Do you need a relatively easy, light and breezy dessert? Are you enough of a zealous host that beyond a dessert, what you really are hankering for is a ‘pre-desser’t palate cleanser to add to your repertoire? Do you need something that is refreshing and handily happens to be dairy free/ gluten free/ refined sugar free/ nut free/ paleo to feed the chaotic constellation of dietary requirements that are descending to your table this holiday season? Or, is it just 3 pm, stinking hot, you’re the size of a small elephant, with a rogue rockmelon on the kitchen bench and you’re trying not to get too friendly again with the tub of chocolate ice cream in the freezer again? If any of these apply, I think I – and this granita can help. If you’re in a hurry, skip straight to the recipe at the bottom. If you have time for the mental meanderings of a heavily pregnant woman, read on.
This week it’s all about rockmelons. That’s what we’re up to in this edition of #PoppyseedtoPumpkin. My daughter-to-be is the dimension of one and we’re limping towards the end of this process. Literally limping, as this nerve in my leg continues to play up, to great entertainment as I’m occasionally felled in public/ discomfort.
Last week was a big one. A few days of sweltering temperatures, the toddler passing on his hacking cough and lurgy to me, Christmas errands to finish, some work to tie up, plus a wedding I was very excited about. And now it’s time to wind down and start to wait it out. There should be more quiet time sitting on the couch resting bowls of soft food on the crest of my belly. There are tiny dresses and wraps to wash and fold. There’s not much room left in the freezer. Opening it makes The Hungry One shallow breathe. I keep reassuring him the fact it’s crammed is a GOOD thing, though he’s terrified it’s all going to topple out and he’ll be trapped for days under 17 ziplock bags crammed with slow braises.
But at least there’s still room in there for this granita. This granita has saved me on stickily hot afternoons, when my body is crying out for iced treats, yet my head tells me that I really need to keep it under control. It’s as refreshing as an icey pole, yet has the novelty of being able to be eaten with a spoon. I’ve leaned on rockmelon, but it would work just as well with honeydew, pineapple or watermelon. The lime in it isn’t essential, but it does add a note of acidity that helps keep things at the adult end of the table.
If I was in a hosting frame of mind, I’d be tempted to serve this as either a scroppino base (scroppino being a dangerously addictive Venetian cocktail/dessert where lemon sorbet is topped with some vodka and prosecco) – as a cocktail or a light dessert. It would also be lovely with some good quality vanilla or coconut ice cream, or portioned over the top of some panna cotta for temperature and textural contrast.
Yet, I’m not quite there. So instead I’ll have another glass of it while wrapping the last of the presents and beginning the process of taking things one day at a time.
Here are a few other things that are going on:
Listening: A nice palate cleanser from Christmas carols and my go-to Sunday morning, reading the papers classical music compilation is a good rendition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. I’m currently loving this version with Takako Nishizaki on violin.
Reading: this piece from the Australian comedians behind ‘The Katering Show’ and some sage Christmas advice . Read/giggle here. Excellent for a bit of perspective.
Watching: Because we are complete masochists, we took Will to see a Wiggles show/ Arena style spectacular over the weekend.
A blisteringly hot Saturday, a 1 hr plus drive out to Homebush and joining a throng of 9000 other parents and toddlers to sit through an hour of Wiggles songs and dances. Not our finest moments. Will loved it to start, but then it was just too far away for him to really engage . Our greatest takeaway from the event was a squalling tantrum that lasted at least half of the journey home after we decided that beyond the $12 price tag, the 20 minute queue to purchase a Wiggles branded balloon was beyond us. Apparently we are the World’s Worst Parents. In all honesty, if we’d set fire to $150, Will probably would have had a better time watching the flame. You live and learn.
Eating: Glorious food at The Bather’s Pavilion for the wedding of one of my oldest friends (my godmother’s daughter- that kind of counts as family, right?). It was the most beautiful of days.
I’m still swooning over the entree I snaffled; confit Hiramasa Kingfish with beluga lentils, tomato, shaved fennel and olives. It’s a pristine flavour combination that just works. I’m looking forward to a version of it at home sometime soon.
Making: Will and I had a baking session last Friday of two of my favourite Christmas cakes (which just happen to be gluten/dairy free/ paleo friendly etc).
This year they’re heavy on the goji berries, because I bought two bags once when they were on sale and it turns out that Will had a little party in the pantry one day last week and got access to the raisins while I was hanging out the washing and ate most of them – and then I wondered why he was bouncing off the walls for the rest of the day. This is a simple muddle and mix cake, it freezes well and is even better when rumpled through vanilla or chocolate ice cream and frozen as a Christmas Cake Ice Cream Terrine (not paleo ;)). Recipe here.
Also taking advantage of the advent of stone fruit season in Australia and making another batch of stonefruit cordial/bellini base for summer sipping/gifting. It’s a recipe I developed for Harris Farm and it’s a real keeper. Find it here.
Kicking myself: I only just discovered when getting some photos printed for Christmas presents that many camera stores will print high res images as jigsaw puzzles. Will is going through a HUGE puzzle phase at the moment and I briefly thought I was on a complete winner for Christmas and could get a glorious photo of his beloved big cousins printed as a puzzle. Puzzles + his cousins? His Christmases really WOULD come all at once. Except it takes up to 2 weeks for them to be printed. Dang. But, birthday present, sorted.
Rockmelon and Lime Granita
1 rockmelon/cantaloupe, seeded and skinned (approx 700 g of rockmelon flesh)
3 tbsp honey/rice malt syrup
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Here’s how we roll
(Nb, you will need to start this recipe at least 4 hours prior to serving).
1 Place the rockmelon flesh, lime juice and sweetener in a strong blender or food processor.
2 Blend until smooth.
3 Pour into a freezer-safe baking sheet, approx the size of an A4 sheet of paper. Place in the freezer.
4 After 2 hours remove from the freezer and use a fork to scrape and fluff up the puree, redistributing any ice crystals or frozen bits (the outside will be more frozen than the centre). Return to the freezer for another hour.
5. After another hour of freezing, repeat the scraping and fluffing. You should have fine granules of rockmelon-snow. If not, then return to the freezer for another hour. Once the granita is fluffed it can be stored in the freezer until serving.
6. To serve portion into glasses and top with a little lime zest. Serve straight away. You could also top with sparkling wine or sparkling water for a slushie style cocktail/mocktail, or serve with vanilla or coconut ice cream.
Previously in Poppyseed to Pumpkin
Each week mad websites and baby books will tell you how big your baby now is in comparison to a seed, fruit or vegetable. It starts as a poppy seed and goes from there. To make this process a little more palatable, join me as I bake my way through. Here’s the journey so far. (Nb, you can also see the poppy seed to pumpkin process in the app, or ebook from my first pregnancy with Will, or read about it on the blog here.)