Hibiscus Iced Tea

I love shopping at my local Mexican grocery store. I have said it before and I will always say it as to how much fun I have browsing the aisles. Granted I’m pretty much the only gringo roaming the aisles, but that is just ok by me. At my particular store, one of the end caps is loaded with dried chilies and an array of spices. There are things I have never heard of before, such as different dried flowers for cooking, but one recently grabbed my attention, and one that I knew. Hibiscus flowers.  These dark burgundy looking dried flowers were grabbing my attention, only to be brought home and turned into a refreshing tea, that I knew my wife and I would love.

Hibiscus Iced Tea Recipe
Hibiscus Iced Tea Recipe

If you are not familiar with hibiscus tea, don’t worry. This stuff is brewed all over the world, has a great taste, and is super easy to make.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz bag of dried hibiscus flowers
  • 1 1/2 cups of sugar
  • 1 whole cinnamon stick
  • 8-10 cups of water
  • Additional items could be lime, ginger, or allspice berries

Start by adding 5 cups of water, sugar, and cinnamon stick to a pot. Bring to a simmer, add in the dried hibiscus flowers, and let this steep for about 30 minutes.  If you want to explore with lime, ginger, or allspice berries, go ahead.

After 30 minutes. Strain the mixture, reserving the hibiscus concentrate. This is your base, so if you are wanting to use this right away, mix about equal parts of concentrate to cold water, served over ice. My batch was pretty much gone in one day due to everyone loving it so much.

Hibiscus Tea Recipe

This hibiscus iced tea is comparable to a blended cranberry juice flavor with that kick of cinnamon. Not only is it super refreshing to drink but it’s loaded with awesome health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, great for the liver, blood pressure, and it has anti-cancer properties, all of which my body probably needs.

If you are looking to impress some guests and help boost their immune system, why not give this hibiscus iced tea a try. It’s a winner! Hope you enjoy…

Baked Whole Trout

One of my kids recently turned 17. I know, I know… and yes that makes me feel a bit old to some degree, but yet I still feel like I’m 17 sometimes as well. When asked what he wanted to do for his birthday, the answer was a simple ‘hang out with family and grill out’. I’m a fan of that. So I figured I would come up with a menu that I knew he would love; everything from grilled Filipino meats, to Filipino pancit, and a few other things in between. As I was getting some of the ingredients, I figured I would throw in some whole trout, and something that I thought I would make on his birthday, probably on the smoker, but it ended up being too much work, and I had to use that trout the day I purchased it. Let’s call it a prelude to his birthday.

So instead of smoking the trout, I decided to stuff it and bake it whole. Wow was this baked whole trout not only super delicious, but really easy to make.

Baked Whole Trout Recipe
Baked Whole Trout Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 whole trout, gutted and rinsed
  • 1 whole lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup Italian leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

baked-whole-trout-ingredients

That’s it. Pretty simple. But do not stop there if you don’t want to. Feel free to use other fresh herbs, garlic, or butter inside if desired. Me, I wanted simple and to taste more of the fish.

Start by rinsing your fish and patting the inside and outside dry.

Using your knife, make a few slits on top of the skin, working from the top to the bottom.

Season the inside of the fishes with salt and pepper, and lay thinly slices of lemon inside of each one. Take some of the chopped parsley and add to the inside of the fishes as well. Take any remaining salt and season the outside of the fish.

Drizzle the olive oil over the fish, and place onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Take any remaining lemon and place onto the baking sheet to be squeezed over the fish after cooking.

Place into a 425 degree preheated oven and cook for about 20 minutes. The skin should crisp up a bit and the fish should be nice and moist.

Plate and serve, squeezing any additional lemon juice onto the fish.

The end result is great. It’s an awesome presentation on the table and gets everyone involved. Are there bones? You bet, so this is always a great exercise in how to remove bones, and playing caution when removing the filet from the bone.

The trout is super light, moist, and really refreshing to eat. Everyone enjoyed the trout, and something different than smoking it on the smoker. Hope you enjoy!

Filipino Imbaliktad

Recently the big kid turned 17. Seventee already, and yes he towers me. He’s a big high schooler, let’s just put it that way. So when questioning him what he would like to do for his special day, he just said ‘Let’s just get together here and have a barbecue’. I’m not sure if my wife and I finally rubbed off on him, but we did offer up other options, but his choice was a simple one. A small get together. So that’s where it started, but when asked what he would like to eat for his birthday, he initially said burgers and brats (a typical grilling fair), and that’s when I offered up Filipino food. I’m big into Filipino food, especially over the course of the last few years, and that is primarily due to the family members that surround me. My wife’s father is Filipino, as is her cousins, etc. So every chance I get, I’m going to try a new dish.

These dishes are not necessarily new, but they are packed with great flavor and super easy to make, in particular this recipe known as Imbaliktad.

Filipino Imbaliktad Recipe
Filipino Imbaliktad Recipe

This recipe is essentially a super quick stir fry, and almost reminds me of an American sukiyaki,  but with lots more flavor and a lot less time to cook.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs of lean beef, cut into thin strips, room temperature
  • pork shanks, cooked and removed from bone (optional)
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 whole onion, coursely sliced
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns, lightly smashed
  • 2 tbsp distilled vinegar
  • 3 Thai chilies, or serranos, lightly smashed
  • 3 sprigs of green onions, coursely sliced
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • salt, to taste
  • Rice, cooked, optional
  • Cold beer, optional

Mix the sugar with the beef, and set it to the side to come up to room temperature.

Next, heat a large skillet, or wok on medium-high heat. Let this heat up for a couple of minutes before adding the oil. This recipe goes quick it is a perfect throw together stir fry.

OK, now add in the oil, then toss in the ginger, and garlic. Stir fry this for about 30 seconds, being careful not to brown the garlic. Add in the beef, turn up the heat to high, toss that beef around, and then let it sit and caramelize. Add in the black peppercorns, chili peppers, and give that a good toss. Cook for a minute or so, then add in the onion. I like my onions with a bit of crunch here, but if you want them softened, go for it just cook them a bit longer. Try to not overcook the beef as you want it tender. If you are using the cooked pork shanks, which I pressured cooked earlier in the day for some extra richness, remove whatever meat you can from the bone, and add to the stir fry at this time.

Filipino Imbaliktad Ingredients
Filipino Imbaliktad Ingredients

Now add in the vinegar, give another toss, season with some salt to your liking, then plate and shower with the green onions.

Dig in. Serve with a side of rice, a cold beer, and you are set to go. The only question you will probably ask yourself is why you were not cooking this any sooner, and why you did not make more of it. I mean it’s beef loaded with garlic, ginger, vinegar and some heat from the chilies. Everything I love in some of the Filipino recipes. Enjoy!

Bruleed Tapioca Pudding

Whenever pudding is on sale at the store, I grab some up for the kids. Typically the usual fare such as chocolate, vanilla, or the combination. Not too long ago, I decided to throw in the classic tapioca pudding to see if there were going to be any takers. There was one who had high interest, only due to the fact that the chocolate and vanilla puddings were already taken. When he asked me what it was, I said ‘pudding, try it’.  He tore into it, looking at it, nibbling on the spoon, much like we probably did as kids (I really liked tapioca pudding growing up, or any pudding besides butterscotch), but then he just scooped it up like there was no tomorrow.

That’s when I decided I would make a batch of my own tapioca pudding and get their take on it. Success? Yes, and with a gentle and awesome twist.

Bruleed Tapioca Pudding Recipe
Bruleed Tapioca Pudding Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of large tapioca pearls, soaked overnight in room temperature water
  • 2 1/12 cups of milk
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 whole eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • additional sugar
  • fresh blueberries, optional

Start by soaking the tapioca pearls in room temperature water, overnight.
The next day, drain the water from the tapioca, give a gentle rinse, and drain again. Reminds me of making sticky rice believe it or not.

Set aside, then warm up your milk. You do not want the milk to come to a boil, rather just before a boil is ideal, so keep an eye on it.

Once the milk is warmed through, add in the salt, and the tapioca pearls. Give a good stir, keeping an eye not to boil the milk. Once the milk begins to slightly bubble on the sides of the pot, reduce the heat to very low heat, and cook those tapioca pearls for 60 minutes, making sure the the milk never comes to a boil.

Bruleed Tapioca Pudding Recipe
Bruleed Tapioca Pudding Recipe

During this time, separate your egg yolks from the whites, making sure to reserve both.

Add the yolks to the bowl of sugar, and mix that together to form a nice paste. Now it is time to gently mix in some of the hot milk mixture to the sugar and yolk mixture. This is called tempering. The goal is to warm the yolks through without scrambling them. You can use a couple of tablespoons of that milk mixture, slowly, to achieve that process. Once you have that ready, add this mixture to the pot of milk and tapioca pearls and give a good stir.

Next, turn up the heat and give a good stir, cooking for about 15 minutes or until the tapioca thickens.

During this time, take those reserved egg whites and beat the crap out of them until you have nice, stiff egg whites. Once stiffened, slowly stir those into the cooked tapioca, adding the vanilla extract as well.

Pour into serving bowls, and place into the refrigerator to completely cool (unless you like warm tapioca, that’s your call).

Now the fun part, at least for me, and the kids. Add some fine sugar to the top of each tapioca bowl, get your kitchen brulee torch out, and caramelize the top of the sugar. Once done, add some blueberries (I used frozen for texture), and dig in.

Was this ever a fun treat? Heck yes! Did the kids love it? You betcha! Was it worth the time, effort, and expressions on their faces? Absolutely. If you are wanting to make some tapioca, give this one a try, especially bruleed as it was cool, refreshing, and delicious. Hope you enjoy!