Once more, with Gousto

We treated ourselves to what may be our last Gousto box before we return to Orkney, where they do not deliver. The box arrived today, with four meals therein:

  • Chicken Katsu Curry
  • Rosemary Lamb Meatballs & Mint Sauce
  • Harissa Chorizo With White Bean Mash
  • Two-Lentil Dal & Spiced Aubergine

Tonight we plumped for the Lamb Meatballs, and very good they were too.

Rosemary Lamb Meatballs & Mint Sauce

  • Date made: 8/3/2017
  • Used: Two gas rings and the Remoska
  • I added: nothing 
  • ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Odd as it may seem I do believe that this was the first time that I ever made big meatballs for a meal other than cooking small meatballs in sauce for pasta.

The meatbal mix: lamb mince, panko breadcrumbs, stock cube, rosemary, garlic, seasoning

The timing of this meal was a bit up in the air as I roasted the potatoes in the Remoska and was uncertain how long that they would take. I did expect them to need more than the 20 – 25 minutes suggested time. I elected to leave cooking the carrots and meatballs until the potatoes showed signs of browning.

Meatballs made. Remainder of Rosemary to chop for the potatoes

Due to Mr Snail’s preoccupation with van servicing tasks, the potatoes were in the end really well browned (50 minutes total cooking time.)

Impromptu “Pestle and Mortar” for the Mint Sauce.  Yes. I am a messy cook

The potatoes went onto the Remoska, which I lined with foil.

Prepping the spuds

However when I tested the potatoes to see if they were cooked through, I found that the bottoms had stuck to the foil. I took them out, eased them off, and then chucked them back into the Remoska without the foil.

Ready to roast

I reduced the carrot liquor down to a glaze at the end of cooking

A little sparse-looking on the plate and I should have appreciated a second vegetable

I liked: all of it

I disliked: the usual shortage of accompanying vegetables

Verdict: Quick and easy. Next time I would add a second veg.  Not so sure about adding oil to the mint sauce… it seems unnecessary and adds nothing so far as I could tell.

Order again?: Probably, though it would depend what other dishes were tempting me on any given week

We are thinking probably the Katsu Curry tomorrow…

Gousto: Chicken Teriyaki With Sugar Snap Peas

  • Date made: 28/01/2017
  • Used: induction hob
  • I added: a couple of extra spring onions as felt the single onion provided was way too parsimonious
  • He added: Soy Sauce at the table 
  • ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Sorry, no photographs – there simply was no room for manoeuvre.

By far the best meal in this week’s box. Quite delicious, with wonderfully zingy fresh flavours. If I had to quibble I would wish for more chilli and further vegetable content. Mr Snail really enjoyed the Sugar Snaps and has asked to have them cooked that way again – they were simply lightly steamed on top of the cooked rice.

A little fiddly on the prep side for my small van kitchen but worth the hassle, I’d say.

Would  definitely order this one again and am going to add Teriyaki to my standard repertoire,

Kudos to Gousto, by the way, for responding so quickly to my report of the ill-fated Mexican Pork Chilli and thanks for the generous credit applied to my account.

Gousto: Crunchy Asian Beef & Vermicelli Salad

  • Date made: 27/01/2017
  • Used: one gas ring and a kettle
  • I added: nothing 
  • He added: Soy Sauce at the table as he felt it lacked salt
  • I changed: Did not roast the (already roasted) peanuts nor did I bother to chop them
  • If I made it again: I would like more nuts in the dish. I would add them to the beef before completing with the finishing sauce.  More onions, more ginger, more chilli. I might also replace the lettuce with further crunchy veg such as radishes and white turnip, perhaps some courgette ribbons. Coriander leaf would finish t he dish off nicely.
  • ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Mixed  opinions  on this one; I enjoyed it but Mr Snail did not really appreciate, though he did eat his whole enormous portion. It was good to have plenty of veg stuff for a change.

Ready to cook

There  was much prep, not something that I would normally mind but in the campervan it was awkward to manage.

Prepared veg for the salad

Frying off the beef and ginger

My finishing sauce did not behave properly and I was left with a large pool of fat in the pan. 

Ready to eat

Verdict: It was okay but we both thought it lacked punch. More chilli heat would have been good. We also felt that the dish needed more than the miserly two spring onions provided,

I would probably not order this again but would happily use as inspiration for my own version, which would likely be pork mince or chicken thighs rather than beef.

Gousto: Easy Chicken Biriyani

  • Date made: 26/01/2017
  • Used: induction hob
  • I added: a handful of cashew nuts, then served with Geeta’s Mango Chutney and Chapatis on the side
  • ♥ ♥ 

Sorry, no photographs.

Kit delivered yesterday and this dish was marked  as use by 29th January but the beans were already beginning to rot and I threw several mushy and slimy ones out.

Not a good start

Not really a Biriyani as I know it, more of a curry-flavoured risotto –  but it was rated at 15 minutes cooking time so I expect it is aimed at people who don’t really want to cook rather than enthusiastic cooks who love to eat. No garlic or ginger involved, nor any esoteric spices – just onion and  a packet of curry powder.

There was plenty to eat and I struggled to finish even without eating much chapati, which the dog enjoyed on my behalf.

I liked: that the French beans remained al dente

I disliked: lack of chilli heat, unsubtle flavour, stickiness/stodgy rice

Verdict: quick and easy but dull and lacking in flavour. Would not buy this again.

Gousto: Mexican Pork Chilli with Apple Salsa

  • Date made: 25/01/2017
  • Used: both gas rings
  • I added: Corn tortillas
  • ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Reviewing the finished dish is difficult due to the main flavouring component having suffered an accident in transit – I had to make the dish without the Smoky Chipotle Paste.

A simple one-pan dish, easily and quickly made.

Frying off the meat and onions

Add flavourings and stock and simmer until thick (Bulgur Wheat cooking in the pan at rear)

Top with cheese and serve with the Bulgur and a salsa of apple, onion and celery

There was no need for the tortillas that I added, the dish was plentiful and satisfying.

Verdict: okay but not startling. Would try again in order to get the full flavour with the Chipotle paste included.

Gousto

My Gousto Box has arrived.

Don’t know what Gousto is?

Gousto is one of several companies that sell and deliver fresh meal kits. We had a trial parcel a couple of months ago and then wavered over reordering, until now. In the meantime I have evaluated (at a theoretical level) other offerings such as Hello Fresh, Mindful Chef and Simply Cook.

Most offerings include everything needed to make a tasty and healthy balanced dish, including the recipe. The exception is Simply Cook, who provide the recipe and the more esoteric ingredients for flavouring – in their case you still go and shop for the main ingredients. 

None of the offerings are cheap, for what they are. In fact they are downright expensive. My Gousto package of four by two-person servings works out at £5.25 a serving; Ouch!

So, if it is so expensive?

All things are relative. My home-cooked meals work out a great deal more economically, to be sure but life becomes dull and cooking starts to be boring and we find ourselves at the local pub for dinner. Dinner for two with drinks about matches the cost of a Gousto Box but is not so tasty nor as healthy. If I can get four tasty meals for the rice of one very mediocre pub meal, what a I going to do – kick the pub into touch, that’s what. I’m funding the Gousto delivery by not going out for chips and beer. That is a very grown-up decision, I reckon.

So why do it?

  • Variety – we like to challenge our palates and try new dishes as often as we can
  • Convenience – the food comes to me and I don’t have to waste my time in planning meals, writing shopping lists and going shopping
  • Wider choice – due to our habit of living in extremely rural locations, more exotic ingredients (and even some everyday ones) can be difficult or impossible to source. At the very least, supplies may be classified as “unreliable.” Our diet can become boring indeed and sometimes less than healthy.
  • We are right behind the ethical reasoning of food waste reduction (the box contains only what is needed for the dish, no more hoarding out of date condiments or binning slimy vegetables) and reducing carbon footprint (it is more efficient to use couriers to deliver than for every household to burn fuel going to the supermarket)
  • Portion control – we are both porkers in need of waist reduction. I have never learned how to cook for just two persons and always make too much, then my early years training of not wasting good food kicks in and I overeat. Delivered meals are portion controlled and will educate my stomach to eat less and teach my eyes and my hands how to buy and cook just the right amount when making my own meals.

As van-dwellers we have additional considerations such as the lack of storage space for maintaining supplies of dry goods. It’s expensive to have just 150g of rice at a time but where am I going to keep my cheap bulk-buy 10 Kg bags in a campervan, eh? The same thinking applies to everything really, from spuds to tomato paste… where does it all go? As I cannot store supplies I end up shopping more frequently than I would wish to and then also throw out lots of items that simply will not fit in my tiny fridge. 

What’s in the box?

The sturdy box is divided into two sections

The delivery box (ours comes by Yodel and is tracked) is a sturdy cardboard affair that no doubt can be repurposed once unpacked. It is divided into two section, one of which holds the non-chilled items such as vegetables and salads, grains, spices and condiments. The other side holds all the chilled items such as meat, vacuum-packed then packaged inside a wool-insulated sheet inside a plastic bag with ice packs.

Gousto will deliver a parcel for two or  four persons, of two, three or four meals. This week we ordered the four meal pack. The choice of dishes is wide, allowing me to select four dishes that I am able to cook with the van’s limited facilities.

One point against Gousto’s website here is the fact that the week’s available recipes do not indicate whether an oven is required to cook the dish, nor do they publish the recipes so that this can be determined independently. Hello Fresh make their recipes available but lack the choice. 

It is worth pointing out at this stage that I had planned take the Hello Fresh introductory offer this week in order to make comparisons with Gousto but it proved impossible to have three recipes that did not need an oven or a grill.

I conclude that Gousto’s great strength is its wide range of choice but this of course must be a factor in keeping the prices high.

 

Meats, cheese, yoghurt and fresh flavouring pastes came packed in the cooled packaging

This week’s recipes range from 614 to 763 Kcals per portion, cover a range of cuisines and include Beef, Pork and Chicken (though I could have chosen vegetarian options.)

Dishes influenced by Mexican, Indian and Japanese cuisines – nothing dull!

The non-chilled components

We had one casualty this week, with a little pot of fresh Chipotle Paste arriving broken and leaked.

Disaster strikes

Now, this I do not quite understand, given the standard of packaging. The pot was inside the meat pack in an inch-thick woollen overcoat, wrapped tightly in a plastic bag and housed in its half of the compartmented stout cardboard box. The  outer box was undamaged and nothing in the meat pack itself seems likely to have done the damage.  Obviously the chilling of the plastic tends to render it brittle but all the same, it seems likely to have been broken before packing and unnoticed by the packer (who also included an un-ordered pot of sea salt.)

The Chipotle Paste was for the Pork Chilli. I obviously can’t just nip out and buy a jar to replace it so am a bit stumped. Do I make an under-flavoured version of the dish or use the pork to make something entirely different, I can’t yet decide. I have contacted Gousto to let them know and to ask if they can post me a new pot but have to confess that there is a body of comment on the Internet that suggests that Gousto are not great in the Customer Care department. We shall see. 

One breakage is not sufficient to turn us away from Gousto so today we have ordered next week’s box:

  • HARISSA HALLOUMI SANDWICH & CARROT SLAW
  • CLASSIC LAMB MOUSSAKA
  • PORTOBELLO MUSHROOM & PESTO PASTA
  • CHICKEN & CHIMICHURRI QUESADILLAS

Once I become accustomed to using the Remoska we shall try the Hello Fresh offering.