Pastrami Style Smoked Salmon


Trader Joe’s Smoked Atlantic Salmon “Pastrami Style” 

When I pickup smoked salmon from TJ, this is usually the one I buy. Its got a little extra flavor from the the spice rub and herbs like dill, but its not overpowering to taste of the salmon. The balance is good as well as the texture. 

A SUNDAY BREAKFAST: yes this please…. smoked salmon on a fresh TJ Artisan Bagel with a shmear of cream cheese, drizzle of fresh lemon and some arugula:  Quite yummy, try it for a special Sunday breakfast

A 4 oz package is $5.49

Gets a mild Rave.

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Trader Joe’s RICE CRACKER MEDLEY snacks


These are very tasty, very crunchy cracker type snacks. I would say these are one of my very top Trader Joe’s products. I usually buy a bag whenever I am there.

A favorite snack food in Japan are SENBEI (pronouced Sen-bay).

Senbei are a variety of snacks made from rice which is baked into a crunchy cracker and come in a variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. In Japan there are probably hundreds of kinds. I’ve been to special Senbei shops in Kyoto that are over 150 years old (the shop, not the snacks!)

These “Rice Crackers” that TJ sells are a mixed variety of typical Japanese Senbei snacks. The package says that they are Made in Thailand. If I didn’t see this I would swear these were made in Japan as they are exactly like Japanese Senbei, of which I am really fond of and have tasted plenty!

In the bag are a mixed variety of shapes and sizes as you can see in the photo here. There are both the flat cracker style ones, some short stick type ones, some plain and some coated with “nori” (seaweed). You don’t get more Japanese than these! There are even some of the typical spicy “Wasabi Peas” you probably have tasted, in this Rice Cracker Medley. Every different kind is tasty. My favorite ones are the biggest round crackers, which are a little thick and SUPER crunchy.  Trust me, when I say “super crunchy” you may not believe how “crunchy”, crunchy can be until you eat these. I’m talking LOUD, noises going off inside your head, you can barely hear, turn up the tv 10 notches, that crunchy, dig?

These rice crackers have a great deal of “umami“, the “5th flavor” that Japanese covet, and which every chef in America is currently interested in. These crackers go great with beer, they match well with cheese, or you can just eat them on their own. To me, they’re so good, I classify these as a “dangerous” TJ product – meaning a bag in my house can go really FAST between myself and my wife (who’s Japanese, aha!). I could almost eat a whole bag (but I don’t). If you try these you will probably also love them, and want to buy them every time you visit TJ’s. A bag costs $2.29, not a bad deal.

Black Squid Ink Spaghetti (For Halloween!)


Wow, what a great New Product.

Black Spaghetti!

I just saw this new offering on the pasta shelf at Trader Joe’s, and thought, hey, Halloween is coming… This black spaghetti might be fun to have on Halloween, right?

I plan to make this black squid ink pasta then with some seafood: either squid (with lots of tentacles) if I can find it and some other seafood like grilled shrimp, which would look orange!

Casa Milo Black Squid Ink Spaghetti

(ingredients: durum, semolina, squid ink)

Imported from Apulia, Italy $2

Will review after I make it. My wife suggested an orange side dish with it (sweet potato? butternut squash?)

Meanwhile… want to get some more ideas about what you might make with this stuff yourself for Halloween? Check out some of the pictures and links from this Google Search I did which will show you lots of images + recipes for “Black Halloween Pasta”! Many look fabulous. Have fun!

GOOGLE SEARCH RESULTS: BLACK HALLOWEEN PASTA


HERES WHAT I MADE FOR HALLOWEEN DINNER (a seafood pasta with squid and shrimp, garlic, olive oil, yellow peppers, cherry tomato….)

Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce



“Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce is a delicate blend of coconut milk, shallots, lemongrass, garlic, galangal, coriander seed, Thai lime peel, ginger, turmeric, cumin and basil”

I should start with the fact that I can make a decent Thai curry from scratch, having been taught by some Thai friends. In fact its pretty easy, if you use a canned curry paste and a can or two of coconut milk.

I saw this jar of “Thai Green Curry Simmer Sauce” which is made in Thailand, on the shelf at TJ’s and thought let’s give this product a taste test.

Here’s a link to TJ’s Fearless Flyer post about the product.

Its not bad – in fact I like it – but should warn you if you open this up and expect as I did at first, to taste an authentic, powerful tasting, fairly SPICY Thai Curry, you would be disappointed. Its is barely spicy. This sauce fits into a mild level of Thai flavors and is something that I could imagine a Thai mother could give to their two year old!

Its a “delicate blend” – a mildly seasoned coconut milk based sauce with a hint of spiciness. Still, though mild in spiciness, its actually very tasty and full of nice flavors, so can make a decent base for cooking a meal pretty quickly just by opening up the jar, and adding some ingredients!

If you had a can of some real Thai curry paste you could add a spoonful or two and make it into a more powerful curry. And if thats too much trouble just add a few tablespoons of Trader Joe’s GREEN DRAGON HOT SAUCE if you want to turn up the heat some.

Last night I used it to make a Thai Seafood Curry which was actually quite tasty. (“Recipe”: I sauteed some celery, carrots, onions, garlic and cubed potato for 10-15 minutes, then added the sauce and simmered for about 5-10 minutes more till just tender, then added some shrimp and “krab” and simmered it for another 2 minutes, serving with some white rice. Yummy!)

You could use just about any protein: chicken, fish, beef, or tofu, plus a slew of veggies. Experiment!

Pair the curry with rice or rice noodles. A 12 oz. jar is $1.99.

LABEL SAYS: “INGREDIENTS – Coconut milk, water, green curry paste, sugar, rice bran oil, food starch, green chili, salt. Product of Thailand.”

Worth a try! Not a bad thing to have in the cupboard.

TIP: The label says “add a 1/2 pound” of your main ingredient. So figure this jar is for about 2 servings? So for 4 people, I would double everything: a pound (or more) of the main ingredient, same of veggies, and 2 jars of sauce.

 

RAVE

Trader Joe’s COFFEE BEAN BLAST Ice Cream


Do you love coffee?

Do you love ice cream?

Then this is for you.

OMG amazingly good. Very good coffee flavor.

TIP: I improved it even more by sprinkling a little bit (or more) of very finely ground espresso coffee on top. Double Yum!

About $4 if I remember. Worth it.

Excellent TJ product.

 

RAVE

Trader Joe’s UNEXPECTED CHEDDAR


96923-unexpected-cheddar

 

Now while I have not tried every cheese that Trader Joe’s sells (I wish!) I have to say this cheese is one of the most interesting ones I ever bought from TJs!

To begin, I am a huge fan and lover of almost any good Cheddar. For me, the sharper the better. Is it because I’m a Damn Yankee (well a New Yorker) and Cheddar seems to be a very Yankee cheese (on this side of the Atlantic anyway)? To my tastebuds, the Sine Qua Non of a classic Cheddar cheese, that was in our house since we were kids was always a piece of a Vermont CABOT. If not that and more pedestrian, we always had a package of Extra Sharp Cracker Barrel cheddar in our house growing up, as my dad’s favorite cheese was Cheddar by far.

Unexpected Cheddar is however quite different from say a classic cheddar such as Cabot. This cheese has a very unique taste and texture unlike any Cheddar I’ve tasted before – Unexpected? Absolutely. As Trader Joe’s own description is so apt, I am going to quote what they say and how they describe this cheese:

“Unexpected Cheddar has been a best-seller since it first hit our cheese cases, back in 2011. It presents itself as an aged Cheddar, and tastes like one as well. Until, it doesn’t. That creamy Cheddar takes an unexpected flavor turn, the texture seems to change as you eat – you might swear you were enjoying an aged Parmesan. On first try, it’s an unexpected pleasure. With subsequent purchases, the only unexpected part of the experience is that it continues to be such a great value. Then again, you’ve come to expect great values at Trader Joe’s, so our price of $3.99 for each seven ounce piece may not be so unexpected after all.”

Forgetting the marketing part, their description of the taste and texture is right on the nose. It has a texture that is much more crumbly than a typical cheddar. As you slice this cheese, it may very well crumble and fall apart on you, not terribly unlike any aged cheese and especially like a piece of Parmegiano Reggiano, the kind of cheeses. There are flavor profiles in the Unexpected Cheddar which have that same “umami” overtones of a Parmigiano or Grana Padano. This cheese does pair wonderfully with many wines as well as beer and would be great pick if you are ever doing a wine or beer tasting.

The main problem with this cheese is its so damn good, its very hard not to eat the whole package in one sitting!

Try a package of this sometime.  I don’t think you will be disappointed and may make it onto your “always buy this” TJ List. Its a standout of Trader Joe’s products.

 

RAVE

 

Trader Joe’s ORGANIC SUGAR


“Trader Joe’s Organic Cane Sugar contains only one ingredient: pure, natural, organic evaporated cane juice.”

…Grown in plantations in Paraguay, the sugar cane is cut by hand…. and delivered to a facility where the cane juice is extracted and evaporated into pure sugar crystals. The evaporation process produces perfect sugar crystals, rich in flavor and molasses.”

EXACTLY! The less you do to stuff (process it) generally the better it is! Keep it Natural!

The result is a very high quality sugar with sugar crystals that have a distinct flavor and crunch (ie, the crystals of this are bigger than refined white “regular” Domino sugar) and is almost exactly like this sugar I usually look for and buy in Hispanic grocery stores called AZUCAR MORENA, which is a “premium sugar” that I find especially delicious in coffee. Its kind of hard for me to find this consistently and this TJ product is almost an exact match for just a tiny bit more per bag.

Taste? A very subtle “brown sugar taste” and is lighter in color and flavor than a the taste say of “light brown sugar” – which is actually regular refined “white sugar” that has had molasses added back to it. It is molasses that has the taste we think of as “brown sugar”.

TJ’s ORGANIC SUGAR has more flavor than regular (white) sugar, but its not strong. It will add just a bit more flavor but not overpower the ingredient it is added to. I think this is especially excellent in coffee, and I also like it sprinkled on plain yogurt, or oatmeal.

A 2 lb. bag goes for $3.49 which comes out to $1.75 per pound – so not cheap at least compared to Domino or other regular sugar which is about 50-60 cents a pound.

I don’t use this to replace all regular sugar that I use, I still use regular sugar in some things, but I use this stuff when I want to really taste some great sugar, flavor and texture. Think of this as an “affordable luxury” where a little bit kind of goes a long way.

PS – Trader Joe’s does sells molasses, the leftover product that is what is normally extracted in the sugar making process. It has a very strong flavor, and is frequently used in baking. A little molasses goes a long way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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