It has been blazes hot here in New York so I have been on a bit of a granita bender. This frozen dessert requires no special equipment. Literally. Have pan and freezer? Make granita. In life and in the kitchen I can be a a bit all over the place so this throw together sort of dessert if my absolute favorite. The ingredient combination are endless – watermelon and ginger, pear and rosemary, and matcha tea and cashew milk. Don’t tell, but I also often spike them with alcohol. I will continue to play with different versions, maybe something the stone fruits and apples coming into season.
The recipe featured in this post is a celebration of the berries that are currently in abundance. When I was in Middle School, I remember my mom going blueberry picking one weekend and coming home with such an enormous amount that they filled up a whole vegetable drawer to bursting. I have a distinct memory of parking myself in front of that drawer, the cold of the fridge cooling my face down in the wilting New Orleans heat, and gorging on the delicious berries. I have a particular love for blueberries that whenever I buy them, TK always complains that they all but disappear before he even gets a chance to get a taste.
When I first tested this recipe, strawberries were at peak season, but then my good friends and I shot my very first video for this recipe and well time really got away from us. Now strawberry season is really at an end here in New York or very nearly so. Of course, you could use the standard year round supermarket strawberries. They would be fine in a pinch but would lack the intensity, the unapologetic berriness, of peak season strawberries. If you are able to find top quality strawberries use them but other wise blackberries would be great here too.
I recently started cold brewing hibiscus tea and it has quickly become something I always keep on hand. Lightly sweetened with a bit of raw honey, this tea is simple and refreshing. Rich in vitamin C and high in antioxidants, hibiscus also lowers blood pressure. These naturally tangy flowers also serve as a wonderful foil against berries punching up their flavor and adding a delicate herbalness. In addition to the granita, I also made a strawberry jam with hibiscus that I look forward to breaking out for a bit of summer sunshine in the middle of cold cold winter.
I hope you enjoy the video that I shot with two friends, a process that was so very different from photography. I hope to do more videos down the line, maybe something focused on Sichuan food?
Also, the blog is now a little over a year and a half year old. Never did I think when I started this blog with basic dashi, that I would be announcing my nomination as one of six finalists in the 7th annual Saveur Blog Awards! I am still in disbelief. Voting is now until August 31st with the winners being announced at the end of September at an event here in NYC. Whether I win or not, just being nominated is a dream come true. But I hope you will vote for me (linked below). You can vote as many times are you want daily too.
S U M M E R B E R R Y H I B I S C U S G R A N I T A
1 pound summer berries (I used 3/4 pound strawberries + 1/4 pound blueberries)
2 tablespoons dried hibiscus flowers
1 lemongrass stalk, pounded and tied into a knot
1 1-inch nub of ginger, finely grated
3 tablespoons raw honey
1 teaspoon lime juice
Bring 1 cup of water to a roiling boil. Add the hibiscus and lemongrass to steep covered until the liquid has completely cooled. Combine the strawberries, blueberries, honey, ginger, and lime juice. Allow them to macerate for at least 30 minutes.
Combine the fruit and hibiscus liquid into a blender or food processor. Blend into a rough consistency. Pour into a loaf pan and place into the freezer. After about an hour the granita will have started to freeze, use a fork to scrape and break up the ice into flaky crystals. Place back into the freezer and repeat this every hour or so until the granita is fully frozen. Serve with additional strawberries and blueberries.
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