Wednesday, June 22, 2011

George Bush Apple-Cranberry Brown Betty

According to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, George H.W. Bush has always had a "whopping appetite," but it isn't for vegetables like broccoli (as he made clear to reporters at a news conference in 1990) or other healthy, nutritious dishes. Instead, our 41st president loves to munch on pork rinds, beef jerky, nachos, tacos, gaucamole, chile, refried beans, hamburgers, hot dogs, barbecued ribs, and popcorn. And "even when he eats something healthy, like yogurt or oat bran," according to Dowd, "he tries to spice it up with Butterfingers or something else to give it a little zip."

Given his unpretentious tastes, it’s not surprising that George and Barbara Bush made no particular culinary demands on their Executive Chef and both often “exulted in the pleasures of White House dining.” In a burst of gustatory fervor, Mrs. Bush reportedly wrote, “Duck soup, smoked trout, delicate salad and peaches and passion fruit! Glorious. The food is so special that you cannot believe it.”

As for Mr. Bush's culinary preferences, the Washington Post reported that, shortly after taking office, the new president was making them known:

For a black-tie $1,500-a-plate inaugural dinner what did he choose? A baked bean and scrod dinner to commemorate the great state of his birth, Massachusetts? Oysters a la Connecticut to note the days of his youth? A messy Texas barbecue from his adopted home state? Or, from his Kennebunkport summer home, Maine lobsters? Instead George and Barbara Bush for the first of many presidential dinners designed a meal around the taste buds of George Washington and called it "From George to George."

If you'd like to whip up the delicious dessert that was served at that gala dinner, here is the recipe for Apple-Cranberry Brown Betty:

Butter and sugar for preparing the souffle dish
10 Granny Smith apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
6 tablespoons butter, plus additional 1/2 cup melted
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and dried
1 cup golden raisins, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes then squeezed dry
Zest of 2 oranges
1 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups stale white-bread crumbs, crusts removed

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 2-quart straight-sided glass souffle dish and then sprinkle with sugar. Peel, core and quarter the apples, then cut each quarter into 3 chunks. Reserve in a bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the apples and toss to combine.

In a large frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter until hot and add 1/3 of the apple pieces. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and saute over high heat until the apples are lightly caramelized. Remove the apples from heat and reserve in a large bowl. Repeat process until all the apples are cooked. Combine the apples with the cranberries, raisins, orange zest, brown sugar, mace and cinnamon and mix well. Mix the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/2 cup melted butter.

Line bottom of souffle bowl with 1/3 of the bread-crumb mixture. Add 1/2 of the apple-cranberry mixture, then sprinkle with 1/3 more of the bread crumbs. Add rest of apple-cranberry mixture, then top with the remaining bread crumbs. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours.

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