Spoonbread

February: Presidents’ Day (third Monday in February)

The fifth U.S. president, James Monroe (April 28, 1758-July 4, 1831), was a Virginian who loved southern home cooking. But his American tastes were probably influenced by the French when he played an integral part in negotiating the Louisiana Purchase with Napoleon Bonaparte in the early 19th century.

One of Monroe’s favorite foods was spoonbread, which is like a cross between a simple southern cornbread and a fancy French soufflé. This bread has a somewhat creamy consistency so is eaten with a spoon, instead of handheld like a firmer roll or bun.

In honor of President James Monroe, try spoonbread as a side dish on Presidents’ Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Fine Cooking)

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, separated
  • ½ cup cornmeal
  • 1 ½ cups milk, divided
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, plus extra for greasing the ramekins

Directions

Grease four half-cup ramekins with butter. Set aside on a baking tray. Crack the eggs and separate the whites from the yolks. Beat the egg whites until medium-stiff peaks form.

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, stir together the cornmeal with ½ cup of milk. In a saucepan, scald the other one cup of milk. Add the cornmeal mixture, salt and sugar. Keep stirring over medium heat until thickened (about 5-10 minutes).

Remove from heat and mix in the butter and egg yolks. Fold in the egg whites. Divide batter between the prepared ramekins.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes to an hour or until the spoonbread is puffy with a golden brown crust. Serve hot out of the oven with a spoon and an extra pat of butter on top (optional).

Notes

  •  We halved the original recipe to feed just the two of us.
  • Avoid overbaking or microwaving the leftovers as the spoonbread will harden when cooled. It is best to eat this hot right out of the oven.
  • When Islander was a child, she and her family lived in President James Monroe’s home state for four years when her Daddy was stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, and served in the U.S. Navy.
  • Search our blog for other Presidents’ Day and patriotic recipes.

Bush Family Mushroom Quiche

February: Presidents’ Day (third Monday in February)

Behind every good man is an equally good woman! Barbara Pierce Bush (June 8, 1925-April 17, 2018) was the wife of the 41st U.S. president, George H.W. Bush (June 12, 1924-November 30, 2018), and mother of the 43rd U.S. president, George W. Bush. A woman of her time, she devoted her life to care for her family and household as best as she can. That included cooking and making sure they were well fed and nourished. Mushroom quiche was a Bush family favorite so we have made it for our blog post in observance of Presidents’ Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from the Houston Chronicle)

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ pounds mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons oregano
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons basil
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • ¾ teaspoon marjoram
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 3 stalks green onions, chopped (green part only)
  • 3 shallots, minced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup whole milk or half and half
  • 1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

Directions

Wash, dry and slice the mushrooms. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the oregano, basil, salt, marjoram, black pepper, thyme and dry mustard.

Chop the green onions and mince the shallots. In a large skillet, melt the butter on medium low heat.

Sauté the mushrooms until they are soft. Stir in the minced garlic, green onions and shallots.

Add the spice mixture and stir until liquid has evaporated. Remove from the stove top and let cool. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the milk.

Mix in the mushrooms. Pour into the pie crust. Place the pie on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F for 35-45 minutes or until the filling has puffed up and is starting to set and turn brown. Remove from the oven. Slice and serve.

Notes

  • The sautéed mushroom mixture must be cool enough before adding to the eggs or the heat will cook the eggs prematurely.
  • Complete the Presidents’ Day theme meal with dessert. See the recipe for Barbara Bush cookies here.
  • The final food photo above was styled with a red carnation, white pearls (the late First Lady’s signature accessory) and blue checkered cloth.
  • Search our blog for other presidential and patriotic recipes.

Chicken Fricassee

February: Presidents’ Day (third Monday in February)

The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (April 13, 1743-July 4, 1826), is credited as being America’s first epicurean. Through his travels and work in international relations, he developed a penchant for fine and foreign foods. From Africa, Asia, the Mediterranean and South America, he imported vegetables like okra, lima beans, eggplants, garlic, peanuts, peppers, tomatoes and olive oil. From Europe, France in particular, he made popular French cuisine and asked his chefs to prepare it often.

Chicken fricassee is an adaptation of a classic French stew, which includes making a roux. This dish was one of the favorites of the “Founding Foodie” (some sources also note that chicken fricassee was loved by the 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln). So make this comfort food, which is perfect for Presidents’ Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from CD Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds chicken pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • oil for frying
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white cooking wine
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups mushrooms, sliced
  • 1-2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup half and half cream

Directions

Season the chicken pieces with salt, pepper, nutmeg and paprika. In a large pot, heat the oil and fry the chicken until browned. Transfer to a plate.

In the same pot, add the flour and cook in the chicken fat-oil until light brown, adding the water a little at a time to make a smooth sauce. Stir in the wine. Put the chicken back in the pot, cover, and simmer on low heat for 45-50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

While the chicken is cooking, chop the onions, slice the mushrooms, chop the sage and parsley. When the chicken is cooked, transfer to a plate. Strain the gravy in a bowl and set aside. In the same pot, melt the butter over low heat.

Sauté the onions with the mushrooms. Stir in the chopped sage and parsley.

Return the chicken and gravy to the pot. Stir in the cream to thicken. Serve hot over pasta or rice.

Notes

  • Chicken fricassee is popular in the South. Jefferson was a Southerner from Virginia. Islander has met some Cajuns from Louisiana at the local culinary book club in Texas and they introduced her to this recipe.
  • Search our blog for other presidential and patriotic recipes.

Lincoln Cake

lincolncake

February 12: Birthday of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln (1809)

We have been to Washington, D.C., on several occasions for business and pleasure. One of the many monuments we have visited was that of the 16th American president. A huge statue of Abraham Lincoln sits peacefully within his stately national memorial—we hope his expression reflects that we, too, could have peace across the land that he loved.

Speaking of which, here is a cake recipe that Lincoln loved. His wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, supposedly made this almond-flavored confection while they were courting and throughout their marriage. As First Lady, she also made this comforting cake while in the White House. Bake this as a birthday cake in honor of one of America’s most popular presidents—Abraham Lincoln.

Recipe

(Adapted from Parade)

Ingredients

  • 2-3 ounces blanched slivered almonds, finely chopped
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • ½ cup sugar, superfine (caster sugar)
  • ¾ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  • ¼ cup flour, sifted

Directions

Chop up the almonds finely to resemble coarse crumbs. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until they are thick with a pale yellow color (about 3-5 minutes).

lincolncakesteps1

Gradually beat in the sugar until blended well. Stir in the almond and lemon extracts. Mix in the almonds.

lincolncakesteps2

Stir in the flour. Fold in about 1/3 of the egg whites into the flour mixture until lightened. Then gradually fold in the rest of the egg whites.

lincolncakesteps3

Pour into an ungreased tube pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool upside down. Carefully remove the cake from the pan. Slice and serve.

lincolncakesteps4

Notes

  • Our final food photo above features lots of Lincoln pennies (unfortunately, we do not have enough five dollar bills!). Look on the back of the penny. Some one-centers have different designs on the back, from the old wheat, Lincoln Memorial and other commemorative bicentennial images to the current Union shield.
  • This cake does not rise as high like an angel food cake. But it is still light, fluffy and delicious for a snack.
  • Search our blog for other patriotic recipes.