Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My week with Blue Apron


Thanks to a fellow dietitian, I got a free trial of Blue Apron! I know, I'm only years behind on the very successful recipe + ingredients delivery start up train, but hey, can't say no to a free box! 

For those of you who have never used Blue Apron before, it's a great service that provides all the necessary ingredients for a delicious meal that you typically wouldn't cook for yourself. I chose the one for 2 people (not trying to feed a small family right now) and got to choose 3 of the featured recipes of the week. Blue Apron caters to many different diets and allergies, so no problems there putting in food preferences. The ingredients all come in an insulated and highly ice packed box, that if you everything carefully, you can ship all the packaging back to Blue Apron for them to reuse!! That was a biggie for me, finding out how on earth this was somehow sustainable in the long run. 

Anyways, challenges. Sorting out all the ingredients for the 3 separate recipes was pretty pain staking. Just imagine getting a new toy only to realize that much assembly is required before you can actually play with it. Been there too many times. Following the instructions for any one of the recipes was also a struggle... they trick you by showing only 6 steps. However, each step easily contained 3 or more sub-steps. And you know how great I am at following directions... so I had to make up a lot of my own steps simply because I can't follow a list of instructions. Pro tip: don't use all the spices and seasonings they give you, I find it almost a third too much as what you would actually need to thoroughly flavor your food! 

Here are general thoughts of the recipes I received in this week's box:
  • BBQ Pork Burgers & Corn on the Cob: ain't nobody got time to fry onions at home. Great idea, though! Also, really glad my fridge is stocked with extra vegetables because pickles, onions, and corn is not my idea of a balancing a diet. Also, there's no burger without cheese! Wish I could've prepared myself better for that one. But overall delicious burger with great flavors (BBQ sauce + mustard). The best part of the meal: that herb butter, doe! 
  • Spicy Chicken & Korean Rice Cakes: You can't give a Korean inspired recipe without a side of kimchi. It's just not right. I also thought the amount of hoisin sauce provided would make the recipe way too sweet because corn and mushrooms already provide a lot of sweetness! I opted to marinate the chicken in a soy sauce/gochujang blend for more depth and of course liberally used some rice wine here or there. I love rice cakes / dduk / leen goh!!
  • Curried Catfish & Coconut Rice: Lots of flavors going on in this one. There's the raisin ginger chutney, the curry dusted catfish, and the coconut green bean herb rice. I must admit that catfish is a fishy choice. Even all the coconut spice and chutney couldn't mask its innate flavor. The star of the recipe was clearly the coconut rice. I'm going to start making rice like this all the time now! So addictive.  
Will I do it again and pay for it? Maybe. I already opted out on the next few deliveries because I don't see a combination of recipes that truly appeal to me. As someone that goes grocery shopping and cooks for myself regularly. there were many recipes that I thought were not worth the value (vegetarian options) or that I could easily procure for myself. 


So here you have it, my first attempts at Blue Apron. The following 3 recipes are my own rendition of what Blue Apron provided. I added quite a few of my own knick knacks that I hope you enjoy! 


BBQ Pork Burgers & Corn on the Cob (serves 2)

BBQ Pork Burgers
10 oz ground pork 
1 onion: 2/3 sliced in rings, 1/3 minced
1 tbs dijon mustard
3 tbs oil (olive, canola, peanut, avocado, up to you!) 
2 tbs cheese (I had parmesan, but wish I had Swiss) 
to season: 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning
optional: white wine 
to serve: 2 sesame seed buns (toasted), pickles, tomato slices 1/2 cup mixed greens, 1/4 cup BBQ sauce

1. In a small bowl, mix together ground pork, minced onion, dijon mustard and seasonings. Set aside,
2. In a small skillet, brown sliced onions in 1 tbs of oil. 
- Add a generous splash of white wine (or water).
- Turn heat down to low and allow to soften. 
- Mix once every few minutes. 
3. Pour remainder olive oil in a larger skillet on medium high heat. Add the patties and sear for several minutes on each side. 
- Add a generous splash of white wine (or water). Cover for a few minutes to ensure meat is cooked through. 
- Add cheese on top of patties, cover for another minutes
4. Serve on a toasted bun topped with softened onions and all desired garnishes and BBQ sauce

Corn on the Cob with Garlic -Herb Butter 
1 ear of corn 
1 tbsp butter, soft
1 clove garlic, minced
3 stems parsley, minced 

1. Boil half a small pot of water with a dash of salt. 
2. Insert corn and boil for about 3 minutes or until bright yellow and slightly softened
3. While preparing the corn, in a small bowl, mix together butter, garlic, and parsley. 
4. Slather on corn once corn is removed from the water
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Spicy Chicken & Korean Rice Cakes (serves 2)
4 chicken thighs, sliced
1/2 lb rice cakes
3 cloves garlic, sliced
2 sprigs scallion, sliced
1 ear of corn, kernels sliced off the cob
1 in knob ginger, slivered 
2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs rice wine
1 tbs gochujang
1 tbs hoisin sauce
1/4 oz dried shiitake mushrooms, pre-soaked and sliced
3 tbs oil (olive, canola, peanut, avocado, up to you!) 
marinade: 1 tbs soy sauce, 1 tbs rice wine, 1 tbs gochujang, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp sesame oil
to serve: kim chi

1. In a medium pot, boil a pot of water. 
- Once boiling, add the rice cakes and cook for about 3 minutes
- Drain and run under cold water, Set aside
2. In a large deep pan, heat oil. Sear chicken. 
3. Add garlic, scallion, ginger, shiitake mushroom, and brown.
4. Mix in gochu jang, rice vinegar, rice wine, and corn. 
5. Once thoroughly mixed and chicken cooked through, incorporate rice cakes. 
6. Serve with kimchi!
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Curried Catfish & Coconut Rice (serves 2)

Coconut Green Bean Herb Rice
3/4 cup white basmati rice
4 oz green beans
1 in knob ginger, minced
3 tbs dried coconut flakes
4 sprigs cilantro, minced
2 sprigs mint, minced
2 tbs coconut oil
To flavor: salt

1. Heat 2 tbs coconut oil to brown the ginger and 2 tbs coconut flakes.
2. Lightly sautee green beans. Mix in rice.
3. Add 1 1/4 cup water with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Turn heat on low and simmer with lid on for 12-15 minutes or until rice is cooked.
4. Remove rice from heat and fluff with remaining coconut flakes, cilantro, and mint.

Golden Raisin Chutney
2 tsp chutney spice (brown mustard seeds, yellow mustard seeds, nigella seeds)
3 tbs golden raisin
1 in knob ginger, minced
1/2 lime

1. In a medium pan, toast chutney spices.
2. Add raisins, ginger and brown.
3. Add 1/4 cup of water and boil down until it all evaporates.
4. Scoop out raisin chutney in a small bowl and mix with the juice of half a lime. Set pan aside

Curried Catfish
2 catfish fillets, patted dry
2 tbs curry spice blend (Madras curry powder, rice flour)
1 tbs oil (olive, canola, peanut, avocado, up to you!)

1. Coat the catfish generously in the curry spice blend
2. Using the same pan (less dishwashing!), heat oil.
3. Sear catfish for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and cooked through
4. Serve atop coconut rice with raisin chutney



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