Saturday, November 15, 2014

Blue Apron

*Sponsored Post
Blue Apron offers a "better way to cook" by providing fresh ingredients and great recipes delivered straight to your door. Their experts source the best seasonal ingredients directly from farms, importers and family-run purveyors. I recently partnered with Blue Apron to sample their service and try out the recipes myself...At Home.

For only $9.99 per person, per meal, what initially appealed to me about Blue Apron's service was:
  • No Commitment - Get your delivery when it’s convenient for you. Skip any week if you don’t have the time. 
  • Personalized Menus - Each week, you'll receive 3 incredible recipes based on your dietary preferences. 
  • Convenient Delivery - Ingredients are carefully packaged in a refrigerated box so food stays fresh even if you’re not home when we deliver.
My box arrived on a Wednesday, and inside were three recipes and their associated ingredients.  Everything was organized and labeled with stickers, so I knew which ingredients went together.  The only items not included are olive oil, salt, and pepper, as these are typical main stays in everyone's kitchen.

The one thing that I was not prepared for was receiving whole vegetables, as opposed to already prepared, pre-portioned vegetables.  For example, the website showed nice pictures of set ingredients like this:

Image via Blue Apron
See how the squash is already peeled and sliced in the picture above?  Same for the onions and herbs?  Yeah, not exactly what you get.  Instead, I received this:


Ha!  So my top tip for each recipe is to allow yourself extra time to fully prep your ingredients before you are ready to start cooking.  This is called mise en place in the cooking world, and having to do it all myself not only a) reminded me why I don't cook regularly - it's hard!, but also b) gave me much more appreciation for professional prep cooks.  Most of the recipes noted a cooking time of about 35 minutes, yet the full time it took me from prepping to plating took about 90 minutes.

Another tip is to be mindful of the amounts called for in the recipe.  For example, while a whole squash was provided in my box, I only used about half of it for the actual recipe.  Likewise for many of the herbs.  So, you may have some leftover ingredients that can be used later.

Nevertheless, Keith encouraged me to tackle these assignments head on.  So, set on a mission, for my first Blue Apron experiment, I tackled the Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese Pizza. This recipe uses fall produce and a silky béchamel sauce to put a gourmet spin on the traditional pie. The goat cheese is from Vermont Creamery located in Websterville, VT, and is creamy with a crumbly texture and slightly tart flavor that cuts the sweetness of caramelized fennel and butternut squash, as well as the richness of the béchamel sauce.  Any way you slice it, this meal is a delicious, warming autumn favorite perfect for vegetarians. Keith is not a huge squash fan, but was surprised by the flavors of this pizza.  He was pretty impressed (as was I) by how good this dish turned out.  Get the recipe here.

Left: Dish as featured on Blue Apron; Right: My version 
For my second Blue Apron experiment, I focused on the sides, while Keith mastered the protein in the recipe for Flank Steak & Creamed Kale with Sunchoke Salad. This was my first time using sunchokes (the edible root of a North American sunflower), and I used them two ways to explore their versatility and exquisite flavor. Roasting brings out their natural sweetness and gives them a light, almost fluffy texture. Raw, they add a delicious, earthy crunch to this amazing, hearty dish.  The lemon juice also provided a great acidic brightness to the salad.  Get the recipe here.

Left: Dish as featured on Blue Apron; Right: My version
For my third Blue Apron experiment, I made a Thai version of spaghetti and meatballs. Instead of spaghetti, I used wide, flat rice noodles. And instead of a tomato-based red sauce, I used coconut milk and red curry for a smooth, rich sauce with a kick. This warm dish of Thai Chicken Meatballs & Rice Noodles is flavored with classic Southeast Asian ingredients. The meatballs are cooked just to the verge of golden-brown perfection before finishing them in the curry, along with crunchy baby bok choy.  I used all the red curry paste, making this dish a bit spicy, but we loved all the aromatics.  Get the recipe here.


Left: Dish as featured on Blue Apron; Right: My version
Overall, I found the quality of ingredients to be fresh and I liked using products from local companies.  The recipes were easy to follow, but again require a bit more prep work before you actually start cooking, which can be time consuming.  The servings were perfect for two persons, and I had some ingredients leftover.  My Blue Apron mission was a success and allowed me to create unique meals in my own kitchen.  Want to try Blue Apron yourself? Use this coupon code to get 2 free meals off your first order! 

2 comments:

  1. These plates look great! Proud of you for diving in and doing the prep!!! I definitely want to try a recipe. It's nice that now you have three new recipes to have in your rotation if you want to make them again.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Yes, totally can recreate these recipes again. The pizza and Thai meatballs were my fave. Loved the sunchoke salad, too.

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