Tremontis Limonsardo, and a recipe for Limoncello sorbet
The last days of summer growing imminent, it’s time to conjure the sultry sun, the vast Mediterranean azure and rugged hillsides scented with fragrant lemon groves, thus perpetuating the feeling of an eternal summer. Such is the power of Limoncello, Italy’s liqueur sunshine in a bottle. This week, I’m veering from our usual tack of writing about a wine and writing about Tremontis Limonsardo instead. Although Limoncello, a lemony-tart liqueur, is mainly produced in the coastal area of Naples, Sorrento and Amalfi (including the islands of Ischia and Capri), it is also produced under the name Limonsarda in Sicily and Sardinia. Today, I’m featuring a recipe for sorbet that uses Limonsardo, a Sardinian version.
While it is a de rigueur component in various summer cocktails, Limoncello held me in its citrus spell when I enjoyed a cocktail composed of lemon sorbet, vodka, limoncello and fresh mint during a brief sojourn in Ravello. Yearning develops into inspiration, so I thought, “Why not transform the drink into a frozen confection?” Below please find a recipe of IWM’s own devising.
Not only does it make a delightful thirst quencher or a postprandial treat, Limonsardo or Limoncello can be the basis of some of your favorite summer drinks. You can add a scoop to iced tea and delight in a mischievous version of an Arnold Palmer, intensify a glass of Prosecco with lemony frost, or perhaps add an extra dimension to a Screwdriver by adding a scoop to fresh squeezed orange juice and top off with a splash of Campari. However you enjoy it, Limonsardo will postpone the end of summer, indefinitely.
2 cups water
1 1/3 cup sugar
½ cup limoncello
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1 lemon, zested
3 sheets gelatin (optional)
¼ cup chopped mint (optional)
Side note: Oftentimes when making a sorbet that contains alcohol, getting it to properly and thoroughly freeze can be tricky. To counteract this, IWM sous chef Mike suggests using gelatin sheets. If you decide to do this, first let them soak in ice water while you prepare the rest of the recipe.
Combine the water, sugar and limoncello in a saucepan and heat just enough to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice, zest and gelatin. (Be sure to wring out the excess water before whisking in the gelatin.) If you’d like to add mint, do so once the mixture has cooled down to maintain its vibrant color.
If you have an ice cream machine, pour the base in and spin until the desired consistency. Otherwise, pour this into a baking dish and freeze for a day.
A delicious fresh alternative to traditional polenta
After a long day of work, I’m always amazed to walk out of the office and through the Union Square Greenmarket three times a week before descending into the subway. It’s always colorful, bright and delicious, but this time of year there is really amazing sweet corn readily available. Today I am sharing one of my favorite ways to eat corn: fresh summer polenta, a recipe I got from one of our in-house chefs, Mike Marcelli.
6 ears of fresh farmer’s market corn, shucked
4 Tablespoons of cold butter, split into 1 tablespoon pats
Salt and a little white pepper
Cut the ears of corn by standing corn up and smoothly slicing downward.
Put in blender or food processor until smooth.
Put the fresh corn mixture in a saucepan set to medium to medium-low temperature along with some salt and white pepper to taste.
Whisk gently in the saucepan until mixture is reduced by half.
At the end, whisk in the butter, one pat at a time.
Serve immediately; yields 4-6 servings as a side.
This ridiculously easy recipe yields an impossibly light and fresh alternative to the traditional polenta. A heavier, creamier traditional fall polenta is great, but it doesn’t work so well in the summer. This summer version makes a great side dish for grilled or roasted fish. The sweetness and airiness of the corn and the hint of richness the butter contributes to the dish and makes a bottle of Paolo Bea Bianco Santa Chiara 2009 pair with the dish perfectly.
Move over truffles, it’s matsutake time
While everyone is going bananas over truffles this time of year, I want to show some love to one of my favorite culinary indulgences, matsutake mushrooms. When it comes to status and ridiculous prices, matsutake mushrooms are in the same league as caviar and truffles. These mushrooms are very rare, seasonal, and extremely popular in Japan. With their pungent distinctive aroma (which Japanese believe stimulates the appetite) and very smooth texture, these mushrooms have a taste is reminiscent of cooked scallop. They’re a magical ingredient, and when paired with the right wines, they only ignite the taste buds even further. Matsutakes are hard to find, though simple to harvest, and, therefore, the prices is rather steep (The highest grade of matsutake is harvested at the beginning of the season and can go for $2,000 per kilogram).
These special mushrooms are expensive in general due to their scarcity. Unlike other mushrooms, growing them artificially is incredibly difficult despite farmers’ relentless efforts. Also, habitats suitable for matsutakes are shrinking. They grow on soil free of fallen leaves, but these areas are slowly disappearing. Those who have had the opportunity to enjoy matsutakes understand this fungi fetish. Having worked alongside a number of chefs, I have had the joyous opportunity to enjoy these mushrooms prepared in a variety of ways; one of my favorites incorporated braised beef, ginger rice, sautéed matsutake mushrooms and wild ramps.
Considering wine matches, I apply similar rules for pairing with truffles as I do with matsutakes. These fungi have a musky, earthy depth that goes very well with the aromas and flavors of older Burgundy or Barolo. The dark dried fruit, gaminess and earthy spice notes in these wines complement the depth of flavor in the mushrooms. If I had to choose an Italian wine to enjoy with this dish tonight, I would open a Barbaresco from Bruno Giacosa, a Barolo from Bartolo Mascarello, a Brunello from Soldera or a Gattinara from Travaglini (the older the better!).
For those of you who have not had a proper matsutake experience, tis the season to enjoy!
A recipe from IWM’s Chef Kevin Sippel
One of the tasty benefits of working at IWM is the opportunity to savor some of Italy’s finest dishes and delicacies. It’s a blessing for the tongue. IWM’s Chef Kevin Sippel, known by his colleagues as a superhero of cuisine, is always one to keep his fellow co-works in bliss whether serving antipasto selections from our Salumeria, fresh fish of the day for our family meal, or his tempting flourless chocolate cake. Though he’s always one to ignite the revelry with his culinary prowess, Kevin’s actually a man of mystery and doesn’t provide interviews often. I had the insider information that Kevin’s a native of Buffalo, New York, home of the original sporting food, Buffalo Chicken Wings, so I took the opportunity to see what he’s planning to cook up for game day, Super Bowl XLV.
When Kevin mentioned cotechino, I knew this was going to be a European twist on the traditional. For those not familiar, cotechino is an Italian pork sausage mildly spiced and high in fat, but always a carnivore’s delight. It is usually served as a stewy dish with lentils and can be accompanied with hunks of bread and butter. When manning it up this Sunday, follow Kevin’s recipe below. Pair it with a Sangiovese-based wine–like Fontodi Flaccianello 2007 or Talenti Brunello Ris 2004–or a nicely structured Dolcetto, like Poderi Aldo Conterno Il Masante Dolcetto Langhe 2008, and you won’t be disappointed.
Fresh Cotechino Sausage
2lb Pork shoulder
1.5lb fat back
1.3lb pig skin
Tbsp pink salt
Tbsp course ground black pepper
In a large pot, boil skin for 1 hour, shock in cold water .
Fine chop skin, shoulder meat and fat back and add remaining ingredients.
Mix thoroughly with spoon for 5 minutes until meat becomes “sticky”
Let the mixture rest for one hour.
Lay a sheet of plastic wrap about 2 feet long on table.
Place mixture in middle and roll the plastic wrap around
Poach the cotechine at 170f for 1 hr until cooked through
Serve warm with lentils
Now the real question is this: Packers or Steelers? When asked, the enigmatic chef gave no reply.
UPDATE: in response to a request in the comments, below is Kevin’s recipe for lentils that comes straight from the chef’s mouth:
3 stalks of celery
Dice all vegetables
1 clove of garlic
Add 100 grams of
Add 250 g lentils
Sauté for 3 minutes
Add stock enough to cover lentils and simmer for 2 hrs