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Take time for Afternoon Tea

Posted on Mar. 21st 2011 No Comments »

Tea Pastries in their Natural Habitat

One of the highlights of having a Five Diamond resort in the Phoenix Valley is that there is a certain award winning tea that is hosted daily in its very own tea lobby court.  The Phoenician has been hosting a traditional English tea every afternoon in season for its guests.  Feel free to leave the oversized hat at home, but pearls are most welcome.  You’ll want to dress up a bit so you don’t feel like the china and silverware are stealing the show.

In true tea fashion, once you have picked your desired tea choice, it arrives in your very own personal tea pot.  Choices are varied from within the categories of  Herbal, Scented, Green and Black and the proverbial Decaffeinated.  Herbal boasts selections like Chamomile and Star Spangled Herbal- a blend of Hibiscus, Chamomile, Berries and

other complimentary herbs.  Classic Earl Grey and English Breakfast are standards on the menu.  Using your own silver tea strainer that perches on your cup, pour your custom blend through to fill your cup.  Cream and sugar are set on the table if you desire, along with wedges of lemon and honey.

Sandwiches make their introduction and are placed daintily on your plate.  They each have their own names like English Cucumber, Classic Egg Salad, Hickory Smoked Salmon, Crisp Asparagus & Garlic Herb Mousse and Phoenician’s Lemon & Thyme Chicken Salad. They are all served as finger sandwiches sans the crust.  Just as you finish your last sandwich, the tray appears again so you can delight again in your favorites.  I must say the Crisp Asparagus and Garlic Herb Mousse with its poached asparagus tips, aged parma ham and Bourin mousse on white loaf bread is afternoon tea perfection.

Fresh baked scones visit the table next.  Buttermilk and Cherry scones are served with Devonshire Cream, Lemon Curd and Fresh Strawberry Preserves.  Slather the scones with all the above and enjoy.  Don’t forget to sip your tea and carry on your conversations.   There is nothing rushed about having afternoon tea, especially if you are having the Grand Royale Tea which included unlimited sparkling wine.

The arrival of the tea pastries causes exclamations of ooo’s and ahh’s.  Miniature pastries are constructed with artistic presence.  There are so many different pastries that I will only list a few of my favorites: Raspberry Opera Cake, Paris Brest with its cap of caramel, Scottish Shortbread, Lemon Cream Cake, and the adorable Fruit Tarlet.  Each one is only a bite or two but each a delight.  When the tray comes again to visit,  its hard to pass but you are feeling pretty full by now.  It’s the perfect time to sit back in your cozy chair or loveseat and listen to classical melodies being played live on the Phoenician’s grand piano.

The Phoenician’s Afternoon Tea is served daily in season.  Reservations are required.  Afternoon Tea starts at $36 per person and $45 for the Grand Royale Tea.

Posted by Caroline | in Restaurant Review

Green Eggs

Posted on Mar. 19th 2011 No Comments »

Okay so maybe not green eggs but a fried egg with some sauteed greens and onions.

  • 1 large bunch of kale, chard, or spinach
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • fine grain sea salt
  • 5 gloves garlic crushed
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced

To de-stem each leaf of chard/kale (With spinach I simply trim any long stems) grab the main stalk in one hand and strip the leaf from the stem all the way up with the other. Tear the big leaves into bite-sized pieces, but you can use a knife for this task if you prefer. Wash the greens in a big bowl (or sink) full of clean water, rinsing and swishing to rinse away any stubborn grit and dirt. Drain, rinse again, and set aside.

Poach or Fry your egg in a separate pan at the same time you plan on doing your greens. Hold off cooking the greens until just before eating. Then, in a large skillet heat the olive oil and add the onion until slightly browned. Add a couple big pinches of salt and the greens. They should hiss and spit a bit when they hit the pan. Stir continuously until their color gets bright green, and they just barely start to collapse - two, three, maybe four minutes, depending on how hot your pan is and how much structure your greens have. Then, just thirty seconds before you anticipate pulling the skillet off of the heat, stir in the garlic. Saute a bit, remove the pan from the heat.Taste, add a bit of salt if needed, and serve immediately if not sooner.

Serves 2- 3.

Posted by poppa-d | in Egg, Garlic, Kale, Onion, Recipe

Give the gift of green

Posted on Mar. 15th 2011 No Comments »

Living green and embracing all things eco-friendly is becoming increasingly popular each day.  More and more people are taking their personal carbon footprint into account.  And with that personal regard to protecting the earth people have started to go green in all aspects of their lives – including gift giving. Here are five eco-friendly gifts that will inspire anyone to go green themselves!

1. Recycled stationary. Personalized cards, envelops and notebooks is a special gift.  But next time you consider purchasing stationary, consider green stationary – and I don’t mean the color!  Many paper and stationary companies now offer an eco-friendly option: stationary made from recycled paper.  You can get it personalized with names, initials or whatever your little heart desires!  If you’re interested, check out the selection of earth-friendly stationary at The Stationary Studio.

2. Food. (Organic only, please!) Many people give homemade cookies, cakes, jams and breads as gifts – and they make great ones!  But next time you give food as a gift – go organic.  Make your jam with organic berries. Use fresh or local ingredients for your bread. If you really want to impress someone, put together a gift basket full of organic goodies!

3. Bath and body products. In my day I have been given a variety of shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, skincare products… pretty much everything under the sun!  And each and every bath or body product I have received has gone to use. Only one thing would have made the gifts better… and that is being all natural.  There are many all natural bath and body products out there in a variety of shapes, sizes and smells.  I suggest checking out www.EcoEllies.com for a great selection.

4. Wine. Wine is a very common gift for all occasions, and you don’t have to give up your go-to gift to please your eco-friendly needs.  There are many organic wines, made from biodynamic viticulture.  And don’t worry – there is a great selection of organic wines as well.  Visit Southbrook Vineyards to start exploring the world of organic wine!

5. Clothing. Clothing will always be a very popular gift among friends and families.  But next time you give your loved one an article of clothing, choose an eco-friendly option. Did you know that “Conventional or non-organic cotton and polyester make up approximately 80% of all fiber production globally”? I didn’t either.  That is until I visited Fashion & Earth online. You can truly make a difference by purchasing eco-friendly clothing… and what better way to get started than giving the gift of green to a friend?

What are your favorite green gifts?  Let us know in the comments!

Posted by Abby Gilmore | in Green Living

Creamy Turnip and Potato Soup

Posted on Mar. 12th 2011 No Comments »

  • 2 large turnips, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion peeled and chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and chopped
  • 4 Tbl butter
  • 1 Tbl of cornflour
  • 34 oz  of warm chicken stock (vegetable if preferred)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

In a large pan, melt butter over a medium heat. When froth disappears, add chopped turnips, onion and potato. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until onion is tender and translucent but not golden. Using a slotted spoon, remove vegetables from pan; reserve. Away from heat, stir flour into remaining juices, until smooth. Slowly pour in chicken broth, stirring. Simmer for 3 minutes, until slightly thickened. Transfer reserved vegetables back into casserole; add bay leaf and sprinkle with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Lower heat; simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, discard bay leaf and puree soup mixture, a little at a time, into a blender. Pour puree back into the pan; return over low heat. Stir in cream; simmer soup for 4 minutes, until hot. Do not boil. Remove from heat; pour soup into 4 individual bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with a little finely grated Parmesan cheese and serve.

Serves: 4

Posted by poppa-d | in Onion, Recipe, Turnip, potato

Local Chef Dishes Out Gourmet Granola

Posted on Mar. 8th 2011 No Comments »

Laura's Gourmet Granola

 

Local Chef Laura Slama has been creatively fashioning artisan granola for the Phoenix Valley since 2004. She is the Executive Chef and owner of Celebrated Cuisine, which provides custom catering along with private and group cooking classes.  She launched Laura’s Gourmet Granola with her first signature flavor, Vanilla Almond Crunch and has since added three more flavors to keep up with the demand.

Laura’s Gourmet Granola uses all natural ingredients and no refined sugars.  It’s perfect for sprinkling on yogurt, enjoying with a bowl of milk or for anytime you need a snack.  Laura has created four flavors including Pumpkin Pecan Crunch, Honey Roasted Peanut Crunch and AppleLicious Crunch.  Take the time to savor each one and decide on your favorite.  Chef Laura welcomes recipes and commentary from granola fans and has monthly contests posted on her website to participate in.

You can order directly from Laura’s Gourmet Granola website or purchase locally at various retailers including AJ’s and Whole Foods. Chef Laura granola has also expanded to the East Coast and is now available on Amazon.com.

Posted by Caroline | in Restaurant Review

Sautéed Carrots with Orange and Cumin

Posted on Mar. 5th 2011 No Comments »

  • Carrots (trimmed & peeled) - 1½ lbs.
  • Butter - 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seed - 1 pinch
  • Ground cumin - 1/8 tsp
  • Salt & pepper - to taste
  • Orange juice - 6 oz.

Cut carrots into thin slices. Over medium heat, sauté carrots with butter for 4 minutes. Add cumin, salt & pepper, and orange juice and cover loosely. Reduce heat to low and cook out all liquid.

Posted by poppa-d | in carrot

5 Eco-friendly home improvement trends

Posted on Mar. 1st 2011 No Comments »

Believe it or not, there are many ways to make your home green that you can do yourself - easier than you may think!  The following five eco-friendly home improvement trends will make your home more green:

  1. Counter tops. There are many options when it comes to counter tops. Of course you have your choice between Formica or granite, but what about eco-friendly materials?  One option is bamboo.  Bamboo flooring has been popular for quite sometime. but its counter top counter part is slowly on the rise, and with good reason.  Another option to consider is recycled paper counter tops. I know it sounds crazy, but these counter tops do everything a regular counter top does, except made from recycled materials!  Recycled paper counter tops are also very affordable, making them a great, green option.
  2. Furniture. Eco-friendly furniture is built in a way that  has the least amount of negative impact on the earth as possible. Wood furniture that comes from renewable sources or natural wood that is not treated is definitely considered green and eco-friendly furniture. But if you are really resourceful, you can reupholster a piece of old furniture instead of purchasing a new piece!
  3. Garage doors. There are surprisingly a few great options when it comes to eco-friendly garage doors.  Steel garage doors are recyclable and also offer great protection.  Of course, all natural wood can be used for garage doors as well.  Many eco-friendly garage doors are build the same way green furniture is built - so that the least amount of negative impact on the earth is exerted.
  4. Roofing. If you are interested in having an ec0-friendly roof, you can contract an energy certified builder do find out what is best for your house.  Of course, your roof is an extremely important part of your home, so you will want to consult with professionals for this project. Staying away from toxic materials will be key in this project. That being said, it is well worth it in the end!
  5. Floor tiles. Yes - it seems you can get almost anything made out of recycled materials these days… including glass floor tiles! These tiles are just as tough and sturdy as ceramic tiles and come in all sorts of wonderful colors and patterns.

Do you have any eco-friendly home improvement tips? Let us know in the comments below!

Posted by Abby Gilmore | in Green Living

Sesame Cucumber Herb Salad

Posted on Feb. 26th 2011 No Comments »

  • Cucumbers (1/4 slices) - 4
  • Red onion (thin slices) - ¼ onion
  • Sesame seeds (toasted) - ¼ cup
  • Thyme (chopped) - ½ tbsp
  • Mint (chopped) - ½ tbsp
  • Parsley (chopped) - ½ tbsp

Dressing

  • Olive oil - ¼ cup
  • Sesame oil - ½ tbsp
  • Red wine vinegar - ½ tbsp
  • Dijon mustard   - 1 teaspoon
  • Salt & pepper - to taste

First, wisk dressing ingredients in small bowl and set aside. Combine cucumbers, red onion, and herbs in a mixing bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Add sesame seeds at the end and serve.

Posted by poppa-d | in Cucumber, Onion

Menu Spotlight at Tryst Café

Posted on Feb. 22nd 2011 No Comments »

Local Beer Battered Green Beans at Tryst Café are a delicious delight that must be ordered when visiting Tryst Café.  Vibrant and crisp green beans are lightly flash fried in batter made from a local beer.  Some of the favorites to use are the hand crafted brews from San Tan Brewery.  House made sauces accompany the green beans. Choices include the spicy Sriracha Aioli, creamy Pesto & Cilantro or tangy Chipotle.  Enjoy a glass of house-made sangria while you graze on your crispy green beans.  Tryst Café offers a daily Happy Hour from 3-6 pm where you can create your own Tryst with small plate specials and specially priced cocktails.

-Tryst Café in North Phoenix is a family owned restaurant that focuses on ingredients sourced locally and organically.  Not only do they offer plenty of options for the organic foodie, they have a myriad of gluten free dining options too.

Tryst Café is located at 21050 N. Tatum Blvd #108 Phoenix, AZ 85050. Their website is http://trystcafe.com/

Crispy Organic Green Beans

Posted by Caroline | in Restaurant Review

Green Pie

Posted on Feb. 19th 2011 No Comments »

This is one on my favorite pies. We modified the recipe from www.101cookbooks.com Green Tart recipe. To make things a little more simple we bought our organic whole wheat crusts at Sprouts but you can use any of your favorite recipes for the crust.

Preheat the oven to 350F / 180C. Place a rack in the middle of the oven.

  • 1/4 lb. / 4 oz  spinach greens, de-stemmed
  • 1 bunch of basil
  • 4 small clove of garlic
  • 2 large eggs + 1 yolk
  • 3/4 cup veg. broth
  • 1/4 cup / 60 ml heavy cream
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon salt (more if broth unsalted)
  • gruyere cheese & a bit of crushed red pepper flakes, for topping

Chop the greens and garlic in a food processor. You can do this by hand as well, but in this case the processor makes quick work of this. Add the eggs and yolk, pulse. Then the broth and cream. Lastly, incorporate the salt and basil. When you’re ready to bake, fill the tart shell and bake for 30 minutes or so, or until the center is set, and has firmed up to the touch. About 2/3 of the way through I like to sprinkle with a bit of gruyere cheese. Finish with a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes if you don’t mind a bit of heat.

Posted by poppa-d | in Basil, Recipe, Spinach