Lime-Lavender Granita with Fresh Figs
I'm finally home from all of my traveling. I've never been so happy to be in my kitchen, despite the 94° forecast and no air conditioner. Something frozen, tart and a little floral is exactly what I need to get through this day. I just went to the market and bought a flat of fresh, dripping-with-juices-ripe figs. The sweetness of their nectar will balance perfectly with the lime and lavender. The use of lavender was inspired by the most magnificent plant I saw at Stephen Durfee's house in Napa, CA. Just like my rosemary, lavender is just too fragile to be anything but an annual in my yard in MN. His plant was more accurately described as a bush. The smell was intoxicating and just begged to be picked and stuck in whatever I was drinking at the time, which happened to be Pims. When I got home I looked at my little herb pot and sighed, but despite their small size my lavender was as fragrant as his. In order to use the lavender in my granita recipe, I first made a simple syrup and let the flowers steep in it like tea for several hours. Here's how, and the left over syrup is great in cocktails, drizzled on cakes, wonderful to sweeten lemonade or ice tea. Granita is like a sorbet, but instead of being smooth it is tiny, intensely flavored ice crystals. It is incredibly easy and doesn't require any special equipment or machines to make it. For the Lime Lavender Granita 1 cup fresh lime juice 1 cup cold water 1/2 cup lavender simple syrup 1 tablespoon orange blossom honey (or any other honey you just happen to have around) 3 tablespoons rum or tequila (optional) Mix all of the ingredients together and refrigerate until chilled. While the mixture is cooling, put a glass or stainless steel container in the freezer. The colder the container and ingredients are the faster the granita will set. Pour the lime mixture into the frozen container and place in the freezer. After about 45 minutes the lime mixture should start to crystallize. Take it out of the freezer and whisk it to break up the crystals. You want them to be very fine, so it is a nice texture to eat. If you allow the mixture to freeze too long without whisking you will end up with a frozen block. Now that the mixture is cold you will need to whisk after 15-20 minutes in order to get the right consistency. They should be tiny flakes of flavored ice that melt instantly in your mouth. I like to freeze the glasses or bowls that I serve it in so the ice doesn't melt too quickly on a hot day.