Category: granita

Flu fighting sorbet, anyone?

Now that Valentine’s Day is over & there’s one whole month until you’ll be ingesting green beer, feel free to get sick. No seriously. After reading this post, you just might not mind it so much. Okay… that’s a lie. You will. But at least this will ease your suffering just a bit.

A couple of years ago, on a hot summer night, me & my other half were being lazy, drinking some beers & watching a show on either the Food Network or the Travel Channel & it just so happened that on said show they featured Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. We were immediately attracted to the variety of hand-crafted ice creams & sorbets; specifically the ones like the cherry lambic sorbet & the whiskey pecan. Unfortunately we don’t live in Ohio, and it was the peak of summertime so there was no way we’d chance having ice cream shipped to NY, dry ice or no dry ice. And even if we had, it wouldn’t have arrived that night! So we were two sad pandas.

Cut to about two or three weeks ago… I discovered the newest thing in sorbets: the influenza sorbet. Genius! We’ve all been sick here on and off all winter, with either a mild flu-ish thing or a stomach thing or some other weird thing that gave us insane headaches, and I wish I had had some of this on hand. The idea of a FLU FIGHTING SORBET!? Holy balls. I love it. Now, apparently, the company has changed the name to the Hot Toddy sorbet because seemingly there were some idiots who thought either the sorbet contained the flu or actually cured the flu. But either way the concept & ingredients stayed the same! Orange & lemon juice, honey, ginger, cayenne pepper and of course, Maker’s Mark. Perfect for when your throat starts to hurt, and you can’t keep anything heavy down. An icy cold citrus-y delight, with a hit of bourbon & ginger, and cayenne pepper so subtle you probably won’t even know it’s there. But at $12 a pint, and it being all the way in Ohio… I knew I wasn’t getting my hands on any.

I decided I was going to come up with my own recipe and make my own version of Jeni’s infamous flu sorbetto.

But see, I don’t have Maker’s Mark. I have other bourbons. So I used Basil Hayden’s bourbon instead, because it’s a milder one, and I’m not such a crazy bourbon fan. I’ve gotta say though.. the idea of it this sorbet made me really happy. Really, really happy. And Jay has quite the selection to choose from… but I chose Basil. Of course, this is NOT Jeni’s recipe, this is my own creation. And it can be tweaked to accentuate whatever ingredient you want to be the main player. Just don’t add too much bourbon- it won’t freeze properly. And because I didn’t use an ice cream maker, it’s more of a granita. So that’s what we’ll officially call it:

Influenza Granita.

Granita (in Italian also granita siciliana) is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily, although available all over Italy (but granita in Sicily is somewhat different from the rest of Italy), it is related to sorbet and italian ice. However, in most of Sicily, it has a coarser, more crystalline texture. Food writer Jeffrey Steingarten says that “the desired texture seems to vary from city to city” on the island; on the west coast and in Palermo, it is at its chunkiest, and in the east it is nearly as smooth as sorbet.[1] This is largely the result of different freezing techniques: the smoother types are produced in a gelato machine, while the coarser varieties are frozen with only occasional agitation, then scraped or shaved to produce separated crystals. Although its texture varies from coarse to smooth, it is always different from the one of an ice cream which is creamier, and from the one of a sorbet, which is more compact; this makes granita distinct and unique.

Influenza, commonly known as the ‘flu’ , is an infectious disease of birds and mammals caused by RNA viruses of the family Orthomyxoviridae, the influenza viruses. The most common symptoms are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, headache (often severe), coughing, weakness/fatigue and general discomfort.[1]Although it is often confused with other influenza-like illnesses, especially the common cold, influenza is a more severe disease caused by a different type of virus.[2] Influenza may produce nausea and vomiting, particularly in children,[1] but these symptoms are more common in the unrelated gastroenteritis, which is sometimes inaccurately referred to as “stomach flu” or “24-hour flu”.[3]

INFLUENZA GRANITA, A.K.A. THE FLU FIGHTING SORBET

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed, but a low sugar or all-natural bottled variety will work)
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice, but it must be fresh squeezed!)
  • 1/4 cup regular lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus two tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon GOOD bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • anywhere from a pinch to 1/4 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper, depending on taste or intensity of illness

Directions:

  1. Put the orange & lemon juices & sugar in a medium saucepan. Stir over low heat to dissolve sugar. Once sugar is dissolved, raise heat to medium & add honey, 2 tablespoons of bourbon, ginger & cayenne. Stir well. Bring to a boil.
  2. Once everything is boiled, add the last teaspoon bourbon. Stir. Strain into a container and let cool to almost room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from freezer and whisk to crush ice crystals. Re-wrap and re-freeze. Continue doing this once every hour for 4-5 hours with either a whisk or a fork.
  3. Before you serve, if the mixture is still too chunky or icy, simply beat (in a cold bowl) with an electric mixer on low until fluffy. DO NOT LET IT MELT. Place it back into container and re-freeze until it sets. Serve & enjoy!

If you’ve got an ice cream maker or attachment (like I do, but I forgot to freeze the bowl before hand so I had to do this the manual way), then you can just freeze it according to the manufacturer’s directions. You’ll end up, most likely, with a smoother, softer less chunky version. More like sorbet, less like Italian ice. It doesn’t really matter what the texture is, though, as long as it isn’t just a crunchy block of ice. And even then, you could really just shave off pieces to eat. So it doesn’t matter much what you end up with. Oh- and Meyer lemons are way sweeter than regular lemons. So if you use all regular lemons, you might want to up the sugar amount. Remember: the cold lessens & dulls the sweetness of the sugar, but also remember that too much sugar will result in the same problem as too much bourbon in that it just won’t freeze properly.

Now, in no way am I telling you this will cure your flu (or your cold, or pneumonia or whatever you’re suffering with). What I will say is that there’s a lot of Vitamin C in here, and in addition honey, lemon & ginger are known for their flu-fighting properties. Cayenne pepper thins mucus, allowing you to breathe again. Plus, not only is bourbon an old-timey “helper” for all illnesses, it helps numb a sore throat a bit, as does the bracing cold iciness of the granita. No dairy to increase mucus production, either!

And if you want something hot to soothe what ails you, then you should definitely make a few jars of spiced honey. I guarantee you between this granita & some hot tea with spiced honey in it, you’ll be feeling better in no time. And if you aren’t… there’s always that NyQuil too.

Minty Green tea & honey granita.

That’s a mouthful, innit?

Before I continue with this recipe, I want to remind you not to forget to enter to win a gorgeous Shabby Apple apron! Yep, if you’re a U.S. resident you’re eligible to win this super adorable Wildberry Pie apron. The giveaway ends July 2nd, so make sure you go here, read the details, and enter. Also, a few days ago Michelle (from Kissed by Sweets) gave me a blog award! Thank you, Michelle. Lil’ ol me getting a blog award! Mama always said I was special. Anyway it’s called the Versatile Blogger Award, and with this award comes responsibility. I must give the award to other blogs I’m currently loving, so here goes:

..

I happen to be THE WORST commenter ever, so if you’re the owner of one of the aforementioned blogs, don’t expect to see many from me. But I really do read them all the time and love them. So with this award I’m also supposed to tell you a few things (like 7) about myself…  and you all who I mentioned, are in turn, supposed to do this same thing. Although I’m not a stickler for rules (ha!), so I won’t whip any of you with wet noodles if you don’t. Let’s see, 7 things about me, which is kinda rare here. I mean, I talk about myself all the time, but not in minute unrelated-to-baking detail… so I’ll just wrap this up quickly: I’m sunburned (for one of the few times in my born-&-raised-in-NY life I could be called a ‘redneck‘), I have my natural haircolor for the first time in like 8+ years, I’m currently wearing a NOFX t-shirt, I’m currently listening to (very old) White Zombie, I’m planning on making Meyer lemon curd & cream cheese pound cake later on this week, my nail polish is currently Velvet Voyeur by Essie and last but not least… I’m awesome.

So here’s the deal with this recipe. I don’t like Green tea (more on that later). I don’t like Mark Bittman; yeah, sure he’s got some good recipes but he’s such a whiny sourpuss bastard (I’m sorry Mark but you are, and the curmudgeon bit is getting old). The entire time I watched Spain… on the road Again, and the scene featured him, I wanted to slit my throat with all of his bitching & complaining. I don’t really like honey; it’s good in honey cake or some kinds of tea but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan. I’m more into raw sugar/German rock sugar in my tea. I do like mint, though, and I grow it in my garden. There’s a whole lot about this recipe I’m not a big fan of, but as they say, the whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Plus- it’s hot, granita is easy to make, and I’m lazy. I’ve made it before & I have to say, there’s probably nothing simpler. And when it’s so hot out the devil himself knocks on your door & asks if you’ve got central air, you don’t want anything complex.

Granita is an Italian dessert, specifically Sicilian, traditionally made from sugar, water, and flavoring. The most popular in Italy being lemon and almond, it has expanded into chocolate & other flavors. The texture can run the gamut from sorbet-like to snow-cone-like and everything in between. This one is a chunkier, icier one. I like all the different textures, myself, my favorites being the smooth Italian ice kind and the really ice crystal-y kind.

So like I said above, if I can be brutally honest (and when am I ever not?)… I love tea. I really do. I love all kinds of teas; herbal, chai, black, white, oolong, etc. However… personally, and pardon my French… but I think Green tea sucks hardcore balls. It’s not good, at all. And if it is good, it’s because it’s combined with other flavors & sweeteners (i.e. honey, lemon, orange, pomegranate, etc). But I totally get the health benefits of it (source):

1. Lowers your risk of cancer. Although the studies of how green tea affects cancerous cells are still in their infancy, there have been human trials which indicate that it does inhibit cells from developing cancer. EGCG in green tea regulates and inhibits cancer growth by killing cells that are growing inappropriately. In Japan, a study of 500 women with Stage I and Stage II breast cancer found that increasing their green tea consumption before and after surgery significantly lowered the risk of recurrence. Another analysis of 22 studies of the correlation between green tea and lung cancer concluded that by increasing your intake of green tea by two cups a day may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer by 18%.
2. Eases the pain of rheumatoid arthritis. Study results reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that polyphenol antioxidants in green tea benefits suffers of arthritis by reducing the incidence and severity of the disease. EGCG protects cartilage destruction and reduces joint swelling and pain. This leads many scientists and health professionals to recommend green tea as a legitimate remedy for treating arthritis.
3. Stabilizes your cholesterol levels. Researchers believe that green tea lowers your cholesterol levels by reducing its absorption in your digestive tract and increasing the rate of which it is excreted. However, your body does need cholesterol to build cell membranes, insulate nerve fibres and create hormones. For this, green tea benefits you by preventing the conversion of LDL cholesterol into it’s more dangerous, oxidized form. Oxidized LDL is one of the main factors in the development of atherosclerosis (the build of plaque that blocks your arteries as LDL gets sticky and clings to your artery walls) and increases your risk of heart attack or stroke. The amazing antioxidant effects of green tea protect this, helping to keep your arteries clean.
4. Prevents cardiovascular disease. A Japanese study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed significant reductions in deaths from cardiovascular disease among green tea drinkers. The study found that over an 11 year test period, individuals who drank more than 5 cups per day had a 16% less chance of mortality and mortality related to cardiovascular disease when compared to individuals who drank less than one cup per day. They also found that green tea was especially beneficially in preventing strokes, due in large part to the antioxidants and how they prevent clogged arteries.
5. Boosts your immune system. Catechins, the antioxidant polyphenol compounds, have been shown to have a major impact in your immune system. Research conducted by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 2003 revealed that theanine, found in green tea, boosted the activity of the gamma delta T cells that form part of our adaptive and innate immunity. The study followed a group of coffee drinkers and a group of tea drinkers who each drank 600ml of their drink daily. Blood samples taken four weeks later quite clearly showed that production of these anti-bacterial proteins were five times higher in those drinking tea.
6. Promotes weight loss. Both green tea and green tea extract have been shown to fight obesity and lower LDL cholesterol – both of which ultimately lead to a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes. The polyphenols in green tea are extremely useful for dissolving triglycerides, a substance in the liver and small intestine made up of mostly sugar and fat, and this is thought to be the reason green tea benefits fat loss. EGCG is also known to stimulate your metabolism and accelerate weight loss. When combined with the caffeine in green tea, this causes your central nervous system to release fat into the bloodstream to be used as fuel which burns your body fat off.
7. Reduces tooth decay. Antibacterial properties found in green tea are also used by your body to kill the bacteria that causes plaque on your teeth. Research by the Journal of Periodontology has also shown that for every cup of green tea you drink, there is a decrease in indicators for gum disease. Fluoride is also found in green tea which helps to protect against cavities.
8. Effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. In 2007, Dr. Orhan Aktas from the Institute of Neuroimmunology conducted a study of how green tea benefits sufferers of multiple sclerosis. While current patients do not have many options to prevent tissue damage and disability, he found that the flavonoid EGCG found in green tea could have a huge impact on multiple sclerosis. He concluded that EGCG is capable of directly protecting against neuronal injury in living brain tissue and that EGCG constituents may open up a new therapeutic avenue for treating MS by combining anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective capacities.
9. Slows the onset of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. A recent report published in the journal Phytomedicine has found substantial evidence that the enzymes found in green tea protect your brain cells from damage. Another study conducted by the University of South Florida looked at the effects of antioxidant EGCG. It was shown to be a protein blocker which prevented the chemical reactions that can lead to nerve damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
10. Fights the cause of allergies in your body. Methylated epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) has been shown to block a cells receptor involved in producing an allergic response. By blocking the production of histamine and immunoglobulin E (IgE), two compounds in the body that are chiefly involved in triggering and sustaining allergic reactions, EGCG could very well be the compound which prevents you from having watery eyes, sneezing and coughing.
11. Helps to fend off infections. Again, as one of the main benefits of green tea, EGCG has been highlighted by a study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology as being able to prevent infections, including the HIV virus. EGCG binds with CD4 immune system T-cell receptors and stops HIV from doing the same to reduce the risk of infection. While it is still way too early to peg green tea as a cure for HIV, an Egyptian study has shown that combining antibiotics with green tea significantly boosts the effectiveness of the antibiotic. In fact, when tested against 28 disease-causing microorganisms, green tea enhanced the bacteria killing power in every single case.
12. Reduces and prevents acne. Green tea benefits acne in a number of different ways. It’s antibacterial properties attack and kill the acne bacteria while the anti-inflammatory benefits of green tea reduce the swelling and redness. Antioxidants fight against free radicals which damage the skin and make it more susceptible to acne also help to balance hormone levels to help prevent future breakouts from happening.
13. Slows the aging process to prevent wrinkles. One of the latest benefits of green tea is the effect it has on your skin and the aging process. It is again down to the antioxidants that prevent cell oxidation and damage that can make you look older than you really are. Studies are mixed on this particular green tea benefit as new research has come to light which suggests the full benefits can only be had by applying green tea topically to your skin. However, many people have found that potent green tea extracts do have a positive effect on their skin, leaving it softer, more supply and younger looking.

So yeah, I see how it’s worth it to imbibe in it once in a while. For me, it’s easier to do so if it’s in a icy, sweet, minty & refreshing form like this granita.

Despite Mark Bittman being annoying, this recipe went over big on a super hot June day when I was at a loss as to what kind of dessert to make. Thanks Mark. Or actually, thanks to the real author of the recipe, Freya Bellin.

MINTY GREEN TEA & HONEY GRANITA

Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 green tea bags, or 2 tablespoons loose green tea
  • ¼ cup fresh mint
  • ¼ cup honey, or more as needed
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Directions:

  1. Bring 3 cups water almost to a boil. Add the tea and mint, cover, and turn off the heat. Let steep for 10 minutes, then strain to remove the solids. Stir in the honey and lemon juice. Taste and add more honey if necessary to make a nicely sweet blend.
  2. Pour the mixture into a shallow glass or ceramic pan and freeze for at least 2 hours, stirring to break up the crystals every 30 minutes or so. It should be slushy and crunchy with ice crystals.
  3. If the granita becomes too hard, pulse it (do not puree) in a food processor before serving, or set it in the fridge for a bit and stir once in a while to bring back the desired texture.

Keep in mind, as it freezes it will lose some sweetness, so add the honey accordingly. Also, you could do this with almost any kind of tea, herbal or otherwise. Granita lends itself so well to almost any kind of flavor or liquid. I used fresh lemon juice to make lemon granita, and I used P♥M Wonderful pomegranate juice & orange juice to make pomegranate granita last year, just take off from that stepping stone. Next time I think I’ll try a black tea with some lemon & sugar. Or maybe the traditional almond… mmm.

….

Garnished with fresh mint (as I garnish all the granita’s I make), it’s a deliciously refreshing summer treat, that you don’t need to sweat your balls off in a hot kitchen to make. Those cute little glasses are from Ikea & they’re drinking glasses, but a perfect size for serving granita, mini-parfaits or ice cream.

P♥M Wonderful granita.

The folks at P♥M Wonderful recently e-mailed me again, asking me to make some more delicious recipes using their pomegranate juice. So of course, I obliged. Last time, I made these white chocolate pomegranate cupcakes, so this time I wanted to stay away from cupcakes. Being that it was full-blown 103° record-breaking summertime weather, I thought something cold would be more appropriate. Like granita!

Granita is:

Granita (in Italian also granita siciliana) is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily, although available all over Italy (but granita in Sicily is somewhat different from the rest of Italy), it is related to sorbet and italian ice. However, in most of Sicily, it has a coarser, more crystalline texture. Food writer Jeffrey Steingarten says that “the desired texture seems to vary from city to city” on the island; on the west coast and in Palermo, it is at its chunkiest, and in the east it is nearly as smooth as sorbet. [1] This is largely the result of different freezing techniques: the smoother types are produced in a gelato machine, while the coarser varieties are frozen with only occasional agitation, then scraped or shaved to produce separated crystals.

Basically, to the untrained eye & palate, it’s like an italian ice, just not as smooth. I made a coarse lemon sorbet a few years back and it was so good, I decided to do something like that, but with pomegranate.

So I was sitting there wondering what exactly I would make, what kind of pomegranate ice/sorbet/granita I would create, what other flavors to add, etc. Then I remembered this recipe. I’m one of those people who prints out recipes all day and then loses them. I find recipes for everything from homemade bread to cupcakes to Italian meringue to fried chicken and print them out, with all intentions of using them, and then they disappear. I have no idea where, probably with the socks that go missing from the dryer. And this was one of those that I didn’t personally print, but my mother gave to me, asking me to make it. I lost it, found it again, and then promptly lost it for a final time. So I searched for it on the internet and whattaya know? I found it! Big thanks to Brett Moore at about.com for this. It’s originally a recipe for flourless chocolate cakes with pomegranate granita, but being that the temperature was well over 100° the day I made it, I opted to go with just the granita.

This is a coarse granita, as you can see.


P♥M WONDERFUL GRANITA

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups P♥M Wonderful pomegranate juice (or 7 pomegranates to make 3 cups juice)
  • 1/3 cup of sugar or more, to taste
  • 1/3 cup orange juice

Directions:

  1. If using P♥M Wonderful juice, set aside 3 cups of it (I used 3- 8 oz bottles of it). If using pomegranates, juice the pomegranates by cutting them in half and using a citrus reamer or juicer. Alternatively, scoop out the seeds and press out the juice through a sieve. Save some of the seeds to use as garnish if you want.
  2. In a bowl combine the pomegranate juice, sugar, and orange juice. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and add more sugar if you like it sweeter. Remember that freezing will dull the sweetness somewhat.
  3. Pour the mixture into a 9 by 13 inch pan or dish, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and place in freezer. Let the liquid freeze solid, about 3 to 4 hours. Break up the ice into large chunks and place into a bowl. Break the ice into smaller pieces with a mixer or fork (about pea size). Return the granita to the pan, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and return to freezer. Freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.

Since I didn’t use pomegranates and I used the P♥M Wonderful juice instead, I had no arils to garnish it with. So instead I used fresh mint from my garden (which I posted about a few days ago). This is so easy to make, and it sounds so impressive, it’s perfect for a summer party. Its as easy as mixing ingredients in a bowl, slapping them in a pan and popping it in the freezer, and when it’s really hot & you don’t feel like baking, it’s an quick fix to satisfy your sweet tooth (without having to own an ice cream maker, which I now do! Jay got me an early birthday present so now I have this!!).

Fresh Lemon Sorbet & handmade goodies!

Ahh, lemon sorbet. Does lemon sorbet even need an introduction? Does lemon sorbet in this weather need a reason?

No -but I’ll give it one. I was walking on my “fitness walk” last night, sweating, craving lemon ice. Really good lemon ice, like Lemon Ice King of Corona lemon ice… but better. Creamy, smooth lemon ice. Then it occurred to me: lemon sorbet. I thought, “Self, that sounds pretty awesome.” So, not being the kind of gal who just wishes she had lemon sorbet, I made myself some.

Lemon ice is my favorite kind of ice, and that goes for sorbet too. I love lemon flavor (and scent). This was super easy and really good. It requires no mixers, no ice cream makers, none of that. However it tastes like a lot more work goes into it, so when you make it tell people you slaved over it all day. Or, tell the truth and say “It was nothing.” They probably won’t believe you anyway and you’ll look like a genius. “I make my own lemon sorbet.” I mean really, how good does that sound? It’s actually more granita-ish in texture than sorbet… but whatever.

LEMON SORBET

Get these things together:

  • 1/3 cup lemon zest
  • 1 cup strained fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ½cups sugar
  • 1 ½ cups water*

Then you will:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar and water until sugar dissolves. Add lemon zest. Stir until mixture comes to a boil; boil 2 minute.
  2. Add the lemon juice, stir well. Remove from heat, cool, and strain. Pour cooled mixture into a shallow container, cover, and freeze overnight.
  3. Pour into container, cover, and place mixture in the freezer.
  4. When it is semi-solid, mash it up with a fork and refreeze again. When frozen, place in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Cover and refreeze until serving time.

NOTE: Can be prepared 3 days in advance. Cover and keep frozen.

Supposedly makes 8 servings. I garnished the servings with fresh mint, but you could use lemon slices, candied lemon rind, whatever. Or leave them plain.

*I actually used more water, maybe another cup and a half? I wanted to make more servings, I doubted that this recipe could make 8. Obviously I’m insane, because it does indeed and now I have like a gallon of this stuff. Well not really a gallon but a big ass Tupperware full. Not like its going to go to waste or anything though..

Let me just state for the record; its so much cooler to be the type of chick that actually makes her own sorbet than to be the kind of chick who thinks its cooler to buy it.

I left it chunky and icy, partially because I was too lazy to blender-ize it and partially because I just really wanted to eat some right away, but if you ran it through the blender, then scooped it out you’d get a smoother sorbet. This way, it was more like an icee or whatever.

I’d also like to take this time to make you all jealous again, because the ever-so-talented-with-a-needle-and-thread Yoyo sent me a set of awesome coasters she made, and…. they match my Coke Zero cans! Coke Zero is my crack, in case you didn’t know.

Look at the cold, frosty goodness of that can!


I’m fairly sure if doctors were to do intense testing on me they’d discover that inside my veins flows ice cold Coke Zero. Which would actually explain a lot. But anyway… enough about me. I love my coasters! Seriously, how cute are they? Thank you so much Yoyo! If you wanna buy some of Yoyo’s awesomeness for yourself, go to her Artfire shop by clicking here.