Chow Town

Limoncello is perfect way to end a hot day

Limoncello! Get your limoncello! How about a taste of some fresh chilled limoncello?

This past October, 20 members of Slow Food Kansas City visited the region of Campagna and the cities of Naples, Sorrento and Capri.

Dinners at famous pizzerias and ristorantes were the norm along with multiple visits to local gelaterias and caffes. But the one common ending every evening included a tasting of the famous digestivo limoncello.

I guess I should tell you right now, my nephew Jasper III and I were among those lucky members.

Like I said, the evenings along the Amalfi Coast ended with a delicious tasting of limoncello —from a frozen glass.

Ahhhh … the perfect ending to days filled with visits to mozzarella producers, buffalo farms, museums, pasta producers, wineries, fishing villages and more. Many of us also toured some small artisan limoncello producers behind the scenes in Sorrento, but that is a whole other story for another time.

What is limoncello you ask? Historians believe Vincenza Canale, the owner of a hotel on the island of Capri, was the first to offer limoncello, derived from the Caprian word “limonillo.”

Traditionally, it is made from the zest of Femminello St. Teresa lemons, but today many types of lemons are used throughout southern Italy. The lemons are nearly twice as big as what we are used to seeing in America. The lemons are thick skinned and full of juice.

The zest and peels of the lemons are steeped in grain alcohol for around 30 days with sugar and a little water. Then the lemon peelings and zest are strained and the liqueur is put in bottles to be chilled before serving.

Of all the limoncello we enjoyed those 10 days, my nephew, Jasper III, agrees that a memorable walk in Sorrento through the beautiful I Giardini di Cataldo. The center of the city made for a relaxing afternoon and also a refreshing taste of some of the best limoncello we may have enjoyed along the Amalfi Coast.

The gardens are stunning in the fall with flowers from the entrance all the way through the garden. At the end, there’s a limoncello stand. Yes, a stand where you could relax, enjoy a taste of limoncello and purchase bottles of the digestivo as well as tasting glasses and homemade limoncello preserves.

I may be a bit biased here, but I think my nephew Jasper not only picked up a few limoncello tips that journey, he also returned home with a recipe that you can make at home.

I convinced him to share his recipe and he tells me he makes it like lemonade with all of the lemon along with sugar, vodka and water. However, I think he does something else but I haven’t gotten him to give up his secret.

So my friends, when temperatures reach over 100 degrees this summer, pour yourself a shot of limoncello in a chilled glass. Then sit back and relax. Perhaps close your eyes and imagine your along the Amalfi Coast. As we say in Italy … Salute!

Wait a second, did I tell you about my Limoncello Cake? Bere Mangiare Bene!

Jasper III’s Limoncello 20 Lemons 2 cups water 4 cups sugar 2 bottles Vodka To prepare lemons:

Wash and peel the lemons and reserve all juice and peelings.

To make Simple Syrup:

In a 2-quart pot, bring water and sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and cool.

To prepare limoncello:

In a large container, add vodka and simple syrup. Add the lemon juice and peelings. Store in cool dry area for 2 weeks. Remove lemon peelings and place in miniature decorative bottles. Store in refrigerator.

Jasper III’s Note: To make Crema Limoncello, Add 1/4 cup Eagle Brand Condensed Milk to 1 cup limoncello, stir and place in bottle and shake.

Limoncello Cake

For the cake:

1 box yellow cake mix 1 box instant vanilla pudding 1/2 cup corn oil 1/4 cup water 3/4 cup limoncello 4 eggs 1 egg yolk 1/4 cup lemon zest

For the glaze

3/4 cup brown sugar 3/4 cup butter 1/2 cup limoncello 3 tablespoons lemon juice 3 tablespoons lemon zest To prepare the cake:

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Bake in a well-greased and floured bundt pan at 325 degrees for 1 hour. Pour glaze over cake immediately out of oven.

To prepare the glaze:

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the cake comes out of the oven, poke holes in and then pour the glaze over the top.

Source: The Jasper’s Kitchen Cookbook

Chef Jasper Mirabile of Jasper’s commands the helm of his family’s 59-year-old restaurant, consistently rated one of Kansas City’s best Italian restaurants. In addition to running the restaurant with his brother, Mirabile is a culinary instructor, founding member of Slow Food Kansas City and a national board member of the American Institute of Wine and Food. He hosts many famous chefs on his weekly radio show Live! From Jasper’s Kitchen on KCMO 710 AM and 103.7 FM and sells a line of dressings and sauces.