Saturday, November 28, 2015

Big sale on family size Victoria Pasta Sauces at Paramus ShopRite

Victoria Vodka Sauce in a 40-ounce jar, above, and Victoria Marinara are on sale for $3.49 each at ShopRite in Paramus, compared to $4.50 for the same marinara sauce at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

ShopRite in Paramus is having a 2-day sale through today, and Victoria pasta sauces are among the bargains.

Victoria Vodka Sauce, one of the few made without heavy cream, is $3.49 in a 40-ounce jar, a discount of $3.90 with the store's Price Plus Club Card.

The family size Victoria Marinara, which has no added sugar, unlike many others, also is $3.49.

None of the other Victoria varieties, such as Low-Sodium Marinara, are available at that sale price.

The 4o-ounce jar provides plenty of sauce to dress a full pound of organic whole-wheat pasta.

You also can use marinara to poach eggs or in an omelet with sauteed spinach and reduced fat cheese.

Out front on ingredients

The six to 12 ingredients in Victoria Pasta Sauces are listed on the front label.

On the back label, the marinara carries the stamp of the Non-GMO Project, meaning the sauce doesn't contain any genetically modified ingredients.

Even a great marinara sauce like Victoria can be improved with the addition of red wine, extra-virgin olive oil, anchovies, dried or fresh herbs and red-pepper flakes.

Besides pasta sauce, I picked up BPA-free plastic storage containers for $3.99, supposedly a discount of $4 (20 pieces).

ShopRite pitted olives, 3-inch basket coffee filters and Smart Balance Spread also were on sale.


Luigi Vitelli-brand Organic Whole Wheat Pasta from Italy in a 16-ounce package is always on sale at the Paramus ShopRite for $1.25. The package for the whole-wheat capellini, one of several shapes available, has been redesigned.

A 5-pound box of Clementines from Morocco was $4.99 on Friday. I prefer clementines from Spain.

A good buy on batteries?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Toasting a healthy Thanksgiving: No butter, cream, antibiotics or turkey

A luxurious Wild Red King Crab Salad, dressed with Dijon mustard, extra-virgin olive oil and fresh lime juice, includes sweet peppers, red onion and diced carrots.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

The Red King Crab Salad I just made for Thanksgiving is chilling in the refrigerator, and the Argentine Red Shrimp I plan to grill on the stove top are defrosting next to it.

This year, we didn't make our annual trek to the Goffle Road Poultry Farm in Wyckoff, where we usually buy naturally raised turkey parts -- the flavorful dark meat -- instead of a whole bird.

But to satisfy the meat eaters in the family and a couple of guests I did buy a fully cooked Applewood Smoked Uncured Petite Ham from Whole Foods Market in Paramus ($7.99 a pound).

The 3.4-pound Niman Ranch ham was raised on a vegetarian diet without harmful antibiotics.

The ham is being heated in the oven now, and I've already roasted 2 pounds of fresh Brussels Sprouts with olive oil, sea salt and other seasoning.


That's not all

Meanwhile, my wife has prepared oxtail, barbecued chicken, rice with peas and cole slaw for our son, who is home from college, and two of his friends, who showed up unexpectedly and spent the night here.

I made the Red King Crab Salad from fully cooked legs my wife bought at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro on Tuesday (3.06 pounds at $19.99 a pound).

Each of the four legs, with meaty knuckles, was about 2 feet long.

If need be, we also can have baked organic sweet potatoes or mashed organic sweet potatoes with extra-virgin olive oil I made on Wednesday.

At dinner, we plan to toast our good fortune with a Bellini, a cocktail made with Prosecco and peach nectar, both from Italy.



Argentine Red Shrimp can be deveined or grilled on the stove top head and all. I plan to marinate them in fresh lime juice first.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cows eat chicken-coop waste, candy, plastic pellets -- so why eat them?

Cows destined to become steaks and hamburgers are confined to a feedlot and given antibiotics, hormones and other drugs to promote fast growth and prevent disease.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Consumer Reports magazine has published a shocker on what conventionally raised cows eat, and how the beef from them is more likely to contain harmful bacteria.

"If you don't know how the ground beef you eat was raised, you may be putting yourself at higher risk of illness from dangerous bacteria," according to the editors of the expose, "How Safe Is Your Beef?"

"You okay with that?"

What they eat

In a side-by-side comparison called "A Tale of Two Cows," the magazine describes where conventional and grass-fed cattle live, their diets, drugs administered and how they are slaughtered.

The real eye-opener is the diet for conventional cattle, which are raised on pasture "for the first year or so" before they are confined to a feedlot.

"In the feedlot, corn and soy are the primary foods, but the cows may also be fed candy, chicken coop waste, and the slaughterhouse remains of pigs and chickens," the magazine reports.

"They may also be given plastic pellets, which are used as a substitute for the fiber they'd normally get from grazing on grass.

"Antibiotics, hormones and other drugs can be given to the cattle to promote growth and prevent disease.

"Large meat-processing plants slaughter as many as 400 head of cattle in an hour. Inhumane rapid processing may increase the chances of bacteria contaminating the beef."


The cover of the October 2015 issue of Consumer Reports, the nation's leading publication on food safety.

Grass-fed advantage

When cows are grass fed, they "spend their entire lives grazing on grassland."

"Thus, these animals are not subjected to the crowded, disease promoting conditions of feedlots."

"Though grass-fed animals may be given antibiotics, their living conditions and diet generally make the need for them much less likely.

"Organic grass-fed cattle can't be given antibiotics or hormones," the magazine says.

"Grass-feed farms generally take their animals to smaller regional plants, where slaughter practices may be more humane."

How to cook ground beef

The magazine purchased 300 packages of ground beef from 103 grocery, big-box and natural food stores in 26 cities across the country -- both conventional and from cows raised in more sustainable ways.

"The results were sobering. All 458 pounds of beef we examined contained bacteria that signified fecal contamination, which can cause blood and urinary tract infections."

But "one of the most significant findings of our research is that beef from conventionally raised cows was more likely to have bacteria overall, as well as bacteria resistant to antibiotics, than beef from sustainably raised cows."

The magazine says if you are going to eat hamburgers and other ground beef, make sure you cook them "to at least medium," which is 160 degrees Farenheit.

"Eating a burger that's rarer can be risky."


Monday, November 23, 2015

Free coffee at new Hackensack Wawa, free samples at Korean markets

The new Wawa convenience store and gasoline station in Hackensack has one entrance on East Moonachie Road and another on South River Street, but both require some drivers to cross double yellow lines or a turn lane to reach the driveways.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Any size coffee is free this week at the new Wawa convenience store and gasoline station in Hackensack.

The Wawa, which opened last Friday, offers 12-ounce, 16-ounce, 20-ounce and 24-ounce cups of flavored and unflavored coffee.

The store, on South River Street and East Moonachie Road, opposite the ShopRite shopping center, is open 24 hours.

I stopped there on Sunday for a 12-ounce cup of hazelnut coffee on the way home from shopping at Korean supermarkets in Ridgefield and Little Ferry with free samples that made a nice light lunch.

The free-coffee promotion ends on Sunday, Nov. 29.


On Sunday, a gallon of regular gasoline was selling for $1.75.9, several cents cheaper than at the new Costco Wholesale gas station in Teterboro.

At H&Y Marketplace, 1 Remsen Place in Ridgefield, customers are offered free food samples at stations throughout the store on weekends, including this array of seafood and vegetables, nearly all of them in a spicy sauce. Fresh fruit, noodles, soup, barbecue and other free samples also are available.

Sea cucumbers were on sale for $19.99 a pound at H&Y Marketplace.

H&Y Marketplace also sells all the ingredients you need to make a spicy Korean tang or soup, including fresh fluke.

Free samples at H Mart

On Sunday, free samples at H Mart in Little Ferry included the usual seafood pancake and broiled eel in a sweet sauce, but the highlight was a green-lipped mussel from New Zealand topped with tiny fish eggs.

I bought two 15-pound bags of Kokuho Yellow Label rice from California on sale for $9.99 each.

In September, the same rice went on sale for $8.88, and that price was supposed to be good through Dec. 31, according to the sign. 

But a couple of weeks ago, I saw the price per bag went up a dollar, and on Sunday, the sign with the 15-pound bags said $10.88. 

However, my cashier rang up the two bags in my cart at $9.99 each.

I also bought four Pulmone Soft Tofu Kits for $1.99 each, reduced from $2.69. They are made with organic tofu.

I also picked up two prepared items, Stewed Tofu ($4.99) and Stewed Alaskan Pollack ($7.99). 


At H Mart, 260 Bergen Turnpike in Little Ferry, a 5-pound box of clementines from Spain was $5.99. Today, Whole Foods Market in Paramus was selling a 5-pound box of clementines for $6.99

I have never seen Bean Leaves before, but they are far more expensive than Chinese broccoli, bok choy, mustard and most other greens.

This is part of the rice section in the brightly lit Little Ferry H Mart.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

In Westfield: A $150 dinner for three, first Trader Joe's in New Jersey

Lamb Chops, above, and Charcoal Grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass, below, are two of the entrees at Limani Seafood Grill, a pricey Greek restaurant in downtown Westfield.
On Saturday, the restaurant listed a whole farmed sea bass or branzino as one of the diner specials for $35, but my waiter cut me a break and charged me by the pound. At $26 a pound, my 1.2-pound fish cost $31.72.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

On a visit to bustling Westfield, leave it to this fish lover to find one of the priciest restaurants in a downtown that is the envy of officials in many other New Jersey communities.

I'm no stranger to Westfield, which I visited when I lived in nearby Elizabeth, and since then to shop at the first Trader Joe's to open in New Jersey more than 20 years ago.

On Saturday, we drove to Union County to pick up our son, who had caught a ride to New Jersey with another college student for the Thanksgiving break.

I couldn't get an early dinner reservation at my first choice, 100 Steps, a raw bar and supper club in Cranford, so searched for something in neighboring Westfield.

Limani Seafood Grill seemed like a good restaurant for me (I eat only seafood); my son, who is a meat lover still experiencing growth spurts; and my wife, who eats both meat and fish.


$9 cup of bisque

But once we were seated, a glance at the menu showed dinner would easily exceed $100.

My son wanted to order Lobster Bisque, but skipped it when I told him a cup of the soup was $9. The restaurant also offers caviar for $69 to $149 an ounce.

We ordered a cold appetizer to share, Pikilia Spread ($19), with tsatziki (yogurt-cucumber-dill-garlic), skordalia (whipped potato-garlic) and taramosalata (fish eggs whipped with lemon and oil), plus spring mix, olives, beets, feta cheese, herbed crostinis and Greek pita.

Our entrees were Greek Style Lamb Chops for my son ($36), a misnamed Jumbo Shrimp Scampi over linguine for my wife ($28), and a whole charcoal-grilled Branzino for me ($26 a pound).

I asked the waiter to hold the potato that came with the fish, and he doubled the other side, sauteed escarole.

The food was delicious, the service efficient and we left stuffed.

With a 20% tip, our total bill with two iced teas ($2.50 each) was just over $150.


Sauteed escarole came with my whole grilled fish.
Jumbo shrimp with linguine dressed in a sauce made from olive oil, fresh garlic, lemon juice and white wine.
Fresh whole branzini are nestled in ice in a display case near the front of Limani Seafood Grill.
Limani Seafood Grill is a BYO at 235 North Ave. West in Westfield (1-908-233-0052). Parking in rear, and metered parking on street and in large nearby lot.
The first Trader Joe's in New Jersey opened about 20 years ago at 155 Elm St. in Westfield, above, and the store is one of only two in the state that sells wine, beer and spirits. Open daily 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.


Red wine, uncured meats

After our big dinner, we drove over to Trader Joe's to buy preservative- and antibiotic-free hot dogs and bacon for my son, and red wine for me.

I picked up six bottles of Charles Shaw Wine at $2.99 each, and a bottle of D'Aquino Chianti Reserva for $5.99.

I also got a 5-pound bag of Organic Sweet Potatoes for $4.99.

A 12-ounce package of naturally raised bacon was $5.49, and a 16-ounce package of uncured beef hot dogs was $5.99.



Trader Joe's Charles Shaw varietals -- Shiraz, Merlot, Nouveau and Cabernet Sauvignon, plus three whites -- are only $2.99 a bottle, but the store also sells red wine for $40 and more, below.



Saturday, November 21, 2015

Two can shop faster at Costco, another great fish dinner from Jerry's

The lot at the new, bigger Costco Wholesale in Teterboro appeared to be full less than an hour after the 10 a.m. opening on Friday, but there were plenty of parking spaces on the fringes.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Working together, me and my wife managed to get our weekly food shopping done at Costco Wholesale in about 30 minutes.

That's half of the time I spent on my first two visits to the new Teterboro warehouse, which opened last month.

The new Costco is far bigger than the Hackensack warehouse, with a separate cold room for milk, and three enormous refrigerated units for eggs, yogurt, frozen and prepared seafood, and other items.

I still think walking through the entire store and picking up items on your list as you see them is more efficient than just plunging into unfamiliar territory or going on individual searches.

On Friday, I stopped at the independent liquor store in the warehouse (with a separate entrance) to ask the price for a bottle of new Beaujolais, but my wife went ahead and I caught up to her in the produce section.

I didn't buy the French wine, which was between $8 and $9, a few dollars over my limit for a drinkable red.

Even though Friday's shopping trip was disorganized, we still managed to get in and out in close to a half-hour.

We spent about $185 on fresh and salted fish, smoked wild salmon, antibiotic-free chicken, organic eggs, lots of fresh conventional and organic produce, orange juice, lactose-free milk, peeled California garlic, guacamole and two dozen roses ($16.99).



We bought two fresh wild-caught red snappers from Panama that were nestled in ice at Costco's Seafood Road Show. They were 1.5 pound each and fully cleaned ($6.59 a pound). My wife prepared them for dinner Friday in closed aluminum-foil pouches with fresh lime juice, onions, sweet peppers and seasonings (40 minutes in a 400-degree oven). Delicious.

A wonderful piece of mahi mahi was the centerpiece of a takeout dinner from Jerry's Gourmet & More, 410 S. Dean St., Englewood.

Seafood dinners at a discount

I lucked out on Wednesday afternoon, when I stopped at Jerry's Gourmet & More in Englewood, and found five restaurant-quality Meals To Go in a refrigerated case, all seafood.

I picked up two, Mahi Mahi All'Acqua Pazza and Baked Grouper, at the discounted price of $5.99 each (after 4 p.m.)

My poached mahi mahi, with fresh tomato sauce, was accompanied by linguine in white clam sauce, vegetable dumplings, a vegetable frittata and an avocado salad.

I plated and reheated everything but the salad, which I ate cold.

My wonderful dinner only needed a glass or two of red wine to complete. 

My wife's grouper, with roasted peppers, came with gnocchi, sauteed broccoli rabe, vegetable dumplings and an artichoke fennel salad.

She has said the sauteed broccoli rabe in Jerry's dinners is the best she has ever had, and all of his sauces are bursting with flavor. 



At Jerry's, three dinners with Sea Scallops were still available Wednesday after 4 p.m., when the price is reduced to $5.99 from $7.99 (discount taken at the register).

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A 2-pound bag of kale from Costco may be biting off too much to chew

HAILING KALE: One batch of kale down, rear, and one batch to go. In our biggest pan, I sauteed the greens in sesame and extra-virgin olive oils, plus a little wine, with chopped garlic and ginger, sea salt and other seasonings.

Kale served with mashed organic sweet potatoes and an egg-white omelet stuffed with organic salsa and reduced-fat Swiss cheese.

Editor's note: Today, I relate more adventures in preparing healthy food at home.

By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

We love greens and routinely buy and easily consume 1-pound packages of organic spring mix or baby spinach as salads or side dishes.

But a 2-pound bag of triple-washed kale from Costco Wholesale proved to be a challenge.

The price, only $3.79, can't be beat, but Nature's Greens Kale, though chopped, needs a little more preparation than fresh spinach, collard or other greens we buy.


Leaves and stems

The bag contains both kale leaves and tough stems.

My wife used the fresh kale in a smoothie, and found the leaves and stems don't blend completely, and you can see and taste tiny green flecks throughout.

When I sauteed the kale, I skipped blanching or boiling the green in hot water, and no amount of cooking in a pan on the stove top will tenderize those stems.

Nature's Greens describes the taste as "bold and bittersweet." My sauteed kale tasted tangy.

A 2.5-cup serving provides 260% of Vitamin A, 170% of Vitamin C and 10% of the calcium you need every day.

Nature's Greens recommends cooking seasoned fresh kale in 1 cup of chicken broth in a covered pot, a method that is a lot simpler than what I did.

The back of the bag also has a recipe for Kale Soup with Cannellini Beans (cooking time is 45 minutes).
  

Leftover whole-wheat fusilli pasta in bottled red sauce with added skinless-and-boneless sardines and anchovies is a good bread substitute at breakfast.

Ackee and Saltfish, the Jamaican national dish, with sauteed fresh spinach and Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce.

A salad of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix crowned with fresh pomegranate seeds, and reduced-fat Swiss and Parmigiano Reggiano cheeses, all from Costco Wholesale. The dressing is extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Whole wild sea bass from H Mart in Englewood prepared in aluminum-foil pouches in the oven with fresh lime juice, okra, sweet peppers and onions. Cooking time is about 40 minutes at 400 degrees.

I did blanch the stems and leaves of Chinese Broccoli from H Mart in Little Ferry before sauteeing them in a pan with sesame oil, sea salt and granulated garlic.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Trader Joe's typo, salty sauce, Green Pans, Whole Foods fly and more

At Trader Joe's in Paramus on Friday, the sign said a new, larger bag of Organic Sweet Potatoes weighs 6 pounds, but when I got one home, I looked at the label and found it actually weighs 5 pounds, below.
Still, at $1 a pound, Trader Joe's has the lowest price I've seen for Organic Sweet Potatoes. These are from North Carolina, not California, as I wrote earlier.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Have you heard the big news about sweet potatoes at Trader Joe's?

At the Paramus store on Friday, the old 3-pound bag of Organic Sweet Potatoes had been replaced with a 6-pound bag -- or at least that's what the sign said.

The sign was wrong, but I welcome the larger, 5-pound bag for $4.99 or about $1 a pound.

That's what ShopRite charges for conventional sweet potatoes when they are not on sale.

I've been trying to buy only organic to avoid pesticides in conventional sweet potatoes, because I always eat the skin after I bake or boil and mash them with extra-virgin olive oil. 

Sweet potatoes are not only delicious, they are a great bread substitute if you are trying to lose weight.


A 2-pound bag of conventional Sweet Potatoes at Trader Joe's is $1.69.
BAGEL BAN: A hearty breakfast of two organic eggs with organic sweet potatoes and garlic cloves, which I boiled and mashed with extra-virgin olive oil and a dozen seasonings.

A 1-pound bag of Organic Whole Wheat Fusilli Pasta at Trader Joe's is $1.49, compared to $1.25 for the imported Luigi Vitelli-brand at ShopRite supermarkets.

Bottle pasta sauces contain a lot of sodium, and Trader Giotto's Tomato Basil Marinara is no exception, with 24% of the daily recommended limit in a half-cup. That's a good reason to never salt the water you use to boil pasta. Some Victoria and Classico bottled sauces have less sodium, 18% and 13%, respectively.

At Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, a twin pack of 10- and 12-inch Green Pans was $33.99 after an instant $6-off coupon. In June, I bought my first 10-inch Green Pan from Amazon.com for $29.99.

On Friday, I stopped for a cup of coffee at Whole Foods Market in Paramus, where I usually look at the prepared food but never buy any. I saw a fly over this food, and it landed on the basket, left. Then, an employee came out and said, yes, he had seen the fly but didn't know where it was now.

At Target in Paramus on Friday, I saw this 12-cup coffee maker on sale for $15.99, but later found it on Amazon.com for slightly less in white, the color I wanted, and ordered it.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Starbucks Coffee, Chipotle Mexican Grill and H Mart -- all in one stop

Three trays of takeout from H Mart and an Edamame Hummus Wrap from Starbucks Coffee, top left. You'll find the Korean supermarket and the busy Starbucks in Fort Lee's Linwood Plaza shopping center.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

Linwood Plaza, Fort Lee's biggest and busiest shopping center, offers an array of eat-in and take-out food, ranging from kimbap to sushi to burritos.

The large Fletcher Avenue strip mall is especially busy at lunchtime, when you can pick up Korean lunch boxes or stop for a meal or takeout at Starbucks Coffee, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Linwood Pizza or Hachi Sushi.

Last Monday, I used my Starbucks Card rewards to pick up a free light lunch, the Edadame Hummus Wrap ($5.95).

Zucchini, bell peppers, spinach and a garlic-herb cheese spread are rolled up in a spinach tortilla, with a roasted tomato sauce and sesame-flax crackers on the side.

When eaten, the sections of the tortilla wrap were both creamy and crunchy. The roasted tomato sauce complemented the wrap, but was a bit too salty.

At H Mart, I picked up trays of Kimbap, Japchae and Dried Persimmon.

Kimbap is an addictive roll of rice, egg, shredded vegetables and imitation crab (made from a wild-caught fish), all wrapped in seaweed ($6.79).

The roll comes with Korean pickles and sliced jalapeno peppers with seeds, which are really hot.

Japchae are yam-flour noodles stir fried with vegetables, best served hot ($5.99). 

Dried Persimmon are intensely sweet ($5.99 a pound), and like all dried fruit delicious when eaten with a crumbly Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese.

The Korean supermarket also has a coffee bar with tables and chairs where you can eat a lunch box or other prepared food.

Linwood Plaza, Fletcher and Linwood avenues, Fort Lee. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Update: In only a few weeks, Aroma Rice Cooker proves its superiority

NEAT TRICK: The Aroma Professional Rice Cooker has a neat solution for what to do with the spatula server when your rice is cooking or the appliance is just sitting on the counter.


By VICTOR E. SASSON
EDITOR

In a random poll, owners of the Aroma Professional Rice Cooker say it makes great rice.

Not too soft, not too hard is the way my wife describes the finished product.

When I walked into my son's college apartment last Friday, I saw an Aroma cooker sitting on the kitchen counter.

The Panasonic SR-G10G 5.5 Cup Automatic Rice Cooker ($17.91) we gave him was out of the way, on top of the cupboard.

He said he only uses the 20-cup Aroma 3000SB cooker, which belongs to one of his roommates, because it makes great rice.

I especially got a kick out of seeing the Aroma spatula server inserted into a holder on the side of the cooker, just below the cover -- a feature I didn't notice on the one we bought at Costco Wholesale for only $29.99.

We also purchased a second one to give to relatives.

Another great feature of the Aroma cooker is BPA-free cooking surfaces.

See:

$29.99 rice cooker beats more expensive ones



FORM OVER FUNCTION: In the more expensive Panasonic SR-DF 181 Rice Cooker, the spatula server doesn't fit inside the steamer basket, above, and causes problems if you try to store it in the inner pot, below.

With the spatula server stored in the inner pot ...

... the steamer basket doesn't seat properly ...

... and the hinged cover doesn't close.

ALL WET: In the 10-cup Panasonic cooker, condensation from preparing rice accumulates inside the channel, top, and has to be blotted up before storing the cooker.