Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eat like a president!

2/16/11 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Eat like a president!

There are many stories and myths about presidential eating habits. White House cuisine has inspired countless books and discussions about the diversity of the formal dinners served to visiting dignitaries. From the beginning, the public has been fascinated by what the president particularly serves at state and other official dinners.

Personally, I always wonder what the president and his family are eating when no one else is around. Certainly they must get tired of haute cuisine and hunger for a PBJ sandwich once in awhile. So I checked it out and sure enough, our presidents don’t always tuck into caviar. Sometimes they enjoy their own version of comfort food.

President Ulysses Grant liked cucumbers soaked in vinegar for breakfast. One of the Roosevelt’s liked scrambled eggs, codfish balls, fried liver and seafood but seldom ate dessert. Richard Nixon was fond of cottage cheese smothered in ketchup. Jimmy Carter loved grits baked with cheese at a breakfast. Jan. 2009, all five presidents (past, present and future) attended a pre-inaugural a la carte luncheon for Barrack Obama. Incumbent George Bush (43) enjoyed a grilled cheese sandwich. No word on what the guest of honor ate.

When my children were growing up, I celebrated holidays with special meals. On President George Washington’s birthday I always baked a cherry pie to honor him for telling the truth when he disobeyed his father and cut down a cherry tree as a child. Today we know that story probably isn’t true but it’s still a good reason to eat cherry pie.

Following are some presidential preferences recipes that I have gleaned from several sources. One source is “Obama Foodarama,” a food blog begun when Michelle Obama geared up to plant a White House vegetable garden and launched her “Let’s Move” initiative.

It seems only fitting to start today’s recipes off with some vegetables from our current president’s garden — a green salad and a vegetable dip. Next we’ll check out a version of New England Clam Chowder that John F. Kennedy was reported to enjoy paired with corn muffins. We’ll follow that with a Ronald Reagan macaroni and cheese recipe that I clipped out of the L.A. Times in 1988. And finally, a super simple cherry parfait in honor of good old George Washington. Enjoy!

Biggest Loser White House Salad

1 head of fresh lettuce, washed, dried, cut into bite size pieces
1 cucumber peeled, and cut into bite sized pieces
2 fresh tomatoes, washed and cut into bite size pieces
¼ red onion, peeled and cut as thinly as possible
1 bunch fresh basil, washed and chopped into big pieces
4 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions in large mixing bowl. In sealable container, combine oil, lemon juice, honey and salt and pepper. Cover container and shake vigorously. Add dressing to salad and serve immediately.

Yogurt Vegetable Dip
Adapted from White House kitchen

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 cups nonfat Greek yogurt
1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
½ cup finely diced onion
Salt to taste

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic with the yogurt and mix well. Stir in the cucumber and onion. Chill for at least an hour, overnight if desired. Serve with cherry tomatoes and cut-up raw vegetables like broccoli or fennel.

Simple Clam Chowder

4 bacon slices, diced
2 cups chopped onion
1-1/4 cups chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 (6-1/2 ounce) cans chopped clams, un-drained
5 cups diced peeled baking potato (about 1 pound)
4 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
1 bay leaf
3 cups fat-free milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (about 2-1/4 ounces)

Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan and set aside; reserve 2 teaspoons drippings in pan. Add onion, celery, salt, thyme, and garlic to drippings in pan; cook and stir 4 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Drain clams, reserving liquid. Add clam liquid, potato, clam juice, and bay leaf to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until potato is tender. Discard bay leaf.

Combine flour with 1 cup milk, stirring with a whisk until smooth; add remaining 2 cups milk mixing well. Add milk and flour mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 12 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Add clams; cook 2 minutes. Sprinkle with bacon.

President Reagan’s Favorite Macaroni and Cheese
Adapted from Los Angeles Times, Mar. 3, 1988

1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 teaspoon butter
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3 cups sharp American cheese, grated (set aside 1 cup)
1 cup milk (use more if needed)

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Butter 8-inch round or square casserole

Bring water to boil with dash of salt in large pan. Cook macaroni until tender and drain thoroughly. Return to pan. Stir in butter and egg. Mix mustard and salt with 1 tablespoon hot water. Add to milk. Mix 2 cups cheese with macaroni. Pour into buttered casserole. Add milk and sprinkle with reserved cheese.

Bake 45 min. or until custard is set and top is crusty. Serves 4

Cherry Parfait

1 can light cherry pie filling
1 quart light vanilla ice cream
Light whipped cream in a spray can
8 tablespoons nuts, toasted or candied
Shaved chocolate

In tall serving glasses alternate pie filling with ice cream two times, finishing with pie filling. Top with a squirt of whipped cream, sprinkle with nuts and shaved chocolate to serve.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! 
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes 
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare. Read her weekly columns 
in the Cottage Grove Sentinel.

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