Monthly Archives: February 2012

Whatever-cello – another fruit+booze story

I made too much limoncello last year. Yes – really – REALLY – it is possible. I used my entire Lemon Ladies large flat rate box’s worth to make limoncello. After I made lemon curd, kiwi meyer lemon jam, preserved lemons, an incredible lemon tart, raspberry meyer lemon preserves, and more… they all went into TWO half gallon jars of vodka. So yes – a gallon of limoncello. After lots of adult lemonade by the pool and then lots of gifts at the holidays – I am just finishing up the last of it. And while it’s crazy good – I am so over limoncello.

This year, I am one upping my -cello. I may not live in California where rare citrus is all over the place like Shae or be close enough to Eataly like Autumn to grab some bergamots on my way home from work – but I am close enough to a Food Co-op that is well stocked in organic citrus. There are no rangpurs or mandarinquats, but there are limes, cara cara oranges, grapefruits and kumquats. Perfect to grab a couple, make some citrus tom collinses and have the rind leftover.

Part of the reason that meyer limoncello is so great is the lazy factor. You can use the whole rind without stripping the zest, i.e. – just toss it into the booze. The bitter pith is so thin on meyers that meyer-cello is next to no work. Meyers + alcohol + simple syrup + time. Kumquats are thin enough to just slice. With other citrus though, you really have to strip the zest and discard the pith. You can use a microplane, but then you would have to strain your -cello. I found my vegetable peeler made quick work of the other citrus, but – oh man – it was a whole other step from last year.

I’m going to let this batch sit for a week or so – shaking when I remember to – and I’ll probably leave out the simple syrup. I can always add it in later. Plus, that way – I can infuse the simple syrup. I’ve been scheming up a citrus-infused cocktail with black pepper and bay simple syrup. We’ll see what this summer brings, when I am screaming for an icy cocktail instead of shivering under my lap blanket on the couch. But remember – its not blood-orange-lime-kumquat-grapefruit-meyer-cello, its whatever-cello. And its delicious. And you should make it right now to enjoy later this year.

Whatever-cello
Method: Add citrus rind to your favorite glass vessel and cover with alcohol. You can use grain alcohol, but I prefer a lesser bite and use vodka. Plus – I’m a sucker for any alcohol with a snowflake on the label. Ahem. Add more as the citrus to the vessel season progresses. Keep everything covered – infuse for up to a month – but the first stage should be good after a week or so. At that point, add an equal part simple syrup to double the volume. Its easiest if you start with two jars of the same size – divide the batch in half when you add the syrup. Infuse another week to finish. Remove the zest and store in the freezer for up to a year.

If vodka isn’t your thing, and you are more tequila-inclined, check out Kaela’s Meyeritas. Or a citrus shrub. Or if citrus isn’t your fav, you can always try a pineapple infusion. If all else fails, make bitters!

Lessons in produzione la pasta fresca

Italian is not my forte, as you might have guessed. Spanish, Basic French, Reading-level Russian – sure. Even some Latin. It seems, though with Italian – I just can’t get the pronunciation down. It seems there are a ton of different ways to pronounce words in Italian. Kind of like how there are exactly a bajillion pasta recipes out there. White/wheat/semolina flour, eggs, egg whites, water, milk… there are a million variations on the bajillion recipes. Approximately.

I had avoided making pasta for a while. I have no Italian heritage whatsoever – as much as I long for an Italian grandmother to break out her ancient family pasta recipe and for for us to spend a weekend making it… not going to happen. Boxed pasta will always be a cheap substitute for the real thing. But as boxed pasta is cheap – so is flour, so what did I have to lose? After an Italian grandmother-taught CRFM Homesteading class and an Atlas machine gifted for Christmas, there were no excuses standing in the way.

There is no secret SK-approved pasta recipe here, folks. In the spirit of Grow It, Cook It, Can It’s January Resolution – go try it out and report back with what works for you. I do have a few suggestions, though.

1. 100% semolina pasta is a) unkneadable and b) likely inedible. You really should look at a recipe before wasting a ton of flour. Ahem.

2. Fresh eggs – no exceptions. Friends with fresher than fresh eggs – even better. Let them come to room temp before using. With local-ish flour and local eggs – you’ve pretty much got yourself a Dark Days meal ready to go. As far as ratios – Sean of Punk Domestics suggested 1 whole egg per 100g flour. Peter at A Cook Blog uses only yolks. I found a happy medium in Smitten Kitchen’s 6 egg yolks to 1 whole egg ratio. Save the whites for meringue.

3. Why is it that no pasta recipes suggest how long to knead? I mean, you really can’t knead too much. If you’re tired, of course use the dough hook on your stand mixer. I found the kneading took about 10 minutes of work – it really does change texture and elasticity once ready. Pay attention and you can’t miss it.

4. Folding the sheet of pasta over on itself as you roll it through the machine is super important – it makes the sheet edges neater and helps make the sheet overall more even. Also helpful for fixing your own screwups.

5. When making ravioli, don’t overfill. Don’t underfill either – err on the side of slightly too little.

6. Again, for ravioli – I didn’t find I needed an eggwash to seal the pasta together. Just make sure when you boil the ravs the water is at a simmer and keep an eye on it, and it should be fine.

7. A ravioli mold is the greatest thing ever. You’ll never go back to a stamp.

8. Make sure your ravioli filling is dry ish- if you use frozen roasted tomatoes and basil there will be a lot of extra water, that makes your pasta wet. Its delicious, but hard to eat.

All in all, homemade pasta is fairly easy once you get the hang of it – this is something I could totally see myself whipping up for dinner with a glass of wine – homemade cacio e pepe here I come.