Cherries and Berries and (flaming) Booze, oh my!

Cherries and Berries and (flaming) Booze, oh my!


Hey everybody!  We are starting to see more fresh produce at the farmer’s market and in our backyards, but it still seems pretty slow.  The rest of the summer I am conducting Garden-to-table classes at Cook’s Corner (  in Green Bay on Wednesday evenings.  The last class was about Cherries and Berries.  We updated some classics by adding rhubarb to a cherries jubilee and prepared balsamic and black pepper macerated strawberry shortcake.  Here are the recipes, and check out the upcoming classes!  I would love to see you!


Chef Todd


Cherries Jubilee

1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 pound fresh, ripe sweet cherries, such as Bing
1/2 cup sugar
1 lemon
1/3 cup golden rum and/or brandy
Evenly scoop the ice cream into 4 dishes or decorative glasses and put in the freezer until ready to serve (this can be done up to 4 hours ahead).

Wash and pit the cherries. Put the cherries and sugar in a large skillet. Peel 2 strips of zest from the lemon in wide strips with a peeler and add to the cherries. Squeeze the juice of half the lemon over the top. Stir to combine evenly. Cover and cook the cherries over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, about 4 minutes. Uncover and cook over medium-high until cherries get juicy, about 5 minutes more.

To flambe the brandy: If cooking over a gas flame, pull the pan off the heat and add the rum. Ignite the alcohol with a long match or one held with tongs. Swirl the pan slightly until the flames subside, about 30 seconds.

If cooking over an electric stove, put the rum in a small sauce pan. Warm it over medium-low heat and carefully light it with a long match or one held with tongs. Pour the brandy over the cherries, and swirl the pan lightly until the flames subside, about 30 seconds.

Ladle the cherries and their juices over prepared ice cream scoops. Serve immediately.

Strawberry Shortcake with Balsamic and Black Pepper

1 1/2 pounds strawberries, stemmed and quartered
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons balsamic
Pinch of fresh ground black pepper

Whipped Cream, recipe follows
Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix strawberries with 3 tablespoons sugar, balsamic, and pepper and refrigerate while juices develop, at least 30 minutes.

Spoon some of the strawberries with their juice onto each shortcake bottom. Top with a generous dollop of whipped cream and then the shortcake top. Spoon more strawberries over the top and serve.

Whipped Cream:
Using a mixer, beat the heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest until soft peaks form, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.


Killer Coleslaws and Great Grain Salads

Hey everybody!  Today we are sharing the recipes and little information from my last demo at Cook’s Corner in Green Bay.  I have a ton of fun at these events.   They are informal, I share recipes and techniques and people ask questions and tell some culinary stories.  A little wine is enjoyed.  The point of this was to present some easy, healthy recipes and I wanted to show how easy it can be to change a recipe.

Both of the recipes that follow are open to interpretation.  Change the grain, or nuts, or add flax seed.  Use a bottled dressing, if you so choose. Don’t be afraid to experiment, it’s just food.  Worst case, you have to order pizza!  Enjoy and share your results!

Keep your eyes open for the next round of classes at Cook’s Corner, too.  I have some great garden to plate, and quick and easy cooking demos coming up.

Broccoli Slaw with Yogurt Dressing

1 bag Mann’s Broccoli Slaw
6 assorted mini peppers, sliced
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
2 oranges, supremes
2 cup yogurt
2 t soy sauce
2 t sesame oil

1 T apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste or spice blend of choice
Mix yogurt, soy, sesame oil, and vinegar.  Taste and adjust seasoning.
Toss remaining ingredients with dressing reserving some seeds and citrus for garnish
Quinoa Cardamom Salad
2 c quinoa
4.5 c stock
combine bring to a boil and simmer until quinoa is curly and tender, 15-20 minutes.  Fold in 1 T olive oil and transfer to shallow pan and cool.
1/4 c orange juice
1/2 c olive oil
2 T rice wine vinegar
2 t ground cardamom
1 t dijon mustard
honey and salt to taste
blend ingredients with immersion or standard blender until well combined
3 c quinoa
1 small head cabbage, finely shredded
3 apples, diced
1 cup dried fruit (cherries, apricots, cranberries)
chiffonade of basil and mint leaves
Toss with dressing until well coated

On Teaching Chef-ness

I have had the opportunity to teach a unique set of classes this term.  I have the first term students for Soups, Stocks, and Sauces a couple days a week and the fourth term for European and International Fusion for a long day with dinner service.  In the past, I had mostly second term students for garde manger and dining room service.  I want to share some thoughts on how the students change in three terms, my approach to instruction, and wrap it all up with some thoughts on how to tell if you have a little professional chef inside you. (If a dirty comment came to your head just now, you are on the right track!)

This was my first term as the soups instructor.  I have had term one students in the past, but only for a wine and beverage class.  That means this was my first opportunity to take a new class into the kitchen.  Our first day, I listed off some prep and projects that needed to be done, clapped my hands and said, “Ok, let’s do it!”.  Nobody moved.  It’s a small class, only four people.  As I took a moment to contemplate my next move, I noticed the same look on all of their face…Fear!  “So, nobody has cut mirepoix, yet?”, I asked.  “Chef, we haven’t even used our knives yet.”, was the response.  I realized instantly that I would need to reconsider my teaching method.  I walked them through the recipes and procedures the first few weeks.  As they get their legs under them, I give them more slack and opportunity to work through recipes alone.

I consider it such an honor to have the responsibility to break these students in.   There is core curriculum for all the classes, the ideals, concepts, and skills that need to be taught.  Beyond that, I set my own goals for all my classes that tend to be a little more esoteric at times.   In order to be considered a successful class I want these students to head to the next term able to make a great stock in their sleep, be able to create a pan sauce from memory, to make a hollandaise without notes, and build a wonderful soup from the leftovers in the cooler.  While much of this requires reading, studying, and memorizing recipes, a good chunk of it relies on a natural instinct, dedication, and passion for perfection.

On the other end of the spectrum, I have the fourth term students on Wednesdays.  These students are in their final semester of classes and working at their internships.  It is remarkable how much has changed in these individuals since beginning the program.  My role here becomes on of a facilitator.  We learn about cuisines from around the world, how to build recipes and plan menus, and ready for them the “real” world.  The projects are more in depth and a student leads production and service.  I have a firmer, no nonsense approach to this class.  My expectations are for them to adapt to changes in ingredients, service numbers, and other crazy curveballs you see in the kitchen.  This is my last chance to know that we, as instructors, are sending out quality workers to the workforce.  This is twofold.  First, it assures the student a better chance of success in their culinary adventures.   Secondly, as a school, we have a standard and reputation to uphold.

I consider it an honor to be a part of the education of the next generation of culinary artists.  I take it quite seriously while having so much fun in the process.  Seeing these folks graduate, earn respectable jobs, and create masterpieces are the most wonderful rewards I have or will attain in my career.  More on teaching and being a chef to come!  Thanks for hanging out.

British Isles Fusion Dinner

Wow! What a day.  Wednesdays I teach European and International/Fusion Cuisine at Lakeshore Culinary Institute.  Today was our first service night of the term and our focus was the British Isles.  We worked together on a menu that was beyond cool.  The three courses consisted of Pickled and Deep Fried Onion Rings with a Tea Smoked Cucumber Remoulade….I’ll give you a moment to wrap your head around that one!  Next was a Watercress, Seaweed, and Orange Salad.  The main course was Plum and Apple stuffed Trout wrapped with apple-smoked bacon and served with a Sweet Potato and Turnip Gratin and Wilted Greens.  Everything turned out so well.  Here are some pictures and some comments.  If anyone is interested in the full recipes, drop me a line and I will send them your way.

IMG_0292 IMG_0293

The onions we cut thick and marinated in a pickle brine that was boiled with beets to give the yellow onions some color.  We marinated the onions at room temp, for fear of heat making them soft and difficult to bread.


We then took the marinating onions out of the liquid and dredged them in seasoned flour, a beer batter, and carefully dropped them in the fryer.  The final product looked like so…IMG_0304

The salad was plated like so.  Finished with Lemon Vinaigrette. IMG_0303

IMG_0298IMG_0294IMG_0302   IMG_0305 IMG_0306

This is the Trout.  Stuffed with homemade chutney and spinach, wrapped with the bacon and seared off in a pan.  The fish was topped with a tarragon infused beurre blanc(white wine butter sauce).  Folks were raving about it all night!  Congratulations to Jess, Amy, and Travis for a job well done today!   Stay tuned for our next post when we get away from food for a day and I share a project where we gave an old piece of furniture a new lease on life!  See you then.