Carole & Simone Talk to Chef Gabrielle Hamilton
Plus Melon Granita Recipe
Carole Kotkin is a syndicated Miami Herald food columnist and co-author of “MMMMiami – Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere.” She is also the manager of The Cooking School at The Ocean Reef Club, food editor for “The Wine News” magazine, and co-host of “Food and Wine Talk” on southfloridagourmet.com.
Simone Zarmati Diament is editor-in-chief and publisher of www.SouthFloridaGourmet.com and founder of The South Florida Gourmet, a publication focusing on food, restaurant and wine news, dining entertainment, wines, spirits and travel.
Gabrielle Hamilton has been the chef and owner of Prune, a popular American 30-seat restaurant in New York City’s East Village, since 1999. During this time, the well-known chef also earned an MFA in fiction writing from the University of Michigan, something she put to use in writing her first book (which has already reached No. 2 on the New York Times bestseller list), the aptly titled Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef. She recently won the James Beard Award (the Oscars of the food world) for Best Chef New York City. Her memoir is the story of a life intertwined with food. And yet, there are no recipes laid out neatly at the end of each chapter, nor any long erotic descriptions of long simmered sauces. Blood, Bones & Butter is more than a history of a noted chef’s rise to prominence in the toughest of all American dining scenes, New York City, but instead a recap of the 45-year-old writer, mother and restaurant owner’s life.
In keeping with Gabrielle’s philosophy to “keep it simple,” here’s my recipe for an easy summer refresher:
Granita, the earliest form of frozen dessert, tastes like a bowl of summer’s most succulent fruits, only more concentrated and much colder. This summertime treat is easy to make and doesn’t require any special equipment. A fork, a baking pan, and a freezer are all that’s needed. It’s a classic Italian ice whose texture of ice crystals is slightly more granular than that of the standard sorbet (the name means literally ‘grained’ or ‘granular’). There are almost no limitations on flavors; they can be summer fruits like peaches, blackberries and nectarines, citrus fruits or spices, and herbs, or chocolate and coffee. The process is simple, just puree, season and freeze. Each time ice crystals begin to form, the mixture is scraped with a fork and the process is repeated until the liquid is frozen. By scraping the ice, rather than preparing a classic sorbet or sherbet, you get a texture that’s crunchy but melts almost immediately as you taste it. These fun-to-make light ices are gorgeous served anytime–as a starter, between-course refresher, or dessert.
Serves 4 to 6
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 ripe fragrant honeydew melon (about 5 pounds); or 2 cantaloupes (about 3 pounds each); or 3 pounds ripe watermelon
- pinch of salt
- Juice of 1 lemon
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Cool completely.
Cut melon in half and scoop out seeds. Cut flesh away from rind and slice flesh. Place in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add the sugar mixture, salt and lemon juice and mix. You should have about 6 cups.
Pour the granita mixture into a wide and shallow container to a depth of ¼ inch.
Place uncovered in the freezer. Every 30 minutes, remove the dish from the freezer and scrape the ice with a fork, mixing it from the edges into the center.
Repeat this scraping and mixing process until the mixture is almost completely frozen but still grainy, 2 to 3 hours.
When ready to serve place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to soften slightly, then “rake” with a fork to loosen the granita, and spoon into serving dishes.