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Strawberry Shortcake and Strawberry Balsamic Pie

It's summer and I love strawberries.  So I made two strawberry desserts: a favorite, strawberry shortcake; and a new one, strawberry balsamic pie.

Strawberry shortcake is pretty easy and always wonderful.  I use a yellow cake from Rose Levy Berenbaum's Cake Bible.  I used to use a more scone-like biscuit recipe but I switched to the yellow cake at some point.  I top it with sliced strawberries and whipped cream.  Real whipped cream is one of those things that is easy to do but gets your guests' attention.  Just put some whipping cream, a little sugar, and perhaps a teaspoon of vanilla in a bowl and turn on the mixer.

I heard about strawberry balsamic pie in a review of a Brooklyn pie restaurant, Four & Twenty Blackbirds.  Rather than fly to Brooklyn, I decided to make one.  Trying to create a dish without ever having tasted it is an interesting challenge, but what the heck.  The filling is strawberries and corn starch that have been cooked together in a sauce pan.  You then add some balsamic vinegar.  I added it slowly and stopped when I had a good hint but not an overwhelming taste.  Strawberries already have a bit of zing but the balsamic gives both a different flavor note and a different kind of zing.  I think it would be especially interesting to try this with a very high-end balsamic vinegar.   A friend let me try some of his 12-year-old balsamic some time; it was thick, surprisingly sweet, and very subtle.  Perhaps some day I'll make it to Brooklyn and buy some fancy balsamic...

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