One of my most cherished creative outlets is to re-create historical events through food. The Abraham Lincoln Dinner at Delmonico’s on February 12, 1900; Barack Obama’s 57th Inaugural Luncheon; and Julia Child’s First Meal in France are a few examples of many of my favorite re-creations.
A Re-Creation of the 58th Inaugural Luncheon
The traditional luncheon that follows the Presidential Inauguration, held in Statuary Hall, witnessed by statues of a seated Rosa Parks – icon of the civil rights movement, and Frances Willard – my Alpha Phi sister remembered for her contributions to women’s higher education and suffrage, and medical scientist Florence Sabin – the first woman to hold a full professorship at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, help to make it an even more irresistible moment in history to capture.
National Statuary Hall has been the setting for the Inaugural Luncheon since 1981.
A week ago we saw Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi “breaking bread” with Donald Trump and Paul Ryan. The Presidential Inauguration and Luncheon is an extraordinary event where political rivals willingly come together to celebrate what we all have in common, namely, our love for America!
“To a few of us here today this is a solemn and most momentous occasion, and yet in the history of our nation it is a commonplace occurrence. The orderly transfer of authority as called for in the Constitution routinely takes place, as it has for almost two centuries, and few of us stop to think how unique we really are. In the eyes of many in the world, this every 4-year ceremony we accept as normal is nothing less than a miracle.” Ronald Reagan
Fortunately for us foodies, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies JCCIC, posts the menu and full recipes on its website here.
With the help of internet photographs and resources cited below, I am so excited to re-create, and share my interpretation of the historic luncheon of January 20, 2017…I share the first course below.
Verdict of the People (1854-55) by George Caleb Bingham is one of three paintings that present the course of democratic elections. Bingham wanted to visually record the cultural tensions at play in American democracy in the 1850s.
After the newly elected President has taken the oath of office and delivered his Inaugural address, Chairman Blunt and the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) host a traditional inaugural luncheon in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.
Since 1953, the JCCIC has organized a luncheon celebration for the President, Vice President and their spouses, Senate and House leaders, the JCCIC members and other invited guests.
As JCCIC Chairman, Blunt selects Verdict of the People to be displayed during the luncheon.
For our re-creation, I chose White House Red Room reproduction watercolor print, commissioned by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. It is a
Limited Edition Print signed and numbered by Edward Lehman.
When first lady Jacqueline Kennedy came to the White House in 1961, she found the executive mansion poorly maintained and lacking in any furnishings from the previous century. She wasted no time in appointing the first White House curator, and in forming the Fine Arts Committee for the White House to procure furniture and artwork that was either owned by previous presidents, or representative of particular periods in the building’s history.
She was careful to ensure the public understood that this was not a matter of decorating to her tastes, but an effort to honor American history and craftsmanship, saying: “It would be sacrilege to merely redecorate it—a word I hate. It must be restored, and that has nothing to do with decoration. That is a question of scholarship.”
After completing the historic renovations, Mrs. Kennedy commissioned artist Edward Lehman (American, 1914-2000) to create a series of watercolors of the restored White House interiors. Prints of the original watercolors were produced as Christmas gifts for the White House staff during the Kennedy administration.
Each of the limited edition prints of Lehman’s original watercolors have been signed and numbered by the artist. Only 1000 prints of each room were produced.
I am the very proud owner of print 864/1000 of this collection.
Inaugural Lobster and Shrimp
Saffron Sauce and Peanut Crumble Recipe
The recipes below are the exact recipes from the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. For ease of preparation, cost, and due to difficulty in locating some esoteric ingredients, I give my substitutions in red.
Maine Lobster and Gulf Shrimp
serves 10 people
5 Maine Lobster, 1 ¼ lbs., tail and claw meat, partially blanch, remove from shell, grilled (substitute 30 oz. frozen/cooked/peeled langoustine tails)
20 Gulf shrimp, size 16-20, peeled and deveined, split by length, grilled or sautéed
10 oz. Fava beans, fresh or frozen, blanch and season with butter, sea salt and pepper (substitute shelled soybeans)
10 oz. Butternut squash pearls, roast squash and then scoop with sofrino scoop (or melon baller) (small dice will work also), quick sauté with butter, sea salt
120 Potato dumplings, blanch, sauté with olive oil * (substitute ready-made gnocchi)
40 oz. Saffron lobster sauce*
2 T Olive oil
2 cups Virginia peanut and hickory syrup crumble*
1 cup Edible flowers or Micro Greens
*Denotes recipe below
Poach whole lobsters in boiling salted water for 6 minutes, remove from water and immediately place in an ice water bath and allow to cool for 4 minutes. Remove all lobster meat from tails, claw and knuckles and dice to bite size piece (each lobster should give you about 6 oz. of meat). Set meat aside in refrigerator until ready to serve. Reserve 2 or 3 of the shells to make the sauce (see recipe). (Substitute defrosted/rinsed langoustine tails).
Grill or sauté shrimp cooking only 50% of the way, set meat aside in refrigerator until ready to serve. When ready to serve, pre-heat a sauté pan and add olive oil. Toss in lobster meat (or langoustine tails) and shrimp and cook on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add lobster sauce and allow sauce to come to a low simmer.
In a separate pan on medium heat combine the fava beans and the butternut squash until warm. In a soup plate, place 12 dumplings with about 4 oz. of sauce, 4 halves of shrimp, 3 oz. of lobster meat.
Top this with 2 tablespoons of the fava bean and butternut squash mix. Sprinkle 2 tablespoon of the Virginia peanut and hickory syrup crumble on top and garnish with 4 or 5 edible flowers or a sprinkling of micro greens.
2 Lobster bodies, chopped (substitute 4 jumbo raw shrimp, deveined, unpeeled with tail, rough chopped)
1 (large) Carrot, peeled and chopped
1 Shallot, peeled and diced
4 Plum tomato, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, rough chopped
2 cups Dry Sherry
2 T Butter
4 cups Fish stock (substitute bottled clam juice)
4 cups Heavy cream
1/4 oz. Saffron
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large pan over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté lobster carcass, shallot, garlic and carrot for five minutes, add the tomatoes, Sherry and reduce by half. Add the fish stock and lower the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add the heavy cream and saffron and reduce this by half. Blend in a food processor (or blender) then pass twice through a chinois (or once through a fine mesh sieve). Season to taste with salt and pepper. This can be made up to 2 days ahead. (Recipe can be halved).
1/2 cup Virginia peanuts, chopped, salted & roasted
1/2 cup Pumpkin seeds (pepitas), chopped toasted
1/2 cup Rice cereal
1/2 cup Hickory syrup (substitute maple syrup)
2 T Vegetable oil
1/2 t Cayenne pepper
1 t Vanilla powder (substitute vanilla extract)
Pre-heat oven to 275°F. Mix all ingredients in a mixing bowl. Spread crumble over a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake in oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until crispy. (I found I had to double the cooking time). Let cool down and break crumble into peanut size pieces. Keep covered in a dry and cool place
4 each Idaho potato, medium sized
2 each Egg yolks
4 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 oz. Fresh basil, leaf only, finely chopped
1/2 oz. Fresh tarragon, leaf only, finely chopped
1 t Granulated garlic
3 oz. All purpose flour
1 t Granulated onion
2 T Butter
(Substitute ready-made gnocchi: cook according to package instructions, sauté in butter, season with salt and pepper).
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Bake potatoes for an hour or until done. If you can poke holes into the potato with a skewer they are ready. Mix dry ingredients together; all purpose flour, granulated garlic, and granulated onion. Let potatoes cool slightly, and scoop out the potato from the peel. Press them through a tamis. Mound the milled potatoes and place 1/2 of the flour mixture into the mound then add the eggs, parmesan cheese, basil and tarragon followed by the remaining flour mixture. Chop up potato mixture with a dough scraper. Work quickly, 15 to 30 seconds, as to not overwork the mix causing it to become very dense. Cover with a slightly damp towel. Gather a handful of the mixture and roll it lightly on a floured surface to make a thin log, approximately ¾ inch in diameter. You will then cut small pieces of rolled dough about 1.25” long into dumplings. To cook, place them in boiling salted water until they float and use a slotted spoon to take the gnocchi out of the water and dry them on a paper towel. Place dry dumplings onto a greased pan and refrigerate until ready to serve. Pre-heat a non-stick pan and melt a small amount of butter and sauté about 30 dumplings at a time until golden brown. 12 dumpling per portion.
The First Course:
The Second Course:
Please stop by later for the recipe for the second course – Inaugural Angus Beef with Dark Chocolate Cabernet Sauce.