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Chef Speak
Cassandra Comerford - Chef/Cafe Manna, Brookfield


Raw Mushroom Extraordinaire with Creamy Polenta

Comerford is in her element at vegetarian restaurant Café Manna, 3815 N. Brookfield Road, Brookfield. She’s not only a vegetarian, but also eats vegan, macrobiotic and raw food. She grew up in a Polish family and loved eating kielbasa before her vegetarian epiphany, which occurred while in college after attending a conference by Jim Ehmkes, an advocate of healthy eating. Comerford graduated from Kendall College in Evanston, Ill., was classically trained in French cuisine and later became the kitchen manager and chef at Ann Wigmore Natural Health Institute in Puerto Rico for two years.

Comerford is Café Manna’s pastry chef and has also developed raw food and "living food" items for its menu. Both are products in their natural, uncooked state, the latter including sunflower sprouts, buckwheat and pea grass, all of which are alive with enzymes.

Café Manna is a 48-seat establishment with outdoor seating available in the summer. Occasionally, a carnivore inadvertently wanders in asking "Where’s the beef?" But invariably they are thrilled and come back for more.

Café owner Robin Kasch searched extensively throughout the area before deciding on the current site, an easy 20-minute drive from downtown Milwaukee. It’s well worth the jaunt.

Raw MushroomExtraordinaire withCreamy Polenta

(Serves two)

Marinated Mushroom

4 Portobello mushrooms, stems removed

1 cup tamari or shoyu sauce

2 cups water

1. Mix tamari or shoyu with water to make a marinade.

2. Soak mushrooms in marinade overnight.


Creamy Polenta

2 1/2 cups sweet corn kernels

1/4 cup cashews

1/4 cup pine nuts

1 tablespoon onions finely diced

2 teaspoons finely diced jalape-o pepper

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Juice of 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch cayenne pepper

1. In a food processor, blend together 1 1/2 cups of the corn and the remaining ingredients until the mixture is creamy.

2. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of corn and pulse once or twice.

3. Slice on a diagonal in four to five pieces when serving.


Flax crackers

1 cup flax

2 cups water

1-2 garlic cloves

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Soak the flax seeds overnight.

2. Drain and rinse in the morning.

3. Blend in a high-speed blender: flax seeds, water, garlic, salt and pepper until smooth and creamy.

4. Place on two dehydrator sheets and dehydrate at 110ºF.

Serve with your favorite salad and vinaigrette.