Each month, I’m lucky enough to have a supper club date with my good friends Mary, Jim, Lindsay and Jon. Our honorary members Whitney and Bob moved to Iowa, so they join whenever possible. We’ve been off schedule for a few months as summer got busy, so it was a joy to be back together in Jon & Lindsay’s new home in Cudahy on Friday night. Despite the heat, we enjoyed the best summer has to offer, and Jim, in true supper club fashion, created a delicious new drink using Mary’s home made Limoncello.

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This colorful plate looks like summer. We started our meal with a green salad topped with tomatoes, patty-pan squash and a pomegranate balsamic vinegarette. Jon worked his magic with chicken on the grill – marinated in a special mix of soy, BBQ and hoisin sauce and cooked about 10 minutes per side. His other secret: Two Fat Guys BBQ sauce (www.ilovetwofatguys.com) which is made by our friends to the south in Illinois, and is gluten free, high fructose corn syrup free, fat free and cholesterol free. Pair that with fresh farm stand corn and watermelon, and you’ve got a perfect summer feast.

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I would consider Jim a master mixologist, despite his armature status. Every time we get together he’s concocting something special, and he’s even considerate of my “nothing sweet, my tastebuds are broken” requests. I will admit, this little cocktail was a bit sweet for me, but still a lovely summer mixer. It included a base of Mary’s home made Limoncello, poured over a few frozen strawberries and topped with champagne. Here’s Mary’s recipe:

15 organic lemons, well scrubbed

2 bottles (750 milliliters each) 151-proof or 190-proof alcohol, such as Vodka or Everclear

4 cups sugar

9 ½ cups water (divided)

Pat lemons dry and, using a sharp vegetable peeler, remove the peel, being careful not to lift up any of the white pith, as this imparts bitterness.

Place peels in a large 4-quart jar or divide evenly between two 2-quart jars. Pour in one bottle of alcohol over peels (or divide between jars accordingly), pushing them down with a spoon to ensure they are well covered. Cover mixture tightly and let sit in a cool, dark place 3 to 4 weeks.

Add second bottle of liquor (or divide evenly accordingly).

Boil sugar and 7 ½ cups water in a large saucepan 5 to 6 minutes, stirring constantly, until liquid is clear. Remove from heat and let cool. Add to alcohol mixture. Let mixture sit another 3 to 4 weeks. Eventually liquid will absorb the flavor of the peels and turn bright yellow.

Strain liquid through a fine-mesh strainer or coffee filter. Add remaining water to mixture, using 1 2/3 cups if you used 151-proof alcohol or 2 cups if you used 190-proof. This will turn it a desirable cloudy, pale yellow.

Transfer liqueur to decorative 1-liter bottles and seal tightly.

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