Thursday, November 2, 2017

Cookies for breakfast? Yes, please!

Who says you can’t eat cookies for breakfast? For Kyle Cherek, it’s fairly common. The host of the Emmy award-winning TV series Wisconsin Foodie travels the state for video shoots, often leaving at the crack of dawn.

“When we film Wisconsin Foodie, it’s often a 5 a.m. call time. You’re up early and the truth is you want something portable and sweet.” Cherek said.

Hence, the birth of Cherek’s “On- the-Road Cowboy Cookies,” which are featured in our 2017 Cookie Book. “It’s a traveling meal!”

Kyle Cherek teams up with Tom La Pierre of MATC's Pastry Arts program.
Follow along in the video below as they make Kyle's On-the-Road Cowboy Cookies.
Not only did Cherek contribute his recipe, but he also was a valuable resource for this year’s book, which celebrates Wisconsin products and provides facts about our state’s agriculture. Cherek shared his knowledge of local farmers and food enthusiasts who would be willing to contribute their own cookie recipes.

He’s excited about the theme, which he calls “heartfelt and retro.” He says it’s shining a light on how people used to bake — with regional ingredients and recipes they grew up with. The We Energies Cookie Book definitely has a place in that historical narrative.

“A book like this is its own time capsule of what we cherish right now, what ingredients are available and what the culture says is yummy. We Energies is really creating these great yearbooks of Wisconsin cuisine.”

Cherek knows lots of facts about food, culture and cooking tradition. “The drop cookie,” he explained, one that is dropped onto the pan rather than cut out in a specific shape, “is a legitimate American invention. It’s jazz, it’s baseball, it’s landing somebody on the moon. We gave it to the world. And when you make a drop cookie, you put in your own little twist.”

One way that he makes the recipe truly his own is by making and sharing the batch of cookies with his family: his wife Nada and their two children. “Honestly, the kids are the workforce,” he said.

The other element that’s specific to Cherek and his family? The healthy ingredients, which he admits he “snuck in” unbeknownst to his kids. His version of the Cowboy Cookie includes ingredients like nuts, flax, coconut, whole-wheat flour and real vanilla.

All these ingredients — and a few traditional ones such as butter, flour and chocolate chips — were set out when Cherek teamed up with Tom La Pierre, department coordinator of MATC’s Pastry Arts program, to make a batch of On-the-Road Cowboy Cookies. They sifted and mixed, then dropped and baked this sweet treat. Even in MATC’s fully equipped teaching kitchen, much of the prep and setup was familiar to Cherek, who favors cooking at home to feeling like a professional chef. “I don’t look good in white,” he joked. “And I feel self-conscious wearing a toque,” more commonly called a chef’s hat.

For Cherek, family and friends are clearly a necessary ingredient to any cooking project. His greatest cookie advice is simple. “Make cookies! Make cookies with people you know and you love,” he said. “And then share them. Cookies are meant to be shared.”

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