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Hibiscus


HIBISCUS AND PECAN MOLE
Mole de flor de jamaica y nuez
Adapted from Patricia Quintana
Serves 10

INGREDIENTS
9 oz ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
6 oz pasilla chiles, stemmed and seeded
6 cups boiling water
1/2 cup vegetable oil or shortening
1 cup white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 cups dried hibiscus flowers
1 cup pecans
1 cup pitted prunes
1 1/4 cup ripe plantain, peeled and sliced
3 corn tortillas, cut into squares
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup grated or chopped piloncillo or brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
5 cloves, whole
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Toasted sesame seeds (to decorate)

TO PREPARE
Preheat a comal, cast iron pan or nonstick skillet over low-medium heat. Toast chiles gently for about 10 seconds per side, being careful not to let them burn. Place them in a mixing bowl, cover them with boiling hot water and let them soak for 20 to 30 minutes until rehydrated, place chiles and water in batches in the food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

In a large, extended sauté pan, add oil and set over medium-high heat until hot, 1 or 2 minutes. Add onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until the onion starts to soften. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the hibiscus flowers and cook for 3 to 4 minutes; until lightly crunchy.

Add the tortillas, let them cook for 1 minute. Stir in the pecans, and cook for 1 minute. Add the plantains and prunes, stir and let them start to cook and brown, for about 2 to 3 minutes. Each time you add a new ingredient, let it start to cook and season, before adding the next.

Stir in the puréed chiles along with the chicken broth.

Once the whole mixture starts simmering, add the piloncillo, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Lower the heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 20 to 25 minutes. In batches, purée the mixture in the blender or food processor until smooth. Serve over the cooked meat, poultry or seafood of your choice.


Pati takes you to Xochimilco, the legendary floating gardens of Mexico, and sprinkles a few flowers into some impressive but easy Mexican recipes.


JAMAICA POPSICLES
Paletas de Jamaica
Makes 8, 4 oz popsicles

INGREDIENTS
2 cups hibiscus flower/jamaica concentrate (see below)
3/4 cup mango, peeled, pitted diced
Chocolate morsels to taste, optional
Shredded coconut to taste, optional
For adult fun, you can make them grown up and add some Rum!

TO PREPARE
Pour 2 cups of jamaica concentrate into 8, 4 ounce molds. Add pieces of mango, chocolate and coconut. Place in freezer until set and frozen, about 4 to 5 hours. Enjoy!

JAMAICA CONCENTRATE
Makes about 5 cups

INGREDIENTS
8 cups water
2 cups dried hibiscus flowers, about 2-3 ounces, depending on how tightly you pack the cups
1 1/2 cups sugar, or to taste
2 tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste

TO PREPARE
In a saucepan, pour 8 cups of water and place over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, add the jamaica flowers, simmer at medium heat for 10 minutes and turn off the heat. When cool, strain into a heat proof glass or plastic water jar. Add the sugar and lime juice, mix well, cover and refrigerate.


STEAK TACOS WITH JAMAICA AND JALAPEÑO SYRUP
Tacos de Carne con Jarabe de Jamaica y Jalapeño
Makes 8 generous servings

INGREDIENTS
1 lb flank steak
2 cups jamaica/hibiscus flower concentrate (see below)
2 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
A pinch black pepper, freshly ground
3/4 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
Safflower or corn oil
Salt to taste
1 serrano or jalapeño chile, halved and seeded
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup queso fresco, crumbled
16 corn tortillas

TO PREPARE
Pour the jamaica concentrate, bay leaves, whole cloves, black pepper and salt into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until it reduces to half the original amount.

Let the marinade cool and pour over the flank steak in a baking dish or container. Cover and let it marinade anywhere from 1 to 24 hours.

Set grill pan, grill or saute pan over medium-high heat. Brush with a light coat of oil. Sprinkle meat with a bit more salt. Grill meat anywhere from 4 to 6 minutes per side, depending on how cooked you want it.

Meanwhile, pour the marinade into a saucepan set over medium heat and drop in the halved serrano or jalapeño chile. Let the sauce reduce for 15 minutes, or until it coats the back of a wooden spoon. The syrup will thicken considerably as it cools. Remove from heat and let cool.

When the meat is ready, slice it thin and if you want, cut it into chunks. Heat corn tortillas over a comal or skillet over medium heat, it will take about a minute per side. For each taco, add a couple tablespoons or slices of meat in the center of each tortillas, a slice of avocado, some crumbled queso fresco and drizzle some of the jamaica and syrup on top. Enjoy your tacos!

JAMAICA CONCENTRATE
Makes about 5 cups

INGREDIENTS
8 cups water
6 oz dried hibiscus flowers, about 2 cups
1 1/2 cups sugar, or to taste
2 tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste

TO PREPARE
In a saucepan, pour 8 cups of water and place over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, add the jamaica flowers, simmer at medium heat for 10 minutes and turn off the heat. Let it cool down and strain into a heat proof glass or plastic water jar. Add the sugar and lime juice, mix well, cover and refrigerate.


JAMAICA WATER
Agua de Jamaica
Makes 4 to 5 cups

INGREDIENTS
1 cup jamaica concentrate (see below)
3 to 4 cups water

TO PREPARE
When ready to serve, dilute 1 cup concentrate with 3 to 4 cups water, or to your liking, and some ice cubes.

JAMAICA CONCENTRATE
Makes about 5 cups

INGREDIENTS
8 cups water
2 cups dried hibiscus or jamaica flowers, about 2-3 ounces, depending on how tightly you pack the cups
1 1/2 cups sugar, or to taste
2 tbsp fresh lime juice, or to taste

TO PREPARE
In a saucepan, pour 8 cups of water and place over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, add the jamaica flowers, simmer at medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes and turn off the heat. Let it cool down and strain into a heat proof glass or plastic water jar. Add the sugar and lime juice, mix well, cover and refrigerate.

It will keep in the refrigerator for at least 3 months.


In Mexico, it’s not uncommon to find both food and water deliciously flavored with hibiscus flowers. Commonly known as Jamaica, it has an intensely herbal, fruity taste. This episode will show us some of the places you can buy it in the US, then share recipes that include:


January 27, 2010
Hibiscus1.JPG

Originally from Africa or India, hibiscus flowers arrived in Mexico in colonial times and have become deeply integrated into Mexican cuisine. Often used to prepare agua de jamaica, or freshly flavored water, fruit popsicles or Jell-O, the dried flowers infuse the liquid with a deep, vivid red color.

They are not just any Hibiscus flower though. These are “Hibiscus Sabdariffa” also known as Roselle. In Mexico known as Jamaica, it is well known in Mexico that the flowers contain helpful diuretic and digestive properties, as well as high levels of vitamin C and other minerals. These days it is easy to get them in many stores in the US or online. They can be incorporated into many other dishes to add a peculiarly tangy taste, similar to cranberries.

Continue reading Hibiscus or Jamaica Flowers


July 22, 2009

Growing up in Mexico City, my sisters and I used to prepare exotic meals, perfumes and potions for the inhabitants of our enchanted forest. That was our dog, the bluebird, snails, butterflies and ladybugs that happened to peek into our backyard and witness our extravagant mess. It also included any family friend who happened to stop by and become a willing victim. We sometimes offered cooking classes too.

My mother set us up in the backyard on a big blanket with random pots and pans, while she cooked laborious weekend meals. There was a fig tree, an apple tree, a peach tree, a couple of what we called Chinese orange trees and tons of azaleas and herbs that offered an immense array of witch-crafting material. But among our most prized ingredients were dried jamaica flowers, known here as hibiscus flowers, stored in a big jar in the kitchen.

Continue reading Jamaica Flowers Charm the Kitchen


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