Peristyle, one of my favorite restaurants back home, was founded by Chef-owner John Neal, who unfortuately passed away in 1995. His former sous-chef Anne Kearney took over the restaurant, and while keeping his spirit and creativity alive, has made the restaurant her very own. I recently read in the Times-Picayune that the last of Chef Neal's own dishes had finally been taken off the menu, with Peristyle's current menu being entirely the work of Chef Kearney. I don't think this dish is still on the menu, but we offer it here in memory of Chef Neal, one of New Orleans' truly great culinary artists.
[UPDATE, 2004: Sadly, Chef Kearney's health forced her to sell Peristyle, which is now run by Chef Gene Wolfe. I understand a few of Anne Kearney's dishes remain, and I haven't had a chance to go back, but from what I've heard it's a mostly different menu now.]
The very best apple juice to use for this granita/sorbet is Martinelli's, or any other apple juice similar to that one -- 100% pure apple juice from fresh apples, no concentrates, no sweeteners, no additives.
In a blender, puree apple juice and tarragon until tarragon is completely blended. Pour blended juice in deep sided container and place egg (in shell) in liquid. Begin pouring simple syrup in juice until egg floats to the top and the top is exposed about the size of a nickel. (This is called the egg test and will ensure the right amount of sugar for taste and proper freezing.)
- 1 quart clear apple juice (unfiltered apple juice makes for a cloudy granita)
- 1 ounce fresh tarragon
- Simple syrup (Equal parts sugar and water, boiled for approximately two minutes and allowed to cool. Make a quart or two and keep it on hand if you're going to make sorbets or granitas often.)
Pour juice in shallow container and freeze overnight. When ready to serve, scrape granita with fork and scoop with an ice cream scoop. Alternately, you may pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze into sorbet. Makes a delightful and elegant summer dessert.
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Chuck Taggart (e-mail chuck)