Side Dish: White House dining

“Dining at the White House: From the President’s Table to Yours” by John Moeller with Mike Lovell.

American Lifestyle Publishing.

$35, 416-page hardcover.

Former White House chef John Moeller offers a delightful view of what was like to cook for three former first families in his newly released “Dining at the White House: From the President’s Table to Yours.”

Moeller served as a White House chef during the administrations of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He joined the staff in September 1992, during the last few months of the senior Bush’s presidency.

He writes that “Walter Scheib’s departure from his position as executive chef at the White House in 2005 set in motion a series of events that initially had me acting as White House chef for a few months, during which Cristeta Comerford and I shared the workload.

“After Cris was appointed to succeed Walter as executive chef, I realized that it was time to look to my own future, and in November 2005 I resigned to pursue other interests.”

Moeller speaks highly of the three presidents he served, their families and staff — a noticeable difference from the tone set in Scheib’s 2007 book, “White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen.”

Scheib had been hired by first lady Hilary Clinton in 1994 and dismissed by Laura Bush in 2005.

In his cookbook, Moeller writes that the first families “always treated us well and with great consideration — they made us feel like family ourselves!” He opens the book with his own background and the path that took him to the White House.

Next comes what it was like for the kitchen staff during the administrations of each of the presidents he served. He covers such events as Christmas at the White House; Camp David; Inauguration Day; family meals and house guests; the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks; Space Shuttle Columbia; and entertaining at the White House.

The recipe section includes about 30 entrées and their component recipes from menus he created and served at the White House.

“My aim here is to enable readers to bring the experience of dining at the White House to their own tables,” he writes. He has scaled the recipes to serve six people and simplified some of them.

The book is filled with full-color photographs and illustrations, including the reproduction of many luncheon and dinner menus. Readers who want to re-create the luncheon menu served to Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation on Nov. 13, 2001, will find the recipes in the book. Among the dishes are artichoke and leek soup with Nantucket Bay scallops, autumn greens with pears and Maytag blue cheese, pan-seared poussin with a corn and morel mushroom custard, green beans and pearl onions.

The book includes only one dessert recipe, warm flourless chocolate torte with raspberry sauce and almond tuile since the White House pastry chef usually handled desserts. That torte recipe Moeller offers is the only dessert he ever prepared in the White House. Both the history buff and cookbook aficionado will enjoy reading “Dining at the White House.”

Cheramie Sonnier is The Advocate’s Food editor. Her email address is

Glazed Root Vegetables

Serves 6. Recipe is from “Dining at the White House: From the President’s Table to Yours” by John Moeller with Mike Lovell.

1/4 cup unsalted butter

11/2 cups large dice carrots

11/2 cups large dice celery roots

11/2 cups peeled, large dice sweet potatoes

11/2 cups large dice fennel

3/4 cup medium dice leeks, white part only

6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced

4 sprigs fresh thyme

Salt and fresh-milled black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Cut butter into pats, distribute evenly in roasting pan, and place pan in oven. When butter begins to brown, add carrots, celery root and sweet potatoes, then stir well, and roast for 4 to 5 minutes.

3. Stir in fennel, and roast for another 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Stir in leeks, garlic and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Stirring occasionally, roast another 10 minutes, or until vegetables are just tender and lightly browned.