TJ’s TZATZIKI Greek Dip


Trader Joe’s TZATZIKI Creamy Garlic Cucumber Sauce / Dip

Tzatziki is a delicious creamy Greek dip / sauce traditionally made with greek yogurt, cucumbers, lemon, and a ton of garlic. Unless you are lucky enough to have a Greek Yaya (grandma) who makes homemade Tzatziki for you to take home, Trader Joe’s version is perhaps the next best thing. TJ’s version is quite good. I tried it and would buy it again. Tzatziki is a great sauce to have when you make chicken Shawarma or anything grilled, it would be great served even with grilled veggies. It can be served as a dip or can even be used as a salad dressing with some more lemon and olive oil. TJ’s Tzatziki has the first ingredient listed as cucumber, and you can really see this even in the pictures here. This gives it a very little crunchiness. TJ’s version next lists kefir cheese and sour cream (maybe instead of yogurt?) A bit different than if you made it yourself. I does have a bit of dill which I like. I got it for when I was thinking of making Shawarma which I served on top of TJ’s Garlic Naan and it was the perfect sauce for that. Its $3.49 for a 12 oz container.

Want to make Tzatziki yourself? Here’s a link to recipe if you want to try your hand

https://cookieandkate.com/how-to-make-tzatziki/

Trader Joe’s AJIKA Georgian Seasoning Spice Blend


“Spicy, garlic, deeply aromatic and savory”

RAVE

Here’s another delicious, quite fascinating find I recently discovered in my TJ’s New Products section. Frankly I had never heard of Ajika before seeing this. Googling it you learn its kind of a dip/sauce so one can assume this TJ spice seasoning blend is based on a typical Georgian-Abkhaz (formerly USSR) condiment. TJ’s version is a dried seasoning blend based on I am guessing the traditional dip which has liquid. Anyway this version they figured out is simply AMAZING. Seriously delicious stuff! This is a terrific addition to all of thier “international spice blends” TJ seems very good at figuring out. This AJIKA Georgian Seasoning Blend contains ground red chiles (not super hot ones) mixed with ground coriander, fenugreek, dried garlic, marigold (marigold?! yes the flower dried and ground up!) and a little salt. Garlicky, (mildly) spicy it is more flavorful spicy than hot spicy. Honestly the combination of all of these spices together is fantastic. It tastes quite unique to my taste buds. Is it the Fenugreek? The marigold? Which by the way I learn is very typical of Georgian Azkaban cuisine. It’s a combination of all of these things. I had made some sautéed yellow peppers and zucchini cooked in olive oil and put a good amount of this into the mix. It added so much flavor to it; quite delicious. I also sprinkled Ajika on top of bagel with tomato and it really added a great taste. I tried in on cottage cheese, which was boring no more, they were perfect together. Its so good you begin to wonder, what is this not good on? I will try this on grilled boneless chicken breasts, it will be an excellent seasoning for chicken or pork or steak or fish. The coriander and fenugreek are stand out flavorings that are not typical for most of our American palates. Try this Ajika blend sprinkled on some eggs. Try also on : Fish, shrimp, turkey, chicken, steak, hamburger, or grilled tofu for that matter. I think it would be good with all of them. Grilled vegetables for sure. It was made for tomatoes. Mix it with greek yogurt for a lovely easy sauce I think. The internet apparently is going crazy for this. I am loving it and was pretty Wowed upon first tasting this stuff. On a 1-10 level of heat I would put this at maybe 4, at least for me. Very tolerable, especially mixed in to foods. If you see this I would grab it, as it may be seasonal or TJ simply testing the waters for interest. If you try this you may love it as much as I am, and if you come up with some interesting ideas and/or uses for it, or some recipes, please post a Comment. Oh and the word “Ajika” may come from the Abkhaz word for salt.

$1.99 a jar.

https://www.mashed.com/384027/trader-joes-fans-are-psyched-for-its-new-ajika-georgian-seasoning/

TJ’s RAINBOW PEPPER grinder


This may seem ho-hum because we are so used to seeing it by now but come on, let’s admit these spices sold in built in grinders are one of the greatest product innovations in history. I’m serious. Since all spices taste best freshly ground, it’s a huge plus that you can buy not just peppercorns but a number of spices and spice blends in these plastic grinders that TJ sells. I particularly am fond of TJ’s RAINBOW PEPPER. It’s especially nice since its a blend of 3 peppercorns from Brazil, India and Malaysia. Peppercorns have gone up and I think this used to sell for $1.99 and now $2.29. Its the same price as a tin TJ sells with (pre)ground pepper so of course this is better.

Trader Joe’s CUBAN SPICE SEASONING BLEND


or to be more accurate as TJ’s calls it, Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend”

This CUBAN STYLE SPICE BLEND seasoning is a new TJ’s spice blend. It’s really good. This spice blend gives a nice Sabor Latino to almost anything.

TJ says it is inspired by the classic Cuban (Dominican / Puerto Rican) “mojo” which is a Caribbean sauce mixture that includes garlic, citrus (bitter orange or lime juice) oregano, and sometimes other things like cilantro and chiles. Mojo sauce is used both as a marinade and a sauce on the side for roasted chicken and pork. I used to eat “pollo a la brasa” like this (at El Malecon up near the GW bridge. Their rotisserie chicken is famous and amazing.) The little container of green sauce is their Mojo…. lots of cilantro, garlic and jalapeño)

If you’re interested in making MOJO SAUCE yourself sometime here’s one recipe I found online: MOJO (Saveur)

Back to this spice blend: I tried this on many different foods. It’s yummy. Interesting that they’ve managed to get the citrus acidity into a powder. Dried lime and lime oil? Aha! Thats how.

This is good and useful to jazz up many things. Try it as a rub on your poultry, meat or fish, or grilled tofu for that matter. Or grilled veggies. BEANS! Fo’ shure. I added it to black beans and it was outstanding making the beans from bland to yummy, adding much flavor. Try a little bit on/in your eggs. Put some in your next rice dish. I cooked rice with about a teaspoon thrown into the water and it was great. Sprinkle it on top of an avocado or avocado toast (yum!) or tacos, tostadas, quesadillas!

It was terrific for making grilled chicken breasts BONELESS CHICKEN BREASTS – How To Cook Them Nice and Juicy!

Was equally great seasoning for sautéed (and poached) ARGENTINA RED SHRIMP! argentinian red shrimp

I sometimes add more real lemon or lime juice too with this, for even more citrus-y flavor! You will like this blend. Cuban Style Seasoning can jazz up lots of things that you will discover it works well with.

Its worth checking out for $1.99 for a jar.

PS – Ooo, this spice was excellent with SHRIMP (marinate 20 mins) Or any fish for that matter….

Trader Joe’s Cuban Style Citrusy Garlic Seasoning Blend is essentially a blend of garlic, lime oil, lime juice, onion powder, salt, and red pepper—plus bay leaves, coriander, cumin, cilantro, black pepper, oregano, cilantro, basil, lemon oil, marjoram, and parsley to round it out. It’s all the essential flavors you’d find in common Cuban cuisine, packaged in one little jar…

RAVE

Trader Joe’s ITALIAN BOMBA HOT SAUCE


bomba1

Since it was released Trader Joe’s Italian “Bomba” Hot Pepper Sauce has blown up as one of the best new products that Trader Joe’s has come out with. Once again in this case it’s not unjustified hype…. all the hype about TJ’s “BOMBA” is completely justified! This stuff is just incredible. I could say “its the bomb” but I won’t!

BOMBA is made primarily from crushed Calabrian chiles which in this product are also fermented. You probably know that fermenting foods adds complex elements to flavor, expanding them more. They become deeper and more complex, and in this Bomba sauce the fermentation of Calabrian chiles adds that magical “fifth” taste.. yup you got it. UMAMI. Now of course this Bomba hot sauce is spicy but it is really not knock your head off spicy. It’s spicy and full of flavor at the same time. I just put a small spoonful in my mouth and while I got “yes this is kind of spicy”, it didn’t want to make me want to drink a glass of milk or anything. I got something beyond “spicy”, there is a kind of funkiness (oh, thats the fermentation and umami) even a tiny bit of sweetness. Depending on the amount you use, you can adjust the level of spiciness. If you add even just a little bit to dishes, I am talking a quarter of a teaspoon or a few drops, it will add a level a flavor that may surprise you. How to use Bomba sauce? Of course this is going to be great added to tomato sauces, say on pasta or pizza or what have you. But what about other pasta dishes? A little bit in your Carbonara? Yeah baby. A spoonful mixed into your Spaghetti Aglio e Olio? Yes. And all those Gnocchi you love?! Regular, cauliflower, kale, or what have you… OMG folks, this stuff and some very nice olive oil will make your gnocchi soar.

But Bomba is for more than for “just Italian”. I put some on my scrambled eggs and it was divine. A drop of it onto of my buttered toasted baguette. A small spoon mixed into my avocado toast or guacamole. Add some to your next marinade. Dips and sauces? Perfect. You can mix this up with some Greek yogurt (or mayonnaise for that matter) for an instant wonderful sauce, to top some cooked Chicken Breasts, Shrimp, or Tofu as well. Or try that mix as a dip for some chips. Drizzle some with olive oil and garlic on your roasted veggies. Add a spoon of this to your soup or most any sauce to give it some jazz. I love it on cottage cheese (seriously). On my sardines on toast. Add garlic to Bomba, and of course these two go into the stratosphere. The list is endless and I promise you, you will discover uses on your own exploring that you will come up with (and if they’re good, please share some with us in the COMMENTS below).

TJ’s Bomba is truly a premium gourmet offering. Amazingly Trader Joe’s sells this for $3 a jar, which is frankly incredible. Oh and it’s really Italian, says “Product Of Italy” on the label. I have found it sold out on occasion missing on the shelves as its a big hit at TJ. So if you like it, next time grab an extra one to keep in the pantry like I do (but leave some for the next guy!) Ingredients are: Chilies, Sunflower Oil, Olive Oil, Basil, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Citric Acid. I generally add some very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil down the road to “seal the top” off and help keep it fresher for longer as well. Honestly even if you are not really the “hot sauce” type I suggest you get a jar of this to try. Calabrian chili’s are not super hot; they are in the “medium” spice level. People can pop them in their mouths easily. Personally I can’t live without having a jar of Bomba in the fridge now and if you try this, you may feel exactly the same.

RAVE

TJ Plain whole milk GREEK YOGURT


RAVE

This is one of those Trader Joe’s products that I basically like to have in my fridge at all times. Why? It’s so useful. I use it all the time, for one thing to make all kinds of tasty sauces in about a minute. Greek yogurt is thick, as it is strained yogurt containing less liquid than regular yogurt. You might say it can be though of as similar to and can be substituted for Sour Cream, or crema in Mexican cooking, or to creme fraiche in French cooking. You could use this anywhere Sour Cream would be used, or mayonnaise perhaps but this is lower in fat and calories. So I use greek yogurt to make creamy sauces or dressing by mixing it with another ingredient. It can be as simple as mixing greek yogurt with a few teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, a pinch of salt and grind of pepper. Boom you have a creamy lemony yogurt sauce. Very Greek! This not only makes for a nice salad dressing but is also a nice sauce that would go with grilled chicken or shrimp. Add something else to it and you get even more mileage. Certainly fresh crushed garlic, will make it yet more Greek still. Or mix in some Green Dragon Sauce. Or some Yemeni Zhough. Or Sriracha, as the milkiness of the yogurt tames all of these spicy sauces and makes them smoother and creamy. Along with garlic, chopped parsley, or arugula, or spinach makes a nice green dressing…. your only limits to find things to use this with will be your imagination. For dessert or with fruits, you can mix the yogurt with a pinch of sugar or maple syrup for a lovely sweet, creamy addition. Of course I can put this on my breakfast cereal, but it is richer than regular yogurt, so I keep the amount smaller.

Some more ideas

  • as a breakfast or dessert bowl with banana and blueberries
  • as a topping for chili instead of sour cream
  • as a topping for soups instead of cream
  • as a spread on crackers or bread (try mixing with some ingredients…)
  • as an addition to a pasta sauce instead of cream for extra creaminess

A 16 oz. tub is $2.50. A container lasts in my fridge for about a month, depending on how much I use it. So great stuff, try it.

TJ’s TACO SEASONING MIX spice blend


My headline: “Its not just for Tacos”

This little bag is possibly one of the cheapest things in the store, but I’ve discovered this is a great thing to have on hand. It’s certainly worth buying for 79 cents. “Taco Seasoning Mix” is a spice blend of a seasoning that is really good and very versatile. Is it just for Tacos? Well, this is a spice blend… You know like the ones you see in some fancy shops for $10 for a little bag? Even if you have some or all of these spices in your spice rack they are probably not as fresh as whats in this foil package from South Africa (!) The blend of spices and ratio of all the seasoning are spot on. This “taco” seasoning blend is better than any I’ve tried. The spices are :

Sea salt, cumin, cayenne, paprika, onion, garlic, black pepper, oregano, dried bell pepper, dried chile pepper and smoked paprika.

An excellent spice blend thats packed with flavor with a bit of chile heat, but not massive heat. I’ve used it with ground beef, ground turkey, ground pork, as well as to marinate and grill chicken breasts, or frankly practically anything you can think of, even to season steaks or other things. Try it and see if you like a sprinkle or a nice amount. I am pretty generous, especially for “Mexican” things.

This little bag of spices can makes it super easy to come up with something tasty for dinner or lunch, or make something a little boring more exciting and flavorful. For example, Ground Turkey can be boring, right? Try giving ground turkey a nice coating of this seasoning the next time you are grilling up turkey burgers or tacos. Brush a little olive oil on your meat, season it (this has salt so you may not need any or much). Throw the seasoned meat into a very hot cast iron pan, or non-stick pan with some olive oil. The lovely aroma of the spices will hit you immediately. Your old boring turkey burgers or tacos are now mouth waveringly exciting and spicy delicious. Seriously! I make great turkey tacos with this, or use ground beef. Cook it up. Warm some corn tortillas, and you have the makings of Taco Night at your place. On steak? Why not? On some Tofu? Ditto.

Spiced Chicken Breasts: Brush them with oil, season with this mix, marinate for maybe say 30 minutes. Grill in a hot pan till one side is well browned, flip and sear the other side. COVER THE PAN AND TURN HEAT OFF. LET IT SIT COVERED FOR 10 MINUTES. This method will make the juiciest chicken breasts you ever had. If you don’t use gas but have an electric burner, probably 5 minutes as the resident heat on the burner will continue the cooking more than a gas burner.

“PRODUCT OF SOUTH AFRICA” – where they know a good barbecue and how to grill with spices.

Vegetarians: Did I mention it will even perk up your beans?

This is worth a try!

Italian Tomato Paste (in a tube!)


u·ma·mi (pronunciation: u -ˈmämēe)

A category of taste in food (besides sweet, sour, salt, and bitter), corresponding to the flavor of glutamates.

What genius invented this product? No, really I’m serious… whoever thought this up is a bloody genius. Putting tomato paste in a tube like toothpaste might be the greatest invention since the napkin. You might think of this as a minor advancement of our civilization but honestly this is so practical and useful. How many times have you needed perhaps just 1 tablespoon of tomato paste to add to something and thought, “Jeez, I don’t want  to open up that whole little can of tomato paste for a spoonful. I’ll just end up throwing most of it away”. Well, now when you need a spoonful or two you don’t have to open a whole little can of tomato paste. You just squeeze out what you need from this tube, and keep the rest in the fridge for the next time. It will last at least a month or two in your fridge. Actually a few months (even though they say on the box, use within 2 weeks…my experience says it lasts for a few months once opened). So for practicality this is a great item. Every cook should have this in the cupboard/fridge, always. This wonderful little item is only a little over a buck!

Tomato paste, which has a great deal of glutamates present = UMAMI

Tomato paste, dried mushrooms, Parmesan cheese, soy sauce, miso, seaweed – these are just a few food items that, as they contain natural glutamates, and bring UMAMI (aka the 5th taste) to what your cooking. A spoon of tomato paste will add a depth of flavor to many things. Unlock its secrets! See some of the links below.

Having said all that, when you need a can of paste and will use up the whole thing, or most of it, get the little can, which is cheaper in the long run, and thats only about 89 cents.

LINKS

https://www.bonappetit.com/story/what-is-tomato-paste

https://www.brit.co/how-to-use-tomato-paste/

https://www.today.com/food/chef-s-secret-how-use-tomato-paste-right-way-t75761

TJ’s SWEET CHILI SAUCE


RAVE

Apparently this is one of Trader Joe’s most popular products, and not without good reason. This is absolutely one of my favorite TJ products and on my “always have in fridge” list. As the name says, this is a delicious sweet chili sauce, that is pretty much an exact copy of the traditional Chinese sweet and spicy chili sauce you can find at any Asian grocery. It’s both sweet and spicy but not crazy spicy, with a perfect balance of the two tastes plus garlic of course. This sauce is typically served with chicken in many Asian cuisines. I had been buying Chinese brands of this stuff for years whenever I went to a special Asian grocery or supermarket but now Trader Joe’s make a version of it so even more convenient, as we put this sauce on many things though its terrific with most any chicken. If you bought a store cooked rotisserie chicken for dinner, serving with this sauce will that roast chicken 10x as tasty. What else can you use it for. Really anything… Chicken sausages? Yes. Fish? Yes (in fact you can put some on top of almost finished broiled salmon and put it back for a minute for a sweet spicy glaze). Grilled pork. Sure! Eggs? Yes. Get it? Seriously I think there is little this would not be good on, except may ice cream.

Easy dipping sauce for dumplings: a few tables spoons of this sweet chili sauce, a tablespoon of soy sauce, a little rice vinegar. Fresh grated ginger if you have it. Easy. Some extra garlic wouldn’t hurt either. Now you have a sauce for the pot sticker dumplings in the freezer. Dinner in 10 minutes.

A bottle used to sell for only $1.29. Last time I checked it went up to $1.49, still a bargain. I can’t live without this stuff. I always have a bottle in my fridge.