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Jamaica


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.


SPINACH SALAD WITH JAMAICA VINAIGRETTE AND CARAMELIZED PECANS
Ensalada de Espinaca con Vinagreta de Jamaica y Nueces Garapiñadas
Serves 8 to 10

INGREDIENTS
18 oz fresh spinach leaves, rinsed, drained and thickly sliced
1 bunch watercress, rinsed and stems removed
6-8 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
Jamaica Vinaigrette (see below)
1 cup caramelized pecans, roughly chopped or whole pieces, to your liking (recipe follows)
Jamaica Vinaigrette
3/4 cup dried jamaica flowers
3 garlic cloves
1 cup safflower oil
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp kosher or sea salt
2 tsp sugar, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

TO PREPARE
Place the jamiaca flowers in a bowl along with the garlic, oils, vinegar, salt, sugar and pepper. Let them sit for a few minutes, for the flowers to soften up a bit. Then pour everything into a blender and puree. The flowers will not be pureed until smooth. The mix will have a textured consistency with chewy flower chunks: that’s what you want!

Let the mix stand for at least two hours. If it will not be used then, it can be kept in the refrigerator, covered, for up to a week.

Place the spinach and watercress in a large bowl. Pour some of the vinaigrette on top and toss. Top with the chopped caramelized pecans and sprinkle the scallions over the top. Drizzle some more vinaigrette on top. If you have leftover vinaigrette, you can eat it with a spoon!

CARAMELIZED PECANS

INGREDIENTS
1 cup shelled pecans
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 tbsp butter or vegetable shortening, diced
1 tsp salt, or to taste (use regular salt, not kosher or sea salt)

TO PREPARE
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Place the pecans on a baking tray, add the butter chunks and pour the maple syrup on top. Toss. Bake for 10 minutes, take them out of the oven and stir to make sure all the pecans are covered with the syrup. Place them back in the oven for another 8 to 10 minutes, until they have browned and the syrup has thickened to the consistency of caramel.

Take them out of the oven, scoop the pecans out and place on a dry surface such as a kitchen counter or another baking tray. Try to separate the nuts from each other. Once completely cool, they can be stored in a closed container
for weeks.


JAMAICA POPSICLES
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.


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


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 witchcrafting material. But among our most prized ingredients were dried jamaica (pronounced ha-may-kah) flowers, known in the U.S. as hibiscus flowers, stored in a big jar in the kitchen…”

To read the entire article, click here.


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