Monday, 26 May 2014

A Review of Simply Cook food boxes - Mushroom Penne


I was recently offered the chance to try out Simply Cook*, a new food based subscription box company with a difference. In short, Simply Cook send out a box each month including four recipes and four corresponding ingredient kits. You add a couple of other ingredients, and, voila - according to the box, restaurant quality food in 20 minutes! For those of you who this concerns, a gluten free box is also available!

I was intrigued to try this as I've recently been trying out Schwarz' flavour shots and I really liked the concept of them but didn't like that I had to buy so many ingredients, most of which I only use a little bit of and then the rest is wasted as I simply have no use for it. Healthy eating is something I struggle to do - I have a physically demanding job where fitness is a priority so I need to eat healthy. But I don't have the time, or the desire! I often try to follow recipes but get fed up with how many ingredients I need or how much of an effort it was to create something I didn't actually enjoy all that much, or I end up just making the exact same simple and pretty flavourless things over and over again. So, in short - Simply Cook sounded like it could be a really great match for me!

So, as you can see in the picture above, that's my box in full. I chose to try the Mexican beef chilli, the spiced duck with chilli cabbage and miso, the wild mushroom penne, and the cod and chorizo broth. As you can see there's a big variety of recipes, and though each one comes with three little ingredient pots there's a lot of variety about what is contained in each one too.

Let's get on with it shall we? I decided to start off with the wild mushroom penne, simply because I quite often cook a mushroom pasta which is pretty much identical to the recipe - minus the extra ingredients of course - and so thought it would be the best to do a full post on since I can more accurately compare the two. 

Here's the full selection for the mushroome penne. The little box at the bottom contains the three little pots. The recipe is on good quality paper and shows a clear and appetising picture of the contents - on the other side is the recipe. I really liked how the recipes are done as they are so clear! Quite often I end up interpreting recipes in different ways, but these recipe cards make it pretty obvious exactly what needs to be done. I like that the ingredients list is separated into what is optional and what isn't, and I love that the bottom of the card is a mini ingredients list that can be torn off and taken to the shops with you. I didn't, as the card was too pretty to waste and the recipe was available on the website - but I love the idea!

These little pots contain a garlic paste (so delicious smelling, by the way!), dried porcini, and mushroom stock.

And here's the full set of ingredients! The little pots, some mushrooms, some pasta, some creme fraiche, and an onion. That's it! The whole lot came to about a fiver, largely because for some reason creme fraiche was particularly elusive and I could only get it in an expensive store. (By the way, anyone else keep thinking they've run out of pasta and onions and then return to their house only to discover they actually have an endless collection?! Nevermind.)

In goes the onion...

And the mushrooms...

And pot number one, the garlic paste! I was a little wary with this as I took the garlic paste out and it just sort of glooped all over one of the mushrooms and didn't seem remotely spreadable. I was wrong, it didn't take long at all to coat my mushrooms in its garlicky goodness!

In goes the creme fraiche, and the remaining two pots; the porcini, and the mushroom stock. Again, it all went in really easily and soon made a nice thick sauce. Once this was done and my pasta had finished cooking, the pasta got mixed in with this too - again, I was a little wary about this as I tend to end up with a pile of mushrooms on one plate and a pile of pasta in the other with no sauce seemingly attached to anything. But, Simply Cook has worked their magic and this was the end result...

And here it is! By the way, Simply Cook state their meals are for two people, but I actually ended up with two good sized portions plus another batch which has gone into the fridge for tomorrow, so the recipes aren't at all stingy.

But how was it? I actually find the cooking experience quite enjoyable! I genuinely had no idea how the pots would taste so I enjoyed adding them to it, and it really didn't take much time at all - I'd say this was the first time a recipe time has been accurate for me!

And, most importantly - the meal was absolutely delicious. Seriously. Who knew something that I cooked so often could be so much improved? Though I liked the concept I wasn't completely optimistic, but this little kit tasted absolutely perfect, and really was restaurant quality. My friend had no idea I had used a kit and was surprised at how great the cooking tasted - so let's not correct him! It smelled great, and had so many different flavours that I really did enjoy every spoonful of this meal.

I'm definitely impressed with this meal. I was going to wait until I'd completed all of the recipe kits to make a post on it, but I loved my first meal so much that I genuinely couldn't resist getting this post made while I was still so excited about it! I do of course plan on making the other three meals, and I'll make a mini update when they're all completed so that those of you who need a little more persuading than me can take a look! 

SimplyCook boxes cost £10 a month, and are definitely something I'm considering getting a subscription of. I can't say they'll change my cooking habits completely because I'm always going to be lazy in the kitchen, but one special meal a week is definitely something I can make! As much as I loved the pasta, once I've tried the other three I'll make a proper decision on this. If you'd like to order your box you can do so here - and by the way, using the code CONFETTI will get you a nice little 50% off of your first box! 

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13 comments

  1. I love this idea - I need some more motivation to try cooking new things, and wonder if this might be it - plus the meal looks very tasty which is always a bonus!

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    1. Give it a try! It worked for me, I'm really looking forward to trying the next one out :)

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  2. Oh wow, mushroom pasta is my absolute favourite, my mouth it watering. I love the idea of this kit, great to see one in action ! x
    Emily Lavenders

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    1. I eat it all the time, but this was like a new level of home cooked mushroom pasta, haha!

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  3. This is such a good idea, and so cheap too! I like the idea of it being perfectly portioned out and ready to go, means I'm much more likely to give new recipes a go.

    S xo.

    blinkeredbarbiebakes.blogspot.com

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    1. It works well for me - if I end up with too much waste or another addition to my spice and herbs cabinet I just can't be bothered with it.

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  4. This looks great! I'm such a lazy cook. This looks like it might be the trick, and I love that you get some left over for another meal.

    Also- completely agree with you about the buying pasta thing.

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    1. Sounds like you have the same problem as me! I love eating and food in general, and I feel bed when I constantly rotate ready meals, but I just don't have the time or energy to cook most days.

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  5. Yum! That looks delicious--I'm a huge, huge fan of any sort of pasta. :) I love the idea of the meal box--I bet it's great for those nights when you have no clue what to fix.

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    1. Which for me is pretty much all of the nights ;)

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  6. Oooh this is interesting!

    Stephanie
    http://missstephanieusher.blogspot.co.uk/
    http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/3436251
    xxxx

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    1. I find it really interesting seeing each stage as I do it, haha :)

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  7. Glad to read your review before I go for a trial....always worry about giving my card details to any ad I find on Facebook, there are many dodgy companies :) Looking forward to my £4 first box with FB code FB1

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