As you may have gathered from previous posts, I was lukewarm about the role Hello Fresh boxes could perform in my life (see 30 April and 2 May posts). However I was feeling uninspired and lacking in imagination, so thought I should give them another go.
The box arrived on Wednesday and I am afraid to say I ate the free Nakd bar (Cocoa Orange) straight away, and very tasty it was too. I decided to tackle two of the recipes in one day, and here are my thoughts below.
First up, Rachel’s Oven-Baked Risotto with Summer Vegetables. I have similar qualms to the previous box regarding the ease of following the recipe, although at least this time, I can see what it is trying to achieve. You would want to chop the onion at the beginning, even though you are not working with it straight away. The recipe required the use of a blender or food processor (to liquidise the peas and spinach) – another specialist piece of equipment it would be helpful to have listed with the ingredients – which I decided to forego, as there was only me to comment on the finished product.
A more serious problem with the recipe is that it suggested 10-15 minutes in the oven to boil off the stock; mine was in the oven a full 15 minutes, with no discernible liquid reduction, so I put it back on the hob for a full further 10 minutes’ hard boil. I wonder if this was because, as suggested by the recipe, I transferred the risotto to an ovenproof container rather than risk melting my saucepan handles. Perhaps the cooking time would have reduced a bit if I had put the container in the oven to warm through first.
Finally, a repeat of the portion size issues seen last time. Here’s the risotto a couple of minutes before I served up (and still quite soggy!).
If you think half of that is a portion for one, then all I can say is “god bless your little tummy!”. However I think I may have figured out the reason behind the portion control disasters I have been experiencing. I have not measured out the ingredients, assuming (I think, reasonably) that the correct amount will have been provided, as the alternative is not only food waste but a direct contradiction of what I believe to be a key benefit of these schemes. However, reviewing the ingredients list after cooking, I note the following:
- Recipe calls for 4 asparagus stalks; 6 stalks provided
- Recipe calls for ½ cup of onion; 1 large onion provided
- Recipe calls for ¾ cup of peas, 2 cups of spinach and 2 tbspns of hard cheese; take a look at the photo above and see what you think has been provided
As a result of using all the food provided, I have been producing more than two portions. I think this could have just about stretched to four portions, but I was feeling hungry so I divided it into three substantial portions instead. Take a look at the picture below; am I just a really mean server, or do you agree that is plenty?
Next up, Strolling Rigatoni with Cherry Tomatoes and Goat’s Cheese. Here are the ingredients, before I got cracking.
As before, the ingredients were provided in more, ahem – “generous” amounts than the recipe called for. The recipe called for a small onion; I picked the smallest from the box, but it isn’t my idea of small. And as for the cheese; the recipe called for “half a roll” of goat’s cheese. This is hardly a scientific category, but as the cheese came packaged as what looks to me like a roll, I presume I was supposed to only use half of it. Had it not been cheese, I would have said “what a waste!”, but in my house, cheese never goes uneaten. Given how difficult it was to persuade the cheese to “crumble”, as required by the recipe, I am going to feel no shame at popping the whole lot in. Plus I would like to see the person for whom a handful of cherry tomatoes constitutes a punnet.
Here’s the result (or rather half of it).
It was good to be challenged to prepare pasta without a sauce, for a change, as I believe the absence of sauce verges on heresy. Taste-wise, I could have done with a larger number of olives, but I liked preparing the cherry tomatoes and pepper in the oven first; something my energy-conscious self resisted. I still think that’s one heck of a lot of pasta for one meal though.
So there you have it. I may well put spinach in risotto again, but I’m not won over by the oven-cooking method, and I’m underwhelmed by a pretty basic pasta recipe. But I’m quite interested in the third recipe – Chickpea and Sweetcorn Fritters with Onion Marmalade – which I saved until last as it looks quite fiddly. I’ll keep you posted.