23 February 2012

A Treasury of White House Cooking

We just love menus and American cooking and history, so it is no wonder that we love books based on menus from the White House.

Francois Rysavy was the chef for the Eisenhower's. He was a highly trained French chef -- they were not that impressed. Rysavy was forced to curtail some of his more glamorous dishes for the mid western palate of the President. He wrote about his three years as chef to the Eisenhower's in White House Chef. In the early 1970's he took an overall look at the cooking in the White House in A Treasury of White House Cooking.

The cookbook is divided into chapters, but not exactly chronological. There is no easy way to look at recipes from Lyndon Johnson and compare them to Andrew Johnson. There is, however, a detailed index so if you do want to compare the Johnson's dining habits, you can look them up. Again, there are quite a few menus included, but are not all lumped together. Not by menus or by Presidents.

The book stats with an informal dinner the Nixon's gave for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in honor of the unveiling of the Kennedy's official portraits.

Jacqueline Kennedy by Aaron Shikler

The recipes follow the menu. Then we find a menu Kennedy served to the Truman's and one President Grant served to Rutherford Hayes but without the recipes. There are chapters with recipes on modern President like Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Eisenhower.

Don't get me wrong, I love looking at all these menus and the recipes, but the presentation is quite a bit disjointed. Still, it is great fun to look at the formal menus from President's gone by.

What did the Nixon's serve Madame Onassis?

Timbale of Seafood American
Filet of Beef Roti
Marchandde Vin
Artichokes St. Germain
Mushrooms Provencale
Heart of Palms Vinaigrette
Souffle au Grand Marnier
Sauce Sabayon

Want to give the souffle a try?

Grand Marnier Souffle

1/4 pound butter
1 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 pint milk, scalded
8 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons Grand Mariner
12 egg whites

Melt butter, add flour,and mix well. Add half of the sugar to scalded milk; then add to butter and flour. Stir vigorously with plastic spatula over moderate fire. Add the egg yolks to the mixture one at a time, stirring constantly. Add vanilla and Grand Mariner. Whip the egg whites with the rest of the sugar until stiff; then fold egg whites into the mixture.

Fill into a souffle form, which has been coated with butter and dusted with sugar. Fill form four-fifths full. cook in 375 oven for 45 minutes.

I am not sure how the then ten year-old John Kennedy, Jr. reacted to this meal, but it was said that he was very excited about visiting the White House. Anthe portraits were lovely.

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