Friday, February 6, 2009
want some ice cold limoncello this summer?
if you want to make your own, you must start now...it takes 80 days before it is ready. limoncello is a delicious italian liqueur...very, very lemony...traditionally served straight from the freezer. the first time my husband and i visited italy, it was june...unbearably hot...and we discovered limoncello was the perfect...cool you down...after dinner treat. needless to say, we had a lot of limoncello on that trip.fast forward many years to when we purchased our farmhouse. the first year we planted meyer lemon, lime and mandarin orange trees. wow...napa is this magical place where..."if you plant it it will grow"...our trees started producing fruit the first year...and now it is hard to keep up...so let's start with the meyer lemons which are ripe NOW!!...familiar story to regular readers...many of my "go-to" recipes are inspired by fruits, vegetables or herbs from our garden...and meyer lemon recipes are no exception. in fact, next monday and tuesday will be spent making my meyer lemon marmalade...a family/friends favorite...and this year i will be offering it for sale on our website...i have spent the past few weeks putting lemons in everything...cakes, pies, lemonade, candied peel, vinaigrette, sauces...you name it..i have juiced millions (only a slight exaggeration) and frozen for year round use..and yesterday..started this year's batch of one of our favorite traditions...limoncello...cause the memory of that first trip to italy...and the smell, taste, look of the country...stays with me...
i have been thinking a lot about italy lately..i love visiting that country...have been fortunate to have been there numerous times for business and pleasure...and living in napa is very similar in many ways...the weather, the terrain, the emphasis on fresh, local, sustainably grown food, the wine...many, many things. my husband is 100% italian, his grandparents immigrated here when they were young...i am 1/2 italian...but my family has been here forever so no italian speaking grandparents on my end...in any case, italy is very special to both of us...so for christmas this year, my husband and i did something a bit different for our gifts to each other. we decided a few years ago that we had enough "stuff"...didn't need more...and would give each other gifts of things we could do together...part of the "i am finally retired from corporate life and can be home more often" lifestyle. last year we did a series of concerts at the opera house here in napa...this year we gave each other "conversational italian" classes. our joke is that... going forward...if we have a disagreement...we can only argue in italian...gestures and all. we figure we will be laughing so hard we will forget about the argument...our first class was thursday...we had a blast...and if you will indulge me...i will practice a tiny bit in some blog posts....i seem to have a large number of regular readers from italy...so please feel free to correct me when necessary.
anyway, back to the limoncello...this recipe is easy...delicious..and will become a favorite of your family and friends too...but here is the twist...this will be an interactive recipe...let's make it together...i am encouraging everyone to give it a try...so i am only going to post a bit of the recipe at a time...the following recipe is just for the first part..make it now...it needs to infuse for 40 days...then i will post the next set of steps...it will then sit for another 40 days...then, sometime near the end of april it will be ready...just in time for all of us to share a toast to summer.
this recipe makes a lot but, trust me, never too much..and it keeps indefinitely in the freezer...makes 20 8.5 oz bottles..but you can reduce by 1/2 or even 1/4 (i wouldn't..my friends actually stop by on summer mornings, ask for a bottle..and proceed merrily on their way!)
note, i have experimented with many versions of limoncello...but i discovered this recipe a few year ago in sunset magazine and this has become my favorite...the addition of a small bit of rosemary is brilliant...thank you sunset...
meyer lemon limoncello
36 meyer lemons
two 4-in rosemary sprigs, washed and dried
2 bottles (750 ml. each) 100-proof vodka such as stolichnaya or smirnoff
2 1-gallon glass jars with a tight seal
peel lemons with citrus peeler, taking only the zest (the top layer). avoid any white pith. put a sprig of rosemary in each jar. place half of zest in one jar and remainder in second jar.
pour 1 bottle vodka over jar of rosemary and zest. repeat with second bottle of vodka over second jar of rosemary and zest. let jars sit undisturbed in a cool, dark place for 40 days...
to be continued
the traditional way italians drink limoncello is straight from the freezer in a well chilled small glass...like a shot glass...some people mix with club soda or sparkling water...i say no...no... no...go for the straight version...but experiment...and i know i said "after dinner"...but you will find early afternoon, before dinner, sitting around the pool, relaxing on the porch...etc...are all really cool choices..
here's to summer...
please let me know if you decide to participate in the limoncello making party...would love to read about your experience...oh yeah...and if you ask me how i am doing today, i will say..."molto bene, grazie. e tu?" (very good..and you?)
napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green life of style"™
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