More Pictures of Food

I am still using the Blue Apron meal service and I feel the need to complete the week out by at least posting about the last meal of the first week. From the first box the last meal is Roasted Chicken and Mixed Mushrooms. According to the blurb this dish is based of a ‘winning’ dish from the Season 13 Top Chef finale by chef Jeremy Ford. This is an interesting ‘synergization’ of products by pairing Blue Apron with Top Chef, but there is a problem: I have read a summary of the dishes served in the season finale of Top Chef and Jeremy Ford did not serve roasted chicken to the judges, its not a dish from the finale. Perhaps it is adapted from the duck dish served in the third course, but that dish was ridiculed by the judges as being almost raw. This research has removed all confidence that Blue Apron was trying to add to the recipe by mentioning the Top Chef winner.

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No peas to mess up this time

This time I double checked that I had all the correct ingredients, though as this was the last meal of the week it used all the Blue Apron ingredients which I had left. Most notably, this recipe was the first that I’ve made that needed a small amount of a liquid. The sauce uses a small amount of sherry vinegar, which came in an adorably small bottle.

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Single serving sherry, quarter for scale

From the start this recipe worried me for one big reason, instead of including carbohydrates the chef designing this recipe decided to use mushrooms. While willing to try this it means that this is a 570 Calorie meal because carbs are one of the most efficient ways of ingesting energy, good if you are dieting but that is a small meal if dinner is your large meal of the day.

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I have never cooked mushrooms before but this doesn’t seem right

The mushrooms came out a little burnt. Talking to others I know with the service who tried preparing the same recipe they had this problem as well. I think this stems from the inherent vaugness that Blue Apron has in their instructions. The mushrooms are cut into “bite size pieces” and then cooked with a little oil and seasoning in the oven. I noticed the my semi burn “bite sized pieces” were a bit bigger then my friend who small pieces were burnt to a crisp. Closely looking at the Blue Apron pictures I notice that their “bite size” was really cutting each mushroom in half, leaving very large pieces.

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The finished dish

I am still not a huge fan of the texture of mushrooms, especially when they are slightly singed and this dish did little to convince me. I think I need to work into mushrooms much more gradually than they are presented in this dish. The collard green as with the green vegetables in these dishes seems to be there more for color than flavor or texture. The savior of what would otherwise be a sad dish is the chicken thigh, it was absolutely delicious.

As a bonus since this post is a little late I have also received my second delivery of Blue Apron and have prepared one of the meals from it, Korean Bao Sliders. This dish is a good example of why I decided to try Blue Apron. Its a recipe that I would order out, or get at a food truck but not something that I would try at home. It was fairly easy to prepare and it was very tasty, and unlike the low Calorie chicken above the recipe prepares 6 sliders which, for me, was enough for 3 meals.

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Very careful to select everything correctly

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Tasty sliders

As I move into my second week of Blue Apron I am starting to run into a problem that I foresaw. This is a lot of food for one person. I got the second delivery of Blue Apron food on Wednesday and I still had leftovers from two of the meals from the previous week in my fridge. Unless I am very good about not eating out and cooking most nights using Blue Apron just for dinners for one will generate a compounding error and make the entire system unstable. There are two things that can be done to prevent this: one which I have started, bring the leftovers for lunch; and a second, if overwhelmed deliveries can be halted for a week, which I may need to do in the future if I still can’t keep up.

A Sacrificial Centerpiece

Going to a local barbecue shack near by we had enough people to be seated in the secluded back room, which had only a single large table with this amazing and terrifying centerpiece. Luckily I was not seated directly facing the skull as it would make it a little more difficult to enjoy my brisket while looking into the empty sockets of the head of the animal which I am enjoying. Though very odd the centerpiece is rather fascinating, a horned skull, bleached and covered with wax from the many lit candles covering it while surrounded by veladoras, or prayer candles, and fresh flowers. It really gave the appearance of an alter honoring one of the animals which make barbecue possible.

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An Apron’s Addendum

So on trying my second meal from Blue Apron I realized that some of my criticism of the first meal was unfair.

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Can you spot what’s wrong with this picture?

If you look closely in the picture above you’ll see that for today’s meal Spiced Pork Chops & Mashed Potatoes there are sugar snap peas laid out with the other ingredients. It seems two meals this week involved two different types of peas, and I grabbed the wrong ones. The peas that went into the Gemelli were English peas the larger rougher cousin to the sweet sugar snap.

With the mistake already made I had no choice but to compound it and make the pork chop recipe with the sugar snaps. Luckily sugar snaps make a decent substitution for English peas.

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I would have preferred to sous-vide, but that’s not in the recipe

The recipe was otherwise very straight forward, though I don’t like how often they include “salt and pepper to taste” and other vagueness around how much salt to add. Salt, pepper and olive oil are the only ingredients that Blue Apron cooks are expected to have already, buts its always very exact about how much olive oil to use.

The recipes are designed to be simple to follow and not designed to be exact and idiot proof. I really would prefer if this was a scientific paper and these were the instructions to replicate the experiment’s results by peer revue. Instead of ‘heat oil in a pan until hot‘, tell me exactly what temperature the pan should be. Hot has a different definition between chefs and it seems in Blue Aprons interest to give detailed instructions so that everyone who uses their ingredients and recipe will get very consistent results.

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The finished dish

The dish was very good. The peas cooked with shallot made a good topping and mashed potatoes are always a good pick. I feel like the kale was added just for color, as it didn’t add any flavor to the dish and had most of its texture cooked out of it. But as someone who doesn’t really like green and leafy it worked for me.

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Lunch