Monday, 2 June 2008

Cut-price cheese/basil plants

I have to confess I'm a bit of a cheese snob so I wouldn't normally buy a supermarket's cheapest range of cheeses. But in the interests of research into how much you can save on cheese I bought a couple from the Sainsbury's Basics range - a ball of mozzarella for 57p rather than 75p for the standard mozzarella and a wedge of brie for 74p for 200g instead of 95p for 135g (i.e. £3.70 a kg instead of £7.04)

And you know what? They were perfectly fine. Only by paying quite a bit more for the premium lines would you get a better product.

Having some left-over tomatoes and olives, I made a tomato, mozzarella and olive salad with the mozzarella, using the herby oil from the olives to dress the salad and boost the flavour of the cheese.

You'll also spot a few basil leaves. I bought a pot to see how long I could get it to survive (not long if past experience is anything to go by but I'm trying to cosset it)

And I made a bacon and Brie toastie with 50g of the Brie. Rather more cheese, apparently than you're supposed to eat but quite restrained for me. The recommended portion size on most sites is 30g which would make the Brie stretch theoretically to 6 1/2 helpings. I reckon I'll get four out of it.

What's key with these milder (or, to be totally honest, bland) cheeses is to take them out of the fridge in plenty of time before you eat them. If you serve them at room temperature you get twice the flavour.


JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

That salad looks beautiful and refreshing, Fiona! I love cheese too, so this is the kind of experiment I would be doing!

Welcome to The Foodie Blogroll!

Fiona Beckett said...

Thanks Jenn. We should swop links having such similar subject matter in our blogs!

verity said...

I was wondering about your comment about basil plants - I never have any success with them. Is it better to grow basil in a window box? Or just buy the little packets of fresh basil? Dried just tastes like soap in my experience.

Fiona Beckett said...

Hi, Verity. The ideal way to buy basil is to get a hardy small-leaved plant from a garden centre. They seem to last much longer than the plants you get from supermarkets. Otherwise I find they do better if you water the leaves rather than the plants and leave them in a brightly lit (natural light) area but not in direct sunlight. Packs of basil leaves aren't bad in high summer when they're reasonably priced but pretty useless at any other time of year. And I'm not a fan of dried basil either.

Hippolyra said...

that is interesting about the basics cheese. I am more than happy with basics tinned beans and tomatos but never would have bought cheese before.

Incidently the Sainsburys basics malt vinegar is not good. But I really rate their basics ground coffee!

Has anyone written a good basics / economy round up of what is good and what is bad?

Fiona Beckett said...

The 'basics' tomato ketchup is fine too hippolyra!

There is a website which evaluates own brand products called which is based on a book called the Supermarket Own Brand Guide by Martin Isark (possibly no longer up to date, given the website) which you might find useful. He rates all the own brands out of ten.