I don’t know why, but this week seems to have just been dragging, so I’m glad to see the end of it. But why is it that there is always great weather during the week when I am busy and then on the weekend it wants to rain? Though I can’t believe that it is already the end of July practically. This also means that back to school time is just around the corner. Be sure to check out Costco for all the supplies you need, because they are a great place to buy pens, pencils, paper, glue, etc. The current Costco US coupon book doesn’t expire until next Sunday, in case you have some things that you’ve been thinking of getting.
Kirkland Signature Grated Grana Padano – If you’ve read my blog for a while you probably know that I love cheese, so we buy it quite often, in all of its forms. Usually I buy a big block of Parmesan and just grate it myself, but lately my hands have been kind of achy and I wanted something that would be a little easier on them. So this time I bought the bag of grated Kirkland Signature Grana Padano instead and I love it. The Grana Padano that Costco uses is aged more than 18 months and has a nice nutty flavour that isn’t as strong as Parmesan but still adds a nice flavour to your dishes. I also like that the bag is resealable with a handy ziptop so that you can be sure it is properly sealed. The bag is quite large at 500 grams but there are a lot of ways to use it. Also, if you keep the bag sealed properly, without air in it, the cheese will last for a long time. We use this a lot on pasta, but it is also great for adding a little flavour to salads or vegetables, great for mashed potatoes or jacket potatoes, and of course it is good for a pizza topping, or on garlic bread, or to add a bit of thickening and flavour to soup or sauces too. We really like kind of simple garlic buttered spaghetti and this is perfect on top of that because it adds just a bit of cheesy flavour that works perfectly with the garlic. The grate on this is quite fine so it actually melts quite well, which means it combines with hot dishes really well. Costco also has canisters of shredded cheese but I think the grated is better because of how nicely it melts and as a result you use less, I think. Of course, like Parmesan, this is a semi-hard low fat cheese, so you can actually be a bit more generous with it even and still not feel guilty (or hear your arteries clogging as you eat dinner). An 8 gram serving of the Grana Padano has just 2 grams of fat, which is quite good for a cheese that gives you so much flavour. My one tip would be to use a spoon or something to remove it from the bag. Do NOT just pour it out. There are two problems with pouring it out of the bag, firstly, it can clump together and then you’ll get a way bigger amount poured out than you wanted or were anticipating. The other reason is because that will cause the little fine grated particles to clog up the ziptop bag and then you might not be able to seal it up without cleaning that out. So, on all account, just use a spoon to remove it and everything will be perfect. As far as price goes, I think Costco is more than competitive with other supermarkets. At Waitrose and Ocado you’ll pay £2.49 for a little 100 gram bag, which would equate to 12.45 for 500 grams and that is considerably more than at Costco. 500 gram bag for £3.89. Item #: 0251413.
Aberdeen Angus Meatballs – As you can probably guess, we eat a fair amount of pasta and one of the favourites is spaghetti and meatballs. The meatballs at Costco are quite nice because they are all beef and a really good size. I’d guess they are about 1.25 inches in diameter but I’m just guessing because I didn’t measure them. I do know that they are bigger by at least 25% than the meatballs I’ve gotten from Waitrose and Ocado, which are similar to what other supermarkets carry. They have a nice meaty taste but with all that meatiness does come a not insignificant amount of fat that is released when you cook them. I always cook my meatballs separately and then add then to my sauce, just so that I can avoid getting all of the fat too. You’ve just got to remember to drain them a bit before you add them to anything. They have such a nice flavour though, sometimes we eat them with pasta without a red sauce and they are still delicious, especially with a bit of the grated Grana Padano. They have a bit of seasoning in them, but nothing that makes them particularly Italian, so you could easily use these for other types of meatball dishes too. The quality meat and the good size are what really sets these apart from regular supermarket meatballs though. For instance, there is a package of 24 meatballs at Waitrose that has a total weight of just 400 grams, that means each meatball is just 16.7 grams of meat. But at Costco, their nice sized meatballs are each 36 grams of meat. That makes a big difference. Plus, at Costco you get a bonus meatball. And when you look at it by weight, the meatballs at Waitrose, and other supermarkets, are much more expensive too. The 24 meatball package is £4.39 and less than half the weight of the 900 gram package at Costco for £6.99. If you buy these, it works out really well to just freeze them in the plastic package that they come in because it keeps them all separated and still looking like meatballs. Then, once they are frozen, you can dump them out into a big Ziploc and take out just the amount that you need without them being stuck together or misshapen. 25, 36 gram meatballs for £6.99; 900 grams total. Item #: 0095276.
GloriAnn Super Sweet Corn – I don’t know what it is about summer that just makes corn on the cob seem so right. Probably because we’d have it in the summer when I was a kid. I like corn on the cob, especially grilled or broiled. These are nice big ears of corn too and they have a really nice taste. Plus, they’ve done all of the hard work by cleaning it for you, so you just need to cook it and you’re good to go. Since we live in a flat in the center of London, grilling out isn’t really an option, so I have to use my oven instead. But I can still get a nice grill-like effect. I have found that instead of getting all complicated about how I cook my corn, it is easiest to just pop it in a Ziploc with a bit of spices and some olive oil and shake it up and then put it on a cookie sheet in the oven. I vary the seasonings that I use, but always of course add salt and pepper, but adding ground ancho or chipotle to the mix really makes the corn delicious. I have found that if I cook it at 200 C/390 F for about 15 – 20 minutes (depending on the size of the ears and what else I’m cooking at the same time) it comes out perfectly. It gets a little colour on it and the kernels are still tender and moist without losing their flavour at all. I think the other supermarkets have two ears of corn, cleaned and ready to go, for about £1.00, so the corn at Costco is more. But I think the ears at Costco are bigger, I know that it is definitely the case in comparison to the corn I’ve gotten from Ocado. The package of four ears at Costco is 1.1 pounds or .5 kg but I couldn’t find a weight on the corn from Ocado. If you are like me, you are still using those old fashioned corn on the cob holders that look like little baby ears of corn. I finally got sick of mine and bought some of these made by Zyliss and they are so much nicer because they are a better size for holding the corn and the little stainless steel prongs go into the corn much easier and won’t rust, plus they snap together for safely storing them so you don’t have to run the risk of poking yourself getting them out of the drawer (here’s a link for the US). I highly recommend them for anyone that eats corn on the cob. 4 pack for £3.79. Item #: 0125161.
New World Farms Diced Frozen Mango – The same weekend that I discovered Costco UK now has the glorious Langers Mango Nectar, I also found this nice frozen mango. I’m glad someone here mentioned that I should be on the lookout for it or I might have missed it. I love mango but find it hard to get fresh mangoes that will last for very long and not cost a small fortune, so this is a perfect solution. Plus, it is already cut up into nice sized pieces. The pieces are good sized and are pretty much just what a mango looks like when I cut it up myself, which makes sense because it is all hand cut. As well as the mango being cut by hand, it is also picked by hand, which I think accounts for the perfect ripeness. I’m less successful at always getting the perfectly ripe ones, so this is actually an improvement over what I’d have at home probably. Buying this big bag means that I can have mango always available, instead of just for a few days after I’ve bought it. I was worried that the mango might turn mushy when it thawed but it seems remarkably like fresh mango. There’s maybe a little difference in the texture, but it didn’t put me off when I ate it fresh. They suggest letting it thaw at room temperature for about thirty minutes, or they say you can try it in the microwave. We tried the microwave method but I wouldn’t really suggest it or use it again. I think just leave it at room temperature or put it in the fridge to thaw over night. I like my mango raw really and found this to be a great substitute. I like it plain with a little spritz of lime juice or as the big star in mango with coconut rice. We’re also going to try it in a couple of other Thai dishes, like with panang curry – this is something we had at a restaurant and loved so we’re going to try to replicate it now that we have lots of mango. And obviously, the frozen mango is perfect for making smoothies or shakes too. If you’re like me and don’t like oranges or can’t eat them (really my problem), then mangoes are a great alternative way to get some vitamin C, as well as vitamin A. There’s not quite as much C as in an orange, but that’s just a good excuse to eat a bit more mango. And with this big bag in your freezer, you won’t have to worry about running out either. I love mango, it is definitely my favourite fruit, so I hope this and the Langers Mango Nectar stick around at our Costco UK location. 1.81 kilograms for £4.99. Item #: 0186341.