Hello fresh – hello leftovers!?

The business of meal home delivery service seems to be thriving. Public interest in food is ever-growing, and while that is often manifested by people eating out or watching others cook on TV, some are genuinely interested in getting their hands dirty. And sometimes they just don’t know where to start. This seems to have fueled the creation of a number of new companies that deliver hand-picked weekly recipes along with nearly all the required ingredients for several home-cooked meals.  Do you have trouble keeping your pantry, fridge and freezer consistently stocked? Have you discovered at times that you have four different types of bread but no protein? Overwhelmed by all the choices in the supermarket? Feel stumped by the 15 steps of instructions in a recipe? No worries, we have it all worked out for you.

I may not fall precisely within their target audience, as I do plan ahead for meals, I love grocery shopping, and I have binders and bookcases full of recipes to serve as starting points.  But listen to what they are promising – proper quantities of produce, meat, grains, etc. to create precisely 3 meals for precisely two people (or 4 people, or 6 people)  per meal – sounds efficient, right?  Fits right in with my philosophy, right? So, when the opportunity came to try HelloFresh at a discounted price (AmazonLocal deal), I decided it was my duty to give it a try.


Special delivery!


These plastic bags are solid–I tried and failed to rip them open by hand. Only scissors would do.









My three meals were Sautéed Trout with Radicchio & Oranges, Beef and Noodle Soup in Soy Sauce Broth, and Creamy Penne with Edamame, Chicken and Crimini Mushrooms.  Since fresh fish spoils the fastest, I decided to start with that.

Sauteed Trout with Radicchio & Oranges
adapted from HelloFresh
Serves: more than 2!

2 trout fillets
Salt and peper

Radicchio & Oranges:
2 oranges
1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced
1 oz pecan halves, toasted
2 oz goat cheese
1 Tablesoon olive oil

Rice & Sweet Potato:
1 chicken stock cube and 2 Cups of water,
OR 2 Cups chicken stock
(would taste better)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Cup basmati rice
Salt and pepper

Finish touches:
2 Tablespoons of chives, finely chopped

Begin preparing the rice, before all the chopping: take 2 medium saucepans. In one, put the stock cube into a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and dissolve the cube. Or, heat 2 cups chicken stock. Heat the second pan over medium-high heat and toast the pecans, shaking frequently, about 5 minutes until fragrant. This can also be done in a oven at 350 degrees, if watching very carefully. Remove pecans and chop when cool. Set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add rice, cooking for 1 minute over medium heat. Add stock to the pan with the rice with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, get those sweet potatoes, radicchio and chives chopped.


Doesn't it look like I have way more radicchio and chives than I need? Also, in their picture on the recipe, it all fit on one cutting board.. mine is running out of space!

Doesn’t it look like I have way more radicchio and chives than I need? Also, in their picture on the recipe, it all fit on one cutting board.. mine is running out of space!

After 5 minutes, add the chopped sweet potato to the rice and cook, covered, for 10 more minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes with the lid on.

Prepare the radicchio and orange: slice the ends (the poles) off of 1 orange. Carefully follow the curve of the fruit to cut away the peel and white pith. While holding the orange over a medium bowl, cut along both sides of each membrane to remove the segments into the bowl. Juice the other orange into the bowl. Add the radicchio, crumbled goat cheese, toasted chopped pecans, and 1 Tablesoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Season the trout with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, cook the trout, skin-side down, 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Don’t try to turn it early or disaster will ensue! Carefully flip and cook the other side for less than 3 minutes, until the trout is cooked through and flakes easily.

Do you see how much trout this is?

Do you see how much trout this is?

On the plate, either place the radicchio salad underneath or on top of the trout fillets (it is supposed to be trout THEN vegetables…whoops I, I misread that). Sprinkle with chives. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve on the side.

Looking back, I'm pretty embarrassed about the appearance of my chives in this picture. To be fair, later in the week I realized that my knife was in desperate need of honing (it makes a big difference) Also, this is what happens when you are rushing and trying to use only the corner of space left on the cutting board!

Looking back, I’m pretty embarrassed about the appearance of my chives in this picture. To be fair, later in the week I realized that my knife was in desperate need of honing (it makes a big difference) Also, this is what happens when you are rushing and trying to use only the corner of space left on the cutting board!

I prepared this dish on a time crunch, somewhat intentionally, because I thought that the prearrangement of ingredients would translate to speedier prep. Unfortunately, the chopping took quite some time. I had my plate of food ready in 45 minutes.

I love trout. I don’t love bitter radicchio, but it is more than tolerable with delicious goat cheese, sweet orange, and crunchy pecan–indeed, I have taken this approach before when radicchio appeared in my farm share. The rice was very blah and boring. It tasted like the salt and pepper I added to it–not impressive. I encourage creative additions….cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper perhaps? Not only did I have bland rice, but I had CUPS of leftover bland rice, after serving two people dinner! There was also radicchio salad a-plenty (of course, my husband doesn’t eat that).

Let’s evaluate HelloFresh overall. First of all, I have serious questions about their process for testing recipes. Every recipe I received was far from fool-proof. For example, the quantities of the ingredients they gave me for the Beef and Noodle Soup were way off. Though the recipe simply said to use “one thumb of ginger,” the hunk of ginger they provided was clearly too much for a recipe for two, so I guessed about a tablespoon and a half; also, there was almost no broth once everything was added together so I had to add water. Yet, even with my tweaks, the resulting dish had a pretty interesting and complex flavor, with the different components. The creamy pasta was delicious, though simple. Cooking the chicken was time-consuming — I would have been happy to have it as a vegetarian meal. As for value: the full price comes to about $11.50 per meal. I don’t think that is exorbitant, because quality meat and fish like this are expensive. It’s true, one would have a hard time finding a complete and filling meal made from such “fresh” ingredients at $11.50. However, it required me to do all of the work, and all the dishes too. Moreover, I was misled to believe that the food I was making would feed two people – no waste.

I’m encouraged by this idea of ingredients portioned for recipes. It looks like for now, though, I’m going to stick toI prefer shopping for myself and buying the quantities available in stores, and discovering creative ways to use everything up.

Hello Fresh Rating (sample size of 1, on a scale of 1-5):
Ordering: 4
Packaging: 3
Ingredients (freshness): 4
Recipe accuracy (quantities, ratios): 2
Instructions: 4
Recipe uniqueness: 4
Accuracy of portion sizing: 2
Taste: 3.5

Keep Indefinitely

I bought red miso paste this weekend to use in a new recipe. Yes, this is another “specialty” ingredient that I anticipate using only occasionally. So why didn’t I resist the urge and skip this recipe?  Well, upon seeking out the item at Fairway, I found one brand, which came in a jar.  I inspected the label and read “Refrigerate and keep indefinitely.”  How perfect!

Plus, it was pretty interesting to open up the red miso container and see this message:


Sounds good to me!

I know what I’ll be making next!

As a side note, this week is Earth Week, and I hope it caused you to pause for a moment here and there to think about how you can consume less and reduce waste. The newest step I am going to take is to purchase a rain barrel that will capture rainwater I will then use for my garden this summer.

Back to my “earthy” meal: I picked this unusual recipe merely because I had a head of fresh broccoli leftover. Anther head had been prepared via the simple and boring – yet still tasty – method of steaming, and served alongside pasta.

This was my first encounter with Bagna Càuda, and had I not looked into it further, I would have assumed it is always made with miso paste. But I learned that it is an Italian dish, specifically Pietmontese, made and served similarly to a fondue for dipping (Italian) vegetables like carrots, fennel, and artichokes. The name means “hot bath,” and usually involves olive oil, garlic, and anchovies, and sometimes incorporates butter or cream. It sounds comforting and delicious; why is this the first I’ve heard of it? Well for starters, perhaps I should have continued my subscription to Bon Appetit … Ironically, my reading loyalty has instead gone to Cooking Light .

I love the folks at Tasting Table, but their style of writing recipes in this particular series annoys me. They write that the recipe yields two servings, plus leftover bagna càuda that can be refrigerated for up to a month. But they don’t tell you how much bagna càuda to put on your two servings of broccoli, and how many servings you will have left over! The original bagna càuda subsection of this recipe called for 4 sticks of butter. Needless to say, I cut that down to one, and made sure that I had leftovers from that.


Roasted Broccoli with Miso Bagna Càuda
adapted from TastingTable’s adaption of a recipe from Stephen Thorlton, sous chef at San Francisco’s State Bird Provisions
Serving size: at least 3 servings as a side-dish. It really depends on what you consider to count as one serving of a broccoli dish!

~1 bunch broccoli, cut into florets – mine yielded 13.7 oz of florets
3 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

Bagna Càuda:
1 stick unsalted butter
2 large garlic cloves
, finely chopped
3 ounces scallions, white and light green parts only, very finely chopped
1.333 Tablespoons red miso paste (I know, I know…)
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Finishing touches:
~1/2 Tablespoon lemon zest and ~1/2 Tablespoon orange zest, plus ~2 Tablespoons each freshly squeezed lemon and orange juice (or the zest and juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon, if you have that)
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 Tablespoons toasted panko or bread crumbs (optional)

Make the broccoli: Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat the oven to 475°. This is when a little alarm goes off in my head to turn on the hood van in the kitchen, and/or open some windows. 9 times out of 10 that I use my oven at more than 400°, and especially when the broiler is involved, you can expect the smoke alarm to go off. Then it’s off to the dining area with a chair and a towel, waving frantically in the air while attempting to simultaneously plug at least one of my ears. I hope I’m not the only one.
To a large mixing bowl, add and mix together the first 5 ingredients (through red pepper). Carefully remove the baking sheet from the oven (mine was in the oven for about 10 minuets) and add the broccoli to the baking sheet, shaking the pan to evenly distribute. Return to the oven and roast until the broccoli is charred and tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
DSC_4384Transfer broccoli from baking sheet back into the mixing bowl. Add panko to baking sheet, and place in oven, which has been turned OFF, for about 5 minutes until toasted. The leftover heat should be enough.

Make the bagna càuda: To a large saucepan set over medium heat, add the butter. Once the butter begins to melt, add the garlic and scallions. Whisk to combine. Once the garlic is very fragrant and lightly toasted, after about 5 minutes, turn the heat down to very low or off and whisk in the red miso paste. I read elsewhere that miso paste has a very bitter taste if burned, so it is important to avoid a high boil.

While whisking, drizzle in 2 heaping tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil.

Transfer broccoli to serving bowl, or individual plates. Spoon the bagna càuda over the broccoli. Serve sprinkled with the zest and juice, grated Parmesan cheese, and toasted breadcrumbs (if using).

I served mine with half a pulled pork sandwich with Dinosaur Barbecue sauce, the leftovers from Matt’s Sunday session with our smoker.

Smoothie Satisfaction


A few weeks ago, my husband and I had several house guests. I seem to recall a time in the past when these guests asked about orange juice in the mornings, and I didn’t have it, so halfway through the weekend I came home with a half gallon from Trader Joe’s. Alas, when the guests departed, hardly a glass had been consumed, and I faced an abundance of juice that I rarely drink and Matt never does.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, I used the orange juice to make Orange MuffinsCinnamon-Orange Juice Cake (a delicious coffee accompaniment that resembled a doughnut in cake form) a marinade/sauce for pork chops, and the recipe I am featuring today, for an Avocado Banana Smoothie. All of these recipes would certainly have tasted better with freshly squeezed orange juice and orange zest incorporated, but I was content to “cook” almost exclusively from what I had on hand.

I just realized that my mantra should probably be: “when in doubt, bake it into a cake or blend it into a smoothie,” because I have previously used excess produce to make things like beet cake and avocado pound cake.

I actually selected this recipe because I had a very ripe avocado I needed to use, which I had bought because it was on sale and for no other reason–not a good idea, but I seriously have work to do in terms of controlling myself at grocery stores. It was a coincidence that I also bought a brand new blender this week and wanted to it work its magic. Never mind that I later verified the sharpness of the blending blade by slicing the top of my finger while trying to put the pieces away. (Boy is it sharp!)

Back to the food. This recipe was adapted from a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food and influenced by Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe for an Avocado Banana smoothie.

Avocado Banana Smoothie
Serving Size: One jumbo-sized smoothie or two regular glasses

1/2 avocado
1/2 banana (can be one that has been kept in the freezer, waiting to find a home in a smoothie)
1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
3/4 cup of orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
juice from 1/2 lime, or to taste (I had about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger, or to taste (I keep ginger in the freezer for as long as a month to take out and grate from as needed, and it is very easy and neater to grate ginger from frozen)
2 teaspoons of honey, or to taste
1 1/2 cups of ice

Drop solid ingredients into a blender and then pour liquids on top. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, enjoy this liquid green goodness!