No Ice Cream; It's Granitas Now

Iraqi workers clean a window in central Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009. AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris

What is perfect for a hot summer day? It's not ice cream, according to cookbook author Nadia Roden who has a new book titled "GranitaMagic."

Roden visits The Early Show to entice you to choose instead the cool glittering icy flavors of granita.

Granita is also referred to as "ice." The New Food Lover's Companion defines it as "a frozen mixture of water, sugar and liquid flavoring such as fruit juice, wine or coffee. The proportion is usually 4 parts liquid to 1 part sugar. During the freezing process, ices are generally stirred frequently to produce a slightly granular final texture."

To make it is quite simple;it requires just a few tools that you already have. All you need is a fork, a tray, a freezer, a sieve, and sometimes a saucepan.

It is traditionally served in a glass so you can enjoy the "glittering" ice. There are no rules for what flavors to serve, but Roden offers suggestions some of which are off the beaten path.

Roden says granita should not be simply reserved for dessert or a palate cleanser. She recommends granita for breakfast with a brioche or medicinal granitas, such as a ginger granita, to give you energy.

The following are a few of her recipes:

Classic Lemon
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
3 cups water
1 heaping cup sugar
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 6 large lemons

Method: Boil the water in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon zest. When the sugar dissolves, remove from the heat. Mix in the lemon juice and allow the mixture to cool. To freeze the granita, follow the method on page 16.

Note: On page 16, Roden shows the "classic" method for making granite, which requires freezing and the scraping of the ice with a fork. But she also shows an easier way, which requires pouring the mixture into ice cube trays and then processing the cubes in a food processor.

Cucumber and Mint
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2 large (14-inch) English cucumbers
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves
1 cup yogurt or dry white wine (optional)

Method: Peel the cucumbers and chop them into a food processor. Add the lemon juice, sugar, and salt; puree until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve, stirring with a spoon but not pressing all the solids through; discard the solids. Mix in the mint and yogurt or wine, if using. To freeze, use one of the two methods on page 16.

Note: This refreshing granita makes an ideal appetizer to serve before a meal or between courses.

Burgundy Wine Granita
Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 large orange
2 cups Burgundy wine

Method: Place the water, sugar, and zest in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool. Stir in the orange juice and wine. To freeze, use one of the two methods on page 16.

Note: Serve this immediately from the freezer because granitas with alcohol have a melting texture. Roden also suggests serving this with fresh mixed berries.

"GranitaMagic" is Roden's first book. She is an award-winning painter and animator, as well as an accomplished cook and caterer. She has created textile designs for the Guggenheim Museum, Metropolitan Opera, and Radio City Music Hall.

She says she wrote this book because of a ginger granita she was experimenting with for a dinner party. She loved it so much that she continued to experiment with "unusual" ingredients and tried combining classics with new ingredients. She was surprised to learn that there were no cookbooks specifically about granitas, so she decided to write and illustrate one.
  • Tatiana Morales

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