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Five Days of Cinco De Mayo: Agua de Jamaica

Cinco de Mayo 090 Edited Five Days of Cinco De Mayo: Agua de Jamaica

I failed to notice Jamaica was in the title of this presumably authentic Mexican drink until I started typing up this post. But the recipe came from Saveur’s Mexico Issue, so I think we’re good. Known also as Sweet Hibiscus Drink, Agua de Jamaica lives up to its name. Sweet is an accurate descriptor, but more on that in a moment.

To start, allow me to address the “exotic ingredient” issue. If you are a cook who leans more toward simple than elaborate, like me, you are probably thinking something along the lines of, “Hibiscus flowers? Come on lady, I am never going to make this.”

I hear you, but I also promise you, it is possible to procure dried Hibiscus flowers with minimal effort. I am fortunate enough to live within a few miles of a Savory Spice Shop that carries them, and although I have never purchased them online, they are available at nuts.com and www.frontiercoop.com. Health food stores in your area might also be an option.

Now, on to the sweet…

Cinco de Mayo 012 Edited Five Days of Cinco De Mayo: Agua de Jamaica

I love sweets, so when I say this drink was too sweet for me, please take note. If you choose to make it, maybe dial down the sugar a notch, using 1 cup or 1 1/4 cup instead of the 1 1/2 cups called for in the original recipe.

At the very least, serve the drink over a glass full of ice (I was wishing for fancy snow cone ice when I sampled my drink). Or cut it with sparkling water or club soda.

The drink is non-alcoholic, but I can’t imagine adding a shot of tequila would hurt. Hurt the drink, that is. I can’t say what it might do to you. Tequila and humans are a combination that defies all logic.

If you need more ideas for what to do with any leftover hibiscus flowers, Love & Olive Oil posted quite a few recipes over the past year that make use of them. In keeping with the Cinco de Mayo theme, here is the link to their Hibiscus Flower Enchiladas recipe. There is also a sorbet, jam, panna cotta, and soda recipe making use of hibiscus flowers, so you are sure to go through any leftovers rather quickly. Enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo 083 Edited Five Days of Cinco De Mayo: Agua de Jamaica

Agua de Jamaica (Sweet Hibiscus Drink)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Drink
Ingredients
  • 5 cups water
  • 1½ cups sugar
  • 2 cups (approximately 2 ounces) dried hibiscus flowers
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Instructions
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved, about one minute.
  3. Removed from heat and stir in the dried hibiscus flowers, all spice berries, and the cinnamon stick.
  4. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for one hour.
  5. Pour the mixture through a fine strainer to discard the solids, then refrigerate.
  6. Serve over ice.
 

Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Mexican Creamed Corn

Cinco de Mayo 029 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Mexican Creamed Corn

Yesterday I shared my favorite thing on this year’s Cinco de Mayo menu, baked quesadillas stuffed with chicken, corn, and jalapenos. Today, it is my least favorite thing that I have to share.

Mexican creamed corn is by no means bad, but it is no where near the creamed corn I am accustomed to finding on the Thanksgiving table. That holiday dish is thick and creamy and heavy and comforting.

This is more along the lines of fresh corn with some yogurt and a jalapeno stirred in.

Cinco de Mayo 012 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Mexican Creamed Corn

Despite adding an additional 1/2 cup of yogurt (I used 1 cup, the recipe called for just 1/2 cup), it was just a bit too thin for my tastes.

Recognizing my tastes are not the tastes of everyone who will read this post, I hope you can find some enjoyment out of it.

If not, you can strain the leftovers and use them in those quesadillas I was talking about earlier. Until tomorrow, enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo 041 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Mexican Creamed Corn

Mexican Creamed Corn
 
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 ears sweet corn
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 shallot or green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek style)
  • ¼ cup queso fresco or feta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
Instructions
  1. Scrape the corn kernels and pulp from the ears into a bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Cook the jalapeno and shallot or green onion until softened, stirring frequently, until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Add the corn kernels, pulp, and water to the saucepan and cook, stirring frequently, until the corn is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the yogurt.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, then top with the cheese and cilantro if using. Serve immediately.
 

Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Baked Quesadillas with Chicken, Corn and Jalapenos


Cinco de Mayo 020 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Baked Quesadillas with Chicken, Corn and Jalapenos

These baked quesadillas stuffed with tender rotisserie chicken, fresh corn, and jalapenos are my favorite thing on the Cinco de Mayo menu.

And to think I almost did not make them because, well, they are just quesadillas.

It does not get much more unoriginal than that.

Cinco de Mayo 012 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Baked Quesadillas with Chicken, Corn and Jalapenos

The recipe got the green light for calling for baking the quesadillas in the oven rather than toasting them in a skillet, much like I make a grilled cheese.

I was skeptical, but now I am a believer. The tortillas crisp up perfectly in the oven.

The filling – corn and chicken? together? – struck me as odd, but it too is delicious. Don’t skimp on the cheese, and add a little avocado if you please. Enjoy!

Cinco de Mayo 023 Edited Five Days of Cinco de Mayo: Baked Quesadillas with Chicken, Corn and Jalapenos

Baked Quesadillas with Chicken, Corn and Jalapenos
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for brushing
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • kernels from 1 ear of fresh corn or ½ cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 4, 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 2 cups grated Monterrey Jack cheese
  • 2 cups shredded roast chicken (I used rotisserie)
  • For Serving (optional)
  • avocado
  • sour cream
Instructions
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skilled over medium heat.
  2. Saute the onion in the warm oil until softened, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add the jalapeno, corn, and thyme to the skillet with the onion and heat until the corn in warmed through, about 6-8 minutes.
  4. While the quesadilla filling cooks in the skillet, brush one side of two of the tortillas with olive oil. Place the tortillas, oiled side down, on a greased baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle each with half of the corn mixture, 1 cup of cheese, and 1 cup of chicken to use up all of the filling ingredients (split evenly between the two tortillas).
  6. Top each open faced tortilla with the remaining two tortillas.
  7. Cover with a sheet of parchment paper, then place a baking sheet on top of the parchment paper and a weight (such as a 5-pound bag of sugar or flour) on top of the whole thing. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  8. After the quesadillas have sat under the weighted object for the 10 minutes, remove the weight, baking sheet, and parchment to brush the tops of the tortillas with olive oil.
  9. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping halfway though the baking time (check them around the 8 minute mark). The tortillas will be lightly browned when done, and the cheese will be melted and bubbling.
  10. When cool enough to handle, cut into wedges and serve with avocado and sour cream.
Notes
If desired, you can also add half an avocado to each of the quesadillas' fillings before baking.