January 19, 2011

Tangerine-Campari granita (and my apologies)

It is mid-January, only you'd never know it from the weather these last 2 weeks. I had no idea January would be so nice to us this year. Thank you, January! But what to do when it is warm, sunny and lunchtime -- and all you have in the refrigerator is, like, leftover lentil soup, bunches of kale and a few endives? Nothing, except put Operation Take Advantage of Warm, Sunny Days in full effect. The answer, for me, has been citrus fruit. I generally eat citrus fruit only in winter, but for whatever reason I associate it with warm weather too: you know, summer lemonade, orange popsicles, Campari soda with a twist. So I started this warm weather shebang off with Moroccan style preserved lemons (super easy; I used Paula Wolfert's recipe) ... which actually wasn't so immediately satisfying, since they have to brine for 30 days.

Next, I sectioned a mountain of grapefruit and ate that after lunch. I felt a little better, because grapefruit is refreshing in a way that kale could never be. I love kale, but seriously, it's not refreshing. Even if you slick it in olive oil and lemon juice and serve it in your brightest yellow bowl and call it a raw kale salad ... it is still kale, and it is still not refreshing.

 Then, on Sunday afternoon I decided to go the drink route with an old-fashioned favorite, an Americano cocktail -- equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth over ice, topped off with sparkling water and garnished with orange wedges -- which I sipped (ok, drank) (ok, gulped) after finishing my big weekend project. No, not talking on the phone for 2 hours (hi Julia!): sanding and repainting our dressers. Now, now, we were on the right track.

Americano cocktail

And then I had my best idea yet. Confronted with a big pile of tangerines and an almost-hot afternoon, I got to juicing a dozen or so small tangerines, plus a couple of sweet limes I found at the market (they taste exactly how you'd think). Inspired by my Americano, I stirred in a few tablespoons of Campari, along with a scant amount of simple syrup and some zest. After a deep chill, I used my fork to fluff up the now-frozen mixture and then I ate it outside. The sun was hot and I was eating snow. Sweet, bitter, alcoholic, utterly delicious snow. 


Tangerine-Campari granita 

I know, it is crazy to give a recipe for a granita in the dead of winter. I don't blame you if you sprint away to turn off the heat and dig into some boeuf bourguignon. But if you can stand to eat an icy dessert while it is icy outside, this is an excellent way to take advantage of great citrus fruit. Plus, it's a really lovely palate cleanser.

This is more of a technique than a recipe, really. No tangerines? Use blood oranges, navel oranges, or grapefruit, or clementines, or lemons, or a combination of whatever you have on hand. No Campari? Try Grand Marnier or vodka. Adding alcohol keeps the granita from completely freezing, which helps you get a snow-like slush rather than hard, sharp ice. But if you prefer not to use alcohol, or if you want to be sure to get that snowy texture, you can stir the granita mixture every 30-40 minutes while it chills in the freezer.

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups of citrus juice
2-6 tablespoons Campari or other liqueur such as Grand Marnier or vodka (see notes about substitutions above)
1-2 teaspoons of grated zest

Heat the water and the sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool.

Zest some of your fruit, enough to get 1-2 teaspoons. Juice enough fruit to get around 2 cups of liquid. After straining the juice to get rid of pulp and seeds, pour it into a metal or plastic pan (I used a 9x9 cake pan). The juice should be no deeper than an inch or so so that the granita freezes quickly and breaks up easily.

Add the zest and 2 tablespoons each of the Campari and the simple syrup to your pan. Stir and have a taste; depending on how sweet your fruit is, you may need as little as 2 tablespoons and up to 6 tablespoons of syrup. (You'll probably have some leftover syrup; save this in a covered jar in the refrigerator for lemonade, iced tea, cocktails, etc.) As for the booze, 2 tablespoons of Campari is the minimum; feel free to add more. I ended up using 5 tablespoons of Campari and 4 tablespoons of sugar, which yielded a subtly sweet and bitter mix. 

Freeze at least 4 hours, or overnight. (See note above: if you feel like fussing, whisk/stir the granita mixture every 30-40 minutes for up to 4 hours. I did not do this.) 2 hours before serving, remove the granita from the freezer and use a fork to break up the ice crystals. Return to the freezer and leave to chill for at least another 2 hours.

Serve by raking the crystals again and then spooning into chilled glasses/bowls.



Amy said...

I recently made preserved lemons too! Mine are 3 weeks away from being done, though ... sigh. The granita looks amazing and I have a sack of tangerines sitting on my counter as we speak. Not a huge Campari person though, so I'll probably use Grand Marnier.

Lynh said...

Claudia Roden has a recipe for preserved lemons that are ready in 4 days.
Basically you boil the lemons in a pan with heavily salted water (1 tbsp of salt per lemon), otoshibuta style - i.e. with a smaller lid than the pot diameter to weigh the lemons down. Boil for 30 minutes until the peel is soft. when things have cooled down, scoop out the flesh and pack the skins in a glass jar and cover with sunflower oil.
(In case you are are curious, otoshibuta definition from Justhungry.com:
Otoshibuta literally means “dropped lid”, and is put on top of cooking food so that the food cooks evenly.)

four days! can't be beat. :)

even though it's -8 equivalent outside, your granita looks yum. thanks for sharing!!

Kim said...

Amy -- I love the bitterness of Campari, but it is an acquired taste. I think the granita would be lovely with Grand Marnier too.

Lynh -- Hmm, interesting. I would be curious to try the 4 day preserved lemons vs. the 30 day preserved lemons. My gut tells me that 30 days would be better, but who knows? I made Bittman's 4 hour preserved lemons a few months ago, and next to mom's, which brined for 30 days, the flavor was not even comparable. Mom's tasted lush and round, and Bittman's were the equivalent of being hit over the head with an anvil. He doesn't boil his though.

Thiago said...

I found your blog linked on fffood. I like your blog. It is warm in Brazil right now and I wish I had tangerines in my house now. Hugs!

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