If you like good food, enjoy cooking from scratch with really fresh ingredients but maybe need a little direction, then the Riverford recipe box is just the thing for you.
I enjoy cooking though I’m not really the best at it. My husband was the chef in our house, he was always the one who loved making things from scratch every day, hardly ever relying on the easy, ready-made option. Now I’m on my own with the kids I just haven’t been making the effort like I used to, and I’ve fallen into the trap of cooking food to please the children and eating like a toddler myself (though in larger quantities!).
I’ve really had to force myself to cook proper meals again, and even when I have they have rarely pleased everyone round the table. It’s easier to stick to tried and tested family favourites like spaghetti bolognaise, pasta with pesto and veg, omlette or fish fingers.
Trying out these recipe boxes from Riverford has really been a breath of fresh air and given me new enthusiasm for cooking, and a heap of new recipes to try again in future too.
I was sent an original box and a vegetarian box over two consecutive weeks, so I’ve had plenty of practice – and actually have become extremely used to having my fridge and cupboards stocked with farm fresh high quality ingredients, all weighed and measured and ready to start cooking with.
Each box comes with all the ingredients to make three seasonal recipes to serve two people, and the easy to follow recipes to go with them.
When I opened the first box it was like a big, cardboard treasure trove of yummy food, and Sam, Flo and I all enjoyed unpacking it and looking at what was inside. It’s always a surprise which recipes you are sent as it depends what’s in season, but we were given lamb kofka meatballs with spinach and tomato sauce, steak and romanesco salad with a blue cheese dressing and leeks and potato, apple and mung dal curry with raita and flatbread.
To make sure I had some appreciative testers, I decided to ask some of my girlfriends round to help me try the food out, so rather ambitiously decided to cook all three meals on the same evening. This led to my guests helping out with a bit of the cooking too, each had a job to do whether it was making the salad dressing, frying the steak, rolling the flatbread or reading my son another story so we could have the kitchen to ourselves.
By the time we sat down to eat we were all ready for it, and I think the fact that everyone had had a hand in making it made them even more excited to try it.
First we shared the steak and romanesco salad. As a part-time (lapsed) vegetarian, steak is something I’d never order in a restaurant so it was the one I was least looking forward to trying. I have to say, it was absolutely delicious and the recipe which surprised me the most. Using blanched romanesco (a kind of fancy cross between cauliflower and broccoli) and leeks, the salad dressing really brought the flavours together and tasted fresh, autumnal and nutritious at the same time.
We then moved on to the lamb kofkas and the dal curry. Again, the flavours were so good and we were all discussing whether the fact the ingredients were organic made the difference or whether we had all just been cooking far blander recipes! The lamb was cooked in a lovely tomato and spinach sauce, and the dal was delicately flavoured with star anise and cinnammon, and tasted really light but creamy. It came with the ingredients to make two large spelt flatbreads too, which were an absolute hit and so easy to prepare.
All in all, the original box got a massive thumbs up from the girls, and we all decided the value of the box was fantastic too. For just under £40, you get all the ingredients you need and the food really does taste restaurant quality. If you think about how easy it is to spend the same amount at a supermarket and get far less food than enough for three meals, the recipe box would be perfect to treat yourself to maybe once a month for a special occasion, night with friends or date night.
The following week, I was sent a vegetarian recipe box with the ingredients to make squash and thyme stew with blue cheese polenta and gremolata, courgette and spinach lasagne with mascarpone cheese and mixed salad and Moroccan romanesco fritters with tomato and harissa relish and green herb cous cous.
I didn’t have the time for another dinner party sadly, but I enjoyed making each recipe for myself and testing them out on Sam and Flo. The first one I made was the squash stew – a hearty, healthy meal which is served with blue cheese infused polenta – it was delicious. I really don’t have a bad word to say about any of the recipes, the only thing I would say is that I’m used to cooking with hardly any fat or oil, and every time the recipes said to cook something it was with 2tbsp oil. I stuck to it most of the time and I have to say the food did taste good for it!
Although I couldn’t get Sam (who is six) to try the squash stew, Florence (my two-year-old) really loved helping to prepare it, look at and feel the squash and she really liked the taste of it.
The real surprise of the box was the romanesco fritters. I made these for all of us one evening after school, showed the kids as I was cooking and tried to involve them as much as they would allow! Sam said he had tried similar at school – now whether this is true or not I do not know – but he absolutely loved them.
The fritters are made from grated romanesco, an egg, a bit of flour and some mild spice, before being lightly fried and baked in the oven. Served with harissa paste (which he also loved) and cous cous, they were a hit.
The final recipe I cooked was the courgette and spinach lasagne. This is so rich and creamy, but felt so good for you as it’s packed with veg and tastes so lovely and fresh. The recipe says it serves two but I am sure you could get at least four portions from it. I have actually frozen our leftovers as there was so much. That will be something to cheer me up on a cold autumn night.
The lovely people at Riverford are offering one lucky reader a recipe box to try for free – all you have to do is enter using the Rafflecopter form below. UK entrants only please!