Food Gift: Basilcello

by Maggie Battista on December 2, 2013

in Drinks, Featured, Food Gifts, Vegetables, Vegetarian

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I remember my initial sip of homemade Limoncello. It was my very first small batch infusion, and after 40 days of marinating, the cordial’s big reveal was at a backyard picnic with all my European friends. I suppose I’m the risky type.

I felt that my version tasted better than the store-bought kind and used all organic ingredients, but the final call would be made by all my friends, including three Italians loyal to their momma’s recipe.

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One staunch southern Italian, determined to share the truth, said, “This is not right. It’s just too good.” His momma’s Limoncello always offered a strong burn as it went down. He poured himself shot after shot, blaming my version’s perfection.

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Without access to pure grain alcohol, I had used vodka as my base. He said the vodka conspired to keep him wanting more. And the hue, more like thick olive oil due to the organic cane sugar, made him miss his family’s olive groves.

In those moments, complimented and critiqued in the same breath, I still felt like a superhero. And I still use vodka, infusing it with all kinds of fruity and herbal finds ever since.

Limoncello always ends a backyard picnic perfectly, but I knew that a basil-variety would delight a die-hard basil fan like me or everyone else in my Italian-loving circle. This version is strong but adds a punch to the end of a meal and just the right sort of strength to a scoop of delicate lemon sorbet.

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Basilcello

Ingredients:

  • 50 organic basil leaves
  • 2.5 cups of vodka
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Pour vodka into a sealable, sterilized jar, and set aside. Use a jar with a seal that doesn’t have metal in the lining. (If the only jar you have has a metal lining, then have a large piece of parchment paper handy to place between the jar and the seal.)
  2. Boil water in a pot over high heat. Set up an ice cold water bath – a bowl filled with ice and cold water – close to the stove.
  3. Clean basil leaves with a damp paper towel, paying attention to the underside of the leaves where dirt may hide.
  4. Blanch the basil leaves by placing leaves in the boiling water for 1 minute. Transfer leaves to the ice cold water bath for 1 minute. Drain leaves in a tight mesh strainer, gently squeezing to remove extra water.
  5. Place the leaves into the jar of vodka. Cover and let sit in a cool, dark place for 1 week, shaking every other day.
  6. After a week, the infusion should take on an olive green hue. Drain the vodka and discard the basil leaves.
  7. Make a quick simple syrup of the sugar and 1/2 cup of water — boiling until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  8. Add the simple syrup to the basil infused vodka. Your Basil-cello is ready to drink immediately but tastes better after a little more time in a cool, dark place and served ice cold.

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Photos by Heidi Murphy/White Loft Studio.

Eat Boutique discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers. We share recipes, maker stories and city guides to eating boutique. We host tasting events and markets for food makers, cookbook authors and food fans. We craft seasonal, regional gift and tasting boxes and sell individual items that you can order in the Eat Boutique Shop. You can also follow us on TwitterFacebookInstagramTumblr and Pinterest.

Maggie Battista

Founder at Eat Boutique
Maggie, is the founder of Eat Boutique. She started Eat Boutique as a blog in 2007, and sold out of her first gift box of small batch independent food in 2009. Maggie continues to offer unique and delicious handmade food in tasting subscriptions and seasonal gift boxes for food fans and home cooks. Maggie also hosts Eat Boutique Markets, where she spotlights cookbook authors and food makers. She’s written for Style Me Pretty, Food52, Time Out New York, Spencer Magazine, and writes a cocktail column for the popular wedding blog, Snippet & Ink. Maggie's also created retail experiences for the largest floral and event design company in New England. She regularly travels far distances to find the next great chef, farmer, food maker or host. You can follow her worldwide – and homemade – gastronomic adventures on Twitter at @mizmaggieb or @eatboutique. Maggie's writing her first-ever cookbook Food Gift Love to be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in fall 2015.

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  • Jaime Lynn

    i am so making this…yum!

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Oh YAY Jaime. Let me know how it turns out! Thanks so much for commenting, it means a lot. xox

  • Carol Cook

    Thanks for such a creative and tantalizing recipe….basil leaves always easy to find, and the idea of not having to ‘wait a month’ is the BEST!! Oh, yes, this could be a very creative and shared holiday gathering for a few close friends!! WOW!!! Will take the recipe/article with me to holiday gathering this Sat, and see who’s ready to return…much more fun than a cookie swap!!

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      I have to agree with you – a booze swap is much more fun (to me) than a cookie swap! Thanks so much for commenting, really. xox

  • heidi | white loft studio

    this might be one of my favorite shoots with you :) loved reading about how this came about! xo

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      It was a lot of fun and I love the wabi sabi of the sorbet, it’s kinda perfect. xox

  • lisabro

    can’t wait to try this!

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Oh let me know if you do try it! Thanks so much for leaving a comment, I love to see comments. xox

  • Claudia Bernal

    Sounds delicious. Great story Maggie. You probably had to host your Italian guest overnight, or how else would he have made it back home, shot after shot!

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