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 #89: 1 hour dinner rolls

Delicious steamed bread in the ELB, done in about an hour or so, and enough for one, or two, or even three if you feel like sharing!

Made with only 6 ingredients, which I believe everyone has in their pantry, you could prep this before 5 pm and have fresh, hot rolls by around 6 pm! Perfect to serve with soup or stew!

Or make them in the morning for hot breakfast bread! Either way, I promise you a very tasty, soft, and delicious bread that you might want to make this often!

I like to use olive oil and enjoy the mild flavor in the finished bread, but feel free to use canola oil if you prefer a more neutral flavored bread.

You can also knead in some chopped rosemary, chopped olives, cheese cubes and jalapeños, or fill the dough rolls with whatever filling you like. I like an – red bean paste, ube – taro paste, cream cheese, cream cheese and strawberry jam, sliced chinese sausage, Filipino Menudo, or nutella. Make it your own!

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

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Ingredients:

1/4 cup warm water

1 1/2 tablespoons olive or canola oil

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 tablespoon instant yeast

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Procedure:

1. In a small bowl, place water,

2. Oil,

3. Sugar,

5. And yeast.

6. Mix everything together. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.

7. This is what it’ll look like after 15 minutes.

8. Add flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Stir everything together until it forms a ball.

9. Knead for about 3 minutes, until the dough looks smooth.

10. It should look like this after kneading. Divide dough into 3 or 4 pieces. Roll into smooth balls and pinch seams.

11. This is how it would look like after shaping the dough into balls.

12. Spray the medium or large ELB bowl with nonstick spray.

13. Place the dough balls in the greased bowl, leaving space between them as they will puff up. Cover with foil and place on the ELB base. Add 2 ELB cups of water to the base, cover and set aside for 10 minutes.

14. Turn the ELB on and let steam until done, about 30 – 35 minutes.

5. Carefully open the ELB and check bread for doneness. Add more water and steam longer if needed.

6. Enjoy the bread warm with butter and jam, soup, stew, or curry dinner!

Electric Lunchbox #85: Bodega Beans

I read an article about Bodega Beans a few weeks ago. Have you heard of it? It sounded quite delicious to me that I was planning to make it even before I was done reading the article.

Apparently it is a recipe for when you want a cheap but healthy meal with readily accessible ingredients. And nowadays, who doesn’t want that? It can be a wonderful side dish, if anything!

According to the article, the most basic “recipe” is to sauté garlic and onions in a little olive oil, add a can of drained beans and any seasoning you like, drizzle with more olive oil and you’re done! A sprinkle of cheese is optional, then serve with rice or bread.

I did make it and it was absolutely delicious! I added a few spices to it but feel free to use any that you like or have!

After making it a few times on the stove, I made it in the ELB for you guys! You can prepare rice in the small nesting bowl and you’re all set for a yummy meal!

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

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I like to add crispy bacon to my bodega beans as my son doesn’t like beans but loves bacon…so beans with bacon is acceptable to him. 😊

Just place the bacon strips in a clean skillet, let the oil render out and brown till crisp. Crumble when cool.

Ingredients:

Bacon, browned and drained, optional but highly recommended

1 tablespoon minced onions

2 tablespoons chopped carrots

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cumin, paprika, sazon todo, as desired

1 tablespoon chopped celery

1 can beans, rinsed and drained (garbanzo, pinto, red bean, black bean, any will do)

2 tablespoons olive oil or 1 tablespoon each bacon grease and olive oil, more as needed

Parmesan cheese, optional

Avocado slices, optional

Chopped cilantro, optional

Chili pepper flakes, optional

Procedure:

1. Place onions in the big ELB bowl.

2. Add some carrots,

3. Salt, pepper, garlic powder and any other seasoning you like. I love adding a couple of shakes of cumin.

4. Chopped celery,

5. The can of drained beans,

6. Crumbled cooked bacon,

7. Mix everything together. Add the olive oil or bacon grease and olive oil mix. Cover the bowl with foil and place in the ELB base.

* you can place 2 ELB cups of rice, rinsed and drained with 2 ELB cups water to the little nesting bowl to round out your meal!*

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

9. Carefully open the ELB and mix the contents. Serve hot with rice, bread, cheese, chopped cilantro, and/or avocado if desired. Sprinkle with chili pepper flakes if you want a little spice.

10. Enjoy!

Electric Lunchbox #80: OTHER GRAINS – Pearl Barley, Job’s Tears (Adlai), and Brown Rice

We are on the last week of 2020! Starting your New Year’s resolution early? I have 3 new grains that you can have instead of rice to help with your “eat better” resolution!

A lot of you have been asking me if I made alternative grains in the ELB. I usually do not, as I have several different cookers that do this very efficiently.

Shuttle Chef thermal pot

The one I use most often for beans and other grains that require a long cooking time is a thermal cooker. I have 2 of these, a Zojirushi and a Shuttle Chef, both of which are made in Japan. It looks like a cooking pot within another pot. It’s easy to use, you boil your food in the inner pot on the stove and after the contents come to a full boil, you just place it in the outer thermal pot and leave for as long as you need to. No electricity, no gas. It keeps cooking even if you leave it overnight but doesn’t overcook everything to a mush. Very efficient.

However, all these requests did pique my curiosity as I do see the usefulness of using the ELB for little portions.

So here it is! I do have more whole grains that I use regularly like rye, kamut, and hulled barley etc. so wait for those too! 😊 I will post it if it is doable in the ELB.

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1. Pearl Barley

Perfectly cooked Barley!

This is the brand I had in the pantry at the moment. I usually order 25 pound bags from Azure Standard, but the delivery is only once a month and it hasn’t arrived yet.

To prepare Pearl Barley:

1. Measure 1 ELB cup pearl barley into your ELB bowl. The medium or large ELB bowl is good for this. Rinse the grains and drain.

2. Add water. If you want your barley not too soft, (like if adding the cooked barley to soup later) 1 full ELB cup of water is enough. Add 2 ELB cups of water if you want the grains softer.

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

4. Check the grains for doneness. Add more water to steam longer if needed. You might have to drain any left over water if you used more than a 1:1 ratio.

5. Fluff the grains and serve hot.

2. Job’s Tears

Job’s Tears/Adlai also known as coix seed, Chinese pearl barley, or hato mugi in Japanese, can be found in well stocked Chinese, Korean, or Japanese groceries here in Southern California. It is grown and consumed in different forms in Asia.

They do look like pearl barley, but they are rounder, kind of heart shaped, and have a more distinct flavor.

To prepare Job’s tears:

1. Add 1 ELB cup of Job’s tears in the ELB bowl. Both the medium or large ELB bowl can be used. Rinse well and drain.

2. Add 2 ELB cups of water to the bowl. Place the bowl in the ELB base and add 3 ELB cups of water to the base. Cover and let steam until it shuts off, about 1 hour.

3. Check the grain for doneness and drain if needed. Add more water to steam longer if needed.

4. Fluff and serve hot.

3. Brown Rice

This is the less processed version of white rice, with more fiber and nutrients. Brown rice is the whole grain rice with just the inedible outer hull removed. White rice is the same grain without the hull, the bran layer, and the cereal germ. Brown rice does need more water and time to cook well but is more chewy and flavorful than plain white rice.

To prepare brown rice:

For brown rice, You can use the medium or large ELB bowl. I use the large one most of the times I tested though, as it needs more water and I do not want water overflowing into my ELB base.

1. Place 3 ELB cups of brown rice in the large ELB bowl. Rinse well and drain.

2. Add 5 ELB cups of water and place the bowl in the ELB base.

3. Add 3 ELB cups of water to the base and let steam until it shuts off, about 1 hour.

4. Check grain for doneness. Add more water to steam longer if needed.

5. Fluff and serve hot!

I hope you guys enjoyed this post! Let me know if you are interested in knowing hoe to cook the other grains I use.

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Electric Lunchbox #78: Salmon and Veggies

A heart healthy, low carb meal done in a few minutes, almost hands free, and delicious to boot! What’s not to like?

Salmon with veggies! My son has been asking for salmon lately and we have been going through it a lot.

I usually pan fry or oven roast but this time I tried a single serving in the ELB.

Delicious and pretty, this can be prepared in advance but make sure to keep it chilled until ready to cook as fish goes bad really quickly.

Hope you enjoy this meal!

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1 potato, peeled and thinly sliced

1 zucchini, thinly sliced

1 yellow squash, thinly sliced

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 salmon fillet, around 5-6 oz

Zest of 1 small lemon

1 tablespoon orange juice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Place potatoes and zucchini in the bottom bowl, drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Mix them together.

2. Place salmon in top bowl, sprinkle with lemon zest and drizzle with olive oil.

3. Pour orange and lemon juice over salmon, then season with salt and pepper. Place on top of bottom bowl and cover with foil.

4. Place both bowls over the ELB base. Add 2 ELB cups of water to the base, cover and let steam until it shuts off, about 35 minutes.

5. Carefully open the ELB and check the fish for domestic. It should flake easily and look opaque throughout.

6. The potatoes and zucchini should be tender. If the fish or vegetables are not done, steam with 1/2 to 1 ELB cup of water until cooked through.

7. Serve salmon on top of the veggies. Enjoy!

Japanese Potato Salad

Try this Japanese Potato salad as a side for your Holiday meals!

Do you like potato salad? I know I LOVE starchy potato salad in all it’s variations!

This is a very tasty, Japanese style potato salad recipe. The potatoes are steamed to a point that it is soft enough that you can mash them, but you don’t, so you have some smooth mashed potatoes (from mixing) and chunks at the same time. Add in some ham, chopped boiled eggs, sliced cucumbers, and sliced carrots and this is nothing like your average potato salad! 😋

Serve it as a side to your main meals like any other potato salad. I sometimes grab a bowl of this straight from the fridge and eat it while watching TV, or reading. Or try it as a sandwich filling between two super soft and milky Japanese style pullman bread – yum!

Ingredients:

3-4 potatoes, peeled, cubed, and steamed until soft

1 cucumber, thinly sliced

1/2 cup carrot, thinly sliced

¼ cup sliced onions

1 – 2 cups chopped ham

2 hard boiled eggs, roughly chopped 

1/2 – 1 cup Kewpie Japanese mayonnaise

1 tsp white vinegar 

1 tsp hot mustard 

1/2 – 1 teaspoon salt

Paprika, to serve

Procedure:

1. Steam the cubed potatoes until fork tender. Set aside to cool.

2. Thinly slice the cucumbers, onions, and carrots. I use a mandolin or a food processor to do this. I used Persian Cucumbers in this recipe as they are thin skinned and small enough that I just wash and slice them. Makes life easy!

3. Place sliced vegetables in a bowl and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Toss gently and set aside for a few minutes until it weeps. Then grab a handful of veggies, squeeze tightly and place in another bowl. Repeat with the remaining salted vegetables.

4. Chop ham into bite sized pieces. They look nice when the sizes are identical, but if not, that’s okay too! It’ll still be delicious!

5. Now grab a big bowl, and mix everything together. Mix well, taste and adjust seasoning if needed.

6. Refrigerate until cold. Sprinkle with paprika just before serving. Serve and enjoy!

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Electric Lunchbox #71: Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

Here is a perfect side dish for a small Thanksgiving meal! Creamy scalloped potatoes!

You start by making the sauce over the stove as I was never able to get a good consistency with my usual “dump everything in the ELB bowl and steam away” method.

If you want to make this in advance , you can prepare it in the bowl and cover with the plastic lid in the fridge until needed. Then switch out the lid with a piece of foil and steam until done.

This dish is creamy, starchy, cheesy, and just delicious! Feel free to add bacon bits if needed, for extra yumminess. It’s the holidays so indulging is a given. 😊

I am thankful for every little blessing in life (family, health, happiness), this year specially, as even though we are in the midst of a pandemic, I am still able to work and keep donating to the causes I care about. Please try to help others in need if you are able to. A little kindness goes a long way and I think everyone needs a little understanding nowadays.

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

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Ingredients:

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese plus 1-2 tablespoons for topping

Big pinch of salt

Dash of pepper

1 medium potato, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

*I just use a Japanese slicer for a single potato. If I need to slice a lot, the mandolin or food processor is brought out.*

Procedure:

1. In a small saucepan over medium low heat, melt butter and add flour. Stir constantly until it comes together.

2. Slowly pour in milk and keep stirring until it becomes thick and smooth.

3. Add cheese and stir until melted. Add salt and pepper and stir. Set aside.

4. Place a few slices of potato on the bottom of a greased medium or large ELB bowl.

5. Pour about a tablespoon of the cheese sauce over and use the back of a spoon to even it out.

6. Repeat layering the potatoes and cheese sauce, until all are used up, ending with sauce.

7. Top with a tablespoon or two of grated cheese.

8. Cover with a piece of foil and set on the ELB base.

9. Add 3 ELB cups water to the base, cover and let steam until done, about 1 hour.

10. Carefully open the ELB, remove the bowl and let cool on a wire rack. *I removed mine too early and it fell apart…so forgive the photos!*

11. Gently run a knife along the edges and carefully transfer scalloped potatoes to a dish and serve, warm or at room temperature.

12. Enjoy!

Lime Pickled Onions

A very easy to make, yummy pickle recipe that only requires 3 ingredients!

I use this in my sandwich, as a side to add flavor to my meals, straight from the jar, and of course, with any Mexican/South American food.

The color is just stunning!

Ingredients:

1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced

1/2 cup lime juice, from about 6 limes

1 1/2 teaspoons salt, adjust to taste

Thinly sliced onions

Here’s how to make it:

1. Place the sliced onions in a bowl. Pour boiling water over, enough to cover the onions. After about 10 – 15 seconds, pour into a colander to drain.

Taco bowl

2. Place the onions in a glass jar and add the lime juice and salt. Stir well. Let sit for 30 minutes before serving. Store in a covered glass container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks (doesn’t last that long in my home though!).

Yummy!

3. Serve as a side in any way you like. It is so good that I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I did!

Chicken Enchilada

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