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. An easy version is not hard at all, if you use a canned curry paste and a can or two of coconut milk.

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

Here’s a link to The Fearless Flyer post about this 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 and SPICY Thai green curry, you would be disappointed. Its is barely spicy. The reality of this product is its in the mild level of Thai food and flavor, 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 only 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 about $3. Not a bad thing to have in the cupboard. Worth a try!

TIP: The label says “add a 1/2 pound” of your main ingredient. So figure this is about 2 servings? For 4 people, I would double this to one lb (or more) and add another jar of sauce.

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

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almondina Cookies


alm-originalBesides the products sold by Trader Joe’s under the “Trader Joe’s” brandname, TJ’s also sells some carefully selected products which which are sold under their own original brand.

Trader Joe’s team of product selectors are know to be pretty picky about what they select to sell in their stores. In fact, TJ has a fairly well known reputation as a retail outlet where its not only hard to get them to sell your product, but also many times if they sell it they may want to put their own TJ brand on it, as they frequently rebrand and repackage products. So one can assume existing brands and products they sell under their original name probably are established brands with a long history and their own reputation for quality. As an example of one such product sold at Trader Joes are “ALMONDINA” original cookies which TJ carries in its stores. A review of them follows (Full disclosure: I was sent some cookies by Almondina’s for review. Rare? Beyond rare, its a first! (Product managers –hint, hint — please feel free to send me stuff for review!) Naturally rest assured this will not sway me in any way from giving a totally unbiased review.

In short, these are really good! ALMONDINA original cookies are essentially a biscotti type of cookie. Their tagline is “The Delicious Cookie Without The Guilt”. What makes these rather unique compared to normal biscotti cookies is how thin they are. They are very thin, maybe a 1/4″ wide, which is way thinner than any biscotti type cookie I have ever had.  A regular biscotti is about 4 or 5 times that width and as you know are typically quite “hard” and crunchy and very typically you eat the regular biscotti’s by dunking them in some coffee or tea. With the Almondina cookies theres No Dunking Required — though I tried them that way too — and they are excellent dunked in tea or coffee or milk.

Being so thin makes it more “guilt free” as you will consume less calories per cookie, hence the “without the guilt” tagline on their package.  The best thing about these aside from being delicious is they are made from a short list of real and simple ingredients from a 100-year old recipe that was invented by the owner’s grandmother Dina. They are made with only “all natural” simple ingredients and there are no added fats or oil. They are loaded with Almonds – hence the name. In fact the first ingredient listed : “Almonds”. It says they are 24% almonds! So if you like almonds you will love these as they are so almond-y. They are absolutely delicious on their own or paired with cheese of almost any kind. Brie for one is excellent with them. They would be good to have on hand when guests come over .  I even found a little recipe using the cookies at Trader Joe’s website using Almondina cookies to make some nice little dessert sandwiches with cream cheese. Looks yummy!  High tea, anyone?http://www.traderjoes.com/recipes/recipe/5151mainimage

 

So I really liked ALMONDINA’S and you will too no doubt. Try them, you will not be disappointed.

RAVE

Have you tried this product?  Let me know what you think in the comments section!

Trader Joe’s New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings


apple rings

New Zealand Sweet Apple Rings

“Unsulphered and unsweetened”

These may be a new product, or at least I’ve never noticed them till recently. Anyway I bought them to try and really liked these. Its really good new Trader Joe’s product.

My first impression upon opening the package was my nose immediately caught a very nice “apple-ly” scent coming from the bag, and them upon popping one of these dried apple rings in my mouth… next was that “oh yeah so yummy” reaction to something new you’re trying.  This has a really natural taste and delicious flavor, this is neither too sweet, nor too tart. You are thinking yeah “These are what dried apples should taste like” as you chew and chew a few more. In fact you may find as I did, its really hard to stop eating them!. I could probably devour the bag munching on them. Not that I should do that! But I can see a bag will go fast in my house.

The apples have been dehydrated to just the right point, where they are not too hard or rubbery like some dried apple rings can be, but are wonderfully softish, and chewy and kind of taste what I imagine, if I made my own dehydrated apples, what they would taste like. The ingredients are one thing, and one thing only: Apples! “SELECTED FROM BRAEBURN, ROYAL,GALA, FUJI AND PINK LADY APPLES” Unsulphered and unsweetened. I really like ingredients where one thing and one thing only is listed. You know what you bought come with no hidden agendas.

In sum, try these, you are sure to like them. These could be a healthy snack and treat for you or your kids to have around. Try with some peanut butter and you have something heavenly (could even be put into a sandwich?)
An 8 oz. package sells for $3.49. The package I bought got eaten fast. They are slightly addictive. Be forewarned.

So these get a

RAVE

 

Have you tried this product?  Let me know what you think in the comments section!

 

Trader Joe’s Pita Chips; Parmesan, Garlic, Herb


tj_pitachips_1Trader Joe’s Pita Chips

(Parmesan, Garlic, and Herb flavor)

RAVE

To me these are one of those “wow these are amazing!” TJ’s products you buy once and instantly fall in love with. The kind you put into the,“I want to have these on hand at all times” category and buy every time you go to the store.

Cut quite thick, and baked – these chips are SERIOUSLY, majorly crunchy!. They’re so savory and full of massive amounts of flavor that you might devour the whole bag in a sitting.

The buzz word these days in the food world? Umami… Parmesan cheese is known to have lots of umami. That must be a) why they are so tasty and b) why when I eat these even my cat instantly comes running over, starts to cry, and tries to grab them out of my hand (really, if I just open the bag she goes nuts)! Its a hoot.

These Pita Chips have a bold texture and taste… very tasty combination of the parmesan, garlic and herbs. I can not begin to tell you how crunchy these are, you must try for yourself but when I say “crunchy” I mean so crunchy if you were watching TV and eating these you would have to turn the sound way up just to hear it over all the major noise going on in your head.

They are thick enough so could they be wonderful with salsa, guacamole, or any dip and are guaranteed not to break like normal chips might. But the truth is they are so good by themselves, they don’t even need dip; you can easily enjoy these plain (they are anything but plain) right out of the bag . The hard thing is to stop eating them, period. You say just one more and realize the bag’s almost empty. I’m pretty sure these would even work to as croutons on a salad I  read somewhere on the web that they are possibly actually “Stacey’s Chips”. I’ve never tasted those so can’t judge but these are $1.99 and I read that Stacey’s brand just under $4. TJ_pitachips_2I (try) to put a bag of these away in the back of the cupboard to keep and save so we have always have something special on hand for guests who might drop in — but the reality is more than once we just went to the cupboard and grabbed a bag and said, “Come on lets open these; we’ll get some more next time we’re at Trader Joe’s”. So much for will power. We might have to buy 2 or 3 bags at a time… And even then, they might not be safe. So these get a RAVE and are definitely worth a try. They’re dangerously good!

 

Have you tried this product?  Let me know what you think in the comments section!

TJ’s “South African Smoke” Seasoning Spice Blend


Spices – Not something that may first come to mind when you think “Trader Joe’s” stuff but actually they have shelves and shelves of spices. They are well priced, if you compare them to a regular supermarket, and always seem fresh to me.

I seem to especially like some of their spice “seasoning blends’  that are pre-mixed blends of whole spices. They are sold right in their own cleverly made grinder, which by the way are very practical and easy to use (even easy to re-use, they have screw tops). As you may know, grinding a spice just prior to using it is the way to get a spice’s optimal flavor.

I am now particularly fond of this Spice Blend called “South African Smoke” seasoning blend:

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The ingredients are listed as “smoked paprika (which are large flakes), sea salt, garlic, basil” Well though it doesn’t sound so exotic on paper, when you grind this onto almost any food, you get a heavenly smoky aroma. I couldn’t even begin to list all the foods this is good on, because it is so tasty it might make even a slice of wet cardboard taste good! But if you try it on almost any food (meat, chicken, tofu, veggies, rice, potatoes, pasta…. you name it)… then you will agree with me — This stuff is the bomb.

A jar costs about $2.29. I even added some coriander and fennel seeds into the jar, which I thought made it even better. So you could experiment a little too with these jars of spices, added some of your own spices too.

Here’s what “Trader Joe’s themselves had to say about this on their site:

Our travels take us to some of the world’s most interesting regions, where we have the opportunity to taste foods we may never have encountered on our home turf. (Full disclosure: this is the royal we, as it refers to our buyers and not, alas, to certain writers of food-related information.) Among our recent “discoveries” is Trader Joe’s South African Smoke seasoning blend, one of the more unique items we’ve come across.

South African Smoke begins with African-grown paprika that is slow-smoked for 48 hours over a sustainable African hardwood called Acacia Saligna, commonly used as barbecue coals. This process enriches the paprika with a smoky, roasted flavor that evokes the South African braai, or barbecue. The smoked paprika is blended with sea salt, garlic and basil and packaged in a grinder, giving you fresh-ground flavor in every twist. Use it as a rub for meats or veggies prior to cooking, or keep it on the table in place of everyday salt & pepper. You’ll find this spice blend only at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s, where we’re selling each 1.76 ounce grinder for $2.29.

My only complaint about this stuff is it goes too fast in my house!

THIS PRODUCT GETS A RAVE!

 

UPDATE SUMMER 2014 –

NO NO NO !!! NOT ON SHELF. DID TRADER JOE’S DISCONTINUE!?!

ANOTHER GREAT PRODUCT,  GONE !? RANT!

 

ANOTHER UPDATE : SUMMER 2015 …ITS BACK ON THE SHELF AT MY TJ’S !!! GRAB IT WHILE YOU CAN ?! ONE READER REPORTS ITS SEASONAL FOR SUMMER ONLY (grilling)

SO STOCK UP IF YOU SEE IT.

Trader Joe’s Virgin Coconut Oil


So I’ve been hearing about Coconut Oil, once considered highly unhealthy, being re-evaluated from a health standpoint.

Coconut Oil has been getting a fair amount of buzz this past year. I had read an interesting piece in the NY Times by Melissa Clark about cooking with it.

I saw this jar of Trader Joe’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil in the NEW PRODUCTS shelf at my Trader Joe’s. I thought, I should see what all this is about and made a mental note to pick up a bottle and try it.

Its an interesting product as it has uses both ‘Culinary’ and ‘Health & Beauty’ Or as I think of it – its skin cream you can eat! Or Cooking Oil you can use as Hair Dressing. No really, its good for all these things. In fact, it has so many uses!

English: Coconut oil in solid state.

English: Coconut oil in solid state. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I opened the bottle and sniffed it, it was just amazing…WOW! It has an intense smell of COCONUT. I mean you smell it and your mind instantly thinks ‘Tropical Beach’. Just smells yummy and wonderful. I heard it was great in cooking especially good for sauteeing vegetables, as Melissa Clark wrote about. So I peeled and sliced up some Carrots (TJ Organic Carrots) and tossed them in a pan with about a tablespoon of the Coconut Oil. Again, an amazing smell wafted through the kitchen. Tossed in the sliced carrots and let them sauté for about 10 minutes or so. After the carrots were slightly browned I tasted one. It had a wonderful under-note of (yes) Coconut. The sauteed carrots tasted delicious, and I could imagine many vegetables benefitting from being cooked in coconut oil. Melissa Clark mentions roasted sweet potatoes – that sounds great – and she has a number of interesting recipes listed in her piece, which you can try.

Coconut Oil when it’s kept at a cool temperature appears white and in a solid state. If it warms up it, will become clear and liquid.

Traditional bullock-powered coconut oil mill. ...

Traditional bullock-powered coconut oil mill. Dried coconuts are crushed and oil is squeezed out. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Additionally of course this is good for other things, like putting on your hair too. And it is wonderful to rub on dry skin as a moisurizer. I even read its a natural antiperspirant (you put a drop or two under your arms).

What a useful product. The question may be Where to keep the jar?! In the Bathroom or the Kitchen?!!

A jar costs $5.99 for 16 ounces. Check it out. I’m just beginning to experiment with using it. And yes, it truly makes your hair beautiful and smell wonderful too.

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