Trader Joe’s ITALIAN BOMBA HOT SAUCE


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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

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. So I wanted to try this 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 that looks pretty nice, so maybe those cows are really content. When I tasted this butter I was impressed. It’s very gently salted and has a lovely sweet flavor and aroma. The color is beautiful. It was delicious when I spread some on some warm bread. Wonderful when I put it on pancakes the next morning. Wonderful later when I made an omelet. This is a truly excellent premium butter. I liked this butter, frankly as much as I liked all 3 premium imported butter TJ carries which are all excellent in their own rights. I have tried tasting one then another and I can’t put one higher, they are each amazing in their own rights, and make 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 this New Zealand butter.

Of course imported butter costs more than TJ’s regular butter, about double. This Kiwi one is a wee bit cheaper than the French and Irish ones. The NZ butter costs $3.29 for an 8 oz package. I never used to buy imported butter but thanks to Trader Joe’s prices I now buy two kinds for our fridge. Regular (good) butter for most uses, plus a pack of one of the imported “great” butters to have for when you want something extra special. 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.

RAVE

Trader Joe’s Liquid Dish Soap


I liked this Liquid Dish Soap that TJ sells under their own brand.

This is the LAVENDER TEA TREE SCENT version. They also sell a Citrus scent version. It’s clear, meaning no dyes. Is Dawn blue naturally? I think not.

I imagine this stuff is probably comparable to one of those crazy expensive dish soaps you see in Whole Foods that I will never let my wife buy (“Seven dollars for dish soap?! You’ve got to be kidding me. Don’t worry I’ll pick some up at the dollar store next time I go. “) And yes I do frequently buy the huge bottles of dish washing liquid at the dollar store. 40 ounces for a buck. Now I do recognize they are more “watery” and I have to put more on the sponge more often but its just going down the drain anyway, quite literally.

Anyway to make my honey happy, I “splurged” and got a bottle of TJ’s Dish Soap It’s $2.99. You can tell instantly this is thicker than my $1 soap. Turn it upside down and see how fast it takes a bubble to rise. I tried it out washing up and this does a good job, it made a lot of foam that lasted. It smells quite nice (lavender and tea tree oil).  I can tell I don’t have to use as much soap as often as I do with my Dollar Store stuff. I’m sure its really some famous brand sold under TJ’s label at half the price the name brand usually costs, as is typical with some Trader Joe’s products. A big thing on the internet is guessing who really makes a product TJ sells (for example Annie’s Mac and Cheese vs. TJ Mac and Cheese) Anyway for $2.99 I will probably now buy this soap from now on. OK perhaps in addition to having one of the big bottles of the cheap stuff under the sink just in case we run out. Old habits die hard.

LAVENDER TEA TREE SCENT – made from plant derived cleaners Biodegradable. Hypoallergenic. Cuts Through Grease.

A 25 oz bottle is $2.99

Trader Joe’s GREEN DRAGON HOT SAUCE


Trader Joe’s as you may know carries a whole bunch of all kinds of condiments and sauces. It has quite a few hot sauces, some of these being VERY good. Green Dragon Hot Sauce is perhaps my favorite hot sauce Trader Joe’s sells (followed by BOMBA).

In short, this is a fantastic hot sauce. If you Google this product you’ll find it has many many fans all over the internet and with good reason. GREEN DRAGON has far more fans than the TJ Sriracha (not bad but IMO nowhere the equal of the original classic Huy Fong Sriracha {red rooster label).

Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce‘s ingredients include: jalapeños, tomatillos, cilantro, garlic, vinegar, garlic, lime juice and habanero. It is spicy of course but not blow the roof of your mouth off spicy. This stuff has a lot of lovely flavors going on. Its not simply “hot”With the above ingredients naturally Green Dragon can be viewed as a type of classic Mexican/South American style salsa. But its not just for “Mexican food” at all. It works with all kinds of cuisines and foods, Asian style food in particular. When I’m make Asian or Chinese dishes I tend to use Green Dragon a good deal. Its very floral as it is made from fresh green chiles, herbs and aromatics. Used judiciously this sauce adds flavor to all kinds of dishes. A few drops can go a long way in the flavor and heat department, so you can use it a bit sparingly (unless you love heat, then put more of course!) For example a splash of this when you are making eggs, either in scrambled eggs, or on top of fried eggs…really really good! I even put a few drops on something “boring” like cottage cheese (no really, try this combo on a toasted bagel) Cottage cheese, Boring no more. Toast up a bagel, top with cottage cheese, dot with Green Dragon; Thats one yummy breakfast. AVOCADO TOAST? YES! See below for a mini-recipe.

I just put some G.D.S in a lentil soup I had made and found it was perfect for that too, it added just that little bit of something extra that the soup needed, with that cilantro flavor. It is easy and fun to experiment with Green Dragon. Once you start trying it on different things, you will also discover, “umm, that works with this” for yourself. Green Dragon sauce is one of my “always have in fridge” TJ items! So I never am without it and I keeps one in the pantry too just in case.  It’s a steal too for $3.29 a bottle (18 ounces). In another Gourmet type store, something like this would be six bucks no doubt.

Avocado Toast: mash a ripe avocado up with salt, pepper, a splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice and Add some Green Dragon to taste. Spread mixture on buttered sourdough toast or sliced brioche or a bagel. Yum! Side note – add some into your guacamole, of course thats fantastic).

RAVE

TJ Organic COLESLAW KIT


This is a super easy to prepare, organic Cole Slaw Kit. Just dump the contents into a bowl, fish out the packet of dressing, and squeeze it out and mix everything up together. That’s it, done.

With slaws its best if you do this at least an hour in advance (and keep in the fridge, to keep crisp). You could let it rest more, for 4 or 8 hours or even make it the night before. Everything will become all nice and cole-slaw-y when the cabbage has “pickled” a bit and the flavors meld together.

The package contains shredded green and red cabbage plus carrots, all organic. The organic dressing is a tangy, slightly sweet & sour dressing in the mayonnaise/ thousand island vein with lots of poppy seeds which add a nice flavor. Everything blends up well to make a nice, tasty fresh “homemade” cole slaw. Could you make this yourself easily with some cabbage, some carrots a hand shredder and some dressing? Of course, and I do many times during the summer especially, but if you don’t feel like doing “all that work” this kit makes it super easy. It doesn’t make a huge amount of cole slaw, about a pint of finished slaw after you let it sit for at least an hour when it will “shrink up” a bit as it marinates. A package is 10 oz and costs $2.69

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TJ’s ROSEMARY HAM


Trader Joe’s Sliced Rosemary Ham

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RAVE

Oh yeah this Good Stuff. Wonderful aroma, flavor and and truly excellent texture. I find this to be a superb, high quality, out-of-the ordinary sliced rosemary ham. It doesn’t say exactly where its produced so I imagine in the U.S. but to me somehow its got an Imported kind of taste and quality. The back of my mind says “Italy” but they would state that if it was true. I’m pleased to know WE can produce this quality too here at home! This is what I would call really good “adult ham”. Its not too salty nor sweet. Has just the right salinity and sweetness. Oven roasted with rosemary. ALL NATURAL INGREDIENTS. MINIMALLY PROCESSED. No Nitrates, Nitrites, its cured with all natural, real ingredients on the label that you can recognize without a dictionary, such as : Sea salt, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar cane, and of course rosemary. You get a pronounced aroma of rosemary as soon as you open the package but the rosemary flavor does not overpower the flavor of the ham, it enhances it with a lovely little rosemary coating on the outside edges. Sliced super thin, it has a super tender, fall apart, melt in your mouth, texture. Probably cooked for a long time, low and slow. Its so tender and comes apart so easily into shreds that if you don’t want to rip a slice as you remove it, you will need to do it carefully.

I love this, its a really great TJ product. It’s a little more expensive than the other ham I usually buy (Black Forest) at TJ ($3 for 8 oz). This one is $3.29 for a 6 oz. package, which is 6 slices. But for this quality, a bit less than $9/lb for a sliced ham this good, is not untoward and certainly worth trying. I would imagine if you are having guests and put this out on a plate rolled up into little bites with a toothpick….you would get a lot of “hey where do you get this ham ?”

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TJ’s SWEET CHILI SAUCE


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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.

TJ Coffee Lover Espresso Beans (candy)




I love chocolate covered espresso beans. The best ones that I’ve had are from Porto Rico imports, one of my favorite stores in New York City. I used to work a few blocks from Porto Rico and could pass by twice a week.The chocolate espresso beans they sell are two things for me. 1) Heaven. 2) Crack

If you love chocolate and love coffee they are too die for. They are $10 a pound but on occasion you catch them on sale for less.

So I saw these new product Coffee Lover Espresso Beans candies at Trader Joe’s and for just 99 cents (!) I said give ’em a try. Naturally not equal to Porto Rico’s masterpiece espresso bean candies which are their excellent freshly roasted espresso beans coated with dark chocolate.

These are “Not Bad”. The beans don’t have great flavor, they are not top quality at this price but they have some coffee/chocolate combo flavor. These are a bit on the too sweet for me. The brown ones in the package are OK. I was not crazy about the light color ones (cappuccino?). But still for under a buck, these are worth trying yourself to see what you think. Neither a rave or a rant, I’ll give these a “meh”.

ONLY 99 CENTS

 

SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE


Trader Joe’s SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE

If you are a fan of a traditional English orange marmalade, as I in a big way, then you will probably enjoy Marmalade as much as I did. TJ’s SEVILLE ORANGE MARMALADE is what you would call a proper English marmalade. Yes the label states that this is a “product of Canada” but think about that. Since Canada was once under English rule, clearly one of the decent things the Brits passed on to the Canadians was the How and Whys of making a nice English marmalade, along with this excellent recipe. Because this jar of marmalade is delicious.

Its made from Seville Oranges (aka Bitter Oranges) which are de rigeur for a proper marmalade. Its a thin-cut marmalade, having small bits of chopped peel with a good balance between the Seville orange peel, juice, pectin and sugar, and overall an good balance of the perfect combination of slightly bitter and sweet in a marmalade. Let’s call this jam for the adults. Not sure if kids will like it, but if yours do, consider them to have an “elevated palate”. That could get expensive when they grow up.

From the label: Seville Oranges are the backbone of a proper orange marmalade. The bright high-acid juice and the thick rough skin are transformed when cooked, becoming intense, yet balanced: the perfect topper for toast or scones (well put Trader Joe’s) 

AND ENGLISH MUFFINS (see pic)!

I ate this marmalade for breakfast this morning on a perfectly toasted TJ Classic English Muffin, along with a pat of good Irish Kerrygold butter and a nice dollop of this marmalade, along with my morning cappuccino. Very yummy and delicious and perfect together. All was right with the world, well at least till I finished my muffin. If you are a marmalade fan, this does the trick. A big jar, which is over 1 pound goes for $3.49, another Trader Joe’s great value.

RAVE

Trader Joe’s FRENCH CULTURED BUTTER


If you want to “up your butter game” at home, you should try this excellent, high quality butter from France. But be warned, if you try this once, you may never go back to regular butter.

Spread a bit of this French butter on almost anything you would put butter on… say some asparagus, frozen peas, green beans, a baked potato, some steamed Yukon Golds, a nice slice of bread (sliced Brioche?)… on top of an omelette…anywhere…and you will notice how good really good butter is once you taste some.

I’ve lately grown to buying two kinds of butter at Trader Joe’s. “Regular” butter and the “premium” (i.e., imported butter). This French butter is definitely the Good Stuff. If I’m having some toast in the morning and I put some of this French butter from Brittany on it, or anything, its heavenly. At any other store you would pay something like $6-7 for this 1/2 lb. pack. Trader Joe’s now sells it for about $3.80 for 8,8 oz.

I’ve gotten to really like the two Imported “premium” butters that TJ sells. Irish KERRYGOLD butter comes in a gold or silver package (salted/gold, silver/unsalted). Imported from Ireland, Kerrygold is an excellent high quality butter, and I love that one too. It costs a bit less than the French one: Kerrygold Irish butter is $3.19 for 8 oz. 

“Trader Jacque’s FRENCH CULTURED SALTED BUTTER” comes in a blue package. It may have the slightest of edges on the Kerrygold Irish butter (but frankly both are superb butters). The French butter comes from Brittany (Bretagne), the region in the North West of France famous for cows, butter and cheeses (and Calvados!)

I’ve tried to do taste tests comparing the Irish vs. French butter and pick one over the other but they are both so good I almost can’t pick one as “better”. Both have a rich flavor that says “imported” premium butter. I started to buy the French butter as a neighbor says the French one has a slight edge. The difference may be that the French butter is “cultured” (fermented with enzymes similar to those in yogurt) to give a little bit of a tangy taste vs. the non-cultured Irish Kerrygold. Honestly though, I go back and forth on which I like more, the Irish or French butters, and always give up. Try them both and see which you prefer (if you can)! Both the Kerrygold Gold and the French Cultured are salted butters but are way less salty than you may think for salted butter you are used to (like Hotel Bar). Still, if you want an UNSALTED butter get the silver Kerrygold package. The gold package is salted (but lightly).

These imported butters naturally cost more the regular butter Trader Joe’s sells for $3/lb. I would say the normal TJ butter is equal to Hotel Bar butter or similar. But this French butter (or Irish Kerrygold) does up your “butter game”. FRENCH CULTURED BUTTER comes in a 8.8 oz pack which sells for $3.49, (PRICE INCREASED SINCE WRITING*) So figure its costs about twice as much as the regular butter. Still TJ’s French butter is I think the equal to butters you might buy in a supermarket in France. And if you compare this to imported premium butters you might see sold in an upscale supermarket here which carries imported butters, well they are crazy expensive (12/lb?). So as usual Trader Joe’s is selling this premium imported butter at a still fairly reasonable price (around $6 lb.) for an excellent French butter. The Cultured French Salted French butter only comes in a salted version but I find it fine, not overly salty at all, it’s just right for most applications. I’ve grown to love it. In fact, my Japanese sister-in-law loved this butter so much when she was visiting us that she actually carried back two packs all the way home to Japan in her bags!

Give it a try once, say slather some on a piece of warm French baguette just out of the oven, and you may never go back to regular butter…. Mes amis, c’est La Vie en Rose!

Cultured butter is typically created by adding live bacteria (cultures) to the butter before it’s churned, versus regular butter which is cream that just goes straight to the churning machine. … Results in a higher-fat product, which in turns makes the butter more silky and gives it a richer taste.”

RAVE

* UPDATE: Price of the French Butter price went up. Now $3.69 (Summer 2019) Irish Kerrygold still $3.19. To save a little I’ve been getting the Kerrygold recently.

UPDATE 2 (Nov 2020) This French butter has been M.I.A. in my local TJs for some time. I imagine its a supply chain problem due to Covid. The Irish Kerrygold butter is in stock so I have been buying that instead. Its as good or better but prices have gone up some though.

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