The gift of sun. The citrus at IL Fiorello are wonderful. They seem to love the sun at the farm and give us fabulous fruit. We use all of our fruit in our Kitchen in the Grove for our dinners, tasting menus, and cooking classes.
We have many varieties here on our farm. Eureka lemons, Meyer lemons, Variegated pink lemons, Genoa and Femminello Santa Teresa lemons, Buddha’s Hand, French Bouquet de Fleur, Seville Sour orange, Valencia orange, Kefir limes and sweet kumquats. Pomelos that grow as huge as softballs. Moro and Sanguinella Blood oranges. The unusual and beautiful Australian Fingerling limes, and we hope to have Calamansi to plant this coming year.
So what do you do with all those lemons, oranges and limes? Eat the oranges, make orange marmalade, and use the limes in your favorite drinks. We squeeze blood oranges making deep red juice and mix it with sparkling wine on New Year’s Day or even tonight or Sunday brunch.
Our Sous Chef Darren has been making candied lemon and orange peels. We also have been drying the citrus in our dehydrator and grinding it for citrus powder. It is just great on popcorn paired with our olive oils.
The process of candying the citrus is pure kitchen chemistry and gives a fabulous result. It is not for the faint of heart dealing with sugar and water and the resulting very hot caramel. Dissolve one cup sugar and one cup water and heat until dissolved. Continue heating the mixture until the sugar and water is fully combined and starting to look slightly golden. Carefully add the slices of oranges or lemons and then continue cooking over medium heat until the citrus is cooked through and translucent. When the caramel it is just turning from light brown to dark brown remove from the heat. Be careful as the caramel is very hot and sticky. With a fork, gently remove the slices and place on a drying tray. Leave until thoroughly dry and fully cool. Make a mixture of melted dark chocolate and your favorite olive oil and dip the cooled citrus to make a delicious dessert. Enjoy.
Another hint from the kitchen, we love affogato, espresso poured over vanilla gelato, topped with whipped cream and garnished with bits of candied orange peel.
And best of all, make Limoncello
This quintessential Italian drink is made with the greatest care and tradition with beautiful sun ripened lemons.
Mark and I have been making Limoncello for 30 years. It is such a treat to live in California and have an abundance of lemons. Choose your most favorite lemon and enjoy making your own Limoncello.
This is what you will need:
The peels of 6 or 7 large organic lemons (no pith)
1 quart of pure grain alcohol (Everclear will do just fine)
4 cups water
3 cups sugar or more sugar if you like a sweeter Limoncello.
Soak the lemon peels (no white pith) in the pure grain alcohol.
Yes the very potent stuff. DON’T use vodka. The vodka imparts an off taste. Use only the pure stuff.
This must sit for at least 6-8 weeks. Longer is no problem if you forget it in the back of the pantry.
Combine the sugar and water until it is completely dissolved
Drain the infused alcohol into a lovely bottle
Discard the lemon peel (or it save for roasting inside a chicken)
Combine the alcohol with simple syrup the usual proportion is half and half
Adjust to your taste
Chill and enjoy.
The proportions are up to you, sweeter, more simple syrup or a more concentrated simple syrup; tangier let the lemon peel soak for a little longer. Keep in a cool dark place until the perfect moment to enjoy a glass.
Serve ice cold in beautiful tasting glasses at the end of a perfect meal.
Serve with a little sparkling wine mixed half and half for a very refreshing aperitif
Sunshine in a glass.