The Four-Citrus Limoncello Experiment, Part I

I’ve been wanting to make Limoncello for a few weeks now, and finally made a point of doing it today. I decided to make a four citrus variation, which I have never made before. Here is the backstory. One year I decided to make a mixed-citrus marmalade for my maternal grandmother for Christmas. I purchased all of the fruits, sliced them oh so thinly and then cooked the marmalade, only to have the sugar burn just before the marmalade gelled. So, I tried it again the next day, with the same results. This was so disappointing because I had used all of that fruit and it smelled so incredibly good on the stove. So, I went to the library and did some research. I looked up every marmalade recipe I could find and it turned out that the recipe I was using – one that I had gotten out of a magazine – called for way too much water. By that point, I totally lost my interest in making marmalade for that year. But ever since, I have loved this combination of fruits and think about my grandmother whenever I use it. Hence, I decided to experiment with this combination for a limoncello variation.

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Most limoncello recipes direct one to add zest to alcohol, allow to macerate, strain, mix with simple syrup and then continue to age the product. I have recently come across several, however, which call for adding sugar and fruit juice at the beginning, and omitting the simple syrup at the end. Out of curiosity, I am giving this a try and am hopeful that it shall work fine.  However, I decided to hold off on sharing the recipe until I know the timing and the results for certain. I wouldn’t want you to have the experience with this limoncello that I had with the marmalade. I have read that adding juice to the recipe can make the limoncello sour – that one just wants the essential oils from the lemon peel; but so far my concotion tastes wonderful and it hasn’t even been infusing for any length of time yet. Maybe the trick will be to serve it sooner. Be patient and keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

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Have you made limoncello? Do you have a favorite recipe, variation, method or story to share?

 

Little Apple Manhattan Cocktails

We had fun entertaining over Thanksgiving. One of the cocktails that we served was a Little Apple Manhattan. Since several people asked for the recipe*, I decided to share it. Happy Holidays!

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Little Apple Manhattan*

2 oz. Four Roses Bourbon

3/4 oz Travis Hasse’s Apple Pie Liqueur

1/2 oz. Vya Sweet Vermouth

dash Angostura Bitters

apple slices

maraschino cherry

Place a few cubes of ice in an old-fashioned glass. Add bourbon, liqueurs and bitters. Stir well. Garnish with apple slices and a cherry. Cheers!

* This is based on Travis Hasse’s The Big Apple; but since Manhattan, Kansas is known as The Little Apple, I couldn’t resist changing the name.

Chocolat Chaud (French-style Bittersweet Hot Chocolate)

ChocolatChaud

The other day I was reading J. A. Brillat-Savarin’s The Physiology of Taste and his discussion of chocolate gave me the greatest craving for a rich cup of chocolat chaud. As we have been experiencing cool weather here in Manhattan, Kansas the past few days, the timing was perfect; but, of course, being Kansas, the weather is supposed back up into the 80’s by mid-week. That’s how it goes here. I hope that you are having a lovely autumn! Enjoy the recipe!

Chocolat Chaud

6 oz. best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/4 c. boiling water

about 2 c. warm milk

cinnamon sticks for garnish

optional other ingredients & garnishes: brown sugar, Chantilly Cream, cinnamon sugar, chocolate curls

Directions:

1. Place chocolate in a 2-qt. sauce pan over low heat. Pour boiling water over chocolate. Stir until smooth.

2. Gradually stir in 2 c. of the warm milk. Taste. If the flavor is too strong for you, stir in more milk to taste. If desired, stir in a bit of brown sugar.

3. Once you have reached the desired flavor, continue stirring until smooth and hot – but not boiling.

4. If you have an immersion blender, whip the hot chocolate until frothy. Ladle into warmed serving cups. Garnish each with a cinnamon stick. If desired, top with Chantilly cream, cinnamon sugar and/or chocolate curls. Bon appétit!

Note: As with just about anything you make, the are a number of ways to make chocolat chaud. Some recipes omit the hot water. You can use more or less milk if you desire. (About 2 cups of milk is the minimum that I like to use without having to sweeten the beverage.) If you have the patience to wait, after you have warmed the hot chocolate mixture and balanced the flavors, remove it from the heat, transfer to a glass container and allow it to sit for several hours in order to thicken. Return chocolate to clean saucepan, then gently warm mixture and continue with step 4.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside + Masala (Chai) Spices for Tea

It is cool and dreary here today in Manhattan, Kansas – the kind of day that makes a person want to stay inside and curl up with a good book and a cup of tea.  So, I made some Masala Spice Tea. Hmm, wonderful!

ChaiSpiceTea

Masala (Chai) Spice Blend

7 T. granulated sugar

2 1/2 t. ground cinnamon

2 t. ground ginger

2 t. ground cardamom

2 t. ground cloves

1/2 t. ground allspice

1/2 t. ground nutmeg

1/2 t. ground black pepper, optional*

Combine sugar and spices in a 3/4-cup glass jar. Close the lid and shake the jar until ingredients are well blended. Store at cool room temperature.

Suggested Uses: sprinkle on top of buttered toast, or on top of muffins or coffee cakes before baking; use instead of sugar in Chantilly Cream, coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or hot cider.

* The black pepper yields a hot flavor that works well in coffee, tea and hot cocoa; but I omit it for use in baked goods, hot cider and Chantilly Cream. If you are not used to hot flavor in your beverages, the pepper might become an acquired taste.

To make Masala (Chai) Spice Tea

2 c. water

2 T. + 2 t. Masala (Chai) Spice Blend

2 T. + 2 t. Assam or Darjeeling black tea, Jasmine green tea, or Honeybush herbal tea

2 c. milk, almond milk, or soy milk

Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add spice blend and tea leaves. (It your tea is bagged, leave it in the bags because the crushed tea is more difficult to strain.) Stir in milk, almond milk, or soy milk. Simmer gently for 5 minutes. Strain tea into a warmed pot and then strain again into warmed tea cups. Enjoy!

More on this week’s photo challenge

Blood and Sand

In addition to this blog, I write a monthly e-newsletter for the bed & breakfast called The Morning Star Update. For the November issue, on which I am currently working, I am planning on featuring a cocktail that people could serve before Thanksgiving dinner – that is, if they eat their holiday supper late in the day. At this time, I am leaning toward using Blood and Sand, a cocktail named after the Rudolph Valentino silent film from 1922. ( In the film, Valentino played a Spanish matador undone by fame, a woman – Rita Hayworth – and booze.) A classic cocktail from the 1930’s and 40’s, Blood and Sand is nevertheless one of the rare cocktails made with Scotch. It is heavy and fruity, but not overly sweet, and is typically a medium caramel brown color, though it can lean toward orange or red. If you have a favorite cocktail that you would like to recommend for celebrating the holidays, I’d love to hear about it. In the meantime, if you try a Blood and Sand, enjoy, let me know what you think of it  … and of course, unlike Valentino’s matador, drink responsibly.

Blood and Sand

3/4 oz. Scotch

3/4 oz. Heering Cherry Liqueur or Grand Marnier Cherry Liqueur

3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth, preferably Vya

3/4 oz. Fresh-squeezed  orange juice

Fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice. Add ingredients. Shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Notes: Cheap cherry brandies and vermouth can make this drink taste like cough syrup. Use good quality alcohol. Fresh-squeezed orange juice tends to have more of a tart taste than does bottled orange juice and so helps cut the sweetness of the vermouth and cherry liqueur. Fresh-squeezed blood orange juice can be substituted.