When Life Hands You Lemons…

…you make Limoncello!

One of the first trees we planted in our yard when we purchased our house almost 30 years ago was a lemon tree. Although we’ve enjoyed its bounty since then, this was the first year I decided to try my hand at making the sweet, golden elixir called Limoncello.

Just about anything made with lemons gets a “yes, please” from me, but usually they are an ingredient of a savory dish or a dessert. In fact, one of my favorite dinners we’ve made included baked lemon chicken, a green salad with a lemon vinaigrette, and lemon pudding cakes baked in individual ramekins.

YUM!

So, where was I?

Oh, yes, Limoncello.

I have had commercially made Limoncello before, but I never thought to make it myself until a friend gave us a bottle of her home-made brew. Not only was it tasty, but I was excited to learn that it is easy to make. In fact, the hardest part is allowing the lemon peels and vodka enough time to mingle and do their magic before decanting. 

Just four ingredients: lemons, vodka, sugar, and water.
Peel just the yellow part of the lemons.
Soak the lemon peels in vodka… watch it turn a lovely yellow.

If you’ve never tried it, Limoncello is a classic Italian liqueur with a refreshing lemon flavor. It is traditionally served after dinner as it is thought to aid digestion (and, who am I to argue with sound medical advice?). It is typically kept in the freezer and served cold so it’s perfect for summer. It can also be used in dessert recipes, including a delicious-sounding Limoncello and Ricotta Almond Cake (thanks, Widow Badass) I plan to try.    

You can find a lot of recipes for Limoncello online, but they are all pretty much the same: organic lemons, vodka, sugar, and water. Recommended vodka proofs vary (most recipes suggest higher proofs), as does the time to infuse the lemon peels in the vodka (as little as four days to as much as three weeks) before mixing with the syrup. The only recommendation I have after making my first batch is: don’t buy the Costco-sized bottle of vodka (1.75 liters vs. the more normal size of 1 liter). I now have so much limoncello that not only will we be enjoying it all summer, but we’ll giving a few bottles away to friends. Not a bad problem to have.  

Bottles ordered from Amazon… label designed by moi. Cheers!

So, What’s on Your Plate (or, in this case, your glass)? Join Donna and Deb for their monthly blog challenge. Link your own food-related post or just read what others have shared.

What’s On Your Plate? Caramelized Orange Cheesecake

Each year – for maybe five years now – my only non-negotiable birthday demand request I have for my husband is for him to make his Caramelized Orange Cheesecake. I don’t need a card (although always appreciated) and I certainly don’t need presents to open. Just gimme that rich cream cheese and citrus goodness and I will happily turn a year older (not really, but it seems to happen with or without cheesecake so… cheesecake).

The cheesecake alone is heaven itself (if heaven includes a splash of Grand Mariner, and why wouldn’t it?) but the pièce de résistance – and what really makes it special – are the rings of thinly-sliced caramelized oranges placed on top. This isn’t a quick, simple cheesecake to make – although it’s also not overly complicated, either – but the results are worth the time and effort… believe me. (Of course, you might point out that it’s easy for me to say that since, as the birthday girl, I’m not putting in either the time or the effort, but that wouldn’t be nice.)

Wednesday, he caramelized, baked, and assembled…

Orange slices are caramelized until candied and translucent.
Springform pan lined with parchment paper.
Cheesecake filling poured on top of graham cracker crust. (Don’t forget to remove the clips before the pan goes in the oven.)
Caramelized orange slices placed on top of baked cheesecake.

Last night, we enjoyed the delicious results.

Isn’t it beautiful? (We love the orange slices so we add a lot of them.)
Fortunately, I remembered to get a picture before devouring my slice.

 

Are you interested in giving the recipe a try (or better yet, convincing someone else to make it for you)? The recipe with step-by-step instructions and notes is too long to include in this post but if you’d like it, contact me and I will be happy to send it to you. It’s worth every calorie… trust me.


So, What’s on your plate? Share your delectable deliciousnesses (or kitchen disasters – we all have been there) via Deb‘s and Donna’s monthly challenge. Just click on the blue Inlinkz button at the end of their posts to add your link and/or to see what others have shared.