Posts filed under dessert

It's Tea Time

Sweet Melissa's Orange Blossom and Honey Scones

  • 1 cup self-raising flower

  • 1 tsp baking powder

  • 2 oz butter

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 tbsp whole milk

  • 1 tsp orange flower water

  • 1 generous tbsp honey

 

  1. Preheat oven to 200/395F C
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder together and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Beat the egg, orange blossom water, honey and milk together with a pinch of salt and pour into the flour mixture - it may be a little dry so add a dash or so of milk.
  4. Combine until you have a smooth but fairly dry dough.
  5. Turn out onto a floured surface and press flat until a good inch thick.
  6. Using the rim of a glass cut out the scones and put them flour-side up on a prepared baking sheet.
  7. Brush the tops with a little milk and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes (I find they are done much closer to 10 than 15, but you could have a slow oven).
  8. Turn out onto a cooling rack and serve cold with clotted cream and cherry jam.
Posted on September 28, 2016 and filed under baked sweets, brunch, dessert, snacks, world travel.

The Fords Strawberry Shortcake

President 38: Gerald Ford

August 9, 1974 – January 20, 1977

I can’t decide if being a kid in the White House would be the best or worst way to grow up. On a positive note, you are pretty much guaranteed Ivy League admission, unless you really mess up, and have a backstage pass to anything cool happening in the District. This comes with a price. Every time you smile and flash those braces and awkward break outs, the world knows.  You are at press conferences during your sleep-in times and state receptions when your friends are out buying beer with their fake IDs. From administration to administration, I am sure the kids of the White House have had varying opinions on their special treatment. One teen who embraced the role was Susan Ford, the youngest of the Ford kids. She hosted her Senior Prom in the East Room, frequented the in-house bowling alley, and, with her brothers, had the cooks whip up late night snacks. As the First Family pays their own grocery bill, thekids racked up quite the tab. Gerald Ford and his family had a unique experience in the White House from the get-go as they weren’t prepared at all for it.  After the resignation of Spiro Agnew and President Nixon, the Fords packed their bags and moved to Pennsylvania Avenue. His biggest task was to keep order in Washington and faith alive in the public. He had the distinct advantage of being able to conduct himself without the pressure of fulfilling campaign promises and being constantly tested by a public who didn’t elect him.  With his calm demeanor, President Ford fulfilled his duty and earned himself a positive place in the history books. 

As a family, the Fords were an extremely athletic bunch and kept their meals healthy and hearty.  For breakfast, it was normally English muffins and fruit. There is actually a famous picture of the President toasting his own, a planned photo opp.  For weekend brunches, it was waffles with sour cream and strawberries, flavors similar to our strawberry shortcake this week. The family normally ate dinner late, starting around nine pm, in the White House family dining room.  Jackie Kennedy had redone the space with shockingly expensive French wallpaper, complete with scenes of the French revolution.  Betty Ford had it replaced as the violence understandably ruined her appetite. President Ford’s favorite dinner was pork chops with stewed red cabbage and apples. Cabbage was his favorite. Mrs. Ford’s simple beef stew with walnuts recipe was also served often, including their anniversary every year. Their chef, Henry Haller, remembers the family as easy to please and approachable. It was this approachability, especially in Betty, that made her a brave advocate for breast cancer and, more famously, for addiction awareness. 

Desserts were not commonplace on the Ford table but this strawberry shortcake was requested by Susan on those days when a teenager just needs something sweet, no matter the cost. The President had sugar removed from the table and from almost everything in their diet in protest of its high price at the time. The Sugar Act of 1934, stemming from the Great Depression, made sugarcane a basic commodity and gave sugar farmers a pretty sweet subsidy to keep prices low. It expired in 1974. Economists coined the term “white gold” and until President Carter’s term, it stayed ridiculously expensive. When the price came back down, the nation shoved it in every packaged product we could find. This strawberry shortcake is well worth the indulgence. I have made some adjustments, including the use of coconut oil instead of butter and balsamic vinegar as a marinade for the strawberries. Weird you say? The tangy vinegar brings out the best flavor in the berries, making their full flavor shine. Just remember to add sugar to balance it out. 

Susan’s Strawberry Shortcake

Adapted from the White House Family Cookbook by Henry Haller

My changes are in Italics

  • 6 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Grated peel ½ lemon 
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • ½ cup melted coconut oil
  • 3 pints strawberries, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 pint whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 additional Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

 

  • Preheat oven to 375 F. Butter a 10-inch cake pan; dust lightly with flour. 
  • In a mixing bowl, beat eggs with the granulated sugar until fluffy. Transfer to the top of a double boiler.
  • Set over hot water and continue beating until doubled in bulk and thickened, about 7 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat. Continue beating until cooled. Fold in grated lemon peel.
  • Fold in one-third of the sifted flour; fold in one third of the coconut oil.
  • Repeat twice to fold in remaining flour and oil. Do not overmix.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on lower shelf of pre-heated over for 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown and firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.
  • Let pan cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.
  • Turn cake out onto wire rack and let cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate overnight.
  • Cut strawberries into bite size pieces. Reserve several smaller berries for garnish. Add 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar and 2 Tbsp sugar. Mix and refrigerate overnight.
  • In acold mixing bowl, whip the cream with vanilla. 
  • Use a long serrated knife to slice cold cake horizontally. 
  • Spread the bottom layer with whipped cream and cover with the other cake layer, cut side down. Add ½ of the strawberries.
  • Frost entire cake with a thin layer of whipped cream, leaving enough to use for decoration. Garnish top with the rest of the strawberries. 

 

Posted on August 22, 2016 and filed under baked sweets, dessert, time travel.

Mamie Eisenhower's Million Dollar Fudge

President 34:  Dwight D. Eisenhower

January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961

 

From Martha Washington to Dolley Madison, on to Eleanor Roosevelt, if this culinary journey has taught us anything, it is that “behind every great man is a great (or better) woman.” When we finally get rid of the Donald in November, we will be able to flip the phrase and give Bill the honors.  In the week leading up our most patriotic day, I think it is fitting to celebrate Mamie Eisenhower and the power house that is the military wife (and military husbands). They hold down the proverbial fort through moves and long deployments with extraordinary strength and an expertise in multitasking. Though Mamie was no feminist, she was once quoted as saying she was “thankful for the privilege of tagging along by Ike’s side”, she wore many hats and it was her support that helped make Ike so well liked. 

 

The Eisenhower’s were that quintessential fifties all- American family. Mamie was once called the “sweetheart of the GOP” and was warm, but equally stern and commanding when problems arose. Most days she woke up at ten-ish and conducted all meetings with staff from her bed in her nightgown. She would get up and moving by midday. The White House was run with military-grade efficiency and it was her job to make sure that the President, who had enough stress at the “office”, didn’t have to worry about the little things when he had his few moments to relax. She even conducted white glove tests to make sure there was no dust on the ledges. She shared over thirty houses with her husband before spending eight years on Pennsylvania Avenue, the longest time they would be in one place before they retired.

 

They enjoyed smaller groups for entertaining rather than the big to-dos and spent as much time eating as a family as possible. Family meals were often TV dinners and the scene in their living room looked very similar to the millions of households across the country.  At the beginning of his Presidency, Eisenhower invited the whole of Congress in small batches for dinner to get acquainted. After that, foreign dignitaries and royalty, including: the Presidents of Panama, Haiti, Turkey, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Denmark rolled in.  They were all met with an array of safe and unimaginative cuisine.

 

As a family they enjoyed soups and stews especially, with the President’s beef stew as a family favorite. The recipe, which he often enjoyed at Camp David (which is named after his grandson David), is hearty but contains no culinary surprises. Ike even took to the White House kitchen on occasion to cook the classic, much to the delight of staff and his wife. Too heavy for summertime, it is worth looking up for the fall and can easily be made in large batches for parties (he normally made enough for sixty). Mamie produced some amazingly tasty and easy to prepare desserts perfect for your get-togethers. Her million dollar fudge recipe came from a clipping in a periodical she found and soon became legend. Another love of hers was mint, which she incorporated in as many desserts as possible, including this perfect summer peach meringue. All of this sugary smorgasbord travels well and is perfect for your July 4th get-togethers.

 

Mamie’s Million Dollar Fudge

c/o Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library

  •   4 1/2 cups sugar
  •   pinch of salt
  •   2 tablespoons butter
  •   1 tall can evaporated milk
  •   12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate bits
  •   12 ounces German-sweet chocolate
  •   1 pint marshmallow cream
  •   2 cups nutmeats

Boil the sugar, salt, butter, evaporated milk together for six minutes. Put chocolate bits and German chocolate, marshmallow cream and nutmeats in a bowl. Pour the boiling syrup over the ingredients. Beat until chocolate is all melted, then pour in pan. Let stand a few hours before cutting. Remember it is better the second day. Store in tin box.

Notes:

  • For “german sweet” I used milk chocolate. You can also use dark, whatever makes you happy.
  •  I recommend walnuts
  •  Put a hefty sprinkle of sea salt on top for that amazing contrast or a lite sprinkle of cayenne for a more adventurous bite.
Posted on July 7, 2016 and filed under dessert, snacks, time travel.