FOOD EDITORS often are lucky enough to eat at the better places when they visit a city. The group in Washington last week for the annual meeting of the Newspaper Food Editors and Writers Association not only ate well, they sampled offerings at several of the better addresses in town.
After grilled stuffed trout, fettucine, wild rice and Phillipine egg rolls at the vice president's, they stopped by the White House for a special tour conducted by curator Clement Conger.But before Conger told them how James Madison never got to eat the dinner Dolley was cooking for him when the British were reported on their way to burn the White House, the editors stopped on the South Lawn.
Preparations were underway for the congressional reception that night, featuring food and music from the Northeast, South, Midwest and Southwest.
Unfortunately the clams and lobsters were not ready for sampling but Ralph Gonzales from San Marcos, Tex., was cooking up a storm of flautas. The 70 food writers had more than 70 of the crisply fried, chicken-filled tortillas. FLAUTUS (About 30) One (2 1/2 pound) fryer chicken 1 tablespoon salt 1 small onion 1 teaspoon chopped garlie 30 white corn tortillas 1 pound shortening 1/2 teaspoon cumin (eomino) 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
Cook chicken in water to cover with salt, onion and garlic until chicken is tender. Cool; remove meat from skin and bones. Shred meat and mix with comino, pepper, chili powder and salt to taste. Heat shortening in deep kettle until hot. Using tongs, dip chicken shreds in hot shortening for a few seconds. Remove from oil and drain. Roll chicken in tortillas and secure with toothpicks. Deep fry rolls in hot shortening for 3 to 4 minutes, until they rise to the surface. Drain and remove toothpicks. Serve with chili con queso, guacamole or mild Mexican tomato sauce dip.
One of the most beautiful, and certainly one of the most hospitable embassies in Washington is made even more so by Sweden's current ambassador and his wife, Count and Countless Wachtmeister.
The Swedish Embassy is one of Washington's few intown estates with enormous expanses of lawns and plantings. It is vast enough to include a tennis court that is barely visible from the house itself. The old mansion is made more lively by the bright, modern paintings done by Ulla Wachtmeister. Her interest in design is reflected in the imaginative ways she sets her tables, and the beautiful presentation of the food.
For the food editors there was a dazzling display of gravalax with mustard sauce, a fish mousse, chicken liver pate, beef lindstrom, stuffed cabbage leaves, ox eye (anchovies, beets, onion and egg yolks), smoked reindeer meat, assorted herrings and pickled fish and a table of rich Swedish cookies.
And there was aquavit frozen for those who were not too busy concentrating on the elaborate buffet. BEEF LINDSTROM (6 servings) 1 1/4 pounds ground beef 2 boiled potatoes, finely chopped 2 egg yolks 1/2 cup light cream 2 pickled beets, finely chopped 1 onion, finely chopped 2 teaspoons capers, finely chopped Salt, white pepper Butter Parsley
Mix together ground beef, potatoes, egg yolks, and cream in a bowl. Add the beets, onions, and capers and stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper, then shape in small, rather thick round patties. Melt butter in a skillet until sizzling, add patties and brown them quickly, but do not overcook them. The patties should be very juicy, so will not need a sauce, but you may serve them with the pan juices. Garnish with parsley. STUFFED CABBAGE LEAVES (Kaldomar) 8 large cabbage leaves 2 teaspoons salt 3/4 pound ground beef 1/4 pound ground pork 1/2 cup cooked rice 1 egg 2 teaspoons flour 1/2 cup milk Pepper Butter 1 tablespoon brown sugar Beef broth 2 tablespoons flour 2 tablespoons heavy cream Soy sauce to taste
Place cabbage leaves in a kettle in water with 1 teaspoon salt, bring to a boil, and simmer about 4 minutes -- do not overcook the cabbage. Remove from water and drain well. Cut leaves in half.
Mix together in a bowl the ground meat, rice, egg, flour, milk, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Divide mixture evenly among the cabbage leaves, spreading it down the center and leaving a border all around. Do not overstuff the leaves. Fold the sides of leaves over meat, then roll up loosely, envelope fashion.
Melt butter in a baking pan, add the cabbage rolls, and pat on top with butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven 50 to 60 minutes, turning the rolls once to ensure even browning. Add a bit of water during cooking if the rolls look as if they might burn. Make a brown sauce of the pan juices, beef broth, flour; add cream and soy sauce to taste. Serve with boiled potatoes and lingonberries or cranberry sauce as well, if desired.
During a reception prior to a dinner at The Washington Post, the editors were able to quiz Barry Morganstern, the creative cook who heads Georgetown's Lansdowne Catering, about trends in party foods in this city. Morganstern told the editors that despite the much-publicized trend toward more careful eating, his customers were ordering and eating as much food as ever. "When they say 'less,' they mean less cost, not less food," Morganstern said.
He prepared and served several of his specialities, among them Cashew Chicken and Shrimp Lansdowne. CASHEW CHICKEN (32 pieces) 4 half breasts of chicken, skinned and boned 1 pound shelled, salted cashew nuts, ground as fine as possible without making butter 1 quart vegetable oil (soya preferred) Salt
Cut each breast half into eight fairly even strips. Roll in ground cashews, pressing to make them adhere. Refrigerate in a single layer.
Heat oil to 350 degrees in a saucepan or wok. Put 12 to 15 pieces of cashew chicken in a deep fry basket and cook until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt before serving as an appetizer. SHRIMP LANSDOWNE (20 to 25 pieces) 1/2 stick butter 1 pound medium shrimp, shelled but tails left on 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly (and coarsely) ground black pepper 3 tablespoons chopped green onions 1 lemon 1/4 cup brandy
Melt butter in a skillet. When foam begins to subside, add shrimp in one layer without crowding. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chopped onions. Turn shrimps almost immediately. Squeeze on juice from the lemon. Add brandy, and when it bubbles, hold a kitchen match (held at arm's length) to the fumes. While brandy burns, keep turning shrimp. Serve as is for an appetizer, or over rice for a main course for four persons.
Naturally, food editors are eager to watch professional cooks perform and learn new techniques and recipes. A group went to L'Academie de Cuisine in Bethesda where the director, Francois Dionot, showed them a summer shellfish and vegetable salad and a French dessert that featured fresh fruit. SALADE DE HARICOTS VERTS FINS AUX CRUSTACES (4 servings) 3/4 pound of tiny green beans 1 dozen small shrimp with shells 1 small live lobster 4 ounces lump crab meat 8 cherry tomatoes 4 white mushrooms Salt Vanaigrette: 1/3 cup of walnut oil 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar 1 shallot finely chopped Pinch of salt Fresh black pepper
Snap the tips of the beans and boil in salted water for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender but slightly crunchy. Drain and cool under running water until completely cold. Drain again and reserve. Place the shrimp in salted boiling water. Bring back to a boil. Turn heat off and let stand for 2 minutes. Drain and reserve. Steam the lobster on a steamer plate for 5 minutes. Remove and let cool. Peel the shrimp and remove the meat from the lobster tail and claws. Cut the meat into medallions. Prepare the vinaigrette by stirring vinegar, shallots, salt and pepper together. Add the oil. Divide the vinaigrette into two salad bowls. Toss the green beans in one and and the crustaceans in the other bowl. On a large flat dinner plate, place two medallions of lobster in the center, surrounded by shrimp and crab meat. Then add the cherry tomato halves, the green beans and the mushrooms cut in the julienne. SAVARIAN AUX FRAISES SAUCE FRAISE (8 servings) Cake: 1 tablespoon soft butter 1 package dry yeast 2 tablespoons lukewarm water (115 degrees) 2 cups flour 2 tablespoons sugar Pinch of salt 3 eggs 1/4 cup milk 6 tablespoons softened butter syrup: 2 cups water 1 cup sugar 2 tablespoons kirsch Marinated Strawberry Filling: 1 1/2 pints strawberries 1/3 cup sugar 2 talbespoons kirsch Strawberry Sauce: 1/2 pint very ripe strawberries 3 ounces sugar 1/4 cup orange juice 1 tablespoon kirsch Glaze: 3/4 cup apricot jelly
Grease the inside of a 4-cup ring mold with a tablespoon of softened butter and set aside. Proof the yeast by mixing it with the warm water. Place the flour in a bowl (of an electric mixer). Add the yeast mixture, sugar, salt and eggs to the flour. Knead on low speed with dough hook. Gradually add the milk and little pieces of butter. Knead for 5 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl, cover and let rise for 45 minutes. Punch the dough down and place in the ring mold, pressing evenly on the dough. Let the dough rise to almost the top of the mold. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce to 350 degrees and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.
While the cake is baking, prepare the syrup. Boil the sugar and water for 2 to 3 minutes. Let cool and add the kirsch. Remove the savarin from the oven and unmold on a pastry rack. If the savarin will not unmold, wrap tightly in aluminum foil immediately.The steam will soften the savarin.
While still warm, soak the savarin in the syrup in a bowl that is large enough for the savarin to be nearly submerged in the syrup, or continue to ladle the syrup over the savarin until it has completely absorbed the syrup.
Hull the 1 1/2 pints of strawberries. Cut the large berries in half. Place them in a bowl, sprinkle with sugar and kirsch. Stir well, cover and refrigerate. Puree the remaining 1/2 pint of very ripe strawberries (hulled) in a blender or food processor. Add the orange juice, sugar and kirsch. Cover and refrigerate. Heat the apricot jelly and after it has cooled slighly brush over the savarin. Place the savarin in the middle of a large round serving platter. Pour all strawberries in the center, keeping the large ones cut in half to decorate the sides. Pour the sauce around the cake.