It all started when I got a subscription to Blue Apron. My cooking has changed and above you see in example of one of my meals. It’s meatballs over rice and asparagus. It is a Blue Apron meal however I’ve learned to do some adaptations so they are more my own these days.
The biggest change though has been my overall approach to food. When I started it was followed the recipe and get it on the table which was how I had worked when I was working. Know that I am retired a different mindset began to take hold.
I have learned to approach food in a different way. For instance, when I was preparing this meal I have learned it to take pleasure in the small parts of preparing a meal. The smell of fresh cilantro is absolutely intoxicating. The crunch of the fresh asparagus well it is being prepared for cooking and how it smells is wonderful. Watching it turn greener as it cooks is an amazing transformation. Adding raisins to the ground meat mix adds just a little bit of sweetness to the meatball jus as the olives add a bit of salt. I tasted the rice mixed with the other ingredients and added the lime wedges for an amazing change in the taste of the dish.
Cooking has become for me almost a Zen experience.
This one is a Blue Apron meal. I am finding with the Blue Apron meals that I am often tweaking the meals to reduce the fat. I up the aromatics to preserve the flavors. On this meal, there were enough new things that I cooked the meal as suggested by Blue Apron.
I had never had a salsa verde and it was really a great flavor addition to the salmon which really does not need any assistance. The salsa verde was made with garlic paste, almonds, capers and parsley. The garlic was surprisingly pungent and tasty. The almonds added a bit of crunch. The capers added a bit of sour and the parsley freshened the overall taste. Adding olive oil made the salsa a paste. It brightens the salmon considerably.
I have now had Farro a couple of times and it is a wonderful grain. It is remarkably filling with a lovely nutty flavor. The Farro was warm when I added the pickled shallots, spinach, orange zest and orange pieces. Even with seasoning, the flavor was not quite bright enough for me. The orange was too sweet for my taste so I added a bit of rice vinegar.
It was an extremely satisfying meal.
Spiced catfish, braised greens and cheesy grits with poblano pepper.
There are some foods in my life that I don’t eat because of past experience, poor expectations or dietary sensitivity. Cat fish falls I to the poor expectations category.
During World War II, my father was stationed in Ft. Leonardwood, MO and my mother was there. I remember during my childhood my mother talking about her experiences there. She talked about going to the farmers market and buying catfish. It was alive when she took it home in a bucket. She talked about how it was a bottom feeder and had the flavor of the muddy Mississippr river. We never had it when I was a child.
So, it was a shock when I liked it. Granted, I didn’t have to kill or filet the fish. I think it was farm raised and the muddy taste was not there. The grits had cheddar cheese and cooked poblano pepper added. The collard greens were braised. The meal was above average. I do thank Blue Apron for introducing me to another new food.
Spicy Chicken Soup
This was supposed to be chicken tortilla soup. Things started well and then just went awry. This was a Blue Apron offering and I ended up changing it quite a bit.
As you can see, there are no tortillas slices. I burnt them. They would have added a layer that would have cut down on the spicy flavor of the broth. When I tasted the broth, it was just too spicy for me. I didn’t like the flavor. The broth was not thickening probably because I rinsed the cannellini beans too much. The chicken was good. The rainbow chard and beans were good.
I ended up adding a tablespoon of tomato paste which made it less spicy. It did really change the soup. I also added a spoonful of crème fraîche to ease the spiciness as well.
So, I have no idea how this was supposed to taste but I liked the flavors after I made my unexpected alterations.
Spiced Pork Chops with Charred Poblano Salsa and Mashed Sweet Potatoes
This Blue Apron dinner was a near miss with me. All the components were good but just didn’t work well together. This one also tasted better on the second day as leftovers.
The salsa was the ingredient that was something I normally would not have added to the dinner and I can see using it again with some minor alterations. I tend to follow the recipe the first time and alter things the s cond time around. The reason it taste better to me on the second day was that the heat from the roasted poblano pepper came through. The salsa was a roasted poblano pepper and two roasted scallion bottoms. It also had a fresh Granny Smith apple, the green tops of the scallions, chopped cilantro and the juice of a lime. In this case, I think I will hav less apple in the future so the heat of the poblano can be more prominent.
It was a refreshing addition to he pork chops which had been rubbed with chili powders, cumin and coriander and seared. The other component as mashed sweet potatoes. They were really good. They were quite sweet and did not meld with the pork chops and salsa.
I have to say that before getting food from Blue Apron, any potato I tried to mash was a disaster both white and sweet. I am so grateful that I can finally add mashed to my cooking repertoire.
Carmelized Meyer Lemon Spaghetti
This is one of the dinners I got from Blue Apron this week. In the past, I have not paid attention to vegetarian dishes. There have been so many past potlucks where I have eaten vegetarian dishes that have been tasteless. As I am learning, anyone can produce tasteless food but to me it was more obvious in what I have eaten of vegetarian food in the past.
First, this dish was easy to make. Secondly, the taste was fantastic. It was normal spaghetti but the layers of flavor added to the spaghetti made it something to remember and put it into the food I will make again file. Meyer lemons are in season in the winter and have a sweeter, more vivid taste than normal lemons. After deseeding the quartered lemon, it was marinated with some sugar and cut into eight pieces. I had zested the rind for two teaspoons of zest.
The base of the dish was cooking the marinated lemon, three cloves of garlic, a thinly sliced shallot and some crushed red pepper for just a bit of heat. The smell coming up from the pan made my mouth water. The recipe called for toasting some panko breadcrumbs with a garlic clove. I added the cooked pasta to the lemon mixture with some butter, the lemon zest and some pasta water and mixed it all up.
When I added it to the plated dish, I topped it with the toasted bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley. It was like music in my mouth. The lemony pasta with a hint of sugar and garlic topped with the crunchy toasted breadcrumbs. The Parmesan added especially to the great smell and the parsley added a note of a fresh flavor. This one is definitely one I will do again.