Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Simple accents brighten any meal

Coarsely ground Aleppo pepper and chopped fresh garden herbs are two of the simple accents that give extra eye and taste appeal to fresh wild salmon and organic eggs.

Editor's note: Summer brings fresh wild salmon, garden herbs, Jersey blueberries and other tastes of the season. Today, I discuss simple accents for home-cooked meals and present further adventures in food shopping.

I have mint and oregano growing in my garden, and a container of coarsely ground Aleppo pepper in my refrigerator, and I use them with a free hand.

The fresh herbs and the mildly spicy pepper work best with fish and egg dishes.

Wild-caught whiting need little more than seasoning and flour before frying, below.

I found the large whiting at H Mart in Little Ferry.

The run of fresh wild sockeye salmon from the Copper River in Alaska has ended at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, and now the packages just say, "Product of  U.S.A."

We bought another fillet on Monday for $10.99 a pound, and I prepared it using a simple recipe from Mark Bittman, whose New York Times column is called "The Minimalist."

Wild salmon with sliced tomatoes, capers, Aleppo pepper, olive oil and lime juice before I placed the pan in a preheated 400-degree oven set on roast/convection.

The leftovers went into the refrigerator.

For breakfast, I plated wild salmon with a cheese-and-smoked-wild-salmon omelet.

Bittman tells you to season the wild salmon portions, place the tomato slices and capers over and around them, and drizzle on some extra-virgin olive oil.

The recipe also calls for chopped red onion, but I didn't have that on hand.

I added the Aleppo pepper and chopped oregano from my garden, and roasted the fish for 10 to 12 minutes in a 400-degree oven.

I buy my Aleppo pepper at Fattal's Bakery, 975-77 Main St., Paterson. It is open 7 days.

Other simple accents are sun-dried tomatoes and bottled Mexican green salsa, shown here on an egg-white omelet with leftover brown rice from Lotus Cafe in Hackensack.

At Whole Foods Market in Paramus on Tuesday, I saw fresh wild sockeye salmon fillets for $16.99 a pound, compared to $10.99 a pound at Costco.

Wild Alaskan Sockeye Smoked Salmon was $5.99 for 4 ounces or about $24 a pound. At Costco, a 1-pound package of the same smoked sockeye salmon is $15.39.

But I found frozen Coleman Organic Ox Tails for $6.99 a pound -- an item I've seen in no other store.

Whole Foods Market is the only store I know that pledges its farmed salmon is raised without pesticides, antibiotics or growth hormones. Farmed salmon is artificially colored.

Whole Catch is a store brand at Whole Foods Market.

I didn't see this sign the last time I visited Whole Foods in Paramus.

$5 bowl of soup

Lunch at Panera Bread in Woodcliff Lake.

I stopped for lunch on Monday at a Panera Bread in the Tice's Corner Marketplace in Woodcliff Lake, and spent nearly $8 on soup and a medium coffee.

After I ordered a bowl of the Garden Vegetable Soup, the counter worker asked me whether I wanted chips, bread or an apple on the side.

I chose an apple, thinking how terrific it is that Panera Bread offers customers a healthy choice, then looked at my receipt: The soup was $4.99.

Tastes of summer

H Mart in Little Ferry had a 32-ounce bottle of Best Mango Juice Drink from Egypt for $2.99. This is the first mango drink I've seen in the U.S. that contains 50% juice.

New Jersey blueberries are one of the great tastes of summer.

Jersey Fresh Blueberries were $1.99 a pint on July 1 at ShopRite supermarkets, and 2 pints for $5 at Whole Foods in Paramus on Monday, where they are on sale through today (regularly $4.99 a pint).

At H Mart in Little Ferry, I picked up a 32-ounce bottle of thick, sweet 50% mango juice from Egypt for $2.99, and a box of 16 Champagne mangoes from Mexico for $9.99 with a store card.

A 15-pound bag of California-grown Kokuho Yellow Label rice was $8.99 -- a discount of $6. 

Speaking of mangoes, my wife used a couple of ounces of Grace-brand Fish & Meat Sauce from Hackensack Market on Passaic Street to make a gravy filled with vegetables, which we ate over rice and peas (kidney beans) as a side dish to fried whiting.

The sauce is made of tomato paste, mango, sugar and a few other ingredients.

Above, a gravy filled with vegetables goes well with rice and peas, below.

Sweet, seedless watermelons up to 22 pounds were $3.88 each at ShopRite on July 1 -- a discount of $2.11 per melon.

Costco is still charging $5.99 per watermelon. 

Also on July 1, my wife found a rare sale on Readington Farms chicken -- ShopRite's antibiotic-free poultry brand.

She saved 66 cents to 92 cents on packages of thighs and drumsticks.

Missing the target

The fresh produce section at Target in Paramus.

With no scale in sight, shoppers may wonder how much bananas are by the pound.

Refrigerated cases light up when you approach them.

On Tuesday, I saw half-gallons of lactose-free milk at Target for $3.34, compared to $3.39 at ShopRite. 

I saw fat-free and 2% lactose-free milk, but not the 1% milk I prefer.

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