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.

Liquid Gold: Mojo de Ajo

Liquid Gold: Mojo de Ajo recipe.

Condiment, The Pantry | June 13, 2018 | By

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: Mojo de Ajo recipe.

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.

liquid Gold: Mojo de Ajo recipe.

Liquid Gold: Mojo de Ajo recipe

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.

Liquid Gold: Mojo de Ajo recipe.

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.

Liquid Gold: Mojo de Ajo recipe with skirt steak.

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.

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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'sHis 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). 

Course Condiment, Sauce
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

Make the spice blend

  1. Slice the arbol chilies in half lengthwise and shake out the seeds. Discard the seeds. 

  2. 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. 

  3. 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

  1. 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. 

  2. 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. 

  3. 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.  

Liquid Gold: Mojo de Ajo recipe. Mojo de Ajo is a garlic sauce used in Mexican Cuisine. It is delicious drizzled over meats, chicken,, fish and vegetables. A great sauce to have in your culinary repertoire.

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

A Family Favorite, Guacamole!!

Family Favorite Guacamole recipe

Guacamole is one of my all-time favorite foods, ever. I loved it since I was a child and have never stopped. My love affair with guacamole comes from an even greater appreciation for avocados. They are on my desert island list of food that I can’t live without. It is just so hard to imagine what life would be like without them. Avocados remind me of California and eating them is one way I stay connected to my home town.

For most of my lifetime, I have made guacamole and never look at it as a recipe, but something that is fluid and develops into a moment depending on place and time. There is a foundation to build on, but each time I add or omit an ingredient whenever I see fit. Over the years, my guacamole recipe is the one food that people always ask me, “What is my secret for making delicious guacamole?” My answer is not one they expect or want to hear but, I feel like I am stating the obvious. The secret to good guacamole is, making it with perfectly ripe avocados.

Family Favorite Guacamole reicpe

Ripe Avocados make the Best Guacamole

Ultimately, guacamole is only going to taste as good as the avocados you make it with. So, it pays to learn how to identify when they are ripe. It is rare to find them ripe at the market so, it is important to let your avocados ripen to that sweet spot at home. Too hard and the flesh will look pale in and taste bland. Too soft, and the avocado gets gray veins and has bruises on the flesh and tastes over ripe.

The sweet spot is when there is some firmness in the body, but also has some yield when you press on the north and south poles of the avocado. It is like Goldilocks, looking for the right chair to sit in. One that is not too hard, or not too soft. Just right. With experience it gets easier to identify that perfect state of ripeness and learn which store sells the best avocados.

Family Favorite Guacamole. How to make delicious guacamole. Start with the foundation recipe, then adjust the flavor with roasted tomatillos, or salsas for the perfect guacamole every time.

Living in New York, avocados travel long distances to reach our markets and usually are as hard as a granite counter top. Typically, when I buy avocados I let them rest on my window sill for 2 days before I use them. On occasion, they need more time, sometimes less. First, remove them from any bag, even the mesh bag, but especially a plastic one. Then place them in an area where they will get some sun and air circulation. Never put avocado in the refrigerator unless they are cut open. Check them daily and handle them carefully so they do not bruise.

My kitchen windows do not get a lot of direct sunlight, and two to three days usually is enough time. If your kitchen streams with sunshine all day, your avocados may take less time. None of the tricks, like putting them in a paper bag to quickly ripen avocados, work.  Time, warm air and sunlight are essential for ripening avocados.

Family Favorite Guacamole recipe

How to Make Guacamole Without a Recipe

When your avocados are ripe, begin making guacamole with the foundation ingredients, avocados, garlic, lime juice, pinch of salt, and minced cilantro. As you make guacamole remember this rule, start with less and add more if needed. It is a lot easier to add seasoning then take away. My preference for guacamole is create a nice balance of all the ingredients to enhance the flavor of the avocados without any one flavor coming on too strong. There are other traditional ingredients in guacamole like white onion or chopped tomatoes, but I prefer a smoother guacamole. Plus, I am not a big fan of raw onions. Feel free to add a couple of tablespoons of chopped white onions or tomatoes if you wish.

Once you get the foundation mixed together, taste and assess what the guacamole needs if anything. With perfect avocados it doesn’t take much to make good guacamole. Sometimes, the avocados lack some flavor and need some boosting. The easiest way to boost up the flavor is by adding a tablespoon of salsa, either tomato salsa or tomatillo salsa. Also, a small spoonful of mayonnaise helps make the guacamole creamy. Even a scant amount of Dijon mustard can offer the right amount of tang when the guacamole needs some acid to brighten it up. However, be careful not to add too much because you don’t want to taste the mustard or mayonnaise, these flavors should be in the background.

Family Favorite Guacamole recipe.

Extra Tidd-Bits for Boosting Guacamole Flavor

Just like adding a spoonful of salsa to your guacamole, you can achieve the same effect, if not better if you roast a tomatillo, jalapeño or serrano pepper, and garlic then add them to the guacamole. Personally, I love adding these roasted vegetables to guacamole, especially the garlic. The roasted garlic becomes sweet, and the harsh bite disappears. These roasted vegetables bring a slight tangy smokiness to the guacamole that just fits, like bacon and eggs.

Learn how to roast tomatillos and chili peppers by reading, Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce or White Chicken Chili.

A couple of years ago, I discovered how fresh fruit like strawberries is delicious with guacamole. Either serve strawberries on the side or chop some up and mix in the dip. You may need to add more salt and adjust the other seasoning, so taste and build the flavor as you go.

Family Favorite Guacamole recipe.

How Many Avocados?

3 avocados are a good place to start. It should make enough guacamole for 5-6 people. However, if your family is like my family it will disappear in less than 5 minutes and you will feel like you did not make enough. Avocados are expensive, at least in NY, so buy as many as is within reason. The most avocados I ever used to make guacamole are 6-7 avocados. It was for a decent size party of 15 or more people. However, if there are several appetizers in addition to the guacamole, there is no need to make so much.

Keep in mind, guacamole does not keep well. No matter how much lime juice is in the guacamole, eventually it turns gray from being exposed to the air. The oxidation also effects the flavor. Guacamole is a dip to serve right away and at room temperature.

Need more appetizers for your party? Try, Roasted Shrimp with Sriracha Cocktail Sauce and Deviled Eggs.

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Family Favorite Guacamole

The secret to delicious guacamole is using perfectly ripe avocados. Avocados are ripe when they are still firm but there is some give in the top and bottom of the fruit. I find it is best to buy avocados a couple of days in advance and let them ripen on a sunny windowsill. 

This is a foundation recipe to build your guacamole as you make it. Adjust any amount of your preferred seasonings to enhance the flavor of your avocados.  

This is not a recipe to make in advance. Guacamole is best served at room temperature and immediately after it is made. Serve with corn chips or some fruit like strawberries and vegetables such as jicama, carrots, cucumbers or bell peppers.

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Author Ginger

Ingredients

  • 3 avocados
  • 1 -2 cloves garlic peeled and green germ removed
  • 1 lime
  • 1/2 tea Kosher Salt
  • 2 TBS chopped cilantro
  • 1 roasted jalapeño chili optional
  • 1 medium roasted tomatillo optional

Instructions

  1. Cut each avocado in half by holding the avocado in one hand and with the other hand make a slice with a 6-inch chef's knife though the top of the avocado towards the middle until you reach the pit inside. Rotate your knife around the perimeter of the avocado. Set down the knife and hold the avocado in both hands then twist the avocado halves in opposite directions until they separate. Pull apart the avocado halves. 

  2. Securely hold the avocado with the pit like it is resting in your palm and the pit is facing up. Make sure your fingers are away from the edge of the avocado. Carefully, but firmly, take your chef knife and hit the sharp edge of the blade in the center of the pit until the knife sticks. With the knife blade secure in the pit, twist your knife counter-clockwise to loosen the pit from the flesh. Lift your knife with the pit still attached and remove the pit from the flesh. Whack the side of your knife against the edge of your cutting board, or the rim of a garbage pail, to loosen the pit from the knife and falls off. Repeat until all the avocados are cut in half and pits removed.

  3. Use a soup spoon and scoop out the avocado flesh. Run the spoon around the inside edge of the avocado to loosen it free from the skin. Scoop out the avocado flesh and place it into a mixing bowl. Repeat until all the avocados are scooped out. 

  4. Mash the avocados with a fork until all the flesh is mixed together but still chunky. Add lime juice from half a lime. Stir to mix with your fork. 

  5. Mince or press the garlic and place into the mixing bowl. Add a pinch (less than 1/2 a teaspoon), of Kosher salt. and the cilantro to the avocados. Stir to mix. 

  6. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Too bland add more salt or garlic. Needs more acid add more lime juice or tomatillos or salsa. Start with less and add more if needed.  

  7. Optional Ingredients:

    The roasted tomatillo, process in a food processor first then add it to the guacamole. 

    The chili peppers, remove the stem and scrape out the seeds and white pith according to how spicy you want the guacamole. 

    Instead of the roasted tomatillo or chilies, add a spoonful or salsa verde or tomato salsa.

    For extra creaminess, add a spoonful of mayonnaise. For extra tang, add a half teaspoon of Dijon mustard. 

    Sliced fresh grape tomatoes for garnish or in the dip. 


  8. Cover with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Best eaten immediately with corn chips or cut up vegetables and fruit. 

Family Favorite Guacamole. How to make delicious guacamole. Start with the foundation recipe, then adjust the flavor with roasted tomatillos, or salsas for the perfect guacamole every time.

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

Taste of Mexico: Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe.

Recent Posts | April 30, 2018 | By

Let’s celebrate Margarita Week 2018. This is a social media event with food bloggers and enthusiasts across the virtual stratosphere, honoring margaritas and Cinco de Mayo. It is an annual event hosted by Kate Ramos of Hola Jalapeno, where we share margarita recipes with the world. Over the last couple of weeks, I tested recipes and tasted delicious margaritas and finally decided to share a recipe for Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño. It is a floral and spicy remake of a traditional Hibiscus Margarita.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

My recipe for raspberry hibiscus margarita is made with a juice of raspberries and hibiscus herb tea, infused with jalapeño peppers and orange peel.  A small amount of sugar is added to the juice because I like to taste the tequila and fruit in my margaritas, not sugar. The juice recipe makes about 1 quart (a shy liter), which makes enough for 16 cocktails using equal proportions of juice to tequila.

I prefer margaritas made right before I drink it, as margaritas taste best after they are just shaken. If you insist on mixing the margarita ingredients together, to speed the cocktail making process along, do so right before your guests arrive. Later as you offer each guest a drink, add enough margarita mix to your ice filled cocktail shaker for 2 margaritas. Then shake and serve.

Another bonus from making the raspberry hibiscus jalapeño juice, is the juice makes a delicious nonalcoholic beverage.  Whenever I entertain I always offer a choice of cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks for my guests to enjoy. To make a Hibiscus Margarita mocktail, mix together, using a one to one ratio of  juice to either seltzer or ginger ale. Garnish the same as you would the Margarita. Your guests will be delighted at having a refreshing drink that is healthier than soda.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno, recipe.

 

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe. A Mocktail substitute recipe.

For each recipe, a margarita or mocktail, this drink tastes best with the rim of the glass coated in salt and ground chili powder. The spiciness in the juice and from the salt-chili rim, compliments the hibiscus and tequila perfectly. If you really do not like the glass coated in salt, add a small pinch of chili salt to the cocktail shaker or glass and mix.  Just like a pinch of sea salt on dark chocolate, salt paired with the hibiscus juice and tequila is the finishing touch that makes a big difference.

Family Celebration

A year ago, I wrote a post congratulating my son Evan, for finishing his actuary exams on Cinco de Mayo. In his honor I published a recipe for a “Classic Margarita.”  Evan prefers his tequila straight up over ice, but I don’t believe he would refuse a refreshing remake of a classic Margarita. A year later, I get to wave my proud mama flag again, but this time it is for the whole family.

Taste of Mexico: Classic Margarita reicp

This year on Cinco de Mayo we have the honor to celebrate with my oldest son, Andrew, his wife Amanda, and his in-laws at the wedding of Andrew’s brother-in-law. As we raise our glass to toast the newly married couple, we also will congratulate Andrew for finishing his MBA. These past two years and a half were jam-packed from working full-time, getting engaged, planning a wedding, getting married, going to graduate school, brewing award-winning beers, and a hurricane through the state of Florida this fall. Steadfastly moving forward without looking back, Andrew did it and now looks forward to growing his career. Andrew continues to impress me how he manages to clearly see his goals ahead and maintain a positive attitude, even when things don’t always go his way. His positive attitude comes from within, but also from his love for and from Amanda. Together, their love for one another is a foundation of respect, caring, and fun.

This year, Amanda also had her proud moments by getting a job promotion with a lot of responsibility and travel.

More Family Celebration

As Evan comes upon his anniversary of passing his professional exams, he is about to begin a new adventure and is getting married in 6 weeks. His fiancée, Emily, is finishing a major accomplishment of her own when she finishes her Master’s in Education in two weeks.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe.

We are blessed with three wonderful sons and I cannot finish my post without mentioning my youngest son, Taylor. Upon college graduation he toured Europe over the summer, then upon his return moved to New York City and started his career.  The kid just hasn’t stopped moving and he likes it that way. The extended working hours are grueling, but he remains positive and happy with his work and colleagues.

What this adds up for us is our boys are all grown up and make us proud everyday. Our family is growing, and we are so excited about the love and happiness they found. Once we were 5, now we are 7 strong and couldn’t be more thrilled.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno recipe.

What to Eat with your Hibiscus Margarita?

Enjoy your raspberry hibiscus margarita with your favorite Mexican food or with any type of cuisine from around the world.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo SauceGrilled Chicken with Creamy Poblano Rajas Sauce. Rolled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce. Roasted Cauliflower with Kale Parsley PestoZucchini Basil Frittata.  With dessert of Double Coconut Pie. Lemon Saffron Syrup Cake., or Bitter Orange Flourless Chocolate Cake

Margarita Week

Cinco de Mayo is becoming an auspicious day for my family, and I will gladly keep that tradition going. Join me on this May 5th in a toast, whether you are celebrating Mexico’s victory over Napoleon in the Franco Mexican War in 1862,  your cultural heritage and identity, your family, fulfilling dreams , accomplishing your goals, love, good will, peace, or just sharing a recipe around the world, by raising your glass and give thanks. Cheers my friends. May your life be filled with many celebrations and joy.

Check out all the recipes from the talented individuals Margarita Week participants. Follow the #maragritaweek on Instagram, and Hola Jalapeno’s Margarita Week web page.

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Fresh raspberries, hibiscus herb tea, orange peel and jalapeño steep together making a bright floral juice that is not too sweet and has a lot of spunk. Combine the juice with 100% pure agave, blanco tequila, Cointreau, lime juice (optional), for a refreshing hibiscus margarita. Or, mix the juice with seltzer or ginger ale for a nonalcoholic beverage. For either version, don’t skip on salting the glass rime.  The salt and extra ground chili pepper compliments the hibiscus and tequila perfectly. Trust me it makes a big difference. 

For make a nonalcoholic Raspberry Hibiscus Jalapeño beverage, stir together a one to one ratio of Hibiscus juice to seltzer. Too sweeten up the drink mix the juice with some 7-Up, or ginger ale. I recommend a ratio of two parts juice to one soda, so it is not too sweet.  

Use any herbal tea with hibiscus listed as the first ingredient. I tested this recipe with Red Zinger Tea by Celestial Seasoning, but Lemon Zinger, Wild Raspberry Hibiscus Herb Tea by Stash, or the equivalent amount of dried hibiscus flowers are all good substitutes. Once the juice is finished, it will taste spicy, but keep in mind for the final product, the juice will get diluted with other liquids. If you wish, control the heat by how much of the white pith and seeds in the jalapeño pepper you add to the raspberries and hibiscus juice. 

Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cooling time 1 hour
Servings 1 margarita
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Raspberry Hibiscus Jalapeño Juice

  • 1, 10 oz (283 g) bag of organic frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 6 Hibiscus tea bags
  • 1 jalapeño stem removed and cut in half
  • ¼ cup (53 g) 53 g granulated sugar
  • 3, 2-inch (5 cm) long strips of orange peel
  • 5 cups (1.25 liters) water

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

  • Coarse salt like Kosher salt
  • 1/8 -1/4 teaspoon ( a pinch) of ground chili pepper
  • 2 oz (60 ml) raspberry hibiscus jalapeño juice
  • 2 oz (60 ml) 100% agave blanco tequila
  • 1 oz (30 ml) Cointreau
  • A squeeze of lime juice from half a lime
  • 3 mint leaves
  • 1 basil leaves

Instructions

Raspberry Hibiscus Jalapeño Juice

  1. In a medium sauce pan, at least a 2-quart (2 liter) capacity, combine the thawed raspberries, hibiscus tea bags, jalapeño pepper, orange peels, granulated sugar and water. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium/medium-low and keep the juice at a gentle simmer for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the juice steep for another 20 minutes.

  2. Strain out the solids from the juice. Pour the juice into a fine mesh strainer resting over a bowl with at least a 2-quart (2 liter) capacity. Hold the strainer over the bowl and gently press out any remaining juice in the strainer. Dispose of the solids in the strainer.
  3. Cool the juice before refrigerating it. Fill a large bowl with ice and rest the bowl with the juice in the middle of the ice. Stir now and then for even cooling. It could take about a half hour for the juice to cool enough to cover and refrigerate. If you keep the juice in the ice bath for at least an hour the juice might be chilled enough to make a drink. Keep in mind margaritas or juice tastes best when they are nice and cold.

  4. The juice makes about 1-quart, (1 liter). Store covered in the refrigerator until needed. The juice will last for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeño

  1. Pour some salt about a 1/4 cup, 75 ml, onto a plate wider than the diameter of your drinking glasses. Add the ground chili and mix. Take out your margarita glasses or double-old fashioned glasses and wet the rim of each glass with a piece of lime. Turn the glass upside down and dip it into the salt and chili mix. Make sure the whole rim is coated in salt. If you are using double old-fashioned glasses, add 5 ice cubes to each prepared glass just before you pour in the margarita mix. Set aside.

  2. In a shaker filled half way with ice, add the tequila, hibiscus juice, Cointreau, and lime juice if using. Add the mint and basil leaves by placing the herbs in the palm of your hands and clap. You want to smash the herbs to release their aroma. Rub your hands together and let the herbs fall into the shaker. Add more orange zest if you like.

  3. Shake for 15 seconds a good and hearty shake like you are dancing the salsa. Then strain into your salt rimmed margarita glass. Garnish with a slice of lime, a slice of jalapeño and orange zest.

Large batch and ahead of time preparation:

  1. If you are having a large party and want to mix the ingredients before your guests arrive, mix the Margarita ingredients without the herbs, into a pitcher just before your party begins.

  2. FYI, I did not test out the proportions as it was just the two of us over the weekend and I did not want to drink or waste a whole liter of tequila. I did the math for you. Taste and adjust the ingredients as you prefer. 
  3. In a pitcher, stir together 1-quart (1 liter) raspberry hibiscus jalapeño juice with 1 quart (1 liter) of 100% agave blanco tequila, one-pint (600 ml) of Cointreau, and ¾- 1 cup (185 ml – 250 ml) fresh squeezed lime juice, if using. Add less lime juice then specified and taste. Adjust the margarita mix as you see fit. Cover the pitcher with plastic wrap and keep it chilled in the refrigerator before mixing in a cocktail. When ready, pour enough margarita mix for two drinks, 8 -10 oz (250 – 300 ml), into a cocktail shake then add the herbs. Shake well and serve. Garnish with lime wedges, jalapeño slices, orange segments or zest. 

  4. Additionally, you will need to make extra juice for a nonalcoholic beverage.

Raspberry Hibiscus Margarita with Jalapeno. Traditional hibiscus margarita recipe gets a spicy remake with infused jalapeno chili for a bright and refreshing, raspberry hibiscus margarita. Also included in the post is a non-alcoholic variation using the raspberry hibiscus jalapeno juice.

 

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

Taste of Mexico: Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

The more I cook with tomatillos, the more I love them. Their tangy and grassy flavor pairs perfectly with green chili peppers making them a foundation for salsa verde or green sauce in Mexican cuisine. Like tomatoes, but not related, tomatillos taste great either fresh like in a raw salsa verde, or roasted and cooked. In this recipe, it is the tomatillo sauce that sets these chicken enchiladas apart.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

Chicken Enchiladas with Verde Sauce

Simply put, I love this tomatillo sauce which I adapted from Rick Bayless, Roasted Tomatillo Sauce from More Mexican Everyday. As the title of the recipe link says, “It is a recipe to know by heart.” Once you get comfortable making tomatillo sauce you will want to make it repeatedly. Just like Poblano Chili Cream Sauce, it is easily adapted for recipes with eggs, cheese, or any grilled fish and meats.

Chicken enchiladas with a verde sauce is one of my favorite Mexican foods. Red chili sauces may have a more complex flavor, but I love the fresh and bright taste of fresh chilies when I cook with them. Fresh chilies make everything more invigorating and upbeat. I never feel heavy when I eat a meal prepared with a verde sauce, unless, of course, I loaded it up with extra cheese and sour cream. Normally I add avocado to all my Mexican inspired food, but the roasted tomatillo sauce is so satisfying, I do not miss the avocado.

Making chicken enchiladas is a great way to use up left over chicken as well. A rotisserie chicken from the store is also perfect for chicken enchiladas. You only need a shy 3 cups (750 ml) of shredded chicken to fill these enchiladas. Using precooked chicken frees up your time to make the tomatillo sauce and it is worth it. Sure, you could make a verde sauce from jarred salsa verde, but the taste won’t be as bright or have that personal touch of homemade food.

Additionally, you can fill enchiladas with just about anything that goes well with the sauce. You can easily substitute the chicken with shredded pork, cheese, fish, legumes, or other vegetables.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

Chicken Enchiladas Variations

I adapted Rick Bayless’s chicken enchiladas recipe by adding more herbs and spices to the sauce. In addition, I mixed together sautéed onions and poblano peppers with the chicken filling. Originally, I set out to make chicken enchiladas with a verde sauce filled with shredded chicken and poblano rajas, but I pared down my original idea to reduce some of the prep work. Also, Rick Bayless recommends garnishing the enchiladas with raw onion slices. I do not enjoy eating raw onions, so I roasted onion slices and garnished the enchiladas with them instead.

For this recipe I recommend charring and peeling the skins off the poblano pepper. Charring the poblano pepper and removing the blistered skin adds a smoky flavor to the pepper and enchiladas. You can roast the poblano pepper when you roast the vegetables for the tomatillo sauce, but unlike the serrano chilies, it should be peeled, and seeds removed before you chop them up for the chicken filling. Peeling off the skin is not necessary, but it is a nice touch. If you are pressed for time, do not roast the poblano pepper, instead chop it up without peeling it, and sauté the pepper and onions together until soft but not browned.

The sauce carries some heat which I enjoy, but I realize not everyone does. If you are making the enchiladas for your family, or for people who do not like spicy food, substitute the Serrano peppers with half of a poblano pepper and roast it along with the tomatillos. You will need to peel off the skin before you purée the roasted vegetables. The sauce will taste bright from the poblano chili pepper, but the heat level will be significantly reduced.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe.

Vegetarian Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

For vegetarian enchiladas, make the filling with 1½ cups (375 ml) of good melting cheese like Monterey Jack cheese or Cheddar cheese. Sauté a whole onion with a whole poblano pepper, cool slightly then mix with the grated cheese.  Assemble the enchiladas as directed in the recipe. Black beans, kidney beans or white navy beans are a nice addition with the cheese and vegetables as well.  Some cooked fish like tilapia, mahi mahi, or cod will taste great as a filling for enchiladas with  the onions and poblano peppers. However, do not add cheese to fish enchiladas, or for the garnish.

Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce, with recipe

Pointers for Success

Mise en Place – Prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking. This will help with the timing for making the sauce and assemble the enchiladas.

  • Gather all ingredients and place the spices near your stove
  • Slice and chop the onions then organize in three piles as you need them at three different stages. To save some time, roast the onion slices for the garnish along with the onions for the tomatillo sauce. When they are done, make sure you separate half an onion’s worth of the onion slices before you add the remaining sliced onions to the tomatillo sauce.
  • Shred the chicken
  • Grate the cheese
  • Chop the cilantro
  • Place the tortillas in a microwave safe plastic bag and set aside until needed.
  • Pull out your baking dish or dishes, and set aside.

Assemble the enchiladas when all the ingredients are still hot from the stove. This cuts back on the cooking time and helps keep the enchiladas from falling apart. The longer the tortillas cook in the sauce the soggier they get.

Use the best quality tortillas you can buy. If possible buy tortillas from a tortilleria or Mexican market.

Microwave the tortillas when you are ready to assemble the enchiladas.

Microwave the tortillas in a plastic bag leaving an opening for some of the steam to escape. My tortillas got soggy after being heated in the microwave and sat in a sealed and steamy plastic bag. Rich Bayless recommends microwaving on high for one minute, but I think it was too long. You may need to experiment with the amount of time you need to heat the tortillas up.

Assemble the enchiladas a minute after you heat the tortillas. Any later and the tortillas will get soggy.

For a Cinco de Mayo dinner celebration serve chicken enchiladas with roasted tomatillo sauce with a green salad, Double Coconut Pie and Classic Margaritas.

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Chicken Enchiladas with Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

Chicken enchiladas have such a bright and invigorating taste when paired with a verde sauce. Roasted tomatillos, serrano peppers, onion and garlic set the stage for the enchilada sauce. The tomatillo sauce is adapted from Rick Bayless, More Mexican Everyday, Roasted Tomatillo Sauce. 

There are some specialty ingredients in this recipe. You can find tomatillos at well stocked grocery stores, Asian produce markets, or Mexican markets. The dried spices like epazote and Mexican oregano you can find at Mexican markets or on line. Epazote has a unique flavor that cannot be matched. If you cannot find epazote, add one bay leaf to the sauce then remove it before you assemble the enchiladas. 

Bake the enchiladas in one large baking dish or individual dishes large enough to hold 2 enchiladas. 

Best eaten right out of the oven. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 48 minutes
Servings 5
Author Ginger

Ingredients

Tomatillo Sauce

  • 1 lb. tomatillos
  • 4-5 garlic cloves peel intact
  • 2 serrano chilies or half a poblano pepper for a mild sauce
  • 1 white onion sliced across the equator in ½ in thick rings
  • ¾ tsp Kosher Salt

Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 poblano chili pepper charred, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1 white onion divided
  • 2 cups (500 ml) Roasted Tomatillo Sauce
  • 1 ½ cup (375 ml) chicken stock
  • 1 tsp dried Mexican Oregano
  • 1 tsp dried crumbled epazote
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • Shy 3 cups shredded chicken
  • Handful of cilantro
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese grated
  • ½ cup (125 ml) Crème fraiche

Instructions

Roasted Tomatillo Sauce

  1. Turn the boiler up high and place the oven rack at the top position.  

    Take the poblano pepper in the chicken filling section and slice it in half lengthwise then remove the seeds. Arrange the halves on a rimmed sheet pan then add the peeled tomatillos, serrano chilies, garlic cloves, and slice onions rings for the sauce in an even layer. If you want to save some time arrange the onions slices for the garnish (half an onion) on the baking sheet with the onion for the tomatillo sauce. 

  2. Slide the sheet pan under the broiler and roast the vegetables until they get nice and charred. Check after 4 minutes and continue if the vegetables need more charring. Each vegetable will brown at different speeds, so you will have to adjust the timing for each one. Once they get browned turn them over and brown the other side. This can take from 8 -15 minutes. If the onions need more time than the other vegetables, remove the browned vegetables and place the tomatillos in the bowl of a blender or food processor and chilies and garlic cloves on a cutting board. Pour off any juices in the pan into the bowl of a blender or food processor. Set aside and continue to brown the onions if needed. Remove when done.

  3. Place the poblano chili halves in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it steam for 15 minutes.

  4. When the Serrano chilies and garlic are cool enough to handle, peel off the skin from the garlic cloves and place the roasted garlic in the bowl with the tomatillos.

  5. Cut off the stem of the serrano chilies and slice down the middle. Remove some of the seeds and pith if you want to turn down the heat., or leave them be. Add the serrano peppers to the tomatillos and blend, or process, the vegetables until smooth. Makes about 2 cups (500 ml). 

Chicken Enchiladas

  1. Pre heat the oven to 400 °F (200°C / Gas Mark 5) with the oven rack set in the middle position.

  2. Heat a 10-inch (25.5 cm) skillet with 2 TB olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 cups (500 ml) roasted tomatillo purée to the skillet and simmer until it slightly thickens. Add the chicken stock and Mexican oregano, epazote, ground coriander, and Kosher salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Simmer the sauce on low,  stirring occasionally until ready to assemble the enchiladas.

  3. Meanwhile, remove the poblano halves from the bowl and peel off the skin. Quickly rinse under cold water to remove stubborn skin. Chop the poblano into ½ inch pieces.

  4. If you have not done so already, slice the onion in half across the equator, slice one half into rings and set aside. Chop the remaining half in ½ inch pieces.

  5. In another skillet heat up 2 TB of vegetable oil and add the chopped onion and poblano pepper. Cook until the onions are soft. Add the shredded chicken and ½ cup chicken stock. Stir to mix. Cook until the liquid evaporates and the chicken is warm. Add about 2 TB of chopped cilantro and stir to mix.

  6. Heat up the tortillas. Place the tortillas in a zip lock bag and heat in the microwave for 30 seconds. Make sue the bag is not closed all the way. Remove the tortillas from the microwave and let the tortillas rest in the plastic bag for a minute.

Assemble the enchiladas.

  1. Set aside a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33 cm) baking pan. Place a tortilla on a work surface and add 2 spoonfuls of the chicken mixture across the center of the tortilla. Roll up the tortilla to cover the chicken filling. Place the rolled-up tortilla in the baking dish. Continue to fill and roll up the tortillas. You should have enough chicken filling for 10 enchiladas. It will be a tight fit in the baking dish. If you have a small baking dish, perfect for two enchiladas, add the last two enchiladas to a separate dish, otherwise fit the last two enchiladas to one side of the row of enchiladas.

  2. Completely cover the enchiladas with the tomatillo sauce and sprinkle grated cheese down the middle of the enchiladas.
  3. Place in the oven and cook until heated through and the cheese is melted, about 5-8 minutes.
  4. If you haven’t roasted the onions for garnish already, heat up a skillet until almost smoking. Add the onion slices, intact, to the skillet and dry roast the onions until browned. After a couple of minutes check to see if the onions have browned, then turn over to brown the other side. When done, remove from the skillet.

  5. Serve immediately with crème fraiche and garnish with the browned onions and cilantro.

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

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