In their billowing black robes and sensible black shoes, the nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court seem otherworldly — like wizened wizards, seemingly above us mere mortals.
But they’re human and they eat food just like us. And the proof is in the pudding: Out December 2017, a new cookbook titled Table for 9: Supreme Court Food Traditions & Recipes includes the backstories and instructions for recipes developed by the justices and their families. The book, which costs $22.95, includes 43 recipes and over 100 photos.
The author behind the cookbook is Clare Cushman, the director of publications for the Supreme Court Historical Society.
“We have had queries from visitors to the Supreme Court gift shop for many years about a Supreme Court cookbook because the White House sells many,” Cushman said in an email. “I thought it was a ridiculous notion as the Court is not a live-in residence and doesn’t host large official dinners like the president.”
Nevertheless, Cushman found herself collecting materials for a decade. To research, she asked the justices, their families and their descendants to share stories and recipes. Volunteer amateur cooks, professional pastry chefs and Cushman all tested and adapted each recipe, and Cushman’s husband photographed most of the food, she noted.
“Food in good company has sustained Supreme Court justices through the ages,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the book’s forward.
In the cookbook, readers will discover that food provides commonality among justices who don’t see eye to eye on politics. Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg are two such justices.
“Justice Scalia would go shoot game — such as venison — and then bring it back for Martin Ginsburg, husband of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to cook it [into venison stew,]” Cushman said, explaining that the families were close friends and spent many occasions, including New Year’s Eve, “eating Scalia’s prey cooked by Marty.”
Hungry for a taste of what the justices were cooking and eating? Try this orange cake recipe from Martin Ginsburg, Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s late husband who passed away in 2010 and was celebrated for his home cooking.
Martin Ginsburg’s Orange Cake
85 grams mini chocolate chips
¼ teaspoon Grand Marnier
1½ teaspoons cake flour
3 large eggs
242 grams sour cream
1½ teaspoon vanilla
250 grams sifted cake flour
60 grams unblanched sliced almonds, toasted and finely ground
200 grams sugar
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely grated orange rind
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
100 grams sugar
60 grams orange juice (freshly squeezed)
80 grams Grand Marnier
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a small bowl toss the chocolate chips and Grand Marnier together until the chips are moistened and shiny. Add the 1½ teaspoon of flour and toss until evenly coated. Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl lightly combine the eggs, 60 grams of the sour cream, and the vanilla. Set aside.
4. In the large mixing bowl of your Kitchen Aid or other mixer, combine the dry ingredients and orange zest and mix on low speed for 30 seconds or so to blend. Add on top the softened butter and remaining 182 grams sour cream and mix on low speed until all the combined ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 90 seconds. Scrape down the sides.
5. Add the egg mixture in three approximately equal batches and beat at medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the sides each time. At the conclusion, stir in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.
6. You will have prepared in advance (i.e., buttered and floured well) a 9-cup fluted tube pan. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake 55 to 65 minutes, until a wire cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly on the top center. The cake should start to shrink from the sides of the pan only after removal from the oven.
1. Shortly before the cake is done, prepare the sugar-orange juice-Grand Marnier syrup: Heat the three ingredients together in a small pot stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Do not boil.
2. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, place the pan on a rack, poke the exposed top (which will become the bottom later) of the cake all over with a wire tester, and brush on about half the syrup.
3. Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto a lightly greased wire rack. Poke the now exposed sides and (new) top all over with a cake tester and brush with the remaining syrup.
4. Cool completely before wrapping airtight. Wrapped airtight, the cake will keep two to three days at room temperature, seven days in the refrigerator, or up to two months frozen.