August 15, 2011

Liquered Up

As if I didn't already make enough things from scratch around here, I have now decided to take on homemade liqueurs. They're not difficult, just a little time-consuming, in that you have to wait a month or two to consume!

I have been fascinated with limoncello since a good friend of mine in St. Louis had me sample some on a night on the town. It is very much a special-occasion thing to me and worth every second of the immediate buzz I get upon the first few sips! The recipe below is outstanding and quite worth the wait as well (it needs about a month "stewing" time). Go ahead and splurge for the fancy hand-made gnocchi or ravioli at your local gourmet shop when your limoncello is ready to go. It'll be one of the best dinners and after-dinner drinks you've ever made.

At a recent get-together, Zesty Lemon recently graced me with the presence of his homemade amaretto. I won't divulge his recipe, since it came from a friend of his, but I can pass this one along that he sent me after our evening hanging out. This one uses real almonds and takes a little more time than the limoncello, but if it's anything like the speedy version he gave me, it's got to be good!

Last but not least, I highly recommend the book Infused: 100+ Recipes for Infused Liqueurs and Cocktails. Unfortunately, it's out of print, so it's only available used. I did find it at my local library, but then realized I was copying so many recipes, I figured I might as well buy it. It does use the same general rule of thumb throughout, which is a certain percentage of fruit, vegetable, or essence to a certain amount of alcohol, so maybe you won't really need the whole book once you've made a few.

Or maybe you think I'm insane that I'd take on the task of liqueur-making with everything else I insist on not purchasing ready-made. Isn't pie crust, buttercream, and granola from scratch enough?


Adapted from A Table in the Tarn: Living, Eating and Cooking in Rural France, by Orlando Murrin

5 lemons
4 1/4 cups vodka
1 3/4 cups water
1 cup sugar
5-6 clean 12-oz bottles

Rinse the lemons and soak them overnight in cold water. Drain and dry. Zest the lemons using a vegetable peeler, zester, or grater. (I used a vegetable peeler, making half-inch-wide strips and breaking those into 2-inch pieces.)

Stuff the zest into a 1.5-liter bottle. Pour the vodka into the bottle, seal, and shake well. Leave for a month in a dark, dry place, and shake once a week.

Heat water and sugar on medium-high heat until dissolved. Boil 1 minute and allow to cool (you are making a simple syrup). Pour vodka out of 1.5-liter bottle into bowl, and mix in simple syrup. Using a funnel and strainer, strain into clean bottles. Seal tightly and store in freezer. Shake well before serving. Serving size: 1 oz. Makes two 750-ml bottles or about 5 1/2 12-oz bottles for gift-giving!