Elements Restaurant – The Sanctuary – Phoenix, AZ


I was supposed to have brunch with my Phoenix cousins, but a couple were ill and they had to cancel.

So I opened up Zagat.com, and looked for highly rated brunch restaurants nearby, and found Elements at the small boutique hotel called The Sanctuary, which is at Camelback Mountain.

The chef, Beau MacMillan, has competed on Iron Chef! The brunch was great. They pull back a great green curtain at 11 am to reveal a small but ample buffet. Terrific salads, incredible cheeses, charcuterie, smoked salmon, giant prawns and crab legs, and omelets cooked to order (then delivered to your table). Pretty pastries are laid out for dessert, but they also deliver a just baked cinnamon roll at the right moment. Sparkling wine comes with this brunch.

It was just right to close out my brief visit to Scottsdale.





Fighting Hunger on Black Friday


I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and feasted yesterday with Loved Ones.

What better day than Black Friday to think of those less fortunate? The other day, when I posted about charities that fight hunger, I neglected to mention Feeding America, one of the strongest national organizations, and it’s 200 affiliated agencies. In northern and southern Ca, these are known as Second Harvest Food Bank.

If you are enjoying abundance, please consider donating food, time or money to the food bank nearest you.



Friday Inspiration – Go for it!


Go For It!

Moroccan Turkey Stew (Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe)

Here’s a way to get some veggies in you after Thanksgiving, and to eat all that leftover turkey in a dish that tastes nothing like Thanksgiving.  Start off on Thanksgiving night, while you wash the dishes, by throwing the turkey carcass, wings, neck, etc.  in a large stock pot with water, and big chunks of onion, celery and carrots, to make incredible turkey stock .  I made three quarts in 1 hour!  Strain through a mesh strainer into quart containers and freeze what you won’t use within 3 days.


6 oz bacon, chopped

4-6 cups leftover turkey (2-3 lbs) in 1” chunks

1 tbsp olive oil

1-2 yams, ¾ “ diced

3 large carrots, sliced ½-3/4 “

6 ribs of celery, ½ “diced

1 large sweet onion, ½ “diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded, ½ “ diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 cans diced tomatoes with liquid

Turkey broth (3-4 cups) (see above)

2 apples, peeled, cored, diced

3/4 cup dried apricots, diced

½ cup dried dates, diced

½ cup golden raisins

¾ cup toasted shelled pistachios (or slivered almonds)

2 tsp  Cumin

1 tsp  Ginger

1 tsp  Cardamom

1 ½  tsp  Cinnamon

½  tsp Allspice

½  tsp Nutmeg

½  tsp. red pepper flakes


Lightly toast the cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg in a dry non-stick pan, and set aside.

1 tbsp OO in large Dutch oven.  Sauté bacon over medium heat until almost browning – add diced and sliced veggies (yam, carrot, onion, celery, bell pepper), sauté (add in garlic 1 minute later), until tender but not brown, 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and 1 cup of the broth.  Add apples, dates, apricots, raisins, chick peas.  Season with toasted spices and red pepper flakes.  Simmer for 20-30 minutes on low heat (covered) until all veggies are tender.  Stir regularly.  If needed for stew-like consistency, add more broth.  Add 1-2  more cups of broth, and cooked diced turkey.  Bring up to heat and simmer low (covered) for 20 minutes, until turkey is heated through and flavors blend.  Stir regularly. Add broth as needed for stew.  Season if needed with salt and pepper (the bacon, your broth and turkey may already be salty – so taste before adding more).  Turn off heat – Dutch oven will keep food at serving temp for 20-30 minutes

Serve over couscous, pasta, gnocchi, rice or potatoes.  Drizzle with cilantro sauce, see below, and sprinkle with dry toasted nuts.


2 cup  Cilantro

1 cup flat leaf Parsley

1 clove Garlic

½ Lemon – juiced

½  tsp cumin

½ tsp salt

Olive oil

Pulse all above in blender with just enough olive oil to create a thick drizzle

NOTE:  One year, I took the Thanksgiving leftover mashed potatoes, added some of the Moroccan seasoning, poured the stew in a caserole, spread the mashed potatoes on top, and baked for 25 minutes until the potatoes were brown.  Moroccan Turkey Stew SHEPHERD’S PIE!!  This was perhaps even better!  Enjoy!


Sprinkle shelled pistachios or dry toasted almond slivers

Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

(My Thanksgiving Starter course)

Makes about 3 quarts of finished soup


1 ½ lbs of fresh wild mushrooms (I used portabella, chanterelles and shitake)

2  – ½ oz pkgs of dried porcini mushrooms (1 oz total)

2 tablespoons good olive oil

6 oz (1 ½ sticks) plus 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided

2 cup chopped sweet onion (divided – 1 ½ / ½ onion)

2 carrots, chopped

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme plus 2 teaspoons minced thyme leaves, divided

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (3 leeks)

½  cup all-purpose flour

2 cups reserved porcini cooking liquid

4 cups beef stock

3 cups water

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup dry sherry

2 cups cream

1/2 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


Simmer the porcinis in 2 cups of water on low heat for 10 minutes.  Spoon out the porcinis into a small colander and rinse them.  Pour the simmering liquid through a coffee filter, and reserve for the broth in next step.

Clean the mushrooms (Ina says don’t wash them but I do!)  Separate the stems, trim off any bad parts, and coarsely chop the stems. Slice the mushroom caps 1/4-inch thick and, if they are big, cut them into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To make the stock, heat the olive oil and 2 tablespoon of the butter in a large pot. Add the chopped mushroom stems, 1 ½ onion, carrot, the sprig of thyme, 1 teaspoon salt (omit if your beef stock is salty), and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add 4 cups stock, 3 cups water, 2 cups porcini liquid, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid. You should have about 8 cups of stock.

Meanwhile, in another large pot, heat the remaining 6 oz of butter and add the leeks and ½ onion. Cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the leeks begin to brown. Add the sliced mushroom caps and cook for 10 minutes, or until they are browned and tender. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and sherry and stir for another minute, scraping the bottom of the pot. Add the mushroom stock, minced thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Take about 1/3 of the soup (3 cups) and put in heat resistant blender, and blend until smooth.  Add back into pot.

Add the cream, and parsley, season with salt and pepper, to taste, and heat through but do not boil. Serve hot.

I use small (5.3 oz) tasting bowls (found at Pier 1 Imports).

Adapted from recipe by Barefoot Contessa (Ina Garten)

Note:  This will freeze well, but freeze just short of adding the cream, and add the cream when you reheat and serve.

Fighting Hunger on Thanksgiving

Hopefully you and yours will be truly thankful and FULL this Thanksgiving, feasting on the bounty of the season and your culinary skills while enjoying comfort and peace.

Others aren’t so lucky.  1 in 5 children in America go to bed hungry some or all nights.  Over 15 million children live in poverty.  At the other extreme, too many children struggle with childhood obesity and early onset preventable diabetes.

Please find an organization that you can support this Thanksgiving that works towards solving one or both of these problems:  Hunger and Obesity!  A few of my favorites are linked below.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Cheesecake with Yam Swirl and Cranberry Glaze (Thanksgiving Leftover Recipe)

This is actually one of the best cheesecakes I’ve ever made, and it uses up TWO kinds of leftovers – yam casserole and cranberry sauce.


12 graham crackers (about 2 cups)

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

½  cup pecans

½ tsp salt


2 bars of cream cheese (total of 12 oz) softened.

3 eggs

¾ cup heavy cream, divided to ½ and ¼

1½  cup of leftover yam casserole

1 tsp vanilla

¼ tsp cinnamon OR /2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

¾ cup sugar, divided


2 cups whole cranberry sauce.

½ cup sugar

½ cup whole pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 325.

In food processor, pulse graham crackers, salt, and ½ cup pecans to crumbs.  Stream in melted butter and pulse just til mixture is moistened.

Press crumb mix into 10” springform pan, going up the sides about ½ inch.  Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.

Prepare 2 mixing bowls.

In one bowl, mix 2 bars cream cheese, 2 eggs, ½ cup sugar, vanilla.  When blended, add ½ cup heavy cream and mix 1 more minute.

In second bowl, mix 1 ½ cups cooked yam, 1 egg, ¼ cup sugar, cinnamon until soft.  Add ¼ cup cream and mix one more minute.

Pour 2/3 of cream cheese mix into baked crust.  Gently pour yam mix over cream cheese batter, using spatula to make sure it is distributed evenly.  It will be thicker than first mix.  Using spatula, gently swirl yam into cheese mix, being careful not to disturb bottom crust.  Don’t over mix.  Pour remaining one-third of cream cheese mix over top.

Bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes, until knife blade is almost clean.  Don’t over brown the top.  Be brave.  Even if the cheesecake seems not to be set, it will solidify when it comes out of the oven.  Cool the cake on a rack for 15 minutes, then refrigerate 1 hour.

Simmer cranberry sauce with ½ cup sugar for 15 minutes on low heat to thicken.  Remove to cool.

Remove cake from refrigerator and run wet knife edge around springform pan.  Remove side of pan.  Run knife edge around bottom, and transfer to plate.  Pour cooled cranberry topping on top of cake – there will probably be a slightly sunken well on the top of the cake – if so, go only to edge of the well.  Refrigerate 2 hours or more.  Decorate with ½ cup toasted pecans (around outside edge) if desired.

Remove from refrigerator 20 minutes before serving.