ZHOUG SAUCE


Trader Joe’s ZHOUG SAUCE is a fresh tasting and delicious Middle Eastern / Yemeni condiment. When they describe it on the package as “very spicy” in this case, TJ is not kidding! Repeat – this is “VERY SPICY” as in will knock your socks off spicy.

Herbal from cilantro, spicy from jalapeno and chile, seasoned with cumin and cardamon, this stuff is bloody wonderful.

I’ve put it on just about everything you can think of…chicken, tofu, eggs, fritattas, pasta…. you can’t go wrong with this on just about anything you put it on, it will make you smack your lips. I suspect it would be good on shoe leather.

This was even a bit too spicy for me (rare!)  Unless you are a total chile-head, capsaicin obsessed death-head sauce freak you might want to tame it down a tiny bit as I did. I added some olive oil and lemon juice to cut down the heat ever so slightly. I liked it better that way as I could use it more generously. You will use this in small amounts…a little goes a long way, especially right out of the jar as they make it. Its in the refrigerated section at TJ and costs $3. A steal.

Here’s a DIY version I found if you want to try your hand at making ZHOUG

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/diy-trader-joes-zhoug-sauce_n_5b96758ce4b0511db3e480d0

RAVE

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SHISHITO PEPPERS


Shishito Peppers are a Japanese pepper variety, quite popular and common in Japan and  just getting a bit known in the U.S. finally. But that might change soon, as they’re quite delicious — and especially now that you can find them so easily in your local TJ’s Produce Section, instead of having to look for them at a specialized Japanese grocery.

Shishito peppers are even a new “it” food you will see in upscale and trendy restaurants these days.

RUSSIAN ROULETTE PEPPERS – NOT SPICY -vs- SPICY!! 

As a rule Shishito Peppers aren’t spicy. That is until you get a Spicy one! The general saying about them is: “1 in 10 will be spicy”.  When you get a spicy one (my favorites) I would say they’re a bit less spicy than a jalapeño in level of kick. Meaning, yes it will be pretty spicy. So be warned, if you’re feeding them to your kid and grandma. If you bite into one and its spicy and you don’t like spicy, just put it to the side and the next one will in all likelihood be mild.

The usual way to make Shishito peppers are grill them in a pan over medium fire with a pinch of oil (sesame oil would be great) until they blister or get a tiny bit of char on one side, then turn them to the other side and do the same till cooked.

Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and they’re ready to serve. They can be a great little side dish, so they will go great with most anything you might serve as the Main. In Japan they are famous as a drinks snack served to go with beer or sake. You can also use them as an ingredient in foods, just as you would put in some green pepper.

LINKS

https://www.foodandwine.com/vegetables/shisito-pepper-recipes#charred-shishito-peppers-garlic-herb-oil

SHISHITO / WIKI

TJ’s sells a bag of them for $2.29 so they’re pretty affordable to try out…

We really love them in our house, and you might too. Give them a shot.

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Trader Joe’s IRISH BREAKFAST TEA


 

If you enjoy having a nice “cuppa”- and I really do – I think you will like TJ’s IRISH BREAKFAST TEA.

Trader Joe’s ORIGINAL IRISH BREAKFAST TEA BAGS is a newer incarnation from a previous version of “Irish Tea” they sold till they “revamped” it a year or two back? That previous Irish Tea packaging looked a bit different and tasted different too. This newer version is better than the previous version. Its has more flavor and is a stronger blend, which is what you definitely want in a cup of “Irish Tea” as Irish tea should be strong enough to stand up to milk and sugar, the way most people probably drink it there, as well as the UK.

TJ’s gave the box a new look and the tea which was in a square bag, now comes as round tea bags (tagless, no string). They’re packaged inside in 2 foil wrapped packages with 40 tea bags each, which is great way to sell tea, as the foil wrapper keeps the tea totally fresh and airtight until you need to open the second little package of 40 bags. When you rip open the foil pack you will smell the tea easily, its got a very nice earthy (boggy?) deep tea aroma. To me this smells like good tea. According to the info on the box, the tea comes from 5 countries: India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malawi, and Kenya. A box of this is 80 teabags with a Net Wt. of 8 ounces, which translates basically to mean each tea bag contains a decent amount of tea inside, enough to make a strong “cuppa”. When you see cheap tea that has 100 tea bags and says “6 oz” you already know that means there’s simply not enough tea in each bag to make a strong cup of tea.

This is a black tea and properly steeped (4-5 minutes) the tea gives you a nice very strong, dark cuppa tea, with a deep reddish color. It is strong enough to stand up to a splash of milk and maybe sugar, if you take it that way. I do.

A box of 80 tea bags is $3 (or $6/lb) which is a very good deal compared to TJ’s own ENGLISH BREAKFAST TEA (which comes in a box of 48 bags for the same price)

As the box says, “The Irish love their tea”. Us Yanks who do as well, can easily enjoy this brand of tea easily and affordably gotten at TJ’s to make their daily “cuppa”.

RAVE

Natural Cat Treats (Bench & Field)


Bench & Field – Holistic Natural Feline Treats

 

OK, so while I can’t really write a taste test review of these cat treats, I can say I buy these treats for my two cats regularly, and they go bonkers for them.

The photo above shows my “guest reviewer”, my Siamese cat, Aspen, taste testing the treats and I can only say they get his 100% seal of approval. I tried many times to get a good, clear shot of him eating one of these natural treats as I held one out to him but it was almost impossible, as Aspen kept tugging and pulling my hand holding the treat with his massive paws as soon as I took one out of the jar. So let’s just say these treats certainly pass the taste test.

These treats are not made or sold under TJ’s brand but are sold there under the original brand called “Bench & Field”  and are labeled as “HOLISTIC NATURAL FELINE TREATS with Added Vitamins and Minerals.”

They’re shaped like a little fish, and have fish listed as the first ingredient (anchovy and sardine) and a bunch of natural ingredients. Chewy sells them for $6 a jar. TJ’s sells them for $3! Go figure. Of course I buy them when I am at Trader Joe’s.

I’m pretty sure your cats will enjoy these. More info can be found at Bench and Field’s own site: https://www.benchandfield.com/product/holistic-natural-feline-treats-subscription/

Trader Joe’s FRENCH CULTURED BUTTER


 

If you want to “Up” your butter game at home, just try this excellent, high quality butter from France. But be warned. If you try it once, you may never go back to regular butter.

Spread a bit of this French butter on anything…some fresh asparagus, frozen peas, a baked potato, some steamed Yukon Golds, fresh bread…anywhere…and you will notice how good really good butter can taste. Any other store you would pay something like $6-7 for this 1/2 lb. pack. Trader Joe’s sells it for about $3.

I’ve lately grown to buying two kinds of butter at Trader Joe’s. What I would call “regular butter” and the “Good Stuff” (imported butter). This is the Good Stuff. If I’m having some toast in the morning and I put some of this French butter from Brittany on it, or anything…well its just heavenly.

I’ve gotten to really like two “premium” butter that TJ sells. One is KERRYGOLD butter which comes in a gold or silver package (unsalted and salted). It’s from Ireland, and is also excellent. Next I tried this imported butter “Trader Jacque’s” FRENCH CULTURED SALTED BUTTER, in the blue package, which may have a slight edge on the Kerrygold butter. This comes from Brittany (Bretagne), the region in the North West of France, famous for butter and dairy products. I’ve tried to do taste tests comparing the two butters and pick one over the other. They are both so good I almost can’t pick one as “best” but I have started to buy this French one more as according to my neighbor the French one is better. The difference must be that this one is a “cultured” butter (fermented with enzymes similar to those in yogurt) to give a little bit of a tangy taste edge over the non-cultured Irish Kerrygold.

The premium imported butters naturally cost more the regular butter Trader Joe’s sells for about $3/lb which is fine, and I would say equal to Hotel Bar butter or similar. But this French butter does up your butter game.

FRENCH CULTURED BUTTER comes in a 8.8 oz pack which sells for about $3 (so figure its costs about twice as much as the regular butter.) Still TJ’s French butter is I think the equal to butters you might buy in a supermarket in France. And if you compare this to imported premium butters you might see sold in an upscale supermarket here which sells imported butter, they are crazy expensive (12/lb?). So as usual Trader Joe’s is selling this premium imported butter at a still fairly reasonable price (around $6 lb.) for an excellent French butter. The Cultured French Salted French butter only comes in a salted version but I find it fine, not overly salty at all, it’s just right for most applications. I’ve grown to love it. In fact, my Japanese sister-in-law loved this butter so much when she was visiting us that she actually carried back two packs back home to Japan (!) Give it a try once, say slather some on a piece of warm French baguette just out of the oven, and you may never go back….

Mes amis, c’est La Vie en Rose!

Cultured butter is typically created by adding live bacteria (cultures) to the butter before it’s churned, versus regular butter which is cream that just goes straight to the churning machine. … Results in a higher-fat product, which in turns makes the butter more silky and gives it a richer taste.”

RAVE

 

UPDATE: The price was recently increased to $3.49

 

 

Trader Joe’s SMOKED ENGLISH CHEDDAR


 


I’ve never seen this cheese before at TJ’s and as I’ve previously mentioned, Cheddar is one of my favorite cheeses. I love “smoked” cheeses too, generally and thought this looked worth a try.

Not only is it smoked, it says “With Spring Onion and Chive” and from the picture you may be able to make out the green flecks in the cheese as well as the brown edge which smoked cheeses have.

I liked the taste of this cheese a good deal. Its very interesting and unusual. The two added flavors (smoke and onion) add an entire new dimension of flavors and fit in nicely and are balanced. While pronounced, the added flavors do not overpower the taste of the cheddar. In a traditional English pub, a cheddar cheese along with some pickled onions and bread are an old traditional menu item…A “Ploughman’s Lunch“. So cheese and onion… perfect together.

We tried it on some crusty baguette. Upon tasting this Smoked English Cheddar my wife said, “I think this would be good with some red wine”. She’s smart, it definitely would. “That’s exactly why I bought it”, I said. We’ll test this theory out later tonight.

Update: It was superb with a nice red wine (Malbec)

This Smoked English Cheddar sells for $9/lb. and gets a Recommended and a

RAVE

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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