Encouraging my children to cook has been a priority since they were toddlers. It started out with fun tasks like baking and decorating holiday cookies and evolved into more complicated missions such as preparing dinner. I truly believe that involving them in the kitchen has broadened their palates and motivated them to experiment with foods they would have otherwise snubbed.
Then they discovered Food Network - exciting reality cooking shows that featured complex dishes that made their mouths water and demand exotic fare in their own home! Although, I admired their desire for gourmet food, I became exhausted with pleasing their upscale tastes and demands for more spectacular dishes than just chicken or pasta. They craved Bobby Flay style grilled dishes with unique homemade salsas. Or passion fruit infused cupcakes with a cardamom cream cheese frosting from Cupcake Wars. I do love to cook and create, but there are days when just a hamburger will have to do.
When I started limiting the number of Food Network style meals I would make, my daughter took matters into her own hands. She started searching Ina Garten's recipes on Saturday mornings and having Dad procure the ingredients she needed to make her own exciting dishes. Seeing her search the Food Network website has become fairly commonplace. I have to admit she has a knack for it.
During summer vacation, with an abundance of time and fresh mint in her garden, she was on the hunt for any recipe that included this herb. The Watermelon Mint Granita she prepared was amazing. The refreshing crunchy ice mixture almost tasted like a watermelon Jolly Rancher. A bit of lime provided the hint of sour and watermelon with a touch of sugar, provided the perfect sweetness. Finished off with a hint of mint it was the perfect light dessert or palate cleanser.
As long as the kitchen's cleaned up after, I truly enjoy eating my children's food and have high hopes that they will keep refining their skills until I am completely spoiled by having others prepare meals for me.
Watermelon and Mint Granita
9 cups (about 2 1/2 pounds) seeded, cubed watermelon
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup mint, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
1/3 cup sugar
Working in 2 batches, puree watermelon in a food processor. Strain puree through a sieve and strain out solids, forcing liquid out with a wooden spoon. Discard solids. Combine the watermelon puree, lime juice, mint and sugar in a 9 by 13-inch metal pan. Place mixture in the freezer, scraping thoroughly with a fork every 20 to 30 minutes for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the granita resembles coarse crystals. Scrape 1 last time and spoon intoparfait glasses or bowls. Top with a mint sprig.