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Michigan Chefs Devoted to use of Locally Grown Ingredients

(DeWitt, Mich.) – Lansing Community College (LCC) culinary professor William Nicklosovich is part of a growing trend of cooking professionals relying more and more on local produce.

“Chef Nick,” as he's commonly known on campus, likes to make sure to use as many locally-grown ingredients as possible, especially Michigan Apples. A Michigan native, he has been teaching at LCC for seven years and has instilled a powerful message to his students.

“I emphasize and promote the locally-grown movement just because of the economic times,” said Nicklosovich. “When you buy something local, that person's able to survive – it's just a big chain.”

By incorporating locally-grown foods such as apples, cherries, corn, chicken and even catfish into his gourmet food curriculum, Nicklosovich points out to his students that he is able to help support local farmers and put money back into Michigan's economy, especially at a time when the state really needs it.

“A lot of these farmers are struggling. It's just a huge economic struggle for everybody,” he said.

Nicklosovich also works closely with local farmers, businesses and non-profit organizations to help make the public aware of the importance of buying locally-grown produce. Besides teaming up with the Michigan Apple Committee (MAC), Nick has also worked closely with the Lansing City Market.

In June, Nicklosovich along with several other volunteers spent two days working to break the Guinness World Record for the largest slab of fudge. The slab weighed 5,500 lbs., and even for his giant chocolate creation, Nicklosovich used almost all Michigan ingredients – just another testament to his passion for locally grown.

Over the last year or so, MAC has enlisted chefs throughout the state to help promote Michigan-grown apples. Some other culinary contributors have included John Zehnder of Zehnder's Restaurant in Frankenmuth and Linda Hundt, owner of Sweetie-Licious Pie Pantry of DeWitt, who has won several blue ribbons at the National Pie Championships in Orlando, Fla.

In fact, this year MAC will distribute recipe cards at farm markets and various retailers featuringMichigan Apple recipes from both Zehnder and Hundt: Zehnder's Heirloom Applesauce Cake and Sweetie-licious Michigan Apple and Cherry Crisp. Both believe using locally grown ingredients adds better flavor to the dish while helping the economy.

Chef Nick shared a few of his favorite Michigan Apple recipes:

Michigan Apple and Cranberry Cobbler 

7 cups peeled, cored, thinly sliced Michigan Apples
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon butter, soft


3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 tablespoons cream, or evaporated milk, or half-and-half
2 tablespoons melted butter

Grease a 2 1/2- to 3-quart baking dish. Heat oven to 375°.

Toss sliced Michigan Apples with cranberries and lemon juice. In a bowl, combine the 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 3 tablespoons flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; add to the apple mixture and toss to coat. Mix in the apple juice and vanilla. Arrange the apple mixture in the prepared baking dish. Dot with the soft butter. In a mixing bowl, combine 3/4 cup flour with 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Whisk the egg with cream and melted butter; stir into the dry ingredients and beat until smooth. Using a tablespoon, drop spoonfuls of the batter evenly over the fruit mixture. The batter will spread as the cobbler bakes.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until fruit is tender and topping is nicely browned.

Cornish Hen or Whole Chicken with Michigan Apple Sausage Stuffing

8 ounces bulk pork sausage
2 cups toasted bread cubes
1 cup chopped Michigan Apples
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
1/4 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup melted butter or margarine, divided
5 tablespoons chicken broth, divided
1/4 teaspoon dried leaf sage, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper
6 Cornish game hens, about 1 to 1 1/2 pounds each or 1 whole chicken

Brown sausage well then drain off grease. Add bread cubes, apples, celery, raisins, onion, 1/4 cup of the melted butter or margarine, 2 tablespoons of the chicken broth, sage, poultry seasoning, and salt; mix well. In a separate cup, combine remaining 1/2 cup melted butter and 3 tablespoons chicken broth. Set aside to use for basting.

Lightly stuff Cornish hens or whole chicken with dressing mixture; close openings with skewers. Place hens or chicken in a large roasting pan; bake at 400° F. for 1 hour, or until the hens or chicken are tender. Baste hens or chicken occasionally with combined remaining margarine and chicken broth.

Cornish hen recipe serves 6. One whole chicken serves 4.

These two recipes along with other area chefs' favorite Michigan Apple recipes are available online at MichiganApples.com. Click on Recipes and then Featured Chefs.

The Michigan Apple Committee is a grower-funded, nonprofit organization devoted to promotion, education and research activities to distinguish the Michigan apple and encourage its consumption by consumers in Michigan and around the world. For more information, visit MichiganApples.com.