Thursday, April 15, 2010

'Scuze Me While I Kiss The Sky...

Posted by: Lisa Simpson

Meyer Lemon season is closing down, and with it my heart. Generally only available during the winter months, they start making an appearance in the produce section around ChristmaKwanaKah and go until about now. They smell like the prettiest lemon. If you ever see a woman with freckles rubbing lemons behind her ears at Safeway, I SWEAR that is not me.
I cook with Meyer lemon the most- the juice is sweeter and less pucker-tart than a standard lemon, and I’ve been told that you can eat the skin, biting into the fruit like an apple. Which seems like a huge waste to me, since the skin is my favorite part. Using a microplane, rasp some of that zest into salads, over poached eggs, a nice sprinkle on any fish or pasta. But mainly, make Limoncello.

Every time I sip limoncello, I think, "Scuze me while I kiss the sky...". There is something magical about it, it makes me think of sunshine.

But limoncello has a bad reputation here in the states. Who hasn’t been to Italy and had the meal of their life capped off with a shot of limoncello (which the Italians believe helps digestion, and who am I to argue?) but then gotten home with their bottle and opened it with an expectation of a revisit of that fabulous meal, only to discover that limoncello in the US tastes like Nyquil. Or worse, been given a bottle by someone who raves about it, only to taste it and wonder if everyone who comes back from Italy is off their rocker.

I don't know exactly why production limoncello tastes like cold medicine. But for the amore de la Madonna, why spend $30 to $100 when you can easily make it yourself and it’s perfectly awwwesssoomme. My friend Maggie Savarino told me a few years ago how to do it. Probably you'll be humming "Purple Haze", too.

Buy a fifth of your favorite Vodka, because if you don’t like the vodka, you’re not going to like the limoncello. Drink a shot or two, to give yourself some room to work in a couple weeks. Trust me.
Take 8 or 10 Meyer Lemons. Make sure they smell good and Meyer Lemon-y, and make sure they are organic- all those chemicals settle in the skin of citrus fruits. Wash them well (see above, where you didn’t see me rubbing them on my pulse points).
Zest the lemons, use a funnel and pack the zest into the vodka bottle. Replace the cap. Shake the bottle. Walk away. Come back tomorrow, shake the bottle and walk away. Repeat every day for a couple weeks.
Make a simple Syrup- a cup of hot water and 1.5 cups of sugar, stir until dissolved, then pour into the vodka bottle. (that’s why you drank a shot or two a couple weeks ago). Wait another week, shaking every day.

Strain the zest from the bottle.
Return the limoncello to the bottle. Store it in the freezer. Keeps forever. Or, like at my house, about til the end of Summer.

You can give Limoncello away as ChristmaKwanaKah presents. You can brush it on pound cake, or you can do a little cocktail with a shot of soda water or a float of lemon sorbet, or you can do it the way Italy does it: eat too much then fix it with a few ounces of chilly, bracing lemon liqueur and see if it doesn’t make you feel better.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love to make my own Limoncello!

April 21, 2010 at 2:43 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Limoncello is a wonderful drink in the dead of winter. Makes me think of spring. Sigh....

April 23, 2010 at 2:57 PM  

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