Friday, April 17, 2009

White House Guest Chef: José Andrés Takes A Star Turn In The Kids Kitchen At The 2009 White House Easter Egg Roll. With Recipes!

The guest chefs at the 2009 White House Easter Egg Roll became part of foodie history when they were invited to cook in the Kids Kitchen during the Obama's very first public holiday event, on Monday, April 13.

The chefs, including José Andrés, Spike Mendelsohn, and Art Smith and Howard Helmer, had a walk-through of the outdoor kitchen pavilion and prep tent the day before Monday's event, and they also had to deal with White House food security protocols. (Above, Andres at the Roll, cooking with his daughter, Carlota)

The White House kitchen provided most of the ingredients the chefs cooked with, unless the ingredients were difficult to source, in which case the ingredients were heavily inspected before entering the White House. A decision was made to demonstrate the foods in the Kids Kitchen rather than hand out samples to everyone in attendance; this was partially due to the sheer numbers of people visiting the Roll--an estimated 30,000, as well as food safety concerns. One exception: White House Executive Chef Cris Comerford's fruit lollipops were a hands-on affair, and the kids loved creating the healthy treats. The Kids Kitchen was packed all day with mobs of happy children and parents.

Andrés is a world renowned restaurateur, cookbook author, and host of Made in Spain on PBS, and he had absolutely no problem cooking at the most famous house in America. He's a big presence in the DC cooking scene, and there's no doubt he'll be back at the White House to join the chefs in the future. In addition to demonstrating his own recipes, he also joined the White House chefs during the fruit lollipopping (pictured).

During a break in the event, Jose had a nice private tour of the newly planted Kitchen Garden, with Chef Comerford, Food Initiative Coordinator Sam Kass, and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses:

Jose's demos were funny, informative, and a big hit with the crowds. A dad to three daughters, Jose is all about family cooking, which made him even more perfect for the Kids Kitchen event. His daughter, Carlota, assisted him at the demos, which really re-enforced the you can do it! element for the attending kids.

And because the theme of the day was messaging healthy eating and nutrition, Jose demo'd really easy and delish Gazapacho soup, mini olive oil pancakes (Tortitas de aceite de oliva), and low-fat tuna salad, all of which were adapted for the Roll from his cookbook Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for an American Kitchen. During the demos, Jose was tossing off one-liners in heavily accented English as fast as he was tossing around ingredients, and the crowd loved it. He also came up with one of the wisest pieces of cooking advice ever uttered, when he announced to the kids: "Any time you have a problem with a recipe, don't worry! Just change the name of your dish!"

Below are the recipes for Jose's
Gazpacho and his mini olive oil pancakes; his tuna salad recipe will follow in an upcoming post. Jose pointed out during his demos that once you start using healthy olive oil in pancakes, you realize there's no need for butter.

Jose Andres' White House Easter Egg Roll Olive Oil Pancakes
Tortitas de aceite de oliva

1¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1½ cups buttermilk
¼ cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if necessary
½ cup dark chocolate, preferably Spanish, broken into small pieces
¼ cup honey, preferably Spanish lemon honey
Fresh mint leaves

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a mixing bowl. Whisk in the egg, buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until you have a smooth batter, then stir in the chocolate pieces.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat. Ladle ¼ cup of the pancake mixture into the pan and cook until golden brown. Flip the pancake with spatula and cook until golden brown on the second side. Transfer the pancake to a warm oven. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more olive oil to the pan as needed. To serve, drizzle the pancakes with honey and garnish with mint.

Serves 4.

Pictured above: Jose's sous chef Richie Brandenburg with the demo'd mini pancakes, in the prep tent for the Kids Kitchen.

Jose Andres's White House Easter Egg Roll Gazpacho

1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 pounds ripe plum tomatoes, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ cup sherry vinegar
½ cup Oloroso sherry
¾ cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil

For the garnish
2 1 inch-thick slices rustic bread
¼ cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cucumber
Sea salt to taste

To make the soup, combine the cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, sherry, olive oil and 2 cups of water in a food processor or blender. Puree the ingredients until everything is well blended into a thick pink liquid. Pour the gazpacho through a medium-hole strainer into a pitcher. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

For the garnish: Preheat oven to 450˚F. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and toss in a mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and bake on the middle rack until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Set the croutons aside to cool.

When you are ready to serve, slice the cucumber into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. Put a few croutons, cherry tomato halves and cucumber ribbons in each bowl and pour the gazpacho over them. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Serves 6-8

*The Gazpacho recipe is *actually* called Gazapacho al estilo de Patricia, in honor of Jose's wife.

*Jose's recipes for the Easter Egg Roll are from his book Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for an American Kitchen, published by and available at Clarkson Potter; also available at Amazon, as well as fine bookstores everywhere. Thanks to Laura Trevino of Jose's ThinkFoodGroup.

Related: A full post on the Roll is here, with more pictures here. Chef Art Smith's Easter Egg Roll Recipe for Chicken and Dumpling Soup is here. Chef Jose Andres's Easter Egg Roll Tuna Salad is here.

*Photos by Obama Foodorama, except for Gazpacho, which is from Made in Spain, courtesy of Jose Andres/ThinkFoodGroup