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Taste Test: V&V Supremo Chorizo

16 Oct

For those of you following along, you know that I like to head to New York state to pick up grocery products that aren’t necessarily available in Canada.

One of the products that has consistently made the list the last few trips has been V&V Supremo brand chorizo sausage. In fact, last trip I may or may not have purchased $50 worth of it (enough to last the winter) at Price Chopper.

This is a Mexican style chorizo: fresh, not dried like the Spanish style, and with an awesome spicy kick. I’ve tried both their beef and pork versions and while both are awesome, I’d give the edge to the beef. While the pork has a richness, the beef has an extra depth of flavour that the pork is lacking.

The chorizo comes in packs of two half pound portions for around $6. I find one is enough for a meal for me and Mr. Bacon and it defrosts very quickly so it’s a great last-minute dinner.

So what do I make with it?

So far we’ve used it as a great ready-made filling for tacos and for a Mexican spin on this fritatta recipe.

In this one, I nuke the potatoes until soft, peel the skins off and dice them. While the potatoes are nuking I cook the chorizo in a frying pan, squeezing out the flavourful fat with a spatula and reserving the meat on a plate when it’s done. Then I fry the potatoes in the chorizo oil and add 6 eggs beaten with a splash of milk. The chorizo gets sprinkled on top when the eggs are mostly cooked through along with a handful of crumbled feta cheese (or queso fresco if you can find it). Then I throw a lid on top and let the eggs finish cooking through. It’s a crazy good dinner or a great brunch.

I’m dying to try more ways to use it like queso fundido, nachos  and as a stuffing in tamales.

Next time you’re in the US, pick some up – you won’t be disappointed!

Taste Test: Baconnaise

3 Mar

I was at our local Sobey’s grocery store last month and there amongst the other condiments was something I’d been itching to try for years: baconnaise. Yes, an unholy union of bacon and mayo invented by the geniuses at J&Ds.  

What’s it like? Well, it’s pretty much exactly what you think bacon flavoured mayo would taste like. It’s the best of both worlds: the rich tangyness of mayo and the salty savouryness of bacon. Best of all, it’s actually kosher and vegetarian. Spreadable bacon for everyone!

It’s been fantastic on turkey sandwiches, so much so that I’ve made more turkey sandwiches in the past month than I have in the past three years. This morning I went out on a ledge and put it on a bacon, egg & cheese breakfast sandwich instead of a bit of butter and it really beefed up the flavour quotient.

There are a bunch of things I still want to try it on:
– Fries
– Club sandwich
– Chicken burger
– Burger

Long story short, baconnaise is now a staple condiment in this house. You should pick some up and try it yourself!

Taste Test: Al Safa Beef Chapli Kabab

1 Feb

So I had seen the green boxes of beef chapli kabab in the grocery store many times before.

I hadn’t ever picked any up because frankly I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. When I saw FreshCo had them on sale this week for $3.99 for a box of 8 and with nothing planned for dinner, I figured I’d give them a shot.

According to the wikipedia entry on all things kabab, the chapli version is popular in Pakistan and Afghanistan and usually consists of beef or lamb mince with veggies, spices and herbs that is shaped and grilled like a hamburger. In fact, chapli comes from the Pashto word Chaprikh which means flat.

The package directions gives you the option to pan fry, grill or heat the patties in the oven. With the frigid temperatures outside and wanting to avoid extra fat, I opted for the latter. Most of the recipes I had seen called for them to be served with a size of minted yogurt sauce and salad so I opted to make my greek yogurt and dill dip (subbing mint for dill) and my shawarma salad as sides. I had mine loose on the plate while Mr. Bacon opted to make his into a sandwich with a pita.

We were both pleasantly surprised at how tasty and tender these were. Very savoury with familiar Middle Eastern flavours and a nice hit of spice. They’ll for sure be making regular appearances in our kitchen. An added bonus – despite being pre-fabricated and frozen – the label only had REAL ingredients listed. Nothing unpronounceable.

I can’t wait till spring to try them as a hamburger!

Taste Test: Subway Zesty Baja Steak & Cheese Sandwich

5 Nov

So you may have heard that Subway has added some new sandwiches to their lineup for a limited time. One of them is the zesty baja steak & cheese. As a connoisseur of meat and southwestern flavoured things, I had to test it out. Plus, Subway is one of the only edible options in my office building.

This is what it’s supposed to look like:

Mine looked slightly different because the folks at Subway in my building are not the sandwich artists that they claim to be. That being said, it was actually pretty tasty. They’re not joking on the ‘zesty’, it’s got a decent amount of heat balanced by creamy avocado with bright hits of cilantro and lime. The only thing that was missing in my opinion would have been a nice pico de gallo.

Next trip to Subway I’m going to test this out as a chicken sub. I think it’ll be even better!

Does anyone have a ‘secret’ Subway sub recipe? Share it in the comments!

 

 

Taste Test: Carnation Simply Hot Chocolate

28 Oct

Unlike most people, I don’t start my day with coffee or tea. I do however enjoy a nice hot chocolate, especially now that the weather is turning cooler.

Obviously, the best way to make hot chocolate is with steamed milk and a hunk of good quality chocolate, however I am not a barrista and that sounds like too much work. The other alternative is instant hot chocolate which usually contains weird oil type substances and other unpronounceable ingredients… Well, at least it used to!

Enter Carnation Simply Hot Chocolate. It’s only available in a giant vat from Costco (70+ servings) but man, is it EVER good. So rich and smooth with no chemical or oily flavours because there isn’t any: it only contains sugar, cocoa, dried milk, vanilla and salt. The only thing that could improve it is a dollop of whipped cream. Or maybe a shot of Bailey’s. Oh yeah.

Enjoy!

Food Finds: Trip to Ogdensburg

10 Sep

I made another pilgrimage to the USA over the weekend. A friend and I made the short jaunt down the 416 to Ogdensburg which is just on the other side of Prescott, ON. If you haven’t made it down yet, the savings in groceries, gas and online shopping shipping costs is well worth the drive. Plus, every time I’m down I find a few foodie things to share.

Getting Lunch in the ‘Burg
On a random message board I had seen a recommendation for a Chinese food restaurant called A1 Buffet King which is located in strip mall on Canton Street. I had seen it on my last trip but didn’t look too closely because I needed to save room for the bacon sundae from Burger King. Given that fast food is basically the only option around, even a ‘so so’ Chinese buffet sounded better, especially since the random message board guy had declared it ‘a great deal’. Wow, was he ever right!

On a Saturday just after noon, there were only a handful of tables full but everything on the buffet was hot and fresh. We soon found out why – they also do a brisk business in take out as well.

A-1 has the usual suspects – General Tso’s (nice balance of sweet and hot), chicken balls with sweet & sour sauce (fresh not frozen) and stir fried veggies – as well as some different stuff like chicken in a Thai peanut sauce. The shrimp in butter sauce was beautiful – big juicy shrimp and perfectly cooked. They also had the staple of American Chinese buffets – ‘biscuit donuts’ – basically Pillsbury biscuit dough deep fried and coated in butter and white sugar. They sound terrible but wow they’re good. And to top it all off – they had a soft serve ice cream machine. With sprinkles!

When your bill for two people looks like this at the end, especially when you’re so full you’re considering a nap in the car after, you really can’t go wrong. Yep, it’s $6.99 per person for lunch, Monday-Saturday. I defy you to find anything like that in Ottawa.

Is a Pepsi By Any Other Name, Just as Sweet?
Price Chopper had Pepsi products on sale 4 cases of 12 for $10 so I stocked up. I took a risk and tried a case of a new Pepsi iteration – Pepsi Next. Intended to be a happy middle ground between full-sugar regular Pepsi and Diet Pepsi, it has a blend of corn syrup and faux sweeteners and clocks in at half the calories of a can of ‘high test’ Pepsi.

What did it taste like? Well, it tasted like half a regular Pepsi and half of a diet Pepsi in a single can. For those that are trying to cut calories but just can’t stomach diet pop it’s a decent option. Unfortunately, it still had a hint of that gross chemical aftertaste you get with calorie free pop. Nice try Pepsi, but you haven’t found the holy grail here.

Are You Friggin’ Kidding Me?
If you think that Canadian dollar stores have some odd things in the food aisles, check out what we found at the Dollar Tree. Yes, that’s off-brand Hamburger Helper endorsed by ‘comedian’ Larry The Cable Guy. I had to buy it for its novelty alone because I don’t think I could ever bring myself to actually consume it. Sorry Larry, I don’t ‘gotta try it’.

Oh SuzyQ, Baby I love you…

13 Jul

In the last few years with foodie culture getting more mainstream, a series of food ‘trends’ have erupted. There was cupcakes, and bacon, and salted caramel but more recently, the cool kid on the block has been doughnuts. So cool in fact, that the Globe and Mail wrote about the popularity of gourmet doughnut stores popping up across the country, including one in Ottawa. 🙂

SuzyQ doughnuts is on Wellington West in Hintonburg in the shack that used to house Hintonburger. Opened by a Canada Post mail carrier after her stall at a local famer’s market couldn’t keep up with demand, they’ve got a pretty good thing going.

With a yeast-based doughnut dough that manages to be substantial but light and fluffy at the same time, SuzyQ’s real magic is in the imaginative toppings that echo some of the other trends in food like the maple bacon and the salted caramel ones that I sampled today.

The maple bacon doughnut wasn’t as maple-ey as it could have been in my opinion, with the glaze just mostly sweet but the bacon was cooked and cut perfectly so that it became almost like crunchy bacon sprinkles. The salted caramel had a gooey and buttery caramel coating with a light touch of saltyness that really worked well.

I was a bit disappointed that they were out of the other flavour I had wanted to try, Blue Fruit Loop (yes, with the cereal). It’s just a good excuse to make a return trip! Check out SuzyQ’s website at suzyq.ca.