Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lychee lime granita

Hello, internet! I haven't forgotten about this blog, contrary to all appearances. I've just had a combination of lack-of-inspiration, lack-of-actually-cooking, and lack-of-photogenic-food in the last few months. I still don't have any food photos, but I do have a super-easy summery recipe. And I swear I won't wait three months before I post again.

I don't have an ice cream maker, so granita is my homemade frozen dessert of choice. This is a little surprising because descriptions of granita tend to make it sound completely uncompelling. Its Wikipedia entry says it is a "semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings", and I think I've read that "granita" means "grainy" in Italian. Mmm, grainy. But once I got over my skepticism and tried making it, I discovered that it was a perfect light dessert. It's also incredibly easy to make: you just have to make a syrup, put it in the freezer, and remember to stir it up every half hour or so. The final product is something like shave ice, but with the flavoring in the ice instead of poured over it.

Recently, I was inspired to make granita by this recipe on the Pioneer Woman Cooks (possibly the only vegan recipe I've ever seen there), plus a giant bag of limes that we got for about a dollar. Instead of making a syrup, I used the syrupy liquid from a can of lychees, because I love lychees even though they look like what you'd get if you applied a melon baller to a raw chicken breast. They have a unique, sort of floral flavor. You could use another kind of canned fruit syrup, but I'm pretty sure that you can buy canned lychees at Safeway, even though they're an exotic fruit. If not, I think they're definitely worth a trip to an Asian grocery store.

Lychee lime granita
Two notes: 1) I have to be annoyingly imprecise here because the lychee can was not an American standard size, and I don't remember exactly how big it was. But the exact proportions aren't too important. If it tastes good before you freeze it, it'll be fine. 2) In the past, I used a glass pan to freeze granita, which was fine except that the granita tended to freeze onto the sides. This time, I accidentally discovered that this is not a problem if you use a plastic container, like a reusable ziploc food storage box.

1 can of lychees (about 20 oz.)
3-4 limes

1. Drain the liquid from the lychees into a freezer-safe container and reserve the lychees. Juice three of the limes into the container, then taste the mixture. Add the juice from the fourth lime if you like.

2. Cover the container and place it in the freezer for about an hour. Remove the container from the freezer and stir the granita with a fork to break up the ice crystals, then return it to the freezer.

3. After half an hour, remove the granita and scrape it with the tines of a fork, using a raking motion. Continue to scrape the granita every half hour until it is completely frozen (2-3 hours, depending on the size and shape of the container). If it hardens too much to scrape easily, which may happen if you store it overnight, just let it warm up a bit.

4. Serve with the reserved lychees or other fruit.

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