Hot Child, I mean, City..in the City
There is currently a heat wave sweeping through Toronto. The air conditioning was broken at work today. The only pool I have access to is located in a sauna-like-tempered-room.
This means a few different things:
1) I spent the majority of the day with a higher-than-normal body temperature.
2) My desire to turn on any form of appliance which produces heat makes me literally sick to my stomach-dinner tonight may be a problem.
3) I’m thinking of Italy again (it is an illness) but it has a purpose…I’m trying to recall how I survived the insufferable heat there..it’s giving me an idea
4) My new favorite song at the gym right now is called “We No Speak Americano” by Be Cool Yolanda…guess what I’m thinking about again…
5) I’m thinking about my trip to Sicily this summer, they’re famous for granita.
6) The idea that I have been given is this: tonight, I am going to make a granita.
Being the curious femme fraîche that I am, I did a quick Google search on the history of Sicilian granita. Anyone who has been to Italy in the summer knows that granita (‘little grains’) is abundant pretty much in every cafe and gelateria you step into…but tales are told about the superiority of Sicilian granita. Its rivaled for its freshness, its “pure, crystalline texture”. Whereas most Italian shops serve their granita with a straw, Sicilians eat their granita with a spoon, as an actual meal: literally, it is eaten for breakfast, often with brioche.
In search of an easy and tasty recipe, I went first of course to visit some of my favorite food bloggers. I’m a lover of classics so I wanted a simple lemon granita. But I’m also never satisfied with a one-ingredient dessert (my sweet tooth is always so demanding!) So the recipe that won over my heart was one I found on a blog that hits close to home: Cream Puffs in Venice. It was a post dating back to July 2008: Sugar High Friday #21: Granita al Limona con Fragole Ripiene di Mascarpona. I was drooling by the time I got to the end of the title, never mind the recipe part.
I, too, used regular lemons, as Meyer lemons were nowhere to be found at Fortinos (why am I not surprised). The end result was everything I expected (well, maybe I forgot to accommodate for the tart lemons I had and ended up with a slightly sour aftertaste). But I was still satisfied. I’m by no means skilled in the kitchen, so I always get excited when my creations pan out as the recipe dictates they should… I was happy that the liquid turned to slush at all..I would have been happy even if it was tasteless.
As I slowly but surely juiced my lemons (simultaneously burning the cuticles I neglect on all my fingers), I had Giada at Home casually playing in the background. Listening to her create some amazing Northern Italian classics (and the sound of my rumbling stomach growing louder) somehow reminded me of a recipe of hers I have wanted to try for a while but never got the chance: Open Faced Tuna Sandwich with Arugula and Pickled Mayonnaise. I knew had a tuna steak stored somewhere in one of the over packed freezers in my house, and a loaf of one of my favorites, Ace Bakery olive bread, so I was extra excited. I swapped my lemon zester for my garlic masher quicker than you can say…well, any word that Giada says with an Italian accent. Unfortunately the steak was no match for the evil Freezer Burn and didn’t look too appealing after I dug it out. So instead I opted for a not-too-shabby substitute of shrimp. I made a few changes due to several cravings I’ve been having but kept Giada’s general recipe idea.
As you can see, I there is definitely no albacore tuna there. As I mentioned, turning stove-top burners or grills on was on my Not-To-Do List this evening, so I opted for the pre-cooked deveined shrimp. Instead of the pickled mayonnaise, I used the recipe I always do when I think of aioli, lemon garlic. (This is also another recipe I got from Giada–part of her recipe for swordfish panini–something you must must definitely try at least once. Click here!) I also decided to add cucumber and yellow hot house tomatoes to compensate for the loss of substance when I made the switch from tuna steak to shrimp. I topped the sandwich off with an extra bit of the aioli (just because I love it that much).
I must say as much as I was disappointed by the bad-tuna-fiasco, this dinner was everything I had been excited about and more. It was the perfect amount of crunch from the bread, without being too top-heavy, thanks to a light protein choice, with just the perfect amount of creamy. This will definitely be repeated in future lazy sticky summer days to come!
And as for the granita, full satisfaction of my craving will have to wait for my summer a Sicilia…but this will do just fine for now.
I’d like to shout out, once again, to EC, for opening my eyes to this amazing song (coming to her courtesy of Paolo’s spinning). Intensy, it made me think of dancing in the streets of Positano (and by dancing I mean, ding ding ding happy women free-wine-bar-hopping)