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Who’s Cooking: Elisa Scialli, Westbury

Elisa Scialli of Westbury keeps an Italian tradition

Elisa Scialli of Westbury keeps an Italian tradition alive with her holiday limoncello. Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

Elisa Scialli, a nurse’s aide in the Westbury School District, lives in Westbury.

Where does this recipe come from?

I was born in Italy. I came here when I got married and I’ve been here for 33 years, but I have always kept my traditional recipes. This recipe came from Italy, from my little town, Durazzano. I learned with my sister. We made it together. Since then I’ve been making it by myself. It’s very easy to make. Everything is natural. It’s a nice after-dinner drink. I enjoy making it and I enjoy teaching other people how to make it.

What do you serve for Christmas dinner?

I do a traditional Italian meal for my daughters and their boyfriends, and maybe a few others, 10 to 12 people: antipasto, lasagna, lamb with potatoes, filet mignon and all of the vegetables — salad, broccoli rabe, escarole, roasted baby artichokes. That’s it.

Do your daughters cook?

They liked to help me out cooking when they were little. They know how to do everything now, and they cook with me, they help me, but they also have jobs and are working. One day, they will do it by themselves.

Do you give limoncello as a gift?

I have a few people, friends, who expect my limoncello for Christmas. So I always give them a little bottle to drink for Christmas Day. But it will keep in the freezer for close to a year. It doesn’t go bad.

Do you have any serving suggestions?

In Italy, you keep special glasses in the freezer and pour the cold limoncello into the frozen glasses. It’s delicious. If you drink it warm it is not as good.

Do you serve it along with a traditional dessert?

With tiramisu it’s the best. I’ve been making traditional tiramisu for a long time. Also around Christmas I make honey balls, which are also good. I like to teach my daughters all of the traditional recipes.

LIMONCELLO

Peels of 10 lemons, removed in long strips with a vegetable peeler

1 quart 95 percent pure grain alcohol

1 quart water

3 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar

1. Combine lemon peels and grain alcohol in a glass jar and refrigerate for 10 days.

2. In a medium pot, bring the water to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the sugar to dissolve. Let cool to room temperature. Pour the alcohol through a strainer and into the pot, discarding the peels. Mix well.

3. Pour the limoncello into glass bottles and let stand at room temperature for a day, then store in the freezer.

Makes about 2 quarts.

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