This is a wonderfully authentic recipe that beats the pre-made packages from a grocery store.
You can make this a day or two in advance, as it will last for up to 3 days. It goes great with fajitas and along with your other dips for appetizers. This is rated somewhat mild for spiciness so, for more spicy servings, just increase the cayenne red pepper a bit. This recipe is related to Fajitas and Pico de Gallo and we have those recipes as well. They’re here: Pico de Gallo and Fajitas.
For more information about Guacamole and its meanings, click here.
This fresh Guacamole recipe is great with Fajitas and many other dishes. It can even be served as a dip with multiple appetizers. It's ready for use immediately and can last for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
You can’t beat this authentic Pico de Gallo recipe over those in the grocery store. Most of them will mainly just have chopped tomatoes and onions. This has it all, as you’ll discover.
You can make this a day or two in advance. It goes best with fajitas and some use it with corn tortilla chips as an appetizer, like salsa. And some even add this to a pre-packaged salsa for enhancing the flavor. This is between mild and medium spicy so, for less spicy servings, reduce or omit the jalapeno pepper.
This recipe is related to Fajitas and Guacamole and we have those recipes as well. They’re here: Fajitasand Guacamole .
For more information about Pico de Gallo and its meanings, click here.
Pico de Gallo
This fresh Pico de Gallo recipe is great with Fajitas or it can be served as an appetizer with corn tortilla chips. It tastes even better if prepared a bit in advance to set in the fridge for the flavors to meld, whether it's a couple of hours or overnight.
1cupdiced tomatoesYou can alternately use canned drained diced tomatoes
1cupdiced sweet onion
1pepperjalapeno, seeds removed, chopped smallSliced down the middle and remove the seeds. The seeds are what's the hottest! Avoid juices splattering in your eyes. Avoid touching your face and eyes. Wash hands thoroughly when done with jalapeno work.
½cupcilantro, freeze-dried chopped leavesFreeze dried, chopped leaves. Optionally use fresh chopped leaves, about ½ quantity more.
1Tbsp.lime juiceCan eventually use more to taste, although it's subtle.
Combine all ingredients, ensuring lime juice is last. Thoroughly mix-toss together. It's then ready to use. However, it tastes better if made in advance by a couple of hours or overnight.
You can store covered in the refrigerator for a maximum of about 3 days for usage; mix up again prior to each usage.
This particular recipe has been perfected over a 15 year period. It’s very flexible in that it can use any of 3 meat types: chicken, pork, or beef. It can be cooked on an outdoor grill or in an indoor oven. It also has an option for a marinade. Frequent questions are answered via the preparation and cooking instructions such as:
Optional Marinade: 1/4 cup oilany type but can be peanut oil or olive oil
Optional Marinade: 3 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
Optional Marinade: 1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
Optional Marinade: 1 Tbsp. Onion Powder
Spices (mixed into a small cup)
1Tbsp.onion powdercan be heaping Tbsp.
1Tbsp.garlic powdercan be heaping Tbsp
¼tspcayenne pepperthis adds a zesty touch of a "kick". You can eliminate this if you're unsure. This amount would be considered a very slight amount above what's considered "mild" for hotness. It works well due to the variety of other spices and doesn't stand out.
¼cupolive oilcan be another cooking oil of your choice
Preparing the Meat
Cutup the meat in large chunks as illustrated. As an example in cutting sizes, for chicken, you might get about 6-8 pieces per breast.
This step is ONLY if you chose to OPTIONALLY marinate the meat. Add the cutup meat chunks to a bowl for marinating. Then, add in the earlier listed "Optional Marinade Ingredients". Then, cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for about ½ to 1 hour. At the end of that time, remove the bowl from the fridge and drain off the marinade.
Depending how you're going to cook the shish kabobs, either start the charcoal grill or the preheating of the oven. If you have a gas or other fast starting cooking medium, you should choose to do this when you're ready.
Place the cutup meat into a large mixing bowl. This bowl needs to be large enough for soon adding all the vegetables.
Preparing the Vegetables and Skewers
Cut up all the vegetables and place Into the large mixing bowl where you've already added the cutup meat. This is shown by example for each vegetable. These are easily replaced by other vegetables of your past choices.
Cut the bell pepper in half (top to bottom). Remove the seeds and excess interior contents by hand. Then, rinse off and cut each half into 4 pieces.
Regarding squash, you can optionally use a knife to cut off some of the exterior skin. If you do, you'll want about to remove just about ¼ to ⅓. The idea here is that some people will like the squash a bit more; however, it's optional. Note that you don't want to remove all the skin because it will get too mushy.After partial skinning is done, cut the squash in slices about ½ to ⅔ of an inch thick and add them into the bowl.
Cutout to remove the top centers of the tomatoes and thinly slice off the small bottom end of each tomato. Then, from top to bottom cut the tomatoes into 4 pieces each. Then, add them into the bowl.
Peel the onions and cut them vertically from top to bottom into 4 pieces each. Then, add them into the bowl.
Rinse off the mushrooms rather well and place them into the bowl.
After all the meat and vegetables are in the bowl, pour in the "Wet Ingredients" (oil & Worcestershire Sauce). Then, toss/mix those food items together to become lightly coated.
Make the spices mixture in a small container or bowl.
Pour the spices mixture into the bowl of meat and vegetables, sprinkling it out to distribute it somewhat. Then, toss/mix those food items together so the spices will be dispersed more evenly. This is extremely important to evenly distribute the spices (especially for the cayenne pepper).
To create each skewer, start with a solid vegetable (not a tomato). When you add a mushroom, you'll want to skewer it down the center (through the mushroom stem). When you add an onion, some of the layers might start to fall apart, especially at the start of the piercing. You can just do your best to pierce them through the layer centers. There might be some unusable pieces.Basically, you'll do 2 different vegetables and 1 meat chunk, and then repeat. Each skewer should represent a good variety of the vegetables. You'll want the beginning and ending of each skewer to be a solid vegetable. After you've added food items to about half the length of the skewer, you'll want to pull them together (towards the "handle" end) for a little compression. And repeat this when the skewer becomes full, ensuring you still have about 1-inch or more empty on the end. This will help do 2 things: 1) to better encourage the melding of 2-3 flavors for each food item, and 2) to provide support while cooking, which will result in less odds of veggies falling off the skewer.
As you prepare each skewer, place them onto a large (ungreased) baking sheet. This will be later inserted into the oven or carried outside to the grill. If you are planning on using an oven, ensure you do not use parchment paper.
If you do have any excess vegetables or meat, you can finalize them as a partial skewer.
Now, perform only 1 of the following cooking options.
Cooking Option 1: On The GRILL
If using a grill, the types of grills vary widely so you'll need to adjust these steps to meet your grill's scenario. These steps are written for a readied and hot charcoal grill with no adjustable grilling surface. The starting temperature is about 450° Fahrenheit and will vary during the cooking process.
Be conscious of the skewers heat and how it retains heat. Use an oven mitt or other heat protection every time you need to turn, grab, or hold a skewer.
Initially, the skewers are placed on the grill on indirect heat (not directly over the charcoal).
Next, ensure your grill top is now closed/on for 6 minutes. For kettle grills, the top and bottom vents should remain open. For rectangular grills, both vents on one side should be open, e.g., top cover left and main charcoal cavity left side. If you're losing some noticeable heat (or air for charcoal burning), open up both sides. And, of course, if you're very familiar with how your grill handles ventilation and you have your own preferences, it's more important you go for it.
Turn the skewers and, this time, place them on direct heat (over the charcoal) for approximately 4 minutes with the cover closed/on. Watch for managing any flare-ups for any needed adjustments.
The remainder of the time is done on direct heat with the cover open/off. Turn the skewers about every 3 minutes until the meat is done. This may take a remaining total of about 12-15 minutes. If you're experiencing any unmanageable flareups, you can have some times with shifting back to indirect heat.
Cooking Option 2: Broiling In The OVEN
If using an oven, the times and spacings among some models will vary a bit. This recipe is based on using an average-sized oven and not using any convection feature. Broiling shish kabobs are not recommended for a small type of oven like a toaster oven.
Turn on the oven broiler (make the temp around 425° to 450° Fahrenheit) and prepare to have a shelf in the middle. After the broiler's been on for about 5 minutes, place the baking sheet with the skewers, onto that middle shelf and close the oven door.
Be conscious of the skewers heat and how it retains heat. Use an oven mitt or other heat protection every time you need to turn, grab, or hold a skewer.
About every 3-5 minutes, turn the skewers so a different side is facing the top heat. This may be repeated about 4-6 times, until each "side" is browned or slightly charred a bit. You can check the temp of a large meat chunk (or cut one open) to ensure it's cooked to a correct doneness for you. Assuming you're using metal skewers, the meat will cook more rapidly. So, the total time for doneness might be around 20-35 minutes, give or take. TIP: if you end up with them becoming fully browned on all sides but, the meat's not yet done, you can switch over to bake immediately to finish it out, with no more rotating of the skewers. Although I've never experienced this.
After Cooking – SERVE the Shish Kabobs
When done, remove the skewers from the grill/oven and serve after about a minimum 3-minute wait. Be conscious of the skewers heat and continue to use an oven mitt or other heat protection. One appropriate manner of presenting and serving shish kabobs is to show a skewer to a recipient with the pointed tip on the far end of their plate. Then, with a large serving fork, you push off about 1/4 of the food items from the end. Then, you move the tip, as needed, and repeat the process as you work your way similarly towards the "handle" end until the skewer is emptied. You then repeat with with the remaining serving plates.
An alternate method of serving, is to empty some skewers into a large serving bowl or onto a platter for common, sharing at the table. Tongs or forks are used to where individuals "grab" a collection of their preferred items and they can avoid the ones they don't like and rarely ever eat. It's very convenient to serve in this way. And the presentation still is excellent. However, if it's anticipated there might be some challenging judgment calls on individuals removing too much of a single item (like the meat or a certain vegetable) then, serving a plate for one or more persons is also an appropriate serving decision.
Regarding the optional marinade, I have not experienced a notable change in marinating the meat when it’s chicken. But, with beef or pork, there was a good change with those items when marinated. All three types of meat are very good without any marinating. I’ve been asked if you cut back on the spices or oil if you do marinate the meat and that answer is “No”.Regarding some vegetables becoming too mushy on the skewers, tomatoes are the biggest culprit. If you compress the items together on the skewer, at least the softer vegetables, like tomatoes, won’t fall off during the cooking process. I have experimented cooking them separately and it avoids them getting too soft. However, the loss of the melded flavor of those vegetables, alongside other items on the skewer was too great, in my opinion. So, I continue to skewer all vegetables knowing this.
BULK SPICES MIX: Also perfect for storing in a spice jar
1/4tspRed Cayenne Pepperor can use red pepper flakes
1.5tspGround Black Pepper
BULK WET INGREDIENTS (amounts for using ALL of above bulk spices mix)
2.5tspLemon Juice1/4 tsp for 2 servings
2.5cupsOlive Oil1/4 cup for 2 servings
SPECIAL 2 SERVINGS Scaled Down Portion
Spices mix (from the bulk spices mix created above)1 tsp (for 2 servings)
Lemon juice1/4 tsp (for 2 servings)
Olive oil1/4 cup (for 2 servings). Add more oil if desired. Preferred to use extra virgin olive oil.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR BULK SERVINGS
Mix the dry bulk ingredients together in a small bowl. This is enough to store any excess away in a spice container or a mason jar (for maintaining freshness).
See "Instructions for 2 Servings" section below for scaling the rest of this recipe servings quantity down to less than the bulk amount.
In a mixing bowl, add the lemon juice to the spices mix and stir it in well to moisten the spices.
Pour in the olive oil and combine well to distribute the spices.
Then serve by mixing well again and use a about 1/8 cup's worth to pour onto each serving plate/bowl for each person.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR 2 SERVINGS
Mix the dry bulk ingredients together in a small bowl. This is enough to store away in a spice container or a mason jar (for maintaining freshness). You'll use a small amount of the above bulk dry spices mixture.
FOR 2 SERVINGS (on 1 dipping dish for sharing): Use a small serving saucer plate or very shallow bowl good for dipping. Add 1 tsp of the dry spice mixture to the plate/bowl first. Then, add 1/4 tsp lemon juice and mix it in to moisten the spices.
Conclude by pouring in 1/4 cup oil and combine well to distribute the spices.
Usually this is served within about 1/2 hour after adding the oil. If not served right away, you'll want to mix it up again, as there are some spices settling from sitting idle.
The reason for the bulk recipe is so you can make the spices mixture and save it with your other spices. That will save an incredible amount of prep work time for future meals Regarding storage, I've tried this countless ways over the years. Once you've added lemon juice or oil, it will need to be stored in the fridge. When serving again, you can set it out for about 1/2 to 1 hour since room temperature is best for consistency. However, It's generally not recommended to store combined amounts of spices with the wet ingredients, as the flavor is noticeably deterred. However, if I have a lot left over, I do store it for less than a week for using again.
So, the recipe quantity is great for entertaining. AND, see the ingredients notes section for how to scale down the serving quantity for 2.Two servings are enough for about 8-20 slices of French Bread. It’s a wide variance because people differ a lot for how much they use of this gourmet dipping oil.At times, you might use one dipping plate/bowl to share between 2 people; thus, the reason for the popular 2 servings quantity mentioned. However, know that there might be drips taking place so, there might be times where you’ll want to use 2 dipping plates/bowls for 2 people.
PLUS: French Bread Recipe for Use with this Gourmet Bread Dipping Oil
French Bread: Bread Maker to Oven is a recipe of a chewy bread (soft or hard crust) which serves exceptionally well with this seasoned bread oil. Also, here is a link for seeing some options for what plates or bowls are often used for bread dipping mediums.
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1⅔cups buttermilkor 1⅓ cups milk (in place of every 1⅔ cups buttermilk)
3tspsaltnon-iodized, coarse or sea salt
1Tbsp.sugarcan use plant-based sugar, if desired
3Tbsp.Vital Wheat Glutenoptional (for more chewiness)
1 Tbsp. olive oiloil (or oil spray) for baking sheet
2 Tbsp. corn meal mixcorn meal mix for baking sheet
1mediumeggOptional: Egg white whisked with 1 tsp water (only if softer crust is desired)
1/4 cup waterOptional: water for oven (for steaming)
Place all "Main Ingredients" in their order into the bread-maker (liquids first).
Start the Bread maker using the standard "dough" setting. If using a Zojirushi dough maker, that setting is usually course # 11 (dough).
Shaping the Dough
After the dough is ready, remove it from the Bread maker and roll it out on a lightly floured surface. Make it into a rectangular shape about 24 inches long and about 8-12 inches wide.
From the long side, roll it up to maintain the long length. Pinch the seam closed (using water as a sealant).
You can make either one long loaf or divide it now into two for 12-inch loaves. On the ends of each dough loaf, fold them towards the main seam and pinch closed in the same manner as you managed the long seam.
Baking Sheet Preparation
Lightly oil a baking sheet (olive oil or cooking spray).
Sprinkle the sheet lightly with corn meal (maybe about 2 Tbsp.).
Lay each dough loaf onto the baking sheet, seam side down. If there are 2 loaves, space them apart by about 3-inches minimum.
For crusty results, lightly brush the top(s) with olive oil. Or, for softer crust, brush the top(s) with water or else with egg white (whisked with 1 tsp water).
Cut angled slits on the top, about 3-inches apart and ½-inch deep.
Cover the dough loaf/loaves with a cloth for about 40 minutes to rise about double in size.
At an appropriate time before the "rise" period is over (possibly 15 minutes), set the oven to preheat to 375 degrees.
Brush the tops again as before.
Place the loaves baking sheet onto the middle shelf of the 375 degree preheated oven.
OPTION: If the oven bottom is designed for allowing it, pour the referenced "water for oven" there. If not, place another baking sheet (or other baking container) with the water in it, below the middle shelf. The steaming effect will enhance the overall bread.
Bake the loaf/loaves for about 25-35 minutes.
Serving After Baking
Remove the item(s) from the oven. Place the French Bread onto a wire rack (or other surface for aerated cooling) to cool for about 10 minutes at least.
IF SERVING NOW: For dipping in a seasoned oil, you can slice them anywhere from about 1/3 to 2/3-inch thick. For just standard French Bread slices, consider about 1-inch thick.
Storage and Re-usage
FOR STORAGE: Any unsliced loaves or slices can be put into an appropriate bread bag for storage. Typically, you use a thinner bread bag for hard crusts and a thick bag for maintaining soft crusts. For freezing, if using a thin bread bag (for a hard crust), you'll possibly want to put that bagged bread also into a thicker plastic bag to avoid freezer burns and hard bread. Also, please know that the bakery chefs don't like the idea of refrigerating nor freezing baked bread, as it changes its consistency, longevity when thawed, and flavor. But, my wife and I are fine with it and do it all the time. I just ensure I use appropriate bagging for storage. We save valuable time, effort, and money. And it still tastes great to us!
FOR THAWING AND SERVING: Remove the loaves from the freezer (or refrigerator) and leave them in their one bag (if you double-bagged, you can remove the outer one). After the bagged bread has set out for about 1-2 hours, they're ready for serving. Or, they can removed from all bags and heated in a 350 degree oven for about 7-10 minutes (on the oven shelf or on a baking sheet). You can optionally sprinkler (by hand) some water droplets across the loaves to aid in moisture retention.
This French Bread recipe makes 2 short loaves with several options. Or, it can be one long loaf by skipping the optional step of cutting the dough in half. It also illustrates how to have a crusty or a soft crust. This bread is super chewy and is excellent for subs, slices for dipping or garlic bread, or bulk tearing off chunks for serving. Vital Wheat Gluten is optional but it does add an extra level to its chewiness. There are notes for dry and cold storage as well.