Monday, December 19, 2016

Chef's Tasting Table Day 3 // Chocolate Avocado Pudding with Berries

Let's dive into our 3rd Chef's Tasting Table at West Oak School

Skoop and the Chef Ann Foundation Organization teamed up to launch the Project Produce Grant Program which awarded Diamond Lake District 76's West Oak School $2500 in funds to help give all students access to more fresh produce and food education during the school day.

Principle Chris Williford had a raised eye brow as he grabbed a cup. He was quite skeptical of the avocados we put in his pudding:) After a cautious and thoughtful first bite, he commented, "It tastes earthy!" ...And he finished the bowl!

Now THOSE are some crazy good berries Eric!!! The texture of tiny seeds had kept our Director of Finance and Operations away from berries. But on Tuesday, he tried them ALL and enjoyed them! WOW! Trying something new is what the Chef's Tasting Table is all about!!! 

As you can imagine, I was practically jumping up and down...

Our Superintendent Dr Bhavna Sharma-Lewis joined our lunchroom event and helped me serve berries to students who could simply not get enough! Our berries were completely GONE by the end of the last lunch period.

My BIGGEST and warmest thank you's to the incredible West Oak School administration team for supporting this wonderful food education initiative! 

Let's BLEND + EAT!

Chocolate Avocado and Banana Pudding

1 ripe avocado
2 ripe bananas (the browner the better!)
1/4 cup raw cacao (Click here to learn the difference between cocoa and cacao!) 
1/4 rice milk (or any milk of your choosing)
2-3 Tbsp maple syrup (or coconut sugar or 1/8 tsp organic stevia powder)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
dash of cinnamon (optional - I did not add this in for the recipe)

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pair with fruit and granola for a perfect breakfast or snack. Be creative and make a layered holiday dessert with crushed peppermint, dark chocolate and whipped cream! 

We added the following to the students' cups of pudding - Many had never tasted blackberries before! Score!


Serving a crowd? Here is the recipe increased for about 20 people:

5 avocados
10 bananas
1 1/4 cup raw cacao
1 1/4 cup rice milk
3/4 c maple syrup
2.5 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

I am so very grateful to Teacher & Ambassador Sara Lohrmann for rallying the Stevenson High School Foods students to help make the pudding! 

80 avocados and 160 bananas later... We gathered to inspire awesome #realschoolfood education! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!

...For my food processor surely would have conked out!

Vroom vroom!!

2017 will bring 8 more tasting days to the West Oak lunchroom and we can't hardly WAIT!

Cheers and good holiday tastings to you and yours! 

May your family table 
be warm 
and bright
with perhaps a bowl
of delicious 
chocolate pudding 
to savor 
a jolly good night!

To the Mullies we go...

Monday, December 5, 2016

Chef's Tasting Table Day 2 // A Pear Challenge

Our second Chef's Tasting Table was all about pears!

With every trip into the lunchroom, we aim to introduce new foods, new tastes, new experiences and new ideas about REAL FOOD! How can we inspire students to think more about:

What is IN the food they eat?
Where is their food coming from?

AND of course, to inspire them to try cooking from scratch more often with their families.

Puppies and Pears... This was my favorite trip to the farm yet! These gorgeous Asian Pears are sourced from one of Prairie Wind Farm's partner farms, Mick Klug Farm in St. Joseph Michigan.

Skoop and the Chef Ann Foundation Organization teamed up to launch the Project Produce Grant Program which awarded Diamond Lake District 76's West Oak School $2500 in funds to help give all students access to more fresh produce and food education during the school day.

I dropped a pear off with Chef Rob at his local Mundelein Cooking School, Youthage Culinary, and you won't believe what he did with it to inspire the students!

He made us a BEAUTIFUL plate of poached pears!

I love what Sue Kruckman, the District 76 Wellness Chair and West Oak School Nurse has created for the lunchroom Tasting Table announcement board. This food education rocks!

Thank you Mary and Preferred Meals for joining our pear challenge! Every student (regardless if they purchased a lunch) received a D'anjou pear! It's amazing to collaborate and have even more real school food for ALL!

It was so fun having both Chef Rob and Chef Tracy from Youthage join me at the tasting table. The kids LOVED learning about how to poach pears and they could not believe you turned them RED!

Well, it looks like the Asian pears were the winner this time around! It was a tough call for me, but the D'anjou pears had some wonderful tartness... so the green little guys got my vote:)

Enjoy the following recipes we gave out to the students and faculty to get cooking with pears! 

Inspired? We'd love to hear from YOU and see what kinds of things you are are cooking up this holiday season!! Please feel free to share any of your recipes and/or adventures in the kitchen with our local Lake County Food Revolution Facebook page so that we can inspire each other to get cooking with our kids! 

Stay tuned, our next West Oak Chef's Tasting Table will be on December 13th!


To the Mullies we go...

Chef Rob’s Poached Pears

1cup Water
1cup Honey or Sugar (try using coconut sugar!)


1/4 cup Pomegranate syrup or juice
1/4 cup Passion fruit syrup or honey
2 tbsp Lemon juice
2 to 3 Pears (large)


Farm Kitchen Pear Tart

1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
1-2 tablespoons cold water
1 large ripe, firm pear, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon plus 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided, plus additional for dusting
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Toss pear slices, 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl.
  3. Whisk 1/3 cup all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour and the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl. Cut in butter with fork until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle oil over the mixture and stir with a fork until evenly combined. Add 1 tablespoon water and stir until the dough just stays together when pressed with a fork; add up to 1 additional tablespoon of water if the dough seems too dry.
  4. Line a work surface with parchment paper, generously dust with flour and turn the dough out onto it. Form the dough into a small patty, dust the top with flour and roll into a 10-inch circle, adding more flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Transfer the crust to a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Lay the pear slices in decorative, overlapping circles on top of the crust, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Spoon any remaining pear juice over the slices. Pick up the edges of the crust using a spatula and fold over the pears. The crust will not meet in the center.
  6. Bake the tart until lightly browned and bubbling, about 40 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.  Serves 2-3.
From the farm kitchen of Prairie Wind Family Farm