Posts filed under main event

Make your leftovers Presidential! Turkey chili at it's finest.

This is a healthy spin on LBJ's family chili recipe that we debuted at Smithsonian Food History weekend with much success. Instead of beef, I used turkey (shredded or ground works) and some zucchini/beans for the vegg. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!


  • 4 lb. turkey meat (ground or pulled)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped to bite size pieces
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 12 cups canned whole tomatoes and their liquid
  • 2-6 generous dashes of liquid hot sauce
  • Salt


Sauté the meat, onion, zucchini and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook until lightly colored. Add the oregano, beans, cumin, chili powder, tomatoes, hot sauce, and 2 cups hot water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for about 1 hour. Skim off the fat while cooking. Salt to taste.


George W. Bush Cheeseburger Pizza.. Yuck


President 43: George W. Bush

January 20, 2001 – January 20, 2009

There is one food companion so loyal; it is there with us late at night and still there in the morning. It is pizza and we love it so much that across the country Americans consume an average of 350 slices per second. From Hawaiian to meat lovers, there are plenty of topping options, but President Bush said why stop there? Behold a child’s dream and a Neapolitan nightmare: the cheeseburger pizza. It comes complete with mustard, ketchup, and pickles. Cristeta Comerford, a White House chef since 2005, told reporters about the questionable combo during his tenure. “For dinner, the President loves what we call home-made ‘cheeseburger pizzas’ because every ingredient of a cheeseburger is on top of a margherita pizza.” This bizarrely constructed hodge podge of a pie has made huge inroads. Most Pizza chains now have one on the menu and many of them are the most calorific selection. The Bacon BBQ Cheeseburger pizza from Pizza Hut weighs in at 650 calories a slice.  In the same breath, Comerford also noted the Presidents dedication to working out. A slice a day does not keep the doctor away. 

The Bush family started with the Clinton’s White House Chef, Walter Scheib. The chef was known for sophisticated and rather complex cuisine. After some stylistic disagreements, he was replaced. “If you had a grilled cheese, a peanut butter and honey, and a BLT,” Scheib told reporters, “pretty much you’ll cover the culinary universe as far as [President Bush] is concerned.” There was also the issue of the scallops. The First Lady was not a fan and the more they appeared on the table, the less she enjoyed them. What she did enjoy was fresh American produce, with beets being a favorite. She also loved fresh pea soup with mint. The family was no fuss to feed, happy with comfort staples and repeat favorites. 

Unsurprisingly, the Bush family also was (and still are) great fans of Tex-Mex; the spicier the better.  Huevos Rancheros were a particular weekend favorite which made the table most Sundays after church. Their first state dinner was appropriately given for Vicente Fox, President of Mexico. Crab and chorizo, followed by a pepita crusted bison gave both families familiar flavors they enjoyed. For snacking, it was tex-mex chex, a twist on the classic that the family created at the Texas Governor’s mansion. With hot sauce, cumin, and Worcestershire sauce, handfuls of it are quick to disappear. 

I had planned on doing Tex-Mex but this dish was too bizarre to ignore. I have included the White House pizza dough recipe and simple instructions for the assembly thereafter.  I have enjoyed more pizza than the average bear, but I think I would give this one up for President Garfield’s squirrel soup or Fillmore’s pickled eggs. You have to try everything once.

If you are in DC October 29th:  Please join “Soulfood Scholar” Adrian Miller and I on the morning of October 29th as we share recipes and explore the legacy of African American White House chefs at the Smithsonian Food History Weekend. A complete guide to the presentations and events can be found here.

George Bush’s Cheeseburger Pizza

Dough recipe from: White House Chef by Walter Scheib and Andrew Friedman

Pizza Dough

  • ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp warm water
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tspactive dry yeast (not quick-rising)
  • ¼ tsp honey
  • 1 ½ cups bread flour
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt 
  • Cornmeal to dust the pizza stone


  • 4 Tbsp. crushed tomatoes
  • 3 ounces mozzarella
  • 5 basil leaves, torn
  • 3 strips bacon, cooked till crispy then crumbled
  • ½ lb. ground beef, browned
  • 1 large pickle, sliced
  • Sprinkle of catchup and mustard
  • 1 ½ ounce shredded cheddar, optional

Put a pizza stone on the center rack in the oven. (If you don’t have a pizza stone, use an inverted 12 inch cast iron pan that’s been greased with olive oil). Preheat oven to 450F

Put 2 Tbsp. of the water, the flour, yeast, and honey in a stainless steel bowl. Stir together, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size (20 minutes).

Add the bread flour, oil, salt and remaining ½ cup water, stir together, cover, and let it double again (20 minutes.)

Knead the dough a bit to get any air out. Roll out the pizza dough on a heavily floured surface until ½ inch thick. Let sit for 15 mins. before baking. 

Top the dough with crushed tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.

Bake for 12 mins. Add bacon, beef, pickles, and additional cheddar (if desired). Return to oven for additional 3 mins. 

Dress with ketchup and mustard. Serve.

Posted on October 25, 2016 and filed under main event, time travel, pizza.

Reagan Gazpacho

President 40: Ronald Reagan

This week I had intended to pay homage to Reagan’s most famous edible obsession, the Jelly Bean. I made a couple of test batches and decided my homemade variety was woefully inadequate to the handfuls of synthetic heaven we all adore. I ended up following Nancy’s lead and going healthy, but I suggest popping some jelly beans throughout your cook to ease those sugar shakes. During his gubernatorial race in California, Reagan traded his pipe smoking addiction for an addiction to the bean, with licorice being the flavor of choice. His sole supplier was Goelitz Mini Gourmet Jelly Beans out of Oakland, who kept them coming to the White House. Goelitz even put together a red, white, and blue variety pack for inauguration day in 1981 and made a candy jar with the Presidential seal for White House guests so they could get sugar high on the way home. They were his guilty pleasure, which he scarfed down while Nancy wasn’t watching and one of the many surprising eccentricities in his home life and diet.

It seems every staunchly Republican family has a child or a lab named Reagan, which is quite humorous considering the Reagans weren’t actually that cookie-cutter. President Reagan, in his former life as a Hollywood actor, was originally considered for Bogart’s lead role in Casablanca. Those acting skills came in handy when dealing with the lunacy of the Hill, and Ronald Reagan loved the limelight. He was also the first President to get one of those pesky divorces (no judgment here). He then met Nancy, who was also working in Hollywood at the time. Nancy had dated celebrities before, including Clark Gable, and she quickly learned to love being a political wife. She took the reins on a lot of things, including what the President ate. It was a healthy high fiber diet for the day-to-day, though there was occasionally wiggle room for the President’s beloved macaroni and cheese. Fruit (and secret jelly beans) were for dessert, unless it was a holiday and her pull-apart monkey bread made the table.

Breakfast was normally cereal and fruit. Eggs were served once a week. The coffee was decaf as caffeine didn’t agree with the President.  It was light lunches of soups, with Hamburger soup being the most requested, and salads. For dinner, they occasionally enjoyed a frozen meal, or at least pretended to, in order to humor the manufacturers and their lobbyists.  President Reagan made March 6th National Frozen Food Day and it is still being celebrated by families, every day, across the nation. The preservatives and high sodium in most of these foods pair perfectly with ketchup, which the Reagan administration tried to officially make a vegetable in their bid to rework school lunch funding. It makes five a day a lot easier. Some actual family dinner favorites include: Veal Scaloppini, Beef and Kidney Pie, and broiled fish with lemon butter. 

The First Lady loved healthy fashionable food with that razzle dazzle. Cold soups, including gazpacho and curry soup with a dollop of chutney, made a perfect starter or lunch for her hosted events. The White House adapted this recipe from the original from the housekeeper at the Reagan’s Rancho del Cielo, north of Santa Barbara, California. Chef Henry Haller served it as starter at a luncheon for the United States delegation to the U.N. Decade for Women’s Conference. It has enough zest to avoid the feeling that you are eating pasta sauce (tip: don’t blend it to oblivion), and enough bite to feel almost full after a large bowl.


Adapted from: The White House Family Cookbook by Henry Haller

My changes are in italics

·         4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled

·         1 cup peeled, chopped cucumber

·         1 cup chopped green bell pepper

·         1 cup chopped red bell pepper

·         1 garlic clove

·         1 cup clear vegetable stock

·         1 garlic clove

·         2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives

·         2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

·         2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil, or 1 tsp dried

·         2 Tbsp chopped fresh tarragon, or 1 tsp dried

·         1 Tbsp Worchestershire sauce

·         6 drops Tabasco sauce

·         1/8 tsp ground pepper

·         1 cup peeled, finely diced ripe tomato

·         ½ cup peeled, seeded, and finely diced cucumber

·         ½ cup finely diced green pepper

·         ½ ripe avocado, chopped

·         Sesame seeds for garnish

-In a blender, combine whole tomatoes, chopped cucumbers and red and green pepper, and garlic clove with the vegetable stock. Puree until smooth.

-Add chives, parsley, basil, tarragon, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and pepper. Blend until thoroughly mixed.

-Refrigerate soup or set bowl in a pan of ice for 2 hours

- Pour soup into individual serving bowls. Top each with a sprinkling of finely diced tomato, cucumber, chopped avocado, and green pepper. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, black pepper, and chili flakes.

Posted on September 27, 2016 and filed under appetizers, main event, salad, snacks, soup, time travel.