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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Limoncello White Chocolate Mousse

   Limoncello is produced in many parts of Italy especially in the southern regions where lemons grow in abundance.  This incredible after dinner drink is sweet and tart with the bold concentrated flavor of fresh lemon.  With its vibrant color and taste it is easy to see that Limoncello is the mother of all drinks made from lemon.
   The first time you try Limoncello your eyes will open wide and your senses will overload.  First off the intense lemon hits your tongue.  Next, the slightly bitter tanginess  of lemon rind fills your mouth followed by a concentrated sun kissed punch of sugar.  Somehow with all this bold sensory attack it all melds together to make a refreshing beverage perfect for sipping after a wonderful  meal.
   I wanted to capture this flavor explosion in a dessert that was as refreshing as the drink itself.  Creating this mousse required balancing ingredients enough to keep it light and yet allow the Limoncello to remain as the star of the show.
White chocolate is a perfect match for the bright flavor of lemon. Like Limoncello itself, white chocolate starts off smooth and delicious with the slightly sugary finish. Added to these two ingredients is mascarpone cheese which is smooth and creamy with the right amount of fat to cut the acidity and sweetness of the Limoncello and white chocolate.
You will find this mousse to be super light and airy. With the texture of a cloud and perfect amount of lemon and chocolatey goodness melting on your tongue it is a perfect dessert for any occasion.

Ingredients

2oz Limoncello Liqeur
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup of water
8 oz white chocolate
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup mascarpone cheese
6 egg yolks
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup whipping cream
Add water and sugar to a pot .
Bring to a boil for 3 minutes.
Beat egg yolks until fluffy and begin to lighten in color.
While beating eggs slowly add sugar and water mixture, beat for 1 minute.,

Melt white chocolate and butter together until smooth.
Add 2 oz of Limoncello, stir until well mixed.
Add melted chocolate to egg mixture very slowly
Fold mascarpone into chocolate mixture.

Beat whipping cream until it is light and fluffy with stiff peaks.
Fold whipped cream and lemon zest into chocolate mascarpone mixture until well blended.
Pour mixture into ramekins or glass of your choice.
Refrigerate a minimum of 6 hours , preferably over night.
Garnish with some white chocolate and candied lemon or fresh berries and mint. Anyway you serve it will leave you and your guests floating on a lemony cloud of enjoyment.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Orange salad with grilled fennel and buffalo mozzarella

     I love grilled fennel.    My inspiration for this recipe comes from travels to Sicily and my favorite Sicilian cook, my mother.  Growing up, my mother always prepared orange salad as a side dish for many great summer meals. Refreshing and tangy with the right amount of bite from onion and the way the juices and olive oil combined to make a heavenly dressing, it is truly one of my favorite things to eat.
    The addition of grilled fennel and fresh mozzarella make a well rounded salad especially perfect for summer dining.  The result  is and incredible combination of flavors, textures and colors.  The caramelized grilled fennel is intense but not overpowering. The oranges and sharp red onions give sweetness and a good bite to the dish.  Basil and mint give freshness and the creamy, buttery rich mozzarella bring it all together for a flavor and mouth feel that is out of this world.  Of course, this salad can be made with raw fennel as well but I feel that grilling it is what brings this salad over the top. One bite and you will find it difficult to stop eating this refreshing and delicious salad.


Ingredients:
1 fresh fennel bulb
1 fresh navel orange or Sicilian blood orange peeled and cut in cubes, pith removed
1 fresh buffalo milk mozzarella
1/2 of a small red onion thinly sliced
3-4 fresh basil leaves
3-4 fresh mint leaves
good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
 Cut fennel length wise 1/4 inch thick. Drizzle with olive oil and grill until slightly charred on the edges and nicely caramelized.  Set aside and allow to cool.
 Cut the mozzarella in thin slices and place on a plate or platter.
Layer the grilled fennel with oranges and sliced red onion on top of the mozzarella and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Tear the mint and basil leaves by hand and place over salad. Drizzle salad with extra virgin olive oil and remaining juice from cut orange.
 This salad can be enjoyed on its own for a nice light lunch or makes a perfect match for any grilled meat, chicken or fish dish.

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