Seen at Trader Joe’s KOSHER SALT!


Why, you may wonder as I did when I saw this, is Trader Joe’s selling Diamond Crystal brand Kosher Salt? If you’ve watched any chef cook you probably know they frequently specify using Kosher salt which has a much bigger flake than regular sea salt and is therefore useful for seasoning and is the “go to” salt for most chef’s. What even is Kosher Salt?

I haven’t bought Kosher Salt for some time. When I saw this I got bit of sticker shock seeing how much Kosher Salt seems to be now! $9 for a 3 lb. box (or $3 a pound) Wow. By contrast Trader Joe’s sells their Sea Salt for about $1.70 for over 1 1/2 lbs.

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Trader Joe’s ORGANIC BLUEBERRY PRESERVES


I really liked this blueberry preserve Trader Joe’s has come out with, which uses wild organic blueberries from “the Canadian Boreal Forest“. It has a really delicious, intense flavor of wild blueberries. It’s very tasty though I found it a bit on the sweet side, borderline overly sweet. So what I did was I tamed the sweetness down easily by squeezing in about a 1/4 of a fresh lemon into the jar and mixed it in. The lemon juice did the trick to cut the sweetness and giving it some more acid. It made it even better and really improved the whole thing. So definitely I suggest don’t forget to buy a lemon when you pick this up. TIP: after adding your lemon juice cut a little piece of the lemon rind and throw that it too for extra lemony flavor. The Organic Wild Blueberry Preserve is $4.49 for a 17.5 oz jar. Not cheap but then it is Certified Organic and taste-wise I would say this stuff is certainly a Gourmet Level jam. Probably elsewhere (say Whole Paycheck?) a similar one would probably go for more like six or seven dollars. Try this on just about anything but I really think it would be heavenly on a slice of TJ’s Sliced Brioche bread, toasted with butter, spread with the blueberry preserves. Ditto on an English Muffin, toasted Crumpet or on your pancakes….

Trader Joe’s says: “Our supplier takes wild, organic blueberries, harvested from the Canadian Boreal Forest, and simmers them with organic cane sugar to complement their pleasantly tart and rich blueberry flavor.”

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/organic-blueberry-preserves-075999

I would buy this again.

Trader Joe’s UGANDA RWENZORI Mountains Of The Moon Small Lot Coffee


Amazing stuff. I had read somewhere on the ‘Net that this Ugandan coffee was one of the best coffees Trader Joe’s has offered, so I told myself I had to check it out. I had seen it sitting in the NEW ITEMS shelf but I was done shopping so made a mental note to buy a bag the next day. Well when I went back, as luck would have it there were no more bags of it! My bad luck, it was sold out. Of course by their very nature “small lot” means these coffees come in a limited batch from small producers. Think a Limited Editions.

Fortunately it just so happened that my upstairs neighbor, another big TJ’s fan, happened to have gotten some of this coffee. Yeah! She offered me some so I could review it. After grinding it I had high hopes. It smelled fantastic. After brewing it wow was I impressed. I was almost surprised at just how good this coffee tasted. Not to mention this may be the first time I’d even tried a coffee from Uganda.

So I am sold. I definitely agreed with those who gave this high marks. This must be one of the best coffees I’ve tried from Trader Joe’s, period. The Mountains of the Moon UGANDA RWENZORI coffee is just a fantastic tasting coffee, which I found wonderfully balanced. To my taste buds its just perfect, hitting all right notes. Bold and robust but not over powering, it was both a little sweet and a little bitter, both smooth and robust, tasting surely like an “African” coffee a little ascertic and winy and yes even had those “notes of chocolate” describe on the bag. This is just terrific. Also TJ’s got it right that this is actually a “medium roast” as described (sometimes TJ’s roast descriptions are off). I loved this coffee and want more. I’m crossing my fingers we see it again (might be next harvest?) If by any chance you see it, do yourself a favor and grab a bag if you can. I have a feeling anyone who considers themselves a coffee lover is going to love this. If/when I see it again, I will be sure to stock up on a few bags. ($8.99 12 oz bag, whole bean)

RAVE

Trader Giotto’s CHICKEN PICCATA in lemon caper sauce (heat and eat)


Trader Giotto’s (Trader Joe’s) CHICKEN PICCATASeasoned, breaded boneless chicken breasts in a lemon and caper sauce

“Our Chicken Picatta is made for us using a special family recipe. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are seasoned and breaded then baked in the oven until crispy. We then add a buttery, lemon and caper sauce to complete the dish. A timeless Italian American classic that tastes like you made it from scratch”

My neighbor wanted to see if this heat and eat Trader Joe’s chicken dish was worth buying for some night when she didn’t feel like cooking. So she got it to try out and invited me along for dinner. In short, we both thought it was good. In fact I was impressed at how good this actually was. It tasted almost “homemade” quality. Now I should note we did fix it up slightly just by adding a bit more lemon and capers, and that helped boost the flavor. To cook it we did Trader Joe’s “recommended method” of baking in the oven. I recommend doing this that way. As compared to just nuking it in the microwave, it will be better baked, as the chicken will crisp up a bit in the oven and when you add the sauce (at the end) it will reduce a bit and get a bit brown and bubbly. Both of these will make it taste better than if you just microwaved it. The chicken was not dry, it was tender and juicy and of course the sauce helps this. The sauce was tasty. It certainly was better with the flavor boost some more lemon juice and more chopped capers. If you add those it will really make this taste even better (maybe even a tablespoon of butter). There were about 2 large pieces and 2 small pieces of chicken breast in the box and it comes with a large package of the sauce. The Nutrition Facts on the box says this contains 3 portions, but in reality you may find it more like 2 portions. You do want to serve this with something on the side to make it into a meal, like some rice, potatoes or pasta. Maybe some crusty bread for mopping up that tasty lemon caper sauce? We ate this with a fast easy pasta with zucchini and garlic which matched perfectly with this dish. Trader Joe’s Chicken Piccata was quite tasty. It’s $8.99 (16 oz). Not frozen, this is in the refrigerated (fresh) section with other prepared dishes. I would buy this again.

If you want to be fancy add slices of lemon on top when you serve it.

Trader Joe’s Fair Trade ORGANIC SUMATRA COFFEE (dark roast)


“Sumatra is the sixth largest island in the world with volcanic mountains extending the length of Western Sumatra. Coffee on this lush island is grown on small farms, where the beans are picked, washed and pulped by hand using the wet hulling process, creating some of the most flavorful and complex beans on the planet. Our organic and fair trade Sumatra beans are carefully roasted to a medium dark level to reveal smooth earthy flavors with little to almost no acidity.” (from the package)

If you are a fan of dark roasts you will probably like this “Fair Trade Organic Sumatra” coffee. I really like it. When you open up the foil pack bag for the first time you will get the most amazing smell. This is an intensely flavorful coffee, roasted to what TJ’s calls “medium dark”. Well, coffee roast descriptions vary wildly especially chez Trader Joe’s. To me, I would say its just south of what some might call a French roast? The beans are dark and shiny. This is not however an Espresso roast. Nor would I call these “over roasted” myself (hard to trust even this picture, you kind of have to see beans in person really). For this coffee I think the roast works, perfectly. You will hopefully grind up your beans just before brewing of course… and all I can tell you is when I do and open up the grinder, the most intense and heavenly coffee smell hits my nostrils! For me the Sumatran is an excellent coffee, one of best coffees that Trader Joe’s has in a dark roast. I think this would be especially good for espresso machine owners as well as Moka pot brewers, like yours truly now. My brewing method the last few years is using a Moka pot . I also use a little milk with this to make something like old school “cafe con leche” as this coffee really stands up to and goes well with milk. While great as is, sometimes I will make my own custom blend of light and dark beans using this Sumatran with some lighter beans like the excellent TJ’s Azmari BUNNI Afro-Latin coffee to come up with a wonderful blend of both light and dark beans from Latin, African and Asian countries. If dark roasts are not your thing. Or you brew doing drip or pour over, I still say mixing some of this into your lighter beans, will make a good and slightly more intense coffee for drip and pour over brewers. A 13 oz bag of the Sumatra Coffee goes for $8.99. For Fair Trade beans, that’s not bad at all. For best flavor, I say best to use this up fairly quickly, say within a two weeks after opening the bag, or in a pinch freeze some. TIP: I save empty bags for doing this. PS Even darker? The other very good espresso roast beans I like that TJ’s has is the organic Five Countries Espresso.

Left: Organic Sumatra Right: Azmari Bunni beans (TJ’s calls Left, “medium dark” and the Right “medium”. Go figure) But both are very good!

Trader Joe’s OLD FASHIONED ROASTED PEANUTS


“Old Fashioned Blister” Roasted Peanuts and OMG these are Oh So Good. Maybe these are THE BEST roasted peanuts you ever had. Old Fashioned like ones I remember when we were kids we could go to a real “Nut Store” and buy them just out of the roasting pan. These taste super fresh and are seriously delicious. If you like peanuts you must try these. I promise you will not be sorry, they are just so yummy it’s hard to stop eating them. These are $2.99 a bag (15 oz). INGREDIENTS: Extra Large Water Blanched Virginia Peanuts, Peanut Oil, Salt. Simple and delicious.

RAVE

Trader Joe’s “Just The Clusters” MAPLE PECAN GRANOLA


“Inside this bag you will find captivatingly crunchy, satisfyingly sweet clusters of rolled oats and pecans, with notes of maple syrup and honey”

If you are a fan of the large clumps you find in your granola, you will like this one which is basically “only the clusters”. Trader Joe’s “Just The Clusters” Maple Pecan Granola gives you lots and lots of those big crunchy clumps. I especially like it for all those crunchy clusters, made even crunchier than other granolas with rice flour added in. It has pecans in it, a fair amount if not loaded with them. I guess at this price (3.29) they can’t put a ton of them in there but there are quite a few very tasty roasted pieces of pecans, and the maple flavor of this granola is tasty. As per the Nutrition Label, I wish it didn’t have quite the amount of Added Sugars it says but I really don’t eat a whole bowl of this, or even the 2/3 cups they use as the serving size. What I use this for really is as a nice topping to add crunch on top of my breakfast yogurt bowl, usually something like chia seeds, mixed with yogurt and kefir and fruits (banana, apples, berries…) This would equally be great on top of oatmeal or overnight oats for a little crunch. You could even eat some as a snack, in moderate amounts. It’s $3.29 for a one pound bag. No weird ingredients, all pretty natural as you can see….

INGREDIENTS: Rolled Oats, Cane Sugar, Canola Oil, Rice Flour, Pecans, Maple Syrup, Cornstarch, Honey, Salt, Barley Malt Syrup, Natural Flavors

Trader Joe’s SLICED KOREAN RICE CAKES


Here’s another new Korean/Asian item from Trader Joe’s. These rice cakes are flat oval disks made from sticky rice, so are very chewy and soft. These kind of rice cakes are a typical ingredient in many Asian cuisines, Chinese, Korean others. In Chinese cooking these rice cakes are known as “nian gao”. If you fry them, they get a little crispy, which is how I like them best and the way I would suggest you try to make them. The bag has just rice cakes (no sauce) so you will add your own stuff. You can use these to make a stir fried dish with vegetables and a protein. There is a basic stir fry recipe on the bag (“Stir Fried Rice Cakes with Vegetables” which you could expand upon with adding a protein (say chicken, shrimp, pork or baked tofu.) Tip: of course do add garlic which this recipe omits (?!) You could come up with a Korean stir fry variation by adding some Kimchi or Gochujang and pork or chicken. The other thing you can do with these is add them to a soup (like a Wonton and Chicken Soup) in which case, no need to fry them up. The rice cakes are $3.29 (16 oz). They’re are in the Asian frozen area. These are a “Product of Korea”. While not quite as good as ones I buy in say at H-Mart in a pinch these will do and easy to buy. VEGAN, GLUTEN FREE

Here’s another recipe for Chinese Stir Fried Rice Cakes.

https://www.traderjoes.com/home/products/pdp/sliced-korean-rice-cakes-074566

Trader Joe’s GINGER DRINK MIX


I make GINGER TEA (just boil ginger in water) and really like that. This tastes pretty much exactly like that. So while cheaper to make it yourself of course, my wife really liked this Ginger Drink Mix both for the convenience and taste, so she’s buying this regularly now. It’s $2.99 (7 packets). Dissolve with 12 oz water hot or cold. Product Of Thailand.

Want to make it yourself for way less ? Here’s my ginger tea “recipe”. Take about 1″ or so of fresh ginger. Slice it up and put in a pot with about 2 cups of water. Boil for 10 minutes or so. Add sugar if desired. Enjoy!

Trader Joe’s ROASTED TOMATILLO SALSA VERDE


You will find Trader Joe’s FRESH SALSA VERDE in the refrigerated section, and it’s quite good. If you are just used to tomato based (red) salsas and you want to try something a little bit different for your Mexican dishes, a Salsa Verde like this is a great variation to try out. This salsa is made primarily from roasted tomatillos. Tomatillo based green salsas are very typical in Mexico, and frequently one will find both a red and green salsa next to each other for the diner to choose from. Though they slightly resemble a green tomato, in fact tomatillos are at best distant cousins to tomatoes. The tomatillo is a unique green fruit native to Mexico which were around for a thousand years or more way before the tomato was even brought by the Spanish Conquistadors (after 1500). Tomatillos are covered with papery skins, which is also pretty unique.

This Salsa Verde also has jalapenos, green chili pureé, roasted red onion, cilantro and cumin in it for a an authentic Mexican flavor.. I liked this salsa. Its not very spicy. I find it somewhere around “Medium” in the heat department so may be good for those who don’t like Really Spicy Stuff but want some great flavors. I tried it on some pork carnitas tacos and it was great with them, bringing out the pork and enhancing it perfectly. Its was also great on eggs, either on top of a fried egg or an omelet or scrambled eggs. This is great on fish, shrimp, beef, pork or chicken. I had some leftover roasted chicken which was a little dry. We just put some of this salsa over the chicken and and Voila, it made the chicken worth eating again. I have a feeling it would even be good with some grilled Tofu or just on top of rice or a protein bowl. This salsa verde goes for $2.99 for a 12 oz tub. I would buy this again.

PS – one reader likes using this to make an easy version of Green Pozole, which sounds great.

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