Jul 13, 2010

No Sweat Summer: Coffee Time

Any time is coffee time for me.  Even in the middle of summer.  We are coffee-crazy down here in South Louisiana and it starts at a young age.  I was a very tiny child when my great grandma would pour a tablespoon or two of coffee in a cup or deep saucer, add 2-3 times as much milk and some sugar, and hand the "coffee milk" over to me.  I'd take it with hands trembling from withdrawals (OK, not really) and gulp it down.  I promise you I wasn't the only child down here who was given coffee at a young age.  It's one of the many French influences on the culture.

If you're ever traveling across the Atchafalaya Basin, stop in at the rest area.  Sign the guest book and make those gals happy.  Then walk over to the coffee station (Community Coffee, of course).  There, you'll see a sign that says something like "children under 12 should be assisted with hot coffee."  I'm not kidding!  We just expect that everyone, no matter what the age, should be able to enjoy a good cup of coffee.  Next time I pass through, I'll have to take a picture of that.

Coffee is a huge part of our culture and there's definitely more to it than simply sitting down to drink a mug of rich, smooth, seductive brew.  Making coffee is a ritual of carefully practiced steps.  Serving it is a social event that very few refuse an invitation to.  It would be considered rude!

Many businesses around my town provide coffee for their customers.  I could head to the beauty shop to get my hair done and sip the coffee they always have going.  Next, I could stop at the bank, take care of my transactions, and stand around gabbing about how dang hot it is with the gentleman next to me while I have another cup.  Then I could go to the hardware store and pick up nails, tomato cages, kerosene, and have a cup of coffee there too.  I'd sure be buzzing around town after all that (I said I could do those things...I don't really drink all that coffee.)

People around here always have the coffee pot going throughout the day.  My neighbor across the street has invited me over for coffee at 2 o'clock in the afternoon.  My boss's mama calls her up nearly every day right before we close at 5:30 to ask if she's stopping by for coffee.  The Husband almost always has a pot of coffee ready for when I get home from work.  My Father-in-law made the best coffee and I really miss the after supper coffee he'd make on Friday nights.

Since our coffee pots run on overdrive and we make sure there's enough in case someone stops by, we're bound to have "leftover" coffee.  Personally, I can't stand drinking coffee that isn't fresh.  But I hate wasting stuff too.  A few years ago, I saw Giada De Laurentiis make espresso granita and I thought, well my dark roast Community Coffee would do just fine!  I could even use the leftovers.

So here's another No Sweat Summer treat for you: coffee granitas.  I like the blasts of cold air I get throughout the day when I open the freezer to scrape the mixture.  And I like the cold coffee fix too.

Mise en place: Very simple!  Strong coffee and sugar are all you'll need for starters.  When you're ready to eat this, you'll need heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla.  If you really want something special, have some chopped, shaved, or curled chocolate ready too.

Mix (strong) coffee with sugar until the sugar dissolves.  Pour into a large, shallow container (like a 13 x 9 pan) and freeze for 1 hour.  Carefully remove the pan (the coffee won't be frozen yet) and scrape the mixture. 

This is what the coffee will look like after the first hour.  Yes, the glass pan dangling off the edge of the counter makes me nervous too.  But I wanted you to be able to see the barely-there islands of frozen goodness just starting to form.  Look real fast so I can push my dish back from the edge!

Even if you see no point, scrape this with a fork anyway. Trust me! If you don't, in an hour when you take the mixture out and see the frozen hard crust, you'll wish you had listened.

Repeat every hour for about 4 hours total.  Don't say "What?!"  This is something you do when it's too hot out to do anything else.  You'll have the cold freezer air to look forward to every hour.

Nice and fluffy and I never broke a sweat.
Store this, covered, in the freezer til the cows come home.

Now it's time to stop playing around all day and get serious.  Make some whipped cream.  Add heavy whipping cream to a chilled bowl.  Beat until it just starts to form peaks.  Add a sprinkle of powdered sugar and a few drops of vanilla and beat until stiff peaks form.

I've learned the hard way that it's easier to cover the mixing bowl than it is to get stains from the fat in the cream out of my clothes.

Make some chocolate curls.  Or finely chop chocolate.  Heck, grate it for Pete's sake.  Just have some form of chocolate ready, OK?

Giada, being the delicate little thing that she is, serves this in champagne flutes.  Seeing as how I only have 2 of those, but an entire cabinet full of wine glasses, I went with the wine glasses.

All right.  All right.
I went with wine glasses because
they're BIGGER.

Add a couple of tablespoons of granita to each glass.  Layer on some whipped cream.  Sprinkle on some chocolate (or save it all for the top).  Repeat until the glass is full.

I'm submitting this to What's on the Menu Wednesday & Dining With Debbie.

Coffee Granita
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis/FoodNetwork

6 cups strongly brewed coffee
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream *divided, see recipe
vanilla extract
powdered sugar
dark or semi-sweet chocolate, in curls, chopped, or grated

Combine the coffee and sugar. If using leftover coffee, warm it enough to dissolve the sugar. Pour into a 13 by 9-inch pan or other shallow container. Place in the freezer. After one hour scrape the mixture with a fork. There will be very little ice to scrape, but do it anyway! Place the mixture back in the freezer and scrape again after another hour. Repeat every hour for a total of 4-5 hours.

Have a chilled mixing bowl and beaters ready. When you are ready to serve, make whipped cream with the cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla. If you aren’t using all of the granita, don’t use the full amount of cream; whipped cream does not keep.

For 2 servings, pour about 1/2 c cream into the chilled bowl. Beat until peaks just start to form. Sprinkle in a little powdered sugar and add a couple of drops of vanilla. Beat until stiff peaks form.

Add about 2 tablespoons of granita to each of two wine glasses. Carefully spoon on whipped cream. If desired, sprinkle chocolate on top (or save the chocolate for the end). Repeat for a total of 2-3 layers per glass, ending with chocolate. Serve right away.

Remaining granita can be stored, covered, in the freezer for about 2 months.


Purple Passion

M @ Betty Crapper sent me another award: The Sunshine Award.

Recently I was shopping for some pajamas and came across a set that had "Little Miss Sunshine" written all over them.  Well, this made me snort out loud in the store!  I laughed at the thought of me wearing pajamas that advertised this type of sentiment...especially before I've had my coffee.

Here are some blogs that have brought me some sunshine by making me laugh/smile:
The Kitchen Witch
Deep South Dish


  1. I love your stories so much. I too grew up drinking coffee, or rather cafe, from a very young age. My breakfast every single morning as far back as I can remember was toasted pan cubano (Cuban bread) with lots of butter that I dunked in a large mug of cafe con leche. That was the standard breakfast of every Cuban child I knew in MIami. On weekends my Abuelo would take me to the panaderia (bakery) to pick up pan and pastelitos. He would get a cafecito (shot of Cuban coffee) for each of us. I don't know if my mother knew about that!

    Your granita looks like the perfect treat to cool you down on a hot, humid summer afternoon. I have to make me some soon. I'll let you know if I remember to stir every hour.

  2. Thanks! I enjoy your stories too and often find myself amazed over the parallels I notice. I loved reading what you posted above about your childhood. My great grandma used to serve a buttery toasted bread w/ coffee too, but this stems from a French influence instead of Cuban like yours. I wrote about it (of course) here http://msenplace.blogspot.com/2009/08/simple-things.html

  3. This looks gorgeous in the wine glasses! And I love that this is something you can make with leftover coffee-such a fun treat:) I also like the difference in texture between the whipped cream and the granita.

    Did the boy like it?

  4. Yes, he liked it! Although I gave him more whipped cream than granita. He's not a huge fan of coffee. I'm not sure he's really my child.

  5. Yumm, this looks so refreshing for a summer dessert. I didn't grow up on coffee, but I do so love it, especially with whipped cream.
    PS Please stop by my blog (http://judyskitchen.blogspot.com) and enter my $70 giveaway. Deadline is Sun., 7/25 midnight.

  6. I love coffee too, although I didn't grow up on it, my parents never drank it and my grandparents did, but they never shared with me. We've had days over 100 here lately, so the iced coffee sounds great. (no humidity tho..a nice thing about Nevada)

  7. I also posted the award you gave me and wrote "10 things" about myself.
    Thank you!!

  8. This looks lovely! I only just started drinking coffee in the last few years, but I LOVE the stuff. Of course, I put so much sugar and cream in my coffee I couldn't tell you how old the coffee was.


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