I cannot even believe that it is the end of June already! Where has the year gone? And why does it always feel like summer flies by, but winter drags on forever? Happy almost Fourth of July to everyone in the US! And, happy Canada Day to everyone there! An exciting week of holidays, and time off of work. Also, don’t forget that those holidays mean that Costco stores will be closed too.
It is totally a summertime, outdoor cooking type of thing, to have burgers for dinner. And when they are teamed with some crunchy French fries that just makes it even better. Unfortunately for us, our gorgeous grill from Costco is back in Texas in storage, and we only have a teeny little terrace space anyway so it wouldn’t do us much good here. Thanks to Costco though, the whole meal was delicious! Normally, we would have had asparagus with our brugers and fries, but I forgot it. Really, every single item came from Costco, even the frying pan we made the burgers in and the baking sheet we cooked the fries on too. Dave and I enjoyed our Costco burgers and fries while watching some World Cup action, and might even make a repeat of the same meal and entertainment this week when the US play Belgium on Tuesday. And of course, we’ll be having Thuringian bratwurst when we watch Germany play Algeria on Monday. Yum!
Aberdeen Angus Burgers – Dave and I love a good burger, and if it is made of top quality beef that’s even better. I do know that buying the pre-formed burger patties is not as economical as buying ground meat and making my own burgers. However, I would have had to buy a lot more ground meat at Costco or paid a good deal more at a regular store. Since my freezer is super small, I just don’t have the room to store the giant package of mince that they sell at Costco. So, I’m okay with buying the patties especially when you consider that they are just a smidge more than £1.00 per burger patty. And really, this is some great beef , so it is well worth the price. Each patty is 6 ounces of certified Aberdeen Angus beef and a little bit of seasoning (onion powder and white pepper). When you cook them they are juicy and delicious and don’t actually seem to shrink up all that much either. Though they do leave a lot of fat behind in the pan (another reason why it would be great to have a grill, so you don’t have to see all of that fat). Amazingly, they don’t actually seem that greasy when you have fully cooked them and are eating them. They are way less fatty and greasy than a lot of burgers we have had at various restaurants around the world for sure. I guess it all comes out in the cooking, which is better than my arteries. They have a really great flavour with that yummy beefiness that you expect in a real burger. They are great to make our own fancy burgers at home with good cheese, mushrooms and onions (if we’re feeling ambitious), and spicy mustard on a toasted bun. You really can’t beat it! 8, 6 ounce burgers for £8.49 (US: $14.46). Item #: 0091158.
Tine Sliced Jarlsberg – To top our burgers we needed a good cheese that melts well and has a great taste, which is exactly why we always have Jarlsberg in our fridge. Plus, this makes a terrific grilled cheese sandwich which we like to have for dinner with a nice bowl of soup. Jarlsberg is actually a Norwegian cheese that comes from, surprise surprise, Jarlsberg, Norway. It has large holes in it like Swiss and is considered a semi-hard cheese. It has a lot in common with Emmental really, which is a Swiss cheese and another of our favourites. We used to buy Jarlsberg in the big hunks at Costco in the US because we would use it to make fondue or slice it for sandwiches, mostly grilled cheese sandwiches or on top of burgers. It has been our standard, go-to cheese for slices on sandwiches or crackers, melted in things like fondue, or truly yummy mac and cheese. But sliced or in a big hunk, Jarlsberg is a great cheese. It’s not too assertive, but has a nice buttery, nutty taste that plays well with anything and it melts beautifully to a creamy smooth texture. The container at Costco is in nice slices that are the perfect thickness for sandwiches, grilled or not. It is 600 grams which means that there are really quite a few slices fanned out in the tray; I’d say there are probably between 30 and 40 slices in the container. So, yeah, you can make lots and lots of sandwiches. I’m amazed by what a good deal it is to buy this at Costco too. At Ocado they have just one option for sliced Jarlsberg and that is a 200 gram Waitrose package for £2.25; or £1.13 per 100 grams. But at Costco you are getting three times that amount for just £3.99; or just £0.67 per 100 grams. That is a great deal, and it is the original Tine Jarlsberg too, which to be fair is probably what the Waitrose version is too but just rebranded for them. In any case, it’s a great cheese and Costco has it for a great price. 600 grams for £3.99 (US: $6.78). Item #: 0020797.
Colman’s Mustard – I don’t know how ‘originally English’ this mustard is, but it is great on sandwiches and burgers. It can spice up any ordinary sandwich and make it so much better. But it packs a punch! A big one. We’re talking wasabi kind of burning, if you’re not careful. You definitely wouldn’t want to lick this off the knife after making your sandwich because it needs the bread and other things to make it not bring tears to your eyes. But nonetheless, Dave and I love it. Mostly I like it because mustard can sometimes get pushed around by the other flavors on your sandwich, but this one is stout enough to stand up to anything, and still provide a nice mustard taste. It’s a lot like Dijon mustard, in that respect, which I also love. We use too much mustard to buy this anywhere but Costco. Luckily, they have us covered with a nice 3-pack, plus they’re in squeezy bottles. We don’t always put it on sandwiches though. Last week, for instance, I gave my salmon a generous coating of mustard and a dusting of dill before baking it. The mustard and the dill really added a nice flavor to the salmon; it was delicious. Of course, you can also make a nice mustard sauce for your fish, chicken or vegetables. When I’m trying to be quick I use some Greek yogurt, mustard and a little bit of milk that I heat for a little bit and add spices as necessary like dill or pepper. I also love this with chips/fries. And of course, this is a great addition to a homemade salad dressing for a bit more punch. On the bottle the suggest putting some in mashed potatoes, which I’ve got to try since that is a new one to me but since I like it so much with my fried potato products, I can see that it would be delicious. At all of the regular supermarkets, a 150 gram bottle of Colman’s is £1.58. So you are really getting a tremendous deal at Costco where each bottle in this 3-pack is just £1.00; it’s like you’re getting a bottle for free. 3, 150 gram bottles for £2.99 (US: $5.09). Item #: 0088547. *Note: this review is from late 2012 originally, so I’m not positive what the latest price at Costco is, however, it is still the same price at all of the other supermarkets, so I think it must be still priced about the same at Costco too.
Baby Gem Lettuce – We buy baby gem lettuce all the time because we like the tender leave that seem so much nicer than the bigger ones. I mean, it is basically just a miniature version of Romaine, which we like, but it does have a sweeter flavour that we like. Also, the leaves are the perfect size for putting on sandwiches or burgers, which is how we end up eating a lot of lettuce. Of course, we also use it to make really nice salads too. I find that one head of the little lettuce makes a perfect salad for one. I have also heard that you can cut it in half and braise it or grill it. I have never even contemplated doing that with lettuce, so I can’t imagine how that would work. I’m kind of curious to try it out though. The baby gem lettuce at Costco comes in a package with six heads in a plastic tray. They keep in the fridge amazingly well, I have to say. Though we usually work our way through the six heads in about a week. I also try to remove any questionable looking outer leaves right away to keep the whole head or neighboring heads in the package from turning into a science experiment. I’ve also had surprisingly good luck putting the lettuce in a Ziploc bag and smushing all of the air out. Somehow this makes the lettuce stay crisp and not turn brown near as quickly. The baby gem lettuce at Costco is much more dense and compact that the stuff I get through Ocado, and the heads seem to be a little more plump. The heads at Costco are £0.83 for two heads and Ocado is £0.90 for two heads; so Costco is a bit cheaper too. I also noticed the last time I got some from Ocado that it was not as fresh as the stuff from Costco and had several brown spots after just a day or two of being in my fridge. 6 heads for £2.49 (US: $4.24). Item #: 0115030.
The Real American Super Bun – I will admit, Dave and I had a bit of a laugh over the name of these buns when we were at Costco. I didn’t know there was a fake American Super Bun, but it is nice to know that these are the genuine article. The buns are a perfect size at five inches in diameter. That size makes them really a great match for the Costco burgers. They have sesame seeds on the top and say they are pre-split. Let me reiterate, the *say* they are pre-split but in reality, it’s going to take a knife to get them apart. They toast up really nicely too. I was impressed that they didn’t turn mushy after we put our cooked burgers on them because that is a problem I have had with the last two types of burger buns that I have bought. They are pretty dense though, which I’m sure is what keeps them from getting mushy or ripping in pieces while you are enjoying your burger. What I did like at Costco was that these are sold in two packages of six buns each; twelve buns total just in two packages. The two separate packages mean that you don’t have to worry about all of your buns getting stale while you are working your way through the package. They are packaged in that very heavy plastic stuff that is like half bag half container (the same stuff that the partial baked breads come in) and that means that you can easily, and without any fuss, pop one six pack of buns into the freezer for later. We obviously purchased these for eating with burgers, but they’d be great for a pulled pork sandwich or something similar too. 12 sesame seed buns for £2.49 (US: $4.24). Item #: 0169713.
McCain’s Crispy French Fries – I won’t deny it, I like a nice crispy French Fry. I like them with burgers or steaks, especially. But sometimes, when I’m not feeling well, I will have fries with a grilled cheese. I know, I know, it’s like a fatty nightmare but I still like it; it’s comfort food I guess. We don’t fry our French Fries, we always bake them, so it can be hard to find ones that really crisp up well in the oven. I also don’t like the big, fat wedges and I’m not particularly in love with the crinkle cut or the spirals. I sound very demanding in my fry preferences but what I really want is something like McDonald’s fries, but in the comfort of my home and with at least a slightly smaller amount of oil. I first bought these at Ocado in a small bag and loved them. Costco used to have a rather limited selection of French Fries and mostly they were in enormous bags that weren’t going to fit in our freezer unless we got rid of most everything else. So after trying these and loving them, I was thrilled to see them turn up at Costco in a good size, but not gargantuan, bag. The fries have a thin cut which allows them to come to a nice crispy finish after 16 – 20 minutes of baking. They say 14 – 16 minutes on the bag, but at 14 minutes they are never crisp and look pale and sad still, at least in my opinion. I am impressed with how crispy they get though and never seem oily, but clearly they give it off when cooking because you can see it coating the pan with a sheen of oil after you’ve baked them. They have a nice flavour and just a touch of salt sprinkled across them when you flip them mid way through the cooking, makes them yummy and definitely some of the best fries you can make at home. 1.5 kg for £2.45 (US: $4.17). Item #: 0152347.