Electric Lunchbox #38: Puto (Philippine Steamed Rice Cake)

And another Filipino food! I love Puto – steamed rice cake. I have been trying to get the authentic rice based recipe right to no avail. Rice, sugar, water/coconut milk…a few other ingredients but it’s never right. I got it perfect once but never got to repeat it.

The more modern flour based puto is easier to make and more predictable. So here itbis made for the ELB!

Toppings can be cheese or preserved, salted eggs, but I like to use both when I have them.

Hope you enjoy it!

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

Mix the following in a small bowl:

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

Add in:

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon melted butter

Pinch of salt

Grease the big bottom bowl or medium top bowl of the ELB. pour mixture in.

Top with the following:

salted egg and/or grated cheese

Cover with foil and add 3 ELB cups water in base. Cover and pet steam until done, about 55 minutes. Carefully open the ELB and insert a skewer to test doneness. If it comes out clean, it’s done. *Add more water and steam a little longer if necessary.*

Brush top with more:

Melted butter

Serve hot. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Ceviche

A recipe perfect for summer meals, this dish can be used as a side for grilled or fried meats, as a dip for tortilla chips, or just as a simple salad. It’s light and refreshing, plus you get the vegetable your body needs in a delicious meal.

It is so easy easy to make and it doesn’t require you to turn on the stove. A winner in super hot days! If you want to make this even easier to make, feel free to use the ready made bags of “riced cauliflower” available in most grocery stores instead of chopping the cauliflower yourself.

I usually buy a head of cauliflower, remove the stem and leaves, roughly chop it in pieces and process it in the Thermomix – takes about 5 seconds. A food processor would work the same, but if you have a small one, process in batches so that you won’t end up with cauliflower puree. In a pinch, a good knife and a chopping board with some elbow grease will do too!

1 small head of cauliflower, trimmed of leaves, chopped into small bits

1 small red onion, chopped

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 jalapeño, chopped

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 large avocado, cubed

Juice of 2 limes

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Just grab a big bowl and mix everything together. Adjust seasoning to taste, serve at room temperature or cold. Enjoy!

Banana Bread

I almost always have a couple of bananas that turn brown before we get to eat it. I usually just toss them in the Vitamix or Thermomix to make a smoothie. Or peel and toss them in a baggie in the freezer for later. But every so often I save some bananas on the side to allow them to really get ripe and spotty.

Those bananas end up as this banana bread that is so good I often wonder why I don’t make it more often. The extra ripe bananas make it so fragrant and flavorful. The brown sugar gives it a hint of caramel flavor, while the chocolate chips adds a lot of extra flavor. Feel free to use nuts instead, but I urge you to try it with chocolate chips at least once. 😉

I like to make this in pretty bundt pans, like the one pictured above, so it is ready to serve without any decorating as it’s already beautiful. A light dusting of confectioners sugar is enough if you want to dress it up. I have this bad habit of picking up pretty baking pans so often I still have some that haven’t been used. Need to bake more often! Feel free to use a 13”x9” pan or even muffin tins if you want to! I promise that it will still taste good!

If you have a Thermomix, this comes together in about 3 minutes. If not, a little elbow grease and maybe 10-15 minutes, is all you’ll need. It’s an easy recipe that kids can make with adult supervision when baking. Enjoy!

1 3/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup milk + 1 teaspoon vinegar, mix and set aside 5 minutes

2 – 3 bananas, mashed (1 cup)

1/2 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips or walnuts

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan. (13”x9” pan or muffin cups will work too! Just adjust time.)

In a bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with brown sugar, milk and vinegar mixture, mashed bananas, oil, and vanilla.

Stir in flour mixture and mix until just combined . Fold in chocolate chips (or nuts).

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about an hour, until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (13”x9” takes about 30-45 minutes, cupcakes about 18-25 minutes.)

Electric Lunchbox #33: Cherry Clafouti

Clafouti! This recipe is for a French custardy dessert that is a perfect use for summer’s sweet cherries!

I had vanpooled for work during the last couple of years I worked at UCLA (140+miles/day)and was in a group of 11 people. Some would leave, and got replaced, but the rest of us, we got to be really close. When traffic is really bad, we’d stop by McDonald’s in Gardena for ice cream, or even a combo meal, while I sometimes did a quick run at the nextdoor Japanese grocery store. Or when there is just a few of us, we’d detour to a Church’s chicken in Norwalk. Or to Knott’s Berry Farm for the chicken dinner and boysenberry pie….I love those times, as I am saved from thinking what to cook for dinner!

We’d meet up for dinner, dimsum, and we have group texts….they were an amazing group! Even now, well over 12 years since my last van ride, we still keep in touch. One passed away a year ago, others retired, but we’re still friends and chat almost every day.

This recipe is from Jerome. He is French and would talk about foods (our van’s favorite topic) that he miss a lot. This was one of them. And he taught us how to make it.

I hope you like this easy, refreshing recipe. I’ve seen the cherries substituted with other summer fruits, but to me, cherries are essential to this recipe. I tried adding a drop of almond extract (just because I love cherries and almond combo!) in the custard mix, and of course it tasted awesome.

Pitting the cherries.

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1/2 pound cherries

2 eggs

4 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Pinch of salt

2 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour

125 ml whole milk

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Vanilla sugar to serve*

1. Grease the big bottom bowl of the ELB. Place the pitted cherries in and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, and salt.

3. Add flour, milk, butter, and vanilla. Blend well.

4. Pour mixture into the bowl with the cherries. Cover with foil and set on the ELB base.

5. Place 3 (120ml) little cups water in the base. Cover and let steam until done, about 50 minutes.

6. Carefully open the lunchbox and insert a skewer into the clafouti. It should come out clean. Add more water and steam longer if necessary.

7. Place the bowl in a wire rack to cool. Refrigerate until cold. Unmold onto a serving dish and sprinkle with vanilla sugar. Serve cold.

*vanilla sugar – you can purchase this or make your own. To make it: bury 1-2 vanilla beans that were split down the middle in a cup of sugar. Make sure to cover the container. Leave for about a week. Use for a hint of vanilla in your coffee, tea, or desserts.

Ono Broiled Sushi

This is yet another recipe I picked up from my time at Brentwood UCLA. I believe we had it at a potluck when I was fairly new, maybe around 2005. I called it “deconstructed sushi” yet it was a lot more than that. It has sushi rice, kani, shiitake mushroom, nori…but it also has sour cream, mayo, and furikake. It is just so good you’ll have to try really hard to stop yourself from eating the contents of the whole pan. Luckily, it makes a lot so there is enough to share…with your closest, most dearest family/friends.

You can definitely add chopped avocados, chopped mangoes, gari, takuan, kimchi…whatever you like in your sushi. Or serve them on the side. I do this a lot, make the recipe my own by adding more of what I like to eat. I hope you’ll try this easy recipe and let me know what you think!

9 shiitake mushrooms, soaked then squeezed of excess water and chopped
8 oz imitation crab meat, shredded
1 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
4 cups rice, freshly cooked and seasoned*
1 bottle (1.7 – 1.9 oz) Nori Fumi Furikake
Korean style nori, to serve

*Sprinkle just cooked rice with about 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix well.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and mayo. Add chopped mushrooms and crab meat. Mix well. Set aside.

Spread the hot, seasoned rice in a 13”x9” pan and sprinkle furikake evenly over rice. Drop crab mixture all over the rice and spread evenly. Broil until browned, about 6-8 minutes. Serve over nori.

Blueberry Almond Coffee Cake

Today is my husband’s birthday, and to celebrate it I am baking a cake! Simple but really delicious, I encourage you to try making this cake if you have a pint of blueberries on hand. It’s the perfect pick me up! I am used to blueberry lemon pairings but this blueberry almond tandem is mouthwatering!

I lined my springform pan bottom with a layer of thick aluminum foil, wrapping excess foil up over the sides to prevent leaks. If you have a deep round pan, that will work too!

Ingredients:

For the Streusel:

⅓ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup packed dark brown sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cup unsalted butter, softened

⅓ cup chopped almonds

For the Cake:

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1½ teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon almond extract

1¼ cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup almond flour

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup whole milk

½ cup sour cream

2 cups fresh blueberries, divided

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the bottom of a 10 inch round springform pan with aluminum foil, clip on the rim, and bring the edges up the sides of the pan. Spray with a nonstick spray with flour.
  2. Streusel: In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles crumbs. Add almonds and stir to mix. Set aside.
  3. Cake: In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Reduce mixer speed to low. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in extracts.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in sour cream. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with 1½ cups of blueberries, top with remaining batter and smooth the top. Top with remaining ½ cup blueberries, and sprinkle with streusel.
  5. Bake 50 to 55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around edges of cake to loosen sides. Invert onto a plate, and then invert again onto a wire rack. Let cool completely.