Monday, April 08, 2013

Edible Art Project Recipe: The 'White House Kitchen Garden Terrarium'

Executive Chef Cris Comerford uses black bean hummus and seasonal veggies to create a mini replica of the First Lady's vegetable garden...
President Obama and First Lady Obama spotlighted home cooking at this year's 135th annual Easter Egg Roll with the White House chefs and guest chefs giving cooking demonstrations in the outdoor Kids' Kitchen on the South Lawn.  Executive Chef Cris Comerford and her team thrilled families with the 'White House Kitchen Garden Terrarium.'  The edible art project--a kid-friendly crudite--pays homage to the most famous vegetable patch in America, which Mrs. Obama replanted for Spring three days after the Roll.  (Above, Comerford and staff get seedlings ready for planting in the garden) 

Served in a clear glass bowl, the terrarium is "as much fun to make as it is to eat," Comerford wrote with the recipe.  She uses black bean hummus for the dip (the "ground"), spiced with citrus juice, cumin, and Harissa, a North African chili paste.  It's sprinkled with toasted, crushed pumpernickle bread for the "dirt."

"The final step is 'planting' your family's favorite veggies, then gather around and dig in!" Comerford said. 

Mrs. Obama planting spinach
The Kitchen Garden is now growing more than 3o kinds of veggies, including cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, lettuce and radish, which would be good choices for the terrarium project.  Peppers, tomatoes, and cucumber would also be good options.   A food processor is needed to make the pumpernickel "dirt" and the hummus "soil," which calls for dried black beans soaked overnight before cooking.  

Harissa is available in specialty food stores or online, and Comerford says hot sauce can be used instead.  The recipe serves six.   Check the sidebar for all White House recipes.  

Comerford displays the finished Terrarium
White House Kitchen Garden Terrarium

For the Hummus
*1 Lb dried black beans, soaked overnight 

*4 Lemons, for juicing 

*4 Limes, for juicing

*2 Garlic gloves, minced

*3  Tbsp Tahini

*2  Tsp Harissa, or your favorite hot sauce (optional)

*1/2  Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

*2 Tsp Cumin

*Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Cook the black beans in salted water until tender.  

2.  Drain the black beans and reserve a cup of the liquid.

3.  Add the beans and the rest of the ingredients including the reserve liquid into a food processor and blend until smooth. Note: It is best to blend the beans while they are still warm.

4.  Season with salt and pepper.

For The Dirt
*1 loaf Pumpernickel bread, sliced

*2 Tbsp butter, melted

*Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Put pumpernickel slices on a baking sheet and bake for about 12 minutes or until fully dry.

3.  Process in a food processor until crumbly.  Add the butter and season with salt and pepper.  Set aside until ready for use.

The Vegetables 
Any seasonal favorites such as baby carrots with tops,  radishes,  cucumber slices,  cherry tomatoes,  fennel, baby celery, lettuce leaves are good choices.

To Assemble Terrarium
Using a clear glass bowl or baking dish, layer the hummus and top it with the pumpernickel “dirt."  "Plant" the veggies into the "dirt" to create your garden.  Serves six.

Below, a video of Comerford and Executive Pastry Chef Bill Yosses and Assistant Pastry Chef Susie Morrison giving the recipe demo.  CLICK HERE for all cooking demo videos from the Kids' Kitchen. 


*Photos by Eddie Gehman Kohan/Obama Foodorama