Meyer Lemon Limoncello

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When my mom’s Meyer lemon tree was overflowing with glowing yellow citrus, I found myself the lucky recipient of a giant bag on my doorstep. I started researching all the delectable ways these lemons could be incorporated into recipes. It was an experiment that yielded beautiful cocktails and desserts, and one gorgeous roasted chicken.

What makes Meyer lemons so special? ’Lisbon’ and ‘Eureka’ lemons grow year-round and are most likely the lemons you select whenever you reach for them in the grocery store. The Meyer lemon, named after Frank N. Meyer who discovered it in Asia in 1908, is a cross between a lemon and a mandarin. The Meyer lemon is less acidic and sweeter with a more fragrant smelling rind. The Meyer lemon is seasonal, available mainly from December through May (Costco had bags of Meyer lemons this year, which I just noticed).

Obsessed with Limoncello from my first trip to Italy, I decided to use the Meyer lemons to first make my own Meyer Lemon Limoncello. I let my peels infuse for a month and the result was delicious.
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This Christmas, I plan on making Limoncello again with the Meyer lemons and giving homemade bottles as gifts during the holidays. There is so much you can do with the packaging and suggesting different ways to drink, cook and bake with Limoncello. If you want to try this recipe, any lemons will do, but take advantage of the Meyer variety if you have time.

A thick piece of lemon peel can be tied around the neck of the bottle. Create an "L" out of the lemon peel and glue to a gift tag.

A thick piece of lemon peel can be tied around the neck of the bottle. Create an “L” out of the lemon peel and glue to a gift tag.

Ingredients
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11-12 Meyer lemons, washed and dried
1 750-ml bottle vodka (80-to-100 proof)
2 cups sugar
2, 1 quart Mason jars
Strainer/Collander
Small funnel
Decorative/Sealable bottle(s) of your choice

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Cover the Meyer Lemon peels with vodka

Directions
Peel the lemons with a vegetable peeler being careful to avoid the pith. Divide the lemon peels equally between your two, 1-Quart Mason jars. Fill each jar to the top with vodka and seal.

Fill jar to the top, covering all peels, and seal the lid

Fill jar to the top, covering all peels, and seal the lid

Place the Mason jars in a dark, cool spot and let the vodka infuse anywhere from one week to four weeks. *The longer you infuse the vodka the more lemon flavor you will get out of your Limoncello.

Vodka being infused with Meyer Lemons

Vodka being infused with Meyer Lemons

Once you are ready, place your collander/strainer over a measuring cup that is large enough to hold at least two cups but preferably four. Strain the infused vodka through the collander/strainer. It should yield four cups of vodka approximately. Add your four cups of infused vodka to a large pitcher.

Now you will prepare a simple sugar syrup which you will add to the infused vodka (once it has cooled). Bring two cups water and two cups sugar to a boil and stir. Once all the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and let the simple sugar syrup cool completely.

Once the simple sugar syrup has cooled completely, you will add it to your pitcher of infused vodka and stir. Be sure to taste it and make sure it is to your liking. I used a 1:1 ratio and thought it had the right kick.

Pour Limoncello into a decorative bottle that seals

Pour Limoncello into a decorative bottle that seals

You are ready to bottle your Limoncello. Pour into the decorative bottles you selected using a small funnel or a steady hand! I found the pretty bottles you see here at Cost Plus but am certain any variety and any size can be found online. Chill the finished Limoncello in the fridge or freezer for four to five hours before enjoying. I always keep my Limoncello in the freezer as I like to serve it cold and it will last much longer (up to a year).
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Limoncello Ideas

star noodle

A MUST visit on Maui

A MUST visit on Maui

Our family just returned from a blissful ten day vacation on the island of Maui, or as I call it, “Maui by fork!” We love our food and have our favorites but we branched out this trip and discovered some new favorites (see previous post on Leodas). You know a restaurant is good when you feel compelled to visit it twice on the same vacation. “We ARE going to Star Noodle again, right?” said my kids.  And so we did.

Star Noodle is nestled at the top of a hill in a nondescript business park – the major landmarks being a church and an outdoor Flying Trapeze studio. The benign exterior gives way to a light and lively interior anchored by a full-service bar offering sake and daily specialty cocktails as well as a long communal table bustling with different groups of locals and tourists. The place is jammed. The vibe is inviting. Their style of food is simple but long on flavor and creativity, “Serving Fresh House made Noodles & Asian Specialties.”

Culinary Bliss Awaits

Culinary Bliss Awaits

 The first time we went to Star Noodle we arrived at the height of lunch hour and waited 30 minutes, which gave my mom and I time to sip on the cocktail of the day featuring some sort of muddled native herb, Absolut Citron vodka and Diamond sake. If you are a “need it now, instant gratification” type, you can call ahead to put your name on the wait list or you can order from Starstruck, the restaurant’s food truck parked adjacent to the restaurant, offering a modified menu and a few picnic tables for eating.

Starstruck Food Truck Lead

We feasted on food that can only be described as intoxicating. Apparently, we were eating so enthusiastically that the couple next to us commented (out loud) that we were scarfing.” Of course, we struck up a conversation and compared notes and restaurants as they were visiting from New York for the first time.

Cocktail of the day: Asian Pear muddled in Pear vodka+Diamond Sake+Lime Sour

Our Cocktail of the day on the second visit: Asian Pear muddled in Pear vodka+Diamond Sake+Lime Sour

I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but if you find yourself visiting the island of Maui, find yourself visiting “Star Noodle.” Some things you have to experience for yourself and this is one of them. And let’s not overlook the restaurant’s moniker that says it all – S-T-A-R!

 

Pohole Salad: Hana Fiddle Fern, Maui Onion, Ebi & Kombu

Pohole Salad: Hana Fiddle Fern, Maui Onion, Shrimp, Ebi & Kombu (my kids loved this so much we had two orders)

 

Steamed Pork Buns: Duroc Pressed Pork, Hoisin, Shiitake, Cucumber

Steamed Pork Buns: Duroc Pressed Pork, Hoisin, Shiitake, Cucumber (dreaming of these)

 

Scallop Shooters: Wafu Dashi, Ginger, Scallion, Lemon EVOO (ahhhmazing)

Scallop Shooters: Wafu Dashi, Ginger, Scallion, Lemon EVOO (ahhhmazing)

 

Chicken Satay

Yakitori: Chicken, Teriyaki Glaze, Scallion, Sesame Seeds

 

Organic Buckwheat Soba: Daikon, Wasabi, Scallion, Ginger, Tsuyu (served cold; refreshing, delicious and healthy)

Organic Buckwheat Soba: Daikon, Wasabi, Scallion, Ginger, Tsuyu (served cold; refreshing, delicious and healthy)

 

Pad Thai Lead

Pad Thai: Rice Noodles, Chicken, Shrimp, Egg, Peanuts, Garlic and Chives

 

Garlic noodles

Garlic Noodles: Fresh & Fried Garlic, Dashi, Green Onion

 

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Malasadas: Portuguese Inspired Doughnuts Served with Chocolate and Caramel Sauces and Macadamia Nuts

These were some of our favorites after two visits but the Star Noodle menu is extensive and varied. There is something for everyone!

Entertaining Ourselves While Waiting for A Table

Entertaining ourselves while waiting for a table

 

Simple artwork and a clean decor make Star Noodle all about the FOOD

Simple artwork and a clean decor make Star Noodle all about the FOOD

Star Noodle can be found at 286 Kupuohi Street, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii 92761
(808) 667-5400

farm-to-table heirloom tomato marinara sauce

Lead Heirloom TomatoEverything about this sauce is good for your body– farm fresh Heirloom tomatoes (cancer fighting, low in calories), kale (superfood packed with enough nutrients to be one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet), parsley (often overlooked as just a garnish, it is a powerhouse of nutrients) and fennel (at its peak from fall to early spring; it is crunchy and sweet with an abundance of phytonutrients).

And everything about this sauce is good for your taste buds. I enjoy wandering through my local farm stand [South Coast Farms] hoping the vivid colors and freshness of the fruits and veggies will light up the think tank in my head. On this particular day, the Heirloom tomatoes filled every corner of a wooden table with hues of reds and yellows and greens. I loaded up my wicker farm stand basket with tomatoes and other veggies and headed home envisioning a bubbling marinara on the stove.

Heirloom Farm Collage

Trust me, I am not one to skimp on taste for health. I try to eat healthy but love food and the creativity of new flavors. The first time I made this marinara, I also made Ina Garten’s Rosemary Polenta to go alongside. No calories were saved (hello butter) but together the flavors came together for a beautiful meal.

Next week, Cashmere Apron is going to hit on some simple entertaining ideas for the hustle-bustle of the holiday season. Look for this sauce to make a re-appearance in a rustic holiday menu for 10.

Heirloom Tomato On Its Own

Ingredients
7 large organic Heirloom tomatoes
4 Tb olive oil, divided
1/2 Tb Kosher salt
Cracked fresh pepper
1/4 cup fennel, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium leek, diced
1/2 cup diced organic parsley
1/2 cup diced organic kale
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
1 large shallot, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeño, seeded and diced
1-1/2 tsp Cumin
1 stick unsalted butter
3 Tb Pale Dry Sherry
2, 15 ounce cans organic tomato sauce
1, 6 ounce can tomato paste

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil. Roughly chop the Heirloom tomatoes and fit onto baking tray (it’s fine to squeeze them in). Drizzle the tomatoes with 2 Tb olive oil and the 1/2 Tb Kosher salt. Sprinkle lightly with freshly cracked pepper. Put baking sheet in oven and roast tomatoes for 30 to 35 minutes.

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While tomatoes are roasting, chop, mince and dice the remaining ingredients so they are ready to go when the tomatoes come out of the oven.

Once tomatoes have roasted for approximately 35 minutes, remove from oven and let sit. Melt butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat with the remaining 2 Tb of olive oil. Once butter is melted add sherry and stir lightly. Add fennel, carrot, leeks, shallot, garlic, jalapeño and cumin and sauté for approximately 5 minutes. Add kale, parsley and basil and sauté for 2 more minutes until fully blended.

To the Dutch oven add the roasted tomatoes along with the natural tomato liquid that collects beneath the tomatoes when they are in the oven. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste to the mixture and stir all of the ingredients together thoroughly.

With an immersion blender on medium speed, gradually blend the roasted Heirloom tomatoes in the Dutch oven. Blend the Heirloom tomatoes until the sauce is a smoother texture. Let the sauce simmer on low heat for at least 90 minutes.

I have always made this sauce a day in advance which seems to let the flavors meld together even better. This recipe makes enough for eight to ten people+ left-overs. Serve separately as a soup, mix in with quinoa, enjoy over pasta, spread over a grilled steak, use as a pizza sauce…the options are infinite!