I'm in the mood for grapes - California grapes, to be exact. I've been buried in Green Black Red: Recipes for Cooking and Enjoying California Grapes, an absolutely gorgeous cookbook I got last month at Camp Blogaway as a gift from the California Table Grape Commission.
Here's the thing: I want to make every single recipe in this book. Every one. Without exception. They're beautiful, they're fresh and healthy (or else luscious and decadent), and I love grapes in all forms. Green grape gazpacho! Grapes stuffed with goat cheese and pistachios! Grape and Brie fritters (be still, my heart)! Seared duck breast with black grapes and port! Slow-cooked pork chops with spiced honey and grapes!
Now do you see what I mean?
This season's California grapes are just showing up in our local markets, a little later than usual, no doubt because of the cold winter we had this year. The red grapes I bought at Bob's Market in Santa Monica this week were perfectly crisp, perfectly round, and just divine.
Green Black Red has a recipe for black grape sorbet, but I never have room in my freezer for the canister of my ice cream maker, so I'm more likely to make granita. It's a tiny bit fussy if you go to the trouble of straining out the skins, but it's the only way to get that pure icy texture. And the color, the color....
Black grape granita
- 3 cups black seedless grapes
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
Put the grapes, sugar and lemon juice into the blender. Blitz on high speed for 2 minutes. Pour the pureed grape mixture into a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl, and work the puree through with a wooden spoon or spatula so the bits of skin stay in the strainer. This may take a few minutes of stirring and pushing, but be patient.
Pour the strained grape puree into a shallow metal baking pan, pie plate or bowl. Place in the freezer and set a timer for half an hour. When it goes off, take the bowl out of the freezer, scrape all the frozen bits off the edges of the bowl or pan, and stir. Put the pan back in the freezer for another half hour, and repeat. As you do this, the mixture will turn from liquid, to frozen around the edges, to slushy, to snow. It will probably take two and a half or three hours of stirring every half-hour or so, but the more you do it, the better the texture of your granita in the end.
When the granita has achieved a true snow-like texture, move it into a sealed plastic container large enough to hold it without having to pack it down, and freeze. Eat within a few days. If the granita freezes solid (and it shouldn't, if you've done it right), let it thaw until you can mash the ice crystals with a fork, and start the freezing process anew.