Summer is almost here, which means… COCKTAIL TIME!
Well, I guess it can be cocktail time all year ’round. But listen, an excuse to drink cocktails is an excuse to drink cocktails, amirite?
Speaking of excuses, this time of year for students is an interesting one. In the late spring and early summer, colleges have just let out, and our first few days (erm.. weeks) of freedom post-finals are usually spent… How shall I say this…. Indulging? I definitely have had my share of celebratory meals and drinks over the last couple of weeks, and at some point the celebrating begins to catch up with you.
For me, that point is right now, and I’m feeling the need to scale back a bit, especially in preparation for our next big trip. Tomorrow morning my orchestra at Juilliard will be flying out for our final tour of the year – in NEW ZEALAND! (I feel like every time I write a blog post, which is sadly rare nowadays, I’m going somewhere else cool on tour. The fact that I get to say that is so awesome, and maybe some day I’ll finally post pictures and anecdotes from my other two amazing trips this year.) While we’re there, I know I’m going to want to experience all the foods and drinks that they have to offer down under (I’ll be going to Australia after, too!) and so I have definitely been cutting back on the margaritas!
When the Recipe Redux revealed that this month’s theme was “Cocktails and Mocktails for May Celebrations,” I realllly wanted to make my own margarita recipe. Over Passover, I actually discovered that Manischewitz wine makes a -killer- grape margarita. Who knew? Fellow Jews of the world, rejoice. But no, we are cutting back on the margs, and so I went down the “mocktail” route instead.
The early summer is also my favorite because all of the seasonal flavors it brings. My dinky windowsill herb garden is going to be bursting with spearmint soon, and I just can’t get enough of fresh ginger, so I thought I would put them together into a drink I could feel good about.
Those who are sugar conscious can use as much or as little of the ginger simply syrup as they like in this recipe. With sparkling water as a base, the ginger is going to be more of a subtle flavor unless you are a bit heavy handed with the syrup, or choose to muddle some of the discarded ginger along with your mint *see recipe directions.* You could always add a splash of your favorite liquor for a kick, but hey… If it looks colorful and sparkly in your hand, nobody at your cocktail party will ever know it’s “mock!” 😉
- 1 generous sprig mint (4-5 large leaves)
- 3-4 tsps. ginger simple syrup
- 8 oz. plain sparkling water
- Ginger Syrup
- 1 10-inch knob ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- Simple Syrup
- Bring water and sugar to boil in a medium saucepan.
- Add ginger and reduce to a simmer.
- Remove from heat and let sit for at least 30 minutes to steep.
- Reserve ginger after steeping if desired for muddling or garnishing.
- Muddle mint (and a slice or two of some discarded ginger, if desired) in the bottom of a glass.
- Add a handful of ice.
- Add syrup.
- Top with sparkling water and stir, adding more syrup to taste if desired.
- Garnish with mint leaves and ginger slices.
I might be the worst food blogger ever.
OK, that’s dramatic. It has been three months since my last post though, which might be a new personal record of negligence (*sobs quietly into pillow*), but I’M BACK! It feels so good to be posting a recipe again after taking some time off to get settled into my new program. This first semester at Juilliard Historical Performance, aside from being completely surreal , has FLOWN by. Between performances, lessons, gigs, being a hashtagpracticehermit, academic courses, and life in general, I’ve been a busy bee. In the last few weeks alone, my HP friends and I have performed on the radio, played for a live-streamed master class, finished a series of concerts in Boston and NYC, and are now gearing up for our tour to Holland (!) in a few weeks. I can’t believe that, at least for now, this is the new normal.
sum•mer (n): the existential struggle between wanting to be in shape and wanting to shove ALL THE FOOD INTO YOUR FACE
You know the feeling. Summertime finally hits, and you’re ready to hit the beach and show off that bod you’ve been working on. But two weeks in, you’ve had a few too many margs and entirely too many s’mores and then you realize you haven’t even hit the vacation part of your summer vacation yet and you’re like “HOW DID THIS HAPPEN” and then you end up eating more s’mores and it’s all just kind of a mess.
I know this feeling well. A week ago, I got back from spending over two weeks in San Francisco (um, hi, TONS of amazing food) at the American Bach Soloists Academy. It was a wonderful experience, but I definitely ate WAY too much. As in, I literally ate ice cream every day. And I mean literally, literally.
Raise your hand if you’re from the Northeast and have officially turned into a human prune!!! *both hands up*
Did YOU know it was possible to feel both dehydrated AND saturated at the same time? Heat and humidity are the latest power couple, and it is getting rough out there. I just got back from an incredible week in Connecticut at the Amherst Early Music Baroque Academy, but it wasn’t always fun and games for my fiddle… Let’s just say when working with a period instrument with gut strings in 95% humidity, the name of the game is “What The F#*! Just Came Out of My Instrument?!” 5 points every time a string goes a whole step out of tune. 10 points when two consecutive strings go out of tune in opposite directions. 15 points when you play a note and nothing comes out… You don’t really want to win.
In this heat, my second love (cooking) also becomes not-so-lovely. When the mere thought of turning on an oven drowns me in my own sweat, I often resort to “un-cooking.” Luckily, the summer season offers us a huge selection of delicious produce, so filling up on raw fruits and veggies is hardly boring. And, not to diss salad, but there are plenty of creative ways to enjoy your raw produce, which was precisely our challenge at The Recipe ReDux this month.
This month’s theme, “Get Your Fruits and Veggies in Shape,” challenged us to transform summer produce using creative cuts. My spiralizer is one of my FAVORITE tools in the kitchen for this, and summer rolls are a go-to meal for me during the warmer months – oven-free, fresh, crunchy, light, healthy, and filling! What could be better than combining the two?!
While making this recipe, I was pleased with how quick and SAFE spiralizing was as an alternative. Julienning veggies with a knife or special peeler is fine, but it takes forever… Plus, I will take any chance I can get to keep my fingers away from blades.
To “wrap up” this delicious dish (hehe) I made an easy miso sesame ginger dipping sauce. Miso is a relatively recent addition to my repertoire of ingredients, but I am in love with it. It automatically lends an explosion of flavor to whatever it’s in, and I am always looking for new ways to incorporate it. This was a home run as far as I’m concerned – miso obsessed with this recipe, and I hope you will be too 😉
- 12-24 sheets rice paper
- Warm water
- 1 large carrot
- 2 large (or 3 medium) cucumbers
- 1/2 purple cabbage
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- 1 mango, thickly sliced
- 1 cup cilantro or Thai basil leaves
- 3 Tbs. light miso
- 4 Tbs. seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 1 1/2-inch knob ginger, grated (about 1/2 tsp)
- 1 Tbs. sesame oil
- Spiralize carrots using the "spaghetti" blade, or thinnest blade possible. Set aside.
- Spiralize cucumbers using the "spaghetti" blade. I like to drain my cucumber noodles after spiralizing by squeezing them through a cheesecloth or a stack of paper towels. Set aside.
- Spiralize purple cabbage on the "ribbon" blade, or thickest blade possible. Set aside.
- Prepare your avocado, mango, and cilantro and arrange them alongside your other prepared veggies for easy assembly.
- Submerge a sheet of rice paper in a bowl of warm water for 5 seconds. Immediately lay the wet sheet on a cutting board or large plate.
- Fill your roll (careful not to overfill!) with veggies. I like to start with cilantro so you can see the leaves laying flat through the roll, and then add the veggies from thinnest to thickest. I also like to add more cilantro on top before rolling.
- Roll each summer roll delicately while keeping it as compact as possible.
- Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.
- Work as quickly as possible to prevent your rice paper from sticking to your surface!
- If necessary after rolling, double up with another sheet of rice paper.
Raise your hand if you are READY FOR SUMMER VACATION. *lots of girls-with-raised-hands emojis*
In the eight (ack!) weeks since we last spoke over crepes, a lot has happened. I played a master’s recital, made my first ever wedding cake for my best friend’s wedding, performed some more, graduated with a master’s degree (with a former New York Yankee)… Oh. And another thing:
I GOT INTO JUILLIARD!!!!
This is probably not real life. Actually, I’m positive it’s not. I’m definitely just having the deepest and most wonderful nap dream ever. Is somebody gonna wake me up before I pee? No? SO IT IS REAL?! 😀
In all seriousness though, I’m ecstatic to be continuing my education in their historical performance program. Who wouldn’t be?! I get to play baroque violin all day every day, play with an amazing group, and learn from some of early music’s most revered artists. This has been a dream of mine ever since I began playing baroque violin, and it’s actually coming true.
….I am also a leeeetle bit wiped out though. #realtalk. This was a warm (not quite hot) mess of a busy year that turned out to be SO BEYOND worth the struggle. Preparing an audition on baroque violin while still juggling grad student life on modern violin nearly made me crazy, and I questioned my sanity every 7 minutes, basically. One thing I learned in the process, though, is that when things get stressful, you just need to power through one day, one task, and one minute at a time. Bite-sized goals on small plates… Do you see where I’m going yet?