Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Some of my favorite things at Costco are ready for their closeup

You might know pesto as a wonderful dressing for pasta, but the refrigerated product sold at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack also can be used as a sandwich spread or as a garnish for omelets, frittatas and soups, below. All the basil in Kirkland Signature Bail Pesto is imported from Italy.

Parmigiano Reggiano has been called the "King of Cheeses." At $10.59 a pound, the aged Kirkland Signature cheese, imported from Italy, is selling for less than at other retailers. The nutty cheese is wonderful with dried or fresh fruit, and shaved over eggs. Costco also sells the same cheese shredded for adding to pasta and egg dishes.

On Tuesday, I bought a wedge of another aged cow's milk cheese, Kirkland Signature Grana Padano, said to Italy's most popular cheese. Tiny print on the wrapper says this cheese has been made since Roman times.

Grana Padano shaved over two organic eggs from Costco, above, and in a salad made with Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix, below.

Even at a higher price, Kirkland Signature Wild Alaskan Smoked Sockeye Salmon is cheaper at Costco than at any other retailer in North Jersey. Smoked farmed salmon doesn't even come close to the color or robust taste of the wild-caught fish.

The price of Jarlsberg Lite Swiss Cheese has jumped about a dollar, but the reduced-fat slices are great in sandwiches or as snack food, whether eaten alone or with smoked wild salmon, canned-fish salad and red-leaf lettuce, below.

Sweet potatoes have reappeared at Costco in Hackensack for the holidays. A 10-pound bag was only $7.99 or about 80 cents a pound, compared to a 3-pound bag of the same sweet potatoes at the Paramus ShopRite for about $1 a pound. They are terrific baked or cut up, boiled with peeled garlic and mashed, using extra-virgin olive oil and seasonings.

The price for 100 bags of Japanese Green Tea from Ito En, sold under the Kirkland Signature label, has risen, but the bagged leaves and matcha powder make a soothing cup of tea.

One of the cheapest items at Costco travels the farthest. We use Ground Saigon Cinnamon from Vietnam to dust raw, salt-free almonds we roast at home; and in coffee and hot milk.

Costco says Himalayan Pink Salt is the purest form of sea salt available because it is harvested in the mountains, not from potentially polluted ocean water. A 13-ounce grinder was $3.99.

There is only 1 gram of La Mancha Spanish Saffron in the jar, but the label says you have to use "only a few threads" in rice, soup, sauces and other dishes to make them come alive with the unique flavor. The jar was $11.99, but La Mancha Saffron offered on appears to cost less.

Organic No-Salt Seasoning is a flavorful blend of 21 organic spices and ingredients that help you cut down on the use of sodium in home-cooked meals. A 14.5-ounce jar was $8.29.

These addictive sheets of Roasted Seasoned Seaweed from South Korea have less salt than other brands. Each package contains nearly three times as much seaweed as Korean brands.

Kirkland Signature Minoxidil (Foam) is a better deal than Rogaine hair-regrowth treatment. A four-month supply of the name-brand foam is $49.99 ($39.99 on sale), compared to $48.99 for a six-month supply of Costco's Minoxidil.

These sun-dried organic figs are unsulfured and free of GMOs. They are terrific with cheese or in salads. A 2.5-pound package was $10.99.

At ShopRite in Paramus, a deep discount on Paesana Marinara pasta sauce in a 40-ounce jar manages to just beat Costco's sale price for Victoria Marinara, below. Neither has added sugar.

This week, Paramus ShopRite's sales price also is undercutting Costco's price for Tropicana Pure Premium Orange Juice in the 89-ounce container. A geezer who saw me putting two bottles of the OJ in my cart on Tuesday denounced the product as "sugar water," insisting Tropicana would never give consumers 100% juice, despite what the label says.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Dark Roast at Dunkin' Donuts, sodium in roasted seaweed and more

With a little whole milk, the new Dark Roast from Dunkin' Donuts makes a terrific cup of coffee. A medium cup (14 ounces) was only 99 cents, plus tax, today at the store on Hackensack Avenue and University Plaza Drive in Hackensack, compared to the usual price of $1.94.

At Joe Coffee at 405 W. 23rd St. in Manhattan on Saturday, a 12-ounce cup of drip coffee was $2.30, plus tax. I prefer the smoothness of the Dunkin' Donuts Dark Roast.


I had some time to kill today while the Firestone store in Hackensack checked out a slow-leaking tire on my Toyota Prius, so I walked across the street to try the new Dark Roast at Dunkin' Donuts.

I'm a loyal fan of Starbucks, but have to admit this is a nice cup of coffee, especially for the special price of 99 cents for a 14-ounce cup.

Costco Wholesale's Kirkland Signature Roasted Seasoned Seaweed, imported from South Korea, has less sodium that the brands I've purchased at Korean supermarkets. The quantity of addictive seaweed in each Costco package is about three times what you get with other brands.

For a snack, I wrapped seaweed, smoked wild salmon and homemade canned fish salad in a slice of reduced-fat Swiss cheese. Most of the ingredients came from Costco.

A display of roasted seaweed packages at the H Mart in Little Ferry.

This brand of roasted seaweed or laver I saw at H Mart on Sunday comes in .17-ounce packages, compared to the .6-ounce packages sold at Costco. The nutrition labels of the two brands list different serving sizes, making it difficult to compare sodium, but Costco's seasoned seaweed tastes less salty and its label lists less sodium and a lower percentage of the recommended daily maximum allowance.

When I combined organic quinoa and organic brown rice with organic diced tomatoes, black beans and whole peeled garlic cloves and prepared them in an electric cooker, I found the resulting dish a little drier than when made with quinoa alone. Use two cups of liquid for each cup of quinoa and rice -- plus olive oil and a little salt. Here, I had the side dish with fresh wild Atlantic cod from Costco that I had coated in a homemade Super Spice Mixture and baked in the oven. The fish, long-line caught in Iceland, was $7.99 a pound.

I took a break from eggs this morning and had the organic quinoa-brown rice dish with a curry sauce I prepared for a tofu recipe last week, and leftover sauteed cabbage and sweet peppers.

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: