Reviews

Sun Basket experiment – meal no. 3

review-of-sun-basket-picture

If you just came across my blog now, this is a fourth article to my experiment: Chef’s review of Sun Basket home meals services. You can catch up here ….

 

So, final meal of the week. Wow, somehow we managed to leave the best for last – so far my absolute favorite!

The third meal from our Sun Basket was

Braised chicken with carrots, potatoes and thyme

Even the recipe card admits that it’s almost impossible to develop deep flavors to the sauce when you cook the meal for 20 minutes instead of braising it for hours, like you would normally do this type of dish. However this one hit the golden spot and was absolutely amazing!
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The prep:  *****

Super easy, everything pre-cut.  For some reason I proceeded immediately to peel the potatoes (although I normally wouldn’t) and THEN noticed they were left with skin on in the picture. Well, my bet. Chicken was pre-cut so the prep was easy-peasy. If I was prepping, I would maybe leave a bigger chunks of chicken, as there is enough time to cook it through.

Braised chicken

Cooking time: ****

The total cooking time was slightly longer,  it took me about 45 minute (and I’m a fast chopper) but the result was so worth it! I used red wine where wine was suggested in the recipe (or vermouth or water).

 

Taste: *****

As promised, the dish came out like it was braising for hours to develop the flavors! I didn’t adjust anything in seasoning, just followed recipe to the letter. So far our absolute favorite.

Portion size: *****

Again, portions were way too large for two of us, so we had one more left over for next day (we didn’t mind at all).

Braised chicken

 

Overal:  ***** 5 stars out of 5

Five stars without exception. I’ll definitely use this recipe for my own clients. I ‘m always short on time, and this recipe gives me an amazing opportunity to cook something that tastes like it was braised for hours. Great job Sun Basket!

So, those were our first week dishes. Looking back at this first week of experiment, I must say that the service is amazing. All three meals were easy to prepare, tasted fine (OK, I adjusted 2 of them to my own liking, but my taste is totally subjective). The convenience of the Sun Basket service is priceless.

Having ingredients on hand when I need them, not having to think about “what are we going to eat again” after all day cooking for clients, or wondering if I have everything I need.  Having variety of different dishes available really works for me. What I also enjoy is the fact that the program is 3 meals for 2 people a week. Which gives everybody plenty of chance to come up with their own favorite dishes for the rest of the week days.

Would I recommend this to you? Yeah, absolutely! How about you – did you ever try similar service, or this one? What was your experience? How does it compare with Sun Basket? Please share with us in the comments!

P.S.  Catch up on how it all started?  My Sun basket experience

Want to see previous 2 meals reviewed?

Meal No. 1 – Chickpea and quinoa curry with toasted naan  REVIEW

Meal No. 2 – Steak and Eggs with Tomato Cauliflower Rice REVIEW

 

 

 

Reviews

Sun Basket experiment – meal no. 2

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OK, I’m back with a review of our second meal purchased and cooked from Sun Basket delivery service. I must say it’s quite exciting – testing new recipes, and having all of the ingredients on hand as I need them.

For our second meal we picked Steak and Eggs with Tomato Cauliflower Rice.

I was looking forward to this one because I only make cauliflower “rice” as “fried rice” with Asian flavors. This was a new and interesting twist.

Ingredients for meal No. 2

Surprise:  two steaks were so uneven in thickness when I removed it from the packaging that it could result in overcooked half and under cooked second half for an inexperienced cook. Knowing better, I’ve gently flattened the thicker end of both steaks so they cook evenly. Also, I’ve done some addition trimming. I don’t particularly care for the silver membrane on my steak. Here is the meat as it arrived:

 

Steak

scallion oil

The scallion oil was such a lovely surprise. Small amount of maple syrup didn’t give it sweetness but it interestingly elevated the flavor of onions in hot oil. I’m so stealing this for use in other recipes!

 

The prep:  ****

Described well on the recipe card. It took me little longer as I added the additional trimming of meat (perfectionist me). I started with scallion oil and proceeded to tomato-cauliflower rice while heating cast iron pan for steaks.

 

Total cooking time:  ****

I must say this took me longer than proclaimed 20-30 minutes. Not that I minded. But I’m a chef and can prep and cook fast,so I would guess that inexperienced cook may need more time for this one.  From the moment I took the ingredients from the bag and snapped a photo, to the meal on the plates it was almost 45 minutes.

Steak with eggs and cauliflower rice

Taste:   ****

As I learned with the first meal I suspect that my taste buds are just more demanding. Totally subjective. I used my own steak seasoning instead of just salt and pepper (which is optional for anybody) and prepared tomato-cauliflower rice following the recipe exactly. The result taste of the rice didn’t satisfy me. I could hardly taste that wonderful smoke paprika flavor in the dish. So I added a small teaspoon of Spanish spicy smoked paprika and, to balance the flavors and heat, added about half a table spoon of organic sweet ketchup. The final flavor was so much better!

The combination with the steak was spot on, and the fried egg on top reminded me of my home country, where they always serve steak with an egg. Running yolk over the delicious cauliflower rice, in combination with the scallion oil was absolutely scrumptious.

Steak and eggs with cauliflower rice

Portion size: *****

Again, more than generous for two people. We would probably split one steak for both of us, normally. Well, don’t you guess it, we ate the whole thing!

Overal: ***** 4.5 out of 5 stars (just because the seasoning of the cauliflower was kind of bland, again. It was easily fixable though and I’ll definitely make it again. The idea behind this dish and the unexpected combination was spot on!!!

P.S. By the way, did you notice how I didn’t bother making both fried eggs “picture ready”? LOL

P.S.S. Catch up on how it all started?  My Sun basket experience

See more meals reviewed:

Meal No. 1 – Chickpea and quinoa curry with toasted naan  REVIEW

Meal No. 3  – Braised chicken with carrots, potatoes and thyme REVIEW

 

Reviews

Sun Basket experiment – meal no. 1

review-of-sun-basket-picture

1st meal: 

chickpea and quinoa curry with toasted naan


Chickpea an quinoa curry

 

 

When I first saw the ingredients, I thought it’s too little of everything. But then I remembered it’s just for 2 people. Although I’m a chef, I have a hard time to cook for just two (luckily we love leftovers).

 

ingredients for Chickpea and quinoa curry

 


The prep:
 *****

Description on the card was easy and detailed. I can imagine that even experienced cook wouldn’t have a problem to prepare it. I would use much more seasoning but I trusted the recipe and went with it as  written.

Cooking time: *****

The recipe card claimed 25-35 minutes and we had a meal on the table in 30 minutes. Following the recipe was easy and the result looked close to what it was on the picture. I would prefer my curry to be thicker. Perhaps less water, or use of coconut milk instead of water would do the trick and result in better consistency.

cooking chickpea and quinoa curry

 

Taste: **

I wasn’t excited.  To my personal (probably little spoiled) taste it was bland. It’s understandable that cooking for mass of people, you can’t make things spicy, but I’d expect curry to taste like curry and have at least some heat, even tiny. What I was missing was the debt of flavor when I cook other recipes for curry. The addition of dill, although adventurous and out of the box in my opinion didn’t elevate the flavors anywhere. Sorry …

I easily adjusted the heat to my liking (cayenne pepper) and added generous amount of cilantro. I also strained the last few spoons of curry so our resulted meal wasn’t so watery.

Portion size: ****

There was more than generous two portions of meal, we don’t usually make such large portions.

Overal:  **** 4 stars out of 5

 

Catch up on how it all started?  My Sun basket experience

See more meals reviewed:

Meal No. 2 – Steak and Eggs with Tomato Cauliflower Rice REVIEW

Meal No. 3  – Braised chicken with carrots, potatoes and thyme REVIEW

 

Reviews

When chef decides to review home meals delivery – Sun Basket

I guess it wouldn’t accurate to call it home meals delivery. It’s an organic ingredients and recipe delivery for you to cook yourself. Which I love. And I thought it would be a good idea to share my view of the service with you!

Have you ever heard the saying:  Farrier’s horse walks barefoot? Probably not (I’m not sure if it’s used in U.S.A.!) , because it’s translated from the traditional saying used in my homeland. You get the point – it’s adaptable to any profession – the roofer’s roof leaks, or, like in my case, the personal chef has no food in house… 🙂

Well, that’s not completely true. I always have food on hand, but when I cook all day for my clients, I come home and don’t feel like starting all over again just for two of us. So I did different things – a pot of hearty soup that I cook on my day off, and we’d eat it for few days. Luckily, my husband doesn’t mind to eat the same food second day and the third, and sometimes even forth. Or, I slip into habit of cooking more portions of the same dish so we have food on hand when I’m busy.

But although I’m in the market daily shopping for my clients, I hardly have time to buy stuff for myself. Sometimes I do double shopping but when I’ve plenty to get for my client’s cooking day, it’s often impossible to add other items on my personal list and separate the orders. So when I finally get to cook something at home, it’s often breakfast for dinner or something similarly simple, because I don’t have all the ingredients on hand.

I kept watching the sponsored link to Sun Basket for several days on Facebook, and finally clicked on it to see what it’s all about. I knew about these services, but never tried one. Sun Basket offers you to pick 3 meals for 2 people, (and organic, which was a big plus for me). You will then get shipped exact measurement of the ingredients needed for the meals you picked, with detailed recipe how to prepare it. In other words, I love cooking. I don’t mind the work. With the price of one meal coming to about $11 and change, the convenience of having the ingredients on hand when I need it won me over. So I went for it.

My first Sun Basket

Partially because I wanted to try it out, partially because I thought that not eating the same food for few days may be a good idea, and also I like the idea being exposed to different recipes and perhaps even apply some to my own menu.

So we got the first box last week. Here is what I think:

  1. Packaging – absolutely amazing! I’m really impressed with the attention to detail, how perfectly isolated the box came, with all environment friendly ice inserts to keep the food cold, incl. meats and dairy.Sun basket packaging
  2. Inside the box all three meal’s ingredients came separated in their individual paper bags, so nobody needs to play guessing game which ingredient goes with what. I can just put those bags to my fridge and take out the whole package when ready to cook it. Awesome!c126
  3. Nicely done recipe cards with a picture of the meal, nutritional information and detailed recipe.

First impression: ah-ma-zing, Sun Basket! Please stay tune to my reviews of the individual meals we picked for our first week. Can’t wait to test it out! Coming up soon!

Heeeeereeee we go!

Meal No. 1 – Chickpea and quinoa curry with toasted naan  REVIEW

Meal No. 2 – Steak and Eggs with Tomato Cauliflower Rice REVIEW

Meal No. 3  – Braised chicken with carrots, potatoes and thyme REVIEW

 

Opinions

Do you view cooking as a chore?

Or do you see it as a relax time, that takes your mind off daily troubles?

I don’t know why but I was always capable of relaxing in the kitchen. Unless I was stressing about preparing a party for 35 + with approaching arrival time and me not nearly ready 🙂 No matter how stressful my day is, when I come to the kitchen, and start fantasizing about what I can make for dinner, the stress of the day goes a way. Sometimes pouring myself a glass of wine while cooking makes it even more enjoyable.  I enjoy the control over what I eat and what I put in my food, don’t you?

Girl cooking

You see, when I first moved  to America from Czech Republic 14 years ago, I was surprised how different certain foods tasted, compare to what I was used to. I couldn’t find a mustard that I like – everything was either too sweet or too sour to my taste. The same goes for pickles. The butter, way too salty! (until I discovered the unsalted kind). And the yogurt, my ultimate favorite, soooo overly sweet, I started making my own.

Not to mention the bread that never goes bad (that freaked me out). So I slowly went back to basics – I bake my own rye bread without preservatives, I make my own mustard, and I found a brand of pickles I like.

But it’s funny, when faced with another culture and tastes, how different may everything seem. I remember how American tourists, visiting Prague, went to eat to McDonald’s (although they wouldn’t eat it at home) just because it felt safe, familiar. Despite the fact that you can pick  fabulous restaurants in Prague and eat well anywhere. Fear of the unknown?

Going back to my cooking habits – after all, the return to simple, old style cooking proved to be the best way to go. Yes, I use real eggs,  good old olive oil and butter instead of margarine. Interestingly, that’s where all the latest diet trends go! After all, the good, solid meal from wholesome ingredients has the ability to make us happy, and to heal both the body and the soul. That’s why I love what I do.

I’m not sure where you’re reading this, but I’m assuming it may be somewhere cold in January. Living in Florida these past few years made me easily forget that people are actually cleaning up the snow in some parts of the country!

As everybody I know is trying to eat healthier after the lavish holidays, or they came up with the New Year’s resolution to finally loose that belly fat (again), I’d like to share with you one of my favorite, super simple recipes. Adventurous enough to experiment with new flavors? Then you must try this delicious, low calorie, easy to make recipe for Curried Eggplant with Chickpeas and Spinach.  Perhaps not your typical “comfort food for a dark winter night”. But you never know, until you try it!

Will you share with me how you enjoyed it, if you decide to make it?