Moroccan Couscous (Recipe)


Heres a fairly easy recipe for a Moroccan-style Couscous. Trader Joe’s sells thier packaged brand of a whole-wheat “instant” couscous which is quite good, and could not be easier to make. The term “couscous” refers both to the dry, uncooked semolina pellets themselves and to the ready-to-eat dish of light, fluffy steamed grains topped by the marga.  The marga is the vegetable laden stew portion of a “couscous”. Chickpeas are one of the main ingredients in the marga. If I can, I generally start with dried chickpeas which like most beans need to be soaked overnight, and then cooked for an hour or two. In a pinch, canned chickpeas can be used too, and Trader Joe’s sells both regular canned as well as organic canned chickpeas (garbanzos). Chickpeas are a legume which are very healthy, and very high in protein, high in fiber, and to me, mighty tasty, probably my favorite of all beans or legumes. Of course they are the major component in hummus, which TJ’s sells tons of too. BTW I have a feeling if you used Trader Joe’s Indian “Spiced Chickpeas” which come in a foil pouch they might work great in this dish and give you a good deal of lovely spices that would work perfectly with this dish. Try it, experiment!

Moroccan Couscous

3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, sliced
3-4 stalks celery, sliced thick
3-6 big carrots, sliced thick
Chickpeas, dried or canned (use either 1/2 lb. dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked 1.5 hrs -or-
1 can Trader Joe’s Chick Peas (garbanzos) rinsed, drained
1-2 med. potatoes, diced
1-2 turnips, or daikon, peeled, cubed
2 zucchini or yellow squash, sliced thick (add during last 10 mins to not overcook)
1 lg (28oz) can tomatoes with basil
Stock (chicken or vegetable, fill empty 28oz can)
Cilantro, chopped
Parsley, chopped
Asstd Morocan spices (tumeric, cumin, coriander, ras el hanout, red pepper, pepper), or you can use Curry Powder, which has most of these. About 1tbs; Salt, Pepper
(optional) Raisins

Saute garlic and onion in olive oil, for 3-5 minutes. Add the vegetables and saute for five minutes, stiring occasionally. Add the tomatoes (break up with fingers), the liquid (stock), and the chick peas. Add the spices and salt. Simmer the “marga” for 30-40 mins on low-med heat. Taste for seasonings. When done, add a handful raisins (even some dried cranberries). Garnish with cilantro.


Couscous: prepare according to directions. Fluff. To plate, put down a bed of couscous and create a “hole” in the center. Add the stew to the center. Serve with Harissa, or hot sauce, or Sriracha

ADDITIONS: Serve with your protein of choice (roast chicken, lamb, or merguez sausage, or shrimp or fish) A Mixed Grill makes a “couscous royale”. Keeping it Vegetarian is fine too of course (You could try SOY CHORIZO and see if that is good in this)

If you want to know a lot more, here is some detailed background about authentic couscous.

Couscous also makes a good side dish or a subsitute for rice or another grain. Its great in salad, room temperature or cold, so excellent for summertime (and as you only need to boil water and turn off the pot, does not heat up a kitchen.

I keep a box of CousCous in my pantry at all times. One of the handiest things you can have.

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DISCONTINUED: Trader Joe’s Rice Sticks (Boo Hiss!)


RANT

TJ’s Rice Sticks. I tried them once, and wrote a Rave post about them including a recipe. What happens next? Not a week later do I notice I don’t see them on the shelf anymore. At TJ’s, you know that feeling, uh-oh is this item going bye-bye? Sure enough I inquired at the front desk a week after that and the TJ’s manager looks them up on the computer. He tells me, “Sorry but the Rice Sticks have been discontinued’. Damn, damn, damn. Another fave gone bye-bye. Had I known, I would have purchased a dozen packs and squirreled them away for the future.

Discontinued and Trader Joe’s. Two words that seem to go hand and hand, huh?

STRAIGHT FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH (the TJ website)…

5. Why does TJ’s frequently discontinue products?

Our mission is to bring you the best quality products at the best prices. To do this, we have to manage our store space well. Each of our products must “stand on its own,” meaning it must pay its own way. Each product passes certain criteria in order to earn its way onto our shelves – including a rigorous tasting panel.

There may be several factors that determine why we discontinue products:

  • It may be a seasonal product – for example, strawberries, which are in season only specific times of the year.
  • The gang way factor – because we introduce 10-15 new products a week, we have to eliminate 10-15 items in order to give our newest items a fair chance.
  • The cost of producing the item may increase, which would in turn increase the cost to you – if the item is not a strong seller, we may choose to discontinue it.
(Whatever TJ’s. If I want THAI RICE STICKS in future, I will go back to getting them at Asian markets like I used to before I met you.)
POSTSCRIPT: Lots of comments on this item. Especially from Gluten-free diet folks…

RECIPE: Veg. Tacos, Roasted Corn & Soy Chorizo with homemade tortillas


Made this for dinner the other night. I had some very interesting looking corn I had gotten, check out the color: Purple! I’m not sure I ever saw this before (no, it wasnt from Trader Joe’s, I got it at uptown Fairway) This omnivore decided to go vegetarian that night and make dinner featuring the corn with Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo. I even went whole hog and made fresh, homemade Tortillas de harina (flour), something I’ve been working on, trying to get better and better at. I watched a lot of videos on YouTube for tips.

To go with the tacos, I made a quick Salsa in five minutes, and let it blend for a 1/2 hour. When all was ready the Tacos got topped off with the salsa, some shredded cheese (Jalapeño Monterey Jack from Zabar’s) and some Arugula (TJ’s Wild Arugula).

How did it taste? Great. The roasted corn was excellent with the TJ Soy Chorizo, which really adds a lot of mexican flavors and spices, and the potato in the filling makes it taste hearty. Topped off with some salsa and jack cheese this was a damn tasty taco, vegetarian or otherwise.

Isn’t this pretty wild looking? No photoshopping here; this is the color!

I got my little assembly line to roll out the flour tortillas; Did about 6 for two people. Below, cooking on the griddle. If the griddle or pan is hot, they do not take long. About 1-2 mins on the first side and less than 1 min on the second side. Keep them warm in a cloth covered basket while you finish cooking all of them.

Dinner is served.

RECIPE: Vegatarian Tacos made with Roasted Corn, Soy Chorizo, and potato with Homemade Flour Tortillas

Taco Filling
2 ears, fresh corn, taken off the cob
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 “tube” of Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo (ie, about 3 oz?)
1 med. potato, diced
1 med. onion, diced

Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

Carefully take the corn off the cob using a sharp knife. Get it all and be sure to scrape the cob with back of your knife to get the good healthy germ. Heat a skillet with 1 tbs of olive or veg. oil. Toss in the corn, minced garlic, 1/2 the diced onion.
Cook on high heat till corn browns a little bit; five to ten mins. Remove from pan and set aside
Add diced potatoes, another tsp. oil, lower heat, cover the pan and cook 10 mins, turning occasionally; Cook, stirring occasionally another 5-8 mins till evenly golden brown; Add the Soy Chorizo. Add the roasted corn in and stir gently to combine all. Taste for seasonings,turn off heat, keep warm.

Quick Salsa
(Easy but you can also just buy your favorite TJ salsa)
1 ripe tomato, diced
clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
fresh or pickled green chili, or a can or TJ’ Roasted Hatch Chilis (
Mix all above, add little salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, pinch cayenne

Flour Tortillas

This would be a little complicated to document in full. The easiest way is to learn the way I did, via YouTube. Heres one video that should show you how to ‘roll your own’ . Personally I use oil not shortening and much less than the amount in the many recipes to cut down on the fat, and find it still works pretty well. I did as you see use TJ flour (and baking soda! and Olive Oil!) Not too mention the Soy Chorizo =Trader Joe recipe!

Now of course if you don’t feel like doing all the “work” you could accomplish something close by picking up at TJ’s, tortillas (flour or corn, the Chili Lime ones would be good!) and salsa, and use the soy chorizo on its own (or with thier frozen corn?) and whip a similar dinner together in no time.

TJ’s Tuscan Pane bread


RAVE:

You will see this bread on many a “Trader Joe’s Top 10” and “best products” lists, and rightly so. I think its one of the best products they sell, by far the best packaged bread I’ve had, period. Its a very good, country style bread. Pretty sure this is a slow rise sourdough; its usually full of air holes. Its has a very nice chewy texture and a good crust, of course which is better heated. In fact it gets 10x better toasted or grilled. Tuscan Pane makes unbelievably good toast, and many a morning this bread toasted is what I crave at breakfast. Top the toast with butter, jam, cream cheese, cheese, veggies or just about anything and you have a little slice of toast heaven. One of my faves would be with cream cheese and tomato. Or brie with jam, warmed till the brie is a bit melty.

A large 27 oz. loaf of Tuscan Pane original “white” was until recently $2.29. It has gone up to $2.49 (All wheat products are up) The Whole Wheat version goes for $2.69. Flavorwise I think I prefer the original “white” one to the whole wheat one but the whole wheat is still good too if you prefer that. I usually always prefer to buy whole wheat breads, but this one, not really. Since first trying this, this is yet another TJ product I’ve been become totally hooked on. I must have Tuscan Pane on hand at all times now. I keep it in the freezer; it keeps well frozen at least a week or two.

This bread can be the base of many easy sandwich, snacks and other recipes (croutons? yes!) I make quick and easy Bruschettas using this all the time. Here’s a fast, simple recipe:

BRUSCHETTA

-TJ’s Tuscan Pane

-Fresh garlic, ripe tomato, olive oil

Grill or toast a few slices of bread. When golden brown, immediately rub a cut clove of garlic on the bread. Take a slice of ripe tomato and ’smush’ it into your toast. If you want to be neat, you can dice your tomato and top it (but rubbed in is authentic Italian or Basque Pa Amb Tomaquet style) Drizzle on a nice splash of olive oil, sprinkle with some fresh black pepper and sea salt. A little herbage (basil) on top can’t hurt, but if you don’t have, thats fine.  If you want something heartier, add some sliced or grated parmesan or other cheese or perhaps some prosciutto. Done. YUM!

(via Spontaneous Truth) Why Trader Joe Should Be My Boyfriend


Why Trader Joe Should Be My Boyfriend Why do guys get mistresses but women don’t get misters? If I could pick any person to have my extramarital affair with, it would be Trader Joe. He’d be my mister for sure. And I’m pretty sure my husband would be a-okay with this, as long as Mr. TJ kept him in good supply of beer and bbq sauce (his two TJ’s staples). Some of my all-time favorite TJ items are as follows: 1. The pizza dough. Have you tried this? It’s so awesome. Fresh dough found in … Read More

via Spontaneous Truth

Eureka Moment: TJ’s Discontinued Items are by Design!


Discontinued Items?
They are actually By Design:
Creating ‘Surprise and Discovery’!

Blogger Bill Flagg has some amazingly informative info about Trader Joe’s. Like this fascinating tidbit:

Changing 1/4 of the selection each year creates surprise and discovery (difficult to do when thousands of shoppers complain about their favorite products being discontinued)

Like we used to say, “its not a bug, its a feature”

So doesn’t this mean something like 1,000 products a year can vanish ?! Morale: Be careful about falling in love with something…

Check out Bill Flagg’s, “Lessons From Trader Joe’s”. Great read!  http://billflagg.blogspot.com/2011/05/lessons-from-trader-joes.html

FROM TRADER JOE WEBSITE…..

Why does TJ’s frequently discontinue products?

Our mission is to bring you the best quality products at the best prices. To do this, we have to manage our store space well. Each of our products must “stand on its own,” meaning it must pay its own way. Each product passes certain criteria in order to earn its way onto our shelves – including a rigorous tasting panel.

There may be several factors that determine why we discontinue products:

  • It may be a seasonal product – for example, strawberries, which are in season only specific times of the year.
  • The gang way factor – because we introduce 10-15 new products a week, we have to eliminate 10-15 items in order to give our newest items a fair chance.
  • The cost of producing the item may increase, which would in turn increase the cost to you – if the item is not a strong seller, we may choose to discontinue it.


Good Rant! And some Trader Joe’s vs. Fairway stuff


Speaking of “Trader Joe’s Rants” I happened to come across a very good rant on a blog by Leland in BK. I hope he won’t mind me linking to it and sending a few visitors over. He wrote it in 2006 but I think its just as valid now; See what you think. I think Leland made some interesting points about TJ’s produce.

PRODUCE: Ah ha. One thing I  always thought was that, compared to other aspects of the food it sells, Trader Joe’s fruits and vegs are not at the same level, generally speaking. For example compare the produce at TJ’s to lets say in my area, Fairway. Ask anyone in NYC and they will tell you Fairway’s produce is great. If you take a look at some of these videos on their site can you get some idea of what we are talking about. This stuff is FRESH, top-notch produce (cheap, no). Is Trader Joe’s produce up to this level? I can only judge the ones I have seen in Manhattan, which for all I know may not be indicative of all Trader Joe’s. Again, generally, I don’t think of their produce at the level of a Fairway. Perhaps Califorian TJ’s being closer to the produce may have better and more variety of produce? There is some produce I buy regularly at TJ’s. For one, their bags of organic carrots? They are the same price as Fairway’s non-organic carrots, 89 cents. That’s amazing. But I saw some corn today at TJ’s that I could not believe someone kept on the shelf. There were three ears of corn so old the husk was dried out like paper. It was garbage. I wish I had a camera to document that! Someone should commit hara-kiri in their produce section for that offense.

Fairway vs. TJ: Fairway, which has been here forever, is located 3 blocks away from the Trader Joe’s on 72nd St. and Broadway which opened up late 2010. So in the Upper West Side food vendor scene it was quite a big thing to have a potential competitor like Trader Joe’s open up a few blocks away! I’m not kidding, this made a for a ton of news in the blogoshpere:

http://www.foodandthings.com/2008/11/550/

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20101029/SMALLBIZ/101029834

http://www.dnainfo.com/20101007/upper-west-side/trader-joes-wins-price-war-against-fairway-whole-foods

http://ny.racked.com/archives/2010/09/20/fairways_worst_nightmare_is_here_trader_joes_uws_is_open.php

http://www.yelp.com/topic/new-york-what-do-you-buy-at-trader-joes-and-fairway

I still shop at Fairway for many things. However I now also go to Trader Joe’s for many other things. If you are looking for very good olive oil at an AMAZING price, I give TJ’s the nod hands down. If you are looking for a “super Tuscan” olive oil of the kind that sells for $30 a half/litre Fairway has it. Me, I can’t afford that stuff and I love to use olive oil, liberally so personally for everyday use, I have become a HUGE FAN of TJ’s Olive Oil. I am bowled over by their olive oils value and what you get for your money compared to others. I especially like their Spanish Olive Oil. It sells for $5.99 a litre, and I say at that price, no one can come close: superb value for your buck. Is it the same as the $30 stuff Fairway might have? Perhaps not – however its not junk, it is a very decent olive oil. I have seen much crap oil, typically “pomace”, for the same price TJ’s sells Extra Virgin Olive Oils for. Oh, and TJ does sell “really good” olive oil (“Sicialian”, “Kalamata”…) I just haven’t tried these oils yet, but I have a feeling they must be good to warrant them making them “premium” prices vs. the “normal” stuff they sell.

I am going to guess that Trader Joe’s must have great sources of producers of olive oil and major financial clout; They must be able to make huge deals to purchase massive quantities of oil to be able to sell stuff this good for $6. As they say “we pay cash” and buy alot. Olive Oil I think is a key Trader Joe’s item. I think its the ONE item than almost instantly makes people into a “Trader Joe’s customer”. If you buy a bottle of TJ’s Olive Oil, you will have you will be returning. Its usually the first thing anyone going to Trader Joe’s notices and will tell you about. “Wow. They sell extra virgin for $6 bucks!” I’m pretty sure I’ll do a future post just about Olive Oil. Its a good topic.

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