Here's the May 2017 Edition!

Fresh Strawberry Lemon Cream Cake is pictured this month

Fresh Strawberry Lemon Cream Cake is pictured this month

Hello marvelous May,

May gets an "arms-wide-open" welcome as it signals the arrival of fresh, delectable, local produce.  This month we'll dive right into it all and fill our kitchens and homes with the sights and smells of rhubarb, asparagus, mushrooms (morels, if we're fortunate), strawberries, spinach, spring greens, and more.  After a winter of utilizing supermarket or frozen fruits and vegetables, it is literally a breath of fresh spring air to finally be cooking with locally-sourced ingredients again.  For a little inspiration, here's a peek at the recipes you'll enjoy this month.

Mother's Day is nearly here, and I have some recipes this month specifically with Mom in mind.  Strawberry-Rhubarb Cinnamon Rolls are quite special, with strawberries and rhubarb tucked into moist cinnamon rolls topped with a feminine pink strawberry frosting, perfect for the occasion.  For a grown-up treat, try the Strawberry Lemon Bellini, made with homemade Limoncello.  There's a virgin version for the kids and those who choose a non-alcoholic version, too.  Happy Mother's Day!

Flatbread with Wild Mushrooms & Gruyere Cheese is savory and satisfying, and the perfect appetizer for any meal.  Follow that with Spinach & Scallop Soup, a soup that sold out at the cafe frequently; the simple ingredients combine to create a delicate, subtle, soup with amazing flavor that would be right at home in any upscale restaurant.  Of course we all love a tasty salad, so give my Spring Baby Spinach Salad with Orange Vinaigrette a try.  I dress it up with a Parmesan Crisp, nutty, crispy, and a bit salty, a great accompaniment.

Chicken Fricasee with Spring Vegetables makes use of chicken thighs braised with mushrooms, carrots, leeks, white wine, and finished off with asparagus and chives.  Serve it over some simple buttered noodles for an unforgettable meal.  And for your meals on the go, make Feast's Chicken Roll-Ups and you'll have lunch ready and waiting for your next adventure!

Every month we end with a memorable dessert, and this month's recipe is perfect for Mother's Day, Memorial Day, or any other day that you choose to celebrate.  Fresh Strawberry & Lemon Cream Cake (pictured above) starts with my Easy Homemade Yellow Cake, spread with Easy Strawberry Sauce, then filled with a combination of Easy Lemon Curd and Whipped Cream That Won't Fall Flat, and sliced fresh strawberries.  You'll find many uses for the yellow cake and lemon curd, and of course the whipped cream is a staple for many of us.

Videos are coming throughout the month, so stay tuned!  Also, if you're a member and use Facebook, but aren't a member of the private Feast of Eden Cooks at Home! Member's Only Facebook page, shoot me an email and I will add you!  Of course, I love to hear which of the recipes you are making and how you like them.  Questions? Be sure to utilize the Ask the Chef feature!

Let's enjoy spring while we have it, taking advantage of the ingredients that inspire us, and get cooking!

Blessings,

Chef Lisa Signature.jpg
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Strawberry-Rhubarb Cinnamon Rolls

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cinnamon Roll

Strawberry-Rhubarb Cinnamon Roll

Spring means rhubarb and strawberries aplenty!  Can you think of a more fitting Mother's Day sweet than a cinnamon roll filled with both?  Pretty in pink, and full of fruity flavor, any mother, sister, aunt or grandmother would love one of these with a cup of coffee on her special day, and I'm sure the whole family will enjoy them, too.  After lots of experimentation with different approaches, I found that chopping the rhubarb and strawberries fine, coating them with cornstarch and sprinkling them over the traditional cinnamon roll preparation worked best.  The icing is made with pureed strawberries, a touch of butter, and confectioners sugar.  The dough is my adaptation of a Fleischman's yeast recipe, which works every time!

Dough:

3 1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 packet (or 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups water

1/4 cup butter

1 egg

Filling

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 Tablespoons butter, very soft

1 cup 1/4"-diced fresh rhubarb (not frozen!)

1 cup 1/4"-diced fresh strawberries (not frozen!)

1 1/2 Tablespoons corn starch

Icing

2 cups powdered sugar

1 Tablespoon soft butter

1/4 cup pureed strawberries

Make the dough:

Combine 2 cups flour, sugar, dry yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir until blended.  Place the water and the butter in a glass measuring cup and microwave on HIGH in 15 second increments until very warm, but not hot to the touch.  (The butter won't melt completely.)  Add to the flour mixture along with the egg and beat for 2 minutes at medium speed, scraping down the bowl occasionally. 

Add 1 more cup of flour and beat for 2 minutes on high speed.  Stir in just enough remaining flour so that the dough will form into a ball.  Switch to the dough hook and knead on low speed for 6-8 minutes until it is smooth and elastic and springs back when lightly pressed with 2 fingers.  (Alternately, knead by hand for 6-8 minutes on a floured board.)  Cover with a towel and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

Prepare the filling:

While the dough is resting, combine the sugar and cinnamon in a small bow.  In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, rhubarb, and cornstarch until well mixed.  Set both aside.

Shape the rolls:

On a lightly-floured board roll the dough into an even 10 X 15-inch rectangle.  Spread the softened butter all over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the long sides.  Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the butter.  Sprinkle the fruit over the dough evenly.  Starting with the long side of the rectangle, roll up the dough tightly.  Pinch the seams together to seal.  Cut into 12 equal pieces.  Place cut-side down in a greased and parchment-lined 13 X 9-inch baking pan.  Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45-60 minutes.  (I put a pan in the lower part of the oven and fill with boiling water, then place the pan of rolls on the rack above it. This creates a warm, moist environment without any drafts for the dough to rise in.) 

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. (Remove the rolls before preheating the oven, of course!)  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the rolls are golden brown all over.  Cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes.

Ice the rolls:

Combine all of the Icing ingredients in the mixer and beat until creamy.  Spread over the rolls.

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Feast's Chicken Roll-up

Feast's Chicken Roll-Up made with deli roasted chicken

Feast's Chicken Roll-Up made with deli roasted chicken

This pretty rolled sandwich is truly lunch in your hand!  Perennially popular at the cafe, you have options when making them at home.  Use deli chicken or turkey, left-over grilled or roasted chicken, or make it vegetarian by replacing the chicken with grated carrot, sprouts, or any other favorite veggies.  The chicken gets rolled into a tortilla along with a creamy cheese and green onion spread, little tomatoes, thin slices of cucumber, and baby spinach, a lovely medley of flavors and textures.  They can be made the night before (they hold together better if they are refrigerated a few hours before eating) and tucked into brown bag lunches or taken on a picnic   Take these on your next big adventure!

12 ounces cream cheese, softened .

2 Tablespoons grainy Dijon mustard

3 ounces shredded Cheddar or Co-Jack cheese

1/4 cup thinly-sliced green onions

6 10-inch tortillas, plain, whole-grain, spinach or red pepper

24 ounces cooked chicken, shredded, or sliced deli chicken or turkey

18 cherry tomatoes, halved

6 cups baby spinach leaves

30 thin slices of cucumber

Combine the cream cheese and mustard in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.  Add the cheese and onions and pulse until well combined. (Alternately, mix by hand with a fork in a medium bowl.)

Warm tortillas slightly to soften in a large skillet or over the open flame of a gas range prior to assembling.  Spread 1/6 of the cheese over the tortilla, top with a 4 ounce portion of the chicken, 6 cherry tomato halves, 1 cup spinach leaves, and 5 slices of cucumber.  Fold and roll up as for a burrito.

Securely wrap each sandwich in a sheet of deli paper or waxed paper and cut in half on the diagonal.  Serve immediately, or wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.  Consume withing 24 hours of making.

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Spinach & Scallop Soup

Spinach & Scallop Soup

Spinach & Scallop Soup

The unexpected combination of ingredients in this dish yields a soup that would be right at home on any upscale restaurant menu.  Tender, sweet scallops are the perfect addition to this light, slightly creamy broth that is flavored with red peppers, a touch of heat from crushed red peppers, and earthy spinach.  This soup was a pleasant surprise to me, and I think you'll agree it is fabulous.  And best of all, it's quick and easy to make. Serves 8

2 ounces butter

1 cup diced red bell pepper

1 cup diced onion

4 cups low-salt chicken broth

3 cups thinly-sliced spinach leaves, packed

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (less if you don't like heat, but don't omit)

1 pound fresh or thawed, frozen bay scallops

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Melt butter in a heavy soup pot over medium heat.  Add the bell pepper and onion and saute until almost tender.  Add the broth, spinach, cream, and crushed red pepper.  Cover the pan and simmer until the spinach is tender.  Add the scallops and simmer (don't boil) uncovered until just opaque in the center.  Mix in the basil.  Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.

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Flatbread with Wild Mushrooms & Gruyere Cheese

Flatbread with Wild Mushrooms & Gruyere Cheese

Flatbread with Wild Mushrooms & Gruyere Cheese

Flatbreads have become extremely popular as appetizers, and with good reason!  This is one I make frequently, and is always a big hit.  It all starts with a classic pizza dough rolled thin, then sprinkling with a fabulous mushroom topping.  The topping is a mixture of both re-hydrated dried (for intense mushroom flavor) and fresh wild mushrooms, sauteed,  some reduced sour cream, fresh thyme, and Gruyere cheese.  It's sprinkled over the pizza dough and finished with a bit of Parmesan.  Amaze your guests with this little appetizer bursting with mushroom flavor.

1/2 recipe Favorite Pizza Crust

1 ounce dried mixed wild mushrooms

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

3 ounces fresh mixed gourmet or wild mushrooms, sliced thin

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

4 ounces freshly-grated Gruyere cheese

Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 500-degrees.  Place a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven to preheat, as well.  (The shape of the flatbread is totally dependent on the shape of your baking stone or sheet.  You can simply use a rimmed baking sheet, turned upside down, to bake the flat bread if you don't have a stone. Cut a piece of parchment paper slightly larger than the baking surface.)

In a medium bowl, cover the dried mushrooms with boiling water and set aside for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse to be sure no sand or grit remains.  Drain and pat dry with paper towels and slice thin, if needed.

In a medium non-stick skillet, melt the butter and add the reconstituted and fresh mushrooms and cook until they have absorbed the butter and softened, several minutes.  Add the thyme and sour cream and cook until the sour cream is reduced by half.  Remove from the heat and stir in the Gruyere.  Set aside.

Roll the pizza dough out to roughly the size of the baking surface on a floured board.  Gently transfer it to the parchment paper and pat and gently re-shape and adjust the dough to the proper size.  Slide the parchment with the dough onto a flat baking sheet before finishing.  Scatter the mushroom topping evenly over the entire surface of the dough, out to the edges.  Sprinkle with the Parmesan.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.

Carefully transfer the flatbread to the hot pizza stone or inverted baking sheet using the parchment paper to slide it into place.

Bake for 9-11 minutes, until the crust is a dark golden brown and the cheeses are melted and browned.

Using the parchment, slide the flatbread onto the same flat pan you used to put it into the oven.  Let the flatbread cool for 2-3 minutes before sliding it off the parchment onto a board to cut into 1-2" squares.  Arrange on a platter to serve, garnished with sprigs of fresh thyme.

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Chicken Fricasee with Spring Vegetables

Chicken Fricasee with Spring Vegetables

Chicken Fricasee with Spring Vegetables

Braising is one of my favorite cooking methods, and chicken thighs respond beautifully to braising.  I've braised chicken many ways, but I recently came upon this Epicurious recipe that incorporated spring vegetables, perfect for a spring dinner!  This is now one of our favorite dishes. One note, though, is to use young chicken thighs; I tried to use really large thighs and the stringy, tough results were not appealing.  Serves 4
  • 8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (about 4 lb.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cremini mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped leek, white and pale green parts only, from 1 medium leek
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
  • Hot cooked egg noodles
  • chopped fresh chives
  1. Pat chicken dry, and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon of the pepper. Place flour in a large plastic freezer bag; add chicken to bag. Seal bag, and toss to coat with flour. Heat oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Remove chicken from bag, reserving flour in bag. Shake excess flour mixture from chicken, and place, bone side up, in skillet. Cook chicken until deep golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove chicken to a plate, and keep warm.
  2. Add mushrooms to hot drippings in skillet; cook, stirring often, until beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Add carrots and leek; cook about 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved flour; cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Add chicken stock and wine; cook, stirring often, until sauce thickens slightly, about 6 minutes. Stir in cream and remaining 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper; add chicken, bone side down, nestling chicken into sauce mixture.
  3. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until sauce has thickened slightly and chicken is almost cooked through, about 15 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with asparagus. Cover and cook until chicken is cooked through and asparagus is tender-crisp, about 10 minutes.
  4. Serve chicken, vegetables, and sauce over hot cooked noodles, and garnish with chives, if desired.
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Spring Baby Spinach Salad with Orange Vinaigrette

Spring Baby Spinach Salad being drizzled with Orange Vinaigrette served with a Parmesan Crisp

Spring Baby Spinach Salad being drizzled with Orange Vinaigrette served with a Parmesan Crisp

Spring's bounty sings in this refreshing salad.  Baby spinach, red onion, radishes, cucumbers, avocado, crisp bacon and supremed orange sections are tasty enough, but the addition of the Orange Vinaigrette amplifies all of those flavors.  An awesome substitute for pork bacon (which some don't enjoy) is duck bacon, which is pictured.  A crispy Cheese Straw or Parmesan Crisp is the perfect, salty accompaniment. Serves 4

For the Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground white pepper

1 cup grape seed oil, or other neutral oil

Whisk together the first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl until very well combined.  Slowly whisk in the oil until the mixture thickens a bit.  Alternately, blend the first 6 ingredients in a blender, then drizzle in the oil with the blender on low until well-combined. 

For the salad:

8 cups baby spinach leaves, preferably organic

1 cup paper-thin slices of red onion

1 medium English cucumber, quartered, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 medium avocado, cut into 3/4" pieces

4 medium radishes, slices very thinly

2 Navel oranges, peel removed, sections "supremed" *See note

4 slices crisp, cooked bacon

Cheese Straws or Parmesan Crisps

Place the spinach in a large serving bowl, or into 4 individual salad bowls.  Layer the remaining ingredients over the spinach in the order listed.  Serve with the Orange Vinaigrette on the side.

*To supreme an orange:  Using a very sharp knife, cut off the top and bottom of the orange to make flat surfaces.  Place the orange on its bottom and slice away the peel and pith, from top to bottom, working all the way around the orange until no peel remains.  Trim away any little pieces of pith from the orange.  Working over a bowl, use the knife to cut between the membrane and the flesh of each orange section on both sides of the segment.  The result will be orange sections with no membrane, just the flesh.  Continue until all of the segments have been cut away from the membrane, allowing the juice to run into the bowl.  (Squeeze the peel sections over the bowl to capture any juice they hold!)  Use the juice collected in the vinaigrette recipe.

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Easy Lemon Curd

Easy Lemon Curd

Easy Lemon Curd

I love lemon curd!  It beautifully tops shortbread, angel food cakes, and scones, fills cake layers and cupcakes, and is a key ingredient in my Lemon Curd Frosting and Fresh Strawberry & Lemon Cream Cake.  Traditional methods for making lemon curd involve adding the butter after cooking and then straining to remove any bits of cooked egg.  This recipe eliminates all of that, and makes it truly easy to have it on hand for impromptu sweet treats!

3 ounces unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

2/3 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp. grated lemon zest

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes.  Slowly add the eggs and egg yolks and beat for one more minute.  Mix in the lemon juice.  (The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as the butter melts while cooking.)

Transfer the mixture to a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Place over low heat until the butter melts and the mixture is smooth.  Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.  (The temperature should be about 170-degrees and when you run your finger along the back of the spoon it will leave a path.)

Remove the curd from the heat and stir in the lemon zest.  Transfer to a bowl.  Press a piece of plastic wrap on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.  Chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken up as it cools. 

Store in the refrigerator, covered tightly.  It will keep for about a week, or it can be frozen and will keep for 2 months in the freezer.

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Easy Homemade Yellow Cake

Easy Homemade Yellow Cake used in the layers of a Strawberry Lemon Cream Cake

Easy Homemade Yellow Cake used in the layers of a Strawberry Lemon Cream Cake

This is one of those recipes you'll want in your hip pocket, ready at a moment's notice to use any number of ways.  This is a basic cake made from staples we all have on hand, useful for cupcakes, layer cake, in a truffle, or dressed up like the cake above.  This is my adaption of a recipe from the old Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, which I've nearly worn out after using it for 44 years! 
This recipe can be baked in any of the following sizes:  2-9-inch layers, round or square, or 1 9-inch round or square layer + 4 cupcakes, for a thicker layer for splitting into 3 layers, as pictured above.  Cupcake number for this recipes depends on size.

2 1/4 cups cake flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 cup + 2 Tablespoons milk

Prepare baking pans by cutting parchment to fit the bottom of each pan, greasing the pan, and laying in the parchment, then greasing the parchment.

Preheat the oven to 350-degrees

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl, and set aside.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, about 12 minutes.  With the mixer on low, add the vanilla, then the eggs, one at a time, beating until well-blended. 

With the mixer on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the creamed mixture, followed by 1/2 of the milk.  Repeat with the remaining flour and milk, beating after each addition until it is smooth.

Divide into selected pans and bake until firm to the touch, and a cake tester comes out clean.  Start at about 20-25 minutes for 9-inch layers.  Use your eyes and nose rather than the timer!

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Fresh Strawberry & Lemon Cream Cake

Fresh Strawberry Lemon Cream Cake

Fresh Strawberry Lemon Cream Cake

I've spent many an hour in strawberry patches, helping my mother before I left home to plant, weed, and pick; more recently in U-Pick patches in search of the best berries.  I adore these succulent ruby gems, truly best picked and eaten right in the patch, still warm from the sun, but amazing any time!  I anxiously anticipate May and the arrival of strawberries every year here in the Midwest; this cake celebrates their juicy goodness.  Not intended to be "fancy" and perfect, but rustic and delicious, the layers of cake, strawberry sauce, berries, lemon curd whipped cream, and fresh berries are absolutely delightful to look at, and even better on your fork. It's the perfect dessert for any spring celebration!

Chef's NoteThere are several steps to making this cake, but it is not difficult as long as all of the components are prepped in advance.  Prepare the lemon curd ahead of time so that it is chilled, or use store-bought if you're pressed for time.  Make the strawberry sauce ahead so that it is chilled before assembling the cake.  I make the curd, sauce, and bake the cake the day before I plan to assemble it (wrap the cake in plastic after it is cooled).  The next day I simply make the Whipped Cream and slice the berries before putting the whole thing together.  This may be prepared several hours or up to a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator.  Leftovers (ha!) will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator. 

One recipe Easy Homemade Yellow Cake (baked into one 9-inch layer + 3 cupcakes for snacking)

Easy Strawberry Sauce

Whipped Cream That Won't Fall Flat (triple batch)

1 1/4 cups Lemon Curd

2 pounds ripe, fresh strawberries, washed and dried

To Assemble:

Using a long, slender serrated knife, carefully cut the cake horizontally into thirds.  Place the bottom third on a cake board cut side up, and place on a serving plate.  Using a pastry brush, dab the strawberry sauce generously on the top.

Fold the whipped cream and the lemon curd together until no streaks remain.  Scoop about 1/3 of the cream mixture onto the prepared cake layer and smooth out just to the edge of the cake.  Stem about 7 or 8 strawberries and slice vertically with an egg slicer.  Using the center slices, make a ring of slices around the perimeter of the cake, with the pointed end sticking out slightly along the edge of the cake, overlapping a bit as needed to keep the berries straight. (See photo)  Use the end pieces of the berries to fill in the middle of the cake, using a few extra berries if needed to create a single layer of strawberry slices over the whole cake layer.  Place the next 1/3 of the cake on top (cut-side up) and repeat.

For the third and final layer place the third cake layer cut-side up atop the other two layers and apply the strawberry sauce.  Cover with the whipped cream mixture.  Place the sliced strawberries around the perimeter of the cake.  Garnish the cake by placing choice, small, whole berries in the center of the cake.

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Strawberry-Lemon Bellini

Strawberry-Lemon Bellini

Strawberry-Lemon Bellini

Every now and then a cocktail is the appropriate addition to a celebration.  A spring brunch buffet for Mother's Day, or a Bridal luncheon would be the perfect setting for this "pretty-in-pink" bubbly adult beverage.  Bellini's originated in Venice at Harry's Bar, made with white peach puree and Prosecco. This variation uses finely-diced or pureed strawberries, a bit of Limoncello, and Prosecco.  It is beautiful to behold, and lovely to sip.  Try this at your next spring fling! (There's also an alcohol-free version for the underage guests!)

For each serving:

1/4 cup finely-diced     or      1 heaping Tablespoon pureed strawberries                             

1 Tablespoon very cold Limoncello

Chilled Prosecco, best quality (do not substitute champagne as the flavor profile is not the same)

Small strawberry with leaves, split vertically half-way up the berry, for garnish

Place the strawberries or puree in the bottom of a champagne flute.  (If using diced strawberries, muddle them a bit.)  Add the Limoncello.  Tip the glass slightly to the side and gently, slowly pour the Prosecco down the side of the glass to fill.  Place the strawberry on the rim of the glass and serve.

Virgin version:

Place 1 Tablespoon strawberry puree in glass. Fill glass 1/3 full with cold lemonade.  Top off with cold lemon-lime soda.

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Limoncello

Homemade is always best!  I love this Italian liqueur, and making limoncello is a snap. It only requires a bit of patience, as the whole process requires about 5 days.  This delightful concoction stays in the refrigerator, at the ready for an adult beverage on a leisurely summer afternoon or evening.  If you're an on-the-rocks lover, this will make you happy, indeed.  I like it as a component to a variety of drinks; there are several recipes using limoncello coming, a Strawberry-Lemon Bellini with a virgin version this month!  (Feel free to halve the recipe to start, or if you don't think you need that much in your refrigerator!)

10 lemons

1 bottle vodka (750-ml)

3 1/2 cups water

1/2 cup strained freshly-squeezed lemon juice

3 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the lemons, being careful not to take the white part.  (Remove any white pith from the peels with a paring knife.)  Place the peel into a 2 quart non-reactive container, preferably glass.  Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with a lid or plastic wrap.  Let the peels steep in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

Stir together the water, lemon juice, and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves completely, 5-8 minutes.  Cool completely.  Pour the lemon simple syrup mixture into the vodka mixture.  Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight.  Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer.  Discard the peels.  Transfer the limoncello to bottles.  Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and it will keep in the refrigerator up to 1 month.

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