Monday, April 3, 2017

Three Meals with Blue Apron- Part 1

We see the commercials on television all the time, those upscale membership clubs that deliver everything you need for a home cooked and somewhat bistro influenced meals. Very clever idea and a great way to get people cooking fresh and healthy food themselves, almost like cooking school in a box. The lovely ladies at The Spoon and Pint surprised The Chef and I with a three-meal package from Blue Apron so I didn't waste any time getting on the website and choosing our three menus. The choices were like dishes I'd order in a  restaurant but the recipes make it easy to prepare at home.

What did I choose? The first meal package I chose was the Shiitake Burgers with Miso Mayonnaise and Roasted Sweet Potato. Meal number two is Seared Chicken and French Lentils with Arugula and Feta Salad. The third and final meal is Kale and White Cheddar Quesadillas with Radishes and Fried Eggs. 

Opening the box was an experience as well. The box is packed with insulated lining and huge ice packs. All the ingredients are individually packaged and clearly marked. Produce is packed in plastic bags so you can clearly see what is in each bag. Eggs tucked safely in a cardboard carton. Meats are wrapped and packed separately from the fresh produce and knick knacks- the knick knacks are the small bits and bobs, like packets of spices, miso paste, mayo, cheeses and things like that.

Each recipe includes a recipe card with a picture and description of the finished dish, a list of ingredients with photos, and step by step directions on the back. It's almost impossible to make a mistake with these kits. The ingredients are packed in pre-measured amounts, all you have to do is assemble the ingredients and follow the directions, which also includes a picture of the steps. The very first step is to prepare your mise en place, and the rest just flows.

The first recipe we are going to share is the Kale and White Cheddar Quesadillas with Radishes and Fried Eggs. This recipe is a unique take on what many people consider a kid menu item, the quesadilla. Using corn tortillas instead of flour is the first difference- corn tortillas add a lot more flavor and texture, in my opinion. Next replacing the huge glob of cheese with healthy sauteed kale and a small amount of white cheddar makes this a lighter and much more nutritious dish. It comes with a seasoning packet that you can use to spice it up as much or as little as you want. The radishes, served thinly sliced, add an authentic touch to the dish and the fried egg on top is a modern and on-trend way to boost the protein in a dish that usually is served dripping with gloppy cheese and messy salsa. 

Let's take a look at the ingredient list-

2 eggs
4 corn tortillas
3 radishes
1 clove garlic
1 lime
1 bunch kale
2 tb creme fraiche
3 oz white cheddar cheese
1 tsp quesadilla spice blend*

*Ancho chile powder, Chipotle chile powder and cumin

Simple, clean and easy, right? Let's make quesadillas.

Prepare the ingredients- Wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and finely chop the garlic. Remove and discard kale stems, roughly chop the leaves. Quarter the lime. Grate the cheese. Cut off and discard the stems and root of radishes, halve lengthwise then thinly slice crosswise.

The kale is so fresh and crisp- it's hard to believe this came
through the mail and wasn't picked from my garden.
Cook the kale- In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the garlic and kale, season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, one or two minutes until the kale is wilted. Add 1/4 cup of water and up to 3/4 of the spice blend, depending on how spicy you'd like the dish to be. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently 3 to 5 minutes, or until the kale is wilted and the water had cooked off. Turn off the heat, stir in the juice of two lime wedges, season with salt and pepper.

Make the lime creme fraiche- While the kale cooks, in a small bowl combine the creme fraiche and the juice of the remaining lime wedges. Season with salt and pepper.

Assemble and cook the quesadillas- Place the tortillas on a clean, dry work surface. Divide half the cheese between two of the tortillas; top with the cooked kale and remaining cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Complete the quesadillas with the remaining tortillas.

Wipe out the pan used to cook the kale. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and heat over medium high heat until hot. Add the quesadillas and cook 2-3 minutes per side until the tortillas are browned and the cheese has melted. Place on two plates; set aside in a warm place.

Wipe out the skillet and heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium heat until hot. Crack the eggs into the pan, keeping them separate. Season with salt and as much of he remaining spice blend as you'd like. Cook 4 to 5 minutes until the whites are set and the yolks re done to your desired doneness. 

Season the radishes and plate your dish- Place the radishes in a bowl and drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil and salt and pepper. Toss to coat thoroughly. Top the cooked quesadillas with the radishes and fried eggs. Serve with the creme fraiche on the side. 

That was SUPER easy to prepare. So how did they taste? AMAZING. I'll be honest, I expected this one to be my least favorite of all the meals. I only chose it because the other three options were things I knew The Chef would not like or were salmon, and we all know how I feel about salmon. The kale was such an unexpected ingredient in a quesadilla but it was so delicious. The white cheddar cheese was just the right amount of cheesiness. I'm one of those rare people who thinks Americans use waaaaay too much cheese in cooking, it's cheese on everything, but these were just perfect. The seasoning packet added a nice heat without being too hot, the lime creme fresh added a nice creamy touch. It's quite common to find radishes in Latin dishes and they added the perfect crunch here. The egg took some coaxing on my part. I'm definitely not a runny yolk lover, but I was a big girl and ate most of my egg without complaining. It was good, but I would probably leave it off next time. All in all, this was a tasty and filling dish.

The packaged dinner clubs/memberships are a pretty cool idea really. I didn't have to grocery shop for anything at all and had a freshly prepared dinner in about 20 minutes. I like what Blue Apron stands for too. The company focuses on organic produce and meats, cage free eggs and sustainability. Our box contained a booklet with the story of Bill Niman, the well known California rancher who raises livestock, and shares his story and opinion on grass fed vs grain finished cattle. It was a great read and very informational. We also got an ingredient card focusing on olive oil, it's different types and a recipe for classic vinaigrette. Blue Apron is a great company with a great product and I'm sure we will be cooking with them many times in the future.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free with no expectation that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe are of good quality and safe. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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