Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Mar 7, 2013

Homemade Amaretto

A while back, a friend from the Farmers' Market had given me a bag full of apricot pits.  She knew I wrote this blog and figured I could make some homemade amaretto, a sweet almond liqueur, with the kernels (seeds) within the pits.  I finally got around to this project at the beginning of the new year and now it's ready!  The recipe comes from and takes about 4 weeks to make.  If you can't get the kernels from a farmer friend, eat a lot of apricots, order them online or find them in a health food store.  The recipe makes 4 cups, so I plan on giving out a few small bottles to friends and adding a large bottle to my home bar.  This amaretto lasts for up to 6 months if stored in a cool and dark place.  A cocktail recipe will be coming up next week!

Homemade Amaretto - makes 4 cups
Ingredients for the macerating mixture:
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
  • 3/4 cup purified water
  • 2 cups vodka (I used Skyy)
  • 1 3/4 cups whole, skin-on coarsely chopped almonds
  • 1 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped apricot kernels
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried, unsweetened cherries
Ingredients for finishing the liqueur:
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup purified water
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 2 tsps almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

To make the macerating mixture:
- In a 2 quart jar with a tightfitting lid, soak the dried apricots in the purified water until they're rehydrated.  Most of the liquid should be absorbed after 3 hours.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the jar, cover and shake.
- Place the jar in a cool and dark place for about 4 weeks, shaking once a week.
- After those 4 weeks, place a fine-mesh sieve lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl.
- Squeeze the cheesecloth to wring all that liquid out of the solids.
- Discard the cheesecloth and solids.
- Rinse and dry the sieve and place it over another large bowl.
- Set a flat-bottomed paper coffee filter inside the strainer and pour the reserved liquid through that.
- Let the liquid filter undistributed for about 5 hours, or until all the liquid has passed through.  You'll get this beige film lining that filter.
- Remove the strainer and discard the filter.
- Measure the amount of liquid you have left over — it should be about 1 3/4-2 cups.

To finish the liqueur:
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown and granulated sugars.
- Stir until they dissolve, for about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature.
- Add the vodka, almond extract and vanilla extract to the reserved filtered liquid and stir to combine.
- Add half of the sugar mixture, stir to combine and taste.
- If you'd like it sweeter, add more sugar.
- Transfer to a 1 quart container or multiple sealed bottles.