Gousto – Korean beef bulgogi

gousto korean beef bulgogi card

Recipe 2 from my recipe box – #1 was here.

gousto korean beef bulgogi ingredients

This is a great recipe for me, as the storecupboard ingredients are all things that I have. Basmati rice – yep (although I usually have brown basmatic), soy sauce and sesame oil – yep (I would put these in nearly everything if I could), garlic and ginger – yep (and I bet you could use the lazy kind in a jar without any problems) and the fresh ingredients are easily available even in just a local/express/little/metro supermarket.

gousto korean beef bulgogi recipe

Exact measurements are given for the amount of water to use with the rice. People go on about making “perfect rice” and how difficult it is. In most situations I just treat rice like pasta and it is FINE. Boil it in lots of water, drain off the excess. The absorption method is good if you can be bothered but for just normal rice like this I don’t think it matters, If we had sticky rice (and I think this recipe would be great with sticky rice) it might be more important.

There’s more “mushing about with hands”, as there was with the meatballs, but this time there’s a bit of chopping.grating to do. Not a lot though.

Frying the beef, there was a lot of liquid in my pan and I felt that it didn’t need the extra oil for frying, and that maybe I could have left some of the soy sauce out of the mixture for pouring on top later. After 4 minutes the beef was still sitting in liquid, and it went from “wet” to “kinda burnt underneath” very quickly. I have a lovely new nonstick pan that I highly recommend for this kind of situation

korean beef bulgogi result

Tasty. Apple in the beef makes it nice and moist. If I were doing this again I think I would:

  • Use sticky rice
  • Use less soy sauce in the meat mixture and have some on the side
  • Pay attention to the meat – don’t think because it’s wet right now that you can look at something else for a minute
  • Add chilli (because I love chilli)

chilli in window

Here’s a happy chilli in my window

Gousto – Perfect picnic spelt and lamb meatballs

Another fresh-meal box to try out, this time Gousto courtesy of my friend Helen – if you want to use her code to get £25 off your first box (meaning I got a box of 3 meals for 2 people for a tenner) then here’s the code.

The Yodel courier decided to leave the box at the reception of my building rather than outside my door as requested, so all the ingredients were out of the fridge for well over 24 hours, but the chilled stuff still felt cold to the touch and I think it won’t kill me.

Delivery was on the 5th (and it was the 6th by the time I got hold of it) and all of the meats have dates of the 9th. Not ideal as I’d like to be able to order a box for a week and then use all through that week.

gousto lamb meatball card

I dislike the use of “perfect” in the title – just tell me what we’re making, don’t overload it with adjectives. I’ll decide if it’s perfect thanks very much. I do appreciate the “picnic” suggestion. It’d be good to have some tips on serving cold or storing/transporting, if we were really going to have this at a picnic.

gousto lamb meatball recipe

I liked the step by step pictures on the card – good for if you are unsure as to how finely to chop things.

gousto lamb meatball ingredients

There are a lot of ingredients here, but the instruction for most of them is “mush together with your hands to make meatballs”. The instructions said to make 6 meatballs – I made 8 and if you are planning to have this as an actual picnic I’d recommend making a larger number of smaller balls.

I don’t know if spelt is tricky to get hold of, but if it is then bulgur wheat or pearl barley or even couscous would be just fine.

The sumac is the only one of the spices/flavourings that I don’t usually keep in stock, and it does make a difference. I guess you could use a bit of lemon juice in the meatballs and then paprika to get a red sprinkle.

gousto lamb meatballs with spelt

Not too tricky to make, not too much washing up (just one pan on the hob and one in the oven), not too much time or effort.

I am not always keen on fruit+meat combinations, but in this case the cranberries in the meatballs added a nice chewyness and were sweet without feeling wrong.

Swiss meringues (AKA those massive ones)

You know, those massive ones with the swirls in that you get at bakeries.

I am OK at making regular meringues (that I now know to be “French”), but I wanted something a bit more solid. I have been told that they are Swiss meringues. OK then. I think I remember a challenge on Great British Bake Off that involved two kinds of meringue, an Apparently Swiss meringues are the most stable before cooking, which sounds like a good recommendation to me.

The recipe I’m using is by Dan Lepard, who I had not heard of before but if this works I’ll definitely count myself a fan. His recipe was for 115g of egg white and 225g of sugar, but I wanted to make “two eggs worth”, so I weighed the whites and came up with 125g of sugar. #Maths. He also said that you should use caster sugar but I really don’t see the point, especially if you are dissolving it anyway, so I used granulated because that’s what I had.

So: Put oven on at 150C. Put boiling water in a pan on the hob, turn on heat to get it simmering. Put egg whites and sugar in pan and stir a bit til it all seems hot and melted/dissolved. Now you want to whisk the egg/sugar mixture for ages and ages while it cools down. The recipe says 15 minutes. Anyone who has tried to make bread and “knead for 10 minutes” knows that’s a very long time. If you have nothing electric that can whisk do not even attempt this unless you are very strong and have a very high boredom threshold. A Kitchenaid type thing would be great for this (Dan says to use the metal bowl, if you have one). I used the machine below.

meringues in mixer

I do not recommend using this kind of machine to make this kind of meringue. The mixture got very stiff, the whisk no longer moved, and I ended up breaking my drive shaft. Whoops. Espares have lots of spare parts and also do next-day delivery, useful if you find yourself in this kind of predicament.

broken drive shaft

I decided to proceed anyway… I blobbed the mixture onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray. Put into oven, turn oven down to 130C. If you’ve made the right amount (115g egg, 225g sugar), you should have 12  meringues and should cook them for 45 mins, then turn off the oven and leave them in while the oven cools down.

uncooked meringue

They expand a bit in the oven but not a lot

cooked swiss meringues

Here they are – very tasty and crisp with a hole in the middle.

I will be making these again, and next time I’m going to attempt doing some colourful swirls. I’ll also use ,my electric hand mixer with the whisk attachment and hope that it doesn’t break…

Hello Fresh Jamie Oliver Chicken Stir Fry (without broccoli)

The third recipe from my Hello Fresh box. One was here. The second here.

I’ll admit that the changes I had to make here were partially my fault. I knew that I would be eating out a few days this week, so I checked the dates on the meat/fish part and made them in the order of how long they would last. I just forgot to check how long a head of broccoli lasts without going a bit weird and yellow.

However, for a service aimed at people who are busy, that’s delivered once a week, I don’t think I was unreasonable to expect ingredients that were delivered on the Sunday to be OK on the following Saturday (within the week). Perhaps Hello Fresh should pack up the ingredients for each recipe together and label with things like “if eating with 3 days keep me at room temp, if not you might want to fridge me”.

Hello Fresh Jamie Oliver stirfry card

So this recipe was supposed to have broccoli, and instead I used sugarsnap peas. Because I had some in the fridge. If I hadn’t I would have been rather disappointed. As it was this recipe was FINE, but not very exciting or novel.

Hello Fresh Jamie Oliver stirfry recipe

As with the pork belly stew, there was not a lot of meat here. Unlike the risotto, I did not think that the carb portions were noticeably generous. I’d normally allow 75-100g of pasta per person, and here we had 125g of noodles between two.

Hello Fresh Jamie Oliver ingredients

There was a lot of chopping to do here. The recipe instructed me to do all the chopping before starting. I understand that this is aimed at people who don’t cook a lot (hence my previous comments on expecting me to have the equipment to zest a lemon) but telling me to chop everything beforehand seemed unnecessary. I could do some of the chopping while the noodles were boiling.

Hello Fresh chopped things

I normally like Jamie Oliver recipes, and I like the co-branding. These two things do go together. However I was not convinced by the instructions on how long to cook the vegetables for. Very few people can slice carrots finely enough that this much stir-frying would result in them being anything other than very hard and crunchy.

Hello Fresh Jamie Oliver stirfry

This was a pleasant dinner, and I liked the fish sauce on the noodles, but I don’t feel as if I learned or discovered anything. Apart from “meat is not the only thing that might go off after 6 days”.

Hello Fresh Cod with Lemony Risotto

Recipe #2 from my Hello Fresh box – #1 was here.

In contrast to the chickpea stew – this was not a one-pot recipe. It was a one-pot (risotto), one-frying-pan (cod), one roasting-tin (tomatoes) recipe.It would have been even more if I’d done as suggested and used another pan to keep my stock hot while very very slowly adding it to the risotto, but I don’t believe in mollycoddling risotto. Chuck in “quite a bit” of stock, give it a stir, and do something else for 5 minutes. What’s the worst that could happen?

All that said, I thought this was a good recipe and I would make it again.

The portions were generous too – 175g of risotto rice for 2 people is more than I would normally use.

Hello Fresh recipe card cod and risotto

I didn’t use the tomatoes provided because I had some cherry tomatoes that were starting to go a bit soft – I would suggest using more tomatoes than it says and more than you think you need because they shrink quite a bit while roasting and they make the meal look better than just some white-beige food. Not that there’s anything wrong with beige food of course.

Hello Fresh cod risotto recipe

Some people say you shouldn’t have parmesan with fish-based food. I think they are probably just wrong. Although if you are making this for a pescetarian, parmesan is always (by definition) made with animal rennet. So whether you can use it will depend on how strict they are on animal products.

cod risotto ingredients

I didn’t obey the presentation instructions – I scattered the tomatoes on top of the risotto rather than stirring them in. Even with using more tomato than instructed there were not that many of them.

Cod risotto

The recipe required you to have the means to grate the parmesan and zest the lemon – perhaps not something that someone unused to cooking would have. And again you had to measure out water for the risotto. Instructions of “you may not want to use all the stock” might also have been useful, although in my case it worked out fine.

Good recipe, the best of the box I’d say, and good for getting me to cook something I wouldn’t normally cook as I rarely choose fish.

Hello Fresh Pork Belly and Chickpea Stew

I can’t decide whether I am a fan of Hello Fresh or not.

£39 seems a lot to spend on 3 meals for 2 people, especially when M&S does Dine in for £10 and includes a bottle of wine.

On the other hand it does nicely give you all the bits to make a meal from scratch, and you can keep the recipe card.

I think really I am just not their target market.

I am, however, a person who easily gets stuck in a rut of cooking the same thing all the time, so when a friend offered a code to get £25 off my “first” box, I said yes. You can use her code ZEBZBH too and get the same deal if you like – just enter it when you get to the checkout stage. I think she’ll get some money off. £14 for a box sounded very reasonable and it’d get me cooking something that I hadn’t chosen.

Recipe #1 in my box was this

Hello Fresh Pork belly recipe

 

It helpfully includes a picture of what all the ingredients look like so you can find them in the box. It even makes clear that a garlic CLOVE is not a garlic BULB (apparently this is a likely mistake…)

Pork belly stew ingredients

Here they all are on my counter. The pack of pork belly was only 150g – this is really a vegetable stew flavoured with pork belly, not a “pork belly stew”. The mini squeezy pack of red wine vinegar was cute and clever.

Hello Fresh Pork Belly Stew recipe

The recipe is here. I did nearly everything it said except

a – I used more than one garlic clove to make my garlic ciabatta

b – I didn’t measure 200ml, I guessed it. I imagine that people who buy a pre-measured box of ingredients might not even HAVE the means to measure 200ml.

Garlic ciabatta

Simple but effective – garlic toasts made this feel more special.

Pork belly stew made

The finished meal was of a decent size and had very good flavour – anything with a lot of smoked paprika would! The bunch of spring greens seemed massive at first and took a bit of persuading to go into the pan. If I made this again I’d cut them a lot smaller than the recommended “2cm strips”. Everything else is small and spoonable and the long strips of green are a bit annoying.

Recipe rating: easy. Took around the suggested 30 minutes. Would possibly make again, but probably just with bacon rather than trying to find pork belly.

How to cook perfect aloo tikki

A grandiose promise of a title – simply copied from the Guardian article from which I got my inspiration. A more accurate title would be “How I cooked some perfectly nice aloo tikki”.

I didn’t know what aloo tikki was – I can read Indian menus well enough to know that aloo means potato and I love potato, so that was good enough. It’s friend potato cakes, and it handily can be made out of things that I usually have lying around.

So: boil some potatoes. peel or unpeeled, whatever you would normally do for mash.

While they are boiling, fry some onion (red in this case), with some ginger and garlic. I used jarred ginger and garlic pastes.

peas and onions

When the potatoes are nearly soft, throw some frozen peas and some garam masala and black mustard seeds into the onion pan.  I added turmeric as well because I felt that yellowness was required, but this also added yellowness to my hands when rolling the balls.

Drain the potatoes well. Mash them and then stir in the onion mix.

aloo tikki mix

Clean out the onion pan well, put in some oil. Or use another pan if someone else is doing the washing up.

Make balls or patties or whatever shape you think is correct out of your mash-and-onion-and-stuff mixture. Dip in flour of some kind. This is hard to do when it’s hot, unless you have teflon hands, so if you can try to allow for some cooling-down time.

Fry the balls.

aloo tikki cooking

So far everything is ACCIDENTALLY VEGAN (the best kind of vegan in my opinion). I’m going to eat it with yoghurt so that’ll be gone, but you could eat with plant based sauces if you chose.

aloo tikki with yoghurt

I have greek yoghurt there with mint and salt stirred into it. These are not the prettiest thing, but they are tasty.

It’s a bit difficult to go wrong with fried potato…