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 ….

must.love.entertaining.

I have to admit … I LOVED this episode.  Not that I didn’t love must.love.family recipes.  But must.love.entertaining. made me giggle

(fyi – I don’t actually see a finished product until the show airs on Sunday nights at 8 pm … so I never know what to expect).

And it made me hungry.

It’s a little surreal to actually see how Platonic Jeff and I interact with one another …  mother of pearl … we are slightly hilarious.

His third date meal really was lovely … so whomever you are that gets to partake in Platonic Jeff’s cooking skills … I promise you … you will be well fed.  And well entertained ;0)

You should know (in case it wasn’t evident on the show), that Chloé, Joe and I had an absolute BLAST filming their segment.  They brought some great food (thai crab cakes … thai peanut sauce, PLUS stuffed dates), some bevies … and loads of energy and fun.

I heart being around them … I think that totally came across on the show.  But if you missed it … check out this extra added bonus video.

The stuffed dates are delish.  So was the thai peanut sauce.  Sigh.  Absolutely delightful.  And addictive.

It certainly wouldn’t be a must.love.entertaining. show without the wonderful (and super talented) Steve Mitton of Murray Street KWC.  He walked me through the making of a great charcuterie board.  I know … it looked amazing … it was.  I ate everything on that board (well .. ok … I sampled everything on the board … I did share with the rest of the crew) … cheese, meats, condiments … everything that I heart in this world.  All thanks to Steve.  It was wonderful.

You should check out this other little clip of Steve and I having a ridiculously good time making “meat cones” …

In case you’re wondering … must.love.food. airs on Sunday evenings at 8 pm, with re-runs on Wednesdays at 8 am and 4:30 pm, and Saturdays at 1 pm on Rogers channel 22.  You should set your PVR … then sit down, relax, laugh, get hungry … and get inspired to try something new.

I can’t wait for next week’s episode!

kelp records winter warmer

Street. Food. Is. GREAT.

Especially when it’s paired with beer.

That’s how we do a food festival in Ottawa.  Street food and beer.  In a Polish Community Centre.

A-MAZ-ING.

8 chefs all presented their version of street food.

I didn’t get to try all of it … I was on-site on behalf of Edgar (working with the HILARIOUS Michael) … but I was lucky enough to get to sample some of the fares.

Mother. Of. Pearl.

It started with the Whalesbone Oyster House Catering’s deep fried mac & cheese.

It was … SPECTACULAR.  I mean … it’s deep fried mac & cheese.  You kinda have to love it.  But you also love it because it was so cheesy and delicious … crunchy exterior and hot creamy interior.

Loves.

Then I wandered over and sampled Ryan Janssens’ (of DISH) chorizo pogo with bacon jam.

It was hot and spicy.  And although it was deep fried – it wasn’t greasy.  It was that perfect pogo batter (you know the one I’m talking about … you can remember it from your youth)… and with the chorizo filling … it was THE BEST POGO OF MY LIFE. I honestly wanted to go back and get another.  And then another.

Brilliant.

Edgar was paired with Beau’s – and so Marysol came up with a porchetta dish … creamy mashed potatoes, topped with aged cheddar.  Then we generously piled on the pork belly and ham, a veal gravy and a sprinkle of crispy celery root chips.

It was delicious.  Hot and creamy.  Salty and fatty.  It was everything comfort food should be … all in one mouthful.  I LOVED it.  And not just because it was from Edgar’s table … but because it tasted so darn good.

My pictures honestly don’t do the plate justice.

Oh … and it went really well with Beau’s bitter ;0)

I had a chance to wander a little (between plating our dish) … and so although I didn’t sample the Hintonburgh Public House dish, or anything offered by the Manx … I was able to snap some quick pictures.

Pressed and  Seed to Sausage were two another food stands I wanted to sample … but it just didn’t happen.  I actually didn’t even get a picture of either their brisket sandwich (Pressed) or their gourmet hot dogs (Seed to Sausage).  Boo to me … but everyone I asked about loved both.

My afternoon finished off with a sample of the Mill Street brew (delightful) and Murray Street’s Meat Cone.

I LOVE the meat cone.

What isn’t to love?  Pulled pork. Check. Cheese curds. Check. Sausage. Check. Mustard. Check.  All piled in a cone … I was able to grab my fork and dig right it.  A-MAZ-ING.  My only regret is that it has taken me this long to finally sample Steve Mitton’s version of the meat cone.

My favourite part of this event though wasn’t the food (although I totally loved everything I ate) … it was the fact that so many people turned out to eat, drink and be merry.

It certainly was a true winter warmer.