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Repeat: Blue Apron

I’ve been very motivated to get back to cooking now that we are home in Seattle and its winter and its dark out so I don’t really have anything else to do. My goal is to make dinner 3 nights a week, that just leaves the one night I dine at FareStart and three nights of takeout or dinner out. Half and half…I think that is a good goal and I have been making it happen so far. Since being back I have made: a Thai peanut chicken noodle dish, fettuccine alfredo with grilled chicken, creamy mushroom soup with seared pork chops, and green chili chicken enchiladas. We have also made three brunches at home so far; a breakfast hash and banana pancakes and eggs.

In the fall I had tried the Blue Apron delivery service that provides the ingredients and recipes, with great success. I decided to give them another shot as I had another coupon code for them. So on Tuesday morning we were delivered a 15lb box of super fresh ingredients for three meals for the two of us. This week’s delivery included: pan-roasted salmon with spicy miso broth and wakame, crispy chicken thighs with kumquat relish and freekeh salad, and center cut pork chops with beet, heirloom carrot and hazelnut salad. I was excited to break out a meal that night and with us both still fighting off some sickness I decided on the hot ramen soup (plus to use the salmon while it is fresh).

This meal was actually surprisingly simple to make and one I wouldn’t normally think to make but just might make again. There were very few ingredients and very little prep. There were three components to the dish; the miso broth, the ramen noodles, and the pan-roasted salmon. I started on the broth first; sautéing the ginger and green onion, then adding the tatsoi (baby bok choy), and then adding dark miso paste, tamari (similar to soy sauce), sriracha, and water to the pot. This you let simmer for 10-12 minutes and that is all there is to the broth. The ramen you boil for 2 ½ minutes until tender and drain. The 4ox salmon filets you season with salt and pepper and pan sear 3-5 minutes a side in a very hot pan. I split the ramen between two bowls, poured the hot broth into each bowl, topped with a salmon filet, green onion tops and sesame seeds and voila, a hot, comforting bowl of soup with salmon was served. The broth was delicious and the noodles, tatsoi and salmon really complemented each other. Soooo good and filling!  I could use this right now with my sore throat!

Salmon miso ramen.
Salmon miso ramen.

The next meal came on Friday night.  Bryan and I didn’t have any plans for the night so we decided to stay in and cook together.  We chose the chicken thighs with the freekah salad.  Again, this dish had three main components; crispy chicken thighs, a freekah salad, and a kumquat relish.  Bryan had never had kumquats or freekah so he was a little skeptical.  I got the freekah grains cooking in salted boiling water for 18 minutes, then drain and set aside.  You start by sauteing the sliced kumquats, shallots, vinegar, sugar and water in the pan to get soft and good.  Relish is done after adding some fresh tarragon leaves.  Then Bryan cooked the chicken and this couldn’t have been easier and yielded great results.  In a very hot pan with oil we placed the seasoned chicken thighs skin side down.  We then were directed to put a piece of aluminum foil on top of the chicken and a pan of water on top of that to use for the weight.  You leave the chicken along for 12 minutes, which seems like a very long time but the skin protects the chicken.  You remove the pot and foil, flip the chicken over for just three minutes more.  The skin was perfectly crispy and the chicken was moist on the inside.  To the pan, with chicken removed, you add the cut rainbow chard to the chicken drippings and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes.  You add the chard to the freekah, along with chopped almonds and pecorino cheese.  We divided the salad among two plates, topped each with a chicken thigh, and some of the kumquat relish.  This dish was shockingly good.  I LOVED the freekah salad, and I don’t normally do grain salads.  I loved the chard, the chicken was perfect, and that kumquat relish was tasty and unique.  Bryan was also very happy with it and it paired well with a Pinot Gris.

Crispy chicken thighs with freekah salad.
Crispy chicken thighs with freekah salad.

The last meal was the one we were both looking forward to the most, the pork chops with beets.  We decided Sunday night was a good night for it.  And again we cooked the meal together and it was a lot of fun.  First up was peeling, slicing to 1/2″ and boiling in salted water the beets.  Those beets cooked for 18 minutes in the water until fork tender before I drained them and added to a shallot and vinegar mixture.  Bryan cooked the carrots for 5 minutes in oil to get browned before added a pat of butter and water to the pan to finish cooking the baby carrots through.  Removed the carrots and added the salt and peppered pork chops to the same pan.  The chops cooked for 6 minutes on one side, flipped over for two minutes before we added another pat of butter, smashed garlic cloves and fresh thyme to the pan.  Bryan worked on spooning the butter sauce over the pork chops for two minutes.  We removed the pork chops to let rest.  The last step was adding the beets and shallots, carrots, and chopped hazelnuts to the same pan and cooked for two minutes before removing to a bowl and tossing with arugula and fresh sliced mint.  We split this salad among the two plates, sliced the pork chops and put on top, and added any leftover pan juices to the plates.  This meal was bomb!  So bomb!  Would definitely make again and again and would make for guests.

Seared pork chops with beet, carrot and hazelnut salad.
Seared pork chops with beet, carrot and hazelnut salad.

We loved all three of our meals…again!  We both really like these boxes and have a lot of fun with them.  We like to cook these ones together which makes them even more fun.  The directions are great and the recipes are very interesting.  The produce and meats are also very good quality.  I also like learning new ingredients and new techniques.  I will be boiling my beets like this again, I will be cooking chicken like this again, I will be making chard and grain salads like this again, I may be making ramen again, and I don’t doubt I will make that kumquat relish again!  It is also so satisfying when the dishes actually resemble the photos provided to a T.

Chelsea

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