Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Hibiscus Tea (Agua de Jamaica)

Hibiscus Tea (Agua de Jamaica)

Hibiscus tea is more of a beverage than a tea. This beverage gets its rich burgundy color from the dried hibiscus flowers which is steep in boiling water for about 1 to 2 hours. While hibiscus tea does not contain any tea leaves, the steeping of the dried flowers is why this beverage is referred to as an herbal tea. I like to make my hibiscus tea a little strong so that when served over ice, the flavor will not weaken as the ice dilutes the beverage. The flavor of this beverage is a little cranberry-like and a little plum-like. This beverage is so refreshing, especially on a hot day. Without sugar, hibiscus tea is very tart so you need to add sugar to taste. I like the hibiscus tea sweet and a bit tart, like drinking cranberry juice or pomegranate juice. Dried hibiscus flowers, aka Jamaica, can be purchased at any Hispanic supermarkets sold in bulk bins.

6 cups cold water (48 ounces)
2 cups dried hibiscus (Jamaica) flowers (3 ounces)
1-1/2 cups organic cane sugar (10.2 ounces)
3 cups cold water (24 ounces)

Place 6 cups of cold water in a medium-size stainless steel saucepan which includes a lid. Bring water to a full boil. Add the dried hibiscus flower and sugar and stir to combine. When mixture returns to a boil (which is almost immediate), remove from heat. Place the lid on the saucepan and let steep for about 1 to 2 hours (I steep the flowers for about 1-1/2 hours). Strain tea through a coffee filter into a pitcher. Add the remaining 3 cups cold water. Stir and refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice.

Yield 2 quarts

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Donna Giblin's Artichoke Chicken

Donna Giblin's Artichoke Chicken
As viewed on The Chew

This will be a dish I will make often. It's such a simple dish to put together, but tastes like a lot of effort been put into this dish. Almost like eating a French-style dinner because of the tarragon herb. A lesson learn is to make sure you check your pantry to see if you have all the ingredients to any recipe before proceeding. A mental check is not thorough enough. I had everything for this recipe, except tarragon. I thought I had it in the pantry, but could not find it. So I had to stop and make a trip to the supermarket just for the tarragon. The oven is preheated, all the meat and vegetables are placed in the roasting pan, the sauce is ready to go, except for that one missing herb. I was thinking to omit the tarragon because I didn't have it, but tarragon is such a unique herb and cannot be substituted with another herb. It's hard for me to describe the unique flavor of tarragon...mild licorice-like...fennel-like?! I know it's commonly used in French cooking. It turns out that I am glad I made the trip to the supermarket just to get this herb to complete this recipe. I love this dish for its simplicity and flavor. Tastes like a home-style French comfort meal.

HEALTHY NOTE:  The original recipe uses chicken thighs and drumsticks with the skin. To make this dish healthier, I used entirely chicken thighs without the skin amd remove all visible fat. Since I removed the skins, I decrease the roasting time by 10 minutes.

3-1/2 to 4 pounds chicken thighs with bone (about 9 thighs), skins and all visible fat removed
1 cup frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (6 ounces)
1 medium-size onion, cut into large chunks to match the sizes of artichokes (8.5 ounces)
1 pound cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered
2 tablespoons brown mustard (0.8 ounce)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (1.7 ounces)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (2.0 ounces)
1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon wine (2.0 ounces)
1 large clove garlic, minced (0.3 ounce)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven.

Lightly salt the chicken on both sides and place skinless-side up evenly in a large roasting pan. I used a Le Creuset roasting pan measuring 9-3/4-inches by 14 inches. Evenly distribute the onions, artichoke hearts, and mushrooms around the thighs and trying not to cover the chicken meat too much. If chicken is covered too much with the vegetables, just lift the chicken up slightly so most of the chicken is exposed (see photo above).

In a small bowl, combine the mustard, olive oil, red wine vinegar, wine, garlic, basil, thyme, tarragon, bay leaf, salt and ground black pepper. Whisk until thoroughly combined.

Pour sauce evenly over the chicken and the vegetables. Bake for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, basting every 20 minutes.

First basting after 20 minutes of baking: I use a turkey baster for basting.

Second basting after 40 minutes of baking.

Third and final basting after 1 hour of baking.

Remove from oven after 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Close up view of the finish dish. Even the chicken thighs looks brown without the skin.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a vegetable side dish. The chcken is moist and delicious; the onions melts in your mouth; the artichokes and mushrooms are roasted to perfection...and the flavor is amazingly delicious. I cannot wait for leftovers tonight.

Yield 4 to 5 servings