Showing posts with label hibiscus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label hibiscus. Show all posts

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Berry-B-Good Tea: An Antioxidant Boost in a "Simple Saturday Sipper"

This week's Simple Saturday Sipper is an easy, healthy and refreshing drink that is full of nutrients and antioxidants from the blueberries. Berry-Be-Good Tea is from "Yogi in the Kitchen: More Than 100 Enlightened, Delicious, Healthful Recipes for Body and Soul" by Elaine Gavalas, M.A., M.S. Besides those free-radical fighting antioxidants, blueberries are packed with vitamin C, manganese and fiber. Here they are combined with the herbal tea of your choice, lemon juice, honey and ice for a delicious drink.

Berry-B-Good Tea
"Yogi in the Kitchen" by Elaine
Gavalas, M.A., M.S.
(Serves 2)

1 1/2 cups spring or filtered water
1 bag mint herb tea, hibiscus herb tea, or decaf green or black tea
2/3 cup fresh (or frozen and thawed) berries (such as strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp honey
6 ice cubes

In a medium saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Drop in the tea bag. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Cover and let the tea steep for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag and discard. Refrigerate the tea for 1 hour.

Place the berries in a blender and blend until smooth. Add the tea, lemon juice, honey, and ice cubes and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.

Notes/Results: Cold, lightly sweet (I reduced the honey down by half), and flavorful from the tea and fruit, this is a simple drink, perfect for a busy day. For the tea I used an herbal rooibos blend of hibiscus, orange peel, burdock and red clover. Although you can use any fresh or frozen berry or mixed berries, I kept it simple with frozen wild blueberries from the big bag in my freezer. Be sure to cool the tea down well before using, and if you want the drink thicker and slushier, you can use the berries frozen instead of thawed.A simple pleasure that I would make again.

Speaking of simple pleasures, there is nothing like a big shallow shipping box with crinkly packing paper to keep Max entertained for hours. (Of course he made time to stop and pose for this picture). I haven't tossed a Max photo into a post for quite some time--so here is one for his fans. ;-)

Happy Weekend!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jamaica Agua Fresca (Red Hibiscus Refresher): A "Vanillaicious" Simple Saturday Sipper

Bad, bad blogger! Shortly before Christmas I received some black garlic and vanilla beans to try from the kind people at Marx Foods but time kind of got away from me and I haven't done very much with them yet. I pulled out a cookbook I bought a few years ago, "The Vanilla Chef" by Patricia Rain and started tagging recipes to try the vanilla beans in and found one for Jamaica Agua Fresca (Red Hibiscus Refresher) and decided it would make the perfect Simple Saturday Sipper. February is American Heart Month and hibiscus is rich in riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and iron, contains antioxidants and is thought to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure and controlling cholesterol. (BTW: If you read this blog regularly, you may wonder how many different drinks made with hibiscus one person can make--the answer if you count the number next to the "hibiscus" label on my side bar is at least 7!) ;-)

Justin at Marx Foods was kind enough to send me a generous sample (6 each!) of both Madagascar and Tahitian vanilla beans. Based on the descriptions on their website (below), I chose a Tahitian bean for this recipe thinking the more fruity and floral fragrance and sweetness would pair well with the hibiscus.

"Madagascar vanilla beans are botanically known as Vanilla planifolia or Bourbon vanilla beans. These beans are long and slender with a rich flavor and aroma. Madagascar vanilla beans have thick, oily skin with an abundance of seeds. They are the most common vanilla beans on the market today."

"Tahitian vanilla beans are usually shorter, plumper, and contain a higher oil and water content than Bourbon beans. When compared to Bourbon vanilla beans, they have a slightly more fruity and floral aroma, but an equally rich vanilla flavor."

About the refresher the book says, "Jamaica flowers (dried hibiscus) can be found in Mexican, Latin American, or Asian grocery stores, or in the ethnic section of supermarkets. Jamaica is often used as a tea as well."

Jamaica Agua Fresca (Red Hibiscus Refresher)
"The Vanilla Chef" by Patricia Rain
(Makes 2 Quarts)

1 quart water
2/3 cup (1 ounce) dried hibiscus flowers
3/4-1 cup sugar (to taste) (see my Notes/Results below)
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
1 quart cold water

In a large saucepan, bring the quart of water to a boil. Add flowers and vanilla bean to the boiling water, remove from the stove, and allow to steep for at least 20 minutes. Strain the mixture into a 2-quart pitcher, saving the vanilla bean for another use. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Add cold water and adjust sweetening. Chill and serve over ice.

Variation: Cut cold water to 1 pint and add 1 quart cold ginger ale.

Notes/Results: Really good. It is interesting how the vanilla sweetens and softens the tangy taste of the hibiscus. Since I used the hibiscus I had on hand which was half dried hibiscus and half dried sweetened hibiscus, there was no need in my mind for the extra sugar--it was plenty sweet without. I think the 3/4 to 1 cup mentioned in the recipe would be a bit to sweet regardless and would definitely add it to taste.

Vanilla Tip: Reuse your beans! Both the book and the Marx foods website recommend rinsing and drying the vanilla bean after steeping it to use again as a lot of the flavor still remains. (I feel bad for all the beans I have used once and tossed over the years!) Marx Foods says: "There are dozens of ways to use vanilla beans. When you have a recipe that calls for the inner scraping of the vanilla beans, don’t throw away the pod. They still have plenty of flavor left in them. In fact, depending on how you use them, vanilla bean can often be reused over and over again. For example, if you want to soak them in a beverage such a mulled cider or lemonade take them out when finished and rinse and dry the bean. If there is only the pod left, or, if you've used the bean several times for flavoring beverages let the pieces dry, and retire them to the sugar or coffee jar as they will exude a delicate flavor and fragrance for some time to come. Beans that have been used once or twice can also be ground up and used to add additional flavor to ice creams, cookies, and many other foods."

I have a few more vanilla recipes tagged in "The Vanilla Chef" to try out more of my vanilla samples, and will be experimenting with the black garlic soon too. Mahalo to Marx Foods for giving me a chance to try them!

Enjoy your Saturday!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Apple-Orange-Hibiscus Infusion: An Afternoon Pick-Me-Up and "Simple Saturday Sipper"

For this week's "Simple Saturday Sipper" I was looking for a little something to perk me up in the middle of a long lecture/study session, so I tried this simple Apple-Orange-Hibiscus Infusion from a book called "Aromatic Teas and Herbal Infusions" by Laura Fronty. This tisane or infusion has no tea or caffeine but a delicious fruit flavor and the scent of the orange zest is very energizing. The book says: "If you need a pick-me-up when the day is getting a little long, try this tea instead of regular tea, especially if you tend to suffer from insomnia."

Apple-Orange-Hibiscus Infusion
"Aromatic Teas and Herbal Infusions" by Laura Fronty
(Makes 2 Cups)

Peel from 1/2 apple or a few cubes of dried apple
zest from oorganic orange
4 teaspoons hibiscus flowers
2 cups water

Finely dice apple peel and orange zest. Heat the teapot in advance and add the hibiscus, apple peel and orange zest. Add boiling water and let steep for at least 10 minutes. Sweeten to taste.

Notes/Results: A nice tangy-citrusy combination. I sweetened it with some local honey and also added some vanilla. (The author mentioned that vanilla, cinnamon or ginger could be added if desired). A good choice for afternoon or evening, it would be nice iced and the pretty dark pink color would make it fun for a shower, luncheon or child's tea party. I would make it again.

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hibiscus Flower Champagne Cocktails: Elegant & Unique "Simple Saturday Sippers"

Although I know that I posted some pretty bubbly strawberry-passionfruit cocktails made with prosecco last Saturday, I just couldn't resist doing it again this week when I found these very cool and fun Wild Hibiscus Flowers in Syrup at a local gourmet foods store. I have a great love of drinks with hibiscus flowers (the evidence is here, here, here and here) and I loved the idea of making these gorgeous and unique Hibiscus Flower Champagne Cocktails as described on the side of the jar.

From the jar: "Simply place a whole Wild Hibiscus Flower in the bottom of a champagne flute, pour in some syrup and fill up with bubbly! All the bubbles stream off and open up the flower. You can eat the flower; it has a delicious raspberry and rhubarb flavour."  

Fun, pretty and delicious, these are the perfect "Simple Saturday Sippers!"

The Wild Hibiscus Flower Company is out of Australia and is selling to gourmet foods stores, specialty stores and some grocery stores in the US, (Whole Foods and Williams Sonoma are both listed on their website), as well as other countries. At the store where I purchased them, they were $8.99 for a jar of about 11 flowers in the syrup. There is a booklet on the top of the jar with recipes for daiquiris, bellinis, mojitos and other cocktails as well as a champagne jelly dessert. You can also find the recipes, company history, stockists and other information on the company's website, here.

Notes/Results: Delicious and really pretty cool. I made one for the pictures in the afternoon (and sampled it of course!), then made them for a friend and I to enjoy with some dessert (Nigella's Chocolate Pots), after we went out for dinner. I used prosecco, which worked great, of course champagne would be excellent, or even a sparkling white grape juice or sparkling apple cider if you don't want to imbibe or want to give the kids a treat. The drinks have a lovely, berry-like flavor and the hibiscus flower is really tasty. We thought they would be perfect for lots of different occasions; an elegant dinner, bridal shower, holiday party or really any time you want an easy, special drink that impresses. The jar of flowers would also be a great present with a bottle of bubbly. A fun find, I'll be buying more and trying more of the drinks.

Happy Saturday!

***Cookbook Giveaway***
Just one more day to enter my fabulous giveaway of the wonderful new "My New Orleans: The Cookbook". Don't miss out on this one--it's easy to enter and you have up to three chances to win. Check here for my review and the details on how to enter. 

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sin-Ger Thirst Quencher (Hibiscus-Ginger Drink): A "Simple Saturday Sipper"

I am still working my way through the bags of dried hibiscus I had my Mom send me from Trader Joes several months ago and I found the recipe for this Sin-Ger Thirst Quencher from Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine by Bryant Terry. This refreshing drink it somewhat seasonless with the tang of the hibiscus and lemon and the spicy warmth of the ginger. With the Vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and iron and antioxidants in the hibiscus, it makes for a healthy "Simple Saturday Sipper". 

According to Terry, the drink was inspired by one at a Senegalese restaurant called Joloff in Brooklyn, where they combine a traditional Caribbean drink called "sorrel" that is made from dried red hibiscus with a ginger drink. Dried hibiscus can be purchased at health or specialty stores and according to Bryant Terry, in Caribbean or Latin markets where it is called "sorrel".

Sin-Ger Thirst Quencer
Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry  
(Yield 12-14 Servings)   

13 1/2 cups water
1 cup (about 1 ounce) dried hibiscus
1 cup fresh ginger juice (from 2 packed cups freshly grated ginger--see below)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3-4 lemons)
1 cup agave nectar or simple syrup

In a large saucepan over high heat, combine 7 cups water with the hibiscus. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile in a 1 gallon pitcher combine the ginger juice, lemon juice, agave nectar, and the remaining water and stir well. Refrigerate.

Allow the hibiscus drink to cool for 2 hours and then strain into the pitcher with the ginger drink mixture. Mix well and refrigerate until cool. Serve over ice.

Note: For ginger juice: To get ginger juice from ginger knobs, grate them on a coarse grater (no need to peel) or pulverize them in a food processor. Wrap them in cheese cloth and squeeze to extract all the juice. You can also squeeze the pulp through your hands without cheesecloth in batches and then strain the juice. 

Notes/Results: An excellent drink, tangy and not too sweet, (I did lessen the amount of the agave syrup it called for a bit), the drink has a great combination of flavors. I had some ginger juice from a company that makes it here in Hawaii, but it is easy enough to make on your own. Hibiscus has been used for weight loss, strengthening the immune system, preventing bladder infections, curing constipation and is thought to be beneficial in lowering blood pressure and controlling cholesterol. Ginger is known for its ability to sooth gastrointestinal distress and its antioxidant properties among other benefits. Delicious and good for you too--what could be better?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hibiscus Lemonade: A "Simple Saturday Sipper" That's Pretty in Pink

In the hot, muggy summer nothing tastes better to me than a cold glass of tart and sweet lemonade. A favorite restaurant here, Town makes their house lemonade with a shot of parsley juice in it, giving it a nice kick of herbal flavor. Their sister restaurant, Downtown at The Hawaii State Art Museum puts a hibiscus (and maybe strawberry?) syrup in their lemonade, making it a pretty pink color. Since I still have several packages of dried hibiscus flowers left, I thought I would make some Hibiscus Lemonade at home, a perfect "Simple Saturday Sipper."

Hibiscus Lemonade
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, inspired by Downtown
(Makes about 8 cups)

Hibiscus Syrup:
3 cups water
2 cups (2 oz) dried, sweetened hibiscus flowers or hibiscus or Red Zinger tea bags
1/3 cup sugar, or to taste

In a medium saucepan, combine water, hibiscus flowers, and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Let cool, strain tea into small pitcher, discarding flowers. Refrigerate until very cold.

2 cups sugar or 1/2 cup agave syrup
2 cups water
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 13-16 lemons)
Additional cold water and or ice to dilute lemonade mixture

Combine the sugar or agave and water in a small pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until it dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes, until mixture is slightly thickened.

Meanwhile, squeeze the lemons into a pitcher, discarding the seeds and rind. Stir the sugar syrup into the lemon juice then top it off with 2-3 cups of cold water, or add water to taste. Chill until very cold.

To serve: 
Fill a glass 3/4 full with lemonade. Pour about 2 ounces of the hibiscus syrup on top garnish with lemon slices and a pink umbrella. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: Cold, refreshing, tart-sweet and very pink. I sweetened the lemonade with agave to lessen the amount of sugar in the drink a bit. I like my lemonade on the tart side, so play around with the sweetener to get it the way you like it. If you can't find dried hibiscus, Red Zinger tea will work just fine. With the Vitamin C in the lemons (and the hibiscus), as well as the riboflavin, niacin, calcium, iron and antioxidants in the hibiscus, it makes for a healthy, delicious drink.

Happy Saturday!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Red, White & Blueberry Tea Float: A "Simple Saturday Sipper" for Independence Day

Happy July 4th! In honor of our Nation's Independence Day, I thought I should make a "Simple Saturday Sipper" that gets into the spirit of the holiday with some red, white and blue. I'll be honest, when putting this drink together color became about as important as flavor, but luckily the flavor turned out to be really good. A combination of Red Zinger herbal tea, coconut water, lemon-lime soda for a bit of fizz and coconut sorbet--it might sound like a lot of random ingredients but the taste is delicious; a little tangy, a bit sweet and very exotic from the tea and sorbet. If you are not familiar with Red Zinger, it is an herbal tea, or more accurately tisane or herbal infusion that was introduced by Celestial Seasonings in 1972 and according to the company is described as "a blend of tart and tangy Chinese hibiscus and fruity Thai hibiscus, balanced by cool, refreshing peppermint and the unique, earthy sweetness of wild cherry bark."

Red, White and Blueberry Tea Float
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Makes about 2 quarts or about 5 large floats)

4 cups water
8 Red Zinger Tea Bags*
1 Tbsp agave, honey or other sweetener (optional)
2 cups coconut water*
2 cups lemon lime soda
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (blackberries will also work)
1 pint good coconut sorbet

Bring water to just boiling. Remove from heat, add tea bags and let steep about 6 minutes, remove tea bags and add sweetener to tea if using. Pour tea into pitcher and place in refrigerator to cool completely. When ready to serve, add coconut milk and lemon-lime soda to tea in pitcher. Place about 2 heaping tablespoons of blueberries in the bottom of each glass. and pour soda mixture in. Top with a scoop of coconut sorbet and some additional blueberries. Serve immediately with a long spoon and/or wide straw. Enjoy!

*Both coconut water (juice or liquid from green or young coconuts) and Red Zinger tea can be found in most health or natural foods stores.

Notes/Results: Delicious! It ends up with a complex, berry-like flavor with a nice coconut flavor coming through as well. You can adjust the sweetness by adding some agave or honey to the tart tea if you want. Since I was using a lemon-lime soda and adding sorbet, I didn't feel the need to add any additional sweetener, but I probably would have if I had used club soda or seltzer instead of the flavored soda. With all the antioxidants and vitamin C from the hibiscus in the tea and the blueberries, as well as the potassium and minerals in the coconut milk you get some health benefits from this colorful and delicious drink. (BTW: It really looks better in person than in these pictures as you can see all the colors and layers more clearly). A fun drink not just for the holiday and variations with different teas, fruit and sorbets would be great too.

Have a wonderful weekend (and a Happy July 4th if you are celebrating). 

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Hibiscus Tea with Vodka and Citrus--A "Simple Saturday Sipper"

Uh-oh, two cocktails in two days--what is this blog coming to?!? It's Saturday and time for another Simple Saturday Sipper, where I try to work my way through all of the beverage recipes that I have clipped out and tagged. This recipe is one that my Mom alerted me to when she found it in Redbook Magazine. It is Hibiscus Tea with Vodka and Citrus from Giada De Laurentiis. I had asked Mom to send me some bags of Trader Joe's Dried Hibiscus Flowers (There are no TJ's in Paradise!), to make tea and other drinks with, so she thought I would like this cocktail recipe too.

Hibiscus, besides being a gorgeous color and very tasty, (kind of similar to dried cranberries in flavor), happens to be very good for you. The Trader Joe's version are sweetened and have a chewy texture to them. They can be eaten on their own, added to trail mix and other things you would use dried fruit in, or steeped into a "tea". In addition to Vitamin C, hibiscus is rich in riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and iron and also contains antioxidants. Throughout time, it has been used for everything from weight loss, to strengthening the immune system, to preventing bladder infections and constipation. Lately it is being touted as being beneficial in lowering blood pressure and controlling cholesterol. So I guess if you are going to drink a delicious cocktail, you might as well drink one that has good-for-you ingredients!

Hibiscus Tea with Vodka and Citrus
Giada De Laurentiis, Redbook, June 2009
(Makes 4-6 Servings)

4 cups water
2 cups (2 oz) dried, sweetened hibiscus flowers, dried rose petals, or hibiscus, rose hip or Red Zinger tea bags
1/3-1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 cup vodka chilled
1 cup ice

In a medium saucepan, combine water, hibiscus flowers, and sugar over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Let cool 25 minutes, then add lemon juice, lime juice, and vodka. Place ice in a tall pitcher. Strain tea into pitcher and discard flowers. Refrigerate before servings.

Notes/Results: Delicious, refreshing and slightly addictive, another cocktail that you can drink right down before you know it. The drink has a sweet, slightly citrusy-floral-berry taste to it and is excellent for a hot evening. The bright, festive color makes it a great drink to serve at a party. I used just 1/4 cup of sugar in mine with the sweetened hibiscus flowers and it was perfect. If you don't imbibe, it would be delicious without the alcohol, and if you can't find the dried hibiscus blossoms at TJ's, a natural food store, or a Latin market, you can always use Red Zinger tea or rose petals for a still exotic and fun cocktail. A great recipe and a keeper.