Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Italian zing straight from the bottle

It might appear that Italy is on my brain today, but it's really just coincidence that the folks from Limonce passed these items along the same day we're cooking Italian in What's Cooking Tonight and Mario Batali is anchoring a grilling package in the Wednesday paper.

A gold medal winner at the 2008 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Limoncé is crafted in Trieste, Italy, and created from the essence of Mediterranean sun-ripened lemons (cue sultry music), steeped in the finest spirits in order to extract the essential oils and aromas from the fruit. After extraction, the spirit is tempered with a bit of sweetness to produce this smooth lemon liqueur—the perfect balance between tangy and sweet. A bottle runs around $21, but a little goes along way, especially in cooking.

Lemon Almond Cookies
(far right)
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
2 tsp. Limoncé Limoncello
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 1 lemon
2-1/3 cups all purpose flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup raw almonds (with skin), chopped fine

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the egg yolks, one at a time until combined. Add in the Limoncé, vanilla, lemon zest, flour and salt. Mix until completely combined. Wrap tightly and refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours.

Separate dough into six equal parts and roll each part into a log shape. Next, roll each log in the finely chopped almonds. Cut discs from the log, a little less than 1/4 inch thick, and place on a non-stick cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from cookie sheet soon after cookies come out of oven and let cool. Makes 60 cookies.

Limoncé Glazed Sugar Cookies
(above, left)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
8 Tbs. butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
2 Tbs. Limoncé Limoncello
Limoncé Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbs. Limoncé Limoncello
2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. heavy cream
Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg, then the vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest and Limoncé. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Let rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Take 1/4 of the dough at a time, and roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and place on a non-stick cookie sheet, making sure to leave about 1/2 inch between each cookie. Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly golden. A few minutes after coming out of the oven, remove to a cooling rack and let cool.

Now make the glaze. Mix all ingredients for the glaze together. The glaze consistency should be slightly thick.
When cookies are well cooled, glaze them by dipping the cookie tops into the mixture so they are completely covered. For a more stylized look, put the glaze into a pastry bag and squeeze onto the cookies in a decorative pattern (this can also be done by putting the glaze in a zip lock bag and cutting a small opening in one corner where you can squeeze the glaze out). Let dry thoroughly, about 1 hour. Makes about 30 cookies.
Grilled Shrimp Risotto

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 Tbs. Limoncé Limoncello
1 lb. raw medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined 6-8 skewers

7 cups chicken stock, low sodium
3 branches of thyme
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbs. butter3 shallots, finely diced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/3 cup parmesan, grated

Parsley Sauce:
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 bunch parsley
1/4 cup Limoncé Limoncello
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lime

Make the marinade for the shrimp. Heat a small frying pan to medium heat then add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, lower the heat and add the sliced garlic. Cook garlic slowly and do not brown, as it will give a bitter taste. Remove the pan from the heat, pour the garlic oil into a bowl and let cool. (Can be made ahead.)
Add the Limoncé, salt and pepper. Place the shrimp into the marinade. Let marinate for 30 minutes.
Now start the risotto. You will need two saucepans. Add the chicken stock and thyme to one saucepan. Keep the stock just below a simmer.
In the other saucepan, turn the heat onto medium and heat the olive oil and butter. Add the shallots and sauté till translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and then stir the rice in the pan until ONLY the very center of the rice grain is opaque, about 2 minutes or a little more. Then slowly add about 2 ladles of stock, and stir until the liquid has been absorbed. Continue to add stock 2 ladles at a time, slowly stirring, until all of the stock has been absorbed. Finish the risotto by stirring in the parmesan at the very end.
Cover and let rest while preparing the shrimp.
Preheat a barbeque, grill pan or indoor grill. Skewer shrimp, using 2 skewers at a time, so the shrimp do not flip around when turned. Approximately 8-10 shrimp can be placed on each set of skewers. Grill shrimp, about 3 minutes per side. Let the shrimp rest for a few minutes while you make the parsley sauce.
In a food processor, chop up the garlic first. Add the parsley, and chop again. Add the remaining ingredients and run the processor until everything is combined. Place the risotto in a bowl, arrange the grilled shrimp on top and spoon the parsley sauce over the shrimp. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Herbed Pork Tenderloin with Limoncé
2 Tbs. rosemary, chopped
3 Tbs. sage, chopped
1-1/2 Tbs. thyme, chopped
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
3 lemons, 2 very thinly sliced, 1 used for juice
1/3 cup Limoncé Limoncello
1/2 cup Chardonnay
2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
2 pork tenderloins (about 2-1/2 to 3 pounds total)
1/2 lb. pancetta, thinly sliced (or 6 slices of bacon)
4 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop the fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, and parsley and put aside. Thinly slice 2 lemons. Mix together the Limoncé limoncello, Chardonnay, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper and the juice from one lemon. Marinate the pork tenderloins in the Limoncé and wine mixture for 30 minutes.
Take the pork tenderloins out of the marinade and place in a baking dish. Liberally spread the chopped fresh herb mixture over both tenderloins.
Next, lay slices of lemons over the herbs and then put the pancetta over the lemons. Drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 40 minutes. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes.
Drape a piece of foil over to tent while the meat rests. Slice the meat and serve with new potatoes and asparagus.