Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's

Here at Taste we are very, very fond of Trader Joe's. When I was living in Canada, I didn't buy shoes or clothes when I visited the USA, I bought Trader Joe's staples and declared mango salsa and eggplant tapenade at the border. My husband, who has a sweet tooth, can't go very long without Gingeroo cookies, or a little box of something chocolate.

Of course, as a wine writer, TJ's has a killer selection of reasonably priced wines with a focus on the regional store's local wines.

It's no wonder that my husband spotted a Trader Joe's cookbook at the library, and brought it home for me.

So this morning , over Trader Joe's coffee, I took a look at Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's, by Deana Gunn and Wona Miniati. Colorful, easy to read recipes and filled with pictures and wine suggestions, this book had me perusing my TJ pantry items for cooking projects.

Cooking With All Things Trader Joe's is pretty enough to leave on your coffee table and easy enough to get anyone cooking. And that's the beauty of Trader Joe's; quality products at fair prices that can spice up your cooking life without a lot of work.

And now Gunn and Miniati have made it even easier!

Have I made olive tapenade by hand? Yes. But I save time by buying Trader Joe's products; throwing tasty meals together in record time. For instance on page 10 of this book, only a few recipes in, I was stopped by the Apricot Baked Brie recipe. Simple, elegant and fast! The authors suggested, "a big, creamy and oaked Chardonnay, like Toasted Head, which stands up to the richness of the Brie, and has complimentary notes of nectarine and apricot." My kind of pairing note!

I am so taken by the photography, I wanted to know who food stylist was: the authors are! They made the recipes in their home kitchens with real food. As they say in the introduction, "No mashed potatoes covered in motor oil posing as ice cream....and yes, we ate it all after each photo was taken!" So if they can make food so pretty, I can too and so can you.

If you are a Trader Joe's regular this book will help you make the best use of their products. Are you a TJ newbie? Use this book to familiarize yourself with the versatility of TJ products. If you want to learn more about food and wine pairing this is a good introduction. And if you are unlucky enough not to live near a Trader Joe's, these recipes aren't so TJ specific that you can't substitute ingredients.

When my husband and I moved back to the USA, we were happy to discover that Trader Joe's wasn't more than 10 minutes away.

You can buy the book directly from the authors' site or at

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