supermarkets. If you can’t don’t worry, a couple of drops of Tabasco should do the trick or just add a bit of fresh red chilli).
1 tbs soy sauce
1/2 tsp caster sugar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Method:
1. Drain the tofu and cut into cubes. Bring a large pan to the boil and carefully add the tofu. Boil for 3 minutes. (This ironically removes a lot of the tofu’s moisture). Lift out the tofu with a slotted spoon and pop in a colander, keep the water.
2. In the remaining water, boil the broccoli for 5 minutes, drain and set aside.
3. In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, miso, sugar and chili paste and put to one side.
4. Finely chop the onion and fry it in a large frying pan with the sesame oil on a medium heat. Once brown, add the chopped garlic and continue to cook for a further couple of minutes. If it’s getting too hot add a couple tablespoons of water to prevent it from burning.
5. Add the tofu and brown for a further few minutes. Add your paste and carefully coat the tofu for the next few minutes. Add another tsp of soy sauce and stir in. Finely incorporate the steamed broccoli and cook for a further 2 minutes.


Assemble your bento box with a little bit of everything and serve with a little pot of soy sauce and a bowl of miso soup (optional).

If you’ve had a go at making my Bento Box or any of my other recipes I’d love to hear about it. @corrieheale corrie.heale@gmail.com

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HEAT COOKS THE BOOK: Juliet Sear’s Loveheart Cookies

Love Hearts

It’s Valentine’s Day soon, so we thought we’d give you a hand wooing your loved one. Maybe Juliet Sear’s Loveheart cookies from Cakeology should sweeten the deal. Now all you have to do is remember to buy a card…

Love Hearts

Lydia’s Loveheart Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies
Equipment: Rolling pin, guide sticks, 10cm round cutter, piping bag with the end snipped off, heart-shaped cutter (slightly smaller than the round cutter), piping bag with a No2 nozzle
Cookies: 200g salted butter, 200g golden caster sugar, seeds from 1 split vanilla pod, 1 lightly beaten egg, 400g plain flour sifted, extra for dusting
Decorations: Icing sugar for dusting, sugar paste in pastel candy colours (you need about 30g per cookie, so make up equal amounts of pink, mint green, lemon yellow and cream), a little soft-peak royal icing in white,
2tbsp soft-peak royal icing coloured with paste colour

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas 4) and line two baking sheets
with baking parchment.
2 Place the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds into a bowl and mix until just combined, either by hand or using a mixer on a slow speed. Add the egg a little at a time, stirring with a mixer or wooden spoon until fully incorporated.
3 Add the flour and mix until a dough forms. You will know it’s right when the dough comes together without leaving sticky traces on the bowl and it forms into a shiny, pliable ball.
4 Dust the work surface with flour and roll out the cookie dough. Using guide sticks will ensure your dough is an even thickness but if you don’t have guide sticks, just take care to roll it to about 5mm in thickness.
5 Using a circle cookie cutter, cut out your cookies. Place them on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for ten to 12 minutes, checking after ten minutes. Move to a wire rack to cool.
6 Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll out all of your sugarpaste colours to 2-3 mm. Cut out all of your sugar circles with the round cutter. Pipe a drizzle of white royal icing over each one using a piping bag.
7 Pop the sugar circles onto the cookies. Gently press each one to stick it down and flatten it neatly onto the cookie.
8 With the heart-shaped cutter, make an impression by gently pushing the heart into the circle. This will give you a guideline for piping. Personalise all of your cookies with the coloured royal icing in a piping bag with a No2 nozzle. Starting at the top in the middle, begin piping the royal icing over the heart guideline. Leave the cookies to dry for at least 12 hours.
Cakeology: Over 20 Sensational Step-By-Step Cake Decorating Projects by Juliet Sear (Hardie Grant, £20)

Heat Verdict: Corrie says, “Piping bag? Nozzles? Soft peak royal icing? Nah, lets just wing it. Being the kind of gal that likes to cut corners, I decorated my cookies with icing sugar that I found at the back of my cupboard, along with several shop-bought icing pens. I mixed 90g icing sugar with 1tsp of water and a couple of drops of food colouring, which generously covered three biscuits. I then made another batch of icing with a different colour and carried on until I’d covered all my cookies. Once set, I decorated them with shop-bought designer and writing icings in a variety of colours. Sainsbury’s sell these for around £1.40 each.
I used the thicker designer icing to trace the hearts and I wrote my slogans in the more delicate writing icing. The cookies themselves were delicious, and although they are now slightly stale, my boyfriend is still happily eating his way through them all.”

HEAT COOKS THE BOOKS: Juliet Sears Loveheart Cookies
HEAT COOKS THE BOOKS: Juliet Sears Loveheart Cookies

If you fancy trying this or any other of Juliet’s recipes, then why not treat yourself to her book Cakeology: Over 20 Sensational Step-By-Step Cake Decorating Projects by Juliet Sear (Hardie Grant, £20).
Also, if you have a taste for the good, the bad and the unmissable, check out the brand spanking new heat magazine.

HEAT COOKS THE BOOKS: Frances Quinn’s Strawberry Shortcake

Hello my foodie chums, sorry I’ve been a little quiet of late but I have an announcement to make… My fellow blogger and work colleague Anna and I have just been made THE NEW FOOD EDITORS OF HEAT MAGAZINE! Whoop whoop! Every week, we’ll be trying and testing recipes for your reading and cooking pleasure. Now, not all recipes will be vegetarian but rest assured that the ones that are, I will share with you dear readers on this very blog. Fortunately the first one we published was vegetarian so ENJOY!

851 REVS Food

Remember Frances Quinn who won the Bake Off in 2013? Well, she’s only written a book full of ingenious cake creations. Go, Frances! Admittedly, it may be for the more advanced baker, but undeterred, we donned our aprons and had a go at the easist recipe we could find. Now don’t forget, cakes can smell fear…

Strawberry Shortcake
Makes one 10cm cake
(serves 2–3)
Cake: 50g softened butter, 50g caster sugar,
1 egg, 1tsp vanilla extract, 50g self-raising flour,
1tsp warm water
To decorate: 50g strawberry jam, 50ml double cream, 1/2 tbsp icing sugar, few drops vanilla extract, 9 shortcake biscuits, 1 med & 2 small strawberries, 1tsp freeze-dried strawberry pieces

1. Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Lightly beat the egg with the vanilla extract. Gradually add the egg to the butter and sugar, beating well after each addition. Sift in the flour and fold in until just combined, then add the warm water. Scrape the mixture into the tin and level with a spatula.
2. Bake for 20–25 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin for ten mins before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
3. Slice the cake horizontally into two equal pieces.
4.Place the bottom piece on a cake board. Spread a few teaspoons of jam over the cut surface. Place the other cake layer on top. Put the cream in a bowl with the icing sugar and vanilla extract, and whip until it holds medium peaks. Spoon the cream on top of the cake and smooth with a palette knife.
5. Spread jam over the back of each biscuit to act as “glue” and press the biscuits around the side of the cake. Leave a few millimetres between each one to make it easier to cut the cake into even slices.
6. Decorate the top of the cake with the three strawberries, placing the larger one in the centre and the smaller two alongside, slightly off-centre. Scatter the freeze-dried strawberry pieces over the top.

Heat’s Verdict…
Not knowing what a shortcake was, we decided to triple the ingredient amounts. We also covered it in 450ml of double cream, which is nine times the amount specified. WE LIKE CREAM, OK? We didn’t manage to get a good rise, either, most likely because we didn’t beat the mixture enough,so cutting our flat shortcake lengthways was challenging. But,once assembled, it looked great and tasted even better.

HEAT COOKS THE BOOKS: Frances Quinn's Strawberry Shortcake
HEAT COOKS THE BOOKS: Frances Quinn’s Strawberry Shortcake

If you fancy trying this or any other of Frances’s recipes, then why not treat yourself to her book Quinntessential Baking by Frances Quinn.
Also, if  you have a taste for the good, the bad and the unmissable, check out the brand spanking new heat magazine.