Monday, July 8, 2013

2 “Sunday Best” Blends That’ll Get You through the Heat of This Summer

Strawberry Granita and Cool-as-a-Cumber Soup

Is it EVER hot outside! Poking around food blogs, I see that everyone is doing sorbets right now, white wine popsicles with great big pieces of fruit stuck inside, and other treats that give one an excuse to pad over to the freezer.  Yep, it’s time to throw your hair up in a pony-tail and contemplate the subtle differences between sorbet, Italian ice and granita as the temps shoot up around you, and friends complain it’s too hot to use the stove.
Melting sugar and water in a sauce pan and mixing the resulting “syrup” with blended fruit gives you a sorbet you can cherish in a matter of hours, straight from the freezer. I saw A LOT of red, white and blue sorbets for the Fourth of July.  They had a simplicity about them that soothed the home chef—that is, if she was worried over what to do for a HOT backyard party. No matter what the fruit, you can use the same basic recipe to produce all kinds of sorbet: blackberry for the blue, strawberry for red and pineapple for white. GOD BLESS AMERICA—let those good colors continue to serve you well up through the dog days of summer!
But a Granita takes a little more work to set up.  Totally worth it! Once you blend it up and pour it into a dish to freeze, you have to remember to take it out just before the center is frozen solid. Then scrape it with your fork to tease it, so that it looks like this:
I just love an excuse to put something besides a martini into a martini glass!
But here’s what I like best about granita. Did you know that in Sicily, the largest Mediterranean Island and the hottest place in Europe , the traditional breakfast is a coffee & almond flavored granita, served with a big hunk of buttery brioche?  Granita is such a staple in Italia, that different regions are known for different textures of it. I hear it’s chunky in Palermo and smooth in Rome. I love this photo of breakfast time in Sicily.

Before anyone gets too disappointed, I did not make a coffee flavored granita—I’m sure it’s my Vitamix’s next date with destiny, though.  I did something just as refreshing by taking advantage of a huge mound of in season strawberries, to make SUNDAY BEST Strawberry Granita. 
Of course, granita comes to fruition in any blender or food processor, but if you have a Vitamix than there’s really no excuse not to run out and make this RIGHT NOW! 
It’s only July, but I’m sure this Kitchen Must Have is a front runner on LOTS of Christmas lists. “But wait a minute,” some might say, “isn’t it just a blender?” Um, no.  Vitamix heats soup to boiling as it’s pulsing along; it can make pizza dough, cookie batter, and every fancy French sauce and dressing under the sun. 
Whipping up a batch of hummus in the Vitamix reminded me to let my readers know that Sabra (I’m sure you’ve had some of their hummus in your grocery cart at some point) is launching an ad campaign to become the official NFL game watching snack! That’s pretty wild, isn’t it….but a perfect segue into talking up SUNDAY BEST chilled Cucumber soup—great with hummus and pita on the side!
I wish the recipe photo did it justice—this soup comes out in the prettiest grasshopper shade of green, and it’s toe-curling-ly good. It replenishes everything you lost splashing around in the pool or mowing your lawn. Let me know if you had a chance to try it!
Enjoy the rest of summer, my friends!

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