Starting this Sunday (July 12), there won't just be flowers at the Denver Art Museum to please the eye—there also will be flowers to please the taste buds. Aran Essig, executive chef at the University of Northern Colorado, will be demonstrating the culinary uses of hibiscus flowers as part of Blooming Chefs: Cooking with Flowers.
“Hibiscus flowers are most commonly used in a beverage known as ‘jamaica’ which is tangy, sweet, very vibrant in color, very refreshing in the hot summer months, and packed with vitamin C,” Essig said. “They can also be used to make things like jams, jellies, custards, and flavored vinegars, or they can be candied and eaten whole.”
Essig’s demonstration will show how the hibiscus flower can be used in a variety of ways, including in savory dishes, the smoking of some meat, flavoring beverages with hibiscus syrup, and as a light summer dessert. Visitors to Essig’s demonstration will be treated to samples of hibiscus-based dishes like BBQ, lemonade, and poached pear parfaits.
“Hibiscus flowers are great for cooking at home,” Essig said. “They are easy to find at Mexican markets, and grow well in Colorado if people want to use their own flowers.”
For more fresh, fun cooking ideas, check out the rest of this week’s Blooming Chefs demonstrations, running from 11 am–noon each day on the Martin Plaza.
July 12: Aran Essig, CEC CCA - Cooking with Hibiscus: BBQ, lemonade, poached pears parfaits
July 13: Closed
July 14: Theresa Watson, CEPC - Cooking with Lavender: Frostings and shortbread cookies (download these lavender recipes)
July 15: Chef Mykel Archuleta - Cooking with Squash Blossoms: Quesadilla with smoky corn and firestick flower salsa (download this salsa recipe), and cucumber blossom infused water
July 16: Chef Ashlea Tobeck - Cooking with Nasturtiums: Watercress soup
July 17: Chef Chris Puter - Cooking with Orchids: Summer berry salad with orchids, artisan baby greens, fried leeks, chevre, candied pecans and a raspberry-pomegranate vinaigrette
July 18: Chef Mary Alice Montgomery - Cooking with Calendula & Sunflowers: Flower Power sun tea, calendula hot & sour soup (download this soup recipe), and a sunflower chocolate torte (download this torte recipe).
Further demonstrations will be held August 23, 25, 26, 27, 28 & 29.
Blooming Chefs: Cooking with Flowers is included with general admission; free for members and youth 18 and younger.