Sunday, 30 October 2011

Apple Juice

Commodity prices, especially those of agriculturals, have been increasing significantly over the past few months in the wake of speculation and poor harvest yields. Only a few weeks ago did I come across an article warning of the imminent increase in the price of peanut butter, at least in the United States. More recently, Sainsbury's also started increasing prices of their own-brand ranges of fruit juice. It now costs £3 for 3 1L cartons of juice from concentrate, a discount of only £0.10 per carton over individual pricing.

On the bright side however, the Basics range of juice is now available in new packaging. Given that I was inundated with work and real life over the past two weeks, I thought that putting up this little review of the apple juice would tide you, the reader, over, until I have more time to come up with more interesting things.

I find this to be generally palatable, albeit a bit on the sour side. I do remember though that when I bought the Basics orange juice, once it was opened, its quality rapidly deteriorated as we approached the best before date. Given that there seems to be no end to increasing prices though, this might be an attractive option, short of switching to UHT juice.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Apple Juice£0.741L+£0.36Longer lasting, better tasting juice

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Meat Shroom

When I was in university, I remembered a friend describing something they made for lunch while I was away from the flat. They took a bunch of portobello mushrooms, sliced out the stem, and stuffed the cap with pate before grilling. As the mushroom cooked, the pate absorbed the liquid exuded, enriching itself with mushroom flavour.

It was an idea that has lingered in the back of my mind even as my university friends graduated and left the country. When I came across a tray of Sainsbury's Basics mushrooms that were as large as their regular portobello mushrooms the memory came back and got me thinking about recreating this. The problem was that Sainsbury's did not have a Basics pate, although they used to. I was browsing mySupermarket in search of an alternative stuffing when I came across this.

This Basics meat paste contains 42% chicken and 26% beef and a whole bunch of miscellaneous fillers. From what I could see inside the bottle, its consistency is akin to that of pate. I saw a small range of other similar products at Sainsbury's while trying to get this from my local store, but am puzzled by what it could be used for. The first thing that crossed my mind was sandwich fillers, but the supermarket chain stocks a good range of sandwich fillers, deli meats, and yes, pate. What niche does this product fill? True, it has a very long shelf life, extending up to mid-2013, but once open it has to be consumed within 3 days, so longevity doesn't seem to be its appeal.The meat paste products are pretty cheap, costing 32p for Basics and 49p for regular own-brand, but only give you 3 servings per bottle. With modern refrigeration you might as well get proper pate.

If you are able to point out where in British cuisine this stands I would love to hear from you, so please put your thoughts in the comments.

Prepare the mushroom as shown above. Spread two teaspoons of the meat paste all over the inside of the mushroom before topping up with the stalk, chopped up, and sprinkling with Basics Grated Hard Cheese or whichever cheese you have available.

Bake or grill at 225 degrees for about 20 minutes.

The meat paste tasted exactly like pate, so it came in as a suitable substitute. Overall this was pretty enjoyable, and can make a good starter, or a light lunch. Also worth noting about this is that the meat paste only contains about 34 calories per tablespoon serving, and combined with the intrinsically low calorific nature of mushrooms, could be useful to those looking to cut down on their calorie intake.

The pescetarians amongst us might want to know that there is an equivalent Basics fish paste, though again, you might be better off buying pre-prepared tuna mayonnaise.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Meat Paste£0.3275g - about 3+£0.17Choice between chicken (pure chicken) and beef (37% beef and 33% chicken).

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Meatball Spaghetti

Every now and then at Sainsbury's I will pop by the canned food aisle, looking at the general availability of the Basics range in that area and coming up with ideas. After all, canned food is the epitome of cheap - in the aftermath of World War II it was canned food that most people subsisted on as they returned to economic normality. So far however, the only canned food that I could bother with is the Pork & Bacon Meatballs, being cheap at 38p per can and containing a fair amount of meat at that price. Having featured the Basics Tinned Tuna to death, curiosity got the better of me and so I bought myself a can.

Already the contents of the can do not look very encouraging, with the meatballs floating in a sauce of a rather familiar colour. So familiar in fact that I might just start terming it Sainsbury's Basics Tomato Red.

So for lunch, I chopped up a large mushroom and sauteed it with garlic, before throwing in the meatballs. After the spaghetti was done, I added that into the pan, before seasoning with Basics mixed herbs, black pepper and grated hard cheese.

The meatballs tasted as per expectations - somewhat like tinned sausages drenched in a sauce similar if not identical to Sainsbury's Basics pasta sauce. I find this very amusing. These will be very useful to have around, since they are cheap (38p for a can that can cater for two meals), and being canned they last for a long time. There has at to be a tastier alternative to stock your cupboards with though. On the other hand, if you are going on a short camping trip and don't mind the dent in your morale from eating mediocre food, then this is for you.

DescriptionPrice per UnitNo. of servingsTrade-up PremiumTrade-up Benefits
Pork and Bacon Meatballs£0.3816 - 392g+£0.38 for Fray BentosBetter tomato sauce.
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