October 18, 2013

TASTE: Lavender-Agave Limoncello


Inspiration for Lemons.
I'm already longing for my time in Italy. This past summer I took the most epic of all trips and backpacked through Europe with the love of my life. This is a trip we had been dreaming about for 6 years, and it came to a beautiful and adventurous culmination during the month of June. We ate SO well, and I've been mulling over a couple of exotic recipes that I want to attempt to make stateside. So maybe I can't exactly replicate this astounding margherita pizza from Naples (apparently the flavor is in the water), but I can try my hand at a few other tasty treats. The first of my European-inspired attempts is limoncello. FYI it takes a bit of patience to make this (so add PATIENCE to your ingredient list. Seriously.)

Limoncello is served in Italy at the very end of a meal, when your belly is gleefully protruding over your pants and your mouth is dumbly drunk from the pleasing combination of bufala mozzarella, hot doughy bread, fresh spiced basil-tomatoes, savory white fish, home made pasta and of course, wine. And dessert. And then more wine. Need I say more? Then, at the very end of the meal, limoncello seals the deal. It's the last kiss of the night before you roll yourself into bed. And it's glorious, to say the least.

I got this recipe from a dear old Italian woman who ran a restaurant up in the foothills of the Amalfi Coast. She laughed at me while she wrote the recipe down, saying, "You can try, but you won't be able to make this back at home." Apparently that is because the Italians use 100-proof alcohol in their recipe, which is, well, not exactly sold in the U.S. We basically have to make do with a lot of vodka. So I fashioned my own concoction based on her recipe, along with Giada's (obviously), this recipe from Linden Hills Co-op and this recipe from Imbibe. And I decided to make two batches, one regular and one using infused lavender and agave. Time to get crazy!

Lavender Agave Limoncello
Ingredients:
- 2 cups vodka
- 5 lemons, peeled
- 2 limes, peeled
- 1/2 tsp. lavender
- 2/3 cup agave
- 1 cup water
- Juice from 2 lemons

Method:
1. Using a vegetable peeler or sharp knife, peel the lemons and limes carefully. Trim away any white pith from the peels, as the pith can make the limoncello taste bitter.

2.
Place the peels in a large pitcher and pour 2 cups of vodka over the peels. Add in the lavender. Cover the mouth of the pitcher with plastic wrap and set the pitcher in a cool, dark place. Allow the peels to steep for at least a week. (This is the part where your patience needs to kick in.)

3. After a week has passed, combine the agave+water+juice from two lemons in a saucepan and bring to a boil. I like to boil the sliced lemons in with the sweetened mixture (it gives it a yummy sweet-and-sour flavor!) After the mixture has boiled for a good 5 minutes, remove from heat. Let the mixture cool completely. (Again, utilize your patience and just walk away. You can do it.)

4. Once it's completely cooled, the agave+water+lemon mixture should be the consistency of syrup. Strain the syrupy through a fine mesh strainer. This should weed out all the lemons and seeds. Double strain if necessary. Set the syrup aside.

5. Next, strain the lemon peel-vodka mixture.

6. Combine both mixtures and seal in a glass jar. I got mine at Crate & Barrel, but I also used a mason jar as a second container. Store in the freezer for up to a month.

Now Enjoy! You can serve the limoncello in shot glasses at the end of the meal, or you can use it as a cocktail mixer. It's a snazzy beverage, perfect for the coming months' holiday celebrations.

To Make Regular Limoncello
Follow the above method with these ingredients: 
- 2 cups vodka
- 5 lemons, peeled
- 2 limes, peeled
- 1 cup sugar (I used raw)
- 1 cup water
- Juice from 2 lemons


Drink and Be Merry.
I hope you love this as much as I do. Soak up your inner-Italian and enjoy. It's a real treat.
Bon Appetit!

6 comments:

  1. "I got this recipe from a dear old Italian woman who ran a restaurant up in the foothills of the Amalfi Coast." aka you're one h e l l y e a h woman. proud to know ya.

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    1. Right back at ya, love. Inspired by YOU.

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  2. I want this soo badly, I am an Italian trapped in an American body! Mille grazie!

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  3. I want this soo badly, I am an Italian trapped in an American body! Mille grazie!

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  4. I want this soo badly, I am an Italian trapped in an American body! Mille grazie!

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    1. Haha I understand! Everyone wants to adopt "Italian" as their heritage when it comes to the food :-)

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