Aqua Fresca with Rhubarb, Kiwi, and Herbs or Looking for Refreshment in all the Wrong Places…

Aqua Fresca with Rhubarb, Kiwi, and Herbs or Looking for Refreshment in all the Wrong Places…

I just tasted the drink I made for today’s video, and oh my, it is refreshing!   We talked about Aqua Fresca, or flavored water.  We used the following

2 cups cold water, bottle, filtered, whatever you use

1 stalk garden fresh rhubarb

1 kiwi (not local)

2 mint leaves, a few arugula leaves, and a couple basil leaves
Simply mix ingredients together and roughly blend or mash with you preferred implement!  Let sit for 15 minutes or more, strain and served chilled.  It really is best if it sits in the fridge overnight, but I rarely have such foresight.
It was great seeing so many of you at the Sheboygan Farmer’s Market last Saturday. I will be on Fox 11 Good Day WI around 7:45 on Saturday morning to promote the premier of the youtube show, Under the Apple Tree.  I have had so much fun working on this project and seeing it come together.  I hope you all enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed working on it so far.  It will be a once a week show focusing on sensible and fun ways to have a more handmade life.  Recipes for eating fresh and local, home projects, gardening and yard endeavors and more will be explored. It’s going to be a blast.  Please follow the show on Twitter @appletreeshow and YouTube “Under the Apple Tree”.  Click here for the video for this recipe Chef Todd talks Aqua Fresca.

Thanks again for following! See you soon.
Chef Todd

Debuting Nourish and the Culinary Art Car or Han Solo and Sulu got nothing on me!

Debuting Nourish and the Culinary Art Car or Han Solo and Sulu got nothing on me!




Hey everybody!  Saturday was Nourish’s opportunity to unveil the Culinary Art Car at one of our events.  The Culinary Art Car is a kinetic sculpture through which messages of sustainability, healthy eating and local foods are brought to our community through this collaboration between the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and Lakeshore Technical College. Last year at the fundraiser (which is coming up on October 3 this year).  A Plymouth family had the winning bid to bring us and the Art Car to their home for a catered party!  It was a great event with a ton of fun had by all and the food was well liked!  We served curried chicken salad in cucumber boats, sweet potato and horseradish croquettes, blueberry cream cheese wontons, caesar salads in parmesan cups, mini BLT quiches, and trio of brushcettas (tomato basil, mushroom, or white bean).  All items were, of course, focused on local grown and sourced food.  We had produce from the farmer’s markets, Springdale Farm, and our home garden.






Piloting this “sexy beast”, as designer Mac Maker put it, is one of the highlights of my career!  Such an honour to drive this masterpiece around.  People stop, stare, smile, wave, give a thumbs up, and then giggle or chuckle when I press the crazy horn!  None of this would have been possible without the great volunteers we had from auction to prep to execution and of course, clean up.  I am blessed to work with people that there because they WANT to help and truly put the concerns of others before themselves.  Sounds like what restaurant service ought to be, but I digress.  If you or your group would like to volunteer, please contact me.  There are many opportunities available.  Thank you all for your help!



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Sheboygan Farmer’s Market on July 20th

Sheboygan Farmer’s Market on July 20th

Hey everybody!  Had a ton of fun in Sheboygan area this weekend.  Camping, farmer’s market, and a brief demo at the Midsummer Festival of the Arts to mark the the debut of the culinary art car!  Amy helped with all of it, also.  One of my favorite things about working with Nourish, is the opportunities presented for Amy and the boys to hang out with me!

We sampled a wonderful cucumber salad with apple cider vinegar, honey, and dill.  The best was the looks and questions we received after telling folks the other item was Chocolate Beet Cake.  All who tried it loved it, though!  I will get the recipes posted here or you can click through to

Here is the recipe for the Beet Chocolate Cake


o 4 medium beets, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 2-inch chunks
o 2 cups all-purpose flour
o 1 1/2 cups sugar
o 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
o 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
o Salt
o 2 large eggs
o 3/4 cup warm water
o 1/4 cup safflower oil
o 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
o Vegetable oil cooking spray

Cover beets with 2 inches water in a pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until very tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife, about 30 minutes. Drain. Puree beets in a food processor until smooth.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Whisk in eggs, water, oil, vanilla, and 1 1/4 cups beet puree (reserve remaining puree for another use).
Coat a 9-inch round cake pan (3 inches deep) with cooking spray. Line bottom with parchment, and coat with spray. Pour batter into pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Turn out cake from pan, and discard parchment. Let cool completely, right side up.
Trim top of cake using a serrated knife to create a level surface. Transfer cake, cut side down, to a cake plate.

Finish with your favorite frosting or simply powdered sugar!


Thanks to all who came out.  We will be out again on August 2 from 8:30am-1:30pm.  Here are some pictures of the food and people we saw!


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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.

Garden Update

Garden Update

IMG_6986Hey everybody! There is nothing better than to toil in the soil! We have been working hard the last few weeks and loved every moment of it.

Despite the weather working against us for the most of the spring, we are happy to report we are looking better than we have the last few years at this time.

We started peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, watermelons, and pumpkins in the house some time ago. We transferred them to the garden over the last week and sowed seeds for corn, summer squash, carrots, potatoes, peas, green beans, black beans, and, of course, romenesco broccoli.


I can’t wait to witness this one growing and discover how it cooks up! I swear it looks like something off an Allman Brother’s Band tour poster!

We spent a lot of time re-setting the raspberry and strawberry rows. We felt with better organized rows it would be much easier to harvest the fruit. The plants took to the change really well. We ended up with an extra row of raspberries and two more rows of strawberries. That includes giving away some and planting others in different areas such as the edge of the woods and patio planters.IMG_6971


The asparagus has been up for awhile.  We harvest about 4 dinner sides a week!IMG_6973

On the downside, we lost all but the garlic chives and dill in the herb garden due to the bitterly cold winter and the lilacs were ravaged by the last frost. We love cutting sprigs and bringing that beautiful scent into out home. We will have to ration them this year! We replaced many of the herbs with both seeds and some 3 inch potted ones. Mint, sage, purple ruffled basil, sweet basil, rosemary, cilantro, thyme, and Italian parsley are all looking wonderful!

The trees look beautiful in full bloom. My favorites are the cherry blossoms but they are all just so neat. IMG_6927IMG_6981IMG_6983This is our oldest, largest, and most awe inspiring apple tree. Man, the stories to be told if these trees could speak!

Amy has worked tirelessly on the flower beds and they look great. The daffodils and tulips are up and some annuals were planted to add color. We lost a rose bush but the others seem to be coming along.IMG_6888IMG_6985

IMG_6984We approach these projects with the mindset that we do not know everything we need to, but we will work hard and keep reading and researching how to do it better. Every year seems to be more efficient and rewarding, and, frankly, that’s enough to us!  On top of all that, working the garden turns into some quality family time.  The boys love to help and even Pippe, the garden cat is always somewhere close!IMG_6935IMG_6934

Gorgeous Foccacia Bread with Fresh Garlic Chives

Gorgeous Foccacia Bread with Fresh Garlic Chives

Hey everybody!  Been awhile but we are still at it.  We have been in the garden as often as possible.  We will share pics and progress tomorrow.  For today let’s talk about bread!  The “No store bought bread” project is going really well.  One of our favorites is this foccacia recipe that we can modify a little bit.  The base recipe was from Wayne Gisslen’s Professional Baking, a text book from culinary school.  Over time, I have really made it my own.  This recipe uses a sponge starter resulting in a wonderfully sour flavor and airy texture.

Chef Todd’s Foccacia with Garlic Chives

Sponge ingredients and process

  • 8 oz flour
  • 6 oz water
  • .12 oz fresh yeast

Mix in glass bowl until moistened cover with towel and let set at about 70 degrees for 8-16 hours.  I get much better results with at least a 12 hour fermentation

  • Dough
  • 12 oz unbleached flour
  • 8 oz whole wheat flour
  • .12 oz fresh yeast
  • .5 oz salt
  • 1 oz olive oil

Mix ingredients (including sponge ferment) in a mixer with dough hook, food processor, or by hand.  When it forms a ball, transfer to work surface and knead for 5-10 minutes.  You are looking for it to change texture and become smooth and elastic.  If you overwork it, the gluten strands will tighten and it will result in a heavy bread.

Pour a little oil in a bowl, put in your dough ball and coat with oil.  Cover and let rise 30-45 minutes, until doubled in size.

Punch down, roll and stretch dough into a well oiled half-sheet pan and proof (let rise) for another 30 minutes or until doubled in thickness.  Top bread with 2oz olive oil and poke holes heavily at regular intervals.  Sprinkle with coarse salt and garlic chives (or whatever topping you prefer).

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.




See you tomorrow for some great garden news!


Chef Todd

My Favorite Nine Famous Chefs

My Favorite Nine Famous Chefs

Hey everybody!   One of the questions asked of the chefs more often than any other is, “So, you must watch alot of food network, who is your favorite chef.” or “Are you like Ramsay, yelling and swearing and stuff?” or the classier, “Which chefs do you cite as inspiration?”.   I am going to attempt to answer these and more questions in this week’s “Top some number of some things”-list! (that name is going to catch on!)

My considerations when making this list were mostly about where I look to for inspiration.  So, this list is comprised of the the celebrity chefs I admire or respect for one reason or another.  Some are recipe scholars who’s work was the spark to some of favorite  creations.  Activists, entrepeneurs, and legitimate, old-school, bad-asses are other entries.  In no particular order..


1) Jacques Pepin and Julia Child – The Master of technique and the Matriarch of modern french cooking.  I remember watching Jacques and Julia on PBS at a young age and just being enthralled.  As I’ve worked on this craft, Chef Pepin has been a great influence.  His dedication to technique and you can always tell he is doing what he loves puts him high on my list.  In the last year, I was lucky enough to meet Chef Pepin.  He spoke for a bit to my students and myself.  “If you want to last in this work,” he began, “you need to have passion.  If you don’t have the love for food you will not succeed.”  So basic a thought, but it suddenly meant so much more.


2)Yotam Ottolenghi – Chef Ottolenghi is a cutting edge chef in London.  He and Sami Tammi own and operate Ottolenghi delis in the London area.  He is the author of Plenty and co-author of Ottolenghi, two favorites in my collection.  What draws me to Chef Ottolenghi is the seamless fusion he creates when writing a recipe.   Middle eastern, European, and Mediterranean influences combined with his love for vegetarian dishes result in some amazing creations such as the roasted aubergine with turmeric yogurt and pomegranate seeds.  He is also a respected academic and writer earning a masters degree before even starting a cooking career.

3)Anthony Bourdain – Kitchen Confidential is one of my favorite books because I am just old enough to have worked with some the chef types he talks about in the book.  He makes chef look like rock stars and scum of earth at the same time.  He was the balance to the world FoodTV created.  Not all of us were Emeril and some of the folks on this list, there was a seedy underbelly to the industry and Bourdain helped “normal” folk understand this side of our world.


4)Thomas Keller – One source stated “A relatively unknown chef until opening French Laundry, has never looked back”.  I was lucky enough to visit Bouchon bakery in NYC a couple years ago.  That is but a symbol of what Keller is and left an indelible mark on me.  He has been a long time advocate of local ingredients, takes more pride in the service side of his businesses than many chefs, and has just a ridiculous obsession with every minute detail.  Chefs are notorious for this, but Chef Keller takes it to staggering levels.

5)Jaime Oliver – The Naked Chef and marauder at the door of the school meal system.  The guy always seems cracked out, but he is just so passionate.  Another guy raised by chef/restauranteur parents and totally embraced the lifestyle.  Early on he inspired me because of his focus on simplicity and local, natural ingredients.  Later on he came back with his assault on educational food service, part of the reason I am doing what I am with the school districts.

6)Dan Barber – Chef Barber is freaking amazing!  We were fortunate to have dined at Blue Hill in NYC.  It stands to date as the greatest meal I have experienced.  Nearly everything on the menu is raised on his own farm in  upstate NY.  The produce, the piq(oh my goodness, the pig!!!!), I even had a clear whiskey distilled on the same land!  Barber is an activist for local, responsible food use.  If you have time he has two fantastic TED Talks videos.  One about a new foie gras farmer doing things in a new way, and another about the dilemma of serving fish in restaurants these days.


7)Gordon Ramsay – Everyone knows who he is but few know the reasons I admire him.   He is a natural leader and contrary to the character he is on TV, a great mentor and manager.  I read an article where someone asked him what he does to relax after a stressful stand in the kitchen.  His response was about taking a 12 mile run!  Are you kidding me!  I remember days I could barely get to my car, much less run.  So I tried it and I’ll be damned that it works!  Ramsay was a professional soccer player before a knee injury sent him to the kitchen.  Finally, he is another one of these chefs that grows a large garden at home, including livestock, and is pushing the “fresher is better” ideal.

8)Ming Tsai – Television chef and owner of Blue Ginger Restaurant.  Ming also has an engineering degree and takes part in design and testing of all his products.  What drew me to him, initially, is how simple fusion became in his recipes.  His blend of European/American and Asian concepts defined fusion and started me on the road to do the same.

9)Ferran Adria – The founder of El Bulli in Spain and basically the granddaddy of molecular gastronomy.  He showed that not only can we think outside the box, but damn the box all together.  He greyed the line between food and art and is greatly respected for it.  His inspiration lives on in chefs like Grant Achatz of Alinea and Next in Chicago.

That’s it!  Let me know what you think.  I’m sure some of you all disagree or feel I missed someone so let us know in the comments!  Talk with you again, soon!