Apron-clad Congress members serve charity

Attendees at the 28th annual March of Dimes Gourmet Gala on Wednesday appeared to have difficulty saving room for dessert. Many left their oversized gingerbread brownie to spoil.

With 37 members of Congress serving hors d’oeuvres prepared from their own recipes prior to a formal dinner, it’s no wonder guests were already stuffed before the final course.

The lawmakers-cum-celebrity chefs who participated in Wednesday evening’s competitive cook-off at the National Building Museum helped the March of Dimes raise more than $825,000, besting last year’s mark of $625,000.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and his wife, Mary Sorteberg, won this year’s top honor, the “Best in Show” award for the overall best taste and flavor, with their prosciutto, blue cheese and date wraps.

“I love how it’s only three ingredients,” Sorteberg said.

The chewy and creamy textures gave the dish a marked contrast, and the distinct flavors complemented each other well.

Below is a sampling of other lawmakers’ appetizers.

Crawfish fettuccini served with asparagus

Chef: Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.)
Key ingredients: Crawfish tails, Velveeta cheese, Creole seasoning
Notes: “I make it a lot at home,” Alexander said. “Any time you put Tony Chachere’s [seasoning] and cheese together, it makes a fine meal.”
Assessment: The cheese and flour mixed well for a rich, gooey homemade sauce, but the fettuccini was served slightly cold.


The Dicks’ Time Tested Caviar Mold, served on rye and pumpernickel breads

Chefs: Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) and his wife, Suzie
Key ingredients: Black lumpfish caviar, eggs, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce
Notes: “I can’t keep him out of it,” Suzie Dicks said while her husband washed down a sample with some Chardonnay. “It’s not healthy, but it’s damn good. I’ve been making it for more than 40 years.”
Assessment: The gelatin and mayonnaise provided a smooth consistency atop the heavy, but not stale, bread.


Katie’s Kansas Raspberry Black Bean Dip served with corn tortilla chips

Chefs: Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kan.) and his wife, Stephene
Key ingredients: Black beans, raspberry jalapeño marinade, cream cheese, Monterey jack cheese
Notes: “I was eating it with a beer,” Stephene Moore said. “It’s great for halftime.”
Assessment: The sweet taste is reminiscent of a dessert, but the tangy aftertaste puts a pre-game snack back in mind.


Yellow Dog Café’s Florida Shrimp and Grits topped with roasted red pepper sauce

Chefs: Rep. Bill Posey (R-Fla.) and his wife, Katie
Key ingredients: Andouille sausage, heavy cream, Havarti cheese
Notes: “I can eat every bit of this all day,” Bill Posey said. “We asked them for the recipe, and they gave it to us,” he said of the café located approximately 30 miles from his Florida home.
Assessment: A traditional Southern dish, the warm, thick, stone-ground grits engulfed the crisp shrimp and were cooked to perfection.


For pictures of this event, visit The Hill's Washington Scene.