Metro Home: Date Night Cooking like a Celebrity Chef with Blue Apron

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We all know about the convenience of home delivery food services like FreshDirect, Seamless and all of the omnipresent restaurants that inundate our doorways with “free delivery” menus. Well, this month we cut through the costs and fired up the stove with Blue Apron. Cooking a meal at home has never been fresher, healthier or more fun and affordable. The company is dedicated to helping build a more sustainable food system. Their farm-fresh ingredients come from a family-run business that provide everything you need with a step-by-step preparation guide.

This is the perfect way to enjoy date night or any night with family or friends.

Here is what’s cookin’.

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You sign up and select your meals according to taste, dietary restrictions and number of diners. We chose three different meals. The outcome was comparable to many of the star-rated establishments in the city. Honestly. And we controlled the amount of sodium, dairy and fat in each meal. It doesn’t matter about your kitchen comfort level or experience while wearing an apron. With Blue Apron, if you can read, you can do this!

The Spiced Lamb & Beef Tagine (above) arrived with 10 ounces ground lamb & beef blend, couscous, garlic, lemon, zucchini, swiss chard, mint, medjool dates, tomato paste, Ras El Hanout, labneh cheese. All ingredients were fresh, pre-measured and clearly labeled.

The entire process took about 45 minutes with a little help slicing and dicing by my adventurous dinner guest — the outcome was amazing. Fluffy couscous topped with a savory portion of beef and lamp that is seasoned to perfection by the ras el hanout. A touch of sweetness from the dates and the side of labneh cheese with lemon and mint garnish took the dish up another level. It reminded me of a culinary experience in Morocco and I puffed up my chest like Daniel Boulud as we raised our forks.

Tip: The directions say to salt and pepper in several stages of preparation. I cut that back and was able to season at the completion of the meal.

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The Blue Apron box was delivered quickly and all contents were perfectly sealed in a mylar portable cooler bag on dry ice. Our second meal selection was their Seared Salmon with Sorrel Salad and Creamy Barley (above). This dish was a major triumph because I was cooking on a gas range. Regardless, I am confident it can be just as successful when made on an electric range.

Sorrel is one of the most widespread and long-cultivated herbs in the world. As one of the first spring plants to emerge, its fresh, almost citrusy tartness has been celebrated throughout history and on almost every continent. The ingredients also include a healthy dose of dill. On a level of difficulty, this dish is not for the culinary timid, just keep in mind it’s all about the prep and timing. If you follow the Blue Apron steps to a capital T, the completed meal will be earthy, savory and a perfectly seared salmon. I imagined Julia Child weeping over a glass of wine as I plated the entrée — perfection.

Tip: The fresh salmon comes from companies that hold high standards in fishing. You might encounter a bone or two as I did.

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My third selection was the Chicken Piccata with Fusili Pasta & Garlic Chives (above). This meal is very simple to make and the outcome is robust and appetizing with a light sauce consisting of lemon, butter, fresh parsley and tart capers. Just make sure you boil the pasta to al dente and pat the chicken dry before sautéing. I felt like I was on The Food Network getting high-fives from Anthony Bourdain, Gordon Ramsay and G. Garvin.

Blue Apron is the perfect idea for cooking on date night, entertaining guests and a wonderful option to take on weekend travels this summer — it’s better and healthier than stopping for fast food and much less costly than dining out every night.

Put on an apron and place your order here: https://www.blueapron.com

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