Verde Valley, AZ – Back to School with Chef Christopher Dobrowolski

Schoolhouse Journals April 2014
The Scary, The Fun, and a Rocking Recipe!
By Chef Christopher Dobrowolski

Christopher DobrowolskiHey there readers, I think we are finally in the clear from coast to coast and are expecting nothing but great weather to be heading our way for a while. Thank you for coming back and checking on us and reading what we think is important each month. This month we are going to start by talking about something a little bit scary followed by something very fun and finish up with a recipe.

The Scary…

Market trends for food this year have already shown a 1.5-3% price increase, depending on where you do your research, but either way is very scary. The market is showing that most Americans actually spend more money on food each month than they do their mortgage or rent (WOW). That being said the market pretty much across the board is showing by the end of 2014 we will have a total increase of over 5%, higher than any year in the last 30. Since I have been in this business I have personally seen an increase of about 18% over 23 years, so I am sure you asked the same question I did, “Why is it a 5% increase in just one year?” Once again depending on where you do your research, some people blame the government, some people blame the drought and some people just say whatever they feel like letting fall out of their mouths. Here’s my opinion, which may not be worth much, but….. IT’S ALL THE ABOVE! Freezes in the east, drought in the west, higher minimum wage, politics, and of course the vast amount of corn being made to create that lovely substance called fuel are all contributing to the increase. I don’t have the answer to fix this problem, but I will tell you that there are other countries that are doing shared farming techniques that are working. You can read more about those on our Facebook page “Schoolhouse Restaurant Cottonwood”. Ok, I do apologize for starting out that way, but now we get to the fun part.

The Fun… (At least in my world)

organic gardeningSoil bag gardening seems to be a pretty cool alternative when it comes to planting your seedlings. This year we have been experimenting with this concept. It’s simple, low maintenance and don’t forget the easy cleanup at the completion of the season, or you can even reuse. So the idea is this, take a standard 3 cubic foot organic soil bag full of your soil of choice (I like Kellogg because it’s local to our area) poke about a dozen 1 inch holes in the bottom, then flip it over and cut a rectangle out, leaving about a 2.5 inch frame around the top so it will hold form. After that simply plant away and at the end of the year you can recycle into your compost pile or pull the plants and reuse the bags until they fall apart. During the season I will post some progress pictures.

The Recipe…

Black Garlic Macaroni and Cheese


  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2-1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces pureed Black Garlic (Buy from culinary elite on Amazon)
  • 1 lb. Elbow Macaroni
  • 3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3 cups shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup diced Brie cheese, rind removed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and butter a 13×9″ baking dish. Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta.
  2. Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan and reduce to 3/4 cup over high heat. Bring the cream to a boil in another large heavy saucepan and reduce it to 1-1/2 cups.
  3. Melt the butter and olive oil in another large heavy saucepan and cook onions until translucent and tender. Cook the pasta until al dente and drain.
  4. Add the reduced cream and reduced broth to the onions, then add the mustard, cheddar, black garlic puree, and Brie cheese and whisk until melted and blended. Add the seasonings. Add the pasta and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish. In small bowl, mix bread crumbs, 3 tablespoons melted butter and Parmesan cheese; sprinkle over casserole. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until the top browns and casserole is bubbly.

Thank you for reading and we will see you next month!
Christopher Dobrowolski/Schoolhouse Restaurant

Schoolhouse RestaurantSchoolhouse event
“Dining in the Dark”
May 14th, 2014 (6:00 pm – 9:00 pm)
“Dine in the Dark” wine dinner! Yes that,s correct pure darkness so every bite and sip is intensified by 10000000%! Featuring one of our fine local wineries and the finest ingredients in the Verde Valley.Call the Restaurant Directly to make Reservations 928-634-0700.

This entry was posted in Schoolhouse Restaurant, Sedona Restaurants/Verde Valley and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.