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 JUST BEETS 100% juice


Trader Joe’s JUST BEETS 100% juice with a splash of lemon

“Naturally sweetened with a subtle earthiness” As the name says this is just “100% pure beet juice pressed from whole beets (with just a hint of lemon from concentrate)”. Trader Joe’s carries this in the refrigerated drinks section, so it’s fresh, kind of what you might get if you went into one of those fancy juice bars, except this was not made right in front of you by a juice guy throwing beets into a juicer. Still I think this tastes fresh enough that if you put it in a carryout cup and gave it to me and told me it was from a juice bar I would probably have no reason to think otherwise 😉 Though it has a pretty long “good by” date, I think it tastes best within 3-5 days after you open the bottle, so I would drink it in a few days. Personally I would not down the whole thing in one sitting but rather a glass at a time. You get 20 oz for $3.99., which is probably less than a fancy juice bar would charge. I love beets. I like this juice. Healthy and good for you.

RAVE

TJ’s RED CHILI SCALLOPED CRACKERS


Trader Joe’s RED CHILE SCALLOPED CRACKERS

These are one of my favorite crackers TJ sells. Don’t be scared off trying these if you don’t get along with spicy, they have just a bare hint of spiciness. In fact these are delicious all around crackers. The are equally delicious on their own or with soup and especially are great and compliment anything you put on them: cheese, smoked fish, ham, salumi, any kind of dip, guac… They make an excellent base for hors d’oeuvres and would be great to add to a cheese or charcuterie board. A package is $1.99. Here’s what TJ has to say about them:

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/063277

TJ’s HABANERO LIME FLOUR TORTILLAS


Trader Joe’s HABANERO LIME FLOUR TORTILLAS ($2.69, 17 oz package of 10)

There are some traditional regional food divides in some countries. Traditionally in Mexico in the North they lean towards using flour tortillas (Tortillas de Harina) while Southern Mexico traditionally prefers tortillas made from corn (Tortillas de maiz). I generally prefer corn tortillas as they’re more flavorful and have a chewier texture when cooked. However sometimes I do buy flour tortillas as they have certain qualities that make them useful for some things. For one thing, flour tortillas are softer and more pliable so easier to fold. They are usually bigger too so can hold more ingredients inside. They can be used for Quesadillas and Burritos. They can also be used for “wrap type” sandwiches, etc. If you want flour tortillas, I think the Trader Joe’s HABANERO LIME FLOUR TORTILLAS are an interesting choice as they bring a bit of flavor to the party. These Habanero/Lime flour tortillas have a bit of heat in them from habanero chiles, plus a bit of lime flavor. They also have a nice color with a reddish orange tint from anatto.

Last night, I made Quesadillas for dinner last night with the Habanero tortillas. Inside: Pepper Jack Cheese, Soy Chorizo and TJ’s Refried Salsa Pinto Beans (which I gussied up*). Topping of avocado, tomato, more cheese and Green Dragon SauceRefritos on the side…. They were really tasty!

  • TIP – Out of the can, TJ’s Salsa Pinto Refried Beans are really boring. They need a little work if you want them to have some taste. I add olive oil, oregano, cumin, chile powder and a little Green Dragon or Zhoug. Cuban Style Spice Blend works great with these or any beans. Warm frijole refritos over low heat, stirring often so the bottom doesnt burn. Some cheese on top is nice!

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 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 GRAINLESS GRANOLA


RAVE

“SWEET AND SALTY CLUSTERS MADE WITH ALMONDS, COCONUT, SUNFLOWER AND PUMPKIN SEEDS”.

This is a newish Trader Joe’s product, “GRAINLESS GRANOLA” – Meaning no oats/grains, and mainly nuts. THIS STUFF IS AMAZING! When you cut open the bag, a huge waft of coconut smell hits you right in the nose. You look inside and see clumps and clusters of Almonds, Coconut, Sunflower and Pumpkin seeds in a “salty, sweet” combination that is quite irresistible. I started just popping a few clusters into my mouth and they are delicious just like this, as a snack. I could have eaten the whole bag if I didn’t stop myself. I can easily see Moms filling little baggies with this for yummy healthy Snackables.

Next I put some of this cereal in a bowl with milk and yogurt and banana and it was even more delicious. Now I love granola, the regular kinds with oats, so for me there is no reason to be “grain-less” other than this is simply super delicious. I even put this on top of my regular granola as a crunchy topping. Ditto on my cooked steel cut oats. My suggestion is add some dried fruits, like cranberries or raisins which makes this Grainless Granola even better. As oats are fairly cheap and nuts are expensive, naturally this granola minus oats costs more than the regular granolas TJ sells, but its still a good deal and its so good you probably won’t care too much.

TJ’s got this one right and has a major hit here I think. Grainless Granola is $4 for a 10 oz bag. Try this, you will no doubt love it as much as I did. And yes it’s of course Vegan and Gluten Free. I guess its kind of aimed at “Paleo” people, which I’m not but frankly it’s something any homo sapiens will love.

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

Envy Apples


I never heard of this apple before I saw them at Trader Joe’s. A hybrid developed in New Zealand, “Envy” apples are a hybrid of Royal Gala and Braeburn varieties. Both of those are excellent apples, and this hybrid, Envy, is well, just a terrific tasting apple. When I first tasted this Envy, my taste buds went pretty wild with “this must be one of the best apples I ever had”. Seriously this is just a great apple. Nice crunch, firm texture, sweet but with a hint of sour underneath? It’s a complex flavor, way more complex than just “sweet” like say a Honey Crisp apple or Red Delicious (yuck). Envy are a favorite pick of the Trader Joe’s crew, who I imagine taste everything they sell. I kind of trust those “crew picks”.

INFO

https://envyapple.com/en/about-envy#tab-1

These apples go great with just about everything. What about Envy with cheese? Yes, please. I knew they would match well with most any cheese, and frankly there is absolutely nothing better than to slice up these apples and put them on a plate with the Unexpected Cheddar. What a combo these make together. Seriously. Try either that or Cabot cheddar with these apples. I would imagine Brie would be great, or let’s face it any cheese you like. I love these just eaten out of hand on their own of course. I like them in the morning, diced up for my breakfast cereal. Your kids will love these paired up with some peanut butter. I know I do. Envy sell for $1.29 each. A bit more than the apples TJ sells for 79 cents but worth the little splurge every now and then. So if you haven’t ever tried these, try one for yourselves. You may get hooked on them. I know I have. I always buy one when I’m at TJ’s.

RAVE

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