TJ’s ORGANIC ITALIAN ARTISAN GIGLI PASTA (with recipe)


Trader Joe’s Artisan Organic Italian Pasta

This shape, “Gigli” is sometimes also called “Campanelle” (tower) a twisty corkscrew shape with a frilly edge. This is one of TJ’s premium pastas that go for a bit more than the regular Organic pastas they carry. This one goes for $2.99 for a 1.1 lb bag, a premium price but its a premium pasta. This is a high quality Organic Pasta made in Italy by a premium manufacturer. You can note by the closeup of the pasta, it has that rough exterior indicating it’s bronze die cut and the lighter color indicating it’s slow dried, like the best Italian pastas you might find at a specialty Italian grocery – and which probably sell for double or more than this.

The cook time is only 5-7 minutes and I would stop it at a minute under Al Dente for finishing with a sauce (which means maybe around 4 minutes). I cooked this pasta with a sauce of sautéed fresh cherry tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and feta cheese and everyone seemed to love it. My only minor complaint is when it was cooked some of the frilly edges detached into little stringy things, which look a bit weird but again this a very minor complaint. Taste wise this is another excellent quality pasta from Trader Joe’s. This corkscrew shape will be good with any sauce especially any sauce that will get into every nook and cranny of this shape. Though I haven’t tried it yet for CACIO E PEPE, I have a feeling they would be good with each other

RECIPE – EASY CHERRY TOMATO AND FETA CHEESE PASTA

Put up a large pan of salted water to boil for the pasta. In a large sauté pan, cook about 12-16 oz of cherry tomatoes (sliced in half) in a good amount of olive oil on med-high heat until the tomatoes start to soften up, about 5-7 minutes. Throw in about 4-5 cloves of minced garlic and cook for another few minutes and at the same time, I push the tomatoes to the side and put a good amount of FETA cheese cut into cube on the other side of the pan and cook on medium heat until they start to brown a little bit. Turn off the heat. Cook the pasta; check it for about a minute under al dente and toss the drained pasta into the pan with the sauce adding about a ladle of the pasta water. Cook for one minute until al dente and mix it all together. Top with a bit of more grated cheese (Parm, Pecorino, or Asiago), some fresh ground pepper and plate it up. Enjoy!

TJ’S LINK

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/organic-italian-artisan-gigli-pasta-060942

TRADER JOE’S SAYS:

Traditional Italian pasta is made with only two ingredients, durum wheat semolina flour and water—a small amount of softer wheat flour is allowed by law, but Trader Joe’s Organic Italian Artisan Gigli Pasta is crafted with 100% organic durum wheat semolina sourced from farms in Puglia. Our supplier has been producing artisan-made pasta for more than 35 years. Most dried pasta are made in huge batches and dried quickly, from three to 12 hours. This Artisan Pasta is made in small batches, and dried at much lower temperatures for up to 24 hours, resulting in a more rustic texture that cooks to a delightfully al dente texture. Gigli, also known as Campanelle (translates to “bellflowers” or “little bells”), has a ruffled edge and hollow center, so it holds any sauce extremely well. Marinara? Carbonara? Just a bit of olive oil and shaved Parmesan? Any of these will do, deliciously.

TJ’s ARGENTINIAN RED SHRIMP with Ginger Garlic Butter & Togarashi Seasoning


(defrosted)

This is the wild same Argentinian Red Shrimp TJ’s has but packaged up with seasoned butter for a ready-to-cook meal. Convenient, yes, but naturally you pay extra for said convenience. We made this and the finished dish with the sauce was very tasty, but honestly nothing I could not have done with maybe 5 minutes of little effort. This pack is $8 for a 9 oz portion which cooked, makes for two meager portions for 2 as a dinner. To make this into a full meal (for two) I served the shrimp with a few sides plus a salad and a little French bread. Follow the instructions on the package which are to thaw overnight in the fridge. After defrosting I used a thin knife to get it out of the package (actually a bit tricky) and tossed the whole mess into a hot nonstick pan with a little (extra) butter. These Red Shrimp cook fast – they will be done in about 1 1/2 minutes – so be careful not to overcook them if you want the shrimp to stay plump and juicy.

Frankly if you want to get more bang for your buck it’s easy to just buy a pound of shrimp and make a similar sauce. Buy the bag of frozen WILD RED ARGENTINIAN SHRIMP ($10.99) and just add some butter and seasonings. This package is convenient but not great value and its so easy to make shrimp and add a few things. Personally I probably won’t buy this again, I’ll just do it myself. Your call.

Need a recipe for a sauce? Here you go:

GINGER/GARLIC BUTTER SAUCE: Grate or finely chop 1/2″ of fresh ginger and 2-3 cloves of garlic (optional: a little grated fresh lemon peel too); Melt about 2 tablespoons of butter in a hot non-stick pan; Toss the garlic and ginger into. Sauté 30 seconds, then toss in your (defrosted) shrimp and cook tossing them for about 60-90 seconds just until the shrimp turn opaque (max, 2 minutes lest they will shrink up). As soon as they are opaque and pink. add the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Optional: if you like spice, add a small spoon of BOMBA or your favorite something spicy to taste. Add a pinch salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley or scallions. Serve with rice and/or crusty bread to mop up the tasty sauce.

Cooked (I garnished with scallions)

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/honey-aleppo-shrimp

(NB: TJ’s recipe says cook the shrimp for 5-10; just ignore that unless you want really overcooked shrimp! Cook no more than 2 minutes)

RANT: TUSCANO MARINARA SAUCE (discontinued) + Marinara RECIPE


“Trader Giotto’s” Low Fat Tuscan Marinara

RANT

Ode to yet another discontinued Trader Joe’s product, a classic rant about an excellent TJ product, which they discontinued! Some people thought this was the best marinara sauce on the market. Many were bumbed to learn TJ’s Discontinued their favorite tomato sauce! So why am I writing about this now? Well the other day I happened to be clearing out my pantry and found I had a can of this Marinara way in the back. I opened it and tasted it and was pretty shocked to see how good it was. This marinara is, or should we say was, a terrific sauce. For one thing it’s not super smooth, it’s full of chunks of tomatoes like a homemade sauce you had put together. The current glass jars of Marinara sauce that Trader Joe’s replaced this with are smooth. I made a pasta dish using this Marinara and the dish turned out really well. I made a pizza with it a few days later which also turned out great. So yes, it’s a crime TJ’s got rid of this great and very useful sauce. Mind boggling. So just posting this Rant and sorry you won’t be able to find this really great product anymore . At least TJ’s still sells the 28 oz cans of crushed or diced tomatoes which will make you a great sauce with little effor. I always have cans of tomatoes in the pantry as well as tomato paste (can and/or tube) So if you are inclined to make your own sauce, which is not hard and I think is worth the little effort it takes. Here’s an EASY HOMEMADE MARINARA RECIPE from NatashasKitchen, link below.

TIP (1) IMO adding a tablespoon of tomato paste at the start will make it even better (2) My mom taught me useful advice: Just double up the recipe when you cook some things because for the same amount of effort you will have another meal. You can also freeze the extra batch.

Pizza from scratch; made using this terrific marinara sauce

TJ’s Italian Style Meatballs


Trader Griotto’s (frozen) Flame Broiled Italian Style Fully Cooked Meatballs

First, let us be realistic. Are these Trader Joe’s frozen meatballs anywhere as good as my own homemade ones (which in all modesty are pretty good?) Of course not. However, making meatballs is kind of a lot of work. So I wanted to try these Trader Joe’s all beef “Meatballs Italian Style” to see if they are any good. We did enjoy actually them with my own tomato sauce for a pretty easy dinner. So these might be worth giving them a try to see what you think. The dish I made with these turned out tasty. I made an easy quick sauce: olive oil, garlic, onion, tablespoon of tomato paste, can of diced tomatoes, grated pecorino cheese and basil – a recipe is below). Of course you can just use a bottle of sauce you lazy bones, that’s fine. I put the meatballs in the sauce and simmered them for 30 minutes to hopefully get them flavored with the sauce. They turned out pretty well, my main complaint being they had a slightly rubbery texture. Honestly I don’t know if they always do or it was my fault defrosting them (or not). I would usually thaw something like this in the fridge overnight as I always recommend, but this was a last minute dinner idea and I thought maybe I could just put the frozen meatballs into the sauce and slowly defrost them on low in the sauce (which the package does kind of say). Is that why they came out a bit rubbery? Next time I’ll defrost them slowly and see. Anyway I served the meatballs and sauce and some of TJ’s fantastic Country Loaf bread I had found. We did kind of a “meatball sub” with these which was actually pretty tasty. A few night’s later, I made Ziti with the leftover meatballs & sauce – also tasty. So my take is these are worth giving a try, either with your own sauce or your favorite TJ’s sauce. I do suggest doing a proper defrost (thaw in fridge night before). Also I will brown up the thawed meatballs even more in olive oil before adding to sauce. Browning meat gives lots of flavor. I recommend you simmer these in sauce for at least a 1/2 hour to absorb flavors. These ITALIAN MEATBALLS were about $4.50 for a 1 lb bag. FYI , TJ sells other versions, one made with Turkey and one Meatless, all of which you will find in the frozen section near these.

FAST EASY TOMATO SAUCE and MEATBALLS: Take 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and sauté that in a few tablespoons of olive oil for 30-60 seconds. Add a good amount of sliced garlic and a little diced onion and cook 5 minutes on low stirring occasionally till onions are translucent. Add a can (or two) of Diced Tomato, rinsing out the can with a little water (or wine) to get it all. Simmer on low 45 minutes, with the thawed and browned meatballs. Add Italian Seasoning to taste. Optionally add capers, and some Bomba. When serving, add grated Parmesan, Pecorino, Asiago or Grana and if you have some fresh basil, lovely. Serve with either pasta, gnocchi, or warm fresh Italian bread for a meatball hero.

Despite all these options they list I think the best one would be the thaw in fridge (1/2 day?)

BONELESS PORK TENDERLOIN (with recipe ideas)


Another one of those things that I get almost every time I go to Trader Joe’s as it’s delicious and an extremely versatile thing to have in the fridge (or freezer) and a pretty good deal.

If you are not familiar with “pork tenderloin” let’s put it this way… If this was beef it would be the filet mignon. The best melt-in-your-mouth deliciously tender cut. One big difference? Beef filet mignon costs about $15-20/lb or more? But this “pork filet mignon” sells for $4/lb at Trader Joe’s. A $5 piece can feed a family. So deliciously tasty as well as super affordable.

(UPDATE: Price has increased since this was written)

Trader Joe’s sells 4 versions of the pork tenderloin. “Plain”, 2 marinated ones (peppercorns and garlic & herbs) that cost more – come on it’s so easy to do a marinade of your own in a few minutes. TJ also sells a “crate free” pork tenderloin if you prefer which is $6/lb. more expensive. At Whole Foods I’m just guessing this would cost double that price?

Boneless pork tenderloin is a lean cut with almost zero waste. It can has a “silverskin” which should be removed. This is not very hard, you just need a sharp knife.

I frequently just cut the tenderloin into “medallions” or steaks about 1/2-3/4 ” thick, season them, and cook them as one might cook filet mignon. Or one can cook it whole in a pan, then slice it afterwards (deglazing the pan after for a pan sauce). Cut the meat into strips, and this is so perfect for Asian dishes & stir-fry’s. Or Fajitas or Tacos! Whole, its great for roasting in the oven. Pork tenderloin can be an impressive center-piece of a fancy dinner (See the stuffed roast pork tenderloin video recipe below) Another tip: Be sure not to overcook tenderloin, as it’s so lean it can easily get overcooked and dried out. A correct cook of tenderloin should have a bit of pink (trust me, it’s safe and fine) TIP: Slice slits in the meat and insert thin slices of garlic all over.

Seasonings for pork tenderloin? You can not go wrong with any of these: garlic, lemon, rosemary, cumin, peppercorns…. and AJIKA!

TIP for Asian stir frying: The Chinese technique of Velveting any meat for 20 minutes will make it even better.

https://www.theendlessmeal.com/baked-pork-tenderloin/

https://www.cookinglight.com/food/recipe-finder/healthy-pork-tenderloin-recipes

This is a terrific looking, easy recipe from Milk Street, SPICE CRUSTED PORK TENDERLOIN BITES

Trader Joe’s ARGENTINIAN RED SHRIMP


“Trader Joe’s Argentinian Red Shrimp are caught off the southern coast of Argentina. They have a sweet lobster like flavor and texture. Grill, barbecue or sauté. Serve with pasta, on salads or as an entrée…” (Wild, Raw, Peeled, Cleaned and Deveined Frozen Shrimp)

RAVE

Trader Joe’s frozen Argentinian Red Shrimp are quite good, both very tasty and very convenient. I buy these regularly as trying them once I found them to be good value (*editors note: price increased a bit since I wrote this). If you are at Trader Joe’s looking for shrimp, this is the best one they sell by a mile.

These frozen red shrimp are large, meaty and actually do have a sweet “lobster-y” flavor and texture. A big plus is they are Wild caught. Wild shrimp are said to have better flavor than farmed. These Argentinian Red Shrimp are fished in the icy waters off Argentina’s coast in Patagonia. They’re quickly individually flash frozen, all cleaned and ready to use. They’re a decent size (20/25 count aka “Large”). Called “the sweetest shrimp in the world”… well even if some marketer came up with that, they actually do taste sweet and yes even have a “lobster-y” taste and texture. (If you are interested in learning more about them here’s detailed info about “Patagonian Red Shrimp”) Use these Red Shrimp the same as any other shrimp. If I’m not using the whole package I just take out as many as I need, then close it up super tight with a twisty, then double bag that inside a Ziplock freezer bag to keep them fresh as possible. So first things first, best defrosting method(s).

DEFROSTING : The best way is the traditional overnight thaw in the fridge in a covered bowl. If you didn’t plan ahead the next best option is put them in a bag, and submerge it in a bowl under a light stream of cold running water (weight down with a plate). They should be defrosted in 20 minutes. The last method works OK in a pinch – I’ve simply put the frozen shrimp in a bowl, covered them with an inch of very cold water, and stirred them every 5 minutes or so, which should take maybe 30 mins. I would not cook them from frozen! They will shrink a lot and lose a lot of juice. Nor personally would I nuke them to defrost them.

Cooking: Cook them as you normally cook any shrimp. However these do cook a wee bit faster. Be careful not to overcook them. If you are say using a sauce, you can simmer the (defrosted) shrimp slowly in the sauce at the very end cooking them in the sauce for maybe 2 minutes (turning them over once). As soon as they are no longer translucent and look firm these are cooked, and/or at least should be removed and then added back to your dish at the end. Not over cooking will keep them plumper and juicier. When you overcook shrimp they become chewier and shrink up.

TIP: If grilling them, you can marinate them for 15 min in lots of TJ’s CUBAN SPICE BLEND. Or any spices of your choosing. Ajika blend also is terrific as is TJ’s Peri-Peri Sauce. These shrimp are terrific simply sautéed in olive oil with lots of garlic, scampi style. You can blot them with a paper towel, optionally sprinkle them with a little seasoned flour and sauté them in oil and butter. One trick I saw on MilkStreet recently was to pan fry shrimp on one side only, then take them out of the pan and finish them in your dish for 30 seconds at the end. This is a great idea. These shrimp are of course great grilled / sautéed and used in a pasta dish. You can put them on a skewer and broil or grill them (oil them). They are equally great gently poached 3 minutes, which is a good way to make them for cold cooked shrimp or for the top of a salad.

If you try these shrimp you will probably like them as much as we do. I find them super convenient to have in the freezer. TJ’s sells these Wild Red Shrimp (1 lb. bag) for $9.99

*UPDATE-1 (Feb 2021) price increased to $10.99. UPDATE-2 (Apr 2022) price went up again, now 11.99!

There are so many ways you might use shrimp. Some ideas…..

More cooking ideas follow.

I made a nice Thai Shrimp Curry with shrimp, veggies and TJ’s Thai Red Curry sauce – adding the shrimp during the very last 2 minutes (a no-recipe recipe follows below).

THAI STYLE SHRIMP CURRYSauté some onions, garlic, and chopped ginger in oil for 4-5 minutes. Throw in chopped up carrots, celery, potatoes (optional add ins: mushrooms, peas, sweet potatoes, scallions) …sauté everything for 5 more minutes, then add 1/4-1/2 cup liquid (water or broth (Option: Add a 1/2 cup Coconut Milk for the liquid)) Simmer for 10 minutes, then add in a jar of TJ Thai Red Curry sauce and simmer another 10 minutes or until all the veggies are just tender. The last 2 minutes of cooking, you add your shrimp and simmer gently in the sauce, stirring occasionally. Serve the curry with jasmine rice and add chopped scallions on top.

Shrimp Roll on Brioche Bun

Here’s one more: As these shrimp are “lobster-y” they are perfect to make a New England style Shrimp Roll (aka Poor Man’s Lobster Roll). Gently poach shrimp 90 seconds or so. Remove and let cool, split or cut them up and mix with a little mayo and lemon juice, then put them in a lightly toasted buttered Brioche bread or Brioche Bun (spread with a little mayo) If you have it sprinkle a little Old Bay seasoning or dill seasoning) on top. Easy and delicious.

RECIPE: RED SHRIMP WITH HONEY ALEPPO SAUCE – https://www.traderjoes.com/home/recipes/honey-aleppo-shrimp

(NB: TJ’s recipe here says cook the shrimp for 5-10 mins; I suggest just ignore this unless you want really overcooked shrimp! Cook these shrimp no more than 2 minutes)

Ramen? Yes. I used the shrimp in (“Roy Choi style”) instant ramen with a slice of cheese and butter.. (crazy but it works, see video below). For this dish which was a dinner, I made a veggie stock instead of using the included packet of seasoning* and added some fresh mushrooms. I added the defrosted shrimp at the very end of cooking, and only cooked them about a minute or two. See they look juicy (not overcooked)? TIP: That little flavor packet included with instant ramen is just loaded with Sodium (like 50-70% of daily recommended level)? Bad for you, so better to use your own stock or a low sodium stock and maybe just add a pinch of the flavor packet. Worst case, use only half the packet and if it tastes too flat, add something to flavor it up without adding much sodium (a dash of low sodium soy sauce or a few drops of Nam Pla (fish sauce).

ROY CHOI’S INSTANT RAMEN WITH CHEESE

Another idea? Vietnamese style rice paper shrimp rolls (search Asian markets for the rice wrappers) https://justasdelish.com/vietnamese-shrimp-rolls-peanut-hoisin-sauce/

One more idea? Fried rice with shrimp.

Vietnamese Shrimp Rolls with Peanut Hoisin Sauce (Gỏi Cuốn with Nước Lèo)

Easy Pizza with Tandoori Naan


When I saw these frozen TANDOORI NAAN, I had an idea… Could I use these naan for the “base” of a pizza? If so than I could make pizza in mere seconds! OK it actually took me more like 5 minutes to assemble these pizzas (see pic) and pop them in a hot oven. But the idea? It basically worked fine. Using these Naan breads makes it super fast and easy to whip up some individual sized pizzas almost instantly. Just spread some of your favorite sauce, put on some cheese, and pop them in the oven, and Bingo you got a fresh hot pizza in about  10-15 minutes with almost no work at all.

As you can see in the pictures, I simply put some marinara on. I put slices of TJ whole milk mozzarella on, then threw it in the oven on a baking sheet for about 10-12 minutes at 400 .

Yes, I spruced these up a little adding a few sliced mushrooms and a few sliced asparagus to make it a bit “veggie”. I had this stuff in the fridge. Now I turned on the broiler for the last minute or two to really get the top nice and browned (I over did this by a few seconds so be careful if you do the broiler browning part). When they came out, I put some fresh grated parmesan on for good measure, and a drizzle of EVOO.

DELICIOUS!

naanpizza3

The Naan Pizza turned out quite good as you can probably tell from the pic. We ate one each with a salad for dinner and that made a very satisfying (and tasty!) dinner for us. Making these with the Naan requires so little time and effort. Yes the naan is not a real pizza base, it is more bread-y than a real pizza but seriously this was so fast, easy and cheap that making PIZZA NAAN is certainly worth giving a try sometime. TIP: Buy and try this with the GARLIC NAAN version TJ has as well. Obviously the Trader Joe’s Naan are great used in the traditional way too. For example accompanying some of the TJ Masala Chickpeas (frozen section) which are delicious!

A pack of 4 Naan is $1.99 (50 cents each, not bad huh). These are great to have in your freezer for pizza or Indian food or to use in many imaginative ways whenever you are in the mood.

Trader Joe’s GREEN DRAGON HOT SAUCE


RAVE

Trader Joe’s as you know carries a whole bunch of condiments and sauces, many being outstanding. It has quite a few hot sauces, most of which are VERY good. TJ’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce is one of my favorite Trader Joe’s items, along with Bomba and Peri-Peri and of course ZHOUG).

Now I would easily say Trader Joe’s GREEN DRAGON is a fantastic hot sauce and if you Google it, you’ll find it has many, many fans. GREEN DRAGON has far more fans than the TJ’s Sriracha (which while not bad is nowhere the equal of the original classic Huy Fong Sriracha {red rooster label) IMHO.

Trader Joe’s Green Dragon Hot Sauce‘s ingredients include: jalapeño, tomatillo, garlic, cilantro, 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, it’s not simply “hot”With the above ingredients naturally Green Dragon can be viewed as a type of classic Mexican/South American style salsa. But it works with all kinds of cuisines and foods in particular I find Asian or Asian style food. When I’m making many Chinese or other Asian 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 with a hint of spiciness. A few drops can go a long way in the flavor department, so you can use it a bit sparingly (unless you love heat, in which case use more of course!) For example a splash of this when you are making eggs, either in scrambled eggs, or on top of fried eggs… It’s great with egg dishes. I even put a few drops on something “boring” like cottage cheese (no really, try this combo on a toasted bagel – or on crackers which I have above) Cottage cheese with some GDS is 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 GDS 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. 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 too”. Green Dragon sauce is one of my “always got to have in the fridge” TJ items! I never am without it and I keeps one in the pantry too, as I never want to come up empty. It’s a steal 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 then add Green Dragon to taste. Spread the avocado mixture on lightly buttered sourdough toast, a sliced brioche, a bagel, or any of your favorite toast. This is really yummy. Side note – add some into your guacamole, of course that’s also a fantastic match).

Trader Joe’s WINTER WAKE UP TEA


So let me just start off with the comment that I really like this tea but frankly found the name a wee bit misleading. When I saw the words “Wake Up Tea”, I just assumed this will make a cup of strong, dark, kick-ass, rocket fuel (English/Irish) tea… A dark cuppa that really wakes you up in the morning. But when I brewed up a cup as you can see in the picture its not a very dark super strong tea. However when I tasted it I thought, oh this quite good! So I really like this tea but my take is kind of Trader Joe’s should have come up with a different name minus “wake up”. “Winter Wake Up Tea” is probably not something I would brew to wake me up in the morning. But other than that comment, Trader Joe’s has come up with an EXCELLENT TEA BLEND with great spice flavors that would satisfy me at any time of day, and makes me feel all nice and warm and cozy!

TJ’s Winter Wake Up Tea is a wonderfully balanced tasty spiced tea, a blend of black tea, cinnamon, orange peel, ginger and cloves. If it was called something a bit different without “wake up” in the name, I would have simply started the review with “A most wonderful spiced tea that will make you feel warm and toasty on a cold snowy winter’s eve, and will warm your heart and soul! Drink it in front of the fireplace and just relax….” Personally Mr. Joe, I would have named it something like, say… WINTER COZY TEA. or WINTER SPICE BLEND TEA* or something like that.

Brew this up and you get a very nice spiced tea that reminds me slightly of CONSTANT COMMENT tea – a famous spiced tea blend created back in 1945. My parents always had it in our cupboard, especially making an appearance when “company” came over, as it was kind of special and would get a “yum… whats this tea?” comment from our guests. Ah the good old days! This TJ tea make a lighter cup than Constant Comment, with less black tea prominent in the blend but probably more spices such as cinnamon, ginger, plus clove and orange peel. It even is has the slightest bit of sweetness naturally as an under-note from a bit of licorice, which possesses natural sweetness.

So will this wake you up like the Irish Breakfast tea which actually is a “wake up tea”? Myself, to wake up I need a strong cuppa like TJ’s excellent Irish Breakfast Tea, or a typical English tea like Typhoo Tea or the like. But still enjoy this Winter Tea for what it is – a quite lovely spiced tea full of flavor.

Aha, methinks, I’ve a great idea! What if I combined the two teas together?! I brewed both teas up together, and very much liked the resulting concoction. If you do you want something a bit darker and stronger but with lots of nice spice flavors, just take 2 cups of water, bring to a boil in a pot, and toss in a bag of this Winter Tea plus a bag of Irish Breakfast Tea. Let it brew for at least 5 minutes. The result is nice mix-up of both, a strong “cuppa” plus lots of warm spices and flavor, not terribly unlike Constant Comment, and which actually now is a Wake Up Tea that will perk you up on a cold winter’s morn.

*So Mr Trader Joe, should you borrow my ideas and rename this product “COZY WINTER TEA” you better at least send me a case of this stuff!

 

 

 

TJ Soy Ginger Marinated WILD COD FILLETS


soycod1

I picked up a package of Trader Joe’s “Wild Soy Ginger Marinated Cod Fillets” in the Frozen section at TJ’s to try. I was quite satisfied, this dish turned out to be really  good. This marinated cod costs about $7/lb. – very much on the lower price end for almost any fish these days, and this is wild caught cod from the Atlantic, so another good find at TJs.

This cod is  tasty, and easy-peasy to make. I followed instructions on the package about defrosting them overnight in the fridge. An overnight thaw in the fridge is always the best method for defrosting as thawing slowly is best to preserve the original quality. So just remember you need to think about this the day/night before if at all possible. If after an overnight thaw, you find its not completely defrosted when you are ready to cook you can put it in the sink in a pot and run a stream of cold water over the unopened package for 5-15 minutes till it feels completely defrosted. I didn’t try the method on the package where they say you can defrost in a bowl of warm water, in fact I would completely say never use warm water, its too fast and damages cell structure. If  you really need to do a “quick defrost” again run a stream of cold water on it till defrosted (again, “emergency only” method). A fish monger told me to do it with cold running water.

On the package they suggest 3 methods to cook the cod – in a skillet, bake it or microwave it. Me, I decided I would cook the miso cod by broiling the fish and glazing them with the marinade. Broiling is a typical Japanese method of cooking. I took the fillets out of the package with tongs careful to reserve all the marinade for later use. I placed the drained defrosted fillets in a black cast iron pan (my favorite cooking utensil), dotted them with a little butter and put the pan under a very hot (pre-heated) broiler. The fillets were not thick. One was a little bit thicker. So I cooked the fillets for about 3 minutes then took the pan out of the oven so I could pour over that reserved marinade over the fillets. Aha! The reserved marinade will make you a very nice soy miso glaze. So I immediately put the pan back under the broiler to finish for about just another minute or two, keeping a close eye on the fish and the glaze which was all bubbly and browning up. As you can see the glaze browns up beautifully, thickens, to make a nice sauce for the fish, and obviously keeps the fish moist and not dried out. You can even put another little bit of butter in the pan and hit the fish with freshly ground pepper, and a squeeze of fresh lemon. I forgot to mention I threw in some frozen shelled Edame (soy beans) around the fish to cook with it. The edamame were a perfect match with the fish, along with some some rice. There’s a Japanese meal for you.

We really enjoyed this. Sometimes cod fish can be a bit boring but this miso / soy marinade treatment makes this product very good. You can hit it if you like with even more freshly grated ginger (I generally do).

To sum up I found TJ’s Soy Ginger Marinated Wild Cod Fillets to be super convenient, easy to make, and really tasty. I would buy it again, and in fact have a few times since I first tried this. This is becoming a Go-To item for me at TJ now and I usually have a package in our freezer.

RAVE

 

soycod1

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