That's where my boy Kevin comes in.
When that cheeky impresario of Acme Instant Food recently revealed himself to be in the thralls of such a malaise, he immediately took action.
Thus sprang forth... Acme Instant Ingredients!
This one-off event had random bloggers exchanging a unique ingredient. The recipient cooks, photographs and blogs the resulting dish.
My partner was Kevin, and that's how a packet of Trader Joe's Dried Sweetened Hibiscus Flowers became my new culinary muse.
(I photographed these unique little buds, but lost them somewhere in my computer.
Luckily, Gastrokid let me borrow this image from his own experience . )
They reminded me of something, and I struggled to think of what... what could it be?
An ... octopus, maybe ?
Nah, that's just silly. More of a Davy Jones, that one.
Hmmmm.... I'm still not feelin' it. Zoidberg, perhaps?
No, wait- I've got it! Success at last:
Baby octy, I could just eat you up!
Oh- eating. Yes, let's get on with it.
The strange-looking, but engaging, candied hibiscus blossom.
Google searches revealed mostly tea-type drinks.
I'm not big on tea, so kept looking. One day, at work, someone donated a book that contained the recipe for something dubbed a cassata.
This wasn't a true cassata, merely an ice cream-flavoured salute to this traditional Italian dessert. It sounded good, and was easy enough to make. The flowers were soaked in rum, then added to thickly whipped cream. In layers, raspberry sorbet, the cream and vanilla ice cream are tucked into a loaf pan until frozen. I sliced, then spinkled with a little dark chocolate and some toasted pecans.
It looks like Neapolitan, but tastes like a candy-coated fairy dream.
I'd rather thought that I wouldn't like the cream layer, that the chopped hibiscus bites would make for an unwelcome texture. However, it was surprisingly good.
I never would have plucked that package from the shelves, so this was truly a fun- and tasty- experiment. So long, and thanks for all the fish!
note: I substituted the candied hibiscus for the angelica & cherries.
1 ounce (30g) candied angelica, rinsed, dried and chopped
2 tablespoons (30g) candied cherries, rinsed, dried and chopped
2 tablespoons (30g) chopped mixed candied peel
2 tablespoons dark rum
2 1/2 cups (600ml) raspberry sorbet
2/3 cup (150ml) heavy cream, whipped until thick
2 1/2 cups (600ml) vanilla ice cream
3 3/4 cup (900ml) terrine
Chill the terrine. Put the angelica, candied cherries, and candied peel in a bowl.
Add the rum and stir well, then leave to soak while preparing the ice cream layers.
Allow the sorbet to soften, then spread it evenly over the bottom of the chilled terrine. Chill in the freezer until solid.
Fold the fruit and rum mixture into the whipped cream. Spoon into the terrine and level the surface. Return to freezer rand freeze until firm.
Allow the vanilla ice cream to soften, then spread it evenly over the fruit layer. Cover and freeze for 8 hours.
To turn out, dip the terrine into warm water and invert the cassata onto a large serving plate. Slice and serve at once.
"this is not a true cassata, but a layered ice cream 'sandwich" that has borrowed its name. A true sicilian cassata is a bombe of liquer-soaked sponge cake filled with ricotta cheese studded with candied fruits and grated chocolate. It is often served at wedding feasts and other celebrations.
-Classic Home Cooking, by Mary Berry & Marlena Spieler