BAY LAUREL LIQUEUR 

Recipe n. 38

After spending 2 months in Sicily for the Summer I certainly came back to New York with a satisfied belly,  more inspired about life in general and with tons of new recipes to make. Here is a fun recipe to make your own liqueur with bay leaves. It’s the same simple procedure used to make limoncello. Both liqueurs are always served chilled at the end of a meal as a digestive, or to accompany your dessert.

Why did I chose Bay laurel?

Earlier this year, after taking an herbalism course and after feeling overwhelmed about the amount of herbs that nature provides and their medicinal and cooking  properties, I decided to follow my teacher’s advice and focus on one plant at a time, maybe stick with the same plant even for a year, until I have learned everything I can about it.

I have chosen bay leaves, Laurus Nobilis, because I have known this plant since I was little. There was always a bay tree growing in our garden back in Italy and my mother used the leaves mostly dried, as a healing herbal tea to help her digestion.

Bay laurel is an unmistakable plant which is part of the Mediterranean vegetation.

© 2016 Field of Flavors - All Rights Reserved

© 2016 Field of Flavors – All Rights Reserved

 

Ingredients

  • 20 fresh bay leaves

  • 1/2 liter of pure alcohol (in Italy it is very easy to purchase pure alcohol. If you cannot find pure alcohol you can use vodka instead)

  • 800 ml of filtered water

  • 400 grams of brown cane sugar

  • 1 liter size Mason jar type (or 4 Stagioni) as long as it has a large opening.

 

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© 2016 Field of Flavors – All Rights Reserved

 

Wash the bay leaves throughly and let them dry on a clean kitchen towel.

Break them into pieces and place them inside the jar. Now cover them with the alcohol and close the jar with the lid. Keep the jar in a fresh and dry place (never in the fridge), away from direct light, for at least 3 weeks.

Every few days remember to shake the jar.

After this time the alcohol should have turned into a nice bright green color, which has been extracted from the bay leaves. You can let the leaves stay in the alcohol for longer or strain the liquid into a bowl using a cheese cloth. Discard the leaves. In a pot heat the water slightly and dissolve the sugar in it, let it cool down and add the liquid extracted. Mix it and pour into a bottle. Store it in the fridge and always serve it chilled.

 

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© 2016 Field of Flavors – All Rights Reserved

 

 

 

 

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GELO DI MELONE – WATERMELON JELLY DESSERT

Recipe n. 23

Here we are again. We are back from our vacation in Italy and I have brought back, along with the nostalgic feelings, a lot of good stories, new recipe ideas and beautiful pictures of Sicily, which I will soon be posting on this blog with their own link. Today I want to tell you about ‘Sicilian gelo di melone’. If you go anywhere else in Italy, you are unlikely to find this delicious dessert in a pastry shop, while in Sicily during summertime it’s almost impossible to walk into a pastry shop and not find ‘gelo di melone’. I love the taste, the color and the consistency of this unique dessert. I made it the other day and I wish I had made more, as it was gone in no time…

This is the recipe with a little twist, my own personal variation.

Angurie al Mercato del Capo a Palermo

Ingredients*

  • 1 big watermelon (about  5 Kg.)
  • 100 gr sugar for every liter of juice obtained ( I use instead orange blossom honey)
  • 80 gr cornstarch for every liter of juice obtained
  • 100 gr pistachios (pistacchi di Bronte di  Sicilia)
  • 50 gr bitter chocolate drops

* I apologize to those unfamiliar with grams. You can use the converter under cooking tools on the right side of the page.

Skin and seed the watermelon, process it through a sieve to obtain 1 liter (or more) of juice. Put it in a bowl with the sugar (or honey) and cornstarch. Bring to the boil at low heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and cool it down to room temperature, stirring occasionally. It should still be a bit fluid. Add the chocolate drops. Mix it and pour into a round pudding mold, moistened with water or any mold you like. ( I often use espresso coffee cups as they are a perfect small individual size). Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or even better, overnight. Remove the Gelo from the mold (or in the case of individual small cups you can enjoy it straight from the original mold), sprinkle with grounded pistachios, garnish with chocolate drops and  1 or 2 whole pistachios before serving.

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