Un Bacio in Cucina

a photographic exploration of Italian food, culture & wine

Category: Drinks

Homemade Almond Milk + Banana, Nut & Seed Smoothie

One of the best things you can do for yourself is to make good, healthy food. Homemade almond milk is one of my necessities and I make it consistently every four days to use in my daily banana, nut and seed smoothie. One cup of raw almonds soaked overnight will yield four cups of milk that you can use in cereal, smoothies or anything else.  I do have to admit it’s not the best for coffee because of the consistency but I use it for everything else.  Almonds are very healthy and full of antioxidants. The milk has minimal calories per serving, a lot less than regular milk, and if you have sensitivities to casein or lactose it’s the perfect alternative.
It’s easy to make and therapeutic, especially when you squeeze all of the milk out of the almonds through the mesh nut bag. It can help get any bottled up aggression out for sure and it’s fun to do! I decided I was going to do a little photography to capture the moment, below.
All you need is a blender and a nut bag really. Soak one cup of raw almonds in water overnight, drain and rinse, blend with four cups of water and strain in a pitcher through cheesecloth or a nut bag. I used cheesecloth and a funnel for a long time which can get messy and frustrating. The nut bag is definitely the way to go.  You can find these bags online or in any health food store.  I’ve seen them at co-op markets in New Hampshire, Maine and New York so they are surely available where you are.

Homemade almond milk

There are a lot of smoothie recipes out there but I’ve been making this particular one for years and have perfected it. It’s banana based and uses all raw nuts and seeds with a few special ingredients added in. Undeniably delicious and addicting.  Here is my version.

 

Banana, Nut and Seed Smoothie

Banana, Nut and Seed Smoothie

Banana, Nut & Seed Smoothie
Serves 1
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Ingredients
  1. 1 large frozen banana, peeled before freezing
  2. 1 ice cube
  3. 1 cup homemade almond milk
  4. 6 raw almonds
  5. 1 T pumpkin seeds
  6. 1 T sesame seeds
  7. 1 T flax seeds
  8. 4 cacao beans
  9. 1/2 t vanilla
  10. 1 t turmeric powder
  11. 1/2 t cinnamon
  12. 1 T almond butter
  13. fresh grated nutmeg
Instructions
  1. Add banana, ice cube, milk, vanilla, turmeric, cinnamon and almond butter in a blender
  2. In a nut and seed grinder, grind almonds, seeds and cacao beans until fine
  3. Add nut and seed mixture to blender and blend until smooth, adding more milk if needed
  4. Pour into a tall glass and grate fresh nutmeg over the top
  5. Enjoy!!
Notes
  1. Use organic ingredients when possible
Un Bacio in Cucina http://www.unbacioincucina.com/

Leftover Lemon Mint Lemonade

Now that the Limoncello is doing its thing for the time being, what to do with all those lemons? There really aren’t any recipes I’ve come across that can make use of this much lemon juice so lemonade seems like a good use for it. Besides, it’s summer!
A good Italian lemonade can be made with either crushed basil or mint. I used mint in this recipe but basil can be easily substituted for a more sweet and pungent taste and aroma.
I’ve adjusted the sugar to make it lightly sweet which really brings out the flavors of the lemon and mint for the ultimate thirst quencher.

Leftover Lemon Mint Lemonade

Leftover Lemon Mint Lemonade. Photo by Leslie Brienza

Leftover Lemon Mint Lemonade
Serves 6
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Prep Time
1 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup sugar
  2. 1 1/2 cups water
  3. 1 cup lemon juice
  4. 3 1/2 cups cold water
  5. Ice cubes
  6. Mint and lemon slices for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan heat 1 1/2 cups water with the sugar until sugar is dissolved to make a simple syrup. Cool completely.
  2. Juice about 7 lemons with some pulp to get 1 cup lemon juice
  3. Add ice cubes and mint to pitcher and, with a wooden spoon, crush mint until aromatic.
  4. Add simple syrup to pitcher along with lemon juice and remaining water.
  5. Stir to combine.
  6. Serve in tall glasses with ice, mint and lemon slices for garnish.
Notes
  1. Make sure sugar is dissolved completely
  2. smash mint with wooden spoon with the ice to release oils and aromatics
  3. Can be made with basil instead of mint
Un Bacio in Cucina http://www.unbacioincucina.com/

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Limoncello!

At first, I thought the worst part of making limoncello was going to be having to carefully zest all of the lemons. But once I put everything in the jar and closed the lid it was then that I realized the hardest part, the wait! I’ll have to wait about three weeks before savoring a small glass of this amazingly sweet and potent Italian liqueur.

Limoncello-IMG_1393

Limoncello. Photo by Leslie Brienza

 

 Enjoying a limoncello in Italy is like experiencing something from another planet. On several lucky occasions there were those hot afternoons in Tuscany I remember where the restaurant owners just happened to have a homemade stash behind the counter. They would always be happy to share and enjoy a small glass and some relaxing conversation with their new American friends.
Well, my first attempt is resting in a cool, dark place now and in about two weeks I will let it see the light of day and that is when I will add the final ingredient, simple syrup.  Ah, I am already dreaming of Sorrento!
Even though I am not using the Femminello St. Teresa lemons from the south of Italy, I am sure the final product won’t disappoint. I am told the traditional way to make limoncello is in a terracotta vase. I will have to explore that more in depth next time. For now, we will have to get by with a glass mason jar.

Here is the recipe I adapted from my cousin, Pietro. I will post some images in a few weeks once it is ready. Have you ever made limoncello and if so, how did it turn out?  Leave your comments below. Ciao!!

 

Limoncello
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Prep Time
45 min
Prep Time
45 min
Ingredients
  1. 8 lemons, zested
  2. 1 4" cinnamon stick
  3. 750 ml 100 proof vodka
  4. 3 1/2 cups filtered water
  5. 3 cups sugar
Instructions
  1. Sterilize a half gallon mason jar in oven for ten minutes at 225 degrees without opening oven.
  2. After ten minutes turn oven off and let jar stay in oven until ready to use.
  3. Zest lemons using a vegetable peeler or small knife. Make sure only to zest the yellow and not the white part.
  4. Once jar is cool pour vodka inside and add lemon zest and cinnamon stick
  5. Close jar tightly and store in cool, dark place for 16 days, turning lightly to mix twice a week.
  6. After 16 days, heat water in medium saucepan and add sugar. Mix until sugar is dissolved and almost reaches a boil to make a simple syrup. Cool completely.
  7. Add simple syrup to vodka mixture and stir gently
  8. Leave to rest for another seven to ten days to mellow out and incorporate the flavors.
  9. Strain through a cheesecloth into sterilized limoncello bottles. Enjoy!
Notes
  1. ~Sterilize jar before using
  2. ~Avoid zesting any white part of the lemons
  3. ~Use organic lemons if possible
  4. ~Make sure the vodka is 100 proof
  5. ~Order limoncello bottles during the resting period. World Market and Fishs Eddy have a nice selection of thin bottles
Adapted from my cousin Pietro's recipe
Adapted from my cousin Pietro's recipe
Un Bacio in Cucina http://www.unbacioincucina.com/
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