TJ’s Organic Five Country Espresso blend coffee (whole bean, dark roast)


Trader Joe’s Organic Fair Trade FIVE COUNTRY ESPRESSO blend, whole bean, dark roast coffee

If you’re want espresso or dark roast coffee the options at Trader Joe’s are a little more limited compared to the light and medium roast coffees. Now don’t get me wrong, light and medium roast coffees are wonderful and a terrific choice for most coffee lovers, especially those who make coffee using a pour-over or French press method. However if you make espresso, either with an espresso machine or even in a Moka pot (as I have started doing recently for Moka Pot Espresso) then you likely want whole beans in the darkest roast possible. You will grind the beans yourself just before too, for maximum aroma and flavor…you know, the way your typical coffee geek (like yours truly) will do.

TJ’s FIVE COUNTRY ESPRESSO whole bean is a very good coffee for espresso, moka pot and all dark roast coffee lovers. It’s especially terrific when you first open up the can, when you’ll get the aroma and see super shiny beans just glistening with oil, which is what fresh espresso roast looks like. Once the beans get exposed to air they’ll look less shiny, in about 3-5 days however they still taste pretty good. TIP: you can parcel up the beans in a number of small ziplock bags, freeze them, and take out bags as needed.

These beans are from FIVE different countries….El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru and Sumatra, Indonesia (wow huh?). Grinding this coffee will release an intense aroma. Another dark roast coffee option at TJ is the very good CAFE PAJARO.

FIVE COUNTRY ESPRESSO WHOLE BEAN COFFEE; $8.99 (13 oz)

MOKA POT – If you are interested in getting one, there’s a link below to one of the more inexpensive Moka Pots (Primula) on Amazon. The original Bialetti Moka Pot is excellent of course but a bit pricey. (note: cups in this case refers to tiny espresso cup 2-3 oz) I like the “9 cup” Moka Pots for doing Cafe Con Leche for 2.

https://amzn.to/3p9W2rW

Disclosure: as an Amazon affiliate I may earn a tiny bit from your purchase at no additional cost to you

TJ’s Pain De Campagne (country bread loaf)


Trader Joe’s Pain De Campagne (French Country Bread) – Minimalist packaging huh? But trust me, if you see this bread, grab it. It’s delicious. In a bakery I’m thinking this would sell for about 6 or 7 bucks? Trader Joe’s had it for about $2.80 for just over a 1 lb. piece.

Ingredients include: Water, Unbleached Unbromated Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Rye Flour, Whole Wheat Flour, Dark Beer…. We are talking serious bread folks, good bakery bread. Naturally this will greatly benefit from being refreshed with a baking or toasting in the oven for 10 minutes to get it crusty again.

I do find it pretty funny they write on the package: “Contains Wheat. May Also Contain Gluten”.

Trader Joe’s ground fermented BLACK GARLIC


“Use like garlic. Delicious on avocado toast, in butter and sauces, on vegetables and proteins, or any time you want extra depth of flavor”

This is a pretty interesting Trader Joe’s product, a bit of an unusual find. Now a few years ago, they sold something in the produce section labeled “Black Garlic”. It was from Japan. It basically looked like a whole head of garlic you had forgotten about in the pantry that had shriveled up. I tried it. Inside was soft black garlic, very weird. But the cloves of black garlic were absolutely delicious, chock full of UMAMI. I found it to be a pretty amazing and unusual product for Trader Joe’s to carry. This eventually vanished, or was discontinued? I stopped seeing it. Now a year or two later, I notice this small jar in the spices section of “Ground Fermented Black Garlic…Made In South Africa”. The black garlic has been dried and ground up into little tiny black bits that can be sprinkled onto things. It tastes garlicky but different from fresh garlic or garlic powder for one thing this was fermented. It’s full of Umami, adding extra depth of flavor to whatever you put it on. I did think it’s a little on the pricey side at $2.99 for a tiny 1 oz jar but I have found it does last a bit. It’s terrific added to sauces and as they mention vegetables. I am trying this on so many things. Avocado anything especially. I am thinking this is a hidden gem that many will look at and bypass and it may vanish in the future. So as we don’t know how long this product will last, if this sounds interesting, grab one to try.

WHAT IS BLACK GARLIC

https://www.thespruceeats.com/black-garlic-4165384

A little search and you find that it’s super healthy to boot! https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-black-garlic#1

https://www.mashed.com/325207/trader-joes-fans-are-so-excited-about-this-new-fermented-black-garlic/

Wholesome Organic Coconut Palm Sugar


FAIR TRADE. CERTIFIED ORGANIC. ALL NATURAL. LOW GLYCEMIC INDEX

“Made from the nectar of the coconut palm tree flower”

I really like this organic coconut palm sugar sold at TJ’s under the original brand “Wholesome”.

For one thing it tastes amazing in my morning coffee, that is my Moka pot, Cafe con Leche (#mokapotlover).

https://www.seriouseats.com/moka-pot-cheap-espresso-alternative

This coconut palm sugar is a brownish fine granulated sugar. It has its own distinctive taste which is quite delicious and a bit different from brown cane sugar. I’ve switched to this coconunt palm sugar especially for coffee, as it just adds a little something, a very nice subtle flavor. Plus using it on my yogurt too, just a little sprinkling is excellent. This is also excellent in any Asian recipe which calls for sugar, which most do.

It’s good stuff! I see people saying how this is “low glycemic” compared I think to cane sugar, but I don’t know much about that honestly. TJ sells this palm sugar for 3.99 a one pound bag (cheaper than the company sells it for directly) LINK BELOW TO “WHOLESOME” WEBSITE WITH MORE INFO

“Wholesome Organic Coconut Palm Sugar is a rich, unrefined brown sugar that makes an ideal substitute for conventional brown and white sugar. Beyond baking, it’s an excellent choice for sweetening your preferred coffee, preparing sauces and perfecting your favorite Asian dishes, all thanks to its rich molasses taste and caramel overtones.

Made with Care
Contrary to its name, this sugar doesn’t actually come from a coconut, nor does it remotely taste like coconut. The brown sugar’s rich caramel flavor is produced by tapping the sweet nectar from the tropical coconut palm tree flower (a process that’s similar to how maple trees are tapped for maple syrup production).  The nutrient-rich juice is dried in a large open kettle drum and condensed into a delicious whole brown sugar. A natural sugar substitute for baking, this organic product will add depths of flavor to all your favorite recipes.”

RECIPES HERE ON WHOLESOME’S SITE

Trader Joe’s MUESLI Breakfast Cereal


This is probably the healthiest cereal you can buy at Trader Joe’s. “Swiss Muesli” is a classic breakfast cereal invented over a hundred years ago by a Swiss doctor. It’s a blend of whole grain oats, seeds, fruit and nuts.

Contains no added sugars

TJ’s Muesli ingredients: Whole grain rolled oats, sunflower seeds, raisins, rice crisps, pumpkins seeds, coconut, dried apple, sliced almonds

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muesli

This is obviously healthy stuff, that even a horse would love. Trader Joe’s version of Muesli is good. One caveat though. If you just pour it into a bowl, add milk, and eat it immediately, you may not like it. Unless you are a horse and you don’t mind giving your jaws a work out. Otherwise you probably want to let this soften up a bit, meaning let those rolled oats get hydrated and soften up by sitting in milk for at least 15-20 minutes – that is in your choice of breakfast beverage (milk and/or yogurt or kefir). The longer it sits, the better. Actually I really enjoy Muesli when I mix some up as “overnight oats” the night before. That way in the morning it’s nice and thick and soft. Making “Overnight oats” is easy. Just put some muesli (or rolled oats) in a container, add liquid and let it sit in the fridge. I do Kefir and some soy milk and/or yogurt. If you find “overnight oats” too mushy for your tastes, just try to wake up and pour some milk on your Muesli before taking your shower and giving it a 20 minute soak. I typically add some fresh fruit (banana, apple, berries) and a bit of something crunchy as a topping like TJ’s Grainless Granola and more yogurt or kefir.

This is a good healthy breakfast, that will keep you (or your horse) going all day. I bet Roger Federer grew up eating Muesli and look how far he got.

A 16 oz bag is about $4. Worth trying.

RAVE

TJ’s CERTIFIED ORGANIC THAI JASMINE RICE


New Products: Trader Joe’s ORGANIC JASMINE RICE

Thai Jasmine Rice is wonderful, one of the tastiest kinds of long grain rice there is besides Basmati rice. TJ’s has had regular Jasmine rice for a long time, and recently they introduced this new organic version. The package says both “Product of Thailand” and “Certified Organic”.

Finally they have cooking directions and ratios on the package which seem about right to me. On this package they list using a 1:2 ratio (1 cup of rice to 2 cups water/liquid) and cooking it for 15-20 minutes. Now I rinse Jasmine rice very minimally, maybe just once instead of the standard 2-3 time as I want to preserve as much of that delicate jasmine aroma as possible. It’s organic and as far as I can tell, quite clean, you don’t have to go overboard washing this rice. Washing rice these days is mostly about removing excess starch anyway. Make sure you drain the rice for 10 minutes too in a colander to keep your ratios on point. If you find your rice too mushy then next time reduce the water slightly. Let it sit too after cooking for 10 minutes covered.

$3.49 (2 lb bag)

BTW where do you store rice? I have taken to keeping it in the fridge if there’s space – otherwise in a dark cool pantry in another zip lock bag.

TJ’s Organic Corn Chip Dippers


GLUTEN FREE. ORGANIC.

We know Trader Joe’s carries a ton of all kinds of chips. These are one of my favorites out of all of them. So why are these corn chips are so good? I think a big reason is they only have 3 ingredients! They list : organic yellow corn, organic sunflower oil, sea salt. That’s it. They must be using the best organic corn they can find, these chips have a super tasty corn flavor. These chips are both thick and a bit curved. They’re thick enough to stand up to any dip you put them in, such as guacamole, salsa or what have you. Even on their own with nothing on them, they still taste fantastic. They have been $1.99 (forever) but I bought them last week and I got yet another case of TJ inflation sticker shock to see TJ raised the price of these. They’re now $2.29.

Match the plain corn chips with CHIPOTLE BLACK BEAN DIP – an excellent combo

Beside this plain version, TJ has a spicy variation, the delicious “Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers” (Elote aka Mexican street corn flavor) which is an amazing chip, those are loaded and I do mean loaded, with spices; these cost a little more than the plain version, Elote chips are now $2.69 (also up 20 cents). The Elote chips are excellent and pretty spicy. Personally I love them with, among other things, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, in other words something plain as they bring plenty of spices on their own.

You can’t go wrong with either variety. Here’s what TJ has to say about them: https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/092482

RAVE

Need a recipe for GUACAMOLE?

TJ’s Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Green Chiles


We start with vine ripened tomatoes, then we fire roast them to a subtle smokiness before adding organic green chiles… They’re ready to use in salsas, sauces, soups and stews….”

Ingredients: Organic fire roasted tomatoes, organic tomato juice, organic green chili peppers, organic vinegar, sea salt, citric acid, calcium chloride”

These excellent organic diced tomatoes are a great pantry item, and in fact I always keep a few cans in mine as they are such a useful ingredient. They are indeed “fire roasted”, you can even see little bits of char and smell a little smokiness. You can use this as-is on tacos and quesadillas as a simple salsa, or make a slightly improved one quickly in seconds just by just adding a few things (ie, chopped onions, garlic, cilantro). Use this as an ingredient in sauces, stews or soup as you would any canned tomatoes, but these will be tastier than plain ones. These make the base of terrific rices dishes, say cooking some Mexican rice or what have you, mixed in for some of the stock or water. And its great for lots of other cuisines too… I made a delicious Italian Ariabiatta / Puttanesca style pasta with a can of this, olive oil, a spoon of tomato paste, lots of garlic, capers, olives, a spoon of Bomba and some grated Pecorino over the finished pasta (or try this with Gnocchi). It only took about 5 minutes to come together and the finished pasta dish with Gnocchi was delicious. We devoured it.

$1.69 for a 14.5 oz can. There is a plain only tomato version too for $1.49 if you don’t want any green chiles.

GREAT PANTRY ITEM

TJ’s Organic Roasted Teriyaki SEAWEED SNACKS


TJ’s Organic Roasted Teriyaki SEAWEED SHEET SNACKS (aka Korean Gim/Kim)

These are very similar to the single pack roasted Seaweed Snacks TJ carries. You know, the little green sheets of seaweed that American kids love! These however come in a convenient “six pack”. They are labeled Organic and “Product of Korea” and “teriyaki flavor”. Unlike Japanese nori seaweed sheets which are sturdy and solid (used in making sushi) these Korean seaweed mini sheets (aka Gim or Kim) have been roasted with sesame oil making the texture much airier and crumbly so they will break apart if you bend them too much. So while not great for rolling up as traditional sushi, I do use these to make a kind of “easy sushi” style mini hand roll. Putting a spoon of Asian rice in the middle, then something on top of that (especially good with Spicy Tuna*) and a few strips of cucumber. These are so tasty. You can hold the seaweed in one hand and add the other things carefully, bend it gently and pop it in your mouth in one or two bites. Quite yummy this combo! See pic and also Maangchi’s descriptive How To in the link.

$3.49 for a six pack. I have a feeling these may work out to be a bit more economical than the single packs?

TIP: snip a few sheets up into little thin strips for a super rice topping.

* EASY SPICY TUNA RECIPE (using canned tuna)

Drain the water or oil from a can or two of your favorite tuna fish. To the tuna, add 2 tablespoons of Mayo. Then add about a tablespoon (or two) of your favorite hot sauce of your choosing such as Sriracha, Zhoug, Peri-Peri or whatever you like, to taste (you can add more if its not spicy enough when you taste it with the rice). You might add a few chopped Hot and Sweet Jalapenos to the mix. Add a chopped scallion or two, mix everything together, and refrigerate for an hour to blend the flavors. Serve with cooked Asian rice and these Seaweed Sheets.

HOW TO MAKE EASY SUSHI MINI HAND ROLLS: Hold a sheet of seaweed gently. With your free hand, put a teaspoon or two of cooked rice on it gently and make a slight indentation for the tuna topping. Add some spicy tuna and strips of cucumber. Not too much in one square or it may fall apart, just enough for a nice big bite. Put in to your mouth carefully!

You can also the tuna just putting some a spoon on top of asian rice in a bowl. You put a little tuna, a crunch of cuke, and then cover that with a square of seaweed. Carefully “fold it” (bend gently) into a little package using chopsticks (or your fingers).

Naturally you can use other toppings. Smoked salmon and avocado is a classic too.

Serving these with some Kimchi on the side would be great.

TJ’s CALROSE RICE (Asian/Japanese rice)


In our house, we eat a lot of rice. For years, I have bemoaned the fact that TJ carried a number of varieties of long grain rice – Thai Jasmine, Indian Basmati – which are all terrific, but TJ’s didn’t carry any short (“Asian”) grain rice. Well finally they do! OK technically Trader Joe’s Calrose rice is a “medium grain” however the reality is this is Asian rice. Seeing this Calrose rice for the first time made me so happy as it meant I no longer have to trek for rice at H-Mart or other Asian supermarkets, lugging a 20 lb bag of short grain rice back on the subway!

So what is CalRose rice exactly? (you guessed it, it’s from California). See the link below for complete info.

https://www.allrecipes.com/article/what-is-calrose-rice/

Maybe you have seen Kokuho Rose rice, or Nishiki? Both are brands of Calrose rice grown in California for the US Asian market. Nishiki is a popular rice among Japanese people in the US.

One thing I need to point out however are the directions on the package need some adjustment. I think TJ’s directions saying “simmer for 30 minutes” to be crazy long. 30 minutes!?! That’s about twice as long as one normally cooks white rice. If you follow the instructions written on the package I think you will end up with overcooked, mushy rice.

I recommend cooking it this way (stove top). Wash 1 cup rice gently in one or two changes of water. Drain the rice 15-20 minutes in a colander. Put in pan with 1 1/4 cups of water (ie, a little over 1-1 ratio) brought to a boil. Add a little salt*. Cook on med. high heat. Cover with a tight fitting lid. Set timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes check rice quickly. You should see most if not all of the water gone. Turn heat to lowest setting and leave covered for another 6-7 minutes. Turn off heat and don’t open the lid! Leave covered for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes rice should be perfectly cooked. Taste it. If you really think its not done put on low heat for another 4 minutes with a teaspoon of water added. (*If you’re Japanese like my wife you will say don’t add any salt, but I prefer a little bit.)

Of course short grain rice is naturally stickier than long grain rice, for one thing making it easier to eat it with chopsticks.

Oh and by the way TJ Calrose rice is not only for Asian dishes but excellent for other dishes, like Spanish rice dishes calling for medium grain rice, such as paella. You might even try doing a risotto with this TJ rice.

Trader Joe’s Calrose Medium Grain rice sells for $2.49 (2 lb bag ie, 1.25/lb) A typical price these days as rice has gone up in price a lot since a few years ago.

Can you make sushi with this? Yes you can. Or easier than real sushe – serve this rice with Spicy Tuna (with mayo and Sriracha) and sheets of Nori (TJ’s roasted seaweed snacks) and slivers of cucumber for an easy sushi style hand roll. Need a recipe for Spicy Tuna? Here you go!

https://pickledplum.com/spicy-tuna-roll-recipe/

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