Barack Obama adds healthy eating options to White House menu

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White-house-chefAmerica's First Family are seeking to prevent the epidemic of obesity that has spread across the waistband of much of their country from infecting their gym-honed bodies and young daughters in the White House. President Obama has moved Sam Kass with him from Chicago. He specialises in health-conscious menus. The new assistant chef at the White House spoke at a "rethinking soup" seminar last year, which he described as "fresh, organic conversation about many of the urgent social, cultural, economic and environmental food issues" facing the US.

Tom Baldwin

Mr Obama, however, also remains sensitive to charges of elitism that have tarnished his Everyman credentials before - notably when he complained about the price of rocket at organic supermarkets during his presidential campaign.

Mr Kass is working under Cristeta Comerford, who has been kept on from the Bush era, when it is said that tastes were more likely to be inclined towards chicken-fried steak.

The tension was apparent at the weekend when Michelle Obama allowed cameras into the White House kitchens before a state dinner for the National Governors Association.

The menu featured Chesapeake crab agnolottis, wagyu beef, Nantucket scallops and huckleberry cobbler for pudding. Mr Kass was busy making a citrus salad with local watermelon radishes and tiny ice greens.

"There are some mean waffles and grits that are made in the morning that have become a regular staple for some of us," said Mrs Obama, who added quickly: "I don't eat waffles every day."

She said that her husband had nicknamed the pastry chef, Bill Yosses, the "crust master". She added that staff would also deliver "a mean batch of French fries".

Wary that she may have gone too far in praising fattening food, Mrs Obama began to talk about how she tries to entice Malia and Sasha away from an unhealthy diet.

"You want to get them to try that carrot," she said. "Well, if it tastes like a real carrot and its really sweet they're going to think that it's a piece of candy."

She added that Ms Comerford excelled at producing light salads and voiced admiration for a broccoli cream soup and a creamed spinach dish.

Mrs Obama said that despite the best efforts of the White House chefs however, Sasha still did not like the broccoli soup. "To kids," she said, "it's green and it's horrible."

Alice Waters, a chef from San Francisco and campaigner for the organic food movement, wrote an open letter to Mr Obama calling on him to set an example with his eating habits and introduce a vegetable garden in the White House grounds.

Sam Kass's beef and barley soup

Ingredients

4 cups diced beef

2 cups chopped onions

1/4 cup chopped garlic

1/2 cup sliced green garlic

1 heaped teaspoon tomato paste

2 cups red wine

2 cups hulled barley

6 cups beef or chicken stock

Sachet (1 bay leaf, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 tablespoon peppercorns, 2 sprigs parsley stems)

Salt and pepper

How to cook:

Sear meat on high heat; remove the meat from pan when barely cooked. Lower the heat and add the onions, garlic and green garlic. Saute until light brown, scraping the bottom of the pan every time you stir. Add the tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes. Add red wine and reduce by three quarters. Add the stock, meat, sachet and barley and simmer lightly

http://www.timesonline.co.uk

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