Monday, June 27, 2016

Meal Kit Services

I've been trying out the meal kit delivery services. It's been fun. So far I've tried Blue Apron, Plated, Green Chef, and Hello Fresh. I plan to try a few more.

Blue Apron had the best tasting meals and the way they package the ingredients is really convenient, but one of their recipes took about 90 minutes longer than they claimed it would.

Plated was similarly tasty . The ingredients they sent were great quality. Some of the recipes were pretty elaborate in the number of ingredients, but they generally didn't take too long. There a few more ready-to-use sauces than with Blue Apron.

Green Chef wasn't organized quite as neatly as the others, relying on color-coded stickers on each item. The ingredients are excellent though, and organic if you care about that. They prep a lot of ingredients for you, which saves times but I kind of don't like it because it feels less fresh. They had some strange combos for some of the vegetarian meals. Blueberries, spinach, and avocado? Overall these meals were pretty quick to make, but I didn't like them as much as Plated and Blue Apron.

Hello Fresh still gets another week before I finish testing them, but so far they're not doing very well. One of the vegetarian dinners they sent was essentially a plate of nachos. The ingredients are fine, but not any better than my local supermarket.

The biggest problem with all of them is getting healthy stuff.

None of them use whole grains for their pasta, pizza dough, or much of anything. Blue Apron at least had quinoa in one recipe. Green Chef did better than the rest on this.

They all make it difficult to get fish without getting meat. In fact I gave up with Hello Fresh and just got their vegetarian meals.

Most meals don't include a high enough proportion of vegetables. Starch rules the vegetarian meals. Green Chef did slightly better there.

Nevertheless, I plan to keep trying them because it makes a big difference in my week to not have to plan as many meals.

UPDATE: Here are the meals I tried from each one.

Blue Apron


Green Chef

Hello Fresh

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Peach Pie with Spelt Crust

Oh hi! I'm a pie!

After seeing Leah make the Smitten Kitchen peach pie recipe, I decided to try it too.  The peaches are good at our farmers market right now.  I make the ugliest pies I've ever seen, but they do taste good.

I used the Cook's Illustrated vodka pie crust recipe instead of the Smitten Kitchen one, substituting half the all-purpose flour with spelt flour.  I like baking with spelt flour because it has a nice, nutty flavor, but doesn't require any changes to the recipe if you only replace half.  I also used Spectrum Organics butter-flavored shortening for the vegetable shortening, but I'm not sure I taste the difference.  Seems like all-butter would still taste better, but would probably make me suffer more in the rolling-out process.  This dough was very wet, but firmed up after a night in the fridge.  I rolled it out with a lot of flour and got it into the dish with only minor casualties.

The crust came out flaky and extremely tender.  The peaches were sweet enough with the small amount of sugar in this recipe.  I wish I had more though.  I used six and I think I should have used eight or nine.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Fluffy Multigrain Buttermilk Pancakes

 I wanted pancakes this morning, and I have a bunch of different types of flour taking up space in my fridge, so I thought I'd try using a couple of them.  This time, I used a standard buttermilk pancake recipe but I doubled the leavener and I split the flour into half cake flour and half whole grain flour, by weight.  That worked pretty well.  They had a nice height and were very tender.  I might even try 2-1 whole grain flour next time.

I also had some leftover creme fraiche that I used, but sour cream or yogurt would be fine.

Here's the recipe:


  • 1/2 cup (2.5 oz) cake flour
  • 1/2 cup (2.5 oz) whole grain flours -- whole wheat, oat, quinoa, buckwheat, whatever
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk (I use powdered)
  • 2 tbsps sour cream or creme fraiche or plain yogurt
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil or melted butter, cooled to room temp


  1. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in medium bowl. (Add the powdered buttermilk here if you're using it.)
  2.  In second medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk (or 1 cup of water if using powdered buttermilk), sour cream, egg yolk, and oil.
  3. Beat the egg white to stiff peaks in a separate bowl. (This is optional, but easy to do if you have a hand mixer.)
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir gently until combined. Fold in egg white. Allow batter to sit 10 minutes before cooking.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mini Bran Muffins with Currants

A baker's dilemma: "What shall I do with all this wheat bran I have in the fridge?"  Today, I had a little sour cream left over too, so I thought I'd make bran muffins.  I used the Cook's Illustrated recipe (the one that calls for wheat bran, not the one that uses bran cereal) but I used currants instead of raisins and baked them in a mini muffin tin for about 15 minutes.  I also used powdered buttermilk, which worked out fine.  They are very tasty.  If I eat six of these, that's like one regular muffin, right?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Peach and Blueberry Pie with Rye Flour Crust

I was going to make tarts, but then it looked like I had a lot of fruit, and the dough I made was more like a pie dough, so I made a pie instead.  I made the Cook's Illustrated vodka pie crust (for a single crust pie) but with 50% rye flour.  I also used butter-flavored shortening (Spectrum Organics makes a good one) for the 1/4 of shortening called for in the recipe.

This dough is hard to roll out!  It's very wet.  I wonder if the density of rye flour is too different to measure it by volume in a substitution.  Maybe I should weigh it next time.  I resorted to rolling it on a silicone baking sheet with a piece of plastic wrap on top and sticking it in the freezer when it got too gluey.

The filling was totally lazy.  I just cut up some peaches, added a point of blueberries, about 5 tbsps of sugar, 4 tbsps of arrowroot, and some lemon zest and juice, and poured it all into the unbaked crust.  Then I baked it at 425 for 40 minutes, which was probably 5 minutes too long.  One problem with using the dark rye flour is that it's hard to see the crust browning until it's starting to burn.

Next time, I would probably pre-bake the crust, because it didn't hold together well on the bottom.  I just had to try it without once, to see if I could skip that step.   The filling could probably stand more arrowroot, but wouldn't need it if this was done as a tart (the fruit isn't piled as deep so there's less juice).

So how does the crust taste?  Not that different from an all-white crust, IMO.  Shirley liked it though.  It's a bit more crumbly than an all-white crust, but still very tender.  I might just use whole wheat instead of rye flour next time, because I think it provides more flavor.  Or spelt, which has a great flavor in scones.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tomato Tarts with a Corn Flour Crust

It's tomato season again.  I decided to try making a different crust, based on one from Cook's Illustrated with a different mix of flours.  I used olive oil and half corn flour (not cornmeal or cornstarch).  I thought it tasted good, but the dough was pretty greasy to work with.  I pushed it into the pans instead of rolling it out.  Maybe the corn flour absorbs less oil than AP flour.  I measured by volume, not by weight, so it's also possible I need more flour.  I think next time I'll try using whole wheat flour for more texture.

Note: These did not require pre-baking.  The crust came out fine on the bottom without it.

Corn Tart Crust


  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsps corn flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 6 tbsps olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cold water


  1. Mix the flours, salt, and sugar in a food processor.
  2. Add olive oil and pulse until mixture becomes small pebbles.
  3. Add water, one tbsp at a time, and pulse until dough starts to come together.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Spelt Scones with Cranberries

We had some cream left over from Shirley's biscuit-making endeavor, so I used it to make scones.  These are very similar to the ones I used to make from The Best Recipe, but they use half spelt flour, which doesn't seem to change the color and tastes good.  I like the way cream scones are very tender and not bready or crumbly.  I also totally ignored the instructions in the recipe (does Kim Boyce not own a Cuisinart?) and used a food processor, like my usual recipe does.  The whole thing comes together in a few minutes.  The recipe is here.