I am a faithful subscriber to Food Network Magazine, and as I was reading the current issue, I stumbled upon a recipe from a chef of a Miami hotel: Basil Granita in a Strawberry. Sounds tasty, and I thought it would be a nice snack to have poolside on a hot July day. However, I wanted something a little more patriotic. So I swapped the basil for blueberry, since I picked five pounds of blueberries at a local patch earlier this week. Though the recipe is simple, making these strawberries was quite an adventure...
First, I began with a variation of a simple syrup on the stove top. In a medium pot over medium-low heat, I combined 1 Cup of sugar, 2 Cups of water, 1 Cup of apple juice and 1 Cup of sparkling white wine. After bringing the syrup to a boil, I added it to the blender with 1 Cup of blueberries. It was at this point in my endeavor that I scoffed at the note in the magazine article saying to leave the lid off the blender...why on earth would someone blend something with the lid off? However, the pressure from the heated syrup causes the steam to rise, and well, explode if the lid is on. Resulting is a big, sticky mess. Believe me, I found out the hard way.
After cleaning every inch of my kitchen, I started the recipe from the beginning. After the syrup is blended with the blueberries, you can choose to strain the fruit skins from the juice, but I didn't. I wanted as much blue-ish color as I could get to attempt to be patriotic, though it all looked purple-ish anyway. At least I tried, right?
Next is the easy part. Pour the juice in a 12 inch glass or metal baking dish and freeze for at least 3 hours. It is again here where I had some discrepancies with the magazine article. Food Network suggests that you take a fork and scrape every 20 minutes, however, I found that it took a bit longer for it to actually freeze with that method. Instead, leave it alone for a few hours then bring it out for the scraping. A fork does work well for scraping the granita into a slushie form.
With the strawberries, I hollowed out each berry like the magazine said, but I also cut the bottom tip off each so they can stand up on their own. I found some rather large berries, so serving them upright seemed best. However, when we all started digging in, it really didn't matter. We didn't eat them all immediately, and I'm so glad we didn't! We tossed the platter, strawberry and granita both, into the freezer while we had a splash contest and such by the pool. When we brought them back out, they were even better as frozen strawberries too! We used them as ice cubes in our purple hooter shooters my aunt mixed. All in all, a fun day.