For this week’s Fiesta Friday, with it’s close proximity to Cinco De Mayo, I’m going latin with a wonderful smoothie that uses homemade hibiscus tea as a base.
First, I want to acknowledge the fantastic work of our master party animal Angie, who has created a weekly event that has really become a fun, resourceful and delicious community. She made an outrageous pizza this week with my favorite, carrot tops! Carrot top is the new basil, or parsley!
I now look forward each week to Friday when I can sit down and mingle with the other guests. I have met so many wonderful cooks and people, and I also appreciate the creativity and work of our rotating mystery hosts and loyal cooks such as Prudy, Hilda, La Petite Paniere, Saucy, Ngan, Catherine, Patty, Nancy, Selma, Sonal, Jillian and on and on!
If you visit a taqueria this Cinco De Mayo in California and you’ll likely find enormous containers of ague frescas next to the soda dispenser. The usual flavors are horchata (a sweet rice drink), tamarindo (from tamarind, and agua de jamaica (pronounced hah-MY-kah), an infusion of dried red hibiscus flowers. I love all three versions and have a hard time deciding, but the ruby red color of the hibiscus usually wins me over. The taste is slightly tart and refreshing. Peet’s Coffee Shop makes a really strong version of ague de jamaica, but they call it Hibiscus C Tea. It is super tart and sweet at the same time, and very quenching on a hot day.
Hibiscus tea (an infusion actually) is popular all around the world. The hibiscus flower grows in tropical and semi-tropical climates. Hibiscus trees are all over Los Angeles, and you can find the dried hibiscus flowers at almost any Mexican market (look for “flor de jamaica”), or you can order them online.
The tea on it’s own is a natural diuretic, apparently cleansing for the kidneys, and very high in Vitamin C. There’s also at least one government study that shows that hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure.
We have a healthy hibiscus shrub in our front yard, so I went foraging last week.
The above photo is a file from the Wikimedia Commons. Commons is a freely licensed media file repository. Since my attempts to shoot a macro with my iPhone yielded less than ideal results, I am featuring this lovely photo of the Hibiscus Stigma.
Here are some shots of our own fresh hibiscus flowers:
After drying for a day in the sunshine I transferred them to the oven for 1/2 hour at 200 degrees.
Then into a pot with water, honey and lime juice:
After steeping (I like to steep it overnight to make it doubly strong, and doubly delicious), I strained it and transferred the tea to a blender, then added Jicama, Lime Juice, Coconut Cream, and Habanero Pepper.
I really encourage you to try this recipe because it’s not often you see smoothies that have a spice kick to them. It’s kind of a thin smoothie, and may work really well for your post exercise refreshment during the summer! Here’s the Recipe:
2 quarts water
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers
Lime juice (optional)
1/8 cup honey
1/2 large jicama, peeled and chopped
1 8 oz can coconut cream
1 small habanero pepper
1. Put 4 cups of the water and the honey in a medium saucepan. Heat until the honey is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in the dried hibiscus flowers.
2. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain into a pitcher and discard the used hibiscus flowers
(At this point you can store ahead the concentrate, chilled, until ready to make the drink.)
3. Add remaining 4 cups of water (or if you want to chill the drink quickly, ice and water) to the concentrate, and chill. Alternatively you can add ice and chilled soda water for a bubbly version. Add a little lime juice for a more punch-like flavor.
4. Transfer to blender with jicama, pepper, coconut cream and lime juice. Whiz up, pour and enjoy!