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 Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers


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Trader Joe’s Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers have the delectable flavor of Mexican Street Corn in a crispy snack….chipotle, habanero kick, smoky, spicy, heat…. Melt cheese over them for a punchy nacho, crumble atop scrambled eggs… Guacamole….” (from the package)

Terrific product. These may be the best chips Trader Joe’s sells. Trader Joe’s Organic Elote Corn Chip Dippers are a spiced version of the also excellent regular plain Trader Joe’s corn chip dippers. For this “Elote” version of the chips they add a lot of spices to them. for a spicy delicious version that recalls Mexican Street Corn (Elote) and these are so good, that in fact these may be the best chips that Trader Joe’s sells.

These are really flavorful and honestly they are pretty spicy* just eaten on their own. If you don’t eat these with something (say guacamole, dip, cheese….) trust me your mouth will probably be a little bit on fire from the chipotle and habanero pepper seasonings but not crazy on fire, a quite tolerable fire unless you’re really spicy-adverse. Naturally just like the plain versions, the shape of these thicker “dipper” shaped corn chips make them perfect to stand up to any dip of any kind without falling apart.

These match especially well eaten with other things, especially guacamole of course or even just salsa. I even sometimes enjoy eating these Elote Chips with something plain and boring like for example cottage cheese or Greek yogurt, which balances the spices out. You can even crumble these up and put them on things (they suggest atop scramble eggs, that should be great) If you just put grated cheese all over these for nachos you wouldn’t need any other spices, so I think these could make super easy nachos And naturally some beers will go great with these chips, to put out the fire in your mouth.

The Elote spice dippers costs a little more than the plain version of TJ’s Organic Corn Dippers (I think gone up to $2.99 now?)

UPDATE: * These don’t seem to be quite as spicy as they were before. I can’t tell if they’ve changed the recipe or maybe just the lot I got… (if anyone has ideas on this, please leave a comment) I have had a lot of experiences with some Trader Joe’s products I first tried getting “toned down” over time.

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

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

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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/

TJ’s Hot & Sweet Jalapeños


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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

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Trader Joe’s ORGANIC KETCHUP


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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….

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