Posts Tagged ‘Trader Joe’s’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Mirepoix

October 10, 2017


It’s no secret that I am a big Trader Joe’s fan. I brave the crowds frequently to stock up on items that are unbeatable for both price and quality.

One of my latest discoveries is not new to the brand, but it is new to me and it is life-changing. One word. Mirepoix. 

Mirepoix (meer – pwah) is a staple in the French culinary world, consisting of diced onion, carrot and celery, which provides the base for soups, stews, and sauces. It takes a bit of an effort to make, due to the washing, peeling, and dicing of the vegetables.

Trader Joe’s offers it in a 14 oz tub, layered with the perfect proportion of one-half onion, three carrots, and 3 celery stalks, all cut and ready to use. In the time it took to unpack my groceries, I had sauteed the Mirepoix and was ready to add the other ingredients for a quick pureed soup. And did I mention it’s only $2.99?

Quick Pureed Soup:
Slowly saute the mirepoix in butter or olive oil, until the vegetables start to soften, and the onion becomes translucent. True mirepoix is not meant to brown or caramelize.

Add the vegetable of choice, (zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli are all good options) and any herbs you might like. Add enough chicken or vegetable stock* to fully submerge the vegetables and simmer covered until they are soft. Puree the mixture until smooth, put it back in the pot, correct seasonings and enjoy!

* If you don’t have stock on hand, Better Than Bouillion is another easy fix. It comes in a jar and is spoonable, rather than dehydrated into a salty cube. It is organic, not full of fake ingredients, and a big dollop added to the pot of water makes a tasty soup. It is high in sodium, so be sure to taste before adding additional salt.




Recall Madness

June 6, 2016


In the last few weeks, there have been massive food recalls, as a result of potential listeria contamination. Not only are the recalls vast, they are also turning up in food products we may have deemed to be safe, and often healthy.

Once such recall stems from contaminated sunflower seeds, which were purchased by many different producers of granola bars and trail mix. The list of products being recalled seems to grow daily, with companies such as Nature Valley, Kashi, and Clif Bars being affected by the voluntary intiative.

Many ready made salads are joining the list, with Trader Joe’s being among the companies involved. They also have had significant issues with frozen vegetables, frozen fried rice mixtures and sunflower seed products.


5035600025_compThis weekend’s recall of General Mills flours is an especially alarming one, as the recall goes back several months, and the flour has likely been used to make other products, which could trigger more issues in the immediate future.

UPDATE: Hostess recalling donuts and snack cakes, based on potentially contaminated flour used to make them. Here we go…

Why are there so many recalls lately and what can we do about it?

An article by Tiffany Thomas on the website Romper suggests that the scope of the recalls could indicate progress within our food saftey system. According to Elliott Ryser, a professor at Michigan State University, the fact that a relatively small number of people actually became ill and the recalls were triggered by red flags during routine inspection, means our food inspection process is improving.

In fact, the CDC has new tools to track the genome sequences present in the bacteria. Listeria is also a hearty bacteria, sticking around and taking up residence in food processing plants. It is also able to survive extreme conditions, such as freezing. It can be killed if food reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, but it best to avoid contaminated foods altogether. Even listeriosis symptoms can take up to 2 months to reveal themselves, although they often show up within days of consuming contaminated foods.

For a list of all food recalls, check the FDA’s website for the latest information.

Photos: Glasshouse Images

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The Great Gluten Free Tart Off

January 28, 2016

I often get asked for gluten free baked goods. I have a few in my repertoire that simply don’t require any flour at all, and one that uses so little, it can easily be replaced with a gluten free option. This weekend, since we were pretty much snowed in here on the east coast, it seemed as good a time as any to experiment with one of the gluten free flour blends that have cropped up in the marketplace. Touted as being a cup for cup replacement, I picked up Trader Joe’s blend of rice flours, enhanced with potato starch and tapioca flour.


I made a basic tart crust, using one stick of butter, a pinch each of salt and sugar, a cup of flour and some filtered water. The good news: The dough came together beautifully, and had a silky texture to it. The not so good news: I found it almost impossible to work with.
I rolled it on a sheet of wax paper, which had been floured, and rolled it with a floured rolling pin. When I went to transfer it to the tart pan, it was completely stuck to the paper. Subsequent chilling, flouring and re-rolling didn’t seem to help. The only time I could get any significant portion off the paper was when I chilled it so much that it wasn’t pliable enough to put into the pan. I used a section of this, and “pinch potted” the rest. Not the most beautiful crust but there is still hope that when it is filled and baked it will recover.

I also made a classic crust using conventional flour, and  put them in the refrigerator to chill thoroughly before baking.


Once filled, they looked almost identical going into the oven.

The conventional flour tart browned more quickly and more evenly than the gluten free crust, even though I rotated the pan mid-baking. The noticably more profound difference was suprisingly in the filling. The gluten free filling seemed dry, with bits of the flour sticking to some of the apples, while the conventional tart had an evenly dispersed thick, juicy filling with large chunks of apples. It seems that the gluten free flour used as a thickener in the filling absorbed, rather than thickened the natural apple juices. If that is the only issue, it can be rectified with corn starch instead of gluten free flour next time.


Both got a drizzle of caramel, and were left to  cool a bit before the big taste testing.

The outcome: The gluten free tart was a bit crumbly. The texture of the crust was sandy, as opposed to the regular crust, which was flakey. It came out of the oven with a few cracks in it.

One tester stated: “the first crust looks flakey, but the second one tastes flakey.

Another felt the gluten free crust was more like a cookie crust, and remarked that it “turned to powder ” when eaten.

I felt as though I could taste “flour”in the gluten free crust, vs. the taste of butter in the conventional crust.

Despite the textural differences, the testers liked both tarts, yet at the end, both preferred the conventional version. They felt that if they only had the gluten free tart, they would have been ok with it, but when compared to the regular tart, it fell short.
The final verdict: Okay, but not great. I might try it again with a shortbread crust, rather than a rolled traditional pate brisee and see how it goes.
I will give the flour another chance, trying it in muffins or a cake, where it might be more successful. Even with a flour mixture that is developed to be a cup for cup replacement to conventional wheat flour, the results prove that they are not apples to apples comparable.

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Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Heavy Metal

November 24, 2015


Did you ever wonder why some baked goods have a slightly metallic aftertaste? No, it’s not caused by the pan they were baked in. Its the baking powder that was used that might emit a tinny taste.
Many commercial baking powders contain aluminium, which is the source of the problem. Before you bake those Thanksgiving biscuits, check yours to make sure it is aluminium free. Brands like Bob’s Red Mill, are carried at most large supermarkets and do not add aluminium. We use Trader Joe’s double acting baking powder, which touts being aluminium free right on the label and is inexpensive.

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

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Unrecipe of the Week: Edamame Hummus

May 28, 2014


In the wake of the great hummus recall of 2014, it’s time the ask the question on everyone’s mind:
Why not make our own?
No good reason, since it’s actually pretty simple to do. Trader Joe’s edamame hummus may be a cult favorite, but just because it’s off the shelves, it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the homemade version.

It all starts with the same simple ingredients, enhanced to suit your tastes.

Edamame Hummus:

In a medium pot, boil one bag of shelled, frozen edamame and a few cloves of peeled garlic in salted water, until thawed and tender, about 5 minutes.

Drain, and transfer to a food processor. Add the juice and zest of one lemon, about a tablespoon of fragrant olive oil, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Puree until smooth, adding small amounts of water until it reaches the desired consistency.

To take it up a notch, add a 1/4 cup of tahini, and a handful of cilantro. Puree until smooth, and refrigerate at least an hour to allow flavors to blend and enjoy!

photo: Glasshouse Images




May 31, 2013


Every so often, a “new” item hits the culinary scene and suddenly foodies everywhere are talking about it. This recent discovery has been used in Egyptian cooking for centuries. Dukkah, derived from the word “dakka” means “to crush,” and it is essentially a blend of crushed nuts and spices often sprinkled over flatbread dipped in  olive oil. Since the variation of ingredients is so vast, it is only right that it’s uses are equally as broad.

The mainstream store bought version from Trader Joe’s contains almonds, sesame, fennel, coriander and anise seeds and kosher salt. It adds wonderful flavor when sprinkled over salmon filets, and surely it would be an enhancement to roasted vegetables, chicken or lamb.

While it’s easy and economical to let Trader Joe’s make it, making your own would allow for some variation in ingredients. Here is a simple base (un)recipe to get you started. Let your imagination run wild as you add flavors to enhance the simplest of dishes.


1/2 cup toasted nuts, crushed. (put them in a plastic bag and use a rolling pin for easy crushing)

Try almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts or even pistachios as a starter.

1/4 cup  sesame seeds 

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 tablespoon cumin,anise,or coriander seeds (or any mixture of seeds that suit your taste)

1/2 teaspoon or more kosher salt or sea salt

Consider adding dried herbs to the blend: mint, tarragon, thyme or basil

Toast the seeds lightly in a dry skillet, tossing to avoid over browning. Cool, and grind lightly in a spice grinder so they are crushed, but not turned to powder. Add to the nuts and mix. If you don’t have a grinder, give them a once over with the rolling pin before adding to the nuts. Transfer to a glass jar and enjoy!

photo: Indigo Jones

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Eating Religiously

April 6, 2012

Several weeks ago, as my Trader Joe’s “Sweet, Savory and Tart Trek Mix” addiction was reeling out of control, I discovered it was Lent.  While I am not Catholic, and honestly couldn’t tell you anything about the significance of the occasion, I did know that it involved giving up something you enjoy until Easter, and I loves me some good trek mix!

Always one for a challenge, or in this case an intervention, I tossed the last of it in the trash and decided to do without it for awhile. (Before the food waste followers gasp in horror, if truth be told, the bag was nearly empty!)

Tonight marks the start of the Jewish holiday of Passover, where one is expected to do without flour products for 8 days in remembrance of the Jews’ escape from Egypt, where the bread did not have time to rise. I am not certain what that has to do with cookies and pasta which are relatively flat, but since the rules were established centuries ago, let’s just roll with it.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, now is a great time to take a break and go gluten free for 8 days. If you don’t fill up on all kinds of “replacement” foods, and just forego the bread, cake, pasta and cookies, it’s highly likely you will lose weight.
If you are like me, you will also lose that bloated belly, and gain energy.

So consider yourself challenged: Try to spend the next 8 days, “passing-over” refined carbs and eat only whole foods that have not been processed, preserved or packaged.

If your body really is your temple, it will thank you!

Can It

November 16, 2010

BPA (Bisphenol-A), a chemical present in plastic bottles and cans is a known health risk to humans. It mimics the hormone estrogen, and can disturb the working of certain genes. We previously discussed the hazards of BPA, including early puberty, infertility and cancer risk in our previous post “ Eliminate A Plastic Bottle A Day To Keep The Doctor Away. “ (January 18, 2010)

Recently, despite the claim by the World Health Organization that it is unnecessary, Canada has banned BPA from all food products. The Federal Drug Administration in the U.S. suggests “limited exposure’ to the product, pending further testing.

In this country, an estimated 92% of all canned goods contain BPAs.  Although there is no law requiring manufacturers to label their products as containing BPA, the following is a list of the brands that do not use BPA in their canned goods, as reported by Treehugger:

Eden Organic

Some products by Trader Joe’s

Vital Choice

Oregon’s Choice

Wild Planet

Eco Fish

Native Forest

Native Factor

Other options include items in glass bottles and paper tetrapcks, such as Pomi tomato products.
Kudos to these manufacturers for making the effort to keep our food safe and healthy.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

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