Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Jasper Mirabile Jr.'s Applecello

When Jasper Mirabile, Jr., had too many apples and too much cider from Louisburg Cider Mill in Louisburg, Kansas, six years ago, he created Applecello. Then he introduced it to customers of his family's five-decade-old family restaurant in nearby Kansas City, Missouri (which he co-owns with his brother, Leonard) - Jasper's Ristorante.

A veteran maker of homemade limoncello (as well as mozzarella, pasta sauce, salad dressings and more), Jasper combined excess apples and cider with sugar, vodka, and grain alcohol, and then flavored the brew with cloves and cinnamon sticks - and he's been doing it ever since. This year's brew features Louisburg Cider Mill's Honey Crisp apples.  
Customers at the restaurant can't seem to get enough of this luscious stuff. Each fall they consume more than seven gallons of Applecello, in everything from Applecello Martinis to Applecello & Cream. Jasper adds Applecello to fruit-based breads and cakes (including his signature Applecello cake), pours it over fruit salad, and serves it warm, beside apple strudel and vanilla bean gelato. "It reminds me of fall," Jasper says. "It tastes like mulled cider with a little kick to it."
Want to make Applecello yourself? Here's the recipe:

Jasper's Missouri Applecello
Makes 1 1/2 gallons

6 apples, seeded and crushed
8 ounces apple cider
12 cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
6 tablespoons sugar
10 ounces vodka
10 ounces grain alcohol

Tools: 2, 32-ounce Mason jars, 2-quart stockpot, 1 gallon jug with a cork or cap, very fine strainer, 1-ounce glasses
Place all ingredients, except vodka and grain alcohol, in stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let steep for 15 minutes.
Pour mixture into a sterilized 1-gallon jug and then add vodka and grain alcohol. Place cork or cap on jug and store in a cool, dry, dark room. Let the mixture sit for 14 days.
Strain mixture and place in Mason jars, let sit for 14 more days, and then refrigerate until ready to use. Serve chilled.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Easy Homemade Hash Browns

My husband, Mark, and I. have been empty nesters for about 4 1/2 years. About two years ago, we began a Sunday tradition of sharing a big, homemade breakfast. I most often make French toast or pancakes while Mark fries turkey bacon or sausage, and cooks fried eggs or a two-person omelet. Once in awhile we enjoy biscuits and gravy or a sweet homemade bread.

Last week, Mark said that he wanted to try making hash browns for our Sunday breakfast. I had Yukon gold potatoes on hand but we agreed that russets would probably provide a better texture. So I grabbed the largest russet that I could find during my weekend shopping trip. Then, yesterday, Mark made us a huge pan of easy and delicious hash browns, reminding him of his days as a short-order cook. With toast made from English muffin bread, eggs, and juice, we enjoyed a weekend feast.

If you like hash browns too, give these a try!

Homemade Hashbrowns
Makes 2-3 servings
1 large russet potato, approximately 6 inches long
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Prick potato frequently with a knife, cover with water in a large saucepan. and then bring to a rolling boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove potato from saucepan and cool completely. Peel off skin. Using a hand grater - or the grater blade of a food processor - grate entire potato, put in a large bowl, and set aside.
Using an iron or nonstick skillet, oil lightly to minimize sticking, and set over medium high heat.

Add butter and oil and warm until butter melts. Place grated potato in the skillet and cook potatoes to golden brown. If using an oven-safe skillet, place the hash browns in a warm oven until ready to serve.

Enjoy with ketchup, hot sauce, sour cream or any other favorite condiment.