I’ve talked food before on the blog, but surprisingly little. Practically no one knows this, but for a short time, I actually had a food blog—eating and cooking are definitely two of my passions. I always kept the knitting and cooking separate, but I don’t really think they are—both are ways to express creativity. Having subscribed to cooking magazines for years, and even editing several food reference books and cookbooks, well, I know a thing or two about food. I have a lot of fellow foodie friends, and we often get together to cook.
This past Sunday, my friend John and I finally had a cooking afternoon—the last time was more than a year ago. That time we made a chicken that involved marinating it, giving it a spice rub, searing it, baking it, then pouring on glaze and broiling it. I still can’t believe how many cooking methods went into that one meal—but it was really delicious.
Two weeks ago John saw an episode of Jamie Oliver’s new show and was drawn to the Cheat’s Pappardelle with Slow-Braised Leeks and Crispy Porcini Pangrattato. But we’re not cheats. So we made the pasta from scratch.
OK, to be honest, John made the pasta, while I prepared dessert. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Jamie’s recipe is a series of wing-it quantities (knob, wineglass), but this recipe can’t really be messed up. It’s one of those “quality ingredients result in quality food” kinds of recipes. The prosciutto, which the guy at Whole Foods let us sample in great quantities in the store, was perfectly salty, the leeks were really fresh, and the whole wheat pasta had a perfect bite.
But the piece de resistance is the dessert, which we made up on the fly while standing in the produce section of Whole Foods. The grapefruit aroma was knocking us over, so we bought two grapefruit, two oranges, and decided to make a granita. And then I had a flash of brilliance and suggested we add basil.
Here’s our “pattern”:
Citrus Basil Granita
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 cup water
3 tablespoons julienned fresh basil, plus additional sprigs
2 large grapefruits
2 large navel oranges
In a saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Toss in the basil and let the syrup cool.
Peel and segment the grapefruit and oranges over a bowl, squeezing the pith to get as much juice as you can. Transfer to a food processor and pulse a few times so that it’s more liquid than solid, but preserving the pulpiness. You should have about 3 1/2 cups of liquid.
Stir the juice and simple syrup (with the basil) in a shallow dish (a baking dish works fine; metal is probably ideal), and place in the freezer, stirring and crushing lumps every 30 minutes for 3 to 4 hours, or until it is a little more frozen than a slushie. Scrape it with a fork and serve in the most amazing dainty cups that were your friend’s mom’s, or whatever bowl you have handy. Garnish with additional basil sprigs.