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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Present/Past/Present

I just unpacked from my express trip to Mexico City. The kids and my husband stayed home while I visited my beloved incredible, admirable, super vital, yoga teaching and grumpy (no judgements, just descriptions) 85-year-old grandmother; who thankfully, doesn't operate electronics of any sort--so she won't know I posted her age--and attended my dear childhood friend's wedding.
Thanks to sweet and welcoming friends, my family survived quite well in Manhattan. Nothing to report, but a skirt less first grader that didn't really mind forgetting the essential part of her uniform at home. She was too excited about loosing her 7th tooth, and didn't blink at the wardrobe malfunction. It was all good...
My three days in Mexico were full: I felt sad, joyful, nostalgic, relieved, young, old, confused and moved, plus I slept like a baby. For 72 hours, I revisited my life before husband and kids. I saw most of my high school friends, that despite the years, are still like sisters and of course, I ate.
I had corn tortillas in 500 different presentations and with as many different fillings for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I just LOVE Mexican food. It's so delicious and flavorful. It's creative and resourceful. 
Thousands of incredible and unique dishes made out of chiles, corn and beans. Sometimes fried, others smoked, broiled, boiled, toasted, roasted, steamed, ground, dried, or even raw. Mexican cuisine tells the history of the country. It's seasoned with invasions, conquers, revolutions, cultural fusion, social structure, and lots of wit. It's addictive, and simple and complex at the same time. It's spicy!
This is why, for this week, I was inspired to feature a recipe made with jicama and hibiscus, two ingredients widely used in Mexico, and now commonly available in the U.S. (aka Fairway).


Jicama is a popular snack in Mexico usually eaten raw, sprinkled with salt, chile (or chamoy) and a squeeze of lime juice. This tuber, which looks like a giant brownish radish, is mild, delicious, and a bit intimidating in its looks. However, its appearance can be misleading. Inside the rough peel, a white, crispy and slightly sweet surprise awaits. Jicama goes particularly well with salty and sour flavors, and lends an incredibly pleasant crunch to everything with no after bite. And that's not all. Jicama is a great source of antioxidant vitamin C and soluble fiber and contains lesser amounts of copper, magnesium, potassium iron and vitamin E.
Hibiscus, which, explained by Fany Gerson,"is the part that covers the blossoms of the sabdariffa plant before they open," are the main ingredient in agua de jamaica, a sweetened infusion of the magenta flower served chilled, as a popular and very refreshing drink. They are tart and fruity in flavor and are delicious served as dessert in compotes or frozen treats. As their gorgeous saturated color suggests, hibiscus are full of potent antioxidants. They are also a natural diuretic, are high in vitamin C, and it's been suggested that hibiscus tea helps regulate high blood pressure. Lately, I've been noticing its presence in media recipes and in more stores in the U.S., which is great news, as it's a great and healthy flavoring and coloring agent that goes well almost with everything. Sweet and savory. Recently, I even seasoned chicken breasts with the contents of an hibiscus tea pack right before grilling, and they were really tasty.

JICAMA SALAD WITH HIBISCUS-CITRUS DRESSING

The original recipe that inspired this one, was given to me by my friend Dalia, a great dietitian, and fellow ex-pat. When we each got married, we both moved to the U.S. and tried to cook nutritious, easy and tasty things. When the recipes we made were successful, we would share them with each other over the phone or via email. This one has been a 12-year-old keeper, that I just tweaked a bit.
If you don't have the same citrus fruits I give out in the recipe, feel free to substitute for more oranges, grapefruit, mandarins, lemons, limes, or whatever you want. Just make sure you combine sweet citrus with sour ones.
I used clementines because we buy them in boxes and we always have them around.
  • Vegan
  • Free of: gluten, wheat, eggs, soy, nuts, eggs and dairy
  • Super ingredients: jicama, hibiscus, fresh citrus, chia, chile (if used)
INGREDIENTS
3 navel oranges
7 clementines
4 Meyer lemons
2 bags of hibiscus tea * (or 1/4 cup whole, dried hibiscus, that should be strained after infusing)
1/2 cup celery leaves (or fresh cilantro and/or parsley), chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 large (or 2 small) jicama, about 2 lbs.
1 tablespoon chia seed (obviously!!!!)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder, or to taste (optional)
Sea salt, to taste

*Found in health food stores, online or stores with good herbal tea assortment. TAZO's "Passion" tea can be used

METHOD
Place a strainer over a medium pot. Squeeze into it half of the citrus. And save the remaining citrus for later. Move strainer onto a medium serving bowl.


Warm up the citrus juice in the pot over low heat for about 5 minutes (no need to bring to a boil).

Once it's warm, place the tea bags in the juice and allow to infuse while you peel and cut the jicama. It will turn bight red. Remove tea bags before dressing the jicama.

Peel jicama with a serrated knife (preferably), first by making it flat in the base and then continue cutting off the peel around, until it's completely white.

Slice jicama into 1/2-inch wide slices and then cube the slices. Place jicama into serving bowl.



Squeeze the remaining citrus into the strainer placed on the bowl. Add hibiscus-infused juice, celery leaves, shallot and chia and mix well.

Season with salt and add chipotle powder, if using. Taste and adjust seasoning adding sour and/or sweet citrus and/or salt.



If possible, allow the flavors to develop refrigerating for at least 4 hours (and up to 2 days), or serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.


Enjoy. I'm salivating already!!!!!

1 comment:

Beyond Prenatals said...

This looks delicious! And I actually just bought whole hibiscus leaves and we have been drinking it with breakfast. Love reading your posts!