The Most Astonishing Cake I’ve Ever Met ~ Šakotis!

Just a quick post to tell you about this!

Lithuanian tree cake
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cake eating public!


When I was at “work” yesterday (volunteer work sorting donated books to Cornwall Hospice Care) one of my colleagues, a lovely girl from Lithuania, brought in a cake to celebrate her birthday.  Not just any old cake though!!!

This is a picture of the actual cake, there is a black background set up in the office to take pictures when putting stuff up for sale on eBay and similar. It stood about 40cm/16” before we got at it.

Isn’t it amazing!







Šakotis


In English this is called a tree cake and you can see why. 

Šakotis is made of butter, egg whites and yolks, flour, sugar, and cream, it is sweet and soft yet crunchy, sort of a cross between a biscuit and a cake. Our one was drizzled with chocolate and icing.  It must be almost impossible to make at home.  Although if you are interested watch this!!



I have absolutely no idea what to do with leftovers, so Lithuanian Tree Cake isn’t mentioned in my book Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers!


lithuanian cake , Šakotis!










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3,240+ Recipes for Leek & Potato Soup - Ridiculous!!

Jacques Pepin quote, definition of a recipe, what is a recipe, learn to cook
I agree with him!
Once a week I sort out books that have been donated to the charity Cornwall Hospice Care. If they are worth a bit I post them for sale on Amazon, if worth a fair bit, they go to eBay or Abe books. If they are of not much value but in good condition they go out to the shops for selling around the county and (good news if you live near me) paperbacks are currently 5 for £1 in the clearance outlet. If they are in very poor condition they are sold for pulping, sadly, although sometimes I borrow and read them before returning them to “work” and throwing them away!

Many, many cookbooks come through each day and I flick through them both to check their condition and to see if they are interesting and almost always they are not!  The reason they are not interesting is that they all contain the same or similar recipes over and over again. 
soup recipes, leek and potato soup, all recipes the same
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Recently, whilst doing said flicking, I happened to see 17 recipes for Leek and Potato Soup in 17 different cookbooks!

So, when I got home I googled Leek and Potato Soup Recipe and there were approximately 3,240 results.


I started reading them and every single one I looked at contained (can you guess?) a little oil or butter, leeks, potatoes, stock, salt and pepper and, frequently, a dairy addition such as cream, milk, sour cream or crème fraîche. Some of the recipes also contain onion, carrot or celery. Some people call it Potato & Leek Soup (weirdos!). See end of post for a little more on my findings.



This is my …


Leek & Potato Soup – serves 4


It is much the same as everyone else’s!


25g butter OR 2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 medium/large leeks – thinly sliced and cleaned
2 medium potatoes
475ml/16fl oz chicken or vegetable stock 

~ Heat the olive oil or butter, add the leeks and toss together till they are coated.
~ Turn down the heat, cover the onions completely with a piece of foil, pressing down onto the surface of the leeks and being careful not to burn yourself. (This is the way I usually cook onions too, it makes for lovely melting soft and sweet onions and leeks).
~ Put a lid on the pan and cook very gently till they are completely and utterly tender and are starting to caramelise a little.
~ Peel and slice the potato and add to the onions.
~ Add enough stock to just cover the potatoes, bring to the boil, turn down the heat, put on the lid, (throw away the piece of foil or recycle it or something) and simmer till the potatoes are tender.

Now then, what sort of texture soup would you like?

1.    For a chunky soup just leave it as it is.
2.   For a “rustic” texture crush the potato into the stock.
3.   Use a “liquidizer on a stick” or stick blender to mash more finely.
4.   Purée in a food processor.
5.   Purée in a liquidizer for a very smooth and sophisticated finish.

~ In all cases dilute to your ideal soup consistency with more stock, milk, cream etc., as you fancy, taste and season.

You don’t have to stop here, however, you can adjust the recipe to make a delicious leek and potato soup exactly to you own personal taste. Here’s a few ideas …

~   If you also fancy adding onion, carrot or celery thinly slice and add to the oil together with the leeks.
~   Use bacon fat to cook the leeks and top with crispy bacon.
~   Add cream, chill, serve cold and call it Vichyssoise.
~   Add some shredded cooked chicken just to heat through.
~   Add cooked fish or shellfish and cream for a seafood chowder.
~   Add a little cooked smoked fish – it goes really well with the leeks.
~   Add some herbs, right at the end of cooking, chives seem to be quite common with leek and potato soup.
~   Stir in some grated cheese just before serving.
~   Purée in a bunch of watercress. 

variation on leek and potato soup - add watercress



There is definitely a market for lavishly illustrated, gorgeous recipe books but surely, if they just repeat what everyone else says, they are not the most useful if you actually want to know how to cook. 
basic soup recipe, soup cookbook, soup recipes
Great Preview Here

I write cookbooks too, but they are rather different from the ones referred to above. In my Genius Recipe books each give one key recipe together with many dishes based on that recipe together with all the handy hints, good ideas, serving suggestions, ancillary recipes and information I can think of to help the reader experiment confidently and vary the key recipes to their own taste. 


Here is my soup cookbook Soup ~ (Almost) the Only Recipe You'll Ever Need wherein, like every other cookbook, you can find a recipe for leek and potato soup.  You can also find the one basic key recipe together with 60+ soups based on that basic recipe and loads of useful information on soup making.


Google Search Results


These are a few of the Leek and Potato Soup recipes I checked out on Google, they were all very similar. I’ve added any additional ingredients or variations on the basic soup, where applicable … 

leek and potato soup variations by chefs

I checked out quite a few more but I think you get the point and I don’t need to all the leek and potato soup recipes in the world!
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