Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hibiscus Limeade with Lemon Balm

Yesterday I put up a How to post for making your own Hibiscus Syrup, so it only seems fair to share one of my favorite recipes to use it. As I mentioned in my previous post, the first time I had Hibiscus tea was from a Trinidadian neighbor. She would make the tea by putting about 3-4TBLSPs Hibiscus Syrup in a glass with ice and filling it the rest of the way with water, simple and refreshing. I decided to experiment a little and add some herbs and fruits from the garden, and that's how I came up with Hibiscus Limeade with Lemon Balm. This refreshing summer cooler has a slightly sweet floral taste with hints of citrus. It's perfect for a hot summer afternoon, and it can always be taken up a notch for an evening social by adding some Rum. I like to add Coconut Rum to top off that Tropical feel! :)

Here is my recipe for Heavenly Hibiscus Limeade with Lemon Balm:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to Tuesday - Hibiscus Syrup

If your only knowledge of Mahakali
comes from the embarrassing
'Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom'
Please do some reading.
I've always loved the way Hibiscus flowers look. They just evoke images of tropical paradises, warm sand, and beautiful blue waters. This tropical connection is strengthened by it's official title;   national flower of South Korea, Malaysia, Haiti, and state flower of Hawaii. Red Hibiscus also has particular meaning in Hinduism, it is considered to be the favorite flower of both Lord Ganesha and Goddess Kali. Red Hibiscus, like a lot of things, however, has much more going for it then just its beauty. Hibiscus flowers, particularly of Hibiscus sabdariffa and Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, have been used in traditional medicine from China, India, Egypt, and many other places around the world. One of it's primary uses was as a diuretic tea, and recent preliminary USDA tests suggests that regular consumption can lower blood pressure in pre- and mildly hypertensive individuals. It's also high in Vitamin C and in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are what give them, and cranberries, that distinct red color and tart taste. 

My introduction to Hibiscus tea was as a teenager babysitting for a neighbor from Trinidad. She would always offer me some of her special ice tea, as I called it, to cool off on hot summer days. I loved how it had a sweet, full bodied yet flowery somewhat cranberry-like tart taste to it. It was refreshingly sweet without being cloyingly so. This unique flavor makes it perfect for a number of different uses: iced/hot tea, fruit punch, mixed drinks, and granitas. This syrup recipe is based on the tea I remember from those hot summers.

Here is my recipe for Sweet Hibiscus Syrup:

Monday, August 25, 2014

Garden Vegetable Antipasto Platter- Part 1: Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Last weekend we had some friends drop in on us. We weren’t expecting company that afternoon so I hadn’t prepared anything before hand. While Kishore was showing them around the garden I put together a quick vegetarian antipasto appetizer platter for the four of us. The platter included: Stuffed Squash Blossoms, Grilled Eggplant Rolls, Garden Giardiniera, Olives, and Rosemary Parmesan Flatbread Crackers. We sat outside in the garden by the Koi pond and talked about our vegetable gardens and our plans for next year. We sat, talked, and sipped on a lovely Muscato. Since the platter was a hit I thought I'd share the recipes...

Part 1: Stuffed Squash Blossoms

Left- Female, Right- Male
I used Squash Blossoms from my garden but you can usually buy them in the morning at a local Farmer’s Market. If you have your own squash plants, I’ll show you how to harvest your own blossoms. 
There are two types of blossoms on a squash plant: Male and Female.
The Males are usually more abundant, open first thing in the morning, and have a thin stalk. The Females have a thicker stalk that resembles a baby zucchini. While you can harvest and stuff both, I prefer to harvest a few male flowers from each plant, and leave the female flowers to produce zucchinis later!

These Squash Blossoms are stuffed with a nutty herb spiced cheese mixture and baked till the outside is lightly crisp and the cheese is melty. It's great as an appetizer or as part of a antipasto platter.

Here is my recipe for Stuffed Squash Blossoms:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

In My Kitchen - August 2014

It's time for another round of the very cool monthly happening called "In My Kitchen" run by Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.

So here we go....

This Month in my Kitchen...

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Avocado and Tomatillo Salsa - Salsa Verde con Aguacate

This year we decided to try growing tomatillos in our garden. We got our first plants at a local farm, where we were told that they wouldn't grow more then 2ft high or wide...Needless to say they exploded! 
We have been picking tomatillos almost everyday since Mid- June. A tomatillo is a small, round, green tomato-like fruit that is covered in a husk resembling a paper lantern. It originates in Mexico, where the Nahuatl word for it 'Tomātl' (pronounced 'toe-maa-tal') means 'fat, water thing.' You gotta love that description! If you've ever had Salsa Verde at a Mexican restaurant, you've tasted tomatillos. They have a similar taste to tomatoes but are a little more firm and tart. With all these tomatillos I decided to make my own version of Salsa Verde. This Salsa Verde or 'Green Salsa' is perfect as a summer dip with chips, as a topper to Veggie Tortillas, or as a side dish for grilled fish. The avocado, tomatillos, and red onions tie this salsa together giving it a unique piquant yet slightly sweet taste, full of summer sunshine and flavor.

Here is my recipe for this terrifically tasty and tart Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa:
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