I mentioned before that our trip to Sicily was a real foodie experience. There were so many things we enjoyed but, without doubt, our favourite was Granita con Panna e Brioche. My friend Manuela, whose family are Sicilian, firmly instructed us to order this for breakfast on our very first day. I have found that it is always best to obey Italians when it comes to food – it rarely leads to disappointment! So, our very first breakfast in Sicily looked something like this.
Granita is an icy snack that comes in a variety of flavours: coffee, chocolate, fruit, almond or pistacchio. It can be served “con Panna” (with cream). This is what I tried first – mostly because Manuela told me that for breakfast, granita is “nothing without cream”! The brioche is a soft, fragrant roll that has a very light glaze on the top. Granita and brioche can be eaten as a snack any time of day but is commonly eaten for breakfast.
As with so many things in Italy, there were different versions of Granita in different regions. We stayed near Taormina and the Granita served there was fairly “crunchy”, with lots of ice crystals. When we went to visit our friends only one hour away in Catania however, we discovered that the signature Granita there – Pistacchio – had a smooth ice cream like consistency. Pistacchio Granita in Catania is now probably in my top five most amazing food experiences! We will be returning soon, I hope.
Now we are back in Northern Italy and the temperature is steadily rising, my husband and I find ourselves craving Granita and Brioche on a fairly regular basis. I decided that, although making the brioche might not be possible just now, there was no reason why I couldn’t give making Granita a whirl! I have tried it a few times now and I have been pleasantly surprised to find that it is fairly easy.
I don’t have an ice cream maker so I decided that I would stick with the “Taormina” style Granita. The good thing about making Granita is that it requires few ingredients or equipment. Yesterday, I made Lemon Granita for the two of us and this is all I needed (plus a little water from the kettle). The main thing needed for Granita is time. The preparation is very quick but you will need to check in on it regularly whilst it freezes over a couple of hours. It is the perfect thing to be making if, like me yesterday, you are pottering around at home.
A shallow dish is necessary for this recipe. It needs to be large enough to allow all of the liquid to reach a depth of no more than two or three centimetres to assist with the freezing process.
I started off by zesting just one of the lemons straight onto the dish.
I then cut all of the lemons in half and squeezed the juice into the dish.
I added a little water from the recently boiled kettle and some sugar and stirred until the sugar dissolved. It is necessary to taste at this point to make sure you have the flavour you want. I was advised that, before the freezing process, the liquid should taste slightly stronger and sweeter than you will want the finished result to be. I added about 100 ml of water and about two tablespoons of sugar which made two small but quite lemony servings. You might want to add more water to the same amount of lemons to make a larger quantity.
The dish is then popped in the freezer and left for at least 40 mins. It then gets taken out and giving a stir to break up the ice crystals that will have formed and then put back in the freezer. Make sure you scrap the corners of the dish because that will be where most of the crystals have formed.
This is process is repeated every half hour until the Granita looks something like this. Times do vary but this one took a couple of hours.
I then transferred it to glasses and served it immediately.
The perfect thing for cooling down.
Now I just need to learn how to make brioche!