Blue Apron Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

Blue Apron is an intriguing service, my opinion is mixed. On the one hand it is really neat, like Christmas for hungry people. It’s fun to open the package and explore the ingredients, and the recipes (blueapron.com/cookbook) are clear, quick and easy to execute. On the other hand, it’s pretty pricey for the quantity of food they give you, there is a lot of packaging waste, and the recipes are perhaps too simple. Their focus on clarity, simplicity and calorie count means they skip some steps and ingredients… but I am not a slave to any recipe, so I just doctored them to suit myself. Final analysis: if $10 per serving doesn’t sound too expensive for food you prepare yourself, it’s a lot of fun and certainly worth a try.

My first selection from this week’s delivery was kung pao chicken tacos. The first thing I did was set aside the corn tortillas included in the box, in favor of Guerrero taco sized flour tortillas that I had on hand. I like corn tortillas for Mexican style tacos, but whenever I make Asian style wraps I prefer flour tortillas for the texture and flavor. The second modification I made was to add a jalapeno pepper, as the 1 tbs of sambal oelek they included didn’t provide the heat I wanted. Authentic kung pao chicken is a lot spicier than the version I made, so put in as much heat as you like. Lastly, I added my own raw peanuts to the small package they sent, and roasted them in the oven instead of in a pan. I also included them in the kung pao chicken filling instead of using them as a topping. Lastly, I warmed the tortillas wrapped in foil in the oven instead of on the stove top. I’m sure it would have been delicious if I had gone by the book too, my changes were inconsequential.

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

10oz ground chicken
4 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
3 tbs raw peanuts
2 tbs cilantro leaves
1/2 diced red bell pepper
2 diced scallions, green tops set aside for garnish
1 rib of celery
1 tbs sambal oelek
1 diced jalapeno pepper
2 tbs soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock (or water)
1 tbs honey
2 tbs cornstarch
1 tbs hoisin sauce
1 tbs sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
8 flour tortillas

Dice the celery, bell pepper, green onion, and jalapeno. In another bowl combine the soy sauce, honey, vinegar, sesame oil, hoisin sauce, sambal oelek, chicken stock and cornstarch. Remove the leaves from the cilantro and set aside with the diced green tops of the scallions. Season the ground chicken with a little salt and pepper and sautee with 2 tbs vegetable oil.

20140517_210541

Chop the whole raw peanuts, not too fine. I used pulses of a food processor. Spread them on a foil lined pan and roast at 350F for 10-15 minutes.

20140517_210916

Add the vegetables to the cooked chicken and sautee 3-5 minutes, then add the sauce and some roasted peanuts and simmer until thickened, another 3-5 minutes.

20140517_210928

20140517_211337

Wrap the tortillas in foil and warm in the oven for 10 minutes while the filling is cooking. Add some filling to a tortilla and top with cilantro and scallion tops and serve.

20140517_211539

Fresh, spicy and delicious.

Next up, Blue Apron blackened drum fish with cheese grits and herb salad. (spoiler alert, it was yummy!)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thin Spaghetti with Clams and Scallops

I have always been a fan of linguine con vongole, pasta with clam sauce, and last year I had the good fortune to see it made. It is as simple as can be, and open to a lot of customization, as demonstrated by my version below.

20140516_182307

As I do so often, this recipe was adjusted to suit the ingredients I had on hand and my personal taste. In particular, the variations include thin spaghetti instead of linguine, frozen cooked clams in the shell instead of fresh clams, frozen bay scallops because I had them and I thought they would fit nicely, added shallots because I bought a bag of them cheap, a teaspoon of clam soup base I had lying around, and a heavy hand with the garlic and parsley because they taste good.

The frozen clams in the shell are a frustrating ingredient. I prefer them to fresh because the quality is very consistent and they are tasty, but they invariably leave bits of broken shell which I hate… hate hate hate so much! One of these days I will try fresh clams again, but in the meantime it is back to canned clams which I find to work well and have the consistent quality and shell-lessness I value so highly. Still, despite the occaisional crunch, it was really delicious.

Thin spaghetti with clams and scallops:

8oz freshly cooked thin spaghetti
16oz defrosted cooked clams in the shell
3oz frozen scallops
10 cloves garlic, pressed
5 small shallots, pressed
1/2 cup minced Italian parsley
1/2 cup white wine
3 tbs butter
3 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1 tsp clam soup base paste
1/4 cup finely grated parmesan

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the noodles and start cooking them, about 6 minutes. On medium heat, sautee the butter, olive oil, garlic and shallots for a few minutes until cooked, do not brown.

20140516_181238

Add the clams, clam base, scallops, parsley, chilli flakes and wine, and simmer for 4 or 5 minutes.

20140516_181442

I removed most of the shells before plating… they are visually appealling but tend to get in the way. Add the drained cooked noodles, and the parmesan to thicken and season it, and stir well. Serve with a glass of white wine.

20140516_182255

Here’s a version I made last week, with canned clams, frozen calamari, and fresh prawns.

20140429_203859

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blue Apron

I’m back after a long break, having moved from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. I miss Koreatown for the amazing variety of ingredients easily available, but the food scene here is fantastic, with hundreds of food carts and a lot of creative cuisine.

Today I am writing about Blue Apron, www.blueapron.com, a service for home cooks that delivers ingredients for a complete menu starting at $60 per week for 3 meals of two servings each.

 

Blue Apron  package

What a cool gift! Thanks John! It’s a bit pricey for the amount of food delivered, and I enjoy shopping as part of the process of cooking, but this is a fun service for someone who likes to cook but is too busy to shop and prep everything. I really like the presentation. It comes to your door in a shipping box, with the proteins wrapped in ice packs and everything portioned into individual packages, as illustrated in the photo above. I can’t wait to start cooking!

This week’s menu includes Blackened Drum Fish Over Cheddar Cheese Grits, Hanger Steaks with “Creamed” (parmesan, not cream) Spinach, and Kung Pao Chicken Tacos. The ingredients look great, and the recipes are straightforward, located in the Cookbook section of their website.

Come back soon to see how they turned out.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rainy day cornbread

Rainy day in Los Angeles today, good time for some toasty cornbread!

I basically followed the recipe but I added a can of corn kernels, along with half the liquid from the can.

Cornbread:

1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 egg
1 14oz can of corn kernels
1/3 cup juice from the corn kernels
2 tbs milk
1 tsp vegetable oil

Mix the ingredients, minus the vegetable oil which I used to grease the pie tin. Don’t over mix.

Pour into the pie pie tin and bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes.

Serving it with a little butter and honey is traditional but I had maple syrup handy so I used that.

Pardon the dirty plate but I got through two pieces before I remembered to take a picture! Serve with a spot of tea to stay sunny on the inside. 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment