I’m sure it’s the same for each generation, they wonder how on earth the previous managed… how many years after the return of Sir Walter Raleigh with the potato, did cooks find it impossible to imagine a world without spuds? I have been writing recently about powdered milk; it’s still available, and I’m sure very useful and appreciated by many people, but for most of us there are other alternatives… like fresh milk readily available everywhere!
When Philip Harben was writing out his recipes for his Cooking Quickly book in 1946, when there was real austerity in Britain, powdered milk was not just useful, convenient, or a standby, it was all there was for many people. He has a section on powdered or dried or household milk as he calls it, and as well as recipes for Viennese coffee, cocoa and chocolate cream – a quick party sweet, he has a recipe for artichoke soup. The ingredients he lists are enough for a quart, two pints – that would certainly serve a lot of people! The artichokes he is using aren’t the subtly flavoured globe artichokes, but the more robust and distinctive Jerusalem artichokes, which I guess must have been in plentiful supply since they are so easy to grow. here is his charmingly written recipe, and doesn’t his personality just leap off the page?
Philip Harben’s artichoke soup made with powdered milk
The biggest snag about artichoke soup is that it is so difficult to get a full flavour without getting a dingy off-white colour. Or rather it was until the introduction of powdered milk. Now it is possible with its aid to produce an artichoke soup of magnificent flavour, highly nutritious and beautifully white.
Clean and scrub (don’t peel) 1 lb of Jerusalem artichokes. Cut up small and cook with a chopped onion in enough white stock (chicken stock is ideal, pork or veal stock will do ) to cover. Failing stock you will have to use plain water. When tender rub through a sieve, leaving the skins behind. Make a roux with 1 oz fat and ½ oz flour. Add the artichoke purée, stirring well. Make up to 1 quart with more white stock or water. Put it on the fire, sprinkle and beat in 4 oz powdered milk; bring to the boil and cook for a few minutes, stirring well. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 6 pinches or grinds or pepper. serve with a garnish of toast cubes, fried bread cubes, chopped parsley, finely chopped raw cauliflower or grated cheese.