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Sicilian almond granita with roasted grapes

The first time I saw roasted grapes on a menu at a high-end restaurant in San Francisco, I immediately jumped to the conclusion that this is another chef gimmick. But was I wrong, they are absolutely fabulous, sweet, caramelized and so, so good!

On a tangent, frozen grapes are also fantastic. Wash the grapes, dry them out, put into a ziploc bag and freeze overnight. They are the perfect bite of refreshment and perfect healthy snack for kids, (and adults), on hot summer days.

Sicily is known to grow some of the best nuts in the world, including pistachios and almonds. The island has been cultivating magnificent almonds for centuries. More on the almonds from Sicily here.

The Italians also love bitter almonds, something that is frowned upon in India. They love the contrast between the nutty and bitter flavors. For this recipe you can use sweet almonds, but if you can find the bitter variety, add a touch of these for a nuanced flavor.

This is a super quick and simple granita that pops with flavors and is visually beautiful. The sweet delicate almond granita is brought alive with the roasted grapes. Be cautious with the drizzle of honey as a garnish, it will quickly drown out the almond flavors.

This is an amazing cookbook. It features a collection of outstanding recipes from the Moorish influence in Spanish cooking. Each recipe that I have tried is spectacular, full of wonderful flavors and unique combinations of ingredients, like this recipe. I love this cookbook and highly recommend it to those looking for unusual dishes. I have Ben Tishs' fabulous restaurant, Norma, in London, on my bucket list, I cannot wait to start traveling again!

For more recipe from this cookbook, click here.



Ingredients:

4 oz. blanched almonds, do not use te ones with skins


4 1/3 cups water

10 oz. sugar


1 bunch black grapes

Honey, to drizzle


Grind the almonds to a fine powder in a blender. Set aside.


Heat the sugar and water and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for 7 minutes till you have a light syrup. Remove from the heat and cool. You want the syrup to be sweet but not overpowering, it will drown out the subtle flavors of the almonds.


Add the almond powder to the cooled syrup and allow to steep for 4 hours, or overnight in the fridge for a more pronounced flavor.


Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 F.


Cut the grapes in half lengthwise and place on a lined baking sheet cut side up. Drizzle with the honey. Roast for about 20 minutes till the juices begin to flow and the skin is blistered. Remove and cool. Collect the roasted grapes and juices in a bowl.


Strain the almond mix and set aside the almond paste. If you are using a fine-mesh strainer, you may need to strain the syrup 2-3 times to get rid of as much of the almonds as possible. This step is important so you have a very smooth granita and do not have too many "bits" in your mouth. Alternatively, if you are using a combination of muslin cloth and a fine-mesh strainer, you may only need to strain the mix once.


NOTE: I do not believe in food waste. I kept the almond mush aside and when I tasted it was overjoyed. It is perfect just as is, or with some chocolate ice cream.


Freeze the ice cream in a machine on the ice/gelato setting or freeze in the freezer directly fluffing the ice every 1 hour with a fork till frozen, about 6-8 hours.


To serve, scoop the ice cream out into a bowl, or I like a martini glass, and top with a few grapes. Drizzle with the roasted grape juice or additional honey, just a touch.

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