Two Cellos and a Cherry to Toast the New Year

Arancello, Liquore della Ciliegia, e Limoncello

Arancello, Liquore della Ciliegia, e Limoncello

Almost everyone lucky enough to visit Italy will, at some point, sample Limoncello. This lemon-flavored liqueur is often served after dinner as an aid to digestion, un digestivo, and, when properly made, Limoncello will have a strong lemony flavor without being bitter or sour like freshly squeezed lemon juice. Though many believe that the lemons that grow in and around Sorrento produce the best Limoncello, these lemons are not available here in the States. So, with no other options available, I’ve aways used “regular” organic lemons to make my Limoncello. This all changed, however, last year.

For the first time ever, Meyer lemons were available in virtually every grocery store I entered. I’d never seen so many. Having read that Meyers were as close to the famed Sorrento lemons as one can get here, I decided to use them to make my Limoncello. Remarkably, at the very same time that I was collecting the Meyer lemons, the grocer was putting out blood oranges. Suddenly, I was buying blood oranges, too, having decided that very moment to make orange-flavored liqueur, Arancello, as well. With an eye towards this Christmas, I thought I’d,also, make lime-flavored liqueur and give all three as gifts. Since I only had 2 jumbo jars and both were already filled with zest and grain alcohol, I put off buying the limes until I’d emptied one of them.

Once I got home, I checked my recipe for Limoncello, calculated how much Everclear (grain alcohol) I’d need for all 3 “celli”, and headed to my neighborhood liquor store. Want to have some fun? Go into a liquor store and buy about 1.5 gallons (5.25L) of grain alcohol. No need to answer when the clerk asks, “Will there be anything else?” A look will suffice.

My “celli” recipes are similar to those that are available on the internet. One thing that I do differently from most is that I use a micro-plane to remove the zest from the citrus. Though most recipes say to use a peeler to remove the peel, being careful not to collect any pith (the white stuff), I find it quite difficult to do. The problem is that the more pith you collect, the more bitter the liqueur. By using a micro-plane, I keep the amount of pith — and bitterness — to a minimum and I’m done in half the time it would take me to “peel” the zest. Once you get passed the zest collection step, you’ll find the rest of the recipes to be straight-forward and you should have no trouble following them.

*     *     *

On behalf of Zia and the rest of the Bartolini Clan, I’d like to wish you all a New Year filled with Peace and Joy.

Happy New Year!

*     *     *

Due Limoncelli

Due Limoncelli

*     *     *

“Celli” Liqueur Recipes

Limoncello IngredientsLimoncello Start

  • zest of 25 Meyer lemons, scrubbed clean
  • 1800 ml Everclear (See Notes)
  • 7 c (1660 ml) spring water
  • 5.5 c sugar

*     *     *

Arancello IngredientsArancello Start

  • zest of 14 blood oranges, scrubbed clean
  • 5.5 c (1300 ml) Everclear (See Notes)
  • 5 c (950 ml) spring water
  • 4 c sugar

*     *     *

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a large jar, cover tightly, and place in a cool, dark place. Shake contents occasionally — i.e., once per week.
  2. After 45 days, pour contents through a sieve to remove the zest. Cover tightly and return to a cool, dark place.
  3. After 2 weeks, filter the liqueur one more time through cheesecloth, or, for a very clear liqueur, through a hand strainer containing 2 coffee filters.
  4. Liqueur may be stored in a serving container, gift bottles, or back in the same jar, once rinsed. (See Notes)

*     *     *

With 2 jugs of citrus zest flavoring the Everclear, I was looking forward to making lime-cello in the near future — and then I saw Siobhan’s post describing how to make cherry liqueur on her wonderful blog Garden Correspondent. (Do pay her a visit for a charming look at family life and gardening in Turkey.) Not long after, while returning from a visit with Zia, I stopped at a cherry orchard to buy tart cherries, some of which were destined for this liqueur. Lime-cello would have to wait.

*     *     *

Cherry Liqueur Served

Liquore della Ciliegia

*     *     *

Tart Cherry Liqueur Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1670 g (59 oz) tart cherries
  • 835 g (29 oz) sugar
  • 417 ml (14 oz) Everclear (See Notes)
  • 417 ml (14 oz) spring water
  • 18 whole cloves
  • 7 cinnamon sticks

Directions

  1. In a large jug with a lid, begin with a layer of sugar and then cherries, repeating both layers until the cherries are used up. Top off the jug’s contents with the remaining sugar.
  2. Seal the container and leave in a sunny location for 1 month.
  3. After one month, give the cherry mixture a good stir and add the spices wrapped and tied in cheese cloth. Re-seal the container and set it aside for another month.
  4. After a month, strain and reserve both liquid and cherries. Use a spoon to press as much liquid out of cherries as possible. Save cherries for another use. (See Notes)
  5. Add the liquor to the reserved cherry juice. Set aside in cool, dark place for 2 weeks.
  6. After 2 weeks, strain the liquid through cheese cloth or, for a very clear liqueur, through a hand strainer containing 2 coffee filters.
  7. Like Limoncello, your tart cherry liqueur will continue to mellow as it sits.

With thanks to Siobhan, Garden Correspondent, for the recipe.

*     *     *

*     *     *

Variations

Although I used blood oranges and Meyer lemons to create my “celli”, you can use regular oranges and lemons just as easily. Do try to use organic fruit when available.

As was mentioned, I had intended to make a 3rd “cello”, lime-flavored, but decided to make the cherry liqueur instead. Now that the gifts have been given and the large jars emptied, I may yet give lime-cello a try. Besides, I have to do something with that half-bottle of Everclear.

So, you’ve made a batch of Arancello and are wondering what else can be done with it other than drinking it straight from the bottle. Coincidentally, earlier today a cocktail recipe using Arancello was posted on a fantastic blog, Feeding My 3 Sons. Not only does this blog feature great recipes, each is reviewed by 3 of the toughest critics in all of WordPress.

*     *     *

2 Cellos and a Cherry

Arancello, Liquore della Ciliegia, e Limoncello

*     *     *

Notes

Most of our citrus fruit is “protected” after picking with a light coat of wax. Be sure to use a brush under running water to remove this coating before attempting to zest the fruit.

Everclear is grain alcohol and is very potent. (75.5% alcohol, 151 proof) It is dangerous to drink it “straight” out of the bottle. In the recipes above, it is diluted using spring water, bringing the alcoholic content into more acceptable levels. If you feel it is still too strong, simply add more water.

If you cannot find Everclear or do not wish to use it, vodka can easily be substituted. When you do, there’s no need to add any spring water at all, though you can if you wish to dilute the liqueur.

It is advisable that the liqueurs be filtered a second time before being chilled for serving. This will remove the tiniest of particles thus ensuring your liqueurs will be clear when served.

You will find that all 3 liqueurs will mellow as time passes. For best results, they should, also, be stored in your freezer for at least 1 week before being served. Patience is a virtue and you’ll be well-rewarded the longer you wait.

Though you should discard the citrus zest once it is strained out of the liqueurs, you may wish to save the cherries. Though not suited for children, you may think of a few desserts in which to use them. Personally, I place them in jars that I then fill with vodka and store in the fridge. A couple of weeks later I enjoy them as-is or as a garnish in vodka martinis. Just be sure to warn your guests if there are pits in the cherries. Of course, after a few of them, no one will care.

*     *     *

An announcement

In January, I am going to celebrate a milestone birthday, the big SIX OH! Though I’ve nothing special planned as yet, there are a couple of projects, here at home, that I have neglected, using this blog as an excuse for procrastinating. Well, I’ve no intention of starting the next decade with these tasks still waiting to be completed and, as a result, the Kitchens will be closed for the month of January, reopening on February 5th. Thank you all for your ongoing support and encouragement. See you in February!

*     *     *

It’s déjà vu all over again …

To complete my review of Bartolini holiday dishes, today’s look back will feature our cappelletti Cappelletti in Brodorecipe. Served for lunch on New Year’s Day, these stuffed pasta are traditionally shaped like the brimmed hats once worn by priests. Unable to produce enough hat-shaped pasta to serve our family, Mom’s cappelletti were shaped like small ravioli, raviolini. No matter their shape, cappelletti are usually served in broth, brodo, and are a delicious dish to serve on the First Day of the Year. You can check out my family’s recipe for cappelletti simply by clicking HERE.

*     *     *

Italian Lemonade and Godmothers

If you’ve come to this blog entry hoping to find quaint stories about my Italian Godmother sipping lemonade, you’re going to be disappointed. You see, today’s entry will introduce 2 cocktails, a godmother and Italian lemonade, and although Zia, my Godmother, might enjoy them, she really has little to do with either.  No, these cocktails came to me by way of my Trusty Traveling Companion, a man who at one time was a rather celebrated bartender in these parts. And with this being an Italian recipe blog, you couldn’t find a better place to present 2 amaretto cocktails. Not only that, since it was he who introduced me to these cocktails, I asked that he supply the images that accompany this post, thereby introducing them to you.

He introduced me to the first cocktail, a godmother, during our first trip together, in Italy. Even if a bit “potent,” it quickly became a favorite and we spent many a cocktail hour sipping godmothers as we penned postcards to friends and family back home. Heaven knows how many actually made it to their destinations but we sure did have a good time writing them. He introduced me to the second cocktail, Italian lemonade, earlier this Summer. Think of it as a godmother-light and, being a bit diluted by the lemonade, it will make a great drink for a Labor Day barbecue or picnic.

Oh! For those of you who googled “Italian godmother lemonade” and, disappointed, found yourselves at this blog but continued to read to this point anyway, I’ve a treat for you. “Justin Bieber,” “Lady Gaga,”  “Casey Anthony,” and “nude pictures of   “.  See? Now you have plenty of misdirected company, each of whom probably far more disappointed than you.

*     *     *

Godmother Recipe

Ingredients

  • Amaretto di Saronno
  • Stolichnaya Vanilla Vodka
  • lemon slices and/or mint sprigs for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine equal amounts of amaretto and vodka into a cocktail shaker, mix well, and pour into ice-filled “rock” glasses. Add garnish, if desired.

*     *     *

Italian Lemonade Recipe

Ingredients

  • Amaretto di Saronno
  • Premium Vodka
  • Lemonade (pink optional)
  • Fresh berries, lemon slice, or mint for garnish (optional)

Directions

  1. These are best made by the pitcher, or a similarly large amount, following a 7:2:1 ratio. That’s 7 parts lemonade and 2 parts vodka for every 1 part amaretto. Mix thoroughly, pour over ice into tall glasses, and add the garnish of your choice.

*     *     *

Notes

Pictured, the Italian Lemonades have been served in tall glasses, the rims of which have been dipped in colored sugar. This sugar can be found among the cake decorating supplies of your local grocery or made at home. Just combine 1/3 cup of granulated sugar with a few drops of food coloring. Once you have the sugar, place it in a bowl just wide enough to fit the top of the glass. Start with a clean, dry cocktail glass. Use a lemon slice to moisten its rim and then invert and dip the glass momentarily into the sugar. Remove the glass from the sugar, set upright, and fill with ice and the cocktail, being careful not to over-pour or in any way disturb the sugar-coating.

*     *     *

Affogati

So, dreaming of Sunday mornings spent sipping cappuccino and weekday afternoon espresso pick-me-ups, you purchased a beautiful espresso machine and gave it a place of prominence atop your counter. Now, two years later, you spend more time dusting it than you do making caffeine drinks of any kind, let alone espresso.  We’ve all done it and I’ve no magic words to prevent it from happening again. What I can do is offer a recipe that just might encourage you to use your espresso machine again. Today’s recipe is affogato, a relatively light dessert that I use to end many a summertime meal.

Actually, the full name of today’s recipe is affogato al caffè, which when translated means “drowned in coffee”. At its most basic, this is a combination of ice cream, espresso, and whipped cream — but who likes basic? I’ve included a couple of variations that may pique your interest and entice you to break out that espresso machine. Oh! And what if you don’t own an espresso machine? Not to worry. You can substitute some strong, black coffee for the espresso.

*     *     *

Affogati Recipes

a) Affogato al Caffè

Ingredients

  • 4 large scoops premium or home-made vanilla ice cream
  • 4 shots espresso or very strong black coffee
  • freshly whipped cream
  • chocolate shavings (optional)

Directions

  1. Place one scoop of ice cream into each of 4 dessert bowls or large coffee mugs.
  2. Pour a freshly brewed shot of espresso or coffee over each scoop.
  3. Top off with a dollop of whipped cream.
  4. Sprinkle with shaved chocolate, if desired.
  5. Serve immediately.

*     *     *

b)  Affogato with Almonds (Mandorle)

Ingredients

  • 4 large scoops premium or home-made vanilla ice cream
  • 4 shots espresso or very strong black coffee
  • 2 shots Amaretto Liqueur
  • freshly whipped cream
  • toasted slivered or sliced almonds (optional)
  • chocolate shavings (optional)

Directions

  1. Place one scoop of ice cream into each of 4 dessert bowls or large coffee mugs.
  2. Pour a freshly brewed shot of espresso or coffee over each scoop.
  3. Pour 1/2 shot of Amaretto over each serving.
  4. Top off with a dollop of whipped cream.
  5. Sprinkle with almonds and/or shaved chocolate, if desired.
  6. Serve immediately.

*     *     *

c) Affogato with Hazelnuts (Nocciola)

Ingredients

  • 4 large scoops premium or home-made vanilla ice cream
  • 4 shots espresso or very strong black coffee
  • 2 shots Frangelico Liqueur
  • freshly whipped cream
  • crushed toasted hazelnuts (optional)
  • chocolate shavings (optional)

Directions

  1. Place one scoop of ice cream into each of 4 dessert bowls or large coffee mugs.
  2. Pour a freshly brewed shot of espresso or coffee over each scoop.
  3. Pour 1/2 shot of Frangelico over each serving.
  4. Top off with a dollop of whipped cream.
  5. Sprinkle with crushed hazelnuts and/or shaved chocolate, if desired.
  6. Serve immediately.

*     *     *

d) Chocolate Affogato (Cioccolato)

Ingredients

  • 4 large scoops premium or home-made chocolate ice cream
  • 4 shots espresso or very strong black coffee
  • 2 shots Kahlua Liqueur
  • freshly whipped cream
  • 4 tbsp chocolate shavings, + 1 tbsp for garnish

Directions

  1. Place one scoop of ice cream into each of 4 dessert bowls or large coffee mugs.
  2. Pour a freshly brewed shot of espresso or coffee over each scoop.
  3. Sprinkle 1 tbsp of chocolate over each serving.
  4. Pour 1/2 shot of Kahlua over each serving.
  5. Top off with a dollop of whipped cream.
  6. Divide and sprinkle remaining tbsp of shaved chocolate over all 4 servings
  7. Serve immediately.

*     *     *

Variations

Of course, the liqueur may be omitted from the variations listed-above. On the other hand, you may wish to use Framboise or Chambord liqueurs in addition to, or in place of, the Kahlua in the chocolate affogato recipe. And although fine if served as-is, you may wish to include almond cookies (amaretti) when serving affogato with almonds, or, perhaps some complimentary biscotti, — i.e., hazelnut, chocolate, etc. — with the appropriate variation. And if those aren’t enough choices, you can try adding a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg to the whipping cream.

*     *     *