Friday, October 17, 2014

If you're crazy about pumpkin, this is your kind of place

Calabaza, a type of pumpkin, on sale at H Mart in Englewood this week.

Editor's note: You'll be eating plenty of pumpkin during the holidays, if Trader Joe's has anything to say about it. Today, I also discuss tasty cannelloni I found in a take-out dinner from Jerry's Gourmet in Englewood.


Trader Joe's is testing your love for pumpkin with about three dozen items flavored with the fruit -- from coffee to bagels to yogurt to soup.

They are listed in an October 2014 flier, called Trader Joe's Fearless Flyer, and available at stores in Paramus, Edgewater, Clifton and other North Jersey towns.

The California-based retailer is offering Pumpkin Bread Mix, Pumpkin Spice Coffee and Joe's Pumpkin O's cereal.

And that's just on the front page of the flier. 

Pumpkin Ice Cream, Pumpkin Greek Yogurt, Pumpkin Cream Cheese and Pumpkin Bagels also are available.

There is even a non-edible Pumpkin Body Butter, a skin cream. See the Trader Joe's Web site:

Where to go for pumpkin, pumpkin, pumpkin

A nice surprise in a Jerry's Meals To Go I bought on Wednesday were two Salmon Cannelloni Au Gratin. 

The restaurant-quality dinners are reduced to $5.99 after 4 p.m. Jerry's Gourmet & More is at 410 S. Dean St. in Englewood.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Organic v. grass-fed beef, elusive food discounts, home cooking

Nature's Reserve Grass Fed Beef, left, and Clayton's Organic Ground Beef, both from Australia, are available at ShopRite in Paramus.

Clayton's Organic Ground Beef is 85% lean, compared to Nature Reserve's 80% lean.


Which is a better deal nutritionally -- 100% grass-fed ground beef raised without growth hormones or organic beef that is grass fed and grain finished?

I'd go with organic, because the beef is free of both harmful antibiotics and hormones, and the grain would have to be organic and free of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Both kinds are available at ShopRite in Paramus, where Clayton's Organic Ground Beef is on sale this week for $4.99 a pound with a store card, if you buy three packages.

At the International Food Warehouse in Lodi, 6.7-ounce bottles of yellow-fin tuna fillets are $5.99 or the equivalent of $14.30 a pound, above and below.

Fishing for deals in Lodi

You'll find one of the best selections of canned and bottled seafood at the International Food Warehouse, but bargains are elusive.

On Monday, I saw beautifully packaged 3.2-ounce tins of clams and crab from Chile for $2.50 each.

Bottle of tuna fillets, weighing only 6.7 ounces, were $5.99 each.

The store stocks tins of sardines from all over, but none are 99 cents, which is what I pay for Moroccan Sardines at Fattal's in Paterson.

Missing signs in the store, at 370 Essex St. in Lodi, make shopping difficult, but an employee I spoke with blamed customers for removing them, though I didn't understand why they would do that.

I took a 3-liter tin of extra-virgin olive oil from the Greek island of Crete to the front counter to find out the price, and left it there when it scanned at well over $20.

I bought a liter bottle of organic Turkish extra-virgin olive oil for $6.99, and fresh sweet red peppers for 89 cents a pound.

Two Costco Wholesale organic eggs with a generous pinch of Aleppo pepper made a great breakfast served over Costco's organic quinoa with diced tomatoes, black beans and whole garlic cloves prepared in an electric rice cooker.

Easy meals without bread

Breakfast can be just as filling without bread, especially one of those enormous bagels slathered with cream cheese.

Organic quinoa and whole-wheat pasta go great with eggs, omelets and frittatas.

Baked sweet potatoes need nothing beyond their terrific flavor and color.

When I couldn't find sweet potatoes this week, I boiled Kabocha squash with its skin and whole garlic cloves, and mashed them with extra-virgin olive oil and seasonings.

The squash was on sale at H Mart in Englewood for 45 cents a pound.

A simple egg-white omelet with a slice of Costco's reduced-fat Swiss cheese was delicious accompanied by leftover organic whole-wheat capellini lightly dressed in Costco's Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto.

My wife removed the bones and skin from leftover king whiting that were $1.99 a pound at H Mart in Englewood, and I used the flaky fish in a frittata with Costco's grated and sliced cheeses, and  dried Italian herbs. Two small baked sweet potatoes stood in for bread at this hearty breakfast.

My brother-in-law prepared fried whole porgy covered with onions, sweet pepper and whole pimento berries (allspice) cooked in vinegar or what is called escovitch fish, below. I ate mine with broccoli rabe from ShopRite that I blanched in boiling water and then sauteed with sesame oil and seasonings, including salt and powdered garlic.

For dinner tonight, I adopted a vegetarian recipe I saw in the newspaper for broccoli and firm tofu with ginger, onion, garlic, curry powder, tumeric and miso. I served the Costco tofu with Kabocha squash and garlic cloves I boiled and mashed, using extra-virgin olive oil and seasonings (I didn't have any fresh broccoli).

Recipe for Wafuu

Click on the following link to see the recipe from The Miami Herald:

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A big lunch for not much money at Syros Taverna in Englewood

Grilled salmon over a small salad is the centerpiece of a $12.95, three-course lunch during (201) Restaurant Week at Syros Taverna in Englewood.

My appetizer was a choice of two dips with Greek pita.


A friend who had dinner at Syros Taverna in Englewood warned me the Greek seafood restaurant is expensive.

So, I didn't expect much today when I met a friend there for a $12.95 lunch during (201) Restaurant Week.

But I was pleasantly surprised by the size of the portions and the well-prepared food.

I started with two dips, taramasalata (fish roe) and melitzanosalata (eggplant), which came with Greek pita.

My main dish was a nice piece of grilled salmon over a small salad with tomato, cucumber, olives and feta cheese, and the kitchen delivered the moist fillet I asked for.

I usually avoid dessert, but couldn't resist thick non-fat Green yogurt with honey, nuts and strawberry syrup.

When I asked for the check, my receipt said, "Cash gratuity greatly appreciated," something I haven't seen before.

A sensible and healthy dessert ended my $12.95 lunch.

My friend ordered an appetizer of zucchini and eggplant chips with skordalia, a thick puree of potatoes and garlic, that cost $12, almost as much as my three-course lunch.

During our lunch, we saw only one other table occupied at any one time.

The (201) Restaurant Week promotion runs through Thursday. A three-course dinner at Syros Tavenra is $29.95 during the promotion. Lunch is $9.95, $12.95 or $16.95.

Syros Taverna, 51 Palisade Ave., Englewood; 201-731-3558. Metered street parking. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

When the weather turns chilly, this $9.99 meal is sure to warm you up

I cracked two fresh eggs into my steaming stone bowl of Soft Tofu with Oysters at So Gong Dong Tofu & B.B.Q. in Palisades Park, and the yolks were poached perfectly.


The Korean soft tofu stew is as delicious as always, and the price for a comforting meal with steamed rice, four side dishes, a fresh egg and tea still is only $9.99.

But the place-mat menu is new, and the Palisades Park restaurant's name is longer, So Gong Dong Tofu & B.B.Q.

In addition to a Hartsdale, N.Y., branch, SGD Dubu has expanded to Glenview, Ill., a Chicago suburb, and soon will open another New Jersey branch in East Hanover.

To chase away the chilly weather on Saturday, we headed for So Gong Dong and another wonderful dinner of spicy soft tofu and a grilled seafood pancake.

Crunchy radish is one of the four side dishes that come with every soft-tofu meal, above and below.

Bean sprouts.

Cucumber and cabbage kimchis are the spicy side dishes, above and below.

The side dishes or panchan and a dipping sauce for the Pajun ($11.99), a large, grilled seafood and vegetable pancake made from rice flour.

New menu item

The revised place-mat menu lists a new item, Soft Tofu with Perilla seeds ($10.99), but when I asked about them, the waitress said I probably wouldn't like the taste.

So, I ordered my usual Soft Tofu with Oysters, but now I've learned the seeds are also known as wild sesame and the oil from them is rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Still, as I tucked into my soft tofu with perfectly poached egg yolks, crunchy side dishes and a wedge of seafood pancake, I felt this could very well be the perfect meal.

I didn't have white rice to keep the calorie count down, but did pry loose a few crunchy bits from the bottom of my wife's stone bowl.

You can ask for your soft tofu four ways, from "no spicy" to "more spicy." The seafood pancake is a non-spicy dish.

Soft tofu can be ordered plain, with seafood and 14 other ways.

Service is excellent, and a second or third set of side dishes can be had for the asking.

The simple setting for a delicious and inexpensive meal.

So Gong Dong Tofu & B.B.Q., 118 Broad Ave., Second Floor, Palisades Park; 201-313-5550. 

Open 7 days. Valet parking and free parking on side streets. Meters are in effect until 9 p.m.