The peak season for English peas is short, says Jacques Qualin, chef de cuisine of The Phoenician’s J&G Steakhouse. “At the beginning of spring, the peas are really tender and sweet.” So, once in a while – not every year – Qualin puts sweet pea soup on the menu for about 6 to 8 weeks to take advantage of the season.
When Grape Bistro owner Kellie Pruitt unexpectedly lost her 17-year-old daughter in July 2016, she stepped away from running the Scottsdale restaurant. "My whole life went crazy after that," Pruitt says. The restaurant stayed open while she spent time trying to heal. She hiked a lot on Pinnacle Peak and decided to reopen the restaurant under the new name, PNPK, as an homage to the mountain that helped her cope with her unimaginable grief.
Spring has officially arrived and Valley chefs have been busy testing out recipes and writing menus. In mid-March, Doughbird, Sam Fox's pizza and rotisserie chicken concept, rolled out a new happy hour bar menu (from 2-5 p.m.) with $4 slices of pizza and a couple of other snacks, including roasted shishito peppers.
If you're ready to tackle a multifaceted fish recipe for a special occasion dinner, this one's for you.
Match Restaurant & Lounge executive chef Alex Stratta offers a sea bass recipe that's complex in preparation, but uses simple ingredients. "This is a very traditional Provencal application," Stratta says. "It reminds me of the south of France."
March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month and Octane Raceway in Scottsdale has created a special cocktail to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The Mountain Sunrise is $10, with $2 going to the charity, which funds research of the debilitating disease of the central nervous system.
Back in January, Hotel Adeline quietly opened in Old Town Scottsdale. The new hotel has a hip vibe reminiscent of Hotel Valley Ho and a stellar view of Camelback Mountain, if you're lucky enough to be poolside. The property also has two promising restaurants – Good & Proper, a casual café with breakfast and lunch menus, and Selfmade, the hotel's full-service dinner restaurant.
If you're looking for a vegetarian appetizer that packs a protein punch, chef Tamara Stanger of Helio Basin Brewing Co. shares a user-friendly recipe for white bean puree (akin to a creamy hummus). Stanger uses Ramona Farms white tepary beans, a product that has been cultivated for about 1,000 years by Native Americans in the Sonoran Desert. (Buy online at ramonafarms.com.)
"You can sub other white beans, but these are very buttery and have more protein than any other bean," Stanger says.
Stanger uses crème fraiche in her recipe, but you can substitute sour cream or cottage cheese and vegans can use silken tofu, she says. Also, feel free to throw in any pickled vegetables or olives you have on hand. "This dish is really good for entertaining and it celebrates Arizona."
Erick Geryol, owner of new Tempe Italian spot The Quartiere, is sharing his Bolognese sauce recipe because he wants to shed some light on the thick, slow-simmered, full-flavored ragu. "It's something everyone can make at home and I think it's one of the best sauces out there."
When shopping for ingredients, look for Fontanini Italian sausage, a brand that Geryol grew up with in the Midwest. "You can't cook Italian food without it," he says. Also, if you don't have the time or patience to make demi-glace, you can pick some up pre-made at Whole Foods.
Because the sauce is sturdy, remember to pick hearty pasta to match – something like gemelli, fettuccine or pappardelle, Geryol says. "You need something to support the weight of the sauce."
As the name suggests, J's Kaiyo Sushi + Bar is a sushi restaurant. But it's so much more than that, says the eatery's Executive Chef Jason McGrath. "We have a strong sushi program and that's definitely our guiding light, but we also have a really good hot menu."
McGrath shares the short rib recipe from his hot menu, which can be made in the oven or a slow cooker (that is, if This Is Us hasn't scared you off from the set it and forget it lifestyle).
It's important to sear the meat over high heat to lock in all the flavors, and after braising the ribs for about four hours, they're so tender McGrath guarantees you won't need a knife.
"Short ribs are time consuming, but they're really hearty and a good, clean and simple dish," McGrath says. "These are old school short ribs."
Sidenote: These short ribs were called "the best" she's had in a long time by our dining critic, Nikki Buchanan in January. Read the review here.
When you think about Brat Haus, the popular artisan sausage eatery in Scottsdale, superfood salad probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But Brat Haus Executive Chef Jeffrey Schoening aims to switch that up a bit. “We want to diversify our clientele because not everyone wants sausages, french fries and chicken wings,” he says.
Schoening started playing around with ingredients to make a salad that was healthy, but still filling enough to satisfy someone with a hearty appetite. “I’m 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, and if I eat a salad, it needs some body to it,” he says. That’s where the grains – like quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat – come in.
The beauty of this salad is that you can use whatever vegetables you have in the refrigerator, Schoening says. “It’s anything goes. And the salad dressing is good on everything.”
With cold and flu season peaking, Constance Bradley of Scottsdale Integrative Acupuncture says it's a good time to load up on nutrients and foods that boost the immune system. "I'm always thinking about what I can do with an ingredient that I see in the store this time of year besides chop it up and roast it because that gets really boring after a while."
Because squash is so plentiful right now, Bradley, a nationally board-certified acupuncturist, devised a recipe for summer squash pancakes. Since she lives in a house divided (her husband favors sweet flavors and she likes savory), the recipe can be altered to swing either way.
Butternut squash is rich in vitamins A, B and C, provides more potassium than a banana and is laden with zinc, magnesium and calcium. "Squash is amazing. Everyone should be eating it."
It’s hard to imagine going to a Super Bowl party that didn’t include a sizeable bowl of chunky guacamole surrounded by crisp, salty tortilla chips. If you’re a guacamole devotee, you’ve probably got your own special recipe that you trot out for parties. But if you want to try something different, the folks at True Food Kitchen have provided a recipe to help you take your guacamole game up a notch and even make it a little healthier by adding kale.
Avocado and kale are both superfoods loaded with vitamins and cancer-fighting elements, says Brad Brunin, manager of culinary standards at True Food Kitchen. In other words, this guacamole is good for you times two.
“It’s simple, but it has the extra wow factor,” Brunin says. “It’s a great accompaniment to vegetables and you can use it as a dipping sauce, put it in sandwiches… or you can eat it with a spoon.”
Have you ever wondered what’s in a falafel? For the uninitiated, falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern food made from garbanzo beans and spices, rolled into a ball and fried in oil until they become crunchy and golden brown. Typically, they’re stuffed in pita or served with hummus.
Yariv Elazar, owner of Chick-In, a popular student eatery located on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus, makes about 200 servings of authentic Israeli falafel from scratch every day. He’s sharing the recipe for his vegan and gluten-free falafel, but cautions that aside from the garbanzo beans, most everything else will depend on your taste buds. If you like garlic, add more garlic; and if you swoon for cilantro, double down. What really matters? “The freshness of the ingredients is the key to a good falafel,” he says.
If you’ve ever thought about making scones, but you’re not an avid baker, Michelle Donovan of the café inside the historic Nile Theater in downtown Mesa has a “pretty simple recipe” for you. “It’s really hard to mess it up,” she says.
Donovan offers a pair of tips for making the scones: If you don’t want to use vegan butter, use vegetable shortening instead; and make sure the dough isn’t too wet or the dough will fall flat and the scones will be “ugly.” But to be fair, even when scones are ugly, they’re still delicious.
It’s almost hard to find a breakfast menu these days that doesn’t have avocado toast on it. Some are simple – plain avocado smeared on toast – while others are more elaborate. Ryan Mead, co-owner of The Place in DC Ranch, says avocado toast isn’t on his regular menu, but he offers a special seasonal version. Currently, he’s whipping up winter avocado toast topped with roasted butternut squash laced with maple syrup.
Famous 48’s executive chef Rob Wagner is an unabashed lover of short ribs. So when he was putting together the new Old Town restaurant’s tavern-themed menu, he included a short rib entree for dinner and a short rib melt for lunch.
The sandwich is a big hit for Famous 48 – second only to the popular Nashville hot chicken sandwich, Wagner says. It’s not a difficult sandwich to make at home, but you have to be willing to devote seven hours of oven roasting time to achieve tender, pull apart, melt in your mouth short ribs.
For those of you who like the flavor of fruitcake but are wary of the dense texture, Tammie Coe of Tammie Coe Cakes has a recipe tailor made for you. “I like to make bread pudding out of anything and this is the perfect thing to do with fruitcake. It’s delicious,” she says.
When preparing, make sure not to over bake or the custard will curdle, Coe says. But the most important step is to make sure the fruitcake is completely soaked with custard before popping in the oven.
If fruitcake just isn't your jam, good news: "This recipe can be used with any kind of bread,” Coe says. “You can use it with pancakes or chocolate cookies and can top with any kind of fruit.
For information about where to purchase Tammie Coe fruitcakes, visit tammiecoecakes.com.
You’ve probably had the experience of cupping a steaming mug of apple cider in your hands on a cold night. But have you ever had hot pumpkin cider? At Cider Corps, a spanking new, veteran-owned craft cidery in downtown Mesa, brothers Jason and Josh Duren usually make hard cider, but in an effort to make something kid-friendly, they came up with non-alcoholic pumpkin cider.
Josh says that lots of folks make pumpkin beer, but it’s never really about the pumpkin. “It’s always just about the spices,” he says. “Pumpkin has a real earthiness. It’s a unique flavor.”
The brothers started Cider Corps after Jason (Sgt. USMC, Ret.) returned from a tour in Afghanistan with two traumatic brain injuries from IED blasts. What started as a hobby for the brothers, and a therapeutic outlet for Jason, has turned into a thriving business.
Chef Lisa Dahl says there’s something about a good soup that can put you in a trance. We completely agree. Whether you slurp it in a restaurant or make a steaming batch at home, soup is the ultimate fall/winter comfort food. Dahl, owner of Sedona’s Cucina Rustica, Dahl Ristorante Italiano, Mariposa and Pisa Lisa, says she finds joy in making and serving soup to her customers. “Soup has a magical healing quality.”
When preparing the short ribs, Pacheco advises seasoning the meat generously so that it penetrates the beef. “It’s a fairly thick cut of meat and you can’t season the inside,” he says. Another tip: Be sure to use a hot pan to initially sear the meat because that will help seal in the flavor.
Until recently, Pacheco served the short ribs with creamy polenta, but this year he’s offering a cheddar polenta cake, which he says adds a nice texture. “You cut into the polenta and the cheese curds just ooze out once it’s cooked.”
You had us at cheese curds. Actually, you had us at braised meat.
Josh Garcia, vice president of the family-owned Miracle Mile Deli in Central Phoenix, settles an age-old deli debate: Is corned beef more popular than pastrami? Pastrami wins by a lot, Garcia says. “We sell over 5,000 pounds of pastrami a month.”
But for the record, Miracle Mile also sells anywhere from 3,000-3,500 pounds of corned beef each month, which is not exactly small potatoes. And speaking of potatoes, Garcia has graciously shared the restaurant’s number one breakfast item: pastrami hash loaded with red potatoes.
Garcia likes the eggs to be cooked over medium because “they get a little crisp around the edge” and add texture to the dish. Most restaurants offer corn beef hash, but Garcia thinks Miracle Mile is the only restaurant locally to offer a pastrami hash. “It’s really phenomenal.”
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