Hello Fresh week 2

So last week I discussed my initial thoughts on Hello Fresh so I thought I would give a final run down. I was a tiny bit irked last week that the box this week came with 3 cans of food. Not that I have an aversion to canned goods – its a cheaper way of eating fruit and vegetables in some cases. I think it was partly because I am pretty intolerant to certain pulses and left them out of one of the recipes entirely. Still, everything tasted great and I will consider future purchases when we’re busier or need cooking inspiration.

I must admit we both adored the quick roast dinner recipe; the gravy was just lovely and sweetened both our Mondays a treat.

I think possibly the nicest thing about these recipes is that they are so stress free. I think they’re so easy to follow and suit a variety of abilities. Also I actually did these boxes without checking what was in them and I found we actually tried new things without the bias that way.

So the pros of Hello Fresh (and similar boxes):

  1. All of the ingredients (except oil and salt and pepper) are provided in the exact quantity required.
  2. Recipes are easy to follow, even for beginners. Nothing takes too long to cook.
  3. They encourage healthy eating. The meals are pretty low calorie, they’re keep you fuller for longer and have lean protein and contain fruit and vegetables.
  4. The food is delicious and encourages customers to try new recipes.
  5. They come in a range of sizes so suit different family sizes.
  6. The packaging is well designed.
  7. They discourage food waste.
  8. It has to be said – good portion sizes. There were a couple of times when I thought “surely this won’t feed us both”. But yes, the classic box for 2 provides a decent meal for a hungry 6ft3 man and his girlfriend.
  9. I actually learned some useful tips from the recipe card.
  10. The food is all pretty local.

The cons are:

  1. I do think, even with the offer these aren’t cheap for what they are if you’re generally a clever shopper. We still had to do a partial food shop – although by the second week I didn’t end up buying as much so it might depend on your lifestyle.
  2. The portion sizes are generally ok but some are a bit nuts. A pasta dish I made was supposed to serve 2 but we both had it for tea/dinner and then lunch the following day. Also we got sent a massive broccoli and it was all supposed to go in one dish. I enjoy my vegetables but I felt that was a bit excessive.
  3. Having to dispose of some of the packaging can be tricky. We know people moving house who are taking the boxes and have a friend who needs packaging material but depending on your local council’s approach to recycling this could be a pain.
  4. Currently they can’t cater for all dietary requirements. Although the box also comes in a vegetarian option and can offer some dietary requirements its not suitable for all allergy sufferers or vegans.

And finally, I do think its worth stating if you do sign up you can pause delivery if you don’t fancy the weekly box on offer or you fancy repeating some recipes you’re sent. We actually both really enjoyed the meals we cooked and I look forward to getting the occasional box. However I love cooking and I did miss the spontaneity of meals, but it felt pretty reassuring on nights I had to work late knowing there was a nutritious meal waiting for me.

IMG_1356

Courgette and pecorino meatballs

Sometimes cohabiting has made me learn far more about myself that I actually realised. One of the things I have learned is when I am determined to do something I eventually do it. So when D admitted to me that he used to regularly eat meatballs from a tin before he had me bossing him about. I was absolutely insistent that freshly made meatballs would blow his mind and I set about proving this, despite never having made a meatball in my life prior to our meeting last year.

These meatballs are the absolute one on days when you’re really hungry. It tastes fantastic and you prepare the meatballs a few hours before cooking them so they are perfect when you know you’re going to have a busy day. In an attempt to increase our vegetable intake I use a potato peeler to make fine pieces of courgette to cook with the spaghetti while it is cooking. If you want to make this recipe gluten free take the breadcrumbs out of the mix as well as one of the eggs and serve with rice.

To make your own meatballs and sauce you will need:

For the meatballs (Makes enough meatballs for 4 very hungry people, or 5 normal people)

750g mince (I used pork and beef mince)

1 slice stale bread

1 small onion (or half a larger one)

2 eggs

1 courgette

Salt and pepper

100g pecorino cheese, grated (Use parmesan or grana padano if you wish)

For the sauce (I froze half of our meatballs so the sauce serves 2-4)

1 small onion

1 clove garlic (add more if you wish)

500g passata

1 small glass red wine

Olive oil

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

Salt and pepper

2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved

1 handful basil leaves

100g buffalo mozzarella

Place your mince in a large mixing bowl. Using a food processor blitz your bread until it forms breadcrumbs, Place this with the mince, pecorino and salt and pepper. Add your courgette, onion  and egg to the food processor and whizz up until the courgette and onion are finely chopped.

DSC_0402     DSC_0404

Put the courgette mix into the bowl and use your hands to mix it all together evenly. Roll this mix into the meatballs, just over an inch in diameter and chill for several hours (or overnight). If you don’t want to cook all your meatballs this is the ideal point to freeze some of them.

DSC_0405   DSC_0406

DSC_0407

When you come to making the sauce; finely chop your onion and crush your garlic. Fry these over a low heat until soft. Add your meatballs and cook until all sides are lightly browned.

DSC_0410   DSC_0411

To this add your passata, wine, chilli powder and salt and pepper. Cook over a gentle heat for around 10 minutes.

DSC_0412

Add your cherry tomato halves and cook for another 5 minutes.

DSC_0413

Break your mozzarella into the tomato sauce and top the whole thing with fresh basil. Allow the cheese to thoroughly melt into the tomato sauce and serve with spaghetti.

DSC_0414  DSC_0415

Apparently serving meatballs with pasta is actually an Italian American thing rather than an Italian thing? Either ways it’s a comforting meal that we can both get on board with.

Oh and the tinned meatballs? Hopefully a thing of the past.

Slow cooked pulled pork

From my previous post of slow cooked lamb stew you will know that I am a fan of cooking with a slow cooker. It’s a bit like having a 50s housewife with none of the commitment. You get to come home from work to a nice, home cooked meal but you don’t have to pay for her shoes! (The downside is there is nobody to clean your house for you either, a slow cooker can only do so much!).

Anyway, the people at Appliances Direct part of the Buy It Direct company very kindly offered to send me the small appliance of my choice as long as I reviewed it for them. I got very excited and chose a Crock Pot slow cooker as I have been looking for a bigger slow cooker for months. When browsing the site I was amazed at how good value everything seemed to be. I will definitely be ordering future kitchen appliances from them!

Here is a picture of me with the slow cooker. (They remind me of when you show off your presents for the camera on Christmas morning!)

DSCN1308

The very first thing I made in my lovely new slow cooker was some pulled pork. I wanted to make it before, but my old slow cooker was very small, too small for pork shoulder.

To make the pulled pork you will need:

1.2kg – 1.5kg pork shoulder

1/2 a bottle of barbeque sauce

250ml Coca Cola (not my beloved Diet Coke)

A good pinch of salt

Chilli Flakes

If you prefer brown the pork shoulder before cooking by lightly frying. I personally didn’t (I was running late as usual) and it came out fine. Place your pork shoulder in the slow cooker. Cover with the barbeque sauce, the Coca Cola and the salt and chilli flakes. Switch the slow cooker onto the low heat setting, cover and leave to cook for 6-8 hours.

DSCN1504

I got local, Yorkshire pork specially

DSCN1509

For a while my workmates used to joke that I had become obsessed with Diet Coke, oh how they’ll laugh that I’m cooking using the real thing

DSCN1510

Bye bye pork, it’s time for work!

  After cooking remove the pork from the sauce and gently remove the fat and pull apart the pork and place in a serving tray or bowl.

DSCN1513

You don’t need a sharp knife for this as the meat falls apart

DSCN1515

Keep back the sauce and reduce by cooking on a high heat until the sauce is more sticky and viscous. For all you Coca Cola haters out there – this sauce does not actually taste like Coke, it’s really sticky but savoury.

DSCN1516

DSCN1519

Pour the sauce over the meat and serve. Pulled pork is particularly nice in a burrito but Miss S and I loved it just as much with guacamole and salad in a sandwich.

DSCN1520

DSCN1522

DSCN1527

We both managed to get covered in the sticky barbeque sauce. What a pair!