The White House kitchen, overseen by Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford, goes into overdrive during the holiday season, as President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host more than twenty receptions and Open Houses. This year, Gulf seafood is being featured front and center on the holiday menus. It continues of a White House campaign, started in August, to promote one of the Gulf's most important and tastiest assets, following federal fishery closures due to the BP oil spill. (Above: Comerford, far right, marshals White House chefs during an event)
"All together, we’ve shipped in about 2,000 lbs of shrimp and crabs from the Gulf for our 2010 holiday parties," Comerford writes today on the White House blog. "We at the White House are so happy to play our part in reminding Americans that Gulf seafood is not only safe – but delicious."
Comerford visited New Orleans in September to personally witness the safety of Gulf seafood. Accompanied by FDA commissioner Margaret Hamburg and a group of chefs from around the US, Comerford took a boat tour of a bayou and visited a crab processing facility. She also cooked a Gulf seafood special feast for a family that was newly returning to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
The first White House holiday reception will be tonight, and it's for the hardworking volunteers who transformed the White House with handmade crafts, in keeping with Mrs. Obama's "Simple Gifts" theme. The shindig will feature a seafood bar highlighting Gulf shrimp and Florida stone crabs. Simple seafood, but filled with meaning for Comerford.
"I’m excited to use the power of food once again to honor not only honor the Gulf, but some very special guests," Comerford wrote. "Gulf seafood has a special place in my heart."
Comerford posted a special holiday Gulf shrimp recipe, which is very easy and traditional, and which she said will be served throughout the festive season.
White House Holiday Gulf Shrimp CocktailFor the Shrimp:
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup kosher salt
1 lemon halved
2 lbs large Gulf shrimp in the shell
For the Cocktail Sauce:
½ cup chili sauce
3 tbsp prepared horseradish
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
½ tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ tsp hot sauce
Add the vinegar, salt and a halved lemon into a large pot of boiling water. Add the shrimp, and cook for about three minutes, or until the shells turn pink. Remove with a slotted spoon into a bowl of iced water. When the shrimp are cool enough, peel the shells and de-vein. Keep refrigerated until service. For the cocktail sauce, combine all the remaining ingredients and set aside.
More White House Gulf seafood love...
The Navy Mess--the staff cafeteria at the White House--today is also featuring a menu in honor of the Gulf, and it's loaded with seafood, including BBQ Gulf Shrimp, Oyster Po-Boys with fresh Alabama Gulf Oysters, Speckled Trout from Gulfport, Mississippi, and Seafood Gumbo with
Andouille sausage, shrimp from Venice, LA, Bayou La Batre, and Alabama lump crab.
*Photo by Samantha Appleton/White House