Granita - in a summer of indulgence

A summer of indulgence

Food - I am so over it.  This unusual state of affairs came about as a result of over indulgence during the festive season. 

It all started in early December, when invites to celebrate the season started flooding in.  Not that two is exactly a flood, but it was most certainly a beginning.  Then we had to invite a group of friends over for now-traditional end-of-year festivities and half of them didn't turn up.  There were even more leftovers than normal that had to be eaten.

Then Christmas came and, in sunny Gisborne, we ate beyond what could be considered dignified - pizzas and roast lambs and prawns swimming in cunning sauces.  Aunt Joan made her famous pavlova and I, of course, had whipped up a massive tiramisu.  There was also the matter of two Christmas cakes to be eaten.

We'd no sooner returned to our Waikato home than a friend said 'hey, let's have another crack at Christmas!'  So we did, and she brought around little vodka jellies which are as evil as they sound, especially with homemade pate and lamb.

The wedding anniversary in early January was the next event to be observed and we splashed out in a fine restaurant in Auckland.  The very next evening friends shouted us out to another top restaurant.  That, I remember, was the point when I began feeling a tad green.  Maybe, on reflection, I should've gone for a light salad rather than lamb shanks.

But there was no time, really, to reflect.  My birthday was just days away, and that meant a lovely dinner and birthday cake.

Dotted around all this were meals out with friends and meals at home with other friends which all added up to more and more food.  By the middle of January we were well and truly fed up.  The abundance coming out of the vegetable garden didn't help matters, either.

Luckily we had a plan up our sleeves.  We had decided some months previously to spend a week at Mt Ruapehu - and the intention was to climb to the top of that rather big mountain to work off some of the summer excesses.  Two members of our family made it all the way up and I cheered them on from the warmth of the Knoll Ridge Café.  A great time was had by all.  And of course, we had to celebrate their achievement by dining out that night.

So - here is a recipe for something which is not strictly food.  We discovered granita last year, an Italian semi-frozen dessert of sugar, water, and in this case, espresso.  Although you can use many flavourings (lemon juice, lemon verbena, Earl Grey, even tomato and basil)  we like coffee.  I did make one using carob for my vegetarian brother, and that worked too.

David is the Granita maker in this household, and he is fairly thorough when it comes to the freezing part of the process.  Not only does he freeze the bowl the cream will be whipped in, but adds the food processor bowl and its blade.  And yes, the parfait glasses it finally gets served in, also goes in the freezer.  There is just room for the ice cube trays of espresso…

Granita
  • 175 ml espresso
  • ½ tbsp sugar
  • 150 ml cream
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • cocoa powder

Make some nice strong espresso and immediately stir sugar into it.  Once cool, pour into ice cube trays - no more than 1cm deep.  Place carefully into freezer and allow to set.

When ready to serve, pour the cream into the chilled bowl, add sugar and beat until thick.

Transfer the espresso ice cubes into a blender and process briefly, for a few seconds until it resembles brown sugar - not too much or it'll melt.  Distribute this into the cold serving glasses and top with whipped cream. 

Sprinkle with cocoa powder and get eating.
 

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