Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cupcakes with Pineapple Buttercream

I used regular, boxed yellow cake for the cupcakes - my main goal was to test out the frosting. This is going to be a new favorite, no question about it. I can't wait to make a whole cake smothered in the stuff!

Pineapple Buttercream Frosting
¼ cup butter
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
⅛ tsp. salt
1 tsp. lemon extract
4 Tbsp. pineapple juice, or more to taste

Cream butter until fluffy and gradually work in 1 cup of sugar.
Add the salt, lemon extract, and juice, then work in remainder of sugar. Add more sugar if needed to make a spreadable frosting and the consistency you prefer.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jerry's Famous Deli

Jerry's Famous Deli
12655 Ventura Blvd
Studio City, Ca 91604

21857 Ventura Blvd
Woodland Hills, Ca 91364

Yet another Los Angeles area landmark - Jerry's Famous Deli has been around for 30 years with multiple locations. It offers up typical deli fare - sandwiches hot and cold, soups, salads, breakfast anytime. Jerry's is good food, but not great. We went there for dinner the other night and I was kinda shocked at the prices. Maybe I'd never paid attention to them before, I'm not sure. I wanted something lunch-y and cheap so I narrowed it down to a grilled cheese or the corn dogs for just under $9. I went with the grilled cheese and while it was good, that's about $4 too much for any grilled cheese. For a shocking $3.50 extra, I could add bacon. $3.50 for bacon! A quick browse of their online menu also turns up a club sandwich for $15.50 or a ham and cheese omelette for $10.45 just to give other examples of prices. Get real, Jerry's.

As with most delis, Jerry's serves up a really great bowl of matzo ball soup, so I can definitely recommend that. While I've never had a bad experience at Jerry's Deli I don't think I've ever had an exceptionally great one, either. If your wallet can afford it, give it a shot.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Pantry

The Pantry is one of those Los Angeles institutions that has been around forever and a year, and with good reason! Open since 1924, it's a cash only diner open 24 hours a day (rumor has it that the door doesn't even have a lock). In the heart of downtown Los Angeles, it's a popular lunch spot for politicians from City Hall and Convention Center-goers, and at night becomes a mecca for the post-concert & club crowd and the many insomniacs that haunt LA.

The Pantry
877 S Figueroa Street (Figueroa and 9th)
Los Angeles, CA 90017
tel: (213) 972-9279

We recently went to The Pantry after my sister's high school graduation. We were a party of seven, but would have been seated right away had my parents gotten there at the same time we did - instead we waited at the counter with mugs of delicious coffee until they arrived and we were seated. Our waiter came quickly, only to be sent away because we weren't ready. It took him a while to come back, but when he did it was with our drinks as well as a giant plate heaped with sourdough bread. It was soft and chewy and seriously hit the spot while we waited to order.

We mostly ordered dinner-type items: BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, clam chowder, the Pantry burger - with the exception of Sean who ordered an omlet. I think that breakfast and meat/steak are the ways to go at The Pantry - our food was good, but other tables had some amazing looking stuff!

Most meals come with coleslaw, potatoes, and veggies - ours came with only coleslaw, and I'm not sure if it was because they ran out of everything else, or what. Maybe it was because we all had sandwiches?

Nina got a piece of lemon cake to take with her, so I'm not sure how that worked out for her. We ordered custard, which I will not do again. It was too close to flan for my taste, and I'd been expecting something closer to pudding.

The prices are reasonable for a diner - we had some of the cheaper plates which were all under $10, but if you want to go big, they do have a giant steak plate for $22.50.

This is NOT the place to go for "gourmet" food, or "healthy" food. The Pantry is a great greasy spoon diner to go to when you need something heavy in your stomach after a night on the town, or to help cure a hangover. It's the place to go for a slice of LA history and interesting characters. If I had had more time and guts, I would have been photographing much more than our table and the menus on the wall!

Good for:

- good coffee and breakfast items
- LA history
- out on the town wrap up
- 24 hour service

Next time I go, I will order breakfast, the mac & cheese, or a grilled cheese sandwich. And try the lemon cake or cheesecake for dessert!


- Lines can be long or short at any given time of the day - no reservations are taken and you will only be seated when your whole party is there.
- They only take CASH, so don't forget to stop at the ATM on your way over.
- Park across the street in the lot on 9th, it's only $2 with validation and everywhere else will be much more, or illegal.

Addy's rating: 8/10

Friday, June 20, 2008

Clifton's Cafeteria

648 S Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90014
(213) 627-1673

Clifton's is Los Angeles restaurant dating back to 1931, and it really is a cafeteria. You grab a tray, walk through as you pick out your dishes and pay at the end. They have tons of choose from - ranging from pork chops and vegetable sides to desserts, soups and salads. Prices are pretty affordable, too, but I found the food to be a bit lacking. It wasn't bad or gross but I think I just expected more.

The decor is definitely something, though - it looks like a moose lodge inside. The history of Clifton's is pretty cool and it might be something to try out of curiosity, but nothing you need to rush to.

Friday, June 13, 2008


12601 Ventura Blvd.
Studio City, CA
(818) 761-8300

8351 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA
(323) 654-8300

Don't let their horribly designed website influence your opinion on their food. Carney's is another Los Angeles landmark we've been meaning to try for a long time. When you're driving down Ventura Blvd.or the Sunset Strip, you can't help but notice the train cars next to the other restaurants. We went to the Studio City location last weekend and found it quite yummy! It's pretty standard American food, with their specialties being hot dogs, hamburgers and chili. I had the Chili dog which was really good - the dog has a snap to it, the chili is awesome and it came topped with delicious tomatoes (pre-salmonella scare). I'm not usually a tomato fan and I've never had a tomato that good. The fries were really good, too. The food is reasonably priced and eating in or next to a train car is a fun experience. Along with Philippe's, I'd have to say Carney's is another Los Angeles landmark you should experience at least once.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tiramisu Cupcakes

I made these for a friend’s birthday, not knowing if she even liked tiramisu, and they came out pretty well! I'd add a little more flavor next time (see notes). They take a bit of time, having to cut each cupcake in 4 layers and assemble, but the results were beautiful and yummy. Thanks to addy for being my tester (I made her approve of cupcake #1 before I went through the effort of assembling all the rest!)

Tiramisu Cupcakes
Recipe courtesty of "Cupcakes" by Pamela Clark.

Vanilla Buttercake:
6 tablespoons butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup self-rising flour
3 tablespoons milk

Mascarpone Cream:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
¼ cup powdered sugar
1 ½ tablespoons marsala wine
¼ cup heavy cream, whipped

Coffee Mixture:
1 ½ tablespoons instant coffee mixture
½ cup boiling water
3 tablespoons marsala wine

2 ounces dark chocolate, finely grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 6-hole oversize (Texas) or 12-hole standard muffin pan with paper baking cups.
Beat butter, vanilla, sugar, eggs, flour and milk in small bowl on low speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium, beat until mixture is changed to a paler color. Divide mixture among baking cups; smooth surface.
Bake large cakes about 25 minutes, small cakes about 20 minutes. Turn cakes onto wire rack to cool.
To make the mascarpone cream: Combine mascarpone, sifted powdered sugar, and marsala in a small bowl. Whip cream and fold into mixture.
To make the coffee mixture: Combine coffee, water and marsala in a small bowl; cool.
Remove baking cups from cupcakes. Cut each cake horizontally into four. Brush both sides of cake slices with coffee mixture. Join cake slices with mascarpone cream.
Spread tops of cakes with mascarpone cream; sprinkle with grated chocolate. Refrigerate for 3 hours before serving.

These cupcakes come out dense. The reason is to absorb all of the coffee mix and not get too soggy. Give them overnight and they loosen up perfectly.
I substituted ½ cup of premade coffee for the instant coffee mixture and water. I bet it’d be even better with espresso. Next time, I might add some Kahlua or rum too.
The recipe calls for letting the cakes refrigerate for 3 hours, but I’d recommend overnight to let the flavors really blend.

Homemade Oreos

Even though it’s already been posted on a few sites, fabulous recipes are meant to be shared! I found this on Smitten Kitchen first, then Nosh With Me. Both came with such soaring reviews that I couldn’t pass up the idea for Father’s Day, and my dad’s a big Oreo fan. Thanks to both sites for sharing what is now a new favorite!

Homemade Oreos

Cookie Ingredients:

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 to 1 ½ cups sugar
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

Filling Ingredients:

¼ cup (½ stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
¼ cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees.

To make the cookies: In a food processor or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing or on low speed, add the butter and then the egg. Continue mixing until dough comes together in a mass.

Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, approximately 2 inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.

To make the filling: Place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl and, at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.

To assemble the cookies: In a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

Enjoy as any Oreo should be - dunked in a large glass of milk!
Makes 25-30 sandwich cookies (I got 38 out of my batch).


Smitten Kitchen suggests limiting the sugar in the cookies to 1 cup, instead of 1 ½. It depends on how sweet you ant them. I went the middle route and did about 1 ¼ to play it safe.

The recipe calls for “unsweetened Dutch process cocoa.” I found Ghirardelli unsweetened baking cocoa on sale and figured it’d work just fine. It did!

Make sure your baking sheets are cool in between sets of cookies. Cookies on the top rack came out crinklier than the ones on bottom, so it’s worthwhile to switch halfway through if you want them uniform.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Moz Buddha Bar

30105 Agoura Road
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
Phone: (818) 735-0091

Dinner: Open 5-10:30 pm Sun.-Thurs.; -12 am Fri.-Sat.
Bar: Open until 2 am Fri. & Sat.

Happy Hour 5-7 pm, with tray-passed appetizers.
Special events and menus on holidays.

After arranging countless business dinners here, but never having participated in any, I was curious about Moz. Last year, we finally had an excuse – a group birthday event - and loved the food. While I wouldn’t recommend a large party here (2-4 is best), this place is one of our favorites when we feel like splurging. Unlike Fins, we walk away from this restaurant feeling like our money was worth every bite, sip of wine, and candlelight flicker.

The restaurant:

We love the atmosphere here. Low-hanging lights, fresh orchids, and a dark décor make you feel like, no matter where you are, you can drown out the rest of the crowd and have a private dinner. The staff is always attentive, conversational, and helpful when you’re ordering.


- Rock Lobster Chowder: One of the cheaper menu items, but worth its weight in, well… bisque. Absolutely one of my favorite foods to order out!
- Shrimp & Chicken Stir Fry: The hubby’s hard-to-order-anything-else pick.
- Stuffed Chicken with Crab & Asparagus: My hubby was adventurous and ordered something new – and loved it! It was kind of odd that the mashed potatoes came on a separate plate, though.

Dessert: Everything has been a favorite so far. No, really.

- Chocolate Fondue: A huge plate of fresh fruit and cookies with rich, chocolate fondue. Easily shared between 4 or more people.
- Strawberry Shortcake: Oh. My. Gosh. Fresh pound cake served with scoops of real strawberry ice cream, strawberry chunks, strawberry sauce, and whipped cream. And the coup de grace – white chocolate chips. Served in a oversized martini glass.
- Bananas Foster: I haven’t tried this one yet, but similar to the strawberry shortcake. Substitute caramelized bananas, vanilla ice cream, and chocolate sauce for the above.


- Fantastic wine selection. The house wines are some of our favorites.
- Watch out for the Flaming Lunchboxes. Yes, you can light your hand on fire – I’ve seen it done.
- Specialty martinis of the season, such as Kiwi Honeydew, are always fun.

And someday soon, if I can get myself away from the soup, I just might try the dynamite sea scallops. Oh, and the chocolate martini from the dessert menu. I always forget about it until it’s too late.


We went to Toast over the weekend to celebrate Good Eats Here blogger Chris' birthday. Happy Birthday Chris!! We went for the drinks, the company and the atmosphere, and while those were fantastic, I felt that the Toast experience left something to be desired. It was my first time there, and let's just say that Chris and Kit Kat will have a hard time convincing some of us to go again next year.

20969 Ventura Blvd
Woodland Hills, CA 91364
tel: 818.992.5500

Ambiance: They have a comfy, well decorated bar area. It doesn't have too many tables, for the amount of space it takes up, but all for all it's a comfortable space. TVs for the sports inclined, dimmed lights for the romantics. We saw at least one first date, and I wouldn't be surprised if there'd been more.

Food: I was a little torn on the food. Our group ordered a few things - mac & cheese with lobster and truffle, burger and fries, cake.

The mac & cheese was good - split by roomies who were thrown off at the lobster, but they both enjoyed it, and I liked the bite I snagged, even though I only got noodles and cheese. I would definitely recommend it, if you're looking for a quick bite to share.

The burger & fries were also good - bravo on the garlic fries, they were really really good. And it seemed our friend throughly enjoyed his burger.

The cakes? Well, they were good. We ordered two - a lemon layer cake with coconut, and a chocolate mousse cake. The lemon cake came out with little problem, but they got the wrong chocolate cake. They brought us a decadent chocolate cake, which LOOKED amazing. And then they took it away to bring us the other, only to return five minutes later saying the other mousse cake had run out. We decided to just stick to the one piece, and Dani's and my enjoyment of it was only vaguely dimmed by the amount of time it had taken to arrive.

Service: The service in the bar is the main reason I wouldn't choose to return. When we arrived, there were two other parties being served. We sat in our reseved area and got our first round of drinks without issue. By the time the whole party was there (10 - 15 people, with people coming and going), there were 4-5 other parties in the bar area, and the service became sluggish at best.

Example: I ordered a Pepsi because I was driving. I finished my Pepsi. The bartender came by and asked if we needed anything. I told her I'd love a refill. 20 minutes went by without a refill. She came to the table again to take a food order, and left again. Another 10 minutes went by. She came back with someone else's drink. I asked for a refill again. Another 15 minutes when by. I said, screw this, and walked up to her at the bar with my glass, where she looked at me blankly until I asked AGAIN for a refill. She filled my glass with Diet.

I guess this is a pet peeve of mine, but still. If you're bartending at a restaurant on a Saturday night, you should have at least the basic skills to keep the DD's glass full. Also - we had numerous times through the evening when someone would be more than ready for another round and it was left un-noticed.
Also? Our cake took FORTY minutes to arrive at our table. What's that about? How long does it take you to cut a slice of cake?

Another quick thing before I stop whining - when we sat down, the bartender girl asked us how we would do the checks. We said, not sure, we'll figure it out. As more people came around, another woman (a manager?) came by and asked us again - how would we like to do the bill? We said, oh, maybe split it into thirds? And she said, oh, well we'll just give you one big bill and different copies. What? No. If you don't want to split our bill, don't ask how we want to do the check!

Good for:
- Slightly pricey first date

Addy's Rating
4/10 (<-- 4 points for the mac & cheese and the fries)


Fins Seafood Grill, Westlake
982 S. Westlake Blvd.
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Phone: 805-494-6494

Fins Creekside, Calabasas
23504 Calabasas Rd.
Calabasas, CA 91302
Phone: 818-223-3467


The hubby and I were in a romantic mood last night and wanted to try something new. We’re big fans of Moz Buddha Bar, a sister restaurant of Fin’s, so we thought we’d try it out. We spent a little too much money, but hey – you only live once, right?

Our entrees were neither great nor bad - just okay. The problem is that the prices are so high you want to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth. Mostly we felt as though we’d paid for the ambiance, and ate some food while we were there.

I’d go back. But next time, I’d be happy with a glass of wine, munching on some bread and soaking in the atmosphere.

The Good:

Wine: They have many flavorful selections. I don’t think we’ve had one yet that we’re disappointed with. Maybe it’s the wine list, or maybe it’s just our luck.

Appetizer bread: It could have been that we were starving, but the bread was so good that we ordered more and polished off both plates, even though we were excited about our entrees. Served with super-creamy butter and olive tapenade.

Ambiance and design: Romantic, white linens, and candlelight. We took advantage of the late-night Sunday evening and enjoyed a majority of the restaurant to ourselves.

The Bad:

Raspberry chocolate chip cheesecake: Disappointingly dry. The crust was way too thick and heavy.

Music: Salsa, and loud. It didn’t fit into the romantic ambiance at all. But it didn’t really make you want to get up and dance, either.

Phones: For some reason, the phone at the front desk was outrageously loud and reverberated throughout the restaurant. It really put another damper on the ambiance.

The Indifferent:

Filet Mignon: Dry rubbed, with mashed potatoes, sautéed garlic spinach, and crispy onions. Nothing new or exciting to this combination, that's all.

Ravioli Florentine: The best part was the goat cheese sprinkled on top, which lent it a rich flavor. Otherwise, it would have tasted like any other ravioli. It also mentioned a parmesan crust on the menu, but I never saw anything resembling it.

Tiramisu: Not the most flavorful I’ve had, and it should be, given that it’s soaked in rum, Kahlua, and espresso! They layered it with chocolate chips which gave what should have been a creamy dessert an out-of-place crunch.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Rick's Burgers

**Disclaimer about Rick's: Rick's is in a special little corner of Los Angeles I call "No Man's Land," in the nothingness between Glendale/Atwater Village and Silverlake/Dodger Stadium area. It is quite sketchy. But, it's close to my office, and they have one of the greatest burgers known to Los Angeles.**

Rick's Burgers
2400 Fletcher Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90039
tel: (323) 660-5988

Rick's is a casual, slightly seedy drive thru and diner that serves the greatest burger and onion rings. They rival In & Out, and pull ahead in the "greasy spoon burger" category. They have lots of other types of food, as well - breakfast, Mexican dishes, etc. But the burgers are hands down the way to go.

I went there for lunch today and got a cheeseburger (around $4) and a soda (around $1.50). I also got the fried zucchini today, which I won't do again. The fries are MUCH better, and the zucchini wasn't anything to write home about.

The prices are good - but there aren't so many "combos," so watch what you order.

Also, do the drive thru and eat down the road by the Silverlake reservoir. It's has much more ambiance!

Good for:
Hangover food
Amazingly good burgers

Addy's rating: 6.5/10

Monday, June 2, 2008


The best BBQ under one Woof

Plaza de Oro
17201 Ventura Blvd
Encino, CA 91316
Tel: (818) QUINCY-2 (784-6292)
Fax: (818) 986-4097

Ok the tag line is cheesy but it comes from a sweet story. They named the restaurant after a beloved family dog and the place is dedicated to their pet but also is a dog friendly place. There's a dog hall of fame and it's very friendly and family run. We regularly saw dogs hanging out in the outside patio eating area with their masters. The place has a homegrown country feel with picnic tables and red checkered tablecloths. There are barrels of roasted peanuts and piles of dog bowls that you can self serve yourself peanuts and put them and the scraps in the dog bowls. The place has doggy biscuits the waitresses feed the dogs, along with water bowls and other doggy toys and treats. A very lovely feel to the place.

The food isn't quite "Bang for your Buck". Meals range from $7-$15 per person, and they're not gigantic to where you can't finish a meal, and we've seen better deals. It's not cheap, but it's not pricey either, quite average but I expect more from my $9 at restaurants these days. Go there for the family feel and a nice night out.

Great Food

Chicken BBQ - YUM! Excellent stuff. Moist and falls off the bone. Well flavored and not overly sweet sauce, more savory. Great flavor and texture.

Cornbread - looks like a pancake as it's flat, but really really tasty. Plus it comes with this brown sugar butter that is absolutely divine. I would go just for the cornbread and chicken.

Fries - Yum yum yum. Crispy and well done.

Bordering Great/Good

Sweet Potato Fries - I have to give kudos to this restaurant for having this item on there and doing it really well. Crispy and good, with a nice change of sweetness to fries. Although I prefer salty french fries, the sweet potato fries were excellent for those people who would prefer it.

Tri Tip was good - on the border of good/great, although I thought the chicken was better. So if you're in the mood for tri tip this is a great place to go. BBQ flavor also excellent.

Good Food

Mac and Cheese - Good but relatively small portion. Appropriate portion for one person, but if i'm spoiled and when i'm used to paying for a side, I'm used to the side being gigantic. This was just a good portion so good for dieters and non leftover types.

Creamed Spinach - Good stuff :) Sorta watery and not too much flavor but good. But small portion size as well.

We're not itching to go back right away but we probably will go back to try their ribs, coleslaw, corn dogs, wings, potato skins and a ton of other items. It has a great variety. Overall it looked like a local favorite, very southern and home cooking type, and overall yummy. Pricey for "dive" but it is on Ventura Blvd. I'd enjoy it for Lunch I think more than dinner, although it's great food for both probably.

It gets great points for character and charm though, and with some tasty fresh new items on there. I love the fact that it's dog friendly and there are dog bowls and barrels of fresh roasted peanuts. It's the kind of place that I think the more we go there the more we may like it and over time it may get bumped into my "favorites" category. Will definitely go back and reorder the chicken and cornbread and maybe take some to-go for home. Good eats definitely.