Monday, August 05, 2013

New ways to eat your colors

I made the strangest, loveliest soup last night. If you scroll down here, you'll find a reprint of the recipe for kesakeitto, a Finnish vegetable soup that is unlike any soup I've ever made. (Source: The Cooking of Scandinavia, Time-Life.) You quickly poach many vegetables (string beans, cauliflower, carrots, spinach, potatoes, peas, radishes) in water, which becomes a very light broth. Then you add milk, a little cream, and some shrimp and cook but briefly. The resulting soup has a consistency and color -- brothy and milky -- unknown in American chowders and soups. This will sound completely unappetizing, but it reminded me of what happens when you add too much milk to herbal tea. Except the soup, unlike the tea, is delicious and full of flavor. If I were to improve this, I might add some rice to thicken it just a bit, but I'm not even sure I'd do that. Try it. The recipe says the shrimp is optional ("a touch of luxury on special occasions"), but I wouldn't leave it out.

That's dill on top.
Here is the enchanting passage in which the soup is introduced in the book:

"If you are looking for a blunt, outspoken dish, look no further than slaughter soup -- the kidneys, liver, heart and meat of an animal, chopped up, boiled with carrots and potatoes and served with little barley and wheat dumplings flavored with blood. Almost as though to compensate for such ruggedness, there is a delicate soup, kesakeitto, made from summer vegetables. . . picked at their absolute peak of freshness and simmered in a creamy base. This soup is much favored by Finnish women, who think they are dieting when they eat it -- but with their consciences thus eased, usually go on to finish the meal with several small pancakes and strawberry jam."

Or, in the case of an American woman, strawberry shortcake. Recent comments on the blog made me crave shortcake, so I tried the recipe from American Cooking. Although this is not a salty, pie crusty type of shortcake, it is stellar. A sweet, pillowy biscuit sandwiching barely sugared strawberries. As Owen wolfed it down he said, "Make this again, exactly like this."

Strawberry shortcake (adapted from American Cooking)

I halved the recipe. I also found that when I baked the little biscuits atop the big ones, they browned deeply on the outside before their doughy middles were done. I would bake them separately, although this could make them a little too crusty. Just be sure not to overbake and I think all will be well.

4 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits and chilled
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons melted butter (sated butter would probably be good here)
2 pints strawberries, coarsely chopped; reserve 6 whole berries for tops of cakes
sugar for sprinkling berries
1 pint heavy cream, lightly whipped for topping

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Sift the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Add the cold butter and rub it into the flour until you have a coarse meal. Add the liquid heavy cream and stir until a dough is formed. (This dough is delicious.)

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough a scant 1 inch thick. Cut 6 circles with a 3-inch biscuit cutter and then cut the rest of the dough with a 2 1/2-inch cutter. You will have to reroll scraps to do this.

3. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet and brush lightly with melted butter. Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden. Don't overbake.

4. When they've cooled a bit, place the larger biscuits on dessert plates. Spoon the berries over the larger biscuits and sugar the berries to taste. Top with the smaller biscuits, then top the smaller biscuits with whipped cream and the whole berries. Serves 6 very, very amply.


  1. I am delighted that you have found a strawberry shortcake you like! I knew it was possible. I doubt the little biscuits would be too crusty, but I don't understand why you need two different sizes of biscuits. It must be for easthetic reasons? I have a similar dough recipe that makes killer breakfast biscuits.

    1. I think it's cosmetic -- the little biscuit sits like a hat on top of the rest. I want to try other strawberry shortcake recipes, but I think the season is pretty much over.

  2. I realize I never answered you about the strawberry roll cake. It's basically a sponge cake cooked in a jelly roll pan, covered with whipped cream and strawberries and then rolled up and dusted with powdered sugar. I think it's German in origin. The recipe I use was originally from Real Simple.

    I wish strawberries weren't over. We had a short but glorious season this year.

  3. Maybe it is time to move on to blueberry shortcake? :-)

    Am bummed about the end of strawberry season.

  4. Oh my gosh, the cover of that book was like a lightning bolt---brought me back to 1976 and reading those books. BTW, the Professor's Glogg recipe! Don't stand too close to that guy after a cup or two :) I am going to have to look through Scribd and see if there are more cookbooks to reminisce over.

  5. This is not a comment on this blog, but on past blogs. I want to make a peach pie today, and I decided to google "tipsy baker peach pie." That put me smack in 2008 with Alice Waters and Sarah Palin rants - I loved it! I have plenty of peach pie recipes, but few sources that express my feelings about those two (and others - Smitten Kitchen comes to mind). Just keep it up.

  6. Wow, both those dishes look and sound delicious. Especially the strawberry shortcake. Hmm, we have friends coming over for dinner this week ... I think I know what dessert is. It may be peach shortcake though because I missed all the strawberries at the farmer's market this morning.

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