May is a three post month, I predicted it in my last post and I am here to prove it. It was too early to give my excuses and my reason for the lack of traffic on Italicious, but now I can share with the world that I am pregnant, so my energy is all going toward the little pagnotta in the oven. As is par for the course, for the first three months, and especially that last one, thinking about food was the last thing I wanted to do, let alone cook it or write about it. Eating it was, unfortunately, not a problem.
What more appropriate recipe to write about than the one thing I am most prohibited from consuming, hard liquor? Of course when we started the process of making our limoncello I wasn’t pregnant, was hoping to be, but wasn’t there yet. I thought that I would at least be able to taste it, but no, my husband has been tasting it regularly for me, apparently it is quite delicious.
We were in Vico Equense, on the Sorrentino Peninsula, a few months ago. We stayed in a lovely B&B there, whose owner was wonderfully generous and gave us 11 lemons from his lemon trees to make limoncello. He told my husband the recipe and for some reason you have to use 11 lemons, or at least an odd number, there are a lot of superstitions around numbers in this part of the world, so 11 is the number.
adapted from Naples at Table, Cooking in Campania by Arthur Schwartz
- 11 very fresh organic lemons, washed
- 1 liter grain alcohol of the best quality
- 8 cups water
- 2 pounds sugar
Peel the lemons with swivel-bladed peeler, taking care not to remove any of the white pith, which gives an unpleasantly bitter taste.
Put the lemon zests into a half-gallon jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour on the alcohol. Let stand for 40 days (this is from the mouths of Napoletani, the Food Maven says 2-4 days) out of the sunlight. We covered ours with a black trash bag. Shake the jar as often as you remember, which should be pretty often.
When the 40 day period has ended, make a sugar syrup. In a saucepan, combine the water and sugar and stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is clear. Do not let it boil. Let it cool to room temperature.
Stir the syrup unto the infused alcohol. The mixture will turn cloudy. Let sit for an additional 40 days (again from the mouths of Napoletani, the Food Maven says to bottle it immediately).
When the 80 days are up, pour the liquid through a funnel with fine gauze or cheesecloth into several dry clean bottles. Close with clean corks.
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