Jul 17, 2011

Costco Curiousity. Nigella's Sweet and Salty Crunch Nut Bars.

Sydney, I know you're probably still recovering from Zara, but did you see the ad about Costco in today's Sunday Telegraph?  The excitement nearly made my ricotta and honey on fruit toast go cold.

I've signed up for the $60 general household membership that is valid for use at all of Costco's worldwide branches.  Suspend your disbelief that I joined, readers.

I am curious about the store amenities.  Perhaps Melbourne readers or those overseas with Costco experience could share a few observations at the end of this post.  Thanks in advance.
  • is there free coffee or tea like with the Ikea Family card?  Costco is likely to be much larger than Ikea and thus the need for sustenence whilst in the complex will be higher.
  • is there a cafe for customers on site?  Does it have American staple foods to reflect the heritage of the company?
  • tell me more about the groceries on offer!!  American household brands? Will I be reunited with my beloved cheese Chex Mix?
I do know that there are no changerooms on site, just as well I know my American clothing and footwear sizes off by heart.  I also know that there is a hearing aid centre on the premises which I may have to visit earlier than I thought I would.  I sometimes have trouble hearing the dialogue on Downton Abbey and The Kardashians.  Perhaps it's the accents or perhaps it isn't.  I also can't seem to hear what it is that Rebekah Brooks and Rupert M are truthfully saying to authorities and innocent families.  In recent days, I've heard rumours though that apologies have been made .  Maybe even the word 'sorry' uttered and not even in the context of 'sorry that we got caught'.

I'm hoping that our household membership pays for itself because in the retail world outside of Costco, I'm paying $5 for a bunch of basil.  It's not gold plated.  I checked.  I gave it a good shake and inspected each and every leaf.  It does smell good though, and will play a starring role in tonight's Italian meatball, lots of vegetables and pasta soup.

The meatballs are actually the filling of Italian sausages squeezed out of their skins and rolled into balls.  I got my sausages from the Italian grocer down the road from church and I know they're the real deal because the lady at the store wrapped them in both a sheet of plastic and waxed paper with Italian writing on it.  I got in a bit late for the other sure fire sign of authenticity - the out door tables occupied by nattily dressed and lively Italian nonnos.  I have a feeling they are expected home quick smart by the nonnas after their cup of espresso to help with Sunday lunch.

While the soup is simmering away, I'd better tell you about Nigella Lawson's Sweet and Salty Crunch Nut Bars from her cookbook, Kitchen.  They are seriously delicious, seriously addictive and so easy to make.  Resistance is futile.

I got the idea to make them whilst I was wrapped up in faux arctic fox on the sofa one night catching up with a backlog of Nigella Kitchen episodes.

I am powerless in the face of Nigella Lawson's almost hypnotic powers of persuasion and her heavy based pan of melting chocolate, unsalted butter and golden syrup.  So I hung on her every word.

It's a wonderfully easy recipe.  Just melt 300g of chocolate with 125g of unsalted butter and 3 tablespoons of golden syrup (for gloss).

Because I do like variety I went for one each of milk, 70% dark and 85% dark (two for $5 special at Coles this week).

To quote Nigella, 'crush the Crunchie bars with your hands, letting the golden-glinting rubble fall into the nuts'.

Like so.

A clever trick I learned was to use a foil baking tray to house the chocolate mixture as it sets.  It really is less messy and the set chocolate peels off the tray really easily.

After the melting and the rubbling, all you need to do is pour the nuts and Crunchie mix into the melted chocolate mixture and ease the glossy lot into the tray.

Refrigerate for 4 hours (self control permitting) and then chop into Nigella's idea of 'moderately sized' squares.  The salt of the peanuts really works with the chocolate and honey comb.  I like how the chocolate that binds the other ingredients has some give in it from the butter and golden syrup.  I only hope enough of this makes it to work tomorrow!

The soup was a wholesome and hearty end to the weekend.  I served it with Italian wood fired bread as a bit of a change to sourdough.

Here's to a wonderful week to come, everyone.  Don't forget Offspring on Wednesday and Costco on Thursday.


  1. Costco! How exciting!!!
    Your cooking efforts are very impressive! I'd kill for some of the chocolate slice!
    I can't decide which show I enjoy more, Donna Hay or Nigella?, it's a tough call.

  2. I'm ignorant - what is CostCo and why would you subscribe to family membership to it? $5 for basil? Doesn't cost me that even in London. That is stiff - my mum complains to me all the time how expensive food is getting in Perth. Those chocolate bars look divine but are making my current toothache hurt more just by looking at them!!

  3. Costco does have an onsite cafe selling huge pizza slices and hot dogs. They also do unlimited refills of soft drinks.
    On the weekends in our Costco, there are hot food stands dotted round the store giving away free samples of promotional goods. On a good day you can get a three course meal as you wander around.
    Costco is great when you're hosting a party, the chocolate cake and danish pastries are to die for.
    Enjoy yourself. x

  4. Five dollars for a bunch of basil??? That is just criminal.
    Costco...you're going to love it, I think. Here Costco has amazing cheeses, lobster and crab, wine, and about a million other necessary things.
    I am not a Nigella follower. I have to get with the program.

  5. My best Costco score was a Michael Kors peacoat for $60:). And I return regularly for all the paper goods I ever use. Enjoy!

  6. TSSG: I know, it's a tough call between them.

    V: Costco is a warehouse style store that allegedly sells everything at crazy prices. Diamonds, designer gear, food, hearing aids....

    Belle: Nigella is the source of indulgent cooking.

    LPC: cut price Kors and paper. What is not to like?

    Alison: thank you for all the info! Much appreciated.

    SSG xxx

  7. Amazingly I also made the Nigella's SSCB's at the weekend,so very moreish. I think next time I'll not break the Crunchie into such small pieces, I think it would be nicer if bigger lumps.

  8. Jo: I found the same thing. I ended up attacking my unopened Crunchie bars with my pestle to get them to crumble... But man was the final product delicious.

    SSG xxx

  9. Cheese Chex Mix! Tell me, why is it so difficult to find here? They sell every other flavour of Chex Mix except the cheese. It ain't fair, Itells ya!

    And you know what else isn't fair? You don't get the Ikea Family Card over here in Perth!

  10. It is quite sad that I am so happy for you getting a CostCo! Actually, aside from the fun of shopping there, they are a good company who takes care of their employees.

    Here in the States they offer all kinds of free food samples, sell a great hotdog and soda for $1.50 AND (I think you will like this) have all the top magazines for 30% off! Buy a mag and read while eating a cheap lunch!

    As has been noted, you just have to find a quiet time to go. Weekends- never. Day before a holiday- no. But Monday night? Is good. Have fun!


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