Next Thursday, Feb. 2, is National Crepe Day and to celebrate, The Crepe Club is offering a free Nutella or Parisian (butter and sugar) crepe at all locations. The Crepe Club’s owners, Fares Tarabichi and his brothers, Karim and Omar, have been eating crepes since they were kids in Syria. Every Sunday, their mom would whip up a batch of crepes for the family. “My brothers and I would compete (to see) who could come up with the best fillings,” Fares says.
Their love of crepes led the brothers to set up a crepe cart two years ago on the campus of Arizona State University, where all three attended. Today, the cart has been transformed into a brick and mortar location on the campus and they’ve opened restaurants at Biltmore Fashion Park and San Tan Village.
For taco lovers, there’s nothing better than biting into a juicy al pastor taco loaded with tender, spicy pork. You probably have your favorite taco joint, but have you ever tried to make al pastor tacos at home? To help you out, Taco Guild’s Executive Chef Dan Santos has shared the restaurant’s recipe.
In a perfect world, you’ll get the best result if you marinate the pork for 24 hours, but at least shoot for overnight, Santos says. After you marinate the pork, start on the pickled onions so they’ll be ready to serve the next day.
If you’ve been searching for a brunch dish to “wow” your guests, Z’Tejas Executive Chef James Blanton offers up a recipe that fits the bill. His Southwestern breakfast bake is based on a classic bread pudding, but on the savory side, Blanton says. For the home cook, the recipe is ideal because you can add or delete whichever ingredients you like or don’t like, he says. “It really becomes a vehicle for you to be creative.” That only applies to the bread, meats and vegetables, however. The custard needs to be made as written (with the proper egg and heavy cream ratio) in order to thicken properly.
Executive Chef Jose Paul Farias of Vintage 95 in Downtown Chandler likes this recipe for creamy Portobello pasta because it doesn’t dirty a lot of dishes. And that’s a plus whether you’re cooking at a restaurant or at home. “It’s essentially one pan and then a pot of boiling water,” he says.
The recipe listed below is fairly straightforward, Farias says, but there are two important variables to consider: When you cook the pasta, be sure to rinse thoroughly to stop the cooking process as well as to remove excess starch; and when adding goat cheese to the sauce, let it melt rather than cook it into high heat or you’ll get a grainy texture and the cheese will separate.
If you’re thinking about serving tamales at your holiday gathering, there are plenty of places around town you can rustle up a dozen or two, including Barrio Queen. But if you’d like to try making them yourself, Barrio Queen’s executive chef Julio Mata says they aren’t that hard to make. “It’s just a little time consuming,” he says.
Mata shares Barrio Queen’s recipe with a couple of suggestions: 1. Make the sauce first so you can mix it with the chicken after it’s cooked. 2. Make sure the masa is smooth, using an electric mixer or mix by hand. 3. It’s better to have a couple of people to help assemble the tamales because it goes faster. 4. You can use Crisco if you’re lard averse and will get the same results.
Any time you stop by Chompie’s, you’ll find the bakery case loaded with freshly made cookies, cakes, breads and other jaw dropping pastries. But in December, the local deli chain offers up festive baked goods, including gingerbread and Hanukkah houses and a variety of holiday cookies. You can also special order chocolate peppermint rugelach (a traditional Jewish pastry), made with cream cheese dough scented with peppermint extract and topped with crushed candy canes, according to Chompie’s co-owner Neal Borenstein.
He stocks a variety of rugelach year round, including the popular chocolate and cinnamon walnut varieties. “We make some of the best rugelach in the country,” he says. But if you're itching to try your hand at making some at home, Borenstein has shared Chompie’s recipe below.*
Cupcake lovers have reason to rejoice: National Cupcake Day is coming up on December 15. If you’re a fan of Sprinkles (and really, who isn’t?), you have even more cause for celebration since the inventors of the cupcake ATM release special festive flavors over the holidays. Think: gingerbread, drinking chocolate and brown sugar praline.
Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson was in Scottsdale recently to promote her new cookbook, “The Sprinkles Baking Book,” and shared the brown sugar praline recipe with PHOENIX Magazine.
Nelson is a fan of this particular cupcake because it has warm notes of brown sugar and molasses and “a wonderful textural element of the crunchy pecans on top.” To achieve a soft cupcake, Nelson offers this tip: Make sure the milk, eggs and butter are at room temperature to ensure even blending. “You don’t want to over mix it because that will make a tough cupcake,” she says.
If you’re looking for a booze-infused pumpkin spice latte to spice up your holiday season, pick up some Arizona Distilling Co. Copper City Bourbon and Teaspressa tea to make the recipe below. Teaspressa founder Allison Devane answers a couple of questions about the benefits of tea and guides us through the tea making process.*
My Wine Cellar in Ahwatukee has long been a popular spot for Valley wine enthusiasts. In early October, Shannon Rush, who served as the wine bar’s manager for the past three years, purchased the restaurant from owner Zoya Vora-Shah.
Rush has recently upgraded the restaurant’s interior and patio and the changes will be unveiled at the wine bar’s sixth annual wine festival on Sunday, Nov. 20, from noon-3 p.m., when guests can sample up to 20 wines from around the world for $20.
To go along with the restaurant’s new digs, Rush is expanding the menu to incorporate tapas-style shareable dishes, including the miso braised pork shoulder listed below. This dish is the creation of My Wine Cellar’s chef Tim Yulwel. “He has a lot of Korean and Japanese background in his cooking,” she says. The recipe pairs Asian flavors with tortillas for an interesting and tasty fusion.
After opening 28 restaurants as an executive chef for Thirsty Lion and other corporations, Kody Harris decided it was time to launch her own place. She got out a map, drew a 10-mile circle around her Ahwatukee home and started looking for locations. On November 8, Harris opened Fresko, a Mediterranean restaurant with an emphasis on Greek cuisine. “My parents are Greek immigrants. A lot of these recipes come from my family.” The lamb souvlaki marinade and tzatziki recipe that follow come from Harris’s mother.
Everyone loves apple pie, right? If you’re a fan of the fabulous fall fruit, you’re in luck because during November more than a dozen Valley restaurants are featuring recipes using CaseWerks Apple Pie Liqueur to celebrate CaseWerks Pie Month. SoSoBa, The Nonstop Noodle Shop in downtown Phoenix is participating by using the beguiling liqueur in apple-glazed pork belly steamed bao buns. SoSoBa co-owner Tyler Christensen says that even though SoSoBa is primarily a noodle shop, every now and then they make bao buns – "our version of a slider.” Christensen is sharing the recipe because he says bao buns are a great holiday party food. “It’s something you can prep ahead and it’s ready to go. And you look like a rock star. It’s a cool, unique thing to serve.”
Now that fall is in full swing (well, at least according to the calendar), it’s time to rustle up the hearty grub that keeps us toasty on crisp evenings and sustains us while watching football. If you’re looking for a new chili recipe, Kelli Casey, general manager of Kelly’s at Southbridge in Old Town Scottsdale (she’s not the namesake Kelly), offers up an old family recipe that's now on the menu. “The recipe is a combination of old family recipes. I took part of my father-in-law’s – he’s from Pittsburgh and a diehard Italian – and part of my Irish grandmother’s recipe and combined them,” Casey says.
There’s a catch though. Casey doesn’t want to give away all the family secrets, so she’s left out a few ingredients. But, she ensures us, “it will still be delicious.” If you want to discover what’s missing, you’ll have to visit Kelly’s at Southbridge to taste the real deal. Then, report back and let us know.
When executive chef Javi Perez helped design Pomelo at The Orchard’s menu, he created dishes that were simple yet elegant. “When you read our menu, you know what you’re going to get and almost everything is made from scratch,” he says. The pan roasted wild salmon has quickly become popular with customers, but it also happens to be Perez’s favorite dish on the menu.
Even though there are many steps to follow when cooking the dish, Perez says it’s a great recipe for a home cook. “If you want to impress your friends, it takes a little time, but anyone can make this. Once plated, it looks like it came from a fine dining restaurant.”
For some, this is the most wonderful time of year. No, I’m not referring to the upcoming holidays. I’m talking about football season – a time to don our jerseys, gather 'round the TV to cheer on our favorite teams and, of course, chow down on finger foods. But this weekend, instead of tired pretzels and bland wings, impress your football fanatic friends who temp as foodies with this recipe for queso carnitas poppers from Anthony Serrano of El Palacio restaurant in Chandler.
“Everyone loves deep-fried (food) and everyone loves cheese,” he says. “It’s a winner.”
You can buy the salsa and carnitas at most Valley grocery stores, or make it at home, Serrano says. If you like your food on the spicy side, he suggests adding the optional jalapenos or another hot pepper.
But if you’re not ready tackle the recipe at home, the poppers will be available on El Palacio’s new menu debuting Oct. 31.
As the Valley takes a collective breath of relief and Phoenicians start to venture out from their air-conditioned caves, chefs across town are rolling out fall menus loaded with hearty autumnal foods – gourds galore! The Thirsty Lion debuted six fall dishes in September, including this Grilled Shrimp & Butternut Squash Risotto.
Executive chef Keith Castro says the dish is great to prepare at home, depending on how much time you have. “Risotto is a labor of love,” he says. “The actual risotto part of the recipe takes the better part of an hour to do it correctly.”
When you think about eating a salad, you probably envision cold, crisp lettuce in a bowl brimming with fresh vegetables. But have you ever cooked your greens on the barbecue? At Nook Kitchen, Executive Chef Nick LaRosa grills up a warm romaine salad and it’s hearty enough to serve with a steak knife.
“I put everything in there that I like to eat – bacon, tomatoes, cucumbers and hard boiled eggs,” he says of the recipe. Customers sometimes add poached shrimp, grilled chicken or a short rib. “That’s a serious salad.”
Many nights when I’m running late, I’ll stop at the grocery store and buy a roasted chicken. When I get home, I make a quick salad and voilà, dinner is done. But really, with a little advanced planning, roasting my own chicken isn't that much extra work for a simple, delicious dinner at home.
According to Chef Sal Zappone, owner of Zappone’s Italian Bistro, “Everybody loves a great roasted chicken.” His recipe is a take on his mother’s version. “It’s all about using the rosemary and the garlic and letting it marinate so the flavors really develop,” he says.
Chef Michael Rusconi developed his love for the flavor and fragrance of white truffles while working at Mary Elaine’s at The Phoenician many years ago. When white truffles were delivered via the freight elevator into the kitchen, the scent infiltrated all corners of the restaurant. “The smell is so unique. You never forget that,” he says. “And nothing else tastes quite like it.”
To spread his love of white truffles, Rusconi whips up truffled macaroni and cheese to go along with beef tenderloin at Rusconi’s American Kitchen.
Recipes for Hoppin’ John, an American Southern rice and pea dish, can be spotted in cookbooks dating back to the 1840s. But most every country and nationality has a rice and pea dish, according to Chef Stephen Jones of the larder + the delta at DeSoto Central Market.
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