21 May 2012

A Sicilian Summer Breakfast: Tris di Granita con Brioche


I know it's not summer yet but with all the ice creams floating around the food blogs, I couldn't resist making something cold and fruity on my own.  I have yet to take out my ice cream maker so ice creams are not in the plan.  Whipping up Asian dishes the past days caught me in a coconut scented kitchen to the distress of the noses of my children.  So I thought, something familiar is in order this time.  Sicilian.


It was another Saturday with foiled plans of going out because of so many things to catch up on at home.   I dedicated my Friday night and Saturday morning creating my husband's and my childhood breakfast treats.  Taho, from my memories as a child, is a mixture of warm soft tofu with vanilla syrup and tapioca pearls, which I posted yesterday.  My husband's fondness for his summer breakfasts in Sicily as a child is evident when he speaks about granita di gelsi neri (black mulberry granita) or granita al limone (lemon granita) with brioche. 


If I had been lingering on happy thoughts of my childhood the past days and with a breakfast that brought me profound feelings of my youth, I wanted him to be equally thrilled with what I prepared for him.   I wanted to see the same animated expression when he has his own breakfast.   I made him a platter of tris di granita con brioche (trio of granita with brioche). 


Black mulberries are close to impossible to finding in Rome so it's something I couldn't recreate for him. As an alternative, I decided on bilberries which I found at the supermarket the other day.  I gave up my very last (but worth splurging on) pack of Bronte pistachios to make the second granita and some almond milk for the third one.  


I can still taste the two versions of almond granita I had in Avola, Sicily last summer.  I had one with toasted almonds and the other one with normal almonds. Both were incredibly delicious.  If Bronte is known for its pistachios, Avola is well-known for its almonds.  


Last summer's trip to Sicily established not just my husband's but the whole family's dependence on a glassful of granita al limone and granita di gelsi neri with the very soft brioche to start the day, my one and a half year-old daughter included. My husband's relatives were amused at the amount of granita we were consuming.  I never even thought that I would like something so cold and sour first thing in the morning. 


I invested my night and morning to come up with these remarkable granite.  Let me tell you what I think is the best among the three. Not being a big pistachio person, I have completely fallen in love with the Bronte pistachio version.  I think the kind of pistachios I used contributed to its outstanding flavor and color.  The granita came out so intense and almost creamy.  

My husband preferred the granita di mirtilli because of its proximity in taste and color to the black mulberry.  The almond granita is very light and fresh.  I wondered if it's because I used the ready made almond milk even if I chose a Sicilian one.  The best almond milk to use is the one you prepare on your own or panetto di pasta di mandorle (almond paste brick).


In making the granita, I normally use the ice cream maker to help break apart the ice especially if I know that I cannot mix it every half an hour.  I churn it in the ice cream maker for just a few minutes (not a full cycle like the ice cream) then put it in the freezer.  

The granite in Sicily are normally creamy, a consistency that you can get when you mix it with stiff egg whites.  After the granita freezes, take it out from the freezer and put it in a blender to break it apart.  Add stiff egg whites (of 1 - 2 eggs, depending on the amount of granita that you have) and mix well.  Put it back in the freezer.   Technically, a granita is just a mixture of sugar, water and fruit but the egg whites give the creaminess.  Some people put them and some don't.  I still haven't tried putting egg whites in mine.  I might do it the next time to find out.  

I hope you enjoyed this trio of granita.  If ever you do these three, tell me what flavor you prefer the most.  

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Granita di Pistacchio di Bronte (Bronte Pistachio Granita)

Ingredients:
Serves 4
  • 600 ml. water
  • 200 grams pistachios of Bronte (or any other type of pistachios), powdered in a blender or in a bean grinder.  (I used a coffee grinder.)
  • 200 grams sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
Directions:
  1. Boil the water and sugar in a saucepan on low fire until the sugar melts.  Make sure it doesn't boil.  Let it cool.
  2. When it has reached room temperature, add the almond milk.  Mix well.
  3. Add the powdered pistachios.  Mix well.
  4. Put the mixture in the freezer and mix every half an hour until it's ready to be served.  You can also put it in an ice cream maker just enough to break the ice crystals then continue freezing in the freezer. 

Granita di Mirtilli (Bilberry Granita)

Ingredients:
Serves 4
  • 500 ml. water
  • 1 kilo blueberries
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 200 grams sugar
  1. Boil the water and sugar in a saucepan on low fire until the sugar melts.  Make sure it doesn't boil.  Let it cool.
  2. Meantime, crush the blueberries with a hand blender.    Add the lemon juice and mix well.  Filter the mixture with a sieve. 
  3. When the syrup has reached room temperature, add the filtered blueberry juice.  Mix well.
  4. Put the mixture in the freezer and mix every half an hour until it's ready to be served.  You can also put it in an ice cream maker just enough to break the ice crystals then continue freezing in the freezer.  

Granita di Mandorle (Almond Granita)


Ingredients:
Serves 4
  • 350 ml. water
  • 500 ml. almond milk (good quality)
  • 200 g. sugar
  1. Boil the water and sugar in a saucepan on low fire until the sugar melts.  Make sure it doesn't boil.  Let it cool.
  2. When the syrup has reached room temperature, add almond milk.  Mix well.
  3. Put the mixture in the freezer and mix every half an hour until it's ready to be served.  You can also put it in an ice cream maker just enough to break the ice crystals then continue freezing in the freezer. 

Brioche

Ingredients:
Makes 6
  • 250 grams manitoba flour 
  • 250 grams flour "00" + some for sprinkling
  • 3 eggs 
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 15 grams  fresh baker's yeast (lievito di birra)
  • 70 grams sugar
  • 175 ml. milk + about a tablespoon for brushing the brioche
  • 15 grams honey
  • 80 grams softened butter
  • 8 grams salt
Directions:
  1. Crumble yeast in a small bowl.  Add a little bit of lukewarm water, about 1/4 cup.   Mix well until yeast melts.  
  2. Mix flour, sugar, honey and melted yeast in a bowl.  Mix well.  Add milk.  Add eggs one at a time.  Add salt little at a time.  And lastly, the butter.  Mix until elastic.  
  3. Sprinkle flour on wooden board for working on the dough and dust your hands with flour too.  Transfer dough to the board.  Form a ball by getting the dough from the outer part, folding it inwards.  
  4. Put the dough in a bowl and cover with a plastic wrap.  Leave it in the fridge overnight.
  5. The following morning, take it out from the fridge for at least an hour to reach room temperature.
  6. Dusting flour on your hands, fold the dough again by getting the outer part, folding it inwards.  
  7. Divide the dough to 6 parts (weighing approximately 70 g.) for the brioche and other 6 parts (weighing approximately 10 g.) for the little balls on top. 
  8. Shape the little balls.  Set aside.  Shape them to 6 big balls with a little crater in the middle to put the little balls.  
  9. Line them up in a baking pan covered with parchment paper.  
  10. Cover with a plastic wrap inside the oven with the light on at an average temperature of 30 degrees Celsius to make it rise.  You can also leave it in warm place.  Leave for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours until the size has doubled.   
  11. Whisk egg yolk and the remaining milk, about a tablespoon.
  12. Brush this mixture on top of all the brioche.  
  13. Put back the brioche in the pre-heated oven at 190 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes or until they have attained a rich golden color.







12 comments:

  1. What a beautiful trio of granita, and your brioche looks delicious - can't wait to try it!

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  2. Gorgeous post! I'd love to try almond granita because it's my favorite nuts. Your creative food styling always amazes me. While I'm searching for some stuff to take a picture with, I bet you are done with photo shoot! Love how colorful these are and very cheerful!

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    1. The almond's great too Nami, just the mildest among the three. Thanks!

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  3. I would have never thought of granita for breakfast. But I love all the fruit and flavors you used. The almond one sounds like the first one I would like to try, but by husband would want the pistachio! Great post!

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    1. Erin, I never thought this is breakfast too until I met my husband and went to Sicily to see and experience for myself. The pistachio is ultimate. I think any pistachio lover will love it. Thanks!

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  4. Love all of the vibrant color and flavorful recipes! The bilberry is quite intriguing. I love making ice creams but have less experience with granitas. Pinning now, so I can make one of these during the warm upcoming days of summer. Have a wonderful week ahead.

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    1. Bilberries, blueberries, they're practically the same. I was stuck with the translation actually. Bilberries are indigenous to Europe and blueberries to North America so I assumed these are bilberries. Sigh. Translation problems. Making granita is much simpler than ice cream Lisa. You should try it. Thanks!

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  5. I couldn't bookmark this post quickly enough. Love all the flavors you've shared here but I'm especially interested in the almond granita. It just sounds so, so good! As usual, love your styling. :)

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    1. Everyone likes the almond granita. :-) It has a wonderful, mild flavor that's very refreshing. Thanks Jean!

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  6. A trio of granitas would hit the spot for breakfast on a hot Summer morning, very pretty and refreshing;-)

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    1. It's really a perfect breakfast for those coming hot mornings!

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