Limoncello

Limoncello and lemons

Everybody knows what Limoncello is. Not everybody knows how it should taste. I don’t. I haven’t been to Italy and didn’t have a chance to get a sip of “as good as Nonna’s” Limoncello. Nevertheless, there is an ideal flavor I am looking for every time I buy a promising bottle of this authentic, imported from Southern Italy liqueur. So far, it’s always been a disappointment. Maybe an authentic Limoncello is about lemon zest, not a lemon? Maybe our local lemons are not good enough?

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When Life Gives You Lemons Again and Again… Just Add Honey!

Citrus and Honey Tea

During the winter, two our favorite food stores Whole Foods and Centra Market bring a generous variety of citrus fruit to Austin. Some of them a simply better during the season — fresh, juicy and fragrant. Other are exotic and not available any other time of year. Making honey preserves is my way to prolong the pleasure of having them in my kitchen. I do not add pectin or other gelling agents. Instead, I keep the syrup liquid and use it for everything — hot tea, sparkling drinks, cocktails, sponge cakes feed, etc. Honey candied citrus slices are excellent as toppings for other desserts, ice creams, custards, fruit salads. Everything is pure, natural, and beautiful.

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Cranberry Gems

Cranberry Gems

It’s cranberry harvest season! Have you been missing fresh cranberries? Like many other passionate cooks, I have my favorite recipes that call for fresh cranberries — sauces, pickles, jams, etc. This one is neither. Why do I call the gems? Imagine a whole bright berry, still tart inside, but with thin sweet glossy coating outside. I usually make a batch of 3-4 jars, keep them refrigerated, and use for everything — to decorate cakes and pastries, to add to salads, to serve it with soft creamy cheese or greek yogurt, to top oatmeal with honey, to drop a few berries into the hot demi-glace based sauce for meat and poultry, to make quick cold and hot sparkling drinks — the list is endless.

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Kvass Batch 4 [Crystal Rye Malt]

Crystal Rye Malt Kvass

This recipe is based on Crystal Rye Malt by Simpsons and rye sourdough starter. Flavor complexity of this drink is somewhat in the middle between kvass made of regular rye bread and special kvass bread. Filtering the extract is a bit challenging, but other than that the recipe is pretty simple and straightforward. Since crystal rye malt is non-diastatic, we need to add sugar to the extract. This batch was the least active of all I’ve made so far.

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Kvass Bread

Kvass Bread

Dry and crumbled kvass bread is considered a dry kvass starter. The next step is to extract its flavor with hot water. If this water extract is cooked down to a syrupy consistency, it becomes kvass suslo or liquid kvass starter. Both dry and liquid kvass starters provide more complex flavor foundation for the kvass in comparison with regular bread recipe.

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Heart Warming Winter Drinks: Scottish Posset

Scottish Posset

Last year I experimented with old recipes and, surprise surprise, didn’t find traditional possets pleasing at all. Well, I don’t mind curdled milk, but not with hot alcohol like ale or sherry. The only variation I enjoyed was my own “invention” — hot frothed milk flavored with honey (or caramel) and whiskey. Not curdled. This winter I spent more time researching hot milk and whiskey drinks and found Scottish Posset and Scáiltín. There is very little information available about them. I do not know how traditional or popular they are now. The only difference between the Scottish Posset and “my” recipe is the thickener. I used Xanthan gum instead of oatmeal. I couldn’t resist to modify the recipe a little, There is no reason to strain oats, if you have a good blender. They add velvety viscosity to the drink.

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