Blue Apron Experience – Thumbs Up!

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Yakiniku-Glazed Eggplant with leftovers!

After two consecutive weeks of Blue Apron deliveries I have to say that this was fun, challenging, and I learned a few things.  This was actually the last of the three meals in my first delivery, but I’m posting the photo first because it was my favorite meal.  Really delicious.

I ordered the two-person vegetarian box, which means I received three meals designed to serve two people each.  I soloed on this culinary trip, so I actually had 3-4 meals per dish.  Nice!

Also, the ingredients are really superior. The only problem was that some of the fresh items, which I know could last longer if I purchased them myself, arrived spoiled or spoiled before I could use them.  Also, I substituted my own brown jasmine rice for their white.

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Be prepared to use all your prep bowls!  To keep the time down, the instructions have you prepping everything ahead.  I do this myself, but somehow I usually manage to clean as I go. At the end of every cooking session, my kitchen was trashed like the set of the tween-cooking episode of a sitcom.

Mostly, I managed to keep my cooking times to the estimates on the well-orchestrated recipe cards.

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Cherry Tomato & Onion Quiches

I actually made these for breakfast on Saturday and had the leftover one on Sunday.  The crusts were fabulous.  I really wanted to stick to the recipes, so I didn’t doctor this up with herbs like I would have, and I found it a bit bland.  Plus, half the cherry tomatoes had escaped into the shipping box, so it wasn’t as tomato-y as it could have been.  I didn’t make the side dish of zucchini and corn because it’s a lot like something I already make.

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Those are fairy tale eggplants on the upper left. Wow, they are darling, and they cook up nicely.  My second box arrived the next Friday, and I didn’t have time to cook that night, so I made the pizza for Saturday brunch.

The mozzarella was amazing. Pulled apart in milky shreds. I had to sample some before putting it on the pizza.  The zuchinni and tomatoes were for the side dish of blistered tomatoes, zucchini, currents and white wine vinegar.  My least favorite dish, but interesting.  I wished I’d saved the tomatoes for later.  They were delicious on their own.

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Fairy Tale Eggplant and Mozzarella Pizza

I was surprised that the small amount of tomato sauce that adhered to the slices of eggplant made for such a satisfying distribution of flavor.  Fresh basil, how can you go wrong?  This was a four-meal dish.

 

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Chilled Hiyashi Chuka Ramen with Thief

This was another of my favorite dishes, although I omitted the egg when I had the leftovers (twice!).  I am usually a big fan of a hot meal, but this was really good.  I’m glad I had the experience of cooking and chilling the ramen noodles (by simply rinsing in cold water).  Not difficult, I just probably wouldn’t have tried them cold.  The dressing is easily reproducible, but involved two tablespoons of white sugar, so I’ll come up with an alternate for that.

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Summer Vegetable & Red Rice Salad

This recipe prompted some pondering about what exactly makes something a salad. Seems it is pretty much a wide open category.  Doesn’t even have to be chilled.  This salad and German potato salad are good examples.

I liked this dish pretty well, but by the time I got around to making it (Wednesday), the cherry tomatoes were inedible, so I scavenged a few from my ramen leftovers.

The goat cheese was maybe the best I’ve ever had. Creamy and amazing, and it was hard to do as instructed and add white wine vinegar to it to stretch it.  I would do it with a lesser goat cheese, but not with this goat cheese again.

Overall:

I enjoyed being reminded how worthwhile it is to blanch and shock green beans.  I mean, really. Fabulous.  And that eggplant isn’t all that mysterious. And that just cooling my jets while the veggies brown without being stirred is a very good thing.

Also learned how to deal with panko breadcrumbs.  Duh, right?  I could have looked it up online a million times, but I never thought it was worth it.  It was worth it.  Delicious topper to this odd dish.

So, yes, this was a lot of fun. A bit of pressure because of the boxes arriving late on the Friday afternoons of busy weekends.  If you’re a complete novice, I’d say do this, but with a partner.  It’s a lot on your own.  If you’re experienced, it’s nice to be reminded that going the extra distance (like toasting cashews with herbs and lime zest for first eggplant dish) is really worth it for guests.  And maybe for yourself, too!

Sadly, I won’t be sticking with the club on a regular basis because I try to eat whole-food-plant based, which doesn’t include all this oil and dairy.  There was only one egg and dairy free meal out of the six.  I know, that’s a lot to ask!  Tasty as it is…too much cheese.

It’s Friday, and I’m not getting a box of fun things to cook.  But Blue Apron is really nice about it and they will let you start and stop your subscription pretty easily.   You can select meats, fish or veggies and you can opt out of types of meats you don’t want.

I will probably order another veggie box when I have visitors coming, just to up my game!

 

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Blue Apron #1

Blue Apron Whole Grain Pasta & Summer Vegetables, plus makings for a Caprese Salad

Anyone else curious about this? Thanks to my niece, Arispa, I received a free Blue Apron shipment. These are the ingredients for the first meal I tried. Note the adorable little packet of butter!

After much anticipation, the Blue Apron box arrived around 3pm on Friday.  I unpacked and took pictures, of course!

Condiments for the Yakiniku-Glazed Eggplant

The packaging is adorable, if not 100% effective. (More on this next time.) A couple of the cherry tomatoes went rogue and were squished among the rest of the contents.

Theirs.
Mine

Large portions. I’m okay with the difference except that there is more pasta to zucchini ratio in mine. 

My Caprese salad
Nice packaging.

The heirloom tomato was big and traveled well, but it was far from ripe. Actually crunchy on the other!

Decent meal. The salad was a nice touch. Lots of leftovers because thus doesn’t interest Hydra.

Not sure of the value of having to put the olives, especially since they tasted like regular black olives. Is be willing to work harder for kalamatas!

Hopefully,  I’ll post about the other two meals soon.  

Grape Haul

Must have picked 4 or 5 pounds of grapes from our vine today. Quite a nice surprise! There are about this many more waiting to ripen.

Just beautiful on the vine.

Dodger gets a kick out of picking them off the stem. Perfect size for him he ate 8-10 in one sitting!

Olives & Chocolate

Spanish Olives

#1 in a series of drawings I’m making of the souvenirs I brought home from Europe.  The olives we had in Barcelona had such a delicate, deep flavor…not too briny.  We especially love the anchovy stuffed olives.

I know, it sounds weird, but trust me, they’re amazing.  We’ve been putting off opening these, but their time will soon come!
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The chocolate is almost gone.  Luckily, it was another of the first things I drew.  The hazelnut creme eggs from Barcelona were the BEST.

It’s a very small sketchbook, about 4″x6″ to fit in a camera bag or purse.

Clifton’s Downtown LA Lives!

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We took a lunch break while in downtown L.A. for the March for Science to check out Clifton’s cafeteria, which has a long and storied history.  (Click on the link to read more.) The family that owned this place gave away a lot of food from the back of this restaurant during the depression.

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I love how they salvaged what they could of the old mosaic floors. Smart!

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The decor in the serving line is considerably jazzed up since before the renovation. And so are the prices.  Still, you can get a good sized side of their famous macaroni and cheese for $4.99, which is exactly what I did.

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Desserts. Yes. I had pie. Pecan pie.  And limeade.  SO good.

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We sat at a nice old dining room table in a little alcove all our own on the second floor, tucked under the stairs.  We could see most of the first floor dining area from there.

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Three story high faux tree which houses a fireplace.  Do you need more convincing?

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Next time I will sit in this chair. I did sit in several of the chairs made from big slabs of trees.

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And yes, there is taxidermy.  There’s a whole buffalo under glass on the second floor. This guy and some others are on the third floor, which is mostly open just for private events.

This place is an L.A. classic.  It’s a three-block walk from the Pershing Square stop on the Metro Red Line.  Want to meet for lunch?

Tea for Ten

dscn1822I’m privileged to work with these fabulous, witty and smart women. Don’t see enough of them since I started working from home, but how lovely to lunch from time to time.

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We’ve gathered at The T Room in Montrose for several years now for an annual holiday tea/lunch/secret Santa exchange. They do a lovely job and we always get hugs from the owner!

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My personal tea cup. We were served three rounds of freshly brewed tea. The first, the black-tea based Noel blend. The second a black-tea based butterscotch. The last, a white-tea-based holiday fruit tea (pomegranate, etc.)

 

 

Better Off Red

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Sometimes you have to just step back and let the veggies speak.

Super simple salad. Just tomatoes, steamed beets, fresh basil and a sprinkling of apple cider vinegar.

The tomatoes are from Blum Ranch, so they are the next best thing to home grown.