Sometimes you just got to have a little fun and you may have to play hookie to do it. This is what happened last time I played hookie. This time I’m headed over to Sue’s house to learn how to make Limoncello & lemon bars.
My first introduction to Limoncello was when I was deployed in 2011 and we pulled into Italy. I loved it, couldn’t get enough. We were putting it on everything in Rome, including our gelato, it was delicious. Never would I have thought I’d have the opportunity to make my own a couple of years later.
PREPARE THE INGREDIENTS
This is what you will need before we begin:
1 Glass jar that will fit 100 ml
5 lemons (preferably organic and straight off the tree if available)
500 ml of alcohol at 95%
500 ml of water (you won’t need this for 30 days)
300 grams sugar (sugar water mix)
Take the five lemons you’ve chosen and clean them off and with a zester or vegetable peeler you want to peel the lemons into the jar, without the pith or the white part just under the lemon rind. It is bitter tasting and will spoil the limoncello. So remember, only the yellow part.
Afterwards you’ll need to measure 500 ml of 95% straight alcohol. Getting the good stuff definitely matters. If you get bad alcohol, you get bad limoncello. These are just the facts. (Your alcohol should be clear, the one measured above had been poured over lemons previously.)
Alright, now you’ll need to label your lid with your name and the date and we’re going to need to let it sit for awhile. Awhile meaning between 10-40 days, the best average being 30 (I never said this was a fast process).
The jar should be stored in a cool dark place and the longer the mixture rests, the better the end taste will be. There is no need to stir. Over time the alcohol will slowly start to take on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest.
For the most part it’s time to forget about it for a month. Store it in a cupboard put a reminder in your phone and come back when the alert tells you.
What he’s just done is taken his mixture of alcohol and lemon peels from the jar and poured it into a bowl which he is now transferring to a bigger pot for us to see.
Instead take a sauce pan and combine the 300ml of sugar and 500ml of water together, bring it to a gentle boil and let it cook away for approximately 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat, let cool, and then add it to your alcohol and lemon mixture. Make sure the mixture is clear before you add it otherwise the sugar hasn’t properly dissolved yet.
Alfonso says that the bigger companies use this dye and coloring when they are making large batches of lemon cello to help flavor and color the batch quicker, however we don’t need to add it to ours since we are waiting the proper length of time.
At this point you can add this mixture back to the jar and let sit between a few hours or up to 10 days.
We’ll take a quick intermission here and let Sue tell us how to make some scrumptious lemon bars. yuUUm.
SUE’S FAMOUS LEMON BARS, FROM CHEF JOHN
Sue is one of the loveliest ladies I have the pleasure of knowing here in Naples. Thanks Christopher for being such an awesome friend and introducing us. Back in the states she’s had all kinds of different jobs, of which owning a diner with one of her brother’s comes in really handy when she wants to teach us how to make some Allstar** lemon bars. In fact, word on the street has it that over 200 of these lemon bars were sold at the diner per day, from the recipe she’s about to share.
Cooking is calming for Sue. She truly enjoys it and cooking helps calm her nerves and relieve stress. You wanna know the craziest part!? She doesn’t even have a sweet tooth! She cooks all kinds of amazing things and just dabbles here and there and is kind hearted enough to give the baked goods to family, friends, whoever needs a cookie.
For the Shortbread Crust:
1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp of vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
While you are mixing all of these ingredients together heat your oven with the middle rack to 350 degrees and grease an 8X8 baking pan to prepare.
First comes the flour and the butter, when its crumbly add the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. The end result should look like a slightly crumbly cookie dough.
Now, take your mixed dough and press it down into the baking pan fully using a fort o add holes all across the surface.
Now for the baking. Once the oven is preheated, pop your pan in for approximately 22 minutes.
MEANWHILE OVER WITH THE LIMONCELLO
BACK TO THE LEMON BARS
For the lemon layer on top of the crust you’ll need:
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup of white sugar
2 tablespoons of all purpose flower
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar or to taste
Once you pull your crust out of the oven pour the lemon layer into the pan and put it back into the oven. Bake until the custard is set and the top has a thin, white, sugary, crust. Dust lemon bars with confectioner’s sugar, let cool, and serve.
LET’S NOT FORGET SUE & ALFONSO’S LUNCH DISHES
Here on the left we have lasagna, in the back a potato dish, and on the right an eggplant dish. The food was so good!
PLUS A LIMONCELLO TASTING
For the final event of the day, Alfonso let us taste all kinds of different flavors of the limoncello. It was a lot of fun. I can’t believe it but I have to admit the chestnutcello turned out to be pretty good. I don’t particularly care for roasted chestnuts, so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that one.
Yes you can make all of these different flavors on your own but it will take some serious experimenting. haha.
If you ever have the opportunity to try one of Sue’s excursions, whether it be a cooking class, accompanying her to the fish market to see how to buy and clean fish in Italy, American brunch, I highly recommend any event she has because she’s honest, knowledgeable, caring, and will always give the best advice and best quality.
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.