Electric Lunchbox #90: Polenta

Polenta….in the ELB! 😱 I know, I know, but hear me out…

Polenta is a creamy cornmeal porridge that is commonly served in Italian homes and delicious served with meats and stews. I also like it with some cheese stirred in, or let it cool and harden, then slice it and fry! Any way you eat it, it is delicious!

But if you were ever taught how to make this “properly”, you might just not make it. Too many rules, too many “you HAVE to this and you MUST that”

First off, know that you can use any medium or coarse cornmeal, no need to search for one that is labeled “Polenta” – specially if you already have cornmeal in your pantry. No harm in using actual “polenta” but just letting you know that you do not have to.

You don’t have to use water if you want it more flavorful. Here I used chicken stock. of course you can use water if you want to.

Also, you do not need to keep stirring constantly. Something I am happy to discover while making this recipe as I have a lot of arm issues. So I only ask you to stir this recipe twice! Easy!

You also don’t need to add the polenta slowly, into a pot of boiling water, nor have to stir in only one direction. And you do not have to use a wooden spoon…😊

All these rules are things I’ve learned but I’ll happily share with you that I found out it’s all unnecessary. Maybe my polenta will be frowned upon by purists, but I am okay with that if more people will try it because it’s easy and accessible. Which this recipe is! I hope you try it and I also hope you’ll like my “short cut polenta” made in the ELB! No constant stirring required.

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

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Ingredients:

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup corn meal

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

3 ELB cups water for the base

Procedure:

1. In the big or medium ELB bowl, place the chicken stock,

2. Cornmeal,

3. Salt and pepper.

4. Stir until mixed and cover with foil.

5. Place bowl in the ELB. Add 3 ELB cups water to the base. Cover and let steam until it shuts off, about 1 hour.

6. Carefully open the ELB and remove the foil. Stir the polenta and serve hot. It will thicken as it cools so cool slightly if you prefer it a bit thicker.

* This is the texture I like for polenta. It is not gritty at all, just smooth and creamy. But if you want it thinner, increase your chicken broth or decrease your cornmeal. If you want it thicker, decrease the broth or increase the cornmeal.

*Feel free to stir in some cheese or herbs if desired. You can also add a dab of butter to make it taste richer! Yum!

Electric Lunchbox #87: Minestrone

It’s been cold this week here in Southern California so when I told my husband that I do not have any ideas on what else to make in the ELB, he said “soup!”

He went on naming different soups he grew up eating in Peru…and I stopped him when i heard Minestrone. I love Minestrone and I haven’t made it in a long time!

When I was a high school student at Herbert Hoover High in Glendale, CA, I chose a cooking/baking as my elective class. Not only as a way to nurture a life skill/hobby, but also to rest my brain between classes. And the basic Minestrone I make all these years always comes back to the recipe I learned in Mrs. Baker’s class.

So here it is! The original recipe I scribbled down when I was 15 years old – sure brings back a lot of memories! I didn’t even have to scale it down for the big ELB bowl as it fits perfectly!

Do not feel like you have to follow the recipe to the letter. Any bean or veggie you want, or have on hand, can be used instead of the ones listed in the recipe but I do encourage you to try the recipe as it is at least once. Then you can make adjustments after you’ve tried the recipe as is.

*NOTE that this recipe uses regular sized measuring cups, NOT the tiny ELB cup, unless specified.*

Follow me for more recipes for the ELB!

See Itaki’s offerings here! https://www.itakico.com/theresa

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Ingredients:

2 tablespoons onions

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon rice

1 tablespoon small pasta

1 tablespoon canned beans

1/2 cup peeled and diced potatoes

1 tablespoon green peas (used celery as I was out of green peas)

Salt and pepper

A few rosemary leaves

3/4 cup beef broth

2/3 cup water

Procedure:

1. Place the chopped onions in the big ELB bowl.

2. Add the butter,

3. Cornstarch,

4. Tomato paste,

5. Rice,

6. Pasta

7. Beans,

8. Potatoes,

9. Celery or green peas

10. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and the rosemary leaves,

11. Add the beef broth and water. Stir to mix everything together.

12. The butter will be a big blob but it will melt as the soup cooks the pasta and rice. It makes this soup rich and velvety!

13. Place the bowl in the ELB base. Add 3 ELB cups of water to the base, cover and let steam until it shuts off, about an hour.

14. Carefully open the ELB. Stir the soup and check the pasta and rice if it’s cooked through.

15. Serve hot! Enjoy!