The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas


February 15, 2014

COOKING WITH SIMON: Don’t forget the Valentine’s Day flowers

Happy Valentine’s weekend! Well, at least for those of you who remembered it was Valentine’s and at the very least bought a card. Otherwise you may be spending the weekend in the doghouse.

But don’t despair there is still one easy was to repair the damage. Quickly make a romantic and beautiful champagne cocktail.

All you need is some sparkling wine, brandy and a hibiscus flower. Yes, I said a hibiscus flower, but not the kind you grow in your flower pots outside. These flowers come from Australia – close to my neck of the woods, but still 1200 miles from New Zealand.

But you don’t have to go all the way to Australia to buy them. Texas Art Depot in Palestine carries these edible beauties and they are soaked in syrup and come in a jar. Place in your cocktail and, as the bubbles rise in the glass, a beautiful swirl of red syrup flows to the top.

They have a sweet flavor that is a combination between pomegranate and cranberry. I have also put them on a steak salad, and last Valentine’s Day as a garnish for a white chocolate peppermint mousse. It was certainly a beautiful presentation.

I was also excited to find this variety of hibiscus in the seed catalog I was perusing the other day while picking out what to grow this summer in the Sabor a Pasion chef’s garden.

We will have lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs, plus the grapevines will also be flourishing in the vineyard. We may even have enough leftover produce to start our own farmers market. Eat what you can and share the rest – a great motto for anyone growing vegetables in East Texas.

But back to Valentine’s Day, if your celebration extends into the weekend be sure to try the hibiscus flowers. You’re honey will be impressed and you get bonus points for combining champagne and flowers in one easy to find gift.

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