TJ’s Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream


Trader Joe’s Super Premium MINT CHIP ICE CREAM (Mint Chocolate Chip)

Trader Joe’s carries many excellent ice creams and frozen desserts.

This Mint Chip is one of my favorite ice creams they have. It’s deliciously creamy with a great real fresh mint flavor that is cooling and refreshing on a hot summer day. Its loaded with little slivers of chocolate. The color is a natural, creamy white not a fake green that most commercial brands have from adding food coloring. Frankly the reason the box is a bit messed up in the pic as it was so good I didn’t take a picture until after we finished the whole package! We particularly liked this as part of a coffee float with iced coffee! This ice cream, or the wonderful Coffee Ice Cream they sell too!

I find MINT CHIP ICE CREAM is especially great in the summer time with its refreshing minty freshness.

$3.99/1 quart

TJ’s GREEK YOGURT with HONEY


This is what I have started to buy at Trader Joe’s pretty regularly. It’s very lightly sweetened from the honey and I find perfect especially for breakfast with some fruit and my granola in the morning. But I also find other uses for it. I use it like “creme fraiche” or whipped cream as a topping for desserts with a bit lower calorie count than either of those. TJ sells it in a big 32 oz container for $4.99 or small cups for $1.29. It’s quite yummy.

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)

Asiago Cheese with Rosemary & Olive Oil


“Rosemary and Olive Oil intensify the rich nutty Asiago flavor”. Yes, it does! TJ’s Asiago with Rosemary is an excellent, super tasty cheese. I was really impressed when I tasted it. Compared to the regular Asiago that Trader Joe’s carries, which frankly is just OK, this is way more flavorful. In this version the added flavor, especially that of rosemary which the cheese is liberally coated with, really benefits and expands the cheese’s flavor. It’s excellent just on its own, sliced thinly. Great on crackers. Great with wine. Obviously this cheese will be a great match with almost any Italian dish. I grated this and tossed a generous amount over sautéed gnocchi and it was absolutely delicious. If you try this with almost any pasta dish you will like it. This is great as a second or third cheese on a Pizza. I did one with it and people scarfed it up! Rosemary Asiago would be great on a cheese plate or charcuterie plate, especially with grapes or other fruits, and some nice crackers. Wine too, naturally! TJ sells this cheese for $9/lb a decent price for a premium cheese like this. Try this, you will love it.

RAVE

Rutland Red Leicester Cheese


RAVE

rutlandredcheese

If you are a cheese lover – I certainly am – you will probably really like this, Rutland Red Leicester. I found it a very interesting cheese and terrific new find. This is a special cheese, I mea a kind of quality hand-made artisanal cheese that one might find in a high end gourmet cheese shop… yet you can buy it at TJ’s (well while they still carry it, don’t tarry, just in case their supply doesn’t last). When my eye caught it in TJ’s cheese section, I first thought it was a French cheese which looks the same and is a favorite of mine called “Mimolette“.

This reddish orange cheese is however from England and is in vein of a true English cheddar. Red Leicester has a wonderful nutty flavor and crumbly texture. Red Leicester is a traditional hard English cheese made from unpasteurised cow’s milk, and is produced in the county of Leicestershire which is up in England’s Midlands. Leicester City is well known for two things these days, Richard III‘s bones and its football team winning the English Premier League a few years back as a 500-1 underdog!

Supposedly the history of Red Leicester cheese dates back to the 17th century when farmers decided that the color of the cheese should denote its richness and to set it apart from cheddar, they decided to give it a reddish color using annatto, a natural vegetable dye.The wheels of cheese are coated in butter to make it richer then wrapped in cloth (i.e., a “cloth-bound”cheese ). Rutland Red Leicester is dense and has that “aged cheese” look and taste with a crumbly flaky texture and has an edible orange rind. I like it sliced very thinly. It’s excellent served on a cracker or toast or with fruit such as apples or grapes. It would probably pair wonderfully with wine, a white or a light red. I also found it melts very well and is delicious melted or cooked (grilled cheese with this, yes!)

If you put this on a cheese plate for guests it would surely get attention and questions. I’m sure the terrific English striker of Leicester FC Jamie Vardy would love this cheese. Well I do. TJ’s sells Rutland Red Leicester for $10 a pound -in a cheese shop this would be a $20/lb cheese, so once again, a TJ bargain.

“As the cheese ages, the butter keeps it moist, and the cloth seals in the butter, resulting in a super crumbly texture that simply melts in your mouth.”

Here’s a link to Trader Joe’s post on it. If you are interested, get this while you still can, it may not be there forever, unfortunately.

https://www.traderjoes.com/digin/post/rutland-red-leicester-cheese

Trader Joe’s NEW ZEALAND BUTTER


Another excellent premium butter

Trader Joe’s now carries three premium imported butters. They have a French butter, an Irish butter and just recently I saw this one, from New Zealand no less. Now New Zealand is pretty famous for its food products. I happen to love the New Zealand extra sharp cheddar cheese that TJ carries, it’s really terrific, and it’s even a Trader Joe’s team favorite. So I thrilled to see a Kiwi butter. When I first opened the package I was struck at the deep yellow color this had (it may be hard for the actual color come through in a picture). Trader Joe’s says on the package that “it’s made for us on the South Island of New Zealand from from grass fed cows”. Something like this I imagine?

Cattle graze in front of New Zealand, North Island, Mount Taranaki Credit: Getty

Boy thats some nice scenery so maybe those cows are really content and making lovely grass fed milk. When I tasted this butter I was impressed. It’s very gently salted so not salty. It has a lovely sweet flavor and aroma. The color is beautiful, very yellow. It was delicious when I spread some on some warm bread. Wonderful when I put it on pancakes the next morning. Wonderful when I made an omelet with it. Its great on everything, of course! This is a truly excellent premium butter, and I was as impress with this butter, frankly as much as I any of the 3 imported butters TJ carries which are all excellent in their own rights. I have tried tasting one then another, but they are all of such high quality I can’t put one over another. They are each amazing in their own rights and each one makes you think “now this is what butter should taste like”. If you were impressed by the French Cultured butter or the Kerrygold Irish butter TJ sells, you will no doubt be also impressed by the New Zealand butter. Really really good! Of course imported butter costs more than TJ’s regular butter, about double? This NZ one is a wee bit cheaper than the French and Irish butters. The NZ butter costs $3.29 for an 8 oz package. If I can save a little bit on an imported butter, thats great so this New Zealand butter will probably be on my shopping list from now on.

I never used to buy imported butter, its too expensive. However thanks to Trader Joe’s prices I now buy two kinds for our fridge. “Regular” everyday butter for a lot of butter uses plus one of the imported “Superb” butters for that premium butter taste where it really counts (like my morning toasted bagel). One final thing. I read somewhere that the New Zealand butter is the only one TJ sells where 100% of the milk is from “grass fed” cows.

RAVE

Mustard and Ale Cheddar Cheese


Trader Joe’s “British Mustard and Ale Cheddar”? Hmmm…Sounds a bit intriguing, no? Comes in a small package, only 5 ounces and kind of cheap, it was well under two bucks. Now I have to say I’m not usually one who is too into cheeses with added “flavors”. Still on rare occasion you do come across a quite decent cheese with something added to the cheese that works quite well. An example are some Dutch Gouda’s that have cumin or caraway seeds in them. I’ve tried some that are really delicious. I didn’t know what to expect from a Mustard and Ale Cheddar. I love mustard with cheese of course especially cheddar. So I got some of this mustard and ale cheese to taste, and frankly thought well it’s OK, its got a lot of whole mustard seeds in there which are a little strong, maybe over-shadowing the cheddar. I couldn’t put my finger on the “ale” part really. So I think, it’s OK but would I buy more, no, not really, I’d rather buy a jar of TJ’s excellent Whole Grain Dijon Mustard and some Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar or New Zealand Extra Sharp Cheddar and use some mustard as I see fit. But here’s the funny part. During this evaluation, I tasted a piece, then tasted another. Just one more bite…. ok one more… and soon I realized during this tasting I had eaten about half the package. It was hard for me to stop tasting this cheese! Maybe I liked it more than I though? So if the combination sounds appealing to you, you may want to give this a try and see what you think.

TIP While we are at it, if you want a great melted cheese sandwich, try spreading that TJ whole grain Dijon on some nice bread before you add your cheese. Grill it up with butter. When all the elements melt together its pretty great. So I figure this cheese might make a very good melted cheese sandwich too. If anyone tries that let us know if its any good like that. So its a bit odd, but this cheese may be worth trying. If you put it out on a cheese plate, folks might even ask where you got this stuff.

TJ’s Plain GREEK YOGURT


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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. You can use it as a substitute for Sour Cream but with less calories (not zero but lower)! 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

Trader Joe’s Whole Milk Plain Greek Yogurt. 16 oz. tub $2.50. A container lasts in my fridge for about a month, depending on how much I use it. So great stuff, try it.

Cabot Vermont Extra Sharp Cheddar


My review for TJ’s Unexpected Cheddar seems to get a good deal of interest, so next up for review in the Cheese Department is an absolute classic cheddar which I mentioned in that earlier post.

For my money the well known, long established, classic cheese, Cabot Cheddar, is the very definition and Gold Standard for what an “East Coast” Extra Sharp Cheddar tastes like. Its terrifically convenient that Trader Joe’s carries it under Cabot’s own well known brand.

Cabot extra sharp cheddar is my personal go-to cheese to pretty much always have in the house. Labeled an “Extra sharp” cheddar, it’s got a slight tangy taste to it. “Intense, rich cheddar flavor with an “East Coast” bite” is how they describe it on the package and I would say that description is spot on. Cabot is made in Vermont, and is a bit unique as a company, as its a Farmer’s Collective. Cabot has been around for almost 100 years and has won many many “best” awards.

Cabot extra sharp cheddar is both great just sliced as is out of the package. It’s also great to cook with. It melts wonderfully well and I think makes one of the most fantastic melted cheese sandwiches you will ever try. Also terrific melted into an omelet. Do I need to say, melted on top of a burger is good? It’s not, its freaking amazing.

Eaten as is slice up and paired with some fruit, that is a perfect, heavenly match especially paired with an apple, grapes or a pear. Put a piece of this cheese in front of me with a knife and a good apple (like TJ’s Envy (!) and I am one happy camper eating that delicious salty sweet combo. Ending a dinner with this is a divine dessert.

Trader Joe’s sells Cabot cheddar for an excellent price ($6/lb) in a block. If you have never tried this cheese, you may want to give this a Try. I think you will love it (even though the kids may want something a bit tamer)? You can give them the New Zealand cheddar, also excellent, or TJ’s sliced cheddar. The adults can enjoy the Cabot Extra Sharp.

RAVE

 

Trader Joe’s AUTHENTIC GREEK FETA in brine


Imported, authentic feta cheese from Greece (sheep’s milk). Though it can be made from any milk sheep’s milk produces the best feta and this one has the wonderful around and tangy flavor along with a nice creamy but firm texture. I don’t find it salty, it’s just right. It is packaged with two large slabs covered in brine which is the way feta should be sold and kept in your fridge because brine keeps the texture of the feta.

There are a many types of feta cheese made in many countries and it’s made from the milk of different animals (cow, goat and sheep). Feta made from sheep’s milk is produced in France, Bulgaria, Israel and of course, Greece. Greek Feta may be the best of them all, though I like feta from the countries just mentioned. TJ has on occasion carried an Israeli feta (it came in a plastic bag, and was only available for a year or so. It was excellent! The Israeli feta TJ now sells in a dark blue plastic tub is not quite as good as this Greek one in a light blue tub but it’s pretty good.

One thing: the plastic tub the feta comes in is a bit tricky to open)! Only the very top part is a lid that comes off, once you have broken the seal by ripping a small plastic tab in one corner of the tub (look for that tab). Break the tab, then pry the top off carefully (on a counter so brine doesn’t fly out). Use a butter knife if you have to, to get the lid off. Once you open it a few times, it gets easier so don’t give up. The cheese is worth it. And by the way don’t throw out the brine – more on this later. Here’s just a few ideas on what you can do with feta cheese. I mean yes it’s delicious just by itself but it’s so versatile to have in the fridge to use with other things, like….

Greek Salad: Put a slab of feta on top of salad greens, chopped up cukes and tomatoes and voila, you have a Greek salad. Throw on some olives if you have them. Drizzle a good slug of very good Extra Virgin Olive Oil on and squeeze on fresh lemon juice. Grind on fresh black pepper. You can even vamp it up with more proteins like hard boiled eggs, drained canned tuna or sardines, or grilled chicken. Serve some good crusty bread and you have a lovely, super easy dinner in minutes.

Watermelon and Feta salad: Cubes of sweet watermelon with cubes of salty feta is a Genius combo. I’ve decided I don’t need olive oil on this, just the two ingredients and a grind of black pepper. But if you like with EVOO go for it. Fresh ground pepper is good with this.

Shakshuka and Feta: Use TJ’s frozen Shakshuka starter: add cubes of this feta as you cook it. Fantastic!

Feta cheese is often used in cooking: one of my favorite Greek dishes is “Garides mi Feta” (Shrimp with tomatoes and Feta) It’s fantastic!

The latest craze is that “Baked Feta Pasta” recipe that is making feta cheese hard to find so many people started looking for it, producers could not keep up!

As this feta is imported from Greece of course it costs more than the small pack of feta cheese TJ carries at $3 for 8 oz. which is pretty good if made from cows milk but it’s not great like this imported Greek one. This Greek feta is $6.49 for 10 oz (drained). So figure about $10/lb for a real “Product of Greece” feta, which is a decent price for real Greek feta. Honestly this stuff will make your meal or dish, so worth the occasional splurge.

Oh and remember I said keep that brine? You can actually use it. That milky feta brine actually has flavor. Melissa Clark in the New York Times put out a great recipe for chicken using brine, plus you can marinate chicken breasts in feta brine for 30-60 minutes;  Bake, broil, pan grill…! They will be SO juicy from the brining.

https://food52.com/recipes/69859-melissa-clark-s-feta-brined-roast-chicken

https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/primers/article/feta-guide

https://food52.com/blog/23031-how-to-use-feta-brine-water-salt-tricks-tips

RAVE

“You know how many kinds of feta exist? Thousands. Every place you go in Greece, they make feta” (Greek cheese monger in Astoria Queens)

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