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/

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 PERI-PERI SAUCE


RAVE

Trader Joe’s PERI-PERI SAUCE with fermented and dried chilies

This is as the label says: “A CONDIMENT WITH RICH COMPLEX HEAT”.

Peri-peri sauce is one of those Trader Joe’s products that currently seems to be all over the Internet. So naturally I decided I better check it out. First thing to tell you is TJ”s Peri-Peri sauce is HOT! I’m talking spicy with a capital S, as in the spiciest product I have ever tasted from Trader Joe’s. It remided me of the first time I tasted TJ’s original super spicy (and sadly discontinued) Organic SRIRACHA RANCH dressing (sigh!).

I opened up the Peri-peri sauce and just tasted a wee bit on a teaspoon by itself. OMG. My mouth lit up on fire. Though I’m not a chili-head, I enjoy “spicy” and can take most levels of heat, however this Peri-peri was way up there. It took a while for my mouth and taste buds to calm down and I thought, this sauce is way too spicy. But then I found the “secret” to using Peri-peri, is to use it really sparingly. Small even tiny amounts and you will get its flavors. Note, it’s pretty liquid-y so be careful pouring it lest you get way more than you want. I usually first put some on a spoon to gently dole it out in little dots of sauce.

Once I realized about using in sparingly I started to really love this stuff. It’s very flavor and quite complex with a ton of umami going on as well as “spicy”. The bottle which I expected would last me a few months is already 2/3 gone in just a few weeks! So Peri-Peri may even be addictive.

This label says Product of South Africa. Peri-Peri sauce is popular in South Africa, though it’s origins are from elsewhere in Africa, Mozambique or going even back going back to Portugal.

https://www.nandosperiperi.com/what-is-peri-peri

It’s a lovely orange color. The first ingredient listed on the label interestingly enough is LEMON JUICE. So there is a citrus-y background level behind the spiciness which I find works perfectly. Peri-peri recipes traditionally call for tiny birds eye chilies which are super spicy. The label does not specify exactly what chilies are in it but it does say “fermented” as well as dried chilies. As TJ’s BOMBA SAUCE also uses fermented chilies, from which you get a lot more complex flavors than just “hot”. It also lists garlic,salt, dried chilies and xanthan gum (it’s a thickener).

What is this good on? What have I tried it on? Perhaps a better question is what haven’t I tried this on? I’ve tried it on almost everything! For one simple thing I so love this sauce on something so simple as cottage cheese (on toast or a bagel or crackers…) Again I just need a few dots of sauce here and there. It’s simply magnificent with chicken, which is what it was created for (Peri-peri chicken). I will next try it on chicken breasts marinated in the sauce. In fact if you marinate chicken in some Peri-Peri sauce, you will find its just stunning. Use some oil too of course and easy on the peri-peri till you learn its heat level, though cooking will of course mellow this out. I’ve mixed a little of the peri-peri even into some ketchup and that was fantastic with hamburgers. A bit on grilled shrimp or fish? Yes, yes, yes. If you experiment with this (cautiously) and you will no doubt come up with some great combinations of things this sauce is good on. Oh, and you can of course mix it with something, say mayonnaise or greek yogurt in whatever ratio you like and come up with a fantastic sauce in seconds.

Trader Joe’s PERI-PERI sauce comes in a glass bottle of about 7 ounces for $3.29. I think this is really worth checking out. And check out this recipe for grilled Peri-Peri Chicken which you could whip up using this I think.

https://www.chilipeppermadness.com/recipes/peri-peri-chicken/

Want to learn about the peri-peri (piri-piri) chili ?

https://hotsaucefever.com/hot-peppers/piri-piri/

TJ’s Hot & Sweet Jalapeños


RAVE

TJ’s Hot & Sweet Jalapeño Slices

OMG, these are SO blody good! Another simply brilliant condiment from TJ’s something Trader Joe’s seems especially good at coming up with. Slices of picked jalapeños sweetened with organic cane sugar added to make them Hot & Sweet which makes for an even improved version over TJ’s regular pickled jalapeños (also excellent). First off yes these are SPICY HOT ! Hotter than the regular TJ pickled jalapeños. There are whole dried red chilis in the jar plus it says pureed jalapeños also to ramp up the heat level. We just adore these. We put them on so many things. My wife and I dream up new ideas for things to put these on. Last night we put them on top of grilled hamburgers (on toasted brioche bread). Ok this is a no-brainer and of course they were freakin’ delicious on hamburgers… or hot dogs or sausages or sandwiches. For breakfast this morning I put a few slices of these hot and sweet babies on my toasted bagel with cottage cheese. They went perfectly with the mellow cottage cheese to spice up something that otherwise would be pretty boring, so these are a Great Combo.

The bottle has good suggestions on the label, such as add them chopped up to your guacamole. For that matter add some chopped up on top of your avocado toast! Grilled cheese? Oh yes, these go perfectly put some in with the cheese before you grill them so they mix into that melted cheese (chopped or whole if you want big spicy bites). Scrambled eggs? Oh yes, again delicious. Ditto with cream cheese and crackers. Brilliant. Especially with the Red Chili Crackers. For nachos? Another no-brainer. Finally do not ignore TJ’s suggestion about not wasting that leftover juice in the bottle for using in marinades. This hot and spicy pickle juice is amazing. I keep of bottle of just that in the fridge.

Here’s just one idea: SPICY CHICKEN – Marinate BONELESS CHICKEN (BREASTS or THIGHS) in the spicy juice for 30-60 minutes (or overnight in the fridge). Drain and grill them with a generous sprinkle of Ajika Georgian seasoning. When done, spoon a little extra spicy syrup on top of the finished grilled breasts with their own pan juices. Dot with a few slices of the jalapeños. You’re welcome.

$2.50/12 oz jar

RAVE

TJ’s Everything but the Bagel Seasoning Blend


RAVE

Is Trader Joe’s “Everything but the Bagel Seasoning” blend the bomb that everyone on the internet says it is? Well, yes. It’s terrific. It’s a classic blend of seasonings which obviously, bagel makers originally threw together perhaps a hundred years ago. TJ’s has an excellent version which is a blend of: white sesame seeds, sea salt flakes, poppy seeds, dried minced garlic and onion plus black sesame seeds. Now if by any chance you happen to be a “New Yawker” and grew up your whole life intimately acquainted with “Everything Bagels” then you already know how good this seasoning tastes. As a kid the Everything Bagels were frequently the ones our family usually fought over in a batch of fresh H&H assorted bagels my dad used to send us out for.

When Trader Joe’s introduced this seasoning blend it was such a major hit, sometimes it even got sold out. It just flew out of the store. Its so successful that TJ’s have now even started putting the seasoning on other products, such as smoked salmon (a great combo) and I even saw it in a new popcorn variety! In my opinion it’s especially the dried garlic toasty bits that make this so good. I really enjoy sprinkling EBTB on top of a TJ Artisan everything bagel topped with cream cheese and tomato (or sliced cucumbers or smoked salmon) plus more “everything” on top of the whole thing to Super Size the everything seasonings! This Everything seasoning is great on so many things: Scrambled eggs, avocados, avocado toast, grilled or smoked salmon, tuna fish sands, mashed potatoes, grilled vegetables, hamburgers, grilled chicken, cottage cheese (yes!), salads, steaks…. you name it, it will probably be good on it. So if you’ve been wondering if this actually worth the hype, the answer is Yes. Great stuff!

$1.99 jar (2.3 oz.)

https://www.eatingwell.com/article/291465/50-ideas-for-using-trader-joes-everything-but-the-bagel-seasoning/

https://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/everything-you-can-do-with-everything-bagel-seasoning-article

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC KETCHUP


RAVE

Great tasting ketchup

My wife thinks anything “organic” tastes better, while I think some things marked “organic” do, but some things don’t taste any better. This is one of those cases where yes ORGANIC is in fact better. Or should I just say that TJ’s Organic Ketchup is a great tasting ketchup, period, and possibly “the best” I’ve had. Now like most Americans Ketchup has always meant “Heinz” as I’ve been eating Heinz ketchup since well, forever, and it was probably the first ketchup I ever had in my life. When my wife brought home the Trader Joe’s organic ketchup and I tasted it (with doubts) my tastebuds did somehow react with something like, “wow, now this is ketchup”! I was pleasantly surprised and I had to admit to my wife yes this organic version was better tasting. She gave me a “I told you so” looks. Now I know Heinz switched from using sugar in their ketchup recipe to using high fructose corn syrup in their (regular) ketchup years ago, like most companies, as sugar is more expensive than corn syrup. Heinz has now come out with another version, a more expensive Heinz ketchup they call “Simply Heinz” (hah!) which does use sugar not corn syrup and the ingredients look more or less similar to Trader Joe’s. However for one thing all of Trader Joe’s ingredients say Organic. Interestingly also is the fact that TJ’s ketchup spells out the actual spices in their ingredients while Heinz just lists the generic word “spice” (why singular, not “spices”?!) TJ’s ketchups says organic spices than spells out: allspice, clove, red pepper, paprika and salt. Frankly I had no idea what specific spices were in ketchup, so maybe it’s the spices at least in part that makes TJ’s ketchup taste so good. In short, in our house we have switched brands to now buying only TJ’s ketchup. Sorry Heinz. This is better. And probably cheaper than Simply Heinz. TJ’s ketchup is $1.99 (24 oz) and for “certified organic” that’s not bad.

So if you’ve never tried TJ’s Organic Ketchup it is well worth giving a try. You just might switch brands too.

TIP: Want some Spicy Ketchup? I just mix this with as much or as little Sriracha as your taste buds are in the mood for. So good! Especially with burgers….

TJ’s TZATZIKI Greek Dip / Sauce


Trader Joe’s TZATZIKI Creamy Garlic Cucumber Sauce / Dip

Tzatziki is a delicious creamy Greek 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/

BTW, this matches well with Indian foods, as it’s a bit similar to Raita

The NY Times had a recipe for Tzatziki Potato Salad which sounds interesting. Here’s the link https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1022307-tzatziki-potato-salad

(registration might be needed)

TJ’s AJIKA Georgian Spice Blend


“Spicy, garlicky & deeply aromatic & savory”

RAVE

Trader Joe’s AJIKA GEORGIAN SEASONING BLEND

Wow is this good! Its my new favorite spice!

Another delicious find I recently discovered in my TJ’s NEW PRODUCTS display. Frankly I had never heard of Ajika before seeing this at TJ. Googling it you learn Ajika is actually not a dry spice blend but more of a dip so one can assume this TJ spice seasoning blend is a dry seasoning blend which is based on the typical Georgian-Abkhaz (formerly USSR) condiment.

Anyway this TJ seasoning is pretty AMAZING! This is a terrific addition to all of their “international spice blends” TJ seems very good at figuring out. The Ajika Georgian Seasoning Blend contains crushed ground red chile pepper (not a super hot one) 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. The coriander and fenugreek are stand out delicious flavorings that are not typical for our (American) palates. Honestly the combination of all of these spices together is just fantastic. Seriously delicious, I couldn’t stop sprinkling it on so many foods, to see what it would do to them. It tastes quite unique to my taste buds. Is it the Fenugreek? Is it the marigold (which by the way I learn is very typical of Georgian Abkhaz cuisine).

It’s a combination of all of these things. I had made some sautéed yellow peppers and zucchini cooked in olive oil so then I put a good amount of this Ajika spice blend into it. It added wonderful flavor to the grilled veggies. I also sprinkled Ajika on top of a bagel with tomato and cream cheese and again it added great flavors. I tried in on cottage cheese, so boring right? Not with a good amount of Ajika, boring no more they went perfectly together.

Its so good you begin to wonder, what is this NOT good on? I put it on grilled boneless chicken breasts, and yes its an excellent seasoning for chicken…. or pork or steak or fish. Try this Ajika blend sprinkled on eggs or in an omelet. Try also on : Fish, shrimp, turkey, chicken, steak, hamburger, or grilled tofu for that matter. A turkey burger with this is so much more flavorful and tasty. I think it would be good with SO many things. Grilled vegetables and EVOO plus this are great. This was made for tomatoes which the original has. Mix some of this up with greek yogurt for a lovely easy sauce. Go nuts with this. I know I am. The internet apparently is going crazy for this. I was Wowed upon first tasting this. Yes its so good as people are saying. On a 1-10 level of heat I would put this at maybe 4, So barely spicy, very tolerable, especially mixed with foods.

If you see Ajika grab a jar to try. 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 loving it (along with the whole internet) and if you come up with some interesting ideas and/or uses for it, or some recipes, please post it in the Comments section. Oh BTW the word “Ajika” may come from the Abkhaz word for salt.

Aha Wikipedia states: “A dry form of ajika exists that is sometimes called svanuri marili in Georgian”

$1.99 a jar. Wow.

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

TJ’s RAINBOW PEPPERCORNS in spice grinder


This may seem ho-hum because we are so used to seeing it by now but come on, let’s admit the spices TJ sells 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 whole peppercorns but a number of spices & spice blends in these plastic grinders at TJs. I particularly am fond of TJ’s RAINBOW PEPPERCORNS. It’s especially nice as it’s a blend of 3 peppercorns from 3 different continents! They come from Brazil, India and Malaysia. Packed in South Africa. Wow. Peppercorns have gone up in price and I think this used to sell for $1.99, it’s now $2.29. Its the same price as a tin TJ sells of ground pepper so I would say this is better. I buy pepper grinders in pairs, one for the kitchen and one for the table.

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

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