Sourdough Focaccia

We have been making homemade pizza for a few years now and it’s become a staple that I have 2 outdoor pizza ovens at the moment.

I also make our sourdough bread every week and need to switch it up with a few varieties using different flours, inclusions, or liquid to flavor the bread. Marshmallow stout instead of water for a chocolate chip sourdough batard anyone??

Between bread and pizza, there’s also focaccia! And here is a very easy recipe complete with a timeline to guide you!

You can split this bread in half crosswise to use for sandwiches, or just cut into squares, or rectangles to eat as is! Dip in olive oil, Trader Joe’s Garlic dip, hummus, baba ganoush…..It’s crunchy and soft, salty and herby…just delicious specially when still warm from the oven.

I use really good olive oil and salt as I believe it contributes to the overall taste of the focaccia. The olives are dry cured from Trader Joe’s, tomatoes and rosemary are from the backyard.

I doubled the recipe and made 2 13”x9” focaccia to eat and have enough to trade with a dozen home grown eggs. So please don’t be confused by the discrepancy between the instructions and the photos. 😊

I hope you will like this recipe as much as we did!

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423 grams all purpose flour

181 grams bread flour

460 grams water

11 grams salt, plus more for sprinkling

115 grams starter, I used one straight from the fridge

12 grams good quality olive oil, plus more for drizzling

Toppings of choice, chopped herbs, olives, tomatoes, etc.


1. 10 am to 11 am

In a large bowl, mix flours, water, salt and starter. Mix with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the dough comes together.

Set aside for about 15 to 30 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the water.

Then mix the dough thoroughly, drizzling in the olive oil and pulling the dough up until well mixed. Use a plastic bench/dough scraper to help you pull up the dough and mix the oil in.

Cover (I use a clean, unused plastic hair cover!) and set aside for 30 minutes


2. Bulk 11:15-1:15


Perform 4 sets of stretch and fold every 30 minutes, for 2 hours.

Photos 1 – 4 are the stretch and fold in the first 30 minutes, #2 at an hour, #3 at an hour and thirty minutes, and #4 was after 2 hours, the last of 4 folds. See how stretchy and smooth the dough looks after?


3. Proof 1:15- 5:15

Pour some olive oil in a 13 x 9 inch pan.

Transfer dough to the pan and cover.

Every 30 minutes on the first hour, uncover the dough and stretch gently to fill the pan.

Cover and let rest for the remainder of the 4 hours.

4. 5:15 Preheat oven to 450F.

5. Drizzle the dough with about 2 -3 tablespoons of good olive oil.

6. Wet your finger tips and dimple the dough all the way to the bottom of the pan, multiple times.

7. Sprinkle with chopped herbs, olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, etc.

*I used halved cherry tomatoes, chopped rosemary, olives, and Maldon sea salt. The other focaccia had the same toppings except it did not have tomatoes, as I only got a handful from the garden.*

8. Sprinkle with good quality salt.

9. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown.

*After baking, tops should be golden and edges crusty.

*Bottom should be toasted. This looks perfect!

Cut for sandwiches, this is what the crumb look like on my bake. Yummy!

Electric Lunchbox #95: Spoon Bread made with Jiffy Mix

Spoon bread…

I went to school in Virginia briefly when I was in high school. I was lucky enough to have cooking/baking class as my elective class of choice. The counselor asked me a few questions about interests/hobbies and asked me to choose my elective. Kitchen it is!

It was my favorite time of the day! I learned to make lots of food (sugar cookies, lasagna, manicotti, Welsh Cakes…) and we get to keep a portion to take home, or eat at lunch. I still have a few recipes I copied from that time in a blue notebook that I still make frequently.

One of the things we made was spoon bread. I didn’t quite understand it at that time, but yes, just as the name implies, it is a soft, moist quick bread that you’ll use a spoon to scoop up to eat. It is soft like pudding but with a little more structure that you can cut it.

In this recipe, I used a readily available cornbread mix to make life easier. And the amount of the ingredients are adjusted to fit the big ELB bowl.


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

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1/4 cup butter, melted

3/4 cup canned creamed corn

1/2 cup canned sweet corn kernels, drained

1/2 cup sour cream

1 egg

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup Jiffy Cornbread Mix

3 ELB cups water for the base

*Use the big bowl of the ELB!*


1. Spray the big ELB bowl with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a bowl, place melted butter,

3. creamed corn,

4. corn kernels,

5. sour cream,

6. egg,

7. sugar,

8. salt,

9. and Jiffy cornbread mix.

10. Mix everything together until well blended.

11. Pour into the prepared ELB bowl. Cover with foil.

12. place 3 ELB cups of water in the base. Place the bowl in the ELB base, cover and steam until it shuts off, about 1 hour.

13. Carefully open the ELB and check the bread for doneness by inserting a skewer in the middle. It is done when a few moist crumbs are sticking to the skewer instead of thick batter.

14. cool completely and unmold carefully. Slice and serve or use a spoon to scoop up individual portions.

15. Enjoy!

Home made Natto (Fermented Soybeans)

Have you heard of, or even maybe TRIED, Natto (fermented soybeans)?

When you see it in Japanese or other Asian grocery stores, they come in a package of 3 little white, styrofoam boxes. It is usually served with rice in Japanese meals, most often breakfast. You stir it well to make it super stringy and slimy, add the tiny mustard and soy sauce packets that come with it, and pour everyting over hot rice. Then, you dig in!

It is for sure an acquired taste, even for those who grew up eating Japanese food. You either love it or loathe it. However, with all the fermented food craze lately, I read that it is added to everything, and I even saw it used to top a pizza! Now that is something I have to try! 😋

I prefer to use these small, organic soy beans when making natto and soy milk. The ones at the grocery stores are bigger, but are okay to use too.

So, in this post, I will show you how to make this super healthy, fermented food at home. In case you are like me and my mom, who happen to love natto, you can have an unlimited supply if you make it.

You will need an incubator that can keep a constant temperature of 100C. You can use an oven, a proofing box for bread making, or an Excalibur Dehydrator.

A few years ago, I purchased a Japanese Yogurt maker specifically because you can adjust the temperature, unlike the ones available here in the US. The brand is Tanika and it is really a handy little appliance that I always use to make my homemade natto. Of course, I also have an oven, an Excalibur dehydrator, and a Brod and Taylor Folding Bread Proofer, but I do not like warming up that much space for a little jar of natto. So this little yogurt maker is just perfect for me. Labels on the appliance and the manual are in Japanese but I recently saw some on Amazon that are made for the US market with English labels.

Just like yogurt, you need to buy a package first to be able to get the bacteria you need to make natto, then if you make it regularly, you just get a little from the prepared batch to make more. This is the easiest way to get started. Of course, you could also buy some natto spores to start the Bacillus Subtilis culture. Mitoku is the brand I use. It’s from Japan and makes really tasty natto. It comes with a tiny measuring spoon so you get a lot of natto even though the culture bottle is tiny.

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1 1/2 cups soybeans, preferably organic


Store bought natto, or natto spores


1. Rinse 1 1/2 cups of soybeans in water and soak in at least 5 cups of water overnight at room temperature.

*the soybeans will more than double its size, see photo below, so make sure you use a lot of water when soaking the beans.*

A dry soybean on the left. After soaking for 12 hours, it will look like the one on the right.
I use this footed strainer basket with a handle to steam the soybeans in an Instant pot.

2. Rinse and strain soybeans and place in a metal footed strainer basket (or a colander over a trivet).

3. Pour 1 1/2 cups water in the pressure cooker liner.

4. Place the strainer with soybeans in the pressure cooker and pressure cook for 45 minutes.

5. Let pressure drop for 10 minutes, then release pressure, placing a kitchen towel over the vent to help dissipate the steam.

Cover the vent with a clean towel. I just took a photo to show the release of pressure.
Soybeans after cooking for 45 minutes.

6. In the meantime, prepare your yogurt maker.

7. Place 1/4 cup of water in the Tanika Yogurt Maker’s inner container, place the spoon inside and cover with the clear cover.

8. Position the spoon so that the handle sticks out of the cut out in the cover.

9. Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds to sterilize. Dump out the water.

10. If using the natto spores, mix 2 teaspoons boiled and cooled water with 1 tiny spoonful (included in the spores box) of the culture. Mix well and set aside.

*water mixed with natto spores*

11. Take one soybean and squeeze it between two fingers, it should be soft enough that it will crush easily.

12. Transfer half of the hot soybeans in the prepared yogurt container.

13. A. *If using spores, pour the half of the diluted culture over the hot soybeans.

13. B. If using ready made natto, add a spoonful of it onto the hot soybeans. Stir with the sterilized spoon.

14. A. *Add the rest of the soybeans to the yogurt container and then the rest of the diluted culture, if using spores. Mix well.

14. B. *If using pre made natto, add a spoonful more to the soybeans, then mix throughly.

15. Make sure to mix well, but be careful not to crush the beans.

16. Set the container into the yogurt maker, cover with a clean towel and place the blue cover over, slightly ajar to allow air in.

17. Set the fermentation temperature to 45C and the timer to 24 hours.

18. Carefully remove the blue cover and check the beans after 24 hours.

19. They should have a white, fuzzy growth around most of the beans.

20. Cover with the clear cover then the blue screw, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours before eating.

*this is how it looks like from the bottom of the container.

21. Take a big spoonful of the natto and place on a serving dish. Cover and return the rest to the refrigerator. Using a spoon or chopsticks, thoroughly mix the natto until stringy and slimy. I was told to stir vigorously 100 times! Add a little soy sauce and hot mustard, serve over hot plain rice. Enjoy!

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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1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup corn meal

Pinch of salt

Pinch of pepper

3 ELB cups water for the base


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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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


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.


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


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!