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February 18, 2011

Update to the walnut story -- Hammons Products Company repsonds

walnutI received an email this morning regarding a short post I made on Wednesday, basically just a link to a post by Eddie Gehman Kohan on Obama Foodorama.

In that post, Kohan questioned the Hammons Products Company's posting on its website of a "White House recipe" that was not technically a White House recipe.

The email is from David Hammons of the Hammons Products Company, reprinted with his permission. I've added some bolding and linkage.

Mr. Gorelick:

Thank you for bringing to light an issue with our January press release regarding the state dinner that featured American Black Walnuts. Hammons Products Co. was thrilled that the president chose to serve a dish featuring this “quintessentially American” ingredient.

Unfortunately, it seems a blogger you promote as a source is claiming that this is somehow in violation of a legal restraint. It seems the primary issue is that the writer believes we are stating that the recipe we provided to media sources was the actual recipe created by the White House chefs. This is, however, not true. As you can see in the press release below, originally released on January 28, 2011, we clearly state that this is a recipe adapted by Chef Rob Corliss and not the same recipe served at the White House.

It seems the confusion came from an article printed in the Springfield News-Leader. In that paper, the story makes no statement as to where the recipe originated. We have contacted the Springfield News-Leader and they have since printed a retraction. You can see it on their website here:|head

Our website also clearly states that this is an adapted recipe and always has:

I appreciate the blogger’s enthusiasm for the integrity of the White House kitchen. However, working off of a story that has incomplete information is not the best way to spread news. Had this blogger seen the same news release that the Springfield News-Leader did, it would be clear that we are simply spreading the word about Black Walnuts being a featured ingredient and desire in no way to deceive anyone.

The goal of this recipe was to enable American men and women to share with their families the same dish that was served to our president. Our customers are avid cookers and we wanted to help them have a “quintessentially American” meal. Hammons made attempts to contact the White House to get a recipe but were not provided one. Since we wanted to “spread the wealth around” we decided to take the ingredients listed on the White House menu and adapt the recipe ourselves. Rob Corliss is a chef who has served many heads of state in his long, global-spanning career and adapted the recipe as precisely as could be done with a simple ingredient list. That’s why it is an “adapted” recipe and not the actual recipe. It is unfortunate that the News-Leader failed to mention that.

I hope I have shed some light on the truth of this situation. While we certainly appreciate the Baltimore Sun discussing Black Walnuts the last thing we want is damaging, misinformation being used as fact in what could be a difficult situation for our company. We are a fourth-generation family-owned business and it is clearly stated in our mission statement that we act with the highest integrity in all that we do. I would be happy to share with you any and all further information regarding this subject. You can learn all about my family’s business by seeing our corporate website at


Here is the text of the press release:

"Quintessentially American"
Black Walnuts on Menu at
White House State Dinner 

Stockton, Missouri.  American Black Walnuts recently answered the call to serve their country by being served at the White House State Dinner honoring President Hu Jintao of China. The Chinese delegation requested a 'quintessentially American' menu of native fare. The beginning course, a D'Anjou Pear Salad, featured Black Walnuts, Farmstead Goat Cheese, Fennel, and White Balsamic.
White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford selected the all-American ingredients on attributes of "affordability, sustainability, health, and delicious foods," mirroring the agenda set by First Lady, Michelle Obama.
"The president of China requested a meal that reflects the best America has to offer-and nothing embodies that better than the bold flavor of American Black Walnuts," comments Brian Hammons, president of Hammons Products Company, the primary producer of Black Walnuts.
Cooking with Black Walnuts dates back to the earliest days of America when Honey Black Walnut Bread was on the menu for explorers Lewis and Clark. Today, interest in Black Walnuts is growing along with America's taste for distinctive, full-flavored, natural ingredients that have a regional or heirloom story to tell. Black Walnuts are showing up everywhere from trendy urban menus and bakeries to home-style family gatherings. Unlike regular (English) walnuts, Black Walnuts are a totally wild crop, grown free from orchards and pesticides, and hand-harvested by local residents across the Midwest.
White House State Dinner Salad
With D'Anjou Pears and Black Walnuts
(Recipe for the salad served at the State Dinner honoring President Hu Jintao of China. Adapted by Chef Rob Corliss of ATE-All Things Epicurean)
Serves 4
Pear and Black Walnut Salad

Black Walnuts were chosen based on affordability, sustainability, health, taste, and American heritage

•    ¼  Cup  Black Walnuts, toasted
•    4 Cups (1 large bulb) Fennel, fresh, chilled, cored, tops removed, sliced into thin strips
•    ½ Red D'Anjou pear, quartered, cored, cut crosswise into thin slices
•    ½ Green D'Anjou pear, quartered,cored, cut crosswise into thin slices
•    ¼ Cup White balsamic vinaigrette
•    1-2 oz. Goat cheese, farmstead, small crumbles
1. Place fennel, Black Walnuts, and vinaigrette in mixing bowl. Gently toss with your fingers to evenly combine and coat ingredients.

2. To assemble: Arrange equal amounts of red and green pears to form an overlapping ring in center of each chilled salad plate. (The ring should be hollow in the middle, allowing room for fennel to be placed inside.) Divide the fennel/Black Walnut mixture into four equal portions; then artistically mound each portion in center of the ring of pears. The presentation should look natural and somewhat loosely stacked, allowing the ring of pears to be seen.
3. Garnish by sprinkling goat cheese crumbles over the salads.
4. Serve immediately (this should be a cold salad), and enjoy!
White Balsamic Vinaigrette
•    ¾ Cup Olive oil, extra virgin
•    ½ Cup White balsamic vinegar
•    1½ Tbsp. Honey
•    To taste Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Place ingredients in plastic container; cover with lid and shake vigorously to evenly blend.
2. Reserve for service. Yield: 1 1/3 cup.

For the recipes including the White House Sate Dinner Salad as well as Honey Black Walnut Bread, visit Harvesting, processing, distribution, and marketing of Black Walnuts is performed primarily by Hammons Products Company of Stockton, Missouri.



Posted by Richard Gorelick at 12:06 PM | | Comments (1)


Love the flavor of black walnuts, particularly in cakes; ice cream not so much.

The recipe sounds interesting.

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner blog.
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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