Now that the weather is warm and summer is getting closer, I’m feeling like I’m running out of time. In just 33 short days I’ll be graduating high school, and in 41 days I’ll be leaving for Ecuador. After July 5th I will be living and attending a school in Guayaquil Ecuador until March of 2015. I decided two years ago that after my graduation I wanted to take a gap year to study spanish. Frankly I can’t believe it’s already been two years and I’m actually doing it. When I started this blog I knew I only had a limited time to bake and create everything my heart desired. Modern Pastries won’t end when I go to Ecuador, but it will certainly slow down. The main reason is that there’s not an oven where I’m going. Which is kind of a problem. So while I may not be posting many baking recipes for awhile, I can promise there will be many unique Ecuadorian dishes making an appearance.
I don’t think it has really sunk in yet that I only have 41 days left in my own kitchen. I’ve spent so many of my weekends this past year mixing, creating, baking, and photographing in this one corner of my house. If it weren’t for the creation of this blog I’m not sure any of that would have happened. Like I’ve mentioned before, It was from the encouragement of an admissions representative from Geneseo that really got this whole thing started. It’s hard to believe just 9 months ago Modern Pastries didn’t even exist. It really has become a huge part of my life.
I created this blog not only for my own enjoyment, but also for a school assignment. As a senior at Potsdam High School, each student must complete a “Senior Project”. This can be anything under the sun from creating a blog, to running a marathon. The criteria is that you spend a considerable amount of time completing it, and you present your final project to a panel of judges at the end of the year. The presentation is where most of the grade comes from, although the quality and effort of the project itself is definitely a factor. At the beginning of this school year I was struggling with deciding on a project. My problem was that I had too many ideas and just couldn’t pick one. The suggestion of a blog was perfect. It was something I could work on all year, slowly building it up, and have an awesome end product to present. I’ve already started working on my presentation, which will take place on June 16th at 8:00 am. I’m really quite excited to show my site off and show how far it’s come in just 8 months.
So now that it’s finally warm here, I’m breaking out some nice summer recipes. After making the hibiscus shortbread cookies last week I also made a Hibiscus syrup. I stuck it in the fridge while I waited for inspiration on how to use it. That inspiration ended up coming to me yesterday while on Pinterest. I saw a picture of some Italian Sodas, which I knew would be the perfect recipe for it.
To be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever had an Italian Soda. But I had also never had a soufflé until I made my own. I don’t tend to make things that I’m familiar with. That’s too comfortable. I like making things that are brand knew and may go wrong. It’s almost like a challenge for me, conquering a recipe on the first try. These Italian Sodas are no real challenge though. All the ingredients are staples (I hope) in every kitchen.
All you need for these beautiful drinks is sugar, water, fruit, club soda, half & half, and ice. It’s really that simple. The sugar, fruit, and water is cooked and condensed to make a simple syrup and then everything is mixed in a glass. This makes it a very versatile recipe since you can make your simple syrup any flavor you’d like. Pretty much any fruit will work, and you can even get creative by using fresh mint. Anything you can infuse into a simple syrup can be made into an Italian Soda.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1-2 cups of fruit (or a handful of mint/hibiscus/etc)
- Heat water and sugar in a pan until boiling
- Add fruit (or other ingredient) and let simmer for 5-10 minutes
- Remove from heat and allow time to cool
- Strain mixture and store it in the fridge
Crystal Clear Ice Cubes
Ok, I realize having a recipe for ice cubes is really weird, but I’m a perfectionist and didn’t want to use the cloudy ice cubes our freezer spits out. This really only matters if you’re trying to take photos, like me, or really really want to impress the people you’re making these for. Although I have to warm you, there’s probably no one out there who really cares about the clarity of ice cubes more than me.
To make crystal clear cubes all you need to do is boil your water. Twice. Boil once, let it cool. Then boil again. After you’ve boiled the water add it to the tray while it’s still hot, but not hot enough to melt the plastic. Freeze for a couple hours and voila, perfectly clear ice cubes.
- Simple syrup
- Club soda
- Half & half
- Fill glass with ice
- Pour in about one shot of simple syrup
- slowly pour in club soda
- Pour in a couple tablespoons of half & half