This week we received a box full of dishes and flavors perfect for the chilly fall weather that’s finally here:
- Harissa Chicken Skewers with Kamut Persimmon Salad
- Potato Chowder with Cheddar Cheese Toasts
- Sauteed Beef & Potato Latkes with Roasted Beets and Carrots
While the potato chowder and cheese toast is way not dairy-free, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try our first Blue Apron soup. And with our next Whole30 starting in January, I feel okay about indulging a bit here in December. I’ve been equally excited about the beef and potato latkes, as it looks like classic peasant food in the best way. My mom would always call out when we had great “peasant” meals — simple meat, veggies, and bread prepared in a flavorful way. It reminds me of sweet nights around the kitchen table as a kid, grateful for what we had and that we were sharing it together.
We finally had a normal week after dealing with nonstop travel and holiday time. I felt exhausted when I got home from my recent trip on Saturday afternoon, and meal-planning for the week was out of the question. I am delighted to know that Blue Apron has my back at times like this!
Our supplier must have changed from over the summer because we had another Monday afternoon shipment for Tuesday box delivery. Not complaining one bit! Our box arrived on time for us to tackle the first dish on Tuesday night.
Harissa Chicken Skewers
This recipe was easy to work through. The only difficult part was threading the chicken strips onto the skewers (no self-inflicted punctures! Hooray!) and keeping up with the fast-paced cooking of the salad. This was a recipe that really rewarded the prepared chef who read it all before starting. Step 5 is a bit of a race, putting chopped garlic into the hot pan for ~30 seconds, then the kale for another 30 – 60 seconds, then vinegar and pre-measured water ahhh! Glad to have prepped and staged all the pieces for that so I could keep a cool head over the hot stove.
The finished dish turned out a bit meh. Typically I enjoy Blue Apron bringing world flavors and textures into my kitchen. With this recipe, however, I think they went too far and the result felt gimmicky. The skewers, for example, make sense for street food or anything cooked on a grill. But we ate this on a plate and cooked it in a pan. Why make me go through the effort of putting these on a skewer? It was somewhat perilous prep work and made eating them more difficult. Much ventured, nothing gained. Similarly, the Kamut wheat, while geographically appropriate, was too toothsome for me and I wished that I had orzo or rice instead.
The use of persimmon and the flavorfulness of this dish were the main redeeming qualities. I’ve never used a persimmon before. Its orange-like appearance revealed an interior somewhere between a carrot and a sweet potato. Very interesting texture and flavor; would do business again. However, this recipe gets a B-.
Potato Chowder with Cheddar Toasts
Cheesey toast! Chowder! Is there a more comforting twosome?! The idea of potato chowder got me extremely excited. I saved this recipe for my one “no-workout” night this week because I wanted to savor it that much. Unfortunately, it was not to be the creamy chowder of my dreams. But before we get to the real review, there’s an elephant in the room that I want to address.
Okay, great. Now that that’s out of the way, I can tell you that this recipe gets a C+. Harsh, I know. First off, let’s understand that their picture looks like chives are perched atop a bowl of queso. WHICH SOUNDS AMAZING. But that thick consistency is impossible to come by with their instructions. Smashing potatoes against the side of the pot with a spoon? Not enough. One-third of the remaining cheese sauce in the pot? Not enough. I don’t know what witchcraft they worked for that photo, but it is not the recipe they provided.
The other thing is that the flavor was really lacking. The spice blend they provided was helpful, but the cayenne in it overpowered the paprika, mustard powder, and other spices. I wish this had been smokier to make up for the thinner consistency, but sadly no. And finally, the order of the steps was a bit off here. There’s a lot of hang time with this recipe while the veggies cook down, but they had me frantically stirring both the cheese sauce and the veggies for a while, then the cheese sauce was ready way before I needed it for the toasts. Pretty disappointed with this recipe overall. At least the cheese toast was awesome, and the chowder tasted better once it had cooled. But it wasn’t the chowdah of my dreams. Tear emoji.
Sauteed Beef and Potato Latkes
I just love latkes. When I was a kid, we’d make latkes with cream cheese and smoked salmon on them for New Year’s Eve. BEST SNACK EVER. So I was pretty jazzed about this recipe, even though / especially because the rest of the dish is pretty no-frills. Shredded beef, sauteed onions, roasted carrots and beets. Let’s do this.
THIS RECIPE IS THE BOMB. I couldn’t stop eating it. I scarfed it down, it was just so delicious. The flavor of the caramelized onion + tomato sauce was insane, and the beef was beautifully sliced so that it was still tender and moist after cooking. The latkes were a perfect counterpoint to the beef and helped soak up the yummy juice. The carrots and beets were a lovely addition to the plate as well! Ours got a little dried out because we had to start / stop this recipe to accommodate a furniture delivery midway through, but they were still super herbaceous and flavorful with the thyme.
This recipe gets a rare A+ and the ONLY thing I will adjust upon future re-making of this would be to up the beets and carrots and only use one potato. (I love you, Blue Apron, but I do not need to be eating a whole potato on top of the rest of my meal.) Big huge yay for sauteed beef and latkes with roasted carrots and beets.
What a great, snuggly week of meals from Blue Apron! Even though not all knocked it out of the park, I am delighted to have ended on such a high note. Looking forward to next week!