Real Italian Limoncello From Scratch

I made this years ago and the longer it sits, the better it is, (I think).

  • 9 lemons, peeled thinly, no white,
  • squeeze lemon juice into a bottle and place  in the refrigerator*
  • 1 bottle vodka, plain – not flavoured

Okay, that is the hard part….Pour this into a container with a tight fitting lid and store in a cool, dark place for 20 days. Only the vodka and lemon skins.

Once a week, gentle move the peels in the container (do not open, just gently shake).

After the 20th day, boil 6 cups of water and add 3 1/2  cups white sugar. Stir this really well to dissolve the sugar. Strain the lemon solution and discard the peel. Add the lemon solution to the simple syrup and pour into clean and sanitized bottles. Make sure you have corks or similar tops.

This should be served really cold, in small glasses and sipped following a special dinner. In a word: YUM!!!!

 

*this way you will have freshly squeezed lemon juice for any recipe you may be making.

The Very Best Cheese Sauce Ever!

For our Sunday dinner, Kelly made a cheese sauce to die for. In fact, we even had it over our eggs on toast this morning. Give it a go and I am sure you will never use any other cheese sauce.

  • 4 oz. Mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 4 oz. Velveeta cheese
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

In a saucepan, melt the butter and slowly add the flour, whisking constantly to make a roux. Remove from the heat.

Whisking constantly, slowly add the milk, salt and pepper and return to a low heat, for about 5-8 minutes. Add the cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Add the nutmeg last.

OMG! this means Oh my goodness….wonderful.

Orange Sauce for a Roast Duck Dinner

Some people really like duck and this is a sauce that will make the flavours take off and sing.

  • 3/4 cup currant jelly
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • rind of 3 oranges, grated
  • 1/4 cup port wine
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of cayenne
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Combine the jelly, sugar and orange rind to a pot, beating well. Heat long enough only to melt the sugar.

Add the remaining ingredints, except the lemon juice and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, stirring only to blend.

Glaze the duck during the last half hour of cooking time. Serve the remaining sauce in a pitcher at the table for guests to add more.

 

Peach Pancake/Waffle/Ice Cream Syrup

While peaches are still plentiful at the market, buy a batch and make this up. It is soooo yummy and it a real treat.

  • 4 peaches
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • pinch of allspice
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 cup water

Peel the peaches and slice each one, putting them and all the other ingredients in a saucepan. Bring this to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 8 minutes.

You now have a choice…mash it up so you have pieces of peaches, or strain it. I tried straining it and gave up after a few minutes. Put it all back together and it is perfect that way.

 

This makes a small amount so you can double it or even triple it.

Sticky Buns – Pauline’s Way

For breakfast, Pauline presented these and it wasn’t only the wonderful smells that were enticing but the flavours were awesome.

The only difference in this – I opted out for pecans. The recipe calls for walnuts and I know both would be super but it just depends on what your family likes.

  • 1/2 pkg. of frozen dinner buns (20)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 small pkg. regular (not instant) butterscotch pudding
  • pecans to taste (chop 1/2 cup and see if that will be enough)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar.

Melt the butter and pour into the bottom of a bundt cake pan. Top with the pecans, butterscotch pudding (dry) and brown sugar.

Put the buns around the pan, piling them up the sides and place in a cold oven. Close the door, turn out the lights and go to bed.

In the morning, the buns will be risen and ready for baking. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Loosen the edges of the pan and invert immediately onto your prettiest platter.

There will be moans and groans of delight. These are really good. Serve with fresh fruit or berries and your favourite yogurt.

Homemade Sausage Rolls

My Christmas tradition has always been to have homemade sausage rolls for breakfast as we opened gifts. Don has continued this for me and makes the best sausage meat to ever be put into puff pastry.

 

  • 2 tsp. dried sage
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 2 lbs. ground pork

In a small bowl put all the ingredients, EXCEPT the pork and mix really well.

In a large bowl place the pork and break it up with a fork. Add the spices and, with clean hands, mix it all together. When done, form into a two rolls the size of a looney.

Prepare the puff pastry as per the package instructions. Roll it out and place half of the pork on the first sheet, and roll to cover. Wet your finger with water to seal the seam edge. Repeat for the second sheet of puff pastry.

How you cut these depends on what the occasion is: a wine and cheese gathering with friends – small one bite portions. Family for breakfast or brunch – 4-5 inch pieces.

Place the sausage rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for approximately 35-40 minutes. Test the pork to see that it has reached the 160F internal temperature but also making sure not to burn the pastry.

These are absolutely fabulous.

Christmas Morning Sausage Rolls

Ever since I can remember, my mom made THE best sausage rolls ever as the pastry she made no one has ever come close to matching. Now, Don has taken up the challenge and he makes THE best. We always got up, and as we opened our gifts, we had sausage rolls. This is a tradition I hope never goes away.

  • 2 tsp. dried sage
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 2 lbs. finely ground pork
  • Puff Pastry
  • 1 egg, well beaten with a bit of water added

In a small bowl, combine the sage, salt, pepper, marjoram, brown sugar, pepper flakes and cloves, mixing really well.

Place the pork in a small bowl and add the mixed spices to it. Mix with your hands and form logs (best way is to roll up in saran wrap).

Roll out the puff pastry, and lay the sausage meat (removing the saran first, of course) and roll in the pastry. Cut into either bite-sized pieces to offer guests with their wine or larger pieces for the breakfast run.

Brush an egg wash over the surface of the pastry and bake in an oven for 38 minutes at 375 degrees.

Christmas morning, simply place in the oven to warm up, and get the ketchup ready.

Christmas Morning Parfait

Make it easy this morning as you will be having a super busy day….this will help you de-stress as well.

This will serve 4 so adjust the amounts to suit the number of people at your table this morning.

 

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp. lime zest

In a small pot, combine these ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from heat as soon as the sugar has completely dissolved. Cool now to room temperature.

 

Pistachio Pesto

  • 1 cup pistachios, shelled, chopped
  • 10  mint leaves
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • lime infused syrup (1 cup syrup with lime zest from 1 lime)
  • 1 x 500g container of vanilla yogurt
  • 1 pint of fresh raspberries

Combine the pistachios, mint leaves and vanilla in a food processor and lime infused syrup for about 25-28 seconds, until it has the consistency of a pesto.

Put 2 tbsp of the pesto in the bottom of a pretty glass, and layer 3-4 heaping tbsp. of the yogurt, a layer of the raspberies and repeat the layers, finishing with 2 more heaping tbsp. of the pesto.

In case you haven’t focused yet, these are the colours of the season. Enjoy!

White Chocolate And Mango Yogurt

I love mango yogurt and this is so much less ‘commercial’ and more ‘you’ in the yogurt. Watch what it takes….it’s super easy and so darn delicious.

 

  • 1 cup Greek vanilla yogurt
  • 1 mango, chopped ( about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup toasted and chopped pistachios
  • 1/3 cup grated good quality white chocolate
  • 2-3 tsp. liquid honey

In a shallow dish, combine everything up to the honey, stirring until combined. Add the honey to sweeten. This can be eaten like this or added on top with granola.

This will serve 4 people.

Homemade Yogurt

If you use a lot of yogurt, this is one way to save money and you also know what went in it. Easy peasy…The one special equipment needed here is the Cuisinart Thermo Electric Yogurt maker.

*read note below first.

 

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 6 oz. plain whole milk yogurt without added gelatin
  • 1 tb sp. vanilla extract

In a large saucepan with the thermometer attached, heat the milk to 180F degrees, carefully monitoring the temperature. Keep the temperature even for 10 minutes. This process will take about 45 minutes.

Stir the yogurt and vanilla into the milk. Transfer to the yogurt maker. Set the fermentation time for 8 hours.

If not serving immediately, cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days only. This will make 4 servings.

Add any fresh fruit of your choosing…peaches or berries. and top with a drizzle of honey and a tbsp. of chopped pistachios…yummy.

 

**if you want a much thicker yogurt, keep the 180F temperature for a full 30 minutes. Then strain through a cheesecloth inserted into a sieve. Then cool down to 110 degrees. Cover and refrigeratre for 24 hours, then go ahead with the recipe as shown.

Dried Fruit-Pistachio Granola

I always hear my neighbor say she makes her own granola every week. This is one that is tasty, healthy and great one to carry while exercising, walking to work or just plain, old fashioned snacking. Make it on the weekend and you will be good for the week.

 

  • 3 cups rolled oats – not quick cooking
  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut in pieces
  • 1/3 cup liquid honey
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 cup dried apricots, peaches, cherries, papaya, (basically whatever you like)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the oats and pistachios.

In a small saucepan combine the butter, honey and cardamom over a medium heat and cook until the butter has melted. Stir it once in a while. This should take about 2 minutes.

Pour the butter mixture over the oats and nuts and toss until all are completely coated.

Transfer to a parchment lined cookie sheet and spread out in an even layer. Bake until the oats are golden (about 35 minutes)  and all smells great in your kitchen. Stir this up every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes. Stir in the fruit.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks……hahahaha. It won’t last that long. Change up the nuts used every time you make this. Add coconut if you like. Just make it your own.

New Take On Ambrosia

This is a new take on ambrosia fruit salad and is very refreshing. On a hot summer morning, on the deck, at the beach…..it would be terrific.

 

  • 2 cups plain greek yogurt
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2  1/2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped FRESH pineapple
  • sliced fresh fruit like papaya, blackberries, raspberries, and peaches for serving
  • shaved coconut or unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • 1/2  cup mini marshmallows
  • freshly grated nutmeg when serving

Whisk together the yogurt, cream. honey and zest in a bowl until it thickens and holds soft peaks.

Divide the pineapple evenly among 8 dishes (bowls). Top with the yogurt mixture and then, evenly, divide the fruit and top with the toasted coconut. A very light sprinkling of nutmeg will finish it off.

*Note: If you find this is not sweet enough, drizzle some honey over the top.