Fran’s Favorites: Recipes from U.S. First Ladies


My friend Ann recently found an old copy of The First Ladies Cook Book: Favorite Recipes of all the Presidents of the United States. Before I put it on the shelf I had to browse through it to see if there was anything I wanted to make.

I love the stories with the recipes. Apparently President and Mrs. Taft loved to entertain. They had dinner guests, luncheon guests and sometimes even breakfast guests nearly every day. So they always had “emergency provisions to be held in reserve”. They never knew for sure the number of guests until they were seated — sounds like my house sometimes! President Taft insisted that refreshments should be served on every occasion. And Mrs. Taft always had it prepared at the White House because she felt if food came from the White House Kitchen it would taste better and be more appreciated by guests. I’m sharing her recipe for chicken croquettes because it is a recipe I want to try.

I also was fascinated by Mamie Eisenhower’s Frosted Mint Delight. It reminds me of some of the dishes my mother made when I was a child. I think I am going to try to make this for our Easter dinner. By then we should have some nice fresh mint leaves for garnish.

Mrs. Taft’s Chicken Croquettes

3 cups finely chopped cooked turkey or chicken

dash of pepper

dash of nutmege

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup butter

1/3 cup flour

1 pint light cream

2 whole eggs, slightly beaten

bread crumbs

lard or oil or shortening, for frying

Chop cold turkey or chicken very fine. Season with pepper, nutmeg and onion. Melt butter, add flour, and mix until smooth. Add cream and cook slowly, stirring constantly until sauce is thick. Add salt and chopped fowl. Chill. Shape into croquettes. Dip croquettes into egg, then into bread crumbs. Roll lightly into shape. Fry in boiling fat (380 degrees) until browned, about 5 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

Mamie Eisenhower’s Frosted Mint Delight

2 1-pound cans crushed pineapple, reserve 1 cup juice

3/4 cup pure mint-flavored apple jelly

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

1 pint whipping cream, reserve some for garnish

2 teaspoons confectioners’ sugar

Have crushed pineapple and whipping cream chilled. Melt the mint-flavored jelly and mix the crushed pineapple into it. Dissolve the gelatin in 1 cup of the juice from the pineapple. Mix the gelatin mixture and fold it into the pineapple mixture. Now whip the cream, sweeten it with the sugar, and fold it into the combined mixture. Put into the freezer until firm, but do not freeze solid. Serve in parfait glasses, topped with whipped cream. Accompany each plate with a few cookies. Makes 10-12 servings.

By Fran DeWine

Fran DeWine is a Cedarville resident, Yellow Springs native, guest columnist and First Lady of Ohio.

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