Trader Joe’s ORGANIC BAKED TOFU


 

 

Here’s another Tofu product… a very good one (as opposed to my previous post on High Protein Tofu…)

 

ORGANIC BAKED TOFU is a tofu that’s already been prepared, flavored in a marinade and baked. Baking tofu gets out a lot of water and it gives the tofu a firm texture, that is pleasantly chewy and well, “meaty”. It would be a very good substitute for say chicken in fact, and could be used as a ingredient in a dish like a stir fry or can be eaten on its own as the Main ingredient. As you can see from what I did with it, it can still be cooked (I grilled it up) which I think improves it’s flavor even more.

There are two versions at Trader Joe’s, a TERIYAKI flavor version and a SRIRACHA version. Though I am a big fan of Sriracha, I find the Teriyaki version has a better overall flavor profile and if you are trying this for the first time, suggest trying the Teriyaki version. But both are good, so do try both and see which you like.

What I did with it here (as pictured below) is just cut it into slices and sautéed it in a non-stick pan with some Toasted Sesame Oil for about 5 minutes a side until it was golden brown. I added Soy Sauce and a little Sugar (two elements of Teriyaki sauce) and a good deal of fresh black pepper and cooked that for a few minutes more until the sauce has cooked in and thickened a bit. Garlic (and fresh ginger) would be great to add too, of course.

This can be served with even some more sauce on the side (Sriracha, Green Dragon Sauce, or even Sriracha Ranch Dressing on the side! Serve up along with some rice, a vegetable, and salad and you have a great tasty and healthy dinner. I would say the package serves 2 (with other stuff). A package is 7 oz. and costs $2.70

You could also use this or the Sriracha version as the main protein plus veggies, with THAI CURRY SIMMER SAUCE. As the package says “be creative”.

 

RAVE

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High Protein Organic Super Firm Tofu


 

 

Let me begin with saying the regular Firm Organic Tofu from Trader Joe’s is very good… that one comes packaged in a container floating in water. This tofu does not come in water, it’s packaged in a tight fitting plastic wrapper. 

Anyway I saw this different product (“High Protein Tofu”) and thought I’d give it a try for the blog.

Big Mistake, folks!

So here’s the shortest review I’ve ever given – High Protein Organic Tofu – its horrible!

 

 

 

Super firm? They are not kidding about that. Picture in your mind, what “Shoe Leather made of Tofu” might be like…. then you will have some idea of the texture of this tofu product. Have you ever cut Tofu? Sure, your knife glides right through it.. Well this stuff, your knife has to be pushed with some pressure to cut it. It’s the texture of a soft tofu rock. 

“Super Firm”? The label should read “HARD & TOUGH”. I guess thats the “High Protein” at work? This stuff is so tough and chewy that its inedible. Its sounds kinda good when you look at it and think “oh it’s high protein, that must be better” but the reality is this extra protein must make it hard and tough and sucky. When I cooked it for dinner, and we ate it, we found it nearly inedible. We only choked it down because we were starving at the time.

If you buy this stuff, you will also be sorry as I was. So you’ve been warned. Avoid this.

RANT

 

PS The regular Firm Organic Tofu is very good and I highly recommend that! 

PPS This Tofu product (ORGANIC BAKED TOFU) they sell is fantastic.

Trader Joe’s UNCURED BAVARIAN BRATWURST


I saw this package of “BAVARIAN BRATWURST” sausages the other day and they looked worth trying. I found it to be a very good product that I would gladly buy again.

The package says MADE IN GERMANY (a plus) as well as NO NITRATES / NITRITES (hence uncured) another plus. These sausages had a tasty, appealing flavor. They’re made of all pork with a number of spices. Its the interestingly well balanced spices and flavor profile which make these sausages quite different and more interesting compared to say, the flavor of a typical Italian sausage that you might be more familiar with, or even your typical American made “Brats” for that matter. The spices listed include: black pepper, marjoram, nutmeg, mace, ginger, and coriander and reading this seemed like it would be nice for some meal around Xmas time.

What I did with these was grill them with sautéed potatoes and served them with some nice red cabbage from Poland. The Bratwurst and Potatoes dish turned out quite yummy and seemed perfect for Christmas eve dinner with some beer. I could easily imagine putting these sausages simply on a nice hot dog bun, brioche, or crusty roll or bread in a pinch too, with mustard and sauerkraut.

They are already fully cooked so only need browning up till nice and golden and could be ready to serve in just 8 minutes. A package of four sausages (12 oz) was $3.99. So I’d say this is another pretty good deal from TJ’s and worth trying if you happen to catch it. I am not sure if this is available all year, or if TJ’s just has around the holidays which is what I suspect, that its seasonal for the holiday season.

A NO-RECIPE RECIPE: Cut up some potatoes and par-boil them for 5-10 minutes in salted water. Drain them and sauté them with onions till golden brown in olive oil (and a little butter for extra flavor). Make some room in the center of the pan and grill the sausages for 4-5 mins a side until nicely browned. Serve with some good mustard. Some beer would not be amiss with these Bratwurst.

RAVE

 

Trader Joe’s Organic French Baguette


I truly love a good, crispy authentic French Baguette and am always on the look out for a good one. In my search around NYC, I’ve bought and tried many a baguette from many bakeries around town, especially those I’ve seen listed as “Best in NYC”. While some are better than others, really almost none I thought lived up to the “Best Baguette” title (and lets face it compared to what you might buy at almost any bakery in Paris, we’re at a severe disadvantage).

My own personal quest finally came to a “aha” moment when I tasted the baguette from the bakery “MAISON KAYSER” which opened up in NYC a year or two back. Now this is what a baguette should be and I’m always amazed at how amazing MAISON KAYSER’S breads are (if you make bread you will understand: they use a very long ferment time and special traditional “levain” which produces a far superior taste and structure). If you have a chance to try a MAISON KAYSER baguette, you must. You too may have an “Aha!” moment, and get an idea that a really good Baguette is possible to make in the U.S. after all.

That said as good as it is, I do have to make a special trip there plus its a bit pricey, a baguette from MAISON KEYSER commands a premium price, currently $3.25 for a baguette and $3.50 for one if their “Epi” baguettes. So when I saw a “FRENCH BAGUETTE” at Trader Joe’s for $1.69 I thought I’d give it a try, not expecting too much frankly. This baguette was pretty good,  it was crispy and well baked. However in flavor and texture this baguette is just about on par with many bakeries that produce a similar baguette, albeit for usually double the price. So I give the regular French Baguette from TJ hardly a rave review, its “not bad”.

However the very next day, when I happened again to be at Trader Joe’s, by chance the Sample Station happened to be serving a sample of a different bread: TRADER JOE’S ORGANIC FRENCH BAGUETTE. The sample they were giving out was the organic baguette baked with cheese to crispy (yes please!) Man, was this sample of baguette and baked cheese TASTY (It was so good I do confess I went back for a second one!)

The package is different from the one I had gotten the day before ((the Organic one is White and sealed, the other brown & green and open). The package also says “ARTISAN STYLE“. I could instantly tell this bread was a way improved and better version of the “normal” (non-organic) French Baguette (one is $1.69 vs. $1.99 for the Organic/Artisan/White package). The slightly more pricey ORGANIC BAGUETTE has a much more profound flavor plus a better, chewier interior texture or crumb  (In French, called “Mie”, interior of bread). One reason is the bag states they use a 3 hour rise (fermentation) probably twice as long or more as the other one, plus I’m betting the organic flour used is a better quality flour compared to the $1.69 baguette. In short, the extra 30 cents you will spend for the upgraded version Baguette is well worth it.

The ARTISAN ORGANIC FRENCH BAGUETTE bread is sold a little bit under baked as the package states that you should bake this bread in a 400 degree oven for ten minutes or so for its full effect. If you don’t, its still not bad, but  you won’t really taste it at its prime and the way its intended to end up. In an pinch at least toast it in your toaster or broiler. If you do bake it, you will get a really really tasty baguette! I can’t say the TJ Organic French Baguette is  the equal to one from Maison Keyser but its not terribly far away either and one of the better commercial breads I’ve bought. This especially goes if you eat it with some really good butter like TJ’s “CULTURED FRENCH BUTTER” (I will review this in another post in future).  This butter and the baguette make a remarkably good combo, worth trying.

This is a very good TJ product and for $2 is an excellent value. Worth trying out if you see it. 

RAVE

Pastrami Style Smoked Salmon


Trader Joe’s Smoked Atlantic Salmon “Pastrami Style” 

When I pickup smoked salmon from TJ’s this is usually the one that I get.

Its got a little extra flavor from the the spice rub and herbs like dill, but theses are not overpowering to the taste of the smoked salmon, the balance is good as well as the texture. Its a pretty affordably priced special treat, at around five bucks.

A SUNDAY BREAKFAST: yes this is what I might do with it …. some smoked salmon on a fresh TJ Artisan Bagel with a shmear of cream cheese, a squeeze of fresh lemon and top with a little arugula and a grind of fresh pepper:  This combo is quite yummy, and makes for a special Sunday breakfast chez nous.

A 4 oz package of this smoked salmon costs $5.49 (Dec. 2018). Will give this a mild Rave.

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….)

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