James Beard award–winning author Adrian Miller vividly tells the stories of the African Americans who worked in the presidential food service as chefs, personal cooks, butlers, stewards, and servers for every First Family since George and Martha Washington. Miller brings together the names and words of more than 150 black men and women who played remarkable roles in unforgettable events in the nation’s history. Daisy McAfee Bonner, for example, FDR’s cook at his Warm Springs retreat, described the president’s final day on earth in 1945, when he was struck down just as his lunchtime cheese souffle emerged from the oven. Sorrowfully, but with a cook’s pride, she recalled, “He never ate that souffle, but it never fell until the minute he died.”
A treasury of information about cooking techniques and equipment, the book includes twenty recipes for which black chefs were celebrated. From Samuel Fraunces’s “onions done in the Brazilian way” for George Washington to Zephyr Wright’s popovers, beloved by LBJ’s family, Miller highlights African Americans’ contributions to our shared American foodways. Surveying the labor of enslaved people during the antebellum period and the gradual opening of employment after Emancipation, Miller highlights how food-related work slowly became professionalized and the important part African Americans played in that process.
Here’s example by Miller from a recipe by Chef Charlie Redden, the first certified executive chef of the White House Mess. This was the first dish he prepared for President Bill Clinton.
Recipe: Jerk Chicken Pita Pizza
Makes 4 servings
4 pita breads
12 tablespoons pizza sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
Sliced chicken breast strips
2 tablespoons of jerk seasoning (Recommend Island Jerk Seasoning by Tropical Pepper Co.)
1 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion (optional)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green bell peppers (optional)
Red pepper flakes, to taste
- Place the pita breads on a cookie sheet.
- Spread 3 tablespoons of the pizza sauce onto each pita.
- Sprinkle 1/8 tablespoon each of oregano and basil, if using, onto each pita.
- Toss the chicken strips with the jerk seasoning and place them on the pizza.
- Top each pita with 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese and 1 tablespoon of Parmesan cheese.
- Top each pita with 1/4 cup each of the onions and bell peppers, if using. Season to taste with red pepper flakes.
- Place the pizzas in the oven and broil for about 4–5 minutes at 425°F.
Adrian Miller’s chronicle of the daily table in the White House proclaims a fascinating new American story.
Price: $ 24.20
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Recipe via source