Lets talk. What I have here is something that will turn your homemade food from good to spectacular, Mojo de Ajo, [MOH-hoh day AH-hoh]. Some people call this sauce “liquid gold” because of its’ gold color from the minced garlic and priceless flavor. The name essentially translates to garlic sauce, but some people believe it is more of a condiment than a sauce. While the garlic simmers in olive oil, the raw brashness mellows to a sweet roasted garlic flavor that permeates the olive oil. Mojo de Ajo is worth making and transforms any food it touches.
Liquid Gold is different from garlic infused olive oil you can buy at the store. There is a prominent roasted garlic flavor with a subtle citrus note. Fresh squeezed orange juice sweetens the olive oil and cuts down on any heaviness associated with oil based sauces.
This recipe is from Alex Stupak’s cookbook, Tacos, and is different from other mojo de ajo recipes I’ve seen. His recipe has extra flavor from minced tomatoes. They add a nice texture and makes it more of a condiment, like a salsa. The tomatoes compliment the garlic infusion like the orange juice, and the toasted spices adds just the right amount of heat.
Read my review of Tacos here.
Special Ingredients for Mojo de Ajo
Most of the ingredients in Mojo de Ajo are readily available at any grocery store, but there are two ingredients that need some tracking down, Arbol chilies and Mexican oregano. You can get both of these ingredients at Latin Markets, well stocked spice stores, and some grocery stores. Arbol chili is usually sold dried whole, retaining its shape and red color. It adds a subtle heat to the Mojo de ajo and worth sourcing.
Mexican oregano is different from Italian oregano, in fact they are two different plant families. I do not believe they are interchangeable, because they taste and smell so different. Italian oregano has a mintier flavor and I think is more bitter. Mexican oregano is grassier with a slight citrus flavor. When I toast Mexican oregano, it smells like you just walked into a Grateful Dead concert, so you might not want to make this the same day you have your in-laws over for dinner. Despite the distinctive smell, it does not taste like pot but has an herby flavor that compliments many Mexican meals. If you like to make Mexican cuisine it is a worthwhile herb to have in your spice drawer. I promise you it is not marijuana and I use it in all my Mexican food recipes.
Best Uses for Mojo de Ajo
- Mojo de Ajo is trans-formative and adds great depth of flavor to any dish it’s paired with.
- Drizzle it over grilled meats, chicken, fish or vegetables.
- Braise baby artichokes in Mojo de Ajo instead of the anchovy caper sauce.
- Use the oil to marinate steaks, then drizzle the garlic and tomatoes over the sliced meat.
- Roast Shrimp smothered in Mojo de Ajo, and switch up the cocktail sauce with some of the garlic sauce.
- Add to hummus for extra garlic flavor.
- Spoon into soups especially ones made with winter squash.
- Drizzle over grilled tofu.
- Smear it over toasted bread.
- Marinate goat cheese in the Mojo de Ajo for a special cheese course.
- Mix into ground turkey for a turkey burger or meatloaf.
- Mix into an aioli or mayonnaise for a great sandwich spread or dip.
The possibilities are endless.
Liquid Gold: Mojo de Ajo
An amazing condiment made with olive oil, minced garlic, and orange juice. This recipe is from Alex Stupak's book, Taco's. His version includes diced tomatoes with the minced garlic which adds a lovely texture and subtle tomato flavor. Mojo de Ajo is delicious drizzled over grilled meats or vegetables, stirred into grains, or smeared over toasted crusty bread.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups (375 ml).
- 2 arbol chilies
- 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
- 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 cup (250 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 20 cloves garlic, minced
- Juice from 1 orange
- 1 plum tomato, diced
Make the spice blend
Slice the arbol chilies in half lengthwise and shake out the seeds. Discard the seeds.
Heat a small heavy skillet over high heat for 5 minutes. Add the arbol chilies, Mexican oregano, and black peppercorns and toast the spices. Shake the pan back and forth so the spiced do not burn. Toast for about 15 seconds and quickly pour the spices onto a plate to cool.
Pour the spices into a spice grinder and grind them into a fine powder. Set aside. If you do not have a spice grinder, pour the toasted spices onto a cutting board, and mince with a sharp knife to as fine a texture you can get.
Make the Mojo de Ajo
In a two quart sauce pan on medium heat, add the olive oil and minced garlic. Simmer the garlic until is just begins to get a golden brown, about 8 minutes or longer. Be careful that the garlic does not get too brown or burn.
Add the orange juice, diced tomatoes and ground spice powder and simmer for a couple of minutes or until the tomatoes are soft n thoroughly cooked.
Turn off the heat and let the mojo de ajo cool. Pour the whole lot into a glass container with a tight fitting lid.
Store in the refrigerator. The sauce will keep for one month as long as the garlic and tomatoes are thoroughly cooked through. Before using, bring the Mojo de Ajo up to room temperature.
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
There are times when buying extra condiments for your meal(s) makes a lot of sense. Like ketchup, I have never made ketchup but what I have read, the effort for making homemade ketchup does not equal to the ketchup flavor and many believe store brands taste better. However other items, like pickles, require little effort and taste better and fresher than store-bought pickles. The easiest pickles to make are pickled red onions. It takes about 10 minutes to put the whole thing together and after a few hours of steeping you get red onions with a sweet and slightly spicy pickled onion that is crisp and ready for serving.
This is a small batch, quick pickled red onion recipe that fills one pint glass jar with room to spare. As much as I want to preserve the season, this recipe is not intended for long term storage in your pantry. No canning required, although it is a good idea to sterilize your jars.
Because you won’t have to worry about canning and sealing the jars, making this recipe is so easy, it is a great way to introduce yourself to making homemade pickles. It is worth tying at least once to see how easy it is. Once you start, I am sure you will convert to making pickled red onions whenever you want some. When I make these pickled onions I never feel it is a huge undertaking and gets in the way of me doing other things. I can make them the morning before I need them and after steeping in the brine a few hours they are good to go.
Pickled Red Onions
As I have mentioned before, raw onions do not agree with me, so I cook them or macerate them to remove the bitter juices. If you are like me, having the choice of a pickled red onion will give you that great onion flavor without that nasty raw onion after bite. The acid in the pickling liquid steeps into the onions and is a great flavor enhancer. It just brightens any food its combined with. Try pickled red onions on any type of burger instead of raw onions and your burger will taste meatier and your secret sauce will brighten and stand out. All together it makes a crave-worthy sandwich.
I love adding caramelized onions to my turkey or beef burger, yet during the summer I do not want to spend a lot of time watching onions slowly caramelize on the stove. Pickled red onions are a great substitute for the times you do not want to slave over the stove but want a sweetened onion flavor.
Plus, who can resist this incredible vivid pink color?
What to Serve with Pickled Red Onions
Serve pickled red onions with just about anything you would add raw onions too.
They are delicious with burgers whether they are beef, turkey, lamb or a veggie/vegan variety.
Mix them into a Grilled Chicken Sandwich from my post on Easy Picnic Foods for the Summer.
Use pickled red onions as a garnish for White Chicken Chili
Add to any tossed green salad, especially ones with goat cheese. and cured black olives.
Pickled red onions are perfect with smoked or cured fish, especially lox and cream cheese on a bagel, or try some with smoked trout.
Pickled Red Onions
Learning how to make pickles is easy with this recipe for pickled red onions. It takes but a few minutes to prepare with the remaining time is unattended while the onions steep in its brine. These are slightly sweet tasting with a subtle spicy hint. Homemade pickled red onions are a delicious addition to any type of burger, tacos, smoked fish, and salads.
Keeps in the refrigerator for about one month in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid.
Makes just over 2 ½ cups (670 ml) of pickled red onions.
- 1 red onion about 10 oz / 300 g
- 2 cups (500 ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1 TB (10 g) Kosher salt
- 1 TB (14 g) granulated sugar
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 5 cloves
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
Slice the red onion into thin slices about 3/8 inches thick. Add the red onion slices into a large mixing bowl.
Pour the apple cider vinegar into a 3 quart (non-reactive) sauce pan and turn the heat to high. Add the sugar and salt and the remaining spices and bring to just a boil. Turn off the heat and pour the brining liquid over the onions in the bowl. Allow to cool then carefully add the onion slices and brining liquid into a pint size, sterile, glass mason jar with tight fitting lid. Screw the lid on the jar, then steep the onions for 4 hours before you use them. Keep the pickled onions in the refrigerator. Will keep for one month in the refrigerator. (See link in post for how to sterilize jars).
© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.
Cranberry sauce is an essential Thanksgiving side dish. I am so accustomed to eating turkey with cranberry sauce it is hard to imagine serving turkey without it. Of all the side dishes made for this yearly feast, it is one of the easiest. The sauce takes about 20 minutes tops to prepare, then chills in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. It is so quick and easy, I do not understand why more people don’t make it. The canned sauce is convenient, but there is no comparison to homemade cranberry sauce.
As a kid, I knew there must be a better alternative to the canned sauce. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mom proudly displayed the solid jellied cranberry sauce on its’ own plate. It’s cylinder shape and distinctive ribbed markings revealed its canned origin and was futile to disguise it. As each person reached over to slice off sections of the jellied cranberry cylinder, one never knew where it would roll. It slid around so much, we needed an extra utensil to hold it still. More times than not you heard the distinctive thwack of a knife hitting the plate when it slipped off the cranberry sauce. I never knew if it was going to slide away and knock over the gravy boat.
Passing the cranberry sauce around the table was challenging as well. It took adept balancing skills to keep it from rolling off the plate and landing on your lap. Every holiday as each family member carefully carved out their portion, I secretly chuckled to myself wondering if this was the year the cranberry sauce got away.
I am happy to say, eating canned cranberry sauce did not turn me off this condiment for good. I did like it, but I wanted something fresher. Once I was on my own, I did not waste time and quickly learned to make it from scratch. In fact, I learned how to make homemade sauce before I learned how to roast a turkey. In my opinion, homemade cranberry sauce is key to tying the whole meal together.
Whenever I host Thanksgiving it is for a large crowd of 30 family members. Everyone contributes a dish for this feast. The cranberry sauce must compliment every and any side dish in the buffet. As a result, my recipe does not have a lot of different herbs, spices or alcohol, but offers the classic pairing of tart cranberries with bitter-sweet orange zest and marmalade. This combination of bittersweet flavors goes with everything.
More holiday side dishes: My Favorite Stuffing Recipe
I believe the original recipe comes from Bon Appetit magazine, probably around the early 1990’s. The publisher and author information are missing, but I believe this is an accurate guess since I subscribed to Bon Appetit at the time. I made one small change to the original.
The original recipe includes frozen concentrated cranberry juice cocktail. Unfortunately, finding frozen cranberry juice is getting harder and harder with each passing year. As a result, I make it one of two ways: reduce 2 cups of cranberry juice to one cup, or just add one cup of regular cranberry juice. Either way the cranberry sauce has a deep red color with tart cranberry flavor. If you can find frozen cranberry juice, feel free to use it.
I call it Triple C Cranberry sauce because it has three different cranberry ingredients, fresh cranberries, dried cranberries, and cranberry juice. It also has three layers of orange flavorings, orange zest, orange juice and orange marmalade. Altogether these 2 x triple layers of cranberries and oranges, makes a tart and fruity cranberry sauce with a touch of sweetness for balance. It is not too thick or too thin, and spoons easily over your Thanksgiving meal. I promise, this cranberry sauce won’t roll away.
Triple C Cranberry Sauce
- 1 cup (250 ml) cranberry juice, or frozen juice concentrate thawed
- 1/3 cup (75 ml) sugar
- 1- 12 oz (350 g) package of fresh or frozen cranberries, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) dried cranberries
- 3 TB orange marmalade
- 2 TB orange zest
- 2 TB fresh orange juice
- 1/8 tsp ground allspice
Add the cranberry juice and sugar into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar dissolves. Turn the heat to medium and add the fresh or frozen cranberries, and the dried cranberries to the juice. Stir and cook until the cranberries begin to pop, about 5 - 7 minutes. Continue to cook for a couple of minutes to reach the desired texture of popped cranberries to whole ones. I think it is nice to have an even ratio of both.
Turn off the heat, and add the remaining ingredients. Stir to evenly combine.
Pour the cranberry sauce into a storage container and cool. Once cooled, cover and refrigerate until cold, about 2 hours.
© 2017 – 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.