All the Presidents' Pastries
Twenty-five Years in the White House
White House Chef
By Walter Scheib and Andrew Friedman
John Wiley & Sons / 2007 / $24.95
Like Roland Mesnier, Walter Scheib, the executive White House chef for 11 years for the Clintons and the family of George W. Bush, reveals no state secrets, but he is remarkably candid in his description of how he got along (or didn't get along) with his employers.
The Maryland native, who was fired early in Bush's second term, hardly hides his disdain for the president's preferred lunch fare - peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches and grilled cheese made with Kraft Singles.
The recipes in the book tend to be long and complicated. Some of the simpler recipes I tried had problems. A buttermilk-biscuit recipe turned to goo when I added 1 1/4 cups buttermilk. (When I remade the recipe, I found that 1/3 cup was a more appropriate amount). But a saffron risotto with fresh goat cheese turned out beautifully.
Bananas in Raspberry Cream
1 1/2 pounds of fresh raspberries (or two 12-ounce bags frozen unsweetened raspberries, thawed)
1/2 cup sugar
8 ripe bananas
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
marzipan holly leaves (optional)
Make the raspberry sauce: Process raspberries and sugar in an electric blender until smooth. Push the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and set aside until needed.
Cut the bananas into 1/4 -inch-thick rounds. Place them in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice so they don't turn brown.
Whip the heavy cream with an electric mixer until it holds stiff peaks. Place 1 cup of whipped cream in a bowl and set it aside. Fold 1 cup of the raspberry sauce into the remaining whipped cream, being careful not to deflate the cream.
Set aside 16 banana slices. Arrange a third of the remaining banana slices in a serving bowl or compote dish that is approximately 8 inches in diameter and 6 to 7 inches deep.
Spread one-third of the raspberry mixture over the bananas. Repeat twice more with the remaining bananas and raspberry cream, so that you have 3 layers of each. Smooth the top with a small offset spatula.
Gently fold the confectioners' sugar and vanilla extract into the reserved cup of whipped cream. Spoon the sweetened whip cream into a pastry bag fitted with a No. 6 rosette nozzle and pipe 16 rosettes of cream around the edge of the dish. Place a banana slice upright on each of the rosettes.
Pour the remaining raspberry sauce in the center of the dish so that it covers all of the raspberry cream. Sprinkle the sauce with the toasted almonds, and garnish with the marzipan holly leaves if desired. Serve immediately or refrigerate, uncovered, for up to 8 hours before serving.
From "All the Presidents' Pastries"
Per serving: 412 calories, 4 grams protein, 24 grams fat, 14 grams saturated fat, 55 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 82 milligrams cholesterol, 24 milligrams sodium