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.”
When you bring meatballs to the office potluck or neighborhood gathering, people always make a beeline to the Crockpot armed with wooden toothpicks for jabbing. Sometimes you have to jockey for position and the competition can be fierce. The ever-popular meatball has many preparations and some are better than others.
If you’re ready to up your meatball game, Paul Millist, executive chef of Lincoln Restaurant and Bar 1936 at JW Marriott Camelback Inn, has the recipe for you. The best news of all? It’s made with bacon, a food that Millist quips is “America’s favorite vegetable.”
If you’re looking for a new way to get your marshmallow fluff fix, Fairytale Brownies co-owner Eileen Spitalny offers up Moonfetti Pie, a sweet concoction that marries a dreamy combination of chocolate, marshmallow fluff, caramel sauce and sprinkles – kind of like a whoopie pie meets brownie sundae. The recipe is the result of a collaboration between Fairytale Brownies and local candy maven Tracy Dempsey of Tracy Dempsey Originals.
When you melt chocolate in the microwave, be careful not to overcook because it will burn, Spitalny says. You can also melt the chocolate over a double boiler: “Just make sure you stir, stir, stir. That’s the key to melting chocolate.”
You can find Fairytale Brownies at AJ’s Fine Foods and Duck and Decanter or order them at brownies.com.
According to Bradley, who is trained in Chinese nutritional therapy, soup is a good way to nourish the body and warm up the digestive system. “I was raised to think that there’s nothing better for you than a big, cold, raw salad and a big, cold smoothie, but in Chinese theory, cold foods impair digestion,” she says.
If you’ve never heard of kabocha squash, you’re not alone. It’s also known as Japanese squash and is available at most local grocery stores. “Kabocha is unique because you can eat the skin, so you don’t have to peel it,” Bradley says. “You scoop out the seeds and cook as is, throw in the blender and you have a nice soup within about 30 minutes.”
Today (Oct. 13) is World Egg Day and to celebrate, Sharman Hickman of local Hickman’s Family Farms is sharing a recipe that’s easy to make and jam-packed with essential nutrients. “Eggs are nature’s vitamin bottle,” she says.
The recipe is easily amended and tailored to your preference, Hickman says. “If you don’t want it to have meat, you can substitute spinach or kale. And if you don’t want ham, you can use turkey. Our recipes are designed for whatever you have available in your refrigerator.”
For those who enjoy a hearty breakfast at home, this one’s for you. Matt Pool of Matt’s Big Breakfast shares the recipe for Chop & Chick that was once featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives several years ago. In the episode, host Guy Fieri chows down on the pesto marinated pork chop and deems it “fantastic.”
“We make everything from scratch the old-fashioned way,” Pool says. “The home fries remind me of something you’d have in your grandma’s kitchen.”
If you want to try the dish before attempting it at home, scurry down to Matt’s Big Breakfast and learn from the experts. But be prepared to wait. This place is hella popular.
As a kid growing up in Texas and Louisiana, TEXAZ Grill owner Steve Freidkin now has fond memories of his mama’s mashed tater salad. So when he got tired of throwing away the leftover mashed potatoes at his popular Phoenix restaurant, he recalled the potato salad of his youth. “I thought, well, dang. It worked for my family. Maybe it will work here.”
The verdict? “Some people like it and some people are a little freaked out by it,” he says. “It’s a little different, but c’mon, it’s got bacon in it so it’s got to be good.”
Freidken uses russet potatoes with the skin on and makes the dressing separately from the salad. “It has most of the ingredients of a Southern-style potato salad, but it’s got a little Louisiana flair to it.”
Pancake lovers, your special day is coming. Tuesday, Sept. 26 has been deemed National Pancake Day and if you’re looking for a new recipe to wow your friends and family (perhaps this weekend since pancakes are more "lazy Sunday" than "gotta get to work Tuesday"), we’ve got a good one for you.
As we approach cooler autumn nights, it’s hard not to dream about simmering soups and soul-satisfying stews. It’s almost time to turn on the oven again.
To that end, Chef Jean-Christophe Gros of Voila! French Bistro shares a recipe for traditional beef bourguignon that he serves at his Scottsdale Ranch restaurant. He’s fond of the recipe because it reminds him of moments he’s shared with his family over the years.
Football season has officially started, and it’s time to up your snacking game. Trent Averhoff, assistant general manager of Dave & Buster’s at Tempe Marketplace, offers a suggestion for an easy, crowd-pleasing appetizer that you can whip up at home. And everyone loves tater tots, he says. “Tater tots call to your inner child.” He makes a good point.
To raise awareness and funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, Chompie’s is partnering with Singleton Moms, an Arizona-based nonprofit organization that supports single-parent families affected by cancer.
During September, Chompie’s will donate $1 to Singleton Moms from each entrée ordered from the deli’s special three-item menu, which includes Josh’s Whole Grain French Toast, Classic Grandpa Ruby’s Reuben and the Fitness Omelet.
French toast is one of those breakfast items that most people tend to order in restaurants rather than make at home. The folks at Taco Guild whip up a mean coconut French toast for their Saturday and Sunday brunch, but market chef Dan Santos has gladly shared the recipe for those who want to try their hand at griddling the bread at home.
If you’ve stopped by The Phoenician lately, you’ve probably noticed that the grand dame of Scottsdale resorts is undergoing a major renovation. Along with a new lobby and bar, spa and pool area, the hotel will be replacing the longstanding Il Terrazzo restaurant with a more casual concept, Mowry & Cotton, named after two gents who opened one of Phoenix’s first fine liquor establishment (or so the legend goes).
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.