politics and pot roast and c. c. cookies

In honor of Election Day in the good old U. S. of A., I pulled two cookbooks off my shelf. Politics and Pot Roast, subtitled A Flavorful Look at the Presidency, and White House Chef have been a part of my collection for years. Though entirely different books, they continue to be fascinating reads.

Politics is an odd little book I found advertised in a newsletter years ago. Sarah Hood Salomon “compiled, collected, and collated” this book of presidential recipes and trivia way back in 2004. Her small paperback includes a listing of 1894 Etiquette Rules for State Dinners and assorted menus (Lincoln’s Inaugural Luncheon and Menu from Monticello are two), then dedicates one page each for every president from Washington to George W. Bush. A recipe reflecting that presidency (often a favorite recipe of the First Lady, though one is credited to George Washington’s mother) is given along with details on why that recipe was chosen and what it says about the man in office.

The one recipe I’ve made from Politics is Mrs. Bush’s Cowboy Cookies, though I’ve read it cover to cover more than once. It’s a delightful journey through America’s history, one dish at a time.

White House Chef was written by Andrew Friedman and Walter Scheib, Executive Chef at the White house through all of Clinton’s and half of George W’s terms in office. Scheib offers great insight into each man and is more than frank—though always tactfully so—about which boss he preferred. (You’ll have to read the book to learn which.) His book is well-written and full of fun-to-read history and social commentary. Many of the 100 or so recipes are better suited for a State Dinner than they are weekday dinnertime fare (Vodka-Marinated Salmon with Cucumber Salad and Kasha Pilaf?), though I did give Chelsea’s Chocolate Chip Cookies a whirl when my daughter made cookies for a school project. (Do you see a pattern here with the cookies?)

Political convictions aside, both of these books are worth reading (and owning, in case you want to read them multiple times–I do) as they explore American presidents on a very human level. When you come to the table, your political party doesn’t matter. We all need to eat. With that thought, I offer you Scheib’s wonderfully buttery chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Chelsea’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

from Walter Scheib and Andrew Friedman’s White House Chef

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease 3 baking sheets.

In large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar; beat with electric mixer on High 2 to 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix well.

In separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda; gradually stir into butter mixture until blended. Stir in chips. Drop spoonfuls of dough about 2 inches apart onto baking sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool briefly on pans; transfer to wire racks to cool completely. (Though let’s not kid ourselves–they’re really good warm and you’ll want to have at least one before they cool.) Makes about 32 cookies.

mojito cc cookies

I didn’t plant mint this year (shame on me as it’s so easy to grow), but have been purchasing it often from farmers’ markets. The current batch, standing at attention whenever I open the refrigerator, demanded to be used today.

bouquet of mint

I’ve enjoyed my fresh mint in lemonade, iced tea, and cocktails, so felt like doing something different with this bunch. Enter a mint-chocolate chip cookie recipe that I’ve long loved. These cookies are my contribution to a girlfriend get-together tonight, so I wanted to dress them up a bit. Why not add a splash of rum, use chocolate rum wafers (rum-flavored chocolate baking discs), and call them Mojito Chocolate Chip Cookies? (Lime zest would have been an authentic addition, but didn’t want to get too crazy.)

minty chocolate chip cookie dough

The cookies were delish–minty fresh, for sure. I’d maybe not pack the measuring cup so full with the fresh mint next go-round, though enjoying a cookie that doubles as a breath mint isn’t such a bad thing. Adding the rum and using the rum wafers was a fun spin, but the cookies would be just as amazing using the vanilla extract originally called for as well as chocolate chunks or chips instead of the rum wafers.

plated up

stacked high

mojito chocolate chip cookies

Mojito Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon rum, 1 teaspoon rum extract, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounces chopped rum chocolate wafers, chocolate chunks or chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease baking sheets or line baking sheets with Silpat® baking mats.

In bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in egg and rum. Gently stir in flour, salt and baking soda just until mixed. Gently stir in chocolate and mint.

Drop dough onto baking sheets. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until lightly browned. Makes 36 yummy cookies.

cookie crumbs