Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Limoncello Chronicles

Dr. C. planted this Meyer lemon tree over the wall in our back yard about 25 years ago when it was dying, and look at it now! Click here for the full story.  We can hardly count the lemons on this tree this year, and I have given them away, sent them to friends, frozen juice, made lemon curd, and this week decided to make Limoncello. 

Limoncello is a lemon liqueur that originated in Southern Italy, using Sorrento lemons, the lemon zest is steeped in grain alcohol (moonshine) then sugar is added, and the resulting liqueur is Limoncello. 
The recipe that I am using is an adaptation of one from the magazine La Cucina Italiana.  In place of grain alcohol I'm using Vodka, which is easier to buy at the local liquor store!

 Using a swivel peeler, remove the zest from 8 lemons, making sure to remove only the zest, and not the bitter pith.  Also remove the zest of a bergamot orange.  Bergamot oranges will give this an interesting bitter quality, so if you decide not to use it, no worries.  They are hard to find, so don't knock yourself out trying to find one. 

Soak the zest in 4 cups of Vodka and 2 cups of water.  Cover and let mellow at room temperature for 5 days.....I'm looking at you Friday!

Strain out the zest, and add 2 to 3 cups (to taste) superfine sugar.  Stirring to dissolve.

Using a funnel, transfer the finished limoncello to two 1-liter bottles, and seal.  Refrigerate for 2 weeks before using. 

There are lots of ways to give, and to use Limoncello, and I'll be exploring those when I finally open our home brew.  I'll keep you posted.  Until then, buona notte!

What's Going on in Your Rice Cooker?

The rice cooker has become my new best friend these days, with recipe testing and writing going on for 6 to 8 hours a day before I leave for Italy in 2 1/2 weeks (don't even get me started on my panic!)
Rice cookers are a great tool in your kitchen, they cook perfect rice every time, steam vegetables perfectly, and they can also sub in for a slow cooker making soups, braises, and frittatas!

Today I decided that it was time to check out this baby when making a frittata this morning, and it was a rousing success.  I was a bit afraid that it would over-cook, especially in the on/off style rice cooker (above) but it performed like a champ, resulting in tender fluffy eggs, with melting goat cheese throughout.
Unfortunately, the battery in my camera was dead, so the photos are not mine.

Rice Cooker Asparagus Goat Cheese Frittata

Serves 3 to 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped spring onion, or scallion using only the white part
1 cup asparagus, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 large eggs
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

  1. Turn the rice cooker on to the regular cycle or “quick cook” with neuro fuzzy logic cookers.   
  2. Heat the oil and sauté the onion for 1 minute; add the asparagus, and cook for another 3 minutes until the asparagus begins to soften.  
  3.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, salt and Tabasco.  
  4.  Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus, and sprinkle with the goat cheese.   
  5. Cover and cook on regular cycle, this may take 3 to 4 minutes, then allow the frittata to rest for 6 minutes (a total of 10 minutes of time in the rice cooker)   
  6. Remove the cover, and serve warm or at room temperature. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Clicking My Ruby Slippers and Heading Home

Tomorrow I end my month on the road, and head home.  This has been a great trip with awesome students, classes, visits with friends, an IU home game win, 5 days with our granddaughter, and lots of cold weather!
One day Dr. C. and I experienced, rain, sleet, and snow all within 6 blocks in NYC.  This photo was taken in New Jersey on Friday as I was driving from La Guardia to Carlisle, PA.  It took 90 minutes to go about 20 miles in New York, and then I was driving in near white-out conditions west of the city.  When I reached Bethlehem, PA the snow stopped, the sun came out and there was no snow on the ground. Today in Carlisle, when I left,  the thermometer in the car registered 65....think I'll mail my down coat back to San Diego!
I'm so grateful for the opportunities I have to teach, and to meet with the people who buy my books, and come to my classes.  Over the years I've formed very special relationships not only with the cooking schools, but also with their students, and I am humbled by how blessed I am.  Thanks to all who came out to attend a cooking class, and to the staff(s) at each cooking school for their hard work, and dedication to serve their communities.  I often tell people that my mission field is the dinner table, and that's not a bad thing.  I hope you have a wonderful week, I'm very happy to be heading home tomorrow.  Watch out San Diego, I'm coming back!

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Dr. C and I are in New York City for an overnight before he goes home and I go on to Pennsylvania to teach Friday and Sunday.  This morning we took a field trip to Mario Batali's Eataly, a huge complex of Italian gastronomy on Fifth Avenue.  This is like me going to a culinary Disneyland!  Everything is beautiful, the space is enormous, and even with loads of tourists on a bus tour, and my enormous down coat we were still able to navigate well.
Eataly began in Turin, Italy, and has spread through Italy, as well as Japan.  This is the first emporium to be established in the US, with Chicago coming on in 2013, only 1700 miles from San Diego!  The philosophy is fresh, and regional Italian foods.  
There is a lot of cheese!
The salumi area
This month they are celebrating my favorite area of Italy: Umbria and featuring Sagrantino wines (it's about time!)
Too good to be true, but it works!!
She trimmed the artichokes into hearts, then stored them in acidulated water (I could get used to this!)
Dr. C.. perusing the greens
Sweet baby cauliflower
Cooking School
Featured wines from Umbria
Hand made pastas

Butcher shop---amazing!

Dry pasta

Olive oil
Even the signs are fun!
The wine store, Vino Eataly

I recognize this case!


pillows of pasta stuffed with mortadella, pork, spinach and served in a veal reduction---oh my!

Pasta filled with mushrooms and served in Umbrian truffle butter--yep, it was delish!

Dr. C. got the pizza of the day---tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, and Prosciutto di Parma--another winner! We drank Barbera di Alba and a Montefalco Rosso
My boys, thanks for the field trip Eric and Dr. C.
If you are in New York City, this is a destination.  All regions and foods of Italy are represented here, and the space is amazing to walk through.  There is a LOT to see, and it can be overwhelming, but the staff are terrific, they all know their stuff, and are incredibly helpful. I'm ready to get out of the snow/rain and cold, but have a few more days till I head home.  I'll post more from the road.  Until then, buon appetito!