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Winner of Channel 4's 'Come Dine With Me' (West London) 'Bronze' winner in professionally judged 'AA Home Cooking Competition 2009' Appointed resident cookery columnist for Foodepedia

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Monday, 31 January 2011

FAB FIND: Rosella Wild Hibiscus Flowers

We have long been fans of Hibiscus as it is commonly used in drinks and tea in my (Persian) culture as well Mexico, The Caribbean and also Egypt, where it is known as 'Karkadei' - a sort of national drink, if you will.

The flavour of hibiscus smacks of a cross between cherries and raspberries with a little of the dryness that cranberry has but yet still with a unique flavour all it's own. The flowers are not only pretty but they are perfectly edible too and packed with vitamin C and antioxidants.

The good news is that these wonderful flowers are becoming more and more popular in the UK and are starting to appear on cocktail lists throughout the country. The syrup and flower make a wonderful addition to a glass of chilled Champagne or Prosecco but I have some fantastic suggestions of great ways to use hibiscus in both sweet and savoury dishes as well as fabulous drinks too!

~ Superb Savoury Suggestions ~

- The syrup would make a fantastic glaze/baste for a ham or gammon joint.
- For 'Jus' sauces for red meat, add some of the syrup to the pan juices of a roast as a great alternative to redcurrant jelly. (perfect for lamb and venison!)
- Hibiscus vinaigrette is a delicious way to utilise the syrup, drizzled over a salad of roasted beetroot, candied pecan nuts and goat's cheese with a few of the whole flowers themselves.

~ Sensational Sweet Suggestions ~

- Drizzle hot sponge (straight out of the oven) with plenty of the syrup and once cooled, the sponge will have absorbed the delicious flavour, remaining moist and sticky.
- Soak trifle sponges in a mixture of hibiscus syrup and a cheeky measure of vodka for the ultimate trifle base.
- For an easy way to pimp up vanilla ice cream, frozen yoghurt or even Greek yoghurt, just drizzle the syrup straight on top, it couldn't be easier.

~ Cheeky Cocktails ~

- Pop a hibiscus flower into a Champagne flute, add an inch of the syrup and top up with Champagne or your favourite fizz.
- For a glamourous Martini, add 50mls of Vodka with 50mls of hibiscus syrup and some ice into a cocktail shaker... shake well and strain and serve in a Martini glass, garnished with a hibiscus flower.
- For my Hibiscus 'cooler' cocktail, mix 50mls of syrup with 50mls of gin and serve over ice in a tall glass and top up with cloudy lemonade.

To get your hands on a jar of these versatile Rosella Wild Hibiscus flowers in syrup, visit 'Porter Foods' website at: www.porterfoods.co.uk

The perfect purchase in time for Valentine's Day!

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