chefx

chefx This last week has been a revelation to me.

Seriously.

I discovered that I love to cook.  I know you must be wondering … what is she talking about?  Of course she loves to cook … doesn’t she write this blog and bake just about every night?

But that’s the thing.  I bake.  I’ve pretty much completely stopped cooking anything more difficult than a poached egg on vegetables.  I don’t know when I stopped loving pottering away in the kitchen … but at some point in the last 3 years, I have.

And no matter how much I love the look of a recipe … I just haven’t been able to get myself excited enough to want to get all the ingredients and start the process of cooking.

Ever feel that way?

And then … about 10 days ago, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Jeff Heaton, the owner of ChefX sent me an email asking if I’d be interested in testing out the first official week of their program.  They would provide me with a free sample box: 2 chef inspired meals, recipe cards, all the ingredients (save the staples: oil, salt, pepper, eggs), enough food for 2 people … with leftovers.  In exchange, I’d blog about it.

I figured … it was kind of a win-win.  I mean, I’d have to cook again, but I was willing to do that in order to give it a shot.

Last week’s box featured both Marysol Foucault’s (Edgar) lemony leek lamb with sautéed zucchini and yoghurt, and The Urban Element‘s pan-seared chicken breast with tomato caper vinaigrette and celeriac mash.

Both sounded pretty darn delicious.  The question remained … would I be able to re-create these dishes?

The answer.  A simple yes.

The beauty of ChefX is that you not only have a large cooler delivered with all the necessary ingredients, you’re also provided with a recipe card – bright colours, clear instructions, pictures of mis-en-place and ingredients to demonstrate what you will need and what steps to follow when cooking.

PanSearedChickenTomatoCapers_V3_650px

As you can see, the recipe cards are broken down into level of difficulty, estimated time, and kitchen tools required.

the ChefX box

I made the Urban Element’s pan-seared chicken breast dish after work on Monday.  A very relaxed 45 minutes after I started cooking, the man-friend and I sat down to probably the tastiest chicken I have ever cooked.  We both liked the celeriac mash, but it was the tomato caper vinaigrette that really brought the dish to another level.  It was the perfect level of acidity and sweetness and thickened perfectly.  It was a dish that the man-friend and I would happily make again.  Heck – I have some chicken breasts in the freezer I can’t wait to pan-sear.

pan-seared chicken breast

I waited until Wednesday to make Marysol’s lemony leek lamb with sautéed zucchini and yoghurt.  I will admit that it took me longer than the estimated 55 minutes to make this one – but within 65 minutes the man-friend and I tucked into rich meatballs (which according to the recipe should have yielded 8 – I got 13), perfectly sautéed zucchini, a spicy gremolata, and a lemony greek yoghurt.  I can honestly say this is probably a recipe I wouldn’t have made otherwise (lamb isn’t my to-go ingredient), but I’m glad I did.  It reminded me that I love the mixing of ingredients and flavours.  It also showed me a few new simple tricks to create something delicious without any stress.

lemony leek lamb

Now you might wonder … why should you consider ChefX.

1.  If you love to eat out, but don’t love what it does to your wallet (or your waistline).

2.  If you love to cook, but are stuck in a rut.

3.  If you like to watch what you eat, but still want to eat well.  .

4.  If you hate wasted food.  You get what you need.  Seriously – they packed me a small pack of sugar.

5.  It allows you to see what inspires some of the best chefs in our city.

6.  You love to cook, but are famished when you get home.  It’s quick and painless.

Oh … and in case you’re wondering … I enjoyed my experience so much I signed up for this week.  The Wellington Gastropub has created a salmon dish that sounds just about right … and The Urban Element‘s roasted squash soup is sure to warm me right up!

A little Q & A with Jeff … aka. additional information:

The cost per week for 2 meals in portions for 2 people is $59 (taxes and delivery costs included).  Bigger family?  No problem!  ChefX is still an option.  Cost for 4 people is $99, and the cost for 6 people is $139 per week.

Portion sizes are large enough that there should be leftovers.

Wondering how quickly you need to cook these meals right?  Generally you can count on a shelf life of 5 days for the vacuum packaged meats.  Cook the more perishable ingredients (eg. seafood) sooner to be safe.  Or you can freeze the meat if you’re worried. All that to say – you basically have until Thursday to cook your meals.  Not bad for delivery!

The boxes are delivered every Sunday between 1 pm and 9 pm.  Not home?  No problem.  I wasn’t home last Sunday and so they left my box in the entrance of my apartment building (note: make sure you can trust your neighbours before making those arrangements!) … I got there and everything was still chilled.  All I had to do was put it away and wait until Monday night to start cooking!

The service is subscription based. Once you sign up, you’ll automatically be charged week by week.  HOWEVER … if a menu doesn’t sound quite right, you’re going away, or you just don’t feel like it – you can pause or cancel your subscription.

You get a cooler every week.  Which means … you store it for the week (ice packs can be left inside it) and come the following Sunday, return it to your delivery spot.  They will swap in the new, filled cooler for the old empty one.

What chefs are participating?  Every week one of the following chefs will create a dish.  Steve Wall, Supply & Demand.  Chris Deraiche, Wellington Gastropub.  Marysol Foucault, Edgar.  Chloe Berlanga, Whalesbone Oyster House & Elmdale Tavern.  Marc Lepine, Atelier.  Steve Mitton, Murray Street.  Marc Dorion, Town.  Patricia Larkin, Black Cat Bistro. Chris Lord, Union Local 613.  Matthew Shepheard, Marisposa Farm.

The Urban Element will be creating the second dish.

ps.  Sign up before 11:59pm Monday night and you can get a ChefX cooler Sunday November 3rd.  It’s never too late to give it a try ….

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anna march rocks

Anna is awesome.  Not only is she a super lovely, nice person (and friend), but she’s also a kick-butt chef.

She makes everything taste delicious.

If you don’t believe me … check out Mariposa farm’s Sunday brunch.

Or if you were lucky enough to attend Oz Kafé’s industry night this past Monday then you know what I’m talking about.

THIS WAS THE BEST INDUSTRY NIGHT @ OZ KAFÉ EVER.

EVER!!!!!!

I write this knowing that you are likely rolling your eyes … since I practically declare everything to be the best.

However, please believe me.  There was not a single thing that I ate that I didn’t completely and utterly enjoy.  I basically licked my plates clean (yes … all four courses).   There wasn’t a single thing I would change about the menu.  Well … except that I would have liked to have more.  Of everything.

(For the record – I even ate most of Charlotte’s duck confit “burger” … which means I had two of those)It all started with a sunchoke & potato soup (duck fat crouton, truffle chive oil)

Duck fat makes a lot of things better.  Especially croutons.  And truffle chive oil … yeah … amazing.  Perfect start to the meal.

The soup was followed by beet 3-way.  The beets were marinated.  And pickled.  And roasted in vinaigrette. Then Anna grated some roasted hazelnut over the beets, tossed in some whole roasted hazelnuts, and shaved some creamy cheddar … a mouthful of deliciousness (and a real taste of the season). Soup … Salad … now SANDWICHES.But not just any sandwiches.  These are the KINGS of sandwiches.

Duck confit “burger” (that’s what I call it at least) – tiny bun (yum), duck confit (ridiculously rich and delicious), caramelized onion, apple, mustard … mother of pearl insanely delightful!“Foie on toast” (again … I’m calling it that).  Everyone should get to try foie gras like this … I mean … seed bread with a cornel of foie and an onion jam (along with crabapple, tomato chutney and mustard).  Amazing.  And this coming from a foodie that isn’t a huge lover of foie gras. Grilled goat cheese.  I’m only going to have grilled cheese sandwiches this way.  Why I hadn’t thought of it before … I don’t know.  But served on house bread and with a tomato salad … the sharp goat cheese was the perfect accompaniment to the other two sandwiches.And then it was time for dessert.  This was SWEET.  Truly.  It was sweet and delicious.  pudding chomeur – a great traditional Québecois dessert … only … topped with bourbon ice cream.  House made of course.  The combination of the bourbon with maple; and the hot pudding with the cold ice cream … mother of pearl.  DELIGHT. I can’t find fault with this meal.  I loved it.

Thank you Anna. (and Kshonzay, Vinnie and Tarek).  It was brilliant.