My Report on Plated

Although meal kit delivery services took off a few years ago, they never really snagged my interest. But after a friend sent me an offer for a free box from Plated, I realized that these kits—which deliver ingredients and recipes for meals to cook at home—aren’t just for novice cooks or harried families.

Turkey-Spinach Burgers with Quinoa and Pesto Ricotta, via Plated.

Here’s why I’m happy to occasionally spend $55 a week for two dinners for two:

• I’m officially out of my rut: Sure, I’ve authored three cookbooks and have worked as an editor or feature writer on dozens more. And yet sometimes I grow weary of my own style of cooking (French, Italian and classic American). Plated has nudged me to cook Cuban empanadas, Vietnamese caramel chicken, Vietnamese Chicken Thighs, Chimichurri Steak Kabobs, and other dishes that aren’t generally in my wheelhouse.

Vietnamese Chicken Thighs with Jasmine Rice, Sautéed Green Beans, and Pickled Onion, via Plated. Quite possibly my favorite Plated recipe so far. If you do order this, see a few tweaks I made to the recipe, at the bottom of this post.

• I trust these recipes: As someone who writes and edits recipes as part of her métier, I’ve been impressed by how accurate, practical and straightforward the recipes are. Out of 17 recipes, I’ve only found one questionable timing, and that was easily fixed by just a little more time in the oven. Also, I tend to cook my green beans longer than they specify in their recipes, but that’s a personal preference

• I admire the ingredients: With the minor exception of an unripe tomato, all ingredients—from produce to meats and seasonings—have arrived fresh and in great condition.

Ginger-Soy Chicken with Cabbage, Edamame, and Peanuts. And Mizuna, via plated. I can’t find Mizuna anywhere near where I live….so was pretty darned happy to get it delivered.


• There’s no waste: Have you ever bought some obscure condiment or a fresh herb, used a bit of it for a recipe, and had the remainder go forgotten and unused for the rest of its life span? Plated gives you just the amount you need of everything you need, except salt, pepper and cooking oil.

• I avoid dining out by default: When I’m in the mood to dine out, there’s no other place I’d rather be than in a local restaurant. But if I just wander into a place because I haven’t thought ahead, I usually leave annoyed at myself. These kits stay fresh for two days (for seafood) to four days (for most other recipes). That makes it easier to avoid spending $12 for a glass of wine in a restaurant those times when I would have been just as happy with a glass from a $12 bottle at home.

So. I’ve become a fan of Plated. And I’d love to hear if you’re trying any other meal services out there, and if so, which ones? Please share!

P.S.: Plated just sent me a link that allows all my friends to get a free box, valued up to $72. If you’re willing to give it a try, do so. (You can cancel at any time). Full total discloser: Yes, I will get a $10 credit if you end up buying a box after the freebie, but honestly, if you just give it a try and cancel after the first box, you’ll get no hard feelings from me! It’s worth a try, since it’s free. The offer expires October 6th. Here’s where to sign up for the free box.

Want recommendations? Here are the recipes I’ve enjoyed the most so far, with asterisks for my tip-top favorites:

• Seared Steak with Horseradish-Mustard Sauce and Green Beans
• Chimichurri Steak Kebabs with Bell Pepper and Spinach
• Vietnamese Caramel Chicken with Roasted Chinese Broccoli and Basmati Rice
• Vietnamese Chicken Thighs with Jasmine Rice, Sautéed Green Beans, and Picked Onion* (also, see some tweaks I made on this, below).
• Duck Ragu Rigatoni with Peas and Mint
• Vietnamese Beef Meatballs with Chile-Lime Dressing*
• Turkey-Spinach Burgers with Quinoa and Pesto Ricotta*

And seriously, if you’ve tried other meal kit delivery services, please let me know about them–I’d love giving some others a try, but I’m not sure where to start.

About the Vietnamese Chicken Thighs from Plated: I made these for a fourth time last night, and absolutely love this recipe. I have, however, made a few tweaks to the recipe that improve it.
• The instructions say to peel the hunk of ginger and add it, whole, to the marinade/sauce mixture. I mince it fine so that you get more of the ginger flavor through and through.
• The pickled onions are great, but incredibly a bit more sharp than I liked. To the mixture of onions and rice vinegar, I add about one tablespoon of sugar and a little salt and pepper. Much more balanced!
That’s it! And it’s one of the best recipes I’ve discovered in ages!

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Who Knew Irish Gin Was a Thing?

I didn’t. But a couple days after I landed in Ireland this year, I chatted with an affable bartender (is there any other kind in Ireland?) who told me that boutique gins were a thing in her country. I tried a few, and handily found my favorite: Dingle Gin. Of course, spending three days in Dingle, just up the road from where the gin is produced, made it especially close to my heart.

The Irish gins I tasted were more …. botanical, I think is the word. Nothing wrong with a good London Dry Gin, but Dingle et al. had a wonderfully herbal-citrus-slightly-sweet-bitter flavor.

Now that I’m back, I have had no luck finding Dingle Gin here in Amerique profonde, though I have rattled a few cages about getting it into our state. Meanwhile, I’m happy to report that the more widely available Gunpowder Gin is amazing as well.  (I also tried an artisanal California gin that was way over-the-top in botanicals. I don’t want stronger….I want wilder.)

I also adored using Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic in my Gin and Tonic. The elderflower angle simply underscored that herbaceous-floral angle in the Gin in a lightly sweet/lightly bitter way.

So….if you’re looking for a new drink, give Irish Gin a try. Dingle, if you can find it. Gunpowder, if not. And try it with the Fever Tree…it’s pretty amazing.

P.S.: Here’s a darling video of some Irish people tasting Gunpowder Gin. I could listen to these people all day! If you have a spare 5 minutes and you love Ireland, give it a watch.

 

This post contains affiliate links. Should you purchase anything through one of these links, I will receive a small commission; it will not add to your costs in any way. Thank you.

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Where in the World Have I Been?

Ireland!

Mr.Sportcoat (sans sportcoat) and me at the Ladies’ View, Kerry, Ireland. What you’ve heard about Ireland is true: The landscape is beautiful and people are just so kind. What you might not know is that the food is amazing–these days, it’s every bit as good as in France. And in some ways, better. Seriously.

Indeed, I’ve taken three trips to Ireland in the past four years, and I have to say, Ireland is my new France. Not that I don’t still love France. Yet after 25 years of summering in France, I get it. It is part of my soul, and I have brought it home to the way I live every single day in the U.S.

I’m someone who loves to travel deep (rather than wide); once I start to love a place, I want to know it better and better. I want to know Ireland as deeply and well as I know France. I want Ireland to be a part of who I am.

So, should I change my blog’s title to “Ireland Is My New France”? It’s a thought!

But for now, I thought I’d resurface and say “hiya” (that’s Ireland-talk for “hi”).

And while you’re here (since you probably came here for French cooking), and while it’s summer, I thought–why not give you my five best French recipes for summer (as they appear on this blog). Here you go, friends. Thanks for popping by.

  1. The Best Recipe for Cherry Clafoutis Ever

    Swing those Bing Cherries into a great clafouti. #SoEasy.

    People! Sweet cherries are in like Flynn (whatever that means–my mom used to say it!). And this is the easiest way in the world to make cherries into a rich, custardy dessert.

  2. French Chèvre Salad with Peaches, Pine Nuts, and Arugula

    Goat cheese, peaches, and arugula star in this easy French Chevre salad. Photo courtesy of Goat Cheeses of France.

    Peaches, too are right in season. They’re great in this salad, with melty-mild goat cheese Camembert. (Use plain Camembert if you can’t find a good Goat Cheese Brie or Goat Cheese Camembert.

  3. French Green Lentil Salad with Shrimp

    A quick summer dinner-party entree: Treat everyone to something wonderful. Put out a double-batch of this French Green Lentil Salad with Shrimp in one large bowl. Serve with some cheeses, breads, maybe some charcuterie, and call it a simple French buffet dinner.

    If you make this salad, promise me you’ll use French green lentils from Le Puy. They’re easier to find than they used to be (when I’d bring them home from France in my luggage!). Find them on Amazon (affiliate link) if you can’t find them locally.

  4. French Tomato Salad

    A Simple French Tomato Salad Recipe

    No link or recipe needed for this, but there is a story: On my first stay in France as a high school cultural exchange student, the maman of the family served me a salad much like the one above. Though it was so simple, I’d never really tasted anything like it before—and it’s the fines herbes that bust open the world for me. There’s something that this mix of herbs (parsley, chives, and tarragon or chervil) does to the tomatoes that’s just so….French. Simply make your favorite vinaigrette (or make mine), and bring on the fines herbes and finely chopped shallots. Oh–and use the best homegrown tomatoes you can buy, of course.

  5. The Chartreuse-Ito
  6. Photo courtesy of Chartreuse.fr

    I’m always looking for a seasonal house cocktail to serve guests. I found one I love in Ireland, and I’ll share that with you soon (the recipe has to run in another publication before I can reprint it here–it’s a deal I made with my editor!).

    But for now, I’m finishing up a bottle of Chartreuse that I have by using it in a Mojito made with Chartreuse–a recipe I discovered in Bordeaux years ago. Click the link for the recipe and story.

 

 

 

 

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