Martha and Marley Spoon – Week 1

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Chili-Spiced Chickpeas with Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 – My first box from Martha and Marley Spoon arrived on Tuesday and I made the first meal for lunch on Wednesday: Chili-Spiced Chickpeas with Roasted Sweet Potatoes. The dish was delicious and easy to make; although, I did burn half of the sweet potatoes slightly when I missed my oven alarm going off. The portions were huge! I ended up getting three portions out of it. They allotted one sweet potato per portion which was a bit much when paired with half a can of chickpeas and an ample helping of sautéed vegetables.
The extras for the dish went really well with the sweet potatoes and chickpeas. There were lightly pickled onions, lime wedges, and a sour cream cilantro sauce to help cool the heat. The spice-level was a little mild for my taste, but otherwise the flavor was great.
The service is part of the Martha Stewart brand, and like the other boxes, it features seasonal ingredients. The box was similar to the others with the inside of the box lined with insulation and a collection of ice packs to keep the ingredients frosty. The insulation is #1 plastic, so it looks like it can be recycled with my bottles. Like Home Chef, all of the ingredients for each dish were sorted, but rather than being wrapped in plastic, the ingredients for each dish were collected into recyclable paper bags. There were a few ingredients in zip-top bags, but they didn’t use nearly as many as Home Chef. The liquid ingredients were in recyclable bottles.
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Sesame-Mustard Cod with Miso Cabbage Slaw

Thursday, March 9, 2017 – Sesame-Mustard Cod with Miso Cabbage Slaw.  Ooof, this is probably the closest I’ve come to a failure since I started this experiment.  First, I was missing an ingredient.  I checked and rechecked the packaging, but the mint for the cabbage slaw was nowhere in sight.  I contacted Martha and Marley Spoon; they apologized and offered me a $6 credit on my next box which was nice of them.

Second, I’m not a huge fan of mustard or sesame oil. When I see a recipe with sesame in the name, I assume that they mean sesame seeds (which I love). That wasn’t the case. I can handle a small amount of mustard or sesame oil, but both of them together was a bit much for me. There was also far too much of the sesame-mustard sauce. Over half of it ended up on my baking pan, and there was still too much sauce on the fish for me. I will admit that this criticism is more due to personal taste, but I just wasn’t fond of the sauce at all.

The panko crust toasted up nicely, but the fish did not cook very well.  The piece of cod was really thick, so I went for the far end of recommended baking time (10 minutes).  When I pulled the fish from the oven, it was still largely raw.  I put it back in the oven for another 8 minutes, and it still tasted undercooked and rubbery.  There also wasn’t a lot of flavor to the fish.  I hate to say it, but I’ve had better cod from Long John Silver’s*.

There was one positive aspect to this meal: the miso cabbage slaw.  It was absolutely delicious which is a good thing because there is a lot of it.  It was made with nearly a full head of Napa cabbage.  I filled my plate twice and there’s still 2/3 of it left.  I’m looking forward to having it as a side with tomorrow night’s veggie burger.  I’m going to remember that dressing for the future.

I’m getting another cod dish from Martha & Marley next week.  I’m hoping that this was just a bad batch and next week is better.

*Update: I had the second piece of cod for lunch today, and the flavor of the sauce was much better after mellowing out over night.  The quality of the fish was no better with the second piece.  It still looked undercooked, even though I heated it on high in the microwave, and it was mostly flavorless.  The microwave did the texture no favors, but honestly, I didn’t expect it to – fish and microwaves are generally not friends.  I’m starting to think that 425 degrees Fahrenheit was just too hot to properly cook the fish.  It should have been cooked at a lower temperature for longer.  The Miso-Cabbage Slaw was still the star of the dish.

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Farro Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Mushrooms
Sunday, March 12, 2017 – Just a quick review of my third recipe from Martha and Marley Spoon. The dish was Farro Stir-Fry with Broccoli and Mushrooms. It was quite delicious and flavorful. The farro added a nice texture and nuttiness to the dish. The only criticism of the flavor is that the recipe called for the ginger to be cut into small matchsticks so the flavor didn’t distribute very well through the dish. Every few bites, I would get smacked in the face by ginger, completely overwhelming all other flavors for the next two bites. Otherwise, I was quite happy with the flavor of the dish.
Unfortunately, there were some issues with the quality of the ingredients. My mushrooms were bruised and slightly mushy, and one had grown a fringe of fuzz around the the bottom of its stem. The red pepper was also a little soft. Admittedly, I didn’t get around to making this dish for five days, but I’ve had mushrooms in my fridge for weeks that didn’t look in such sorry shape. Quite disappointing. I’m hoping that this week’s ingredients are in better shape than the ingredients I got last week.

Martha and Marley Spoon – Week 1 Summary

Ease/clarity of recipes: 9/10
Taste: 7/10
Variety: 9/10
Quality: 4/10

How many recipes would I make again? 2.4/3

Verdict:

Positives: The ingredients for each meal were packaged together in paper bags, and the recipes were easy to follow.  I also liked that the list of ingredients was on the same side of the recipe card as the procedure for cooking, so I didn’t have to keep flipping back and forth.  The other thing that I liked was that I could get the package delivered on Tuesday which works better for my schedule.

Negatives: I had to create a new grading category for this week: quality.  Honestly, I thought about adding it before, but I didn’t think it would be necessary.  I started with the grading system after I had received boxes from a few companies, and the ingredient quality was always so stellar that I didn’t think I would need a quality category.  Martha and Marley Spoon proved me wrong.  The ingredients were great for my first meal, but my second meal was missing the mint and the fish was quite sub-par.  The mushrooms for the third meal were bruised and mushy, and one was even a bit moldy.  The red pepper for that dish was also a bit soft and wrinkly.  It was like I had left them in my fridge for ten days rather than five.  I was not impressed.  The other ingredients – green pepper, farro, broccoli, etc – were just fine.

When it comes to cost, at $62 the subscription is two dollars more per week than Home Chef and Blue Apron, but when it comes to quality, Martha and Marley is just not worth it.

Snicket Box

Snicket’s review: My cat does not like the Martha and Marley box nearly as much as she liked the Blue Apron and Home Chef boxes.  It’s slightly taller than the other boxes, so she has to use the scratcher to jump into the box, and it has two really long flaps that don’t fold down properly making it hard to jump into.  She had been using a Home Chef box constantly until I had to replace it, but she’s only used the Martha box once since then.  She just jumps into the box, scratches around a bit, and then jumps out again.  She also preferred the salmon from Home Chef to the cod from Martha.

I’m getting one more week of Martha and Marley.  Fingers crossed that it’s better than week 1.

Overall Rating: C-

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