Finance watchdog launches probe into Tesco profit overstatement

Tesco’s troubles continued today (1 October) with its disclosure that the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority is investigating the retailer’s overstatement of its half-year profits.

The UK’s largest grocer last week admitted it had over-stated half-yearly profits to the tune of GBP250m. Its dealings with suppliers appear to be central to the problem.

New Tesco CEO Dave Lewis ordered a full internal investigation into the findings with Deloitte appointed to carry out a review alongside law firm Freshfields.

However, the FCA has notified the retailer of its own investigation. “The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has notified Tesco that it has commenced a full investigation following the overstatement of expected profit for the half year. Tesco will continue to co-operate fully with the FCA and other relevant authorities considering this matter,” the retailer said in brief statement to the stock exchange this morning.

The FCA is able to prosecute people for misleading statements made to the stock exchange. Accountancy watchdog The Financial Reporting Council and the Serious Fraud Office are also said to be monitoring the supermarket group.

“Such an investigation can only be another distraction for the new CEO and represents another black mark on the Board that Mr. Lewis recently joined,” Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said today.

The disclosure will only add to the scrutiny of Tesco and of Lewis as he sets about revitalising the beleaguered business.

It has been something of a baptism of fire for Lewis, whose appointment from Unilever was announced in July – alongside a profit warning from Tesco. Lewis ended up joining the retailer on 1 September, earlier than planned, after the retailer issued another profit warning just a month later.

One could applaud the decisive action Lewis, just a matter of days into his tenure, took to try to get the bottom of this accounting issue.

However, investors have been voting with their feet in the wake of the revelations last Monday. The retailer is set to announce its half-year results on 23 October and the market will be demanding answers from Lewis’s own investigation. Now the FCA is looking into the matter, the questions from shareholders are only set to grow.

Roasted Tomato and Pesto Grilled Cheese

Roasted Tomato Pesto and Brie Grilled Cheese

Here’s what we’re going to do:

We’re going to go to our refrigerators and gather all of the delicious things.  If those things are roasted, pesto-ed, and melty… that’s ideal.

Truth be told, sometimes all I have in the fridge is orange juice and bendy celery… that’s why God invented bourbon and those Chinese take-out menus at the bottom of my junk drawer.  Orange juicy and bendy celery aren’t allowed in this sandwiches.  Not on this day… when there is precious Brie and pesto in the refrigerator.

Roasted Tomato, Pesto, and Brie Grilled Cheese

This is what it looks like to pack every delicious item in my refrigerator between toasted and buttered bread.

I’ve also been known to shove everything delicious in my refrigerator into a giant bowl of pasta.  When something is good, don’t you just want to add carbs?  YES.

Roasted Tomato, Pesto, and Brie Grilled Cheese

My friend Tracy taught me to be the kind of person that has pesto on hand.  It’s called Fridge Pesto and you should totally jump on the bandwagon especially if you have wilted spinach in your refrigerator.  (Continue to ignore the bendy celery.)

On this sandwich is thinly sliced Brie (rind and all), smeared spinach pesto, roasted cherry tomatoes, salty parmesan cheese and buttah!

Roasted Tomato, Pesto, and Brie Grilled Cheese

Roasting the tomatoes intensifies their flavor and sweetness.  The Spinach Pesto adds a happy green, garlic-y kick.  Two kinds of cheese because we’re the kind of people who deserve two different kinds of cheese on your sandwich.  Spread with butter and grilled on each side until the center is just warm and melty.

Next: settle yourself into a cozy place (somewhere near the open back porch door and the washing machine), sit right down on the floor and eat every bite of the sandwich before you’ve successfully taken any decent pictures of it.  It’s fiiiine.  Most people have seen melted cheese on bread before.  Relax.  Scroll through Instagram.  Only move when the desire for a beverage or potato chips stirs you beyond laziness.  Bendy celery be damned.

 

Roasted Tomato and Pesto Grilled Cheese

makes 2 sandwiches

Roasted Tomato and Pesto Grilled Cheese

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 thick sliced seeded whole wheat bread
  • about 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup basil pesto
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • wedge of Brie cheese, sliced thin (rind and all)

Instructions

  1. Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the tomatoes on the pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Allow to roast for 20 minutes until bubbling and browned a bit. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a bit.
  4. Place a skillet over medium-low heat.
  5. Butter both sides of all slices of bread. Spread two slices of bread with basil pesto and parmesan cheese. Top the two remaining slices with Brie cheese and roasted tomato.
  6. Sandwich together and grill on both sides until the bread is golden and crisp and the Brie is melted.
  7. Slice in half and enjoy immediately.
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The secret ingredient chefs won’t admit using

The New York Daily News reports Chef Michele Weber, of Manhattan’s Upper West Side restaurant Good Enough to Eat, plows through four cases of it a week, making “Crack Dip” and her special scrambled eggs.

Chef Ron Eyester, from Rosebud in Atlanta: “I use it in my restaurant mac and cheese – it’s so creamy – but we don’t say that on the menu description.” - Every Day with Rachael Ray.

And last winter, when there was a shortage of this key ingredient just before the Super Bowl, the Today Show urged consumers not to resort to hoarding – their favorite queso dip could be made with substitutes.

Given the photo at the top of this post, you’ve probably guessed by now what I’m talking about:

Velveeta cheese.

A childhood friend for many, Velveeta has followed us right on into adulthood. Some claim it still makes the best mac and cheese ever, due to its supreme “meltability.” Others swear by it for superior grilled cheese sandwiches.

I haven’t purchased Velveeta in years, truth be told. But when I saw this recipe for DIY Velveeta on one or our favorite blogs, Brown Eyed Baker, I simply had to give it a try.

And darned if these four simple ingredients (shredded cheese, a packet of unflavored gelatin, dry milk, and water) didn’t make a block of smooth orange “Velveeta.”

In like 3 minutes flat.

So OK, you’re not a Velveeta fan. But make this soft-yet-firm, creamy “cheese mixture” and I swear you’ll find as many uses for it as there are old-timey dips, sauces, sandwiches, and casseroles out there using Velveeta – which is plenty.

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First, line a suitable container with plastic wrap. I used our 9″ x 4″ x 4″ loaf pan, but go ahead and use whatever shape of pan you like.

The preparation couldn’t be simpler. Put 6 tablespoons dry milk (I used our Baker’s Special Dry Milk, which is nonfat) and a 1/4-ounce packet dry unflavored gelatin in a blender or food processor. Blend briefly, just to combine.

Add 1 cup boiling water, blending just until smooth. IMMEDIATELY add 16 ounces shredded cheese.

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I used Sargento shredded sharp cheddar. Brown Eyed Baker says to use a mild, freshly grated cheese, but this seemed to work just fine.

Process until the mixture is totally smooth.

Go ahead, dip your finger in to taste – that’s the best way to tell.

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Pour/scoop the mixture into your prepared pan. It starts setting up pretty quickly, so don’t dawdle. Gently pat the plastic wrap onto the surface; the less wrinkled the wrap, the smoother your final product.

Refrigerate for a few hours, until it’s set. Take it out of the pan, and make sure it’s wrapped securely – no bare surfaces showing. Refrigerate until you’re ready for a grilled cheese.

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Or mac and cheese.

Or everyone’s Famous Queso Dip – which is made with just two ingredients: this cheese, and a can of Ro*Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (one 10-ounce can added to a pound of cheese).

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The recipe, which originally comes from Chef Michael Symon (you know, the guy on Iron Chef), says it’s good for a month in the fridge. I can neither confirm nor deny that – I used mine up at a party within a week of making it.

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Yup, I admit it – I went all the way and made Famous Queso Dip. And trust me, it’s making another appearance on Super Bowl Sunday.

I’ll be feeding the same audience – and even the non-cooks in this crowd can figure out how to buy a bag of Fritos!