Oh, Sprinkles red velvet cupcakes, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways: Regular, sugar-free and gluten-free. Yes, our celiac-brethren can now enjoy these moist sweet bombs, or even make them at home.
Valley food blogger Joanie Simon is about to make her Food Network debut – with Guy Fieri in tow, no less. But she’s not chowing down with the ebullient host at a drive-in, diner or dive. Instead, Fieri has her scurrying through the aisles of a grocery store.
Simon will appear on an episode of Guy’s Grocery Games, airing this Sunday, August 13, at 6 p.m. ET. For the uninitiated, the show features four chefs competing against each other in a grocery store set stocked with premium ingredients. In every 30-minute episode, each contestant shops for and prepares a dish, which is then judged. The last chef standing at the end gets two minutes to shop for items on a list, and wins a grand prize of $20,000 if he or she can find them all.
PHOENIX recently caught up with Simon, whose episode was shot last November, to talk about the stress of live food competition and whether Guy is really as wacky as he seems on TV.
Downtown Phoenix has just added another culinary luminary to its roster: James Beard award-winning Chef Alex Stratta has recently taken over as culinary director at MATCH: Restaurant & Cocktails inside the chic and arty FOUND:RE Hotel.
Stratta’s storied career includes stints at Mary Elaine’s at The Phoenician, ALEX and Stratta restaurants inside the Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, as well as Prado at the Omni Montelucia Resort in Scottsdale. His accomplishments include a coveted two-star rating by the Michelin Guide (three times over, in fact, for his namesake restaurant ALEX in Las Vegas) and Stratta was once named Food and Wine Magazine’s Best New Chef.
First on his to-do list at MATCH is to completely revamp the menu, which skewed to a "global street food" theme (and didn't wow our dining critic). Ahead of Stratta's menu debut in September, PHOENIX caught up with the guy who most recently raised eyebrows by hanging his hat at the respectable but decidedly un-showy and non-James Beard-y The Herb Box.
By the time August rolls around, Phoenicians have had it with brutal hot days. But August also brings a different kind of heat – Hatch chile season, that two- to three-month window when the flavorful, tear-inducing peppers from New Mexico are harvested and plentiful. Z’Tejas Southwestern Kitchen recently rolled out its annual Hatch chile menu that boasts everything from chile and watermelon gazpacho to pecan pie with green chile ice cream. Also on the menu – poached cod with Hatch chile sauce.
The Hatch chile menu will run through Oct. 31, according to Z’ Tejas Market Chef Dan Santos, but if you’d like to try making the cod at home, he has shared the recipe with PHOENIX magazine. When shopping for the fish, Santos advises buying pieces that are no thicker than two inches: “Any more than that, the bottom of the fish is going to burn and the top isn’t going to cook all the way through.”
Two years ago, Nantas Sodano quit his day job and joined the family restaurant business. He opened CM2 Pizzeria & Bake Shop right next door to Casa Mia, his family’s eatery in North Scottsdale.
To make a good pizza crust, Sodano says you must give the dough time for the gluten to develop, but don’t over handle. “Allow the dough to rise and rest,” he says.
If you’ve ever tried to make ice cream at home, you know it’s pretty easy – just combine the ingredients in an electric ice cream maker, churn and freeze. The same simple directions also apply to making frozen yogurt, says Kody Harris, chef/owner of Fresko Mediterranean Kitchen.
Keeping with Fresko’s Mediterranean theme, Harris whips up a batch of tahini frozen yogurt that her guests are wild about. “Even though tahini is a savory ingredient, once it’s added to the yogurt with a little bit of sugar, it’s got kind of a peanut butter flavor,” she says.
If you missed National Fried Chicken Day (July 6) and didn’t get a chance to feast on fabulous fowl, don’t fret: Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles is celebrating all month by offering a free side dish for the table with the purchase of any “Hood Classics” meal.
But if you’d rather try making your own, Larry White, the Valley's king of fried chicken and founder of Lo-Lo’s Chicken & Waffles, has rustled up a variation of his secret fried chicken recipe.
If you’re looking for a quick summer dish to serve at your next barbecue, chef Michael Goldsmith of Joe’s Midnight Run shares a flavorful chicken recipe that he also makes at the funky restaurant housed in an old liquor drive-thru on 7th Street. The secret to the dish is the Ras el Hanout, a Moroccan spice mixture of cinnamon, clove, coriander and a few other ingredients, which Goldsmith says you can pick up at Mediterranean markets across the Valley. (Or, here's a recipe on Epicurious.) “I like to try to get out of the box a little bit and incorporate flavors from around the world and keep them as traditional as possible,” Goldsmith says. The recipe also includes a couscous salad and a tangy yogurt dip and can be served as an appetizer or entrée.
As I took a bite of Chef Jeff Smedstad’s "pay de queso" (Mexican cheesecake), my mind took me back to my childhood’s kitchen. I pictured my mom baking pays for the holidays and a younger me eager to eat.
“This is the real deal,” I told Smedstad. The chef and owner of the reknowned Elote Cafe in Sedona says he was influenced by a trip to Veracruz where he learned about the craft of homemade Mexican cheesecake – sort of a lighter, less sweet, less dense version of our beloved New York cheesecake. He put a spin on the traditional Mexican dessert with goat cheese from Fossil Creek Goat Farm in Strawberry, Arizona, near Payson. The result is absolutely exquisite.
Each month, we of the PHOENIX magazine creative team ask ourselves a different question about our favorite dining and drinking experiences in the Valley. Our picks are usually hidden in the back of the magazine among our Dining Guide restaurant listings. Not any more. Our picks are going digital! Feel free to follow us on social media (at least, those of us who tweet) and be sure to tag us (@PhoenixMagazine on Twitter and @PHXMagazine on Instagram) on pics of your favorite picks.
In honor of our Free PHX cover story in the June issue we're asking ourselves, What are your favorite cheap eats in the Valley?
Eat and drink your way through the Valley with our delectable daily dispatches on everything from craft cocktail bars to mom-and-pop neighborhood spots. To get food-and-bev news delivered to your inbox, sign up for our Eat Beat newsletter.