The Naughty Monk

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Buon giorno!

Like your java?  This one’s for you: THE NAUGHTY MONK! This hot coffee beverage will end your love affair with Irish Coffee forever.

THE NAUGHTY MONK  is a warm smooth coffee drink, just made for wintry weather.

Why the monk? This coffee contains the sweet and delicious Italian hazelnut flavored Frangelico Liqueur, named for a famous monk of the 1400′s.

Why naughty? –  It includes a stiff double whammy from Dark Rum. However, it is NOT too strong. It is just right!

Then – there is that very subtle hint of chocolate from the chocolate liqueur. I love this coffee – it’s naughty – but not too much. It slides right down, tastes absolutely delicious, and warms you from top to bottom. This is a perfect choice for winter fireside snuggling and has been a family favorite at our house for a number of years! Everyone loves it!

Hope you enjoy it too!


Makes: one coffee drink


4 oz. Hot freshly brewed coffee or espresso

3/4 oz. Dark Rum ( I like the Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum)

1 oz. Frangelico Liqueur

1/2 oz Godiva Liqueur (Chocolate)

Whipped Cream

Freshly grated nutmeg

Toasted Chopped Hazelnuts


Grated Dark Chocolate if you prefer


While you brew your fresh coffee or espresso, add your rum and liqueurs to your cup or mug. Pour in the hot coffee. Top with some whipped cream, freshly grated nutmeg and toasted hazelnuts or dark chocolate. Mmmmm – I can almost taste it!


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The Bombardino

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Buon giorno!

They call it “the Bomb”. Maybe this is because of its high alcohol content? Or could it be that it is just so amazingly rich and delicious? Truth is, it has quite “the bombastic effect” even without alcohol. It ‘s just plain over the top! Of what do we speak”? It is THE BOMBARDINO  THE BOMB! This is the popular apres ski winter favorite of the Italian Alpine slope enthusiasts. It is a warming thick lovely drink, and I can’t think of anything better with which to sit in front of a roaring fire after a hard day of high altitude activity– or any activity. This is it, folks! It’s the ONE!

It is much like egg nog – except that egg nog is cold and THE BOMBARDINO is hot. There are many recipes swirling about out there in the ether. Some make it with coffee or espresso. Often you’ll find it made with Advocaat which is a pre-mixed Dutch-Belgian egg nog type liqueur. While this is easy and commonly found, there is nothing like a homemade BOMBARDINO. Whether it is after a long hard day on the slopes or a tough winter day of work, this is the way to unwind. It is a drink – it is a toddy – it is dessert – it is …well…decidedly the bomb!

Most recipes for this beverage begin with the usual egg nog routine – separate the eggs etc., and from there they go in different directions. I like to begin my BOMBARDINO with an egg yolk batter and then take a turn into an Afogato – like direction by adding a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Traditionally, it served in an Irish Coffee type glass and topped with whipped cream. This is soooo good, you’ll want to eat it..with a spoon!

Enjoy this one all winter long. You’ll have to provide your own fire to go along with this luscious concoction. But the ambience is worth it. Go on – give it a try – I dare you to indulge!


Makes: about 8 drinks

Prep: 15 minutes


1 C. Heavy Cream

2 Tbsp. Powdered Sugar

6 Egg yolks

1 C. Sugar

2 C. Whole Milk

1 1/2 C. Sugar

1 C. Spiced Rum or Brandy

1/4 C. Frangelico Liqueur (Hazelnut Liqueur)

1 Small Scoop Vanilla Ice Cream per glass


Whip the heavy cream with the powdered sugar and set aside.

Whisk together the egg yolks and 1 c. sugar until light and lemony colored.

Bombardino 1

Bombardino 2

Bring milk just to the boil in a pan and simmer about 1/2 minute.

Bombardino 4

Add the simmered milk and sugar carefully in a stream to the egg yolk and sugar mixture, whisking constantly while you pour.

Add the liquor and stir well.

Put this mixture back in the pan and heat on medium, stirring constantly for about 5-6 minutes until it begins to thicken and coats the spoon (like making a custard). Do not let it boil.

Remove from heat and strain the solids out with a sieve. DONE!

Make sure this mixture is hot before making your drink. Place a small scoop of the ice cream into a glass. (you don’t want to add too much as you will cool the drink – this is the same idea as in Afogato where you pour hot espresso over the ice cream)

Pour some of the hot mixture over the ice cream and top with whipped cream.

Now – about that fire…

Bombardino C

Enjoying THE BOMBARDINO in front of a hot fire is part of the recipe!! Set the mood. Hmmm – the rest is up to you!


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Limoncello–Make Your Own!

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The Canary Diamond of Liqueurs



Buon giorno!

Ah! Summer – Patio – fresh –light- lemon. Check all of the above.

Limoncello! I love the sound of the word. Have you ever known a word to exactly personify the food or the drink it represents? Limoncello is such a word. Go ahead – say it. Let it rollllll off your tongue. LEE-MON-CELLLL-OOOO.  YUP! That is exactly how it tastes. No puckering or tartness involved here – It’s light, it’s sweet, it’s fresh – it’s LEMON!

Limoncello definitely rocks my world. Of all the Italian liqueurs, digestivi, and after dinner drinks I have enjoyed – this refreshing lemon indulgence is by far my favorite. It slides down so easily even after the most rich and filling of meals. It definitely has a stomach settling effect for me. It does contain sugar, but remember that Limoncello is always consumed in tiny glasses and in small amounts.

A little geography:  The fact that it is a traditional after dinner choice for Southern Italians might have a little something to do with my bias. The hillsides of the Naples and Amalfi area that I love abound with lemon trees and lemons the size of your fist. So, why shouldn’t it be that this “canary diamond” of liqueurs originates from this very region of Campania? When wandering through the tiny towns nestled on the hillsides around Amalfi, you can actually smell the lemons. This jewel of beverages is available almost everywhere in that area.

And the history: Actually the origins of Limoncello follow a circuitous path. Lore dictates that the ancient fishermen of the Amalfi area used a form of it to warm up during the colder months. Legends also circulate that it had monastic beginnings –  with monks developing and drinking it.  It is said that the finest families of Sorrento and Azzurra, in  the bay area, served it to their guests around 1900. Most stories of actual production agree and converge upon the family of Massimo Canale, an entrepreneur of Capri, who registered the trademark in 1988. So production and world distribution, as we know it today, is fairly new by calendar standards.

Amalfi in your kitchen: I, of course, love Limoncello so much, that I want never to be without it. Follow my lead. Well then, how about creating a little Amalfi in your own kitchen? You will be surprised at how easy and inexpensive Limoncello is to make at home, and how wonderful it is to always have it on hand to enjoy whenever you want it.  It lasts a long time and is always kept chilled. Many people, myself included, keep the bottle in the freezer slightly propped so that it doesn’t spill out. I wouldn’t want to lose a drop. Limoncello will not freeze because of the alcohol content. Freezing it just makes it “super cold” for every occasion you choose to enjoy it.

The down and dirty: Many like to use grain alcohol such as Everclear. This makes a very potent batch and needs to be filtered a good bit. I have grown to like the ease of making my Limoncello  with vodka. It is faster, easier, and is very satisfying. I suggest not using your “Sunday best” vodka or “the Goose” for this task. It would be a waste of good vodka, really, as you are adding flavor to it. This is the time to settle for the “cheap stuff” like Smirnoff. I recommend 100 proof as the “proof” diminishes a little when you add the rest of the indgredients. The 100 proof ensures a “good kick”! Some like to filter the vodka a few times through a Brita filter. This is fine to do.

When not just any lemon will do: I strongly recommend using organic lemons for this exercise. There is a very good reason why. You should always clean and scrub your lemons before using them as we don’t always know where our lemons have been. However, even with scrubbing, pesticides and chemical washes are difficult to extract from your lemon skins even with the most diligent washing. These nasty substances WILL affect the taste of your lovely Limoncello negatively – so why would we want to risk a pristine result? Yes, organic lemons are the way to go.

Your surgical instruments: There are some items that you might need to make the process easier. These items are not obscure, and you might already own them. They are: a zester, a large glass container with a top, a fine sieve, a large funnel, and 2 one liter bottles for your finished product. You can re-use your vodka bottle as well.

Let’s do the “do”!!

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9 Organic Lemons

1 750 ml. Bottle 100 Proof Grain Vodka – Smirnoff is fine

3 c. Water

2 1/4 c. Sugar


Clean lemons with a brush under running water. Remove all stickers.


Zest lemons over wax paper for ease. Do not include the white pith which is bitter. You want the zest only.


You can also cut the rind from the lemons with a knife or peeler. However, if you choose this method, you must check the rind for white pith and trim it off if you see any.

Put your zest in large glass container.


Add vodka and water and cover.


If you decide to add a cinnamon stick – now is the time.


Let the mixture “steep” for 5 days at room temperature in a cabinet or darkened place.


Every once in a while, give the container a gentle shake – careful not to spill. The shaking helps the lemons to release more flavor into the vodka.

After 5 days, using a fine strainer or sieve to catch the zest (and the cinnamon stick if you used one), pour your mixture into a pot. (You can leave the mixture to steep more than 5 days and up to 40 if you like – but you get a light, lovely Limoncello after the 5 days.)


Add the sugar.


Now – heat the liquid, and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.


Take the pan off the heat and let the solution completely cool.

Pour your Limoncello into clean bottles using a funnel.


Keep in refrigerator or freezer for 2 weeks propped up so it does not leak out. No sampling until this step is completed.

Whoo hoo! Your Homemade Limoncello is ready to enjoy! Mmmm – there’s something about this stuff that is more satisfying when you make your own.

Keep it in the refrigerator or freezer so that it is always perfect. Serving it in chilled frosty glasses is a nice touch.

OR – Mix a little in a martini, pour over ice cream, or fruit salad! Sigh…come hither, my little “canary” friend.


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March: Sgroppino

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Amidst the lively costumes and masks that so fancifully illustrate Carnevale in Venice, hides a smooth and lovely drink that the revelers enjoy even year round. It is called Sgroppino. There are many recipes out there using sorbets, sherbets, gelato, and cream. I have fashioned one that is similar to those but just different enough to note. This is a beverage best served after a meal. It is attractive, dangerously delicious, and sure to cause conversation at your Mardi Gras table – pre-Lent or anytime. I, of course, especially like it On the Patio!

2 ½ c. creamy vanilla ice cream – not vanilla bean (I use Breyer’s Creamy Vanilla for this)
½ c. Lemon Curd – you can make your own but the jarred ones on your grocer’s shelf in the cake and spice department are just fine for this.
1 ½ oz. Vodka (put in the freezer a few hours before)
1 ½ oz. Limoncello (put in the freezer a few hours before)
1/3 c. Prosecco – chilled
Fresh Mint and Sliced Toasted Almonds for garnish

Soften your ice cream and fold or mash in the lemon curd. It’s ok to have little bits of the velvety curd still visible  – in fact it is better to have them, I think. They offer little lemon surprises as you sip!

Put the ice cream mixture back in the freezer until you are ready to use. [Read more…]

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Tuscan Sunsets And Stinky Cheese

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Buon Giorno!

Oh please!! Before the cold weather prohibits, can’t I have just one more night on the patio – my favorite place to dine and sip?? Is there a better place to ponder the pairing of Tuscan Sunsets and Stinky Cheese?

I don’t know about you, but when the summer heat finally breaks in Atlanta and the fall breezes usher in a flow of bronze tipped leaves, I head for the patio to experience the perfect autumn nights that nature has provided. What better way to celebrate the season than with a cocktail that reflects the early evening sky in beloved Tuscany and some savory bites to accompany. May I suggest my Tuscan Sunset Cocktail and Gorgonzola Biscuits? Both are easy to make and sure to win favorable comments.


These Gorgonzola Biscuits (my nod to Stinky Cheese) contain two ingredients high on my list of indulgences: pistachios and candied orange peel. Candied orange peel is very often used in Italian dolci and desserts. When I was a child and hadn’t yet developed an appreciative palate, I would pick the candied orange peel out of my dessert and leave a pile of the sweet morsels at the side of my plate. Alas, wasted youth! I have since learned a secret!! There is nothing quite so ambrosial as homemade candied orange peel! I am now a fan of both the sweet citrus flavor and the process to achieve it. You can purchase it at your grocer in the fall when the seasonal candied fruits abound, but there is just no contest with the homemade. I have a difficult time finding new hiding places where my husband, Tom, will not find it!!

May I recommend the best recipe for candied orange peel that I use often from none other than The Food Network ? It takes a few minutes but is soooo easy to make and fun as well. It fills your kitchen with a sweet essence of orange. Try adding a cinnamon stick or some ginger to the cooking liquid and give the peel an added twist! The recipe makes a good quantity and keeps for several weeks in your pantry. You can have so much fun with the extras by dipping pieces in dark chocolate and serving with espresso or adding them to enhance so many dishes. The recipe suggests reserving the final cooking liquid sweet with sugar and laced with orange for iced tea. I have made my iced tea this way with amazing success. It can also be added to mixed drinks requiring a simple syrup or that special martini! A little tip – we’ll be talking about and using candied orange peel as the holidays approach. So make some now and be prepared! It keeps a long time.

Feeling a thirst coming on, let’s make that Tuscan Sunset Cocktail !

You’ll need a chilled bottle of Prosecco (sparkling Italian wine – very much like champagne but lighter on the tongue and on the pocketbook!) and Orangecello also chilled. (Orangecello is made by the same folks who make Limoncello and is fairly easy to find at your liquor provider.)

Place a Mandarin orange slice in each champagne flute. Add 1 oz. Orangecello to each flute. Top each flute off with Prosecco to about 3/4 full. Garnish each with a fresh orange slice. Cin-Cin! (to your health!)

Gorgonzola Biscuits

(with candied orange peel and pistachios)

Makes 3-4 dozen

1 1/2 c. flour

1 stick butter – break into small pieces

6 oz. Gorgonzola Piccante – break into pieces

1/4 tsp salt

freshly ground black pepper – about 4 turns of the grinder

1 clove fresh garlic – chopped

1/2 c. candied orange peel – chopped

1/2 c. coarsely chopped shelled pistachios

About 1/2 c. whole shelled pistachios for placing in the center of the biscuits

Mix flour, butter, cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic in a food processor and use pulse (on/off) mode til the dough just pulls together. Notice that the dough has a grayish-green cast from the mold in the cheese. The biscuits will not be green! Add the orange peel and pistachios and use pulse mode again for a moment to just work into dough.


Turn out the dough onto lightly floured surface and work into a ball. Divide ball in 1/2 to form 2 balls. Take each ball and form into long rope around 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick squeezing and rolling with hands.



You can wrap the ropes in plastic wrap at this point and refrigerate (or freeze) to finish later or proceed with making the biscuits.

Cut the rope into 1/2 in. pieces and press them into rounds on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper.

It is important for best results to use the lining so that the biscuits have a little cushion.

Place a whole pistachio in the center of each biscuit. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until golden on bottom. Do not over bake or they will be dry. Remove and cool completely. Place in sealed container. Will keep about 2 weeks at room temperature or freeze and defrost as you care to use them.

These are great to pull out for drinks when that unexpected guest comes calling — but — served best as a companion to the Tuscan Sunset Cocktail.

Parla Come Mangi!

Reminder: Be sure to visit my website,Linda’s Italian Table, for the new Recipe Of The Month!

Food Photos by Tommy Hanks Photography

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