7.06pm. My least favourite time of the day. I descend the stairs weary from putting two small boys to bed. Chaos greets me in the kitchen. The floor is littered with carrot sticks, rogue peas and yoghurt splatters. All I want to do is put my feet up and watch Poldark on iPlayer. Drained from feeding a baby and keeping up with a toddler, I crave something fresh, wholesome and unprocessed, instead of my usual repertoire of quick-fix jar suppers.
Tonight is different because downstairs a Riverford recipe box of treats awaits me, packed full of all the ingredients you need to make three delicious, organic meals. No need to trawl Tesco, or run to the corner shop for the bits I invariably forgot. Everything from the butter and herbs to the fresh meat is there, packaged beautifully in exact quantities.
(Don’t worry if you have a busy day out and about – Riverford will leave your box in a place you specify and the ingredients will keep fresh and cool for up to 16 hours using their Eco Cool Food Safe.)
Malaysian Beef Stir fry
So, first up was a Malaysian Beef Stir-Fry with cashews and noodles, and seasonal purple sprouting broccoli (psb). This was the recipe that made me buy this particular recipe box – it sounded fairly easy, stir fries are a family favourite and I liked the idea of trying a vegetable I’d never usually pick up in the supermarket.
The recipe was easy to follow and the result delicious. I’d definitely cook this one again.
Look out for Riverford’s cook’s notes, which have useful tips (this one told me to peel the ginger with the back of a spoon). The step- by-step recipe cards are written in a nice chatty style, so you sort of feel like you have a Riverford chef in your kitchen.
Lemon and Honey Chicken with Leek and Butterbean Salad
Next on the menu was a Lemon and Honey Chicken with Leek and Butterbean Salad. Here came the true test. My husband is not a fan of cooking. He gets easily frustrated by vague recipes and despairs (rather than improvises) if there is an ingredient missing. He once asked me for a ruler when following a Gordon Ramsay stew recipe, which included 1cm cubes of carrot.
So, the box was perfect for him because everything is packaged so clearly – even the knob of butter and correct measure of mustard was waiting for him in a pot. My husband remained calm and collected throughout.
Again, the meal was delicious. Completely different from anything we’ve cooked at home before. I wouldn’t usually go anywhere near butterbeans but the salad was so flavoursome, I’d definitely cook it again. The whole meal tasted like the kind of food you’d order in a restaurant – interesting textures and combination of flavours (as opposed to our usual stodgy Uncle Ben’s chilli con carne). Love the way the cook’s notes include ideas for other herbs and beans you could use if you wanted to cook it again.
The final recipe, Cauliflower Tagliatelle, was a bit of a disappointment – mainly because it turns out I don’t actually like cauliflower. But it was still fun to make something a bit different, even if this particular recipe card might not be a keeper.
All in all, we were delighted with the recipe box. It fitted in with our busy lives: it took out the decision making and shopping (joy), offered a welcome change and was good fun. Most importantly, the ingredients were fresh, full of flavour and organic goodness, which made for three tasty meals.
In a nutshell
My verdict: I would love to treat myself to a recipe box each month – it’s a refreshing change from our usual limited repertoire of meals.
The best bit: the joy of opening the box and discovering all the fresh ingredients inside, beautifully packaged and labelled in compartments. Made cooking quick and easy too – not having to faff around with measurements.
The worst bit: we didn’t even attempt the recipes as family meals because they were too adventurous for our fussy toddler. Hoping that Riverford might start creating family recipe boxes…
Take a closer look at the boxes: http://www.riverford.co.uk/exe/shop/recipeboxes?tldr=tldr/