Ana Sortun's Chef Sets
Oleana is one of my favorite restaurants. I miss living a mere 5-minute walk away from it. I didn't go very often because it was more of a special occasion restaurant (due to the prices), but I have fond memories of gathering around a table on the patio with friends and sampling all sorts of small plates, from warm buttered hummus to spinach falafel, not to mention the incredible desserts like baked Alaska and chocolate-hazelnut baklava.
Imagine my delight then when I learned that the chef behind Oleana, Ana Sortun, had teamed up with SetPoint Health to develop Chef Sets. Behind SetPoint Health's philosophy is "the belief that cooking real food with fresh ingredients, sharing meals, and enjoying community is what living well is all about." The Chef Sets were created with this philosophy in mind, and Ana was a great chef to partner with, as she was passionate about the cause as well. She saw it as a way to positively change the way people eat.
The Chef Sets are meal kits that include some kind of quick-cooking whole grain, aromatics, and a garnish. Each set calls for a protein and two other fresh ingredients to be prepared with the kit in order to make a complete meal for two. The sets are approximately 500 calories per serving and provide a balance of lean protein, complex carbs, and heart-healthy fats. I knew how flavorful Ana's restaurant dishes are, so I had high hopes for these at-home meals.
I received four complimentary kits to try out. I started with the Bulgur Pilaf with Turkish Spices & Pistachio. This kit gets paired with ground beef, Greek yogurt, and a cucumber to make a Turkish dish with notes of spearmint and cumin. I added some warm mini pitas as well, even though there was so much food we didn't really need them.
I followed the recipe that came with the set, beginning with preheating the oven and then preparing the cucumber-yogurt topping and meatballs. The seasonings for both components were included in the kit. This saved me the trouble of having to buy all the spices that would be needed to make up these seasoning mixes.
While the meatballs baked, I cooked the bulgur on the stove. The bulgur is mixed with toasted pasta and preseasoned with allspice and black pepper.
Finally, I divided the pilaf between two bowls and topped each pile of pilaf with three meatballs.
Then I scooped the cucumber-yogurt sauce on top.
This meal was the perfect mixture of spices, and the cool, creamy cucumber-yogurt mixture nicely balances the slight heat from hot peppers in the meat seasonings.
The next Chef Set I tried was the Couscous with Moroccan Spices & Almonds. This kit calls for chicken, carrots, and an onion. Inspired by the markets of Fez, this dish combines cinnamon, turmeric, and saffron for warm, homey flavors.
Again, I prepared the meal according to the directions included with the kit, first peeling and cutting the carrots and onions and then cutting the chicken. Then I browned the chicken on one side, added the veggies and aromatics, and cooked the mixture until the onions began to soften.
Next I added water and continued softening the onions while simmering the whole mixture.
Meanwhile, I prepared the couscous by simply mixing a little olive oil with boiling water and pouring it over the grains, waiting 5 minutes, adding more water, and then fluffing the mixture.
Once everything was ready, I divided the broth, chicken, and veggies between two bowls and topped each serving with the couscous.
Finally I sprinkled the garnish of cinnamon almonds on top.
I thought there was a little too much couscous -- the dish probably could have served three people it was so filling -- but I enjoyed the interesting flavors in the dish. The cinnamon almonds on top were a fun and delicious touch.
Both of these meals were really easy to prepare and came with everything they needed besides the fresh ingredients and pantry staples like salt, pepper, and olive oil. I still have two more kits to try and look forward to making them on busy weeknights, as these kits take only about 20 minutes (well, really about 30 when you stop to take pictures along the way) and make you feel as though you're eating a restaurant meal at home.
The only thing I can think of that would improve these Chef Sets is if Maura Kilpatrick create some dessert sets to go with Ana Sortun's meal kits!
Which chef would you want to create make-at-home restaurant meals like this?
These Chef Sets were complimentary, but the opinions expressed here are my own.