Lemon Thyme & Ginger

Grilled Skirt Steak with Mojo de Ajo. What to feed the Groomsmen Part Two

Grilled Skirt Steak with Mojo de Ajo recipe.

Part two of my quest to figure out what to feed the groomsmen, I decided to make grilled skirt steak in addition to the grilled chicken. As I mentioned earlier this week, at Evan’s request I am not making a lot of different foods like dips, salsas or desserts, so the sandwiches need to be the star of the meal. After all, they are the only food offered besides chips and beer.

Because the grilled chicken is marinated in a classic garlic and herb marinade, I decided to use Mojo de Ajo to flavor the grilled skirt steak. This way both the grilled selections have a similar garlic flavor, but in their own unique way.  The grilled chicken has a garlic herb profile with an Italian American flavor and the grilled skirt steak has a Mexican cuisine flavor profile from the simmered garlic, chilies and Mexican oregano. Both grilled foods are different, but they complement each other because they share similar ingredients and the same cooking method.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Mojo de Ajo recipe.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Mojo de Ajo recipe.

My hope is the grilled skirt steak sandwich with mojo de ajo will give the groomsmen a taste of something unexpected as well as delicious. Mojo de Ajo has a prominent garlic flavor but it is not strong and lingering. I feel like I contradicted myself by saying it is prominent but not strong, yet it is true. By not strong I mean the garlic behaves and like a polite guest knows when it is time to home. This is not the type of garlic that you taste all night long when your want to go to sleep. Roasted garlic is the most significant flavor, but because of the orange juice, tomatoes and arbol chilies it comes across sweeter with a kick. Grilled skirt steak in mojo de ajo is both has a familiar taste yet, it is new at the same time.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Mojo de Ajo recipe.

Grilled Skirt Steak

Skirt steak takes no time to grill, either on an outdoor grill or on the stove in a grill pan. My skirt steak finished cooking in 4-5 minutes on a grill pan for medium rare. However, they were thin pieces of meat. Depending on the thickness of your skirt steak and how much you want your steak to cook, it could take a minute less or a couple of minutes longer. If you have never cooked skirt steak before, start with the recommended time in the recipe and test it to see how done it is. Skirt steak tastes better when it is rare to medium rare and because my pieces were very thin, probably should cook them for less time. Additionally, it is important to rest the steaks for 10 minutes before you slice them. This way the juices will soak into your steak and not flow all over your cutting board.

Grilled Skirt Steak with Mojo de Ajo recipe.

Mix it up

Now, I am using grilled skirt steak to make sandwiches, but this steak makes an easy weeknight dinner as well. Last night we ate it for dinner with a green salad and devoured it. We liked it so much, we could not stop picking at it. Both of us repeatedly commented, “I’ll just have one more sliver please.” Eventually, we had to remove the grilled skirt steak from the table before we ate the whole thing.

Grilled skirt steak with mojo de ajo makes the perfect steak taco. Actually this is how I first became acquainted with the garlic sauce in the cookbook Taco.

Make fajitas with grilled skirt steak with mojo de ajo and poblano rajas, which is sautéed strips of poblano chilies and white onions. Get the recipe from my poblano chili cream sauce. This creamy poblano sauce will also taste great with grilled skirt steak.

Make a grilled skirt steak salad with arugula, avocado, oranges and baby radishes. Drizzle some of the mojo de ajo on the steak and dress with a citrus vinaigrette. My favorite is a combination of orange juice and lemon juice with a little honey, a touch of Dijon mustard, black pepper, extra virgin olive oil, and finished with fresh herbs like mint or basil..

Grilled Skirt Steak with Mojo de Ajo recipe.

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Grilled Skirt Steak with Mojo de Ajo

The mojo de ajo gives grilled skirt steaks a whole new flavor. It is perfect for a steak dinner with a green salad, or beef tacos, or make into steak sandwiches.

Add some mojo de ajo in the mayonnaise for your sandwiches for extra flavor. 

Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American, Mexican
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Resting Time 30 minutes
Total Time 11 minutes
Servings 3 people
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ lb skirt steak
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1/3 cup oil from Mojo de Ajo get recipe from the link in the summary
  • Garnish with the garlic and minced tomato from the Mojo de Ajo

Instructions

  1. Place the skirt steak in a baking dish just large enough to hold the skirt steak in an even layer. Sprinkle the skirt steak with Kosher Salt on both sides, about ½ teaspoon total, possibly a pinch more.

  2. Separate the oil from the solids of the Mojo de Ajo and pour about 1/3 cup over the skirt steak. Turn the steaks over and rub them with the oil to get and even coating. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the skirt steaks rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.

  3. Prepare your grill. Oil the grill once the coals are in place. 

  4. Place the skirts steaks on a 45° angle over the grill and sear for 2 minutes. Rotate the steaks towards the opposite 45° angle and grill for one minute. Turn the skirt steaks over and repeat on the other side. If you have a thicker piece of skirt steak try 4 minutes  side. The steaks could be done anywhere from 5-8 minutes depending on how thick they are. 

  5. Remove the skirt steaks from the grill and let it rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
  6. Slice across the grain in thin slices and serve garnished with the minced garlic and tomatoes from the Mojo de Ajo.
Grilled Skirt Steak with Mojo de Ajo recipe. A sublime recipe for grilled skirt steak with sweet garlic flavor from Mojo de Ajo, a citrus garlic olive oil from Veracruz.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Four the Love of Cheese Pizza

Four Cheese Pizza recipe.

Out of curiosity I wanted to know just how much pizza Americans eat. The information is a couple of years old, but according to an article in Food Network Dish, Americans eat over 6,000 slices of pizza over the course of their lifetime (Reiter, Amy FN Dish, News, 2015). 6,000 slices of pizza is difficult to imagine, but for some odd reason I thought it was more, Yet the other surprise is, according to The Pizza Joint, a pizza trivia website, pepperoni is America’s favorite pizza. I would have put money down that the Americans favorite pizza is cheese pizza, especially with extra cheese.

Four Cheese Pizza

In our household, if I bought pepperoni, my sons would devour every crumb of pepperoni pizza, so I should not be surprised at that statistic. Their next favorite is cheese pizza, especially our homemade Four Cheese Pizza. Globs of melted cheese oozing off pizza slices appeals to everyone’s inner cravings. I can just see the scramble to grab the first slice of cheese pizza hot out of the oven with the strings of melted cheese stretching away from the pizza pie. Ah, don’t you just want to scoop up all those stings of melted cheese and layer it on top of your slice?

Four Cheese Pizza recipe

I made this recipe with a blend of mozzarella cheese, Italian Fontina cheese, Asiago Cheese, and Romano Cheese. It is a nice blend of creamy good melting cheeses with harder sharp tasting cheeses for contrast. The mozzarella and fontina cheese get mixed together, then sprinkle a layer of grated Asiago over the top so it stands out. Once the pizza is done baking, I sprinkle finely grated Romano cheese over the top and watch it melt as it hits the hot cheesy surface.

The reason I add the Romano cheese after the pizza is done, is to prevent the Romano cheese from burning. Those crispy burnt layers of cheese taste great in a lasagna, but people like crispy pizza crust, not crispy cheese with their slice.

Four Cheese Pizza recipe.

Putting it together

Just like my post for Pesto Shrimp Pizza, I did not include a pizza dough recipe. If you want to try your hand at making pizza dough, try Jim Lahey’s No Kneed Pizza Dough. Or, try this pizza dough recipe from The Kitchn.  I have yet to test this recipe so please let me know how you like it.

The down side to making pizza dough is, it requires advance planning in order for it to get done in time. Yet there is a reasonable alternative, buy a store made pizza dough. This makes Friday night pizza more doable.

The cheese pizza recipe has a quick tomato sauce with lots of garlic and fresh basil. It is easy to make while you are waiting for the oven to preheat and the dough to come up to room temperature. All that is left to do is grate the cheese. For more detailed information about making pizza and special equipment please read my post for Pesto Shrimp Pizza, (linked above).

An extra cheese pizza lovers delight. Four cheese pizza recipe made with homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, Italian fontina cheese, Asiago, and grated Romano cheese.

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Four Cheese Pizza

A delicious cheese pizza made with a blend of mozzarella, Italian Fontina, Asiago, and Romano cheeses. The mozzarella and Fontina cheeses have a creamy base and are good melting cheeses, while the Asiago and Romano cheese provide a sharp contrast and make all the cheeses pop. 

Garnish with fresh basil and red pepper flakes. 

Makes one 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza. For a larger pizza adjust the ingredient proportions as needed.  

Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Italian, Italian American
Keyword Cheese pizza, Four cheese Pizza
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Preheating time 1 hour
Total Time 31 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Tomato Sauce

  • 1 14.5 oz (411 g) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • Pinch of Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp of granulated sugar
  • 6 leaves basil chiffonade sliced

Cheese Pizza

  • 1 7 oz (200 g) Pizza Dough
  • 3 TB (45 ml) Tomato Sauce
  • 3 oz (75 g) grated low moisture mozzarella
  • 2 oz (50 g) grated Italian Fontina cheese
  • 1 oz (25 g) grated Asiago cheese
  • ½ oz (15 g) grated Romano cheese
  • Fresh Basil leaves for garnish

Instructions

Prep

  1. One hour before you want to bake the pizza, preheat the oven to 500°F 250°C/ Gas mark 8
  2. If you are using a pizza steel or stone, place it on a rack according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  3. Place the pizza dough on the counter and rest for one hour before baking.
  4. Mix together the grated mozzarella and Fontina cheese and set aside. Keep the Asiago and Romano cheeses separate. 

Make the tomato sauce

  1. Place a fine mesh strainer over a bowl. Cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the seeds and remove the core over the strainer. Place the tomato halves into another bowl. Press out the juices from the seeds and core pieces in the strainer. Pour the tomato juice in the bowl with the tomatoes and blend with an immersion blender or add to a blender. Process until smooth.
  2. In a 2 quart sauce pan over medium high heat, add the olive oil and heat until shy of smoking. Add the minced garlic to the sauce pan, aiming away from the hot spot in your pan. Cook for a minute then add the puréed tomatoes. Turn down the heat to medium low and simmer for one two minutes. Add the salt sugar and half the basil then simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the remaining fresh basil. This can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for two days.

Assemble the pizza

  1. When it is time to bake your pizza, sprinkle some flour over a pizza peel and set aside. Or, place a piece of parchment paper over a rimmed sheet pan large enough to hold a 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza. Lightly spay with cooking oil on the parchment paper. 

  2. Flour your work surface and your hands and pour the pizza dough onto your surface. Press down on the dough with your fingertips and shape into a circle. Drape the dough over the tops of both hands, shaped in a loose fist. Let gravity and your thumbs stretch out the pizza dough to a 10-inch (25.5 cm) circle. Use your thumbs to stretch out the edge and rotate the dough around. Do not pull out from the center of the dough.

  3. Place the dough on the prepared pizza peel or sheet pan. Check to make sure the pizza is not sticking to the peel by shaking the peel back and forth. If it is sticking add more flour to the peel. If you have any holes, patch them up so the topping does not ooze out while baking.
  4. Spread the tomato sauce in an even layer over the pizza dough, leaving an inch border around the pizza. Check to make sure the pizza is not sticking to the peel. Sprinkle all the cheeses, except the Romano cheese, over the tomato sauce in an even layer. Shake the peel back and forth to make sure it is not sticking to the peel.

  5. Bring the pizza on the peel over to the oven and aim toward the back of the baking stone or steel. (If you are using a sheet pan, just place it on the rack and bake). Slide the peel towards you and shake off the pizza so it slides onto the baking stone or steel.

  6. Bake for 6 minutes, or until the pizza is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Half way through baking, turn the pizza from front to back for even baking.
  7. Remove the pizza from the oven by using a spatula to slide it onto a pizza peel. Slide the pizza onto a cutting board or pizza pan. Sprinkle the Romano cheese and remaining fresh basil leaves over the pizza and serve immediately.

Four Cheese Pizza. An extra cheese pizza lovers delight. Four cheese pizza recipe made with homemade tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, Italian fontina cheese, Asiago, and grated Romano cheese.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Pesto Shrimp Pizza with Asparagus Ribbons

Pesto Shrimp Pizza recipe.

We are a family of shrimp and pizza lovers and came up with a great way to combine the two, shrimp pizza. Shrimp is an unexpected pizza topping but it works, especially paired with basil pesto and thinly sliced asparagus. Additionally, this pizza recipe was a great way to sneak in some extra vegetables into my vegetable leery children.

Pizza night started as a family tradition when my husband began baking bread and learning about making sour dough starter. It was his weekend night thing to do with our sons. His pizzas spoiled us forever for once you taste good quality homemade pizza dough and pizza it is hard to go back to the usual.

Even though Joe is still baking bread with a starter, we took a break from making pizza on a weekly basis because it is just the two of us living at home. However. I want to change that because homemade pizza not only tastes incredible, but it is fun to do. I find whenever we make pizza for a crowd, our guests, either friends or family, love pitching in or watching the pizzas being made. Everyone hangs out in the kitchen and it is just one big happy, loving mess.

Pesto Shrimp Pizza, recipe

 

Pesto Shrimp Pizza, recipe.

Pizza Dough for Shrimp Pizza

I do not have a dough recipe prepared for my shrimp pizza. I am still developing my pizza dough recipe and testing others to find an easy recipe with a little sour flavor and gets nice and crispy. Plus, my husband’s recipe is in the family archives and needs extra time to re-develop.

If you want to try your hand at making pizza try, Jim Lahey’s No Knead Pizza Dough. Although you need to make this at least a day in advance, it is relatively easy to make. I tested this recipe a couple of times and found it reliable, light crust with some crisp crunch. It shapes nicely and cooks up evenly.

Fortunately, it is easy to purchase pizza dough either at your favorite grocery store or a local pizza parlor. Some pizza parlors sell their pizza dough, so it is worth asking. We have a local family market that makes pizza and sells fresh pizza dough which is great for last minute homemade pizza cravings.

Pesto Shrimp Pizza recipe.

Special Equipment for Making Shrimp Pizza or any Pizza

If you are going to start making pizza, even if you use store-bought pizza dough, there are a couple of pieces of equipment that make pizza making easier. First, if you can only buy one item, I recommend buying a pizza peel. With a peel in hand, sliding a freshly prepared pizza onto a pizza stone or pizza steel is a breeze. Without one, you need a baking sheet, like a large cookie sheet or rimmed sheet pan and prepare the pizza directly on the pan.

Also, get a long-handled and wide spatula, like ones used for outdoor grilling. They help to safely slide the pizza around in the oven and onto the pizza peel. We have two spatulas, one being so old we can’t bear to throw it away. It is the perfect size and shape for bread and pizza baking, so we tape it up with aluminum tape to secure it. It still works, and we have yet to find a good replacement. Unfortunately, they just don’t make this shape and size any more.

Bench scrapers are nice to divide the dough in half, or scrape the dough out of the bowl, but they are not necessary.

Pesto Shrimp Pizza, recipe.

However, if you want to get serious about making pizza, investing in a baking stone or baking steel is worth it. I also use mine when I bake pies, tarts and galettes. If they are too expensive, place a rimmed baking sheet pan upside down in the oven when you are preheating it. The surface will get very hot and do a similar job as the baking stone or steel does. Place a baking pan with the pizza on top of the upside down sheet pan, the large hot surface area helps crisp up your pizza crust and even browning on the bottom crust.

Pesto Shrimp Pizza recipe.

Pesto Shrimp Pizza

To make Pesto Shrimp Pizza, use my basil pesto recipe and smear a few table spoons of pesto over the surface of the pizza. You can make the pesto with or without the cheese as both options taste great.

I lightly season the peeled shrimp with Kosher salt, ground garlic and red pepper flakes. Because there is no acid added to the shrimp, the shrimp can marinate in the seasoning without getting mealy and starting to cook. I prefer granulated garlic because minced fresh garlic easily burns when cooked under such hot temperatures. Burnt garlic gets very bitter and I do not want that flavor dominating the pesto and the shrimp.

Honesty, the most difficult thing to do is slice the asparagus spears into thin strips. Feel free to cut them any way you prefer. I like my pizza vegetables to easily bite into without pulling off half the toppings or the whole thing at once. With the asparagus sliced thin they cook up quickly and are easy to bite into. You may also want to cut the asparagus sliced in half across the middle depending on how big your pizza is.

Pesto Shrimp Pizza, recipe.

Final Touches

Once the pizza is baked, squeeze lemon juice over the top and add some Romano cheese and other garnishes. My pickled red onions add a nice touch to this pizza as well.

This recipe makes one 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza, which if you follow Jim Lahey’s pizza dough recipe is one of the four dough balls from his recipe, about 7 oz (350 g) each. A 10-inch (25/5 cm) pie is a reasonable size for two normal persons, athletes and teenage boys  count this pizza size as one serving.

Most pizza dough you buy in the store is larger and usually makes around a 12-inch (30.5 cm) or larger pizza. If you are using a store-bought dough, you will need to increase the toppings accordingly. Though, that is the beauty of homemade pizza, the only thing you must pay attention to exact measurements is for making the dough, everything else is easily adjusted to suit your style.

Enjoy your homemade pizza and please share your photos with me on my Facebook page or Instagram @lemonthymeandgigner.

 

Pesto Shrimp Pizza, recipe.

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Pesto Shrimp Pizza

Pizza night in a lot of fun, especially when you make one with shrimp and pesto. Extra vegetables, like thinly sliced asparagus and chopped marinated artichoke hearts add textural contrast and flavor to the pesto and the shrimp. Makes on 10 inch (25.5 cm) pizza

Most store bough pizza dough makes a larger pizza pie, about 12 inches, 30.5 cm. Adjust the ingredients accordingly, so you have a nice sample of shrimp and vegetables and an even coating of pesto. 

Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine Italian American
Keyword Pizza, Pizza Recipe, Shrimp Pizza
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 6 minutes
Pre heat oven 1 hour
Total Time 26 minutes
Servings 2 people
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • Pizza Dough about 7 oz (200 g) for a 10 inch (25.5 cm) pizza see blog post for recommendations
  • Basil Pesto sauce 3 TB (35 g) depending on size of pizza
  • 9 large shrimp about 5-6 oz (150 - 175 g)
  • 2 TB divided Extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp ground garlic
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • 6 asparagus spears
  • 2 marinated artichoke hearts in oil
  • Garnish with juice of half of lemon grated cheese, pickled red onion (optional), and fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

Prepare the toppings

  1. If using, follow the instructions for preheating your pizza stone or pizza steel. Preheat the oven at 500°F/ 250° C / Gas Mark 8 for one hour before baking the pizza.

  2. Take the pizza dough out of the refrigerator 1 hour before baking. Let is rest on the counter in the container.
  3. While the oven is preheating, prep the ingredients. Clean the shrimp and remove the shells and vein. Add the shrimp to a bowl then mix in a shy tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, ground dried garlic and red pepper flakes. Mix until the seasonings are well incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

  4. Trim off the tough ends of each asparagus spear, about an inch and half from the bottom. Slice each spear lengthwise in half, then cut each half in half lengthwise. Place the asparagus on a plate and drizzle a light coating of olive oil , shy tablespoon, and a pinch of Kosher Salt over the asparagus and toss with our hands until the oil and salt are well incorporated. Set aside.

  5. Cut the artichoke heart wedges, in half lengthwise and rough chop. Set aside.

Assemble the pizza

  1. Sprinkle your pizza peel with flour and set aside. Or, if you do not own a pizza peel place a piece of parchment paper on a large rimmed baking sheet, large enough to hold a 10-inch (25.5 cm) pizza. Lightly spray the parchment paper with oil spray. 
  2. Shape the dough. Sprinkle flour over your work surface so the dough does not stick and flour your hands. Pour out the dough and press down on the pizza dough with your fingertips to flatten and shape it into a circle. Drape the dough over the tops of both hands and stretch and shape the dough using gravity and your thumbs until the dough is about 10-inches (25.5 cm) in diameter. Don’t pull the dough but use both your thumbs to stretch out from the edge, not the center, and rotate the dough in a circle. 

  3. Drape the pizza dough on your prepared peel or pan, slide the peel back and forth to make sure the dough does not stick to the peel.

  4. Spread the pesto evenly around the pizza leaving about an inch (2.5 cm) border. Sprinkle the asparagus evenly over the pizza, then the shrimp and finally add the artichoke hearts. While you are adding the toppings,  repeat the slide test  making sure the pizza dough is not sticking to the peel with the extra weight.  

  5. Bring the peel over the oven and insert the peel towards the back of the baking steel or stone. Encourage the pizza to slide off the peel and onto your pizza stone or steel, by moving the peel back and forth until you can slide the peel out while the pizza slides off. Bake for 6 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked and the crust is golden brown. Optional, half way through the baking turn the pizza around, front to back for even browning. The BBQ spatulas are perfect for this job. Always be careful not to touch the baking stone or steel. They are seriously hot, and you can get a nasty burn. 

  6. Remove the pizza from the oven by using long BBQ spatula, careful not to touch the steel or stone, and slide it onto the pizza peel.  

  7. Slide the pizza onto a metal serving platter or cutting board. Squeeze the lemon juice over the pizza then lightly sprinkle grated Romano cheese. Scatter a few slices of pickled red onion and grind fresh black pepper over the pizza. Cut into equal size wedges and serve immediately. 

Recipe Notes

Most store bough pizza dough makes a larger pizza pie, about 12 inches, 30.5 cm. Adjust the ingredients accordingly so you have a nice sample of shrimp and vegetables and an even coating of pesto. 

Pesto Shrimp Pizza, recipe.

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

Small Batch Pickled Red Onions

Small Batch Pickled Red Onions and recipe.

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.

Small Batch Pickled Red Onions recipe

Small Batch Picked Red Onions and recipe.

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.

Small Batch Pickled Red Onions and recipe.

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.

Small Batch Pickled Red Onions and recipe.

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?

Small Batch Pickled Red Onions and recipe.

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.

Add them to either of my tacos recipes, Seared Fish Tacos with Mango Avocado Salsa, or Black Bean Tacos with spicy Winter Squash .

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.

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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. 

Course Condiment
Keyword Pickled Red Onions
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Resting time 4 hours
Total Time 10 minutes
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Slice the red onion into thin slices about 3/8 inches thick. Add the red onion slices into a large mixing bowl.
  2. 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.

Summer Backyard BBQ Menu Ideas

Summer Backyard BBQ Menu with recipe links.

There is nothing like getting together with friends and family for a day into night BBQ. The warmer temperatures and longer days just invite people to relax and hang outside. I put together a delicious BBQ Menu designed for ease of preparation,  seasonal produce, diet flexibility, and just good eats. When preparing a BBQ menu, the first thing to evaluate is know your guests’ dietary restrictions, if any. Don’t put any of your guests in the position where they must bring their own food. A courteous host will design a menu around their inspiration and friends and family food restrictions. In my case no matter if I am entertaining friends or family, I always need food for vegetarian, sometimes vegan, and gluten free diets. The whole menu does not have to include all the restrictions, but having at least one selection per course for any specialized diet is greatly appreciated.

Food allergies are taken more seriously than when I was growing up and there are times when people have so many food allergies and restrictions they opt to bring their own food. No one wants to put anyone out or feel like they are needing a special meal just for them. As a courtesy describe your menu to your friend or family member and inform them of your menu. If you are making something they can eat, let them know.

Summer BBQ Menu

Beer   Wine   Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita

Appetizers

Muhammarra   Grilled Shrimp Cocktail   Pickled Deviled Eggs

Main Course

Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak

Cold Sesame Noodles

Grilled Asparagus

3 Bean Salad

Dessert

Double Coconut Pie

Gluten Free Strawberry Tart

Fudgy Brownies with Sea Salt and Caramel

 

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno, recipe.

BBQ Menu: Drinks

Serving a selection of wine and beer and non-alcoholic beverages is all anyone expects at a backyard party. However, these days people are very particular about the type of wine and beer they like to drink. Most likely your guests will bring a beverage they like and willing to share.

For beer, offer a variety like a lager, IPA, and Saison. This variety should cover most people’s taste preference. You know you guests best, if the only beer your guests drink is Corona, then that is all you need. For me, I am surrounded beer aficionados, so the more diverse selection the happier they are.

My summer wine selection usually includes, red, white and rosé wines. Here again, people are particular about what wine they like to drink and based on my experience two types of white wines are necessary. There are two distinct white wine camps, those who only drink chardonnay and those who do not drink Chardonnay period. A choice of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio will round out the white wine selection nicely. Another option is offer White Bordeaux. It is a dry white wine and should appeal to both white wine camps.

For red wine, Merlot pairs nicely with the steak and is not as heavy as a Cabernet Sauvignon. Additionally, I found during the summer a lighter, dry red wine like Cotes de Rhone is another all-purpose red wine choice.

The great peace keeper is Rosé. Both red and white wine drinkers enjoy a dry rosé. So, if you do not have the white or red wine they prefer, rosé to the rescue. It is a refreshing wine and perfect for summer.

For fun, offer a signature cocktail like Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno. You get two drinks in one with this recipe. The raspberry hibiscus juice is excellent in a cocktail and a non-alcoholic beverage mixed with seltzer or ginger ale.

BBQ Menu: The Beginning

No BBQ menu is complete without a good selection of appetizers. Chances are, your guests will arrive hungry anticipating a night of eating and drinking. Appetizers give people something to do other than drink, plus they set the mood of your party. Also, it is my experience people love appetizers or nibbly foods, sometimes more than the main dinner selection. Some people like to help and pass around a tray of appetizers because it gets them connected to everyone at the party.

Three recipes, Spinach and Artichoke Dip with Bacon, Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Walnuts and Pomegranate, Blue Cheese Dip with Caramelized Shallots

BBQ Menu: Appetizers

Depending on the amount of people determines how many appetizers you need. For a party with 8 people, I usually have three appetizers. Having more than 2 appetizer selections gives people choices for their meal, it looks welcoming and people feel like they are going to be well fed. When there is a small selection of food, people feel self-conscious about eating, because no one wants to be the guy who eats more than their fair share, and like I mentioned earlier people are usually hungry as soon as they arrive to a BBQ. Even if you have a larger party, 3 appetizers are a nice selection but make enough of each for two appetizer stations.

Variety is the name of the game. People love chips and dip of any variety. Serve with a vegetable crudité, and chips and crackers. All my dips published in this blog are some of my favorites and picking one is like choosing which of your children is your favorite. They are all my favorite. For a small party, I would select one dip, for a larger party I make two or three dips depending on the other appetizers.

 

Muhammarra is a delicious roasted red pepper dip from Syria. It is a vegan dip, but not gluten free. You can easily eliminate the crackers and add more walnuts for a gluten free option. Next to guacamole, Muhammarra is one of my favorites.

No one can resist shrimp cocktail and this roasted shrimp cocktail with Sriracha horseradish cocktail sauce is a definite crowd pleaser.  As long as you got your grill going, grill the shrimp over indirect heat instead of roasting them.

If it is not super hot outside people love Deviled Eggs and the Cornichon Pickle Deviled Eggs will pair nicely with the rest of the menu.

Summer Vegetable Steak Salad with Spicy Citrus Dressing Recipe

BBQ Menu: Main Course

I went traditional with this BBQ menu and selected a meat entrée because this flank steak is easy to prepare and cooks up quickly.  My recipe for Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak is an oldie but goodie and one I use regularly. The marinade is also delicious for pork tenderloin. The photographs may need updating but the steak has a sweet, salty and smoky flavor that is timeless. With grilled sherry marinated flank steak, you can make all sorts of crowd pleasing main entrées. Serve it as is, make into a steak salad, or make tacos or steak fajitas. Additionally, any leftovers make the best steak sandwich.

Very few people don’t like grilled asparagus and it pairs well with this flank steak. On several occasions I discovered grilled asparagus is the only prepare some people will eat asparagus. As long as you got the grill going, you might as well grill up some vegetables. You can serve the grilled asparagus as is or have an orange mayonnaise dressing on the side. If you have vegetarians at your party be considerate and grill the asparagus before you grill the flank steak.

I often find a green salad is not the most popular food item at buffets and barbecues. My theory is people pile their plates with the main food selection with the best intention of returning for salad. But chances are they go back for seconds and forgo the salad. However, no one will miss the leafy green salad as long as there a couple of vegetable dish selections. For a leafy green salad substitute, I enjoy this 3 Bean Salad, made with two types of string beans, kidney beans and a lemon ginger vinaigrette.  Not only is it a delicious salad, it provides some protein for vegan and vegetarian guests.

For an unexpected side dish, serve Cold Sesame Noodles instead of potato salad. Cold sesame noodles also give your vegetarian guests some more protein with the 3 bean salad. If you need a gluten free side dish, make the cold sesame noodles with your favorite gluten free pasta, or Quinoa Salad with Avocado and Dried Fruit.

Nectarine and Blueberry Galette recipe

BBQ Menu: Dessert

For a small party one dessert is plenty, but if you are having more than 8 guests, then offer a selection of desserts. I prefer desserts that can easily be made in advance and maintain their vibrant appearance and taste. Unless I make a sheet cake, like Pioneer Woman’s, Best chocolate Sheet Cake, I do not bake cakes for barbecues. Pies, cookies, brownies, crisps, or make your own ice cream sundaes are perfect for a summer BBQ menu. An excellent pie, and gluten free to boot, is Double Coconut Pie or, Gluten free Strawberry Tart made with pistachio cookie crust. The strawberry tart taste best when it is assembled right before serving, but that does not take too much time.

Nothing beats these fudgy brownies with sea salt and caramel, and they can easily fit in to make your own brownie sundaes. Just add the caramel sauce after you top off with the ice cream. But if you want a cold and refreshing dessert, Lemon Mousse or Yogurt Panna Cotta are excellent options for a small backyard parties.

Party Success

All these recipes were published to feed an average size family, yet they can easily scale up to feed any number of number of people. If I am only serving one main entrée selection, I figure on 6 oz (175 g) per person for the main entrée. A 6 oz (175 g) serving is a normal sized dinner portion. If you have a lot of food in your buffet and a second entrée, figure on 4 oz (150 g) of meat or fish per person. A half cup (125 ml) per person is a good portion size for any salad, vegetable or grain side dish.

The key to a fun and relaxed backyard BBQ is don’t fret it. Do as much as you can in advance and let people help when offered. Once the appetizers are made, the only food you need to time is the flank steak, everything else can be made in advance. Keep any cold food chilled before serving. There is nothing on the vegetables dishes you need to worry about going bad, except if you serve the orange mayonnaise.

Summer parties are less formal, and people enjoy making a dish to share. The main point of your get together is just that, a gathering of friends and family for a relaxing evening of good food, and fun. There is nothing wrong with asking people to help. Know your talents and limits, if dessert is not your forte, ask friends to bring dessert or buy it. Or, maybe you love making dessert but can’t swing the appetizers or salad, ask for help. Honestly, most people enjoy bringing a contribution because it makes them feel they are part of the party’s success. As much as you do not want to be alone in the kitchen, your guests want to visit with you as well, so ask for help when you need it.

Here is to a summer full of lots of parties and barbecues. Enjoy!

© 2018, Ginger Smith- Lemon Thyme and Ginger. All rights reserved.

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