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DianaB

Cooking from Meal Kits (Hello Fresh, Purple Carrot, Gousto, and so on)

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@SJMitch, I checked the recipe cards last night, and the cans of coconut milk were meant for the beet curry.

 

Another TB12 meal this week: zucchini boats.  The ingredients:

 

ingredients.thumb.jpg.a4ef617f33279cc984022bafe0716093.jpg

 

Millet is cooked.  Zucchini is halved and centers scraped out, then baked.  Tomato and shallot are diced.  Mint is chopped, peach is peeled, sliced, and placed in a hot bath of boiling water, rice vinegar and salt, then refrigerated.  Garlic is sliced and combined with olive oil, mint is chopped.  Yogurt is combined with sumac and salt.  Okra is sliced and then charred in a hot skillet, then combined with the garlic/olive oil mix, sautéed briefly and then the millet, tomato, shallot and most of the mint are added.  Baked zucchini is stuffed with this mixture and then topped with chopped peanuts, mint, pickled peaches, and sumac. Yogurt is served alongside.  The dish:

 

594cfe309d1a9_zucchiniboat.thumb.jpg.f61034def43949706484989d6f3a5d48.jpg

 

I forgot to add the pickled peaches.  Oops!


Edited by liamsaunt (log)
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6 hours ago, liamsaunt said:

@SJMitch, I checked the recipe cards last night, and the cans of coconut milk were meant for the beet curry.

 

Did they give you a completely redone card listing coconut milk instead of coconut cloud powder?  The online card (and my hard copy) lists the powder.

 

Sun Basket, more than the others, swaps ingredients from time to time and we get a little notice in our box like this:

 

594d607b06cf3_CamScanner2017-06-2311_30.38_1.thumb.jpg.62c1cfaac1d2163eb45d101399ebf726.jpg

 

The zucchini boats look delicious!  

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Ah Gobble, this is why we still stick with you, as fickle as you are:

 

ravioli-001.jpg.86651f9f58e9e1eb324e144b31bdc9e7.jpg

 

The color-temp of the photo is a bit off -- the sauce is is actually pale green.  This is ravioli with asparagus and fava bean filling served with mix of corn, zucchini, and fresh fava and asparagus quickly sauteed and a provided asparagus-cream puree.  Fresh chive blossom (THIS is the kind of garnish they would more regularly do in the earlier days, though usually they gave more than a single blossom to split between two servings!) and shaved parmesan.  We only augmented slightly with some red onion and garlic in the sautéed veggies (the red onion being extra from a particularly large onion provided by Purple Carrot for those Jerk Tempeh Tostadas).

 

Summer, I love you.  And our figs are coming in and the markets have Hami melons again and lychee, and longan and rambutan and and and ....

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After looking at all these wonderful meals, I almost regret to say that I have dropped Hello Fresh after just 5 deliveries. Three of the boxes had problems - the first two chronicled earlier in this thread and the last one involving substandard produce (arugula isn't supposed to be yellow, right?). The final straw was a text from my sister, to whom I forwarded an offer for a free box, reporting that the meat in her delivery was 45 degrees. Ultimately, I just can't justify the expense for such uneven quality. Looking forward to seeing your continued successes, though!


Patty

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22 hours ago, SJMitch said:

 

Did they give you a completely redone card listing coconut milk instead of coconut cloud powder?  The online card (and my hard copy) lists the powder.

 

 

The card I have calls for the cans of coconut milk.  You add it when the card you linked to adds the water to the beets.  The photo of the beets cooking is different than the one in your link.  The nutritional data is also slightly different.   How odd!

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2 hours ago, patris said:

After looking at all these wonderful meals, I almost regret to say that I have dropped Hello Fresh after just 5 deliveries. Three of the boxes had problems - the first two chronicled earlier in this thread and the last one involving substandard produce (arugula isn't supposed to be yellow, right?). The final straw was a text from my sister, to whom I forwarded an offer for a free box, reporting that the meat in her delivery was 45 degrees. Ultimately, I just can't justify the expense for such uneven quality. Looking forward to seeing your continued successes, though!

Hmmm. Seems like my decision to forget the whole Hello Fresh scenario was probably wise. 


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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3 hours ago, patris said:

After looking at all these wonderful meals, I almost regret to say that I have dropped Hello Fresh after just 5 deliveries.

 

Wow, I think you gave them more than enough trial.  I've gotten several discount offers for Hello Fresh, but every time I've looked at their menus on offer nothing stands out to me. I hope you got credit for the bad items! 

 

We only used Plated, Green Chef, and Chef'd for a few deliveries each.  No bad experiences, but just nothing special.  Well, Chef'd has some recipes that interesting, but ingredients just were mediocre to average quality.  Since they are order on demand, I might order again if the menus on offer from our current services some week aren't to our liking.  

 

We previously had just 4 deliveries from Blue Apron, but as I mentioned, their prior selection options frustrated us.  So we are trying again.

 

Din was the most amazing during their short life.  They shipped with dry ice; the meat always arrived frozen.  Oh, and they shipped in reusable insulated shopping bags with handles and zippers (lightweight, not heavy duty ones).  They would take them back but also said you could keep them.  So we did.  Now they are our grocery shopping bags.  They look like these Amazon ones  But they couldn't make it work (and they tried several business model change-ups).  Their quality, ingredients, and shipping method just cost more to provide, and their prices were higher because of it ($15-$20 per serving).  Having seen what you get for $10 to $14 per serving from other companies, they were actually a bargain!  So it's not surprising they went out of business, they must have bled money.

 

We've also looked into Marley Spoon, PeachDish, Terra's Kitchen (which ships in a cooler), and Home Chef.  But so far, none of the menus have tempted us or had a big enough first-timer discount to make a trial worth it.

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Looks like Purple Carrot just makes silent substitutions.  One of our dishes this week was to be Sweet Corn Risotto with Lemon Parmesan Broccolini & Chervil 

 

But we didn't get chervil, we got basil.  The hard-copy recipe card we got lists basil in all the right places.  Not a big deal, but I'd rather they do what Sun Basket does and include a note.  Or what Gobble does and send email saying that an item has been substituted.

 

We chose the non-TB12 menu this week since it looked better to us, partly because this risotto was offered and we previously made TB12 corn risotto and loved the taste (see photo previously in this thread -- with artichokes).  This version is quite different.  

 

It uses regular arborio rice instead of brown arborio.  It also has less corn, one ear added as whole kernels cut from the cob instead of two ears with one cooked and pureed and one added whole.  The TB12 one also has added coconut powder.  I liked the prior version better and my husband likes this one better.  This one is closer to a traditional risotto though both are much less rich (no added cheese).  The regular menu has smaller portions (the TB12 menu is intended for highly active people who need more calories).

 

I over-roasted the broccolini. My fault, I turned off the oven and left it in thinking the risotto was close to finished, it was not.  Oops.  So we had very crispy broccolini, still tasty. I wish they had give at least twice as much broccolini, however.  They had you juice the lemons and serve the juice on the side.  I did so, but really, lemon wedges would have been easier both to serve and to use when eating.  Like before I used chicken stock as part of the cooking liquid.  I mixed the vegan Parmesan into the risotto but topped with real Parmesan.

 

IMG_20170624_215806.jpg.a5d6d90185b635029ac450379e3c1442.jpg

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And the last of this week's 6 meals: Southern Spoonbread from Purple Carrot.  The meal kit provided ingredients for a corn spoonbread, a tomato and black-eyed pea gravy, and sautéed swiss chard.

 

IMG_20170625_204603.jpg.2abdc2ac517e819956000e1d1a808901.jpg

 

And it's Purple Carrot's first mistake with us: the tomato-black-eyed-pea-gravy called for 1/4 cup of vegan cream cheese but it was missing from our box.  Now, I'm usually very, very good at checking ingredients before I start cooking but this time I rushed to start cooking when I saw the spoonbread needed to bake for 30 minutes.  So I was halfway through the recipe when I discovered the missing ingredient.  And I sure don't have that on hand!  Looked for a substitute and didn't even have yogurt or anything.  So, I had to make quick trip to the store mid-recipe while the spoonbread baked.  They only had Tofutti vegan cream cheese (which I consider only so-so) so I got real cream cheese.

 

I also added real bacon to the swiss chard.  We actually DO often have veggie bacon on hand (we like veggie 'meats'. A lot), but had recently used the last of ours up.  Also, this morning I was at Whole Foods and saw cooked okra and shallots on the hot prepared food bar and thought it would be perfect with dinner.  So that's the veggie on the back of the plate.

 

This dish has problems and significant promise.  The gravy was exceedingly rich.  Maybe vegan cream cheese would be better!  The spoonbread needs a bit of work.  They didn't tell you what size pan to use, but from their photo it looked like theirs was in a small lodge skillet, so I used an 8" one.  To get a crust on the bottom, I preheated the skillet with oil while the oven was coming up to temp, and then added more oil before adding the batter (this worked, see photo).  After 30 minutes, the center was still very liquid and had a taste of raw flour. It's supposed to be custardy, but the flour needs to be cooked.  So I let it go for a total of about 42 minutes.  Maybe their pan was bigger than 8".

 

Despite the problems with the spoonbread, we'd probably get this again!

 

Ready for the coming week, with 9 meals: Sun Basket, Purple Carrot (TB12), and Blue Apron.  Liamsaunt, did you make your asparagus pesto pasta yet?

 

 

 


Edited by SJMitch (log)
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8 hours ago, SJMitch said:

Ready for the coming week, with 9 meals: Sun Basket, Purple Carrot (TB12), and Blue Apron.  Liamsaunt, did you make your asparagus pesto pasta yet?

 I have not. I did not cook this weekend. Saturday we hosted a dinner in a restaurant for my inlaws 50th anniversary, and yesterday we skipped dinner in favor of a U2 concert. If the veggies are still fresh I may make it this evening and serve it with scallops from my fish share. 

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And ... back to Purple Carrot (TB12) for dinner (they arrived this morning). First up is a  corn and poblano tortilla pie with orange-peppadew salsa. 

 

For this one we would be eating dinner very late in the day so I pre-prepped the ingredients (chopping and salsa assembly) hours in advance:

 

IMG_20170627_185619.jpg.6e12ab9acf33db6f3d1d64889fa3af86.jpg

 

The peppadew salsa was great!  So easy. Since Whole Foods carries peppadew on the olive bar, I can see making this from time to time.  Just a mix of peppadew, orange, lime juice and cilantro.  That's it.

 

The tortilla pie was made with beans, corn, poblano pepper, onion, spices, and a little vegan cream cheese (got it this time!).  The vegan cream cheese is why they call it a 'quesadilla', but it just adds a subtle note of creaminess.

 

IMG_20170627_203450.jpg.52f8e5a7628c8b8d5e9533fd040f41d1.jpg

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 I must say how much I am enjoying your adventures with these meal delivery kits.   The food does look appetizing.   My brief experience with Chefs Plate  still leaves me with the impression that the only things they knew how to pack were kale, quinoa and flat iron steak. 

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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I also made the TB12 charred poblano quesadilla last night.  I did not take a picture of the ingredients, so am glad SJMitch did.  I agree that the orange-peppadew salsa was great.  I will definitely make that again.

 

I hacked my ingredients into something different.  I saved the pinto beans for another day, and instead added some Cajun-spiced sautéed sand dabs to the filling.  I put the spices that were meant for the beans into the vegetable mixture.  I also tossed the included tortillas (I was hoping they would be corn but they were not), and used regular flour tortillas from my freezer.  Finally, I added sour cream on the side.

 

quesadilla.thumb.jpg.77f48b3876d299ea19429baa2fd0de63.jpg

 

Tonight's recipe is a banh-mi stuffed avocado on bamboo rice, and I am not using the ingredients the way the recipe calls for tonight either.

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1 hour ago, liamsaunt said:

Tonight's recipe is a banh-mi stuffed avocado on bamboo rice, and I am not using the ingredients the way the recipe calls for tonight either.

 

Yes!  These meal kits lend themselves to being a good base to build your own and without you ending up with way too much of any ingredient since the portions are just for two rather than what you'd have to buy in the store.

 

Experimenting also helps you learn to troubleshoot problems in advance with the included recipes.  There was a dish I loved that other commenters complained about being too soupy. Mine wasn't and I was going to post saying so and then I remembered that I had just naturally cut back on water when making the dish (and forgot I had, so didn't register that the recipe was bad).

 

Mostly the recipes are good, though, so my husband makes them sometimes.  And now even he is taking a look through the fridge in advance to see if there is anything he wants to add before cooking.  We also cook together more and more efficiently since there is a printed plan.

 

Wish you were my neighbor, so we could divvy up meals and/or ingredients!  Sometimes there is just one dish in a menu I want and the others, meh.  If it's Sun Basket, cool, I can double or triple up, but for everyone else I have to decide whether to order something I'm not sure I want to get the one I do want.  Although ... maybe about 20% of the time I'm wrong: the dish isn't meh, and I find something new I really like.  I'd have taken your tortillas -- I like their thin crispyness.

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I don't know, but as a single person who has to make a four mile round trip on foot for groceries with a very limited budget, the service seems tempting. I have seen so many meals here that cost an average of $10. While they are cheaper than most restaurants, I can make them for a fraction of the cost at home, gathering my own ingredients and managing them efficiently. I have more time than money, though. It takes me a minimum of three hours to walk to a grocer, do shopping and come back home. If your time is limited and you have plenty of money, it's probably a good deal. I'm not even an avid meat eater, but they seem to be kind of skimpy on that.

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> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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3 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

I don't know, but as a single person who has to make a four mile round trip on foot for groceries with a very limited budget, the service seems tempting. I have seen so many meals here that cost an average of $10. While they are cheaper than most restaurants, I can make them for a fraction of the cost at home, gathering my own ingredients and managing them efficiently. I have more time than money, though. It takes me a minimum of three hours to walk to a grocer, do shopping and come back home. If your time is limited and you have plenty of money, it's probably a good deal. I'm not even an avid meat eater, but they seem to be kind of skimpy on that.

 

It's definitely true that meal kits don't work for everyone.  I don't have the same amount of time that you say you do, and I find them convenient for weeknight cooking.  If I did not work full time and commute, I would probably not be interested in meal kits.

 

Last night's meal was to be a banh mi stuffed avocado over bamboo rice and black beans.  I had some Faroe Island salmon from my fish share to use up, so instead opted to make the herby salmon cakes from Andrea Ngyuen's Banh Mi Cookbook, and serve the vegetables and sauce as a sandwich.  I saved the beans and rice for another day.

 

5954e03ebb461_banhmi.thumb.jpg.65ffea81080a5fcf1009c5235ee13b37.jpg

 

The inside:

 

5954e039eeae9_banhmicut.thumb.jpg.820bcfdd77ea655bd87200cb6b3c6228.jpg

 

I'm skipping next week's box due to vacation. 

 

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9 hours ago, Thanks for the Crepes said:

I'm not even an avid meat eater, but they seem to be kind of skimpy on that.

 

Well, Purple Carrot IS all-vegan, so no meat there!  And since we prefer seafood and vegetables dishes (although I love all meats (including organ meats) except chicken breast), you'll see more of those from me even from Sun Basket and Gobble (because that's what I'll pick!). But see that flank steak meal from Gobble -- that's a dish I got only because there were only 2 others that week that were more to my liking (less meat!) and so it was a 'meh' pick for me.  

 

Gobble and Sun Basket have other more meat-focused dishes, absolutely, and most services (in the US) are more meat+starch heavy with a token 1 or 2 very uninspiring vegetarian picks.  E.g. Blue Apron box arrives today for us, but nothing looked interesting to me for the next 4 weeks following, so I'll be skipping them all.   Not only that, but meat is quick and easy to cook because it comes mostly pre-prepped at the grocery.  

 

Really good vegetarian dishes are inherently more labor intensive because veggies have traditionally not come pre-prepped at the grocery like meat mostly is.  Though more, and more, they are! We can buy riced cauliflower and noodled zucchini and crinkle-cut butternut squash at most groceries now.  If everyone had to butcher their own meat individually before each meal, we'd all eat more veggie meals since we just wouldn't have the time.  But most non-vegetarian folks (and many vegetarians) won't put up with labor intensive veggie recipes -- hence the mostly uninspiring veggie meals from these services.  Purple Carrot, Sun Basket, and Gobble are exceptions.  This labor problem also affects restaurants, which is why, I think, I only tend to see really awesome veggie dishes at high-end restaurants.  Only hard-core foodies will happily understand and gladly pay more for the amazing vegetable dish that had higher labor costs but lower cost ingredients.

 

For a few weeks we tried PlateJoy.  They are a recipe service that gives you a mix of recipes cut down in servings to feed how many you choose and tries to make a set of recipes that use common ingredients so you can use up what you buy.  Then they give you a shopping list and either you go shop or use a service like Instacart to pick it up.  I've tried Instacart in the past but tipping made the cost much higher and I didn't like our shoppers' choice of produce (they are under time pressure to get orders done fast so I understand).  We got decent produce, don't get me wrong!  But their recipes were just so-so to us.  And in the end, it didn't save us much time and to use up items more efficiently we had to give up variety in dishes  (and PlateJoy does let you choose how you want to balance possible waste vs variety).  Also, it's harder to get recipes with uncommon ingredients like preserved lemon or black garlic.  Software like Paprika can do similar if you have a bank of recipes you want to try (adjust servings, collate a shopping list), but can't automatically match up a recipes so you, say, exactly use a head of cauliflower between 2 recipes that week.

 

I used to do for myself what these mealkits do - plan recipes around new ingredients and new dishes and then go shop.  It did take quite a bit (of very fun!) time.  And still, I had a lot of food wastage, since I don't particularly love cooking from remainder ingredients (read: I'm not good at making something awesome from remainder ingredients on the fly). Food wastage really makes my husband unhappy, and frequent fridge cleanout meals make me unhappy, so these services make us both happy by eliminating both!

 

It's no wonder that most families end up using the same dozen or so recipes day in, day out.

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Lunch from Blue Apron: Cod with Tomatillo Salsa and Squash and Sweet Potato Hash

 

IMG_20170629_122644-001.thumb.jpg.a3a4c67bbe26ca9a56847c4ca3203709.jpg

 

Not bad.  But both the hash and fish could use some spicing other than salt and pepper.  I did add Penzy's "Old World" spice mix to the fish before cooking.  I also knew the sweet potatoes could use more than time than they specified to get soft like I like so I nuked them for 2 minutes before frying.

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Dinner was this vegetarian dish from Sun Basket: Quinoa, white bean, and zucchini fritters with tomato and peach salad

 

IMG_20170629_204819-002.thumb.jpg.80341944e9911f588fd66f646f1812f8.jpg

 

Sauce is tahini and lemon.  I made no additions this time, but cooked the quinoa in my rice cooker for convenience (always comes out perfect).  I had thought I made a big mistake: the instructions called for shredding the zucchini and then wringing out the water before mixing it into the batter.  I missed the wringing out part and put it in wet.  I worried when I read the side-bar on the recipe about how important this was to getting a good crust.  But the very wet batter fried up just fine!  Very tasty!  we really liked this one.

 

Oh, but you know what would have been even better in the salad?  Mint instead of basil.


Edited by SJMitch (log)
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 Quite an amazing looking meal.   I am quite envious.  


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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interesting article on BA economics :

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-blueapron-ipo-idUSKBN19K22R

 

""   According to the company's IPO filing, 90 percent of the meal-kit delivery service's customers abandon the service within a year of their first purchase.

 

The company is only making about 5 percent of profit margin per customer even before considering other fixed costs like R&D, spending around $175 to acquire a customer that yields only $190 of gross profit on $600 of revenue, consumer research firm ValuePenguin said.

"Assuming this trend continues, Blue Apron will have to acquire more than 4 million new customers, which is about 3 percent of American households, every year, just to break even," said DJ Kang, senior vice president at ValuePenguin.

Kang also said Matthew Salzberg, the founder and chief executive of Blue Apron, has been selling his shares since 2014 even as his sale prices have been declining. """

 

 

clearly one tough business to be in.

 

APRN is now underwater.

 


Edited by rotuts (log)
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