Monday, 29 July 2013

CHAI COFFEE GRANITA WITH MINT BASIL STRAWBERRY SOUP


I’m not much of a coffee drinker. I never have been and most probably, never will be. In spite of that though, and admittedly somewhat strangely, I find the smell of coffee to be entirely pleasing and I absolutely adore coffee in food. Give me tiramisu any day. I suppose that is where the idea for this dish came from. I wanted to come up with something that packed that aromatic coffee punch, but was refreshing in the midst of the muggy Toronto summer. What could be better than a coffee granita? I think of this dish as a grown up version to the cherry flavored snow cones I had as a young boy in primary school back in Guyana. I got that stuff on my white shirt almost every day, much to the dismay of my mother who seemed to be progressively less enchanted by my boyish untidiness. Anyway, I digress; in order to add some depth to the coffee I decided to derive from the ever popular South Asian chai teas and infuse the trifecta of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The strawberry soup itself is clean and crisp and delicately but noticeably uplifted by the herbs. It certainly holds true to being refreshing but more than that the soup communicates the purity of a wonderful fruit. The two work, in my opinion brilliantly well together. Although not entirely traditional, the combination is certainly not culinary novelty. The truth is that the summer can at times be an assault on the senses, in all its vibrant glory. From my humble kitchen, I wanted to communicate that vibrancy to you and in some small way influence the way you experience touch, sight, feel, smell, taste, and even sound.  I hope I succeeded.

INGREDIENTS (serves 4):

BASIL MINT STRAWBERRY SOUP
  •          1kg strawberries (hulled)
  •          2 tbsp superfine sugar
  •          3 basil leaves (medium to large)
  •          2 mint leaves (medium to large)
  •          1 vanilla pod
  •          1 tbsp icing sugar

CHAI COFFEE GRANITA
  •          150ml water
  •          100g water
  •          1 cinnamon stick
  •          ½ nutmeg (seed)
  •          3 cloves
  •          ½ tbsp. orange zest
  •          500ml  fresh coffee (cooled)
TO SERVE
  •          Edible flower petals (optional)
  •          Baby mint and basil leaves (optional)

-          Roughly chop ¾ of the strawberries and place into a mixing bowl over simmering water (bain marie)
-          Add the seeds of the vanilla pod, superfine sugar, and the mint and basil leaves, and mix gently
-          Cover with cling film and leave the strawberries over the heat for 30 minutes to allow the juice to emerge
-          Remove from the heat and allow the strawberries to cool
-          Pass the liquid through a fine sieve making sure not the squeeze the pulp
-          Discard the drained strawberries and cool the reserved strawberry juice in the fridge for at least 1 hour
-          Prepare the coffee granita by first bringing the water and superfine sugar to a boil in a saucepan
-          Remove the pan from the heat and add the spices and orange zest to the dissolved sugar
-          Allow at least 1 hour for the spices to infuse
-          Pass the sugar mixture through a fine sieve to remove the spices and the orange zest and reserve the sugar solution
-          To the sugar solution, add the coffee and mix
-          Place the coffee into the freezer for 3 hours to allow the granita to freeze; mixing every 45 minutes to ensure the desired granular texture
-          15 minutes before serving halve the remaining strawberries and lightly dust with icing sugar
-          To serve, place a few of the halved strawberries on one half of a shallow serving bowl/plate
-          Scrape the granita and place desired amount on the other half, it should be about one cup in volume
-          Working quickly, add the strawberry soup to the bowl to the side of the berries, allowing it to fill the spaces on the plate
-          Add the baby mint and basil leaves and edible flower petals as desired if using
-          Serve immediately          


4 comments:

  1. Looks delicious -Must try this!

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  2. omg discard the drained strawberries?!?!? all that delicious flavour?? There has to be something one can do with them. Maybe a preserve? Maybe mash them up and coat in batter and make fritters? SOMETHING.

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  3. Its the equivalent of the remains after u squeeze an orange . .sort of. Don't worry waleed, I'm not frivolous with my ingredients. . .too poor for that ! :)

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