I am going to try and not make this post ramble on and dart from this story to that, but I’m very afraid I won’t be able to do that. Why? Because I’ll be speaking of lemons. And Limoncello. Which means Italy. And this time specifically the Amalfi coast. And we all know what happens when I go there.
When we moved to Mexico almost ten years ago now, there were no lemons. That was a hard one for me. True, limes, oranges and other citrus were in abundance, but it’s just not the same as lemons. What would I do for the zest in my cheesecake crust? What about the tang in my salad? Never mind just keeping them in my glass jar because they look so pretty on a counter.
Sigh. It wasn’t easy. Sometimes I felt like the contestants on Survivor who sit and talk about the food that they miss from back home and what they would eat when the game was over. This was what we did with lemons.
Costco started selling them a few years back, but of course, in bulk size. While this made me very excited at first, I soon forgot how the Mexican humidity doesn’t allow any produce to last very long, so a huge bag of lemons was not going to last as long as I wanted. This was actually an easy problem to solve, as there were always friends who would gladly share a bag. Happy days returned, and lemons were back in my life.
I had been to the Amalfi coast in Italy, which is not far from Naples, when I was single and in my early twenties. We ended up in a beautiful little hotel in Sorrento and spent some time roaming Positano. I had never been anywhere so delightful. Small streets, huge smiles, delicious food, and lest we forget, large lemons. I had never seen them so large. They were beautiful and everywhere and their smell fills the streets.
I never forgot Amalfi. In fact, when we were planning our 20th anniversary trip last year, my husband kept reminding me that the only two places I never stopped talking about was Santorini, and the Amalfi coast. He wanted to try and see both.
And see both we did. And neither disappointed. Those roads of the Amalfi coast provide vistas that can’t compare.
The flowers, the houses, the water against that sky. It’s a place that you leave a little bit of your heart at and must go back to get it.
Because of the superfluous amounts of lemons, there were also hundreds of varieties of Limoncello. If you have never seen or tried it, Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur that is made using, of course, lemons, and either grappa or vodka. It is extremely popular in the Amalfi coast and southern Italy, including Capri. It is served cold and is light, refreshing, tangy, and sweet all at once.
I was amazed when I returned to the Amalfi coast last year at the variety of Limoncello. The first time I was there I was much younger and had not grown in my appreciation for certain liqueurs, so this time I was much more ready and interested. I will say sadly, I am not too great at differentiating slight tastes like my husband is. While walking down one beautiful little street in Sorrento, we were offered taste after taste of Limoncello. (Yes, I know, rough afternoon). Each store owner would tell us ‘my family makes the BEST Limoncello!’ and so of course we had to find out for ourselves. While I got confused by the tastes rather quickly, my husband knew which brand he liked and why, and finally chose the bottles to bring home.
It’s quite comforting to open the freezer where the Limoncello is stored and see a bright burst of yellow shining out at you. Everyone needs some sunshine shining out from their freezer, don’t you think?
This past summer we didn’t make it to the Amalfi, but we taste tested more Limoncello in Rome and brought some home again. When I asked my visiting Italian friends from Toronto this week what ice-cream flavors I should make and the husband said “have you ever tried Limoncello?”, I was actually ashamed of myself that not only have I not yet tried it, I had never even thought of it. Shame on me.
So last week I made my first Limoncello ice-cream. Since I love lemon so much I thought why not throw some lemon curd in there? Looks pretty and who doesn’t want as much lemony taste as you can get?
It’s such a light and refreshing ice-cream and it did to me what food should do at times: brought back a flood of wonderful memories, tastes, sounds, and sights. Even if you’ve never been to Italy or the Amalfi coast, I promise you’ll love this refreshing and unique ice-cream.
You might just feel about it the way I did about the Amalfi coast.
LIMONCELLO LEMON CURD ICE-CREAM
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 cups whipping cream
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/3 cup Limoncello
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 lemons
- 1 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 lb unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 eggs
- juice from the 3 lemons
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
In a medium saucepan on medium heat, warm cream, milk, and sugar together until steamy. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. When milk mixture is steamy, pour a little into the egg yolks, whisking constantly so as to not cook eggs. Pour egg yolk mixture back into saucepan and whisk to combine. Add Limoncello and lemon juice. Stir continuously with a flat bottom wooden spoon until mixture thickens and coats the spoon so that it leaves a line when you run your finger through it, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain mixture into a bowl through a fine-mesh sieve. Let cool to room temperature and then cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, churn ice cream according to manufacturers directions. After churning, pour half of the ice cream into a loaf pan or similar dish. Drop lemon curd by the spoonful all over the ice cream and using a knife, swirl it in. Pour remaining ice cream on top and repeat to create a pretty design on the top. Freeze ice-cream a few hours.
**Note: You will have extra lemon curd, I did not use all mine. I had about 1/3 of it leftover but it’s really up to you how much lemon you want. As you can see from the picture I could have put way more in.
Zest the lemons and place zest in a food processor. Add sugar and pulse until minced well together.
Cream the butter for about 2 minutes until nice and light, add sugar and lemon mixture. Add eggs one at a time and then add lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined.
Pour mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened, about 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly. The lemon curd will thicken quickly after 5 minutes so you must keep stirring. Remove from heat.
Strain curd through a sieve if you don’t want any chunks of zest in your curd (I did this for the ice cream). Let cool and refrigerate.
Makes about 2 pints.