Thursday, March 31, 2016

Farmed v. wild red snapper; takeout from Seafood Gourmet in Maywood

This bone-in steak from a large, wild-caught red snapper we bought at H Mart in Englewood was prepared with caramel, sweet peppers, onion and garlic.

Editor's note: We love fresh fish -- prepared at home, in restaurants or as takeout. Here is a report on some of our recent meals.


Little did I know the two whole wild-caught red snappers I bought at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro last October would be the last.

The next time I looked for them, I found two red fish labeled "Snapper," farmed in Costa Rica, and they weren't even scaled.

And there was nothing on the label about whether they were raised with antibiotics or treated with preservatives.

The texture and taste of the farmed fish paled in comparison to a firm, flaky, wild red snapper. What a mistake, I thought.

My only comfort was in knowing even farmed fish is good for the heart and the brain, and far better for me than meat or poultry.

Snapped it up

This past Sunday, my wife bought a wild-caught red snapper weighing more than 2 pounds from H Mart in Englewood ($7.99 a pound).

She cut the fish into three parts (head, steak and tail portion); and prepared them with Grace-brand Browning (caramel), sweet peppers, onion and garlic.

I took the steak, and ate it with a salad and a glass of wine. Delicious.

So, my advice when buying whole fish or fillets: Go wild.

A takeout container from Seafood Gourmet in Maywood held one of last week's specials: Grilled Wild Thai Salmon.

I plated the wild-caught king salmon, Thai chili bok choy and jasmine rice, and gently reheated them.

Seafood Gourmet

I've enjoyed every meal I've eaten in the small restaurant behind the fish market at Seafood Gourmet in downtown Maywood.

But the fresh seafood prepared by an adventurous chef is so popular it is often difficult to get a dinner reservation there.

That's when we decided to follow a friend's advice and order takeout from a menu and weekly specials listed online.

Lunch portions

Seafood Gourmet allows to you to order lunch portions from the takeout menu that cost less than dinner, and we found them satisfying, even if you don't finish with a salad.

And the specials listed online often cost less than the same dish served in the dining room.

Late Saturday afternoon, we ordered three lunch portions:

A special of Grilled Thai Wild Salmon ($15); Shrimp Parmigiana over Linguine ($13.99), a house specialty; and Sole Francese with sauteed spinach, both fish and greens made with garlic and oil, not butter ($12.99).

We also ordered a quart of the Soup du Jour, a tomato-based Maryland Crab Chowder ($10).

Rare problem

About 10 minutes after I called, I remembered I forgot to tell the woman who took the order I like my wild salmon prepared medium rare.

But when I called back, she said the cook usually prepares salmon medium, and I said that would be OK.

We enjoyed our takeout, which was ready for pickup in 25 minutes.

As I was paying with a credit card, the cook's helper, wearing plastic gloves, grabbed a couple of fresh fillets from the display case in the market, and returned to the kitchen.

When I got home, I found the king salmon had been cooked through. Though juicy, the fish would have been better if prepared medium rare.

We also found the crab chowder too salty to eat. We exchanged the uneaten portion on Tuesday for a quart of lobster bisque at no charge.


Seafood Gourmet, 103 W. Pleasant Ave., Maywood; 201-843-8558.

Web site: Fresh fish for here or to go

On Wednesday afternoon, a complete takeout dinner from Jerry's Gourmet & More, 410 S. Dean St. in Englewood, included a skin-on fillet of orata with sweet peppers, linguine in clam sauce with zucchini, and vegetable dumplings, above. A kale salad also was included, below.

Another Meal To Go from Jerry's included a large fillet of sea trout, above. Complete takeout dinners are $7.99 or $5.99 after 4 p.m., if there are any left. After 4 on Wednesday afternoon, I found three at the lower price.

A pesto-accented egg-white omelet stuffed with smoked wild Alaskan sockeye salmon, which is available at Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, but not at the Costco Business Center in Hackensack. I had it for breakfast with leftover Asian greens and boiled Kabocha squash.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Costco members will earn more cash back with new Visa credit cards

Costco Wholesale members are receiving details in the mail on the transition to Visa credit cards from American Express.


The end of Costco Wholesale's long relationship with American Express will translate into more cash rebates for members who use the new Visa credit cards.

And for the first time, both the business credit card and consumer card will give identical rebates for purchases inside and outside a warehouse.

The change to Visa as membership and credit card is scheduled for June 20, 2016.

That's when the rebate on gasoline purchases worldwide, including gas at Costco, goes up to 4% from 3% with a Costco-American Express True Earnings Card.

The American Express True Earnings Business Card already gives 4% back on gasoline.

3% back at restaurants

Cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases goes up to 3% from 2%; on purchases from Costco and, the rebate will go to 2% from 1%; and all other purchases will earn 1%, the same as now.

Any cash rebates you earn on American Express credit cards will be transferred automatically to the new Visa cards.

The new cards will be mailed to you, so there is no need to reapply and no credit report will be pulled, Costco says.

And, like the American Express cards, there is no annual fee with the new Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi and Anywhere Visa Business Card by Citi.

How rebates pay 

Costco members pay an annual fee of $55 to $110, but rebates earned inside and outside of the warehouse more than cover that expense.

That means you enjoy great Costco prices on food, clothing, electronics and more, and get to laugh all the way to the bank with hundreds of dollars in cash rebates from American Express and soon Citi. 

The Executive Gold Star Membership ($110) also entitles you to an additional 2% annual cash rebate from Costco itself, up to $750.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Size matters at Costco Wholesale's Business Center in Hackensack

Whole frozen lambs from New Zealand, above, and 20-pound boxes of linguine and other pasta, below, are typical of the sizes available at Costco Wholesale's Business Center in Hackensack. The warehouse offers discounts on pallet-size purchases and delivery to small businesses, including restaurants and caterers.  


For the Costco Wholesale member who runs out of egg whites and organic spring mix, the reopened warehouse in Hackensack is ideal.

Parking is no longer a problem, because many of the customers are small businesses who order online and get delivery.

But as a Business Center, this Costco stocks only a limited number of the food products you'll find at the enormous, far busier warehouse in Teterboro.

Still, today in Hackensack, I picked up several items we ran out of since our last Teterboro shopping trip, and found others unavailable.

Food court pizza

The food court's reopening has been delayed, however, and I couldn't pick up, as planned, a freshly baked 18-inch combination veggie pizza for $9.95.

Employees in Hackensack said two things of interest: 

Prices at the Business Center don't always match those at Teterboro warehouse, and may be lower. 

I found one item, a 1-pound container of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix, was 50 cents higher on March 15, opening day in Hackensack. 

On Monday, the same spring mix was $4.29 or what we've paid several times in Teterboro.

No treasure hunt

And the Hackensack staff won't be moving items around to create the "treasure hunt" that Costco's regular warehouses are known for, even though that practice frustrates longtime members.

Other purchases today were 3 pounds of bananas for $1.39 (organic bananas aren't available); and four cartons of Egg Beaters 100% egg whites ($9.39).

The parking lot at the Costco Wholesale Business Center, 80 S. River St., Hackensack, a little before 1 p.m. today. This warehouse closes on Sundays.

This pallet sale could give you a couple of decades of oil changes.

Commercial refrigerators for restaurants and caterers.

Log Cabin Syrup comes in 128-ounce bottles, above, but nearby, Costco members will find something far superior, Kirkland Signature Maple Syrup from Canada, below.

Bagels, English muffins and sliced bread also are available.

The 16-portion box of Shin Ramyun, a Korean-style instant spicy noodle soup, usually is on sale for a better price at the H Mart in Little Ferry less than 2 miles away.

H Mart also sells 50-pound bags of Kokuho Rose Yellow Label White Rice grown in California, but here Costco might have the edge on price over the Korean supermarket. On Sunday, I bought a 15-pound bag of the same rice on sale for $9.99 at the Little Ferry H Mart, and my receipt listed the retail price as $19.99. The Hackensack warehouse also stocks another Korean item, Kirkland Signature Roasted Seasoned Seaweed.

You'll find 10-pound bags of couscous, above, and 15-pound bags of quinoa, below.

I'm out of Nature's Intent Organic Quinoa, and almost grabbed this 15-pound bag before realizing it is conventionally grown in Peru, compared to the 4-pound bags of Organic Quinoa for about twice the price per pound in Teterboro.

Nature's Bakery Fig Bar is my favorite skip-lunch snack, but today, I decided to try another one, picking up KIND Fruit & Nut Variety Pack (18 bars for $17.99).

The Hackensack warehouse is offering six cans of Season Skinless & Boneless Sardines in Pure Olive Oil for $6.99 after an instant coupon. These are ideal for pasta with sardines in bottled sauce (three 4.375-ounce cans for 1 pound of pasta). I didn't see pasta sauce or cans of organic diced tomatoes in Hackensack today.

A 3-pound bag of sodium-free Whole Almonds from California ($17.99) can be roasted and dusted with cinnamon (1 hour and 20 minutes in a 275-degree oven).

You'll also find the superior Kirkland Signature line of spices in Hackensack, including Saigon Cinnamon, next to 3-pound containers for restaurants and caterers, below.

An enormous refrigerated room, bigger than anything at the old Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, above and below, contains frozen meat, individual racks of lamb, whole eggs and cartons of egg whites; milk, organic spring mix, chopped salad and other items.

On refrigerated shelves outside the cold room I found two of our favorite items, Kirkland Signature Basil Pesto, made with Italian basil ($7.99); and 3-pound bags of Christopher Ranch Whole Peeled Garlic Cloves ($7.39).

A 2-pound "gourmet medley" of greenhouse-grown Tomatoes from Sunset were $6.49. I tried them in my organic spring mix salad. A 2-pound container of Sunset Campari Tomatoes were $4.99.

Cut-up goat on the bone in 15-pound boxes, New Zealand racks of lamb in 19-pound boxes, whole ducks and other frozen meat is available.
Frozen goat meat from Australia is sold in 35-pound boxes, too.

Fresh seafood isn't sold in Hackensack any longer, but you'll find bags of frozen salmon burgers, wild Alaskan salmon, mahi-mahi and other fish from Trident and Kirkland Signature, Costco's house label.

You'd have to do a lot of Mexican cooking to use a 100-ounce can of tomatillos.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Exploring organic food: Pasta and eggs, wild-caught fish and quinoa

Accents of pesto take this breakfast of organic eggs and organic pasta over the top.


Poaching fish fillets or eggs in a covered pan allows you to serve breakfast or dinner in minutes.

For one thing, bottled pasta sauce or Mexican-style salsa serve as both a cooking medium and a dressing for your side dish of organic whole-wheat pasta, quinoa or brown rice.

If you make several servings of the side dish ahead, as I often do, that saves you even more time. 

At dinner, a salad of pre-washed greens, such as Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix, and a glass of wine completes your meal.

Pesto eggs and pasta

I started with about 6 ounces of leftover bottled vodka sauce, one made without heavy cream; emptied it into a pan, added a little olive oil and covered it to heat it up.

When it was simmering, I cracked two organic eggs into the pan, turned the heat to medium and put on the cover again (a glass cover works best).

Meanwhile, I added 1 cup of 365 Everyday Value Organic Whole Wheat Fusilli from Whole Foods Market to a small pot of boiling water ($1.49 for 1-pound box).

The eggs were ready before the pasta, which took 8 minutes for al dente. (Ignore longer cooking times listed on the box.)

I removed the eggs to a plate, added Aleppo red pepper, drained the pasta, mixed it with the sauce in the pan and plated it next to the eggs.

I added a little refrigerated Basil Pesto from Costco Wholesale, which is also where the brown eggs came from.

What a great breakfast, especially eating the broken yolk over the pasta spirals.

Wild-caught haddock from Iceland, which poaches in minutes in Mexican-style salsa, is paired with an organic red quinoa and kale blend with citrus and black pepper, above and below.

Haddock, quinoa and kale

At Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, fresh, wild-caught fish fillets -- haddock, flounder and cod -- are inexpensive, and easy to cook in bottled Mexican-style salsas from Whole Foods Market.

I started with a 16-ounce jar of 365 Everyday Value Roasted Chipotle Salsa from Whole Foods ($2.69), emptying about two-thirds of it into a pan and adding the juice of a big, plump Meyer Lemon from Costco ($5.99 for a 4-pound bag).

I heated the sauce up under a cover; and cut up and seasoned the thin haddock fillets with a little sea salt ($8.99 a pound).

Meanwhile, in a non-stick pan with cooking spray, I heated up a frozen 10-ounce bag of Organic Quinoa & Kale Blend from Costco I found in the freezer (cooking time is 6 minutes).

When the sauce was simmering, I added the fish, and put the cover back on, setting the heat to medium high.

The fish was translucent in 5 minutes, but you can cook it longer, say 7 minutes.

365 Everyday Value Organic Whole Wheat Fusilli in Organic Italian Herb Pasta Sauce, both from Whole Foods Market, with chopped organic kale and organic arugula.

Fusilli with kale and arugula 

I liked the fusilli with sunny side up eggs so much I decided to cook the rest of the 1-pound box with a 25-ounce jar of 365 Every Day Value Organic Italian Herb Pasta Sauce ($2.99) I bought in January at Whole Foods in Paramus.

I also had 5-ounce packages of Earthbound Farm Organic Arugula and Organic Kale (99 cents each at the International Food Warehouse in Lodi) that had a use-by date of Thursday, when I made the rest of the pasta spirals.

To the herb sauce, I added a drained can of Kirkland Signature Organic Diced Tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil and seasonings, including some red-pepper flakes.

After draining the pasta and adding it to the sauce, I placed the chopped greens on top, and folded all of it together with a large cooking spoon.

This morning, I reheated some of the fusilli to enjoy with a freshly made egg-white omelet and sauteed spinach.

Almost everything I used for the three dishes was organic and contained no genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Enjoying a bountiful meal of fresh seafood at Bohemia in Hackensack

A fresh whole red snapper is served as a stew at Bohemia, a Colombian restaurant in Hackensack offering Latin fusion cuisine.

A bowl of light, delicious fish broth is served on the side.


I've long noticed that Bohemia has one of the most attractive storefronts on Main Street in Hackensack, catty corner from the Johnson Public Library.

And after a wonderful dinner on Saturday night, I can report the food at this moderately priced Colombian outpost is great, too.

I bought an $18 Groupon for $30 worth of food at Bohemia, and that may be why we ordered too much: Three small plates and an entree to share. 

Or, maybe I went overboard because photos of the dishes look so good on the bilingual, four-color menu.

Fried Green Plantain Stuffed with Shrimp in Garlic Sauce, served with guacamole, was one of three small plates we ordered ($10).

A Fish Ceviche, served with green banana chips, is made with corvina, also known as croaker ($13)
Ensalada Tropical or Tropical Salad includes fresh mango, avocado, tomato and red onion tossed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper ($9).

Good service, slow delivery

We saw at least three young servers in the two dining rooms, and our order was taken right after we got a chance to look over the menu.

But Chef Jorge could probably use more help in the kitchen.

There was a wait for our three appetizers, and as we were enjoying them, our Red Snapper Stew or Viudo de Pescado arrived.

The fresh whole red snapper was covered in a thick sauce, with tomato, sweet pepper and scallions, and came with boiled green banana, yuca and potato ($21).

We loved everything, and all of it can be shared:

Plantain cups filled with garlic shrimp, the ceviche with green banana chips and the avocado-mango salad, which was such a nice combo I overlooked the bed of iceberg lettuce.

We took home ceviche and salad, but finished the wonderful whole red snapper.

As you'd expect at a Colombian restaurant, the menu is filled with beef, pork and chicken of every description, but there is an appealing selection of seafood for non-meat eaters.

The last time I ate Colombian food in Hackensack, it was in 2011 at Villa de Colombia on Mercer Street.

Now, Bohemia is at the top of my short list.

You can ask for a batido or smoothie made with water, instead of milk, and without sugar ($4).

Bohemia Restaurant opened in 2004, but has been expanded since then, and the storefront at Main and Camden streets in Hackensack was completely restored, below.


Bohemia Restaurant, 287 Main St., Hackensack; 201-488-1010

Open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner; BYO; metered parking on street and in municipal lot off of State Street until 6 p.m., except Sundays.

For Groupon users, Bohemia adds a mandatory 18% tip on the food total before taxes. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

If you use your noggin, you'll eat for your brain as well as your heart

The On Health newsletter from Consumer Reports explores "8 Power Foods for Your Brain," concluding leafy greens, such as fresh spinach sauteed in olive oil, above, may improve brain health "because of their high levels of vitamin K, folate (a B vitamin), and the antioxidants beta carotene and lutein.

Editor's note: We buy a lot of high-quality produce, and canned and fresh fish  from Costco Wholesale so an April newsletter from Consumer Reports was welcome news.


Just when I thought a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet was the only one I needed, Consumer Reports said I can do more to reduce my risk of Alzheimer's disease. 

"The MIND diet is a hybrid of the heart-healthy Mediterranean and blood-pressure-lowering DASH diets," according to On Health, a newsletter from Consumer Reports.

(MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay).

That's a mouthful, but in layman's terms, MIND limits red meat, butter and stick margarine, pastries and sweets, fried and fast food, and cheese.

A few foods play a starring role, according to "8 Power Foods for Your Brain" in the April 2016 edition of the newsletter.

They are vegetables/leafy greens, nuts, berries, beans, fish/poultry, olive oil, whole grains and wine (one glass a day).

Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix contains a lot of leafy greens, here dressed with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. At Costco Wholesale in Teterboro, a 1-pound container of the organic salad mix was $4.29 on Friday, as it has been for a few weeks, but the new Costco Wholesale Business Center in Hackensack charged me $4.79 for the same spring mix on Tuesday.

Consumer Reports says leafy greens improve brain health, but the article doesn't mention eggs or sweet potatoes.

The omega 3 fats in fish  "may improve learning and memory by increasing the brain's ability to send and receive messages," Consumer Reports says. Organic whole wheat shells from Whole Foods Market, above, are wonderful with sardines and anchovies from Costco Wholesale. Below, wild caught white bass ($2.99 a pound at H Mart in Little Ferry) with sweet peppers, tomatoes and fresh herbs baked in aluminum-foil packages.