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My Experience with Blue Apron

5 Nov

When it comes to food, I like to be in control. I like to be the one picking out groceries and I like to be the one cooking. But honestly, grocery shopping can be a pain sometimes.

Inspired by the discount offer of two free meals for first time users of Blue Apron (Blue Apron has also been sponsoring some of the podcasts I listen to lately), I decided to try out the services. With my discount offer, I paid about $40 for three meals intended to serve two people (regular price of about $60).

Blue Apron is a food delivery service that takes care of the grocery shopping, allowing customers to enjoy and focus on the cooking experience. After noting dietary preferences, Blue Apron ships three pre-shopped and pre-portioned meals on a week-by-week basis. The food gets carefully portioned and packaged and is shipped in a refrigerated box.

I wanted to keep an open mind, so I did not check off any dietary preferences to see what they would send me. The week before my delivery, Blue Apron sent me an email with the ingredients and recipes I would be receiving:

  • Pan-Seared Salmon with Arugula, Candy Stripe Beets & Horseradish Sour Cream
  • Greek-Style Braised Chicken Thighs with Fingerling Potatoes
  • Caramelized Pork & Congee with Crispy Shallots & Black Garlic

Each meal is slated to take an average of 35 minutes to prepare. While no nutrition information is provided for individual recipes, Blue Apron notes that each meal contains between 500 and 700 calories per serving.

Below I discuss the meals I received and cooked, showing pictures and providing individual feedback for each recipe.

Pan-Seared Salmon with Arugula, Candy Stripe Beets & Horseradish Sour Cream

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

I cooked the fish on my first night Continue reading


A Pie Class with Joy the Baker: Pics, Tips, and Memories

28 Oct

I started Figs in My Belly in June, 2009. At that point in my life, I was living in California, getting a degree in Nutritional Science, staging (interning) in the kitchen at a small handful of restaurants, working at a cooking camp for kids, and making dinners for my housemates at the co-op where I lived. Oh, and I was totally obsessed with Joy the Baker and her blog.

That August, I heard about a rooftop picnic in downtown Los Angeles that Joy was hosting and jumped on the opportunity. I brought my mom along and we spent the afternoon enjoying Joy’s biscuits, fried chicken, coleslaw, and cupcakes while mingling with other Joy the Baker fans.

Cut to more than five years later, and I now live in New York City with a short (four-year-long) pastry cook career currently on pause while I finish up a graduate degree in Nutrition Education and a dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian. And, as you might have guessed, I am still totally obsessed with Joy the Baker and her blog.

Joy is currently on tour for her latest cookbook, Homemade Decadence. I attended her book signing at The Brooklyn Kitchen, and the following weekend, my friend Michelle and I drove up to King Arthur Flour in Vermont, where Joy was teaching a hands-on pie making class. Joy taught two four-hour pie classes on the same day. She is a warrior.

I’ve made my share of pies in the past, but pie still intimidates me, and I wanted to gain some pro tips to boost my pie confidence. Plus, my friend Michelle never made her own pie before, so this was the perfect opportunity to learn. We road tripped for pie! Continue reading

Easy Peasy Pasta + A Glimpse At My Life In A Restaurant

17 Jan

Easy Peasy. Dinner in a pinch.

Drop your pasta into salted boiling water. Add a few handfuls of frozen peas in the last 3 minutes of boiling. Saute a few minced garlic cloves in a skillet and add fresh spinach with a tiny splash of water. Cook down and add a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas. Season with salt, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, and chili flakes. Dump the pasta and peas into the skillet, mix everything together and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

For when you want a healthy, no fuss meal thrown together quickly by taste.

After spending most of my nights making the desserts at Print restaurant, on my days off, all I want is a quick home-cooked meal. I crave salt, I crave savory, but below I want to show you a tiny glimpse of some of the sweet things I do at work.

Every night before the restaurant opens, the staff has the opportunity to eat a meal together. We call it “family meal.” Usually the meal is something super simple that can be thrown together quickly: think chicken and rice or pasta. There is always a salad. The pastry team tries to offer something sweet for family meal, too, sometimes. Lately we have been making Horchata. Mexican Rice Milk with cinnamon. We based our recipe off of David Lebovitz. Just a yummy drink to start the night off.

One of the first things I tackle when I arrive at work is preparing for the next morning’s breakfast service. We (in pastry) make muffins and scones and coffeecakes, yogurt (from Argyle farms in NY) and fruit parfaits (topped with homemade granola), and fresh fruit plates. We offer two flavors each of muffins and scones every morning. The scone pictured above contains walnuts, Asian pears, and flaxseeds. Check out that seductive sugar sprinkle on top. Hellooooo coffee and a pastry!

After I finish preparing for the next morning’s breakfast, I begin to set up for dinner service. We currently have 6 desserts on the menu. Above you see our most recent addition to the dessert menu: Hazelnut Parfait, Maple Yogurt Mousse, Grappa Candied Chestnuts, Espresso Syrup. There’s all sorts of warm and cool, soft, creamy, and crunchy to this dessert. Mmm mmm winter wonderland.

And when you get your coffee or when you order some house made ice cream, you get to try our rotation of biscotti. We are currently serving pistachio polenta biscotti with dried cherries. Dip and go.

Sometimes there are large parties eating at the restaurant. We offer a special dessert menu for these parties. One of the desserts consists of chocolate hazelnut mousse, fleur de sal, hazelnut streusal, poached pear halves, brown butter ice cream, and chocolate decor. I would describe chocolate decor as tempered chocolate cut into shapes. There’s all sorts of heating and agitating and spreading and cooling. It’s a science that I have yet to perfect. But it sure tastes good along the way.

I feel like I have to leave you with a savory item from the restaurant. The burger is on our lunch menu and sometimes pops up on the dinner menu. This gargantuan meat stack has cornichons, pickled red onion, gooey cheddar, bacon, tomatoes, lettuce, and a toasted bun. Ah, swoon.

So now you have seen a tiny glimpse into restaurant dessert/food. Tiny.

And people always ask me how I don’t gain a zillion pounds working in pastry. I answer with: the stairs, the heavy lifting, the stirring, the rolling…I get quite the workout. So a few nibbles and tastes won’t spiral me out of control. I am constantly moving. And we work with so many fresh, local ingredients that I feel pretty darn good eating what I want.

Dinner Party For Rosh Hashanah

3 Oct

An excuse to have friends over for dinner and to cook a hearty Jewish meal… The menu:

  • Round Challah Bread, Roasted Garlic
  • Apples Dipped in Honey (Catskill Provision Honey)
  • Chicken with Figs
  • Israeli Couscous with Pomegranate Seeds, Feta, Chickpeas, Cucumber, Radishes, and more
  • Quick Asparagus and Green Bean Saute
  • Wine
  • Root

A small glimpse of the meal:

Pretty Pretty Blue Hydrangeas

Round Challah Bread; Apple Walnut Cake

Couscous Salad in the Making…(pre-couscous)

Flowers, Apples & Honey, Couscous Salad

Kosher Chicken #1 in the Pyrex, Before Baking

Kosher Chicken #2 in Cast-Iron, After Baking

Quick Green Bean Saute

Dinner is Served, Come & Get It

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For…Honey Ice Cream!

Rugelach, Homemade Jewish Cookies…you can’t just eat one

And there you have it. Just a small taste of the lovely meal that was enjoyed by many.

Brown Sugar Ice Cream with Rosemary Caramel Swirl

8 Sep

Greetings everyone.

I have ice cream for you. It has brown sugar in it, and rosemary infused caramel sauce. It is smooth and rich and keeps me coming back for more. The caramel sauce helps keep this ice cream nice and soft, which I LOVE.

Unfortunately I have trouble taking nice photos of ice cream. I just want to eat and lick up all of the dripping goodness. So sue me.

Alright. Now let’s get down to business and make some ice cream.

Rosemary Infused Caramel Sauce

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. water + 1/2 c. water

2 T. butter

1-2 large branches rosemary

1. Heat the sugar and 1/4 c. water in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. It will eventually bubble and turn amber in color. Try to do minimal or no stirring. Once the bubbling turns vigorous and there is some smoke starting to form, then you can take a whisk and stir.

2. Remove from heat and slowly pour in a little bit of your 1/2 c. of water and STAND BACK. Stir, add a little more water, stand back. Repeat until your entire 1/2 c. is used. Keep stirring to make sure your caramel is smooth.

3. Add the butter and rosemary. Let the caramel sit with the rosemary in it for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove your rosemary and let the caramel cool.

Brown Sugar Ice Cream + Rosemary Caramel Swirl

adapted from Food + Words

6 ounces egg yolks (4 yolks)
8 ounces (either light or dark) brown sugar (1 cup)
16 ounces whole or reduced fat milk (2 cups)
8 ounces heavy cream (1 cup)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fleur de sel (I used Maldon)

Set your heavy cream aside in a large bowl with a mesh strainer over it.

Whisk your yolks and brown sugar together in a medium bowl for about 2 minutes, until well combined and light-ish in color.

In small pot, heat your milk until scaled (just about to boil but does not boil). Slowly whisk a small amount of the scalded milk into the sugar and egg mixture. Keep whisking constantly. Pour that back into the rest of the milk and keep heating. Now start stirring with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Keep stirring the egg, sugar, milk mixture over the stove until thickened slightly. This could take anywhere from 5-15 minutes, so just watch closely. You will know when your custard is thickened when it coats the back of a spoon completely.**You do not want scrambled eggs, though, so keep the heat to medium.

Pour your thickened custard through the strainer into the cream. Add the vanilla and fleur de sel and set the mixture over an ice bath until cool. Once cool, place in the fridge to chill completely (at least one hour or overnight).

Churn the ice cream in the ice cream maker. In the last 30 seconds of churning, add as much caramel sauce to the ice cream as you want. Or, alternatively, once your ice cream is churned, pour some of it into your container, then pour over it a layer of caramel sauce, then more ice cream, then more caramel, then more ice cream.

Freeze in the freezer and enjoy!