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Hibiscus Mint Fruit Punch

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While growing up, Hibiscus-Jamaica agua fresca was often the drink of choice to refresh on a Summery day.  I remember my mom and grandma buying the dry flowers in bulk. Hibiscus-flor de Jamaica or Roselle should not be confused by the ornamental hibiscus plants, these ruby red flowers come from a different plant scientific name Hibiscus sabdariffa which are dried and used in many preparations, from sweet to savory dishes. The flavor profile of this Hibiscus is highly acidic, almost citrus like. It contains high doses of vitamin C and a unique flowery citrus flavor that is just right for refreshing drinks and tames the thirst on hot summer days. For me, growing up in Mexico, Agua fresca de Jamaica was my “cool”aid.

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With this in mind and thinking of something refreshing and fun to drink, I thought of making a fruit punch, or the good Sister of Sangria. This Hibiscus Mint Fruit Punch  just got loaded with lots of fresh fruit, and SVETIA sweetener which makes this Fruit punch the good sister of Sangria, or the healthiest Agua Fresca!

I found SVETIA by chance at the grocery store, I gave it a try and I think is a good option to naturally sweeten up drinks and beverages. It is Stevia based and it has a minimal amount of real sugar just to cut the edge of the natural bitterness of Stevia.
I think its a good naturally derived alternative. Check their website for more information click here SVETIA

We are almost on the last weekend of Summer, what a great way to refresh with a refreshing not-too- sweet Fruit Punch. Combined with fresh fruit its almost an afternoon snack itself.  Chunks of crisp apples, juicy slices of orange, Frozen grapes and plum cuts, or plums that you nibble as you drink are refreshing and fun to eat. I freeze some of the fruit, so your drink stays cool longer with out watering down the flavor. Other great additions of fruit could be strawberries or blackberries. I just stick to the ones I use in Sangria.

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To make this Punch will need…

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Ponche de Frutas – Warm Fruit Punch

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It is freezing and wet cold here in Austin, I really needed  a warm drink, so last night I geared up and made this warm fruit punch recipe, it is divine and it works like a charm!. This Punch is traditionally from Mexico and is served, on the cold weather months November, December, January, “Ponche de Frutas” Warm Fruit Punch is a delicious warm drink made with fall and winter stone fruits like apples, pears, crabapples, hawthorns, oranges, mandarines, guavas, prunes, plums, raw sugar cane sticks, tamarind, hibiscus tea, cloves, cinnamon well everything but the kitchen zinc!

Imagine all these ingredients gather in a pot, slowly simmering to magically deliver  fantastic warm aromas and wintery flavors with only one mission: warm you up!

There are no rules when making the punch, the only ingredient that is a must is the Mexican cinnamon. For the rest, you can make it with your favorite fruit combinations, but I will encourage you to use at least 2 kind of stone fruits, 1 citrus and either hibiscus or tamarind they add the acidity background note needed to balance the sweetness.

This drink is not meant to be overly sweet. In fact most of the sweetness comes mainly from the fruits so adding a small amount of sugar is just what you need to balance the flavors.

You can use brown sugar, turbinado sugar, honey, dark agave nectar, monk-fruit sweetener or piloncillo* which its my favorite option in small amounts. Piloncillo is raw-pure unrefined sugar compressed into a cone that resembles in flavor to molasses; some times you can find it with cinnamon, anise and a little vanilla added. It is used to sweeten desserts, drinks and bake goods. So a little goes along way.

Can you imagine the aromas that this concoction will bring to your kitchen? spices, apples, cinnamon, oranges, warming up the house!…**sigh**

This punch is served in mugs and with a little spoon so you can eat the fruits from the bottom as you drink along. It is great for parties and family gatherings kids love it!
For the grownups you can spike it up by adding a little splash-a-rooh of your favorite rum or vodka as you serve it.
Whether you make a large, medium or small pot, this fruit punch will definitely warm you up inside out!…

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For the recipe you will need…

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Hibiscus-Orange Glazed Cornish Hens

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Have you ever tried hibiscus?… hibiscus is a flower from a tall plant that when dried makes the most fabulous aromatic and vitamin C loaded tea or cold beverage. It is one of my favorite ingredients.
I’m from Mexico and Hibiscus is called “Jamaica” and it is pronounced Ha-my-cah, not to get it confused with the Island. Hibiscus is used in many different preparations, the most common is to prepare “agua fresca”flavored water. Jamaica it is very floral and refreshing, its our natural instant beverage.
It is also used in candy making in Mexico on the Chapala Lake Riviera, in Jalisco. There they make delicious sweet and tart hard candy pieces. If I was to describe the hibiscus flavor, it resembles a little to cranberry. The difference: Hibiscus has this floral notes that makes it so remarkable.

I was thinking of a little spin on Thanksgiving for people who find cranberry too tart so I thought of Jamaica. Then, what to do besides agua fresca and candy? Chutney?.. no… Glaze!

Oh yes I experimented last week glazing some Cornish Hens and it tastes  delicious. My original thought was to glaze some quail, but I look for a good source of quail here in Austin and I was with out luck… so I cooked Cornish Hens…and what a treat!
The results?… Well  you have to try it. It’s floral, tart, sweet and I added a hint of orange zest, and ancho powder to give a little spicy kick….Ian loved it!.. and yes I liked it too.. I definitely want to share the recipe with you, let me know what you think!
Try it with Quail if you or some soul around reading this can find some. I think it will be wonderful and if not it’s great on Cornish Hen! And if you are already a Hibiscus Lover, try our recipe  Martini dos Flores… you will fall in love with it! http://yes-moreplease.com/2013/08/martini-dos-flores/

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Hibiscus-Orange Glazed Cornish Hens

Serves 2-4

2 cornish Hens, about 18 to 22 oz each
4 sage leaves
4 bay leaf
Sea salt and black pepper

Directions:

To roast the perfect cornish hens, I always follow the following steps:

1. Bring the Cornish Hens to room temperature. Take them out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before start cooking.
2. Preheat the Oven at 450 F/ 232 C – cook at 425 F/ 218 C
3. Using paper towels pat dry the hens. Salt, pepper and add 2 bay leaves and 2 sage leaves to each bird cavity.
4. Truss the birds, ensuring legs are tight and the tips of wings are behind the body just like if the bird is taking a nap in the sun. Trussing the Cornish Hens make a more even mass, so they cook more evenly.
5. Place them on a baking sheet or a heavy bottom roasting pan and roast for 30-25 minutes until a meat thermometer, inserted in between the breast and thigh reads 165 F/ 70 C anf juices run clear. 0While the hens are in the oven, make the glaze.

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Hibiscus-Orange Glaze

The first time I made this dish I tried to make the glaze using the Cornish Hens drippings from the pan and de-glaze de pan like when you are making a gravy. I did not like this, the delicate floral flavors from the hibiscus were masked by the chicken fat so I made the glaze separate to keep the floral notes alive.

1 cup dry Hibiscus flowers
the zest of ½ medium size valencia orange
½ cone piloncillo, grated
1 aromatic clove
1 chile de arbol
1 teaspoon ancho powder
4-6 sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon of butter
pinch of sea salt

Directions:

  1. Steep 1 cup dry hibiscus flowers in about 1 ½ cups of simmering water for about 8-10 minutes.
    In a small sauce pan add the concentrated hibiscus tea, piloncillo, clove, chile de arbol, ancho chili powder, orange zest, and thyme. Bring to a slow simmer, simmer for 4-6 minutes.
  2. Remove the sprigs of thyme clove and chilies. Bring the glaze to a rapid simmer stir constantly, until the glaze is reduced by half. Check the consistency by dipping a spoon into the glaze and running your finger tip across. If the line stays put, your glaze is ready (see picture below). At this point add 1 tablespoon of butter until melted and well incorporated, set aside.
  3. Check cornish Hens at 35 minutes. If the thermometer reads 160F/70C start glazing.
    Use a pastry brush or a rubber brush to varnish them. Apply 1 coat and keep baking for about 2 minutes, apply 2 or 3 glaze coats in total. If necessary turn on the broil on the oven and broil for 1 minute for a shiny glaze finish.7. Check temperature until reads 165F/74C and juices run clear.
    Remove from the oven and let them rest for 10-12 minutes before serving.
  4. Serve over a bed of herbed farro or buttery rice, recipe follows…

    Quick herb-orange farro

    Serves 2

    ½ cup farro perlato
    2 cups water or chicken stock
    ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
    1 teaspoon orange zest
    1 tablespoon butter (or you can use some of the chicken fat from the roasting pan)
    salt & pepper to taste.

    In a small sauce pan, bring water to boil and add farro. Reduce heat to a low simmer.
    Cook for about 20-25 minutes. Check for doneness. It usually takes 30-35 to be al dente,
    at this point add butter, chopped parsley, orange zest, salt and pepper. Toss well, remove from heat and cover with a lid for 5 minutes. Serve warm.
    Note: I love farro done this way, I like it a little al dente, not too mushy, and I like to add the herbs, at the end to keep the flavors fresh and colors vibrant.

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Enjoy!

Music pairing: Sabor a mi, by Lila Down

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Martini Dos Flores

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Playing with leftovers can be fun. Ian my husband, is a master of drinks and beverages. He can make awesome concoctions in the blink of an eye. Last weekend what we had in our liquor cabinet was not very promising. But sure enough, Ian saw lots of possibilities and he came up with this awesome drink. We named it “Dos Flores” for obvious reasons, the Hibiscus tea and the Elderberry flowers liquor. After drinking the first martini we started joking about the combination of Elderberry flowers and “Jamaica” (in Mexico pronounced -Ha-my-cuh) which is very widely used for Aguas Frescas, popsicles, sauces you name it. Then we started to make comparisons and talking about history. One thing lead to another, and suddenly we where just thinking that this Martini would have been just the thing to drink if Benito Juarez ran into the Emperatriz Carlota; something a little sweet and sour to smooth out the edges of the time of the monarchy back in the day.

Anyway, we were just being silly and it made us laugh to the point that I have to share my mental image. What I know for sure is that it will smooth out the edges of any Friday. Have a great weekend *cling!* cheers!Martini Dos Flores the favorite drink of Benito Juarez & Emperatriz Carlota

 

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 Martini Dos Flores

1 part Vodka

1 part Extra dry Vermouth

1 part Elderberry Liquor I used St. Germain Liqueur

A splash of concentrated Jamaica “hibiscus tea”,  instructions below…

Splash of bitters

Squeeze of Lime

Ice

Jamaica- Hibiscus concentrated tea:

1/4 cup of hibiscus dry flowers

1 cup of boiling water

Proceed to steep the tea for about 3-4 min.Using a french press makes it really easy, is you don’t own one just make a tea and pass it trough a sieve.

Cool for about 20-30 minutes.

Garnish :

Lime wedges

1 Rehydrated hibiscus flower left over from the concentrated tea making. (optional)

Proceed to:

In a shaker, pour the Vodka, Vermouth, Elderberry liquor, squeeze of lime and the bitters with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with Lime wedge and pour the concentrated hibiscus tea slowly into the center of the glass to create the marbling effect.

(Add a couple of extra ice cubes, especially if you are in Austin Texas Summer)

Serve in a chilled martini glass. Enjoy!

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Cheers!

Music Pairing: Danzon No.2 Marquez Alondra dela Parra

https://youtu.be/AbS-wn9KoGs

 

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