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Posts Tagged ‘Trader Joe’s’

Trader Joes Angus Burger Review

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Trader Joes Angus Burger ReviewI keep searching for a frozen burger patty that meets with my personal tastes. They come in a few different forms, raw patties on their own, pre-cooked patties, or a complete pre-cooked hamburger sandwich.

I’ve previously tried Ball Park, Steak & Shake, Fatburger, White Castle, Advance Pierre, Trader Joe’s “Kobe Style,” some various store brands. None of them really moved me, except the TJ’s “Kobe,” was flavorful and lean. For a heat and eat, if you want to give your kids a burger in a minute, the Ball Park brand ones are pretty good. They have a bit of smoky flavor built in to emulate grilling.

The Trader Joe’s Grass Fed Angus Burger is what I picked up today, four to a package, four to a pound, packaged in twos, $4.99 on sale. So they are “spendy” as are all the ones I have previously mentioned.

Trader Joe’s sets their own product standards and doles out production to contract manufacturers all over the world. Most of the products I’ve purchased from TJs have been ultra-satisfactory, but priced a bit higher than equivalents.

First off, with this product, or any beef, it should not be perceived that the word “Angus” denotes any premium; most of the beef cattle in the US are “Angus” You’ll also occasionally see a label and logo that says “Certified Angus,” and this is merely a marketing term for a collective of growers who raise or purchase cattle that meets their own set of standards.

Should quality be a true concern, you should only look for beef with the USDA grades on them, which are select, choice, or prime. Each of these grades have subgrades. Most grocery beef comes from the choice category. To add to the confusion, the USDA grades are applied to whole carcasses, not to individual cuts.

But we’re talking about burgers, and you won’t see graded ground beef (usually) at the grocery. If you’re feeling finicky, grab graded steaks and have the butcher grind them for you. You’ll be happiest with a blend of 2-3 different cuts. Many people prefer a blend of chuck, brisket and and round. If you want your blend to be a little fattier, substitute short rib or navel cuts.  Have them run it through the grinder twice for the right burger texture.

The Trader Joe’s Grass Fed Angus burgers are a product of New Zealand (country of origin of the beef) but processed by a small company in Brooklyn called Papa Pasquale’s  (according to the USDA factory number) (pictured below). The patties  are an 80/20 blend, and the content listing says “grass fed Angus beef.” Period.

I think you’ll have more favorable results if you thaw these patties. Most raw pre-formed frozen patties have the same instructions, cook on one side til blood comes thru the top side, flip and cook until there is no blood showing.

So I did. I also didn’t season the burger or add condiments. For my own personal taste, this is an excellent burger. Why? It tastes like BEEF. And when/why I say that about meat products, I’m talking about beef (or pork) you ate at somebody’s farm. Chefs call that quality “gaminess,” which has a somewhat undesirable meaning to most of the culture.

But it’s a good word. Beef (and pork) should taste like animals. Most product meat proteins don’t anymore.

But if that taste is your thing, too, you’ll like these burgers.  Great flavor, great texture.

Trader Joes Angus Burger Review

Frozen Patty

Trader Joes Angus Burger Review

Pan Fried

Trader Joes Angus Burger Review

Papa Pasquales Brooklyn

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Trader Joes Angus Burger Review

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Trader Joe’s Frozen “Kobe Style” Burger Patties

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Trader Joe's Kobe Style BurgersGeez, FINALLY.  Truth in labeling about a  “Kobe” burger.  You know those restaurants where you are shelling out $10-$20 for a “kobe” burger?  It ain’t “Kobe.”   It’s American beef in the kobe style, whose actual name is Wagyu.  The full explanation is in Wikipedia, so I won’t delve into it at this point.   It’s akin to labeling sparkling wine from California as “champagne.”  (It’s not, technically).

Well, enough snobbishness for one article.  Point is, Trader Joe’s continues their not-so-subtle campaign to garner more and more of my weekly grocery budget.  In the frozen foods department, I picked up their American “Kobe Style” frozen burger patties, two half-pounders to a package, and the copy proclaims “may be one of the best burgers you have ever had,”  or something along those lines.

And damn.  May just well be.  At minimum, it is the best frozen burger patty I have ever consumed.  Most of them I take umbrage to.  Too fine a grind, a lingering frozen meat aftertaste.

Not so with TJs.   This is a fine burger.  Pan fried low and slow at my house this morning, very little shrinkage or fat left in the pan, a nice coarse grind, a hearty beef flavor.

You guys continue to amaze me with your quality, taste and price points.  I’ll be back later today to clean out your freezer of these puppies!

Trader Joe's Kobe Style Burgers

 

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Home Cookin’ – Trader Joe’s Pizza Margherita

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Trader Joe's Frozen Margherita PizzaIt’s going to be an enigma until the day I die – the frozen pizza industry in the US is dominated by a few big players that probably account for 99% of all frozen pizzas sold; and then there is Trader Joe’s, which might account for – a miniscule proportion, yet their product stands alone for quality and taste.  Why can’t the big guys make a pizza that tastes LIKE PIZZA?   Trader Joe’s can.

I’ve previously reviewed some of their offerings, like their mushroom flatbreadPizza Olympiad, and their “French style” flatbread.  All superb.

Their Pizza Margherita, made in Italy, is a straight-up cheese pie, topped with Mozzarella and Grana Cheeses.

Check out the exotic ingredient list:  flour, water, salt, yeast, oil, tomato, herbs, spices, and cheese.  That’s right, no extenders, preservatives, things that come from a lab.  Pure food.  Pure deliciousness.

The 15 oz pie is done in 8 minutes.  The crisp is crusty, the cheese full-flavored.

All of the TJ’s pizzas I have tried are imported, either from France or Italy.  A there isn’t a single one of them that hasn’t reminded me of some special meal I have had in those respective countrys.  Great job, TJ.

The “big guys” could learn a  thing or two from you!

Trader Joe's Frozen Margherita Pizza

 

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Eating My Way Around the World

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During my “career”, I was fortunate to be able to live and travel all over the globe, and try all sorts of exotic and wonderful cuisines.  One of my ex-wives (and there have been many, because I’m “difficult”) said I only did the work so I could eat great food at other people’s expense.  Might be so.  Or it could have been because the first time she cooked for me (grilled cheese), she said “how do you get the cheese out of the bottom of the toaster?).  No matter.

I lived and ate well.

When I was a lad, food wasn’t so mysterious or exotic.  Dairy products came from a little dairy down the road, delivered to our front door on a regular basis.  Food came from the chain grocery, and one had no idea (nor did one care) where it originated, how it was raised or processed.   Meat (at our house) came from a traditional butcher shop, for some reason, my father was “in charge”of meat, and he would buy a variety of cuts, roasts, and the like once a month, all dutifully wrapped in freezer paper and the contents within described with a black freezer pen….and the date.   Not that it would last.  My father dated everything.   He marked the date of purchase inside of his shoes.  I never asked why. I should have.  Maybe it was the key to him living to age 99.  Crap.  Where are my shoes?

Today, we are fortunate to eat food from all over the world.  Processed and/or grown in all styles and manners.  We have a fantastic “international” foods grocery store down the street, and while it primarily stocks foods from the Middle East, they have a nice deli counter, with (real) meat and cheese.  They have some very interesting selections from time to time, for a while they were carrying a ready to heat fondue that came in a ceramic ramekin – from Switzerland or Austria, damn it was good.  Doesn’t seem to be available anymore.

Point of this rambling is recounting the international meal we had at home last nite, from as far away as Cypress and Turkey (Halloumi cheese and olives, respectively) to home-grown tomatoes and basil.  We had artisan pasta from Italy, and Pink Himalayan Sea Salt (which doesn’t come from the Himalayas, but from Pakistan, but for some reason, was packaged in South Africa.  We grilled the cheese and it evolved into a nice caprese salad with our garden tomatoes and herbs.

We live in fortunate times, but probably the end of them.  The upcoming world food crisis will see us eating more and more processed and manufactured food, possibly even cloned meat.   And old people like me will sigh and lament, “I remember when chicken tasted like chicken. Or, for that matter, “I remember when frog legs tasted like chicken.”

 

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Home Cookin’ – Trader Joe’s Shepherd’s Pie

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Ok, it wasn’t “cooking”, but rather,”heating.”   We picked up a frozen Shepherd’s Pie at Trader Joe’s last week, and Mrs. BurgerDogBoy had a hankering for it last night.  It seemed like the perfect comfort food choice for a snowy night in Portland.

Having lived in London, I’ve consumed my share of shepherd’s pie, good, bad, and indifferent.

According to Wikipedia, the shepherd’s pie first came to light in the late 1700s, but known then as “cottage pie,” and was basically any leftover meat baked in a dish lined and covered with mashed potatoes.  The first reference to the name “Shepherd’s” seems to have occurred about 100 years later, as a distinction from “cottage” containing any type of meat, but “Shepherd’s” being made with lamb.

The classic recipe calls for a layer of mixed vegetables in a casserole dish, topped with meat, and covered with the mash.  The dish is baked first, then set under the broiler to crisp up the potatoes.  On occasion, a pan gravy is mixed in with the vegetables and meat.

Trader Joe’s version is described on the box as “seasoned beef with gravy and vegetables, topped with creamy mashed potatoes.”   It can be heated in the microwave for 8-10 minutes, or conventional oven at 425 for 25-30 minutes.

I chose the latter prep method, as I usually do, but after the required time, the dish was still frozen in the middle, so I finished it in the microwave.  Taking the opposite tack might have been a better idea.

Like most eat and eat products, you should let this one rest for a few minutes after  it is pulled from the oven.

The dish was flavorful, and fairly ample for two servings with 170 calories per serving and 22 g carbs, 1.5 g saturated fat.  That’s not really that unhealthy, if you watch what else you serve it with (we had more mixed vegetables).

We both liked it, and will have it again, I am sure.  On those few occasions when I have made it from scratch at home, I have used ground beef, but using rough cuts of beef was a better idea.

I do not have a photo of the finished product, straight from the oven.  Why?  Er,ah, camera trouble?   Nah,actually, I dropped it.  It wasn’t pretty!  7 second rule applied.

It would appear from the USDA plant number of the package, this product is made for Trader Joe’s by Huxtables of Vernon, CA.

Trader Joe's Shepherd's Pie

Trader Joe's Shepherd's Pie

 

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Trader Joe’s – Fully Cooked Beef Roast

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Trader Joes Fully Cooked Sirloin Roast

Trader Joes Fully Cooked Sirloin Roast

I love that Trader Joe’s does so much R/D work to bring new products to the public.  Wandering around a store the other day, I found their 1# “Fully Cooked and Seasoned Organic Beef Sirloin Roast,” and was eager to try it. 

At $8.99 for one pound, it’s a little spendy, but most things in TJ’s are, by today’s grocery standards.

Mrs. BDB justifies the stop for our grocery budget by pointing out a) the quality (we have never had something from TJ’s that we didn’t thoroughly enjoy), but b) also because the portion sizes are usually just perfect for the two of us, no fuss, no muss, no waste, and NO LEFTOVERS!

The USDA has strict standards for organic certification these days.  As this package seal doesn’t say “100 % organic,” it means at least 95% of the contents are.

According to the USDA plant number on the package, this entree is produced for Trader Joe’s by Sommers Organic, an organic meat processor  in suburban Chicago.  You SHOULD  be able to find their products at a store near you, using their locator, but since they still list Wild Oats as an outlet, this database hasn’t been updated in some time.

When you open the outer packaging, you are presented with a vacumn sealed beef roast, and a variety of cooking options, including boil-in-the-bag, roast in the oven, or microwave.  Since I generally don’t like microwaved entrees (just not to my palate), I opted for the boiling method, the instructions are:  5 cups of water to a boil, put unopened bag in the water and reduce to low for 10 minutes, remove pouch from water and let rest for one minute (you should ALWAYS let beef rest after cooking, and before slicing).”

This product didn’t really appeal to us, it has that taste of previously frozen beef (kinda reminds one of cafeteria roast beef), and it wasn’t a solid piece of beef, it was a rolled roast,  maybe even flank, as the tactile experience was uneven – some pieces were very tender, others really chewy.

But I was curious to try it, and did.   Here’s what the finished product looks like, right from the heat, when sliced.

 

For more Trader Joe’s reviews, read about their Wild Mushroom Flat Bread, or Mushroom Pizza,

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Home Cookin’ – Trader Joes Frozen Pizza

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Trader Joes, that marvel of a grocer that I have written about before, has come up with another winner with their Pizza Olympiad, two small frozen pies in a box, 15 oz total. with Kalamata olives, feta and mozzarella.

The crust and toppings on this sucker are divine, and it bakes up swell, reminiscent of a pie straight from a brick oven, with the toppings having the appearance, taste and texture of very fresh. One note of caution, however, that after the prescribed amount of time in the oven, the feta was still chilly, the chemical composition of feta apparently makes it “freeze harder” than mozzarella. (This is apparent in my pic).

No big deal. A few seconds under the broiler fixed that, but I wouldn’t suggest leaving the pie in the oven for longer than the specs, lest the (wonderful) crust become overbaked.

On WorstPizza’s scale of 1 to 8 slices, I rarely give a “7”, let alone would I think i would ever consider a frozen pie in this neighborhood of goodness, but a 7 it is.

P.S. On the 2nd pie, I “cheated” and added prosciutto. OMG!


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Home Cookin’ – Trader Joe’s Mushroom “Pizza”

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Whenever we are feeling fat and sassy on the domestic scene, Mrs. BDB and I include a trip (just for an item or two) to our local Trader Joe’s, and invariably come home with a basket load of groceries, as I imagine most patrons do.

We go primarily for their coffee beans, juice spiked sparkling waters, one or two other things, but always have to try “something new”, and there’s always something new at TJ’s.

For those of you not familiar with Trader Joe’s, the first one opened in the 60s in Pasadena, and today has grown to a modestly-sized chain stretching from coast to coast. They specialize in hard-to-find, unique value proposition foods, and always have a great selection of wines as well. It’s all private label (theirs), and occasionally, you won’t find the same thing twice, for if a product doesn’t move, it is shoved aside to make way for something new. They mail out circulars several times a year touting their new finds, and it’s a great place to find unique cheeses, frozen pastas, high quality frozen seafood at lower than expected prices.

On this trip, in addition to Lobster Ravioli, and the other items stuffing our cart, we picked up frozen “Tart aux Champignons”, ‘A French style Flatbread with Mushrooms, Emmental and Parmesan.

The box further states the product is made in France, and is topped with five types of mushrooms, creme fraiche, and an “extravagant Emmental cheese sauce.” It weighs in at just under ten ounces, perfect appetizer for four, snack size for two, or dinner size for one.

The crust is delightfully crispy, and the combination of cheeses and sauce make a terrific base for the mushroom bits which are very flavorful.

I know, I know, you’re saying “What BurgerDogBoy”, you ate a ‘za that didn’t have red gravy or any salumi products on it?”

Yep, and I’ll do it again. Gonna rush back to Trader Joe’s today and stock up!  You should too, store locater online here.


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