Former White House Chef Shares Recipes

You think you have trouble deciding what's for dinner? Imagine cooking every night for the president of the United States.

Walter Scheib was executive chef at the White House for 11 years.

Hired by Hillary Clinton in April 1994, he stayed on through the first administration of George W. Bush, leaving in February 2005.

As part of the latest "Culinary Inspirations" series on The Early Show Wednesday, Scheib shared some of his favorite, easy recipes for spring from his new book, "White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen."

It's part cookbook, part memoir.

Each recipe is accompanied by a story, offering an up-close look at the first families and life in the White House. But if you're looking for "dirt," don't bother with this book.

Of course, heading the world's largest kitchen also means preparing meals for all the dignitaries at state dinners, and Scheib's book has stories about those events, as well.


Sizzling Steak Fajitas

1 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium beef stock
1/2 cup dark beer
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for oiling the grill
1/4 cup sherry
2 tablespoons diced jalapeno peppers (remove the seeds for less spicy fajitas)
2 tablespoons very finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon chipotle puree (see box, page 80)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus 8 to 10 sprigs for garnish
1 1/2 pounds flatiron sirloin or well-trimmed skirt steak
1 medium Vidalia or other sweet onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick and separated into rings
1 large red bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, cut into 1/2 inch strips
2 medium poblano peppers, seed and stem removed, cut into 1/2 inch strips

1. In a medium glass bowl combine the stock, beer, 1/4 cup oil, vinegar, jalapenos, garlic, 2 tablespoons lime juice, cumin, coriander, chipotle, and chopped cilantro and stir them together. Transfer half to another medium glass bowl. Put the steak in one bowl and toss to coat with the marinade. Put the onion and peppers in the other bowl and toss to coat with the marinade. Cover both bowls and refrigerate for 3 hours.

2. When ready to cook and serve, preheat a grill or grill pan to high and lightly oil the grates. Remove the beef from the marinade, brushing off any marinade solids (discard meat marinade), and grill the meat until medium rare (135F); time will vary based on thickness and cut of meat, but will take 4 to 5 minutes per slice for the sirloin; 2 to 3 for the skirt steak. Transfer the meat to a cutting board.

3. Remove the onion and peppers from the marinade, reserving the marinade for use in the next step. In a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, cook the onion and peppers until lightly charred but still crunch, 3 to 5 minutes. While they cook, slice the meat across the grain 1/4 inch thick, reserving any juices.

4. Assemble and serve the fajitas: Transfer the sliced meat to the cast-iron pan, and toss with the onion and pepper. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of the marinade and any meat juices to make the pan sizzle, and finish with a squeeze of lime.

5. Serve the steak, peppers and onion right from the pan, setting it on a hot pad, with the tortillas, condiments, and cilantro sprigs.

For more of Scheib's recipes, go to Page 2.