How to Make Limoncello

img_8909I’ve always loved the taste of lemons—lemon ice, lemonade, lemon tart, lemon cookies. You get the idea. Maybe that’s why I enjoy limoncello. It’s light, sweet and very refreshing, and especially welcome at the end of a hot summer day.

The lemon liqueur originated in southern Italy nearly a hundred years ago. Then, it was customary for the wealthiest Sorrento families to offer limoncello to their distinguished guests.

While the Sorrento-made limoncello is my favorite and has the most authentic taste, the homemade kind can be just as delicious. The secret to the unique flavor is to use lemons that are grown in certain areas of Southern Italy. But living on Long Island, those are hard to come by.  Instead, we chose medium-size lemons, grown locally. And it came out delicious!

Homemade limoncello is easy to make and something that can be served at your backyard barbecues. They make for great gifts, too!

Interested in making some? See the recipe below.  And if you do make it, please let me know how yours turns out!

Saluté.

 

Limoncello Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 11 lemons (medium size; you’ll only be using the peels)
  • 750 ml grain alcohol 95% proof or higher (or vodka)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups sugar

Directions:

  • Step 1: Peel strips of lemon with a peeler, avoiding the pith (the inside can be used for other purposes). Add lemon peel and alcohol to a large container (glass is best) with a lid. Seal. Let stand at room temperature in a cool dark place for one week. This will allow the flavors from the peel to infuse into the liquid.
  • Step 2: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Slowly, stir in the 3 cups of sugar, one at a time, until completely melted. Let cool to room temperature; add sugar mixture to the container with the lemon peel and alcohol. Refrigerate for one day.
  • Step 3:  Strain out lemon peels and pour into individual bottles. Store in the freezer. Enjoy!

What’s great about this recipe is you can save the lemons to make another batch.

 

Hearty Split Pea Soup

IMG_6766In the winter, I love making a variety of soups. Not only are they filling, they are loaded with vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to get you through the cold winter.

Over the years, I’ve experimented with different ingredients in my soups, along with the different types of split peas. I used to love green split pea soup, but over the last several years, my palate has changed; and now, my favorite is yellow split pea. It tastes a lot lighter is more flavorful than the green.

Split peas have about 10 grams of protein and fiber per serving. Yellow split peas are an excellent source of B vitamins, rich in the amino acid tryptophan, and contain potassium. So, if you’re looking for a heart-healthy soup, try yellow split pea! It pairs perfectly with a glass of wine.

Here’s how I make mine:

Ingredients:

8 cups of vegetable broth or water (I use organic vegetable broth, no salt)

1 package of yellow split peas (sorted and rinsed)

2 cups green cabbage, diced

2 cups carrots, sliced

1 medium onion, diced

1 tbs olive or canola oil

1 ½ tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

½ tsp hot pepper (optional)

Directions:

Heat oil. Add diced onions and sauté until golden (usually 5-10 mins).

Add carrots and cabbage, stir, cook for 1-2 minutes to soften; then add peas and vegetable broth, stir thoroughly. Cover pot. Bring to a boil. Cook for one hour on low.

Add sea salt, ground black pepper and hot pepper (optional). Cook an additional one hour on low.

Be sure to mix every 20-30 minutes. The peas can thicken quickly, and you don’t want a burned layer on the bottom of the pot.

If you make the soup, be sure to let me know how you like it.

Enjoy!

Easy Winter Soup—Hungarian Style

Since I’m on the road to recovery from the flu (ugh, it’s been a rough a week—and yes, I did get the flu vaccination!), I thought I’d share a favorite recipe of mine. After a week of broth and veggie soup, I’m ready for something else that has a little more flavor—and kick!

The real name for this dish is paprikás krumpli (pronounced: POP-ree-kahsh KROOM-plee). It’s known as the Hungarian “peasant” dish, yet it is enjoyed at any time of day by everyone in Hungary.

This recipe has been handed down from my Hungarian grandmother (on my dad’s side) and is very easy to make. I learned to cook this at an early age, and it’s only gotten better over time.

The secret ingredient is the paprika. If you can get your hands on Hungarian paprika, it will taste that much better. (Not at all paprika tastes the same.)  Whether you like spicy or not-so-spicy, this dish can be adjusted to your taste buds.

IMG_1985

Ingredients:

2 medium onions (yellow, not sweet); diced

1 red pepper (sliced thin)

1 large tomato (diced)

4-5 large potatoes (Idaho are best)

2 tbsp Hungarian paprika

1-2 tbsp Hungarian hot paprika (adjust to preference)

1 tsp sea salt

½ tsp black pepper

caraway seeds

olive oil for sautéing onions

water

Directions:

  • In a large soup pot, heat oil on medium. When hot, add the diced onions and sauté until golden (usually 10-15 minutes). Stir often.
  • Remove from fire and add in the Hungarian paprika. If you like it spicy, add in as much of the Hungarian hot paprika as you like, up to 2 tbsp. Stir until all onions are coated with paprika.
  • Add diced tomatoes, sliced peppers, and potatoes. Mix well.
  • Add enough water to cover the potatoes.
  • Add in sea salt, black pepper and a sprinkling of caraway seeds. Mix well.
  • Bring to boil, then simmer for 20-25 minutes.

img_6841The paprikás always tastes best the next day when all the juices have soaked into the potatoes, but can be enjoyed immediately.

If you make this dish, please let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Élvez! (Enjoy!)