Ode to Joy (the Baker)

I have developed quite a fondness for Joy the Baker. From her sweet and candid stories to her mouth-wateringly beautiful pictures, Joy’s blog runs the gamut of ingredients often inspiring me in the kitchen.

Case in point: what can you do with a bunch of zucchini? Joy knows: make some pancakes. So that is exactly what I did. These zucchini pancakes were surprisingly simple to whip up. They make a great starter dish or a nice light dinner when you are just cooking for yourself.

Need something to tide your Thanksgiving guests over while the turkey is in the oven? Make some zucchini pancakes and your guests will thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving.

I Left My Heart In San Francisco!

I wish it were Saturday. I wish I were walking around the Ferry Building with Christina and Angela. I want to feel the cool Bay Area breeze. I want to hear the cacophony of the different people enjoying the farmer’s market behind the building. I want to see the bridge in the distance while eating my fresh Taylor pear. I miss San Francisco, but cliché, as it may be I miss Saturday morning in the Ferry Building the most.

There is something grand about the Ferry Building with its high ceilings and perfectly manicured stalls. There is something enthralling about Miette Patisserie and Blue Bottle Coffee the lay within its walls. It is an engrossing place the Ferry Building is. One could spend the morning lost in the riveting produce aisles, oyster bars and wine racks. The perfume of freshly baked bread and fresh wheels of cheese hugging each step through its halls.

Angela (Spinach Tiger), me, and Christina (HotPinkManolos)

tomato varieties I’ve never even seen before

bright peppers and eggplant

stunning purple pluots

a tangle of grapes

a bunch of blossoms

a sweet basket of baby corn

a treasure trove of jar filled jewels

a tasty treat for R

sweet, juicy, perfect

baked beignet bites

miette confection masterpieces

blue bottle coffee, there is no coffee like this!

It is no wonder so many before me have also fallen in love with San Francisco!

Last of the Season

There it was, one last basket. I thought I would have to wait another year until I would see them again. I zeroed in on the plump purple glory. There they were at the Los Feliz farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago – just one lonely basket of figs sitting among a sea of persimmons and pears. The last basket was mine, and there were officially no more figs at the farmer’s market. They were so soft they needed to be enjoyed that day.

I found the recipe at Food52.com. It was simple and filled the kitchen with sweet aromas. The figs softened in the syrup composed of water, sugar, rum and vanilla bean. The result is an ethereal lightness that collapses when touched.

A dollop of thick, tart vanilla bean Greek yogurt was the perfect compliment to the sweet syrup and figs.

You will have to wait until figs are in season again next year before you can make this recipe, but trust me – it is worth the wait!

1 pound ripe figs

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon rum

½ vanilla bean scored down middle so seeds can release into syrup

Place whole figs in a saucepan. Cut small slits at the top of each fig. Sprinkle sugar over figs in pan. Add a tablespoon of water and a tablespoon of rum (or more as needed). Place vanilla bean in center of the pan.

Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until sugar dissolves and caramelizes approx. 15 minutes.

Fun Filled Foodbuzz Festival!

Put two hundred and fifty-plus food fanatical fiends in one room. Fill it with unlimited drinks and mass amounts of delectable delights. What do you get? 48 hours of non-stop eating at First Annual Foodbuzz Food Blogger Festival in San Francisco.

The weekend began with a welcome reception happy hour on the gorgeous Hotel Vitale terrace overlooking the Bay Bridge. It quickly moved on to a frenzied food fair of San Francisco’s finest food trucks all gathered at the historic Ferry Building.

Having enjoyed my share of amazing food truck selections around Los Angeles, I have to say with all humility that LA has nothing on the food trucks of San Francisco. San Francisco’s mobile eateries are innovative, fresh, and nothing short of brilliant.

From pizza to cupcakes, meat pies to oysters, the Taste of SF Street Food Fare had it all.

Mission Minis are gourmet mini cupcakes that are baked fresh daily throughout a number of locations around the San Francisco area. They were presented on a tier of cake heaven with more flavors than the heart could dream of. I of course sampled one of everything. For me the standout flavors were the Strawberry Lemonade and Swiss Almond Coconut. The next day at the Tasting Pavillion I had another sample of each of my favorites.

The Pie Truck offers delicious baked hand held savory pies. My favorite was the Steak and Gruyere. Buttery, flakey dough encapsulating a hot a gooey mix of nutty Gruyere and toothsome steak.

While the cupcakes and meat pies were out of this world fantastic, they did not hold a flame to Roli Roti’s Porchetta Sandwiches. I found myself chanting “I love crispy skin!” after eating one of these impressive sandwiches. Roli Roti is the country’s first mobile rotisserie. They roast pork belly rolled together with pork lion. The fatty drippings glaze yellow potatoes
lying below. The pork majestically turns on the metal spit while its skin slowly begins to crispy and harden. The pork is then taken off the spit and placed on the cutting board where the flavors are allowed to mellow and blend before being cut into thick rounds, rubbed with sea salt, and covered in chopped parsley. The meat is crammed between two hearty pieces of ciabatta bread and ready to dive into. I ate this fatty treat in 2.5 seconds, the oil dripping down my chin. When all was said and done I was left to marvel at the flavors. The juicy pork loin, the crunchy crispy pork skin, and the fatty bits squished in between. The flavors were so bright and rich. LA needs a Roli Roti’s!

To be continued…

Coconut Craze – Coconut Flan

Ever since returning from Puerto Rico this summer I have had an insistent craving for coconut. I blame this coconut craze on my new friend the Pina Colada. I know what you’re thinking… Pina colada? Eww. (I hear the judgment in your voice.) But what can I say? The pina colada has been the official drink of Puerto Rico since 1978 and my vacation would not have been complete without enjoying one or two or five. I am now a converted and faithful enthusiast of the pina colada. The amber rum with undertones of caramel, the creamy amalgamation of coconut and sweet pineapples, blending into an icy creation much greater than the sum of its parts. It is an unmistakable and completely satisfying flavor.

I was so in love that by the time I got back to Los Angeles all I could think of was coconuts, or pineapples, or both. Soon the delicious drink alone could not satisfy my thirst. R and I made coconut ice cream. We made toasted coconut milkshakes. Still, I needed more.

I found my cure – coconut flan. It is so delicate and velvety, floating as it does on top of a shallow pool of caramel, so light it almost collapses when touched by a spoon. The coconut flan I made was perfectly indulgent and perfectly reminiscent of the pina colada. This was precisely the flavor and texture I’d been dreaming of all along, somewhere in between a drink and a cake.

Coconut flan is so simple to make. In a couple of hours the dessert is chilled and ready to eat.

The recipe I use is from Gourmet. The Gourmet recipe calls for the use of sweetened coconut flakes. I tried this and did not enjoy the bite of the flakes against the silkiness of the flan.

Place coconut flakes in a pan over med. heat until golden brown and fragrant.

I made the coconut flan again, but this time I substituted coconut milk for coconut flakes. The rich coconut flavor is still present and pronounced. I still use coconut flakes, toasted and sprinkled on top of the flan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together milk an coconut milk.

ass=”MsoNormal” style=”text-align: center;”>Add sweetened condensed milk.

Continue to whisk togther ingredients.

Add egg and continue whisking until ingredients are blended together.

Ron del Barrillito three star rum found only in Puerto Rico.

Add a teaspoon of rum for added flavor. Whisk together then set aside.

Add water and sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar has dissolved.

Continue to boil until it reaches a dark amber color.

Once caramel is a dark amber, remove from heat and pour into ramekins.

Swirl the caramel into the ramekins until the bottom is completely coated.

Swirl quickly as caramel sets fast!

Pour the flan mixture over the coated caramel.

Set filled ramekins in a cookie sheet water bath.

Bake flan for about an hour. When done remove from oven and set until cool.

Transfer cooled flans to the refrigerator to set for another 30 minutes.

Flan is then ready to serve. Run a knife around the edge and plate.


So simple, so delicious, the flavors will linger luxuriously on your tongue. After you make coconut flan you are sure to be coconut crazed like me!


The Great Pumpkin

Its hue is bright orange, it’s shape spherical and portly, and its taste is absolutely delicious. I am of course referring to my favorite Fall fruit: pumpkin. I love eating pumpkin. From pumpkin bread to pumpkin ravioli, just the mention of pumpkin makes my mouth water.

While I have always enjoyed eating pumpkin, I have never considered cooking pumpkin myself. Honestly, I wouldn’t know where to begin. So when I saw that LA Food Works was offering a pumpkin-inspired cooking class- The Great Pumpkin, I was there!

This was my first cooking class. I am not an expert cook, but do enjoy my many adventures and misadventures with R in our kitchen. This class was the perfect opportunity to hone my skills and finally learn how to prepare pumpkin in an array of recipes.

The class was held in the beautiful kitchen of LA Food Works. The magnificent Rachael Narins of Chicks with Knives led the class.

On the cooking menu:

Pumpkin Lasagna

Curried Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Pork with Pumpkin Seed Sauce

Sweet and Sour Pumpkin

Pumpkin Gingersnap Tiramisu

Rachael started the class by talking pumpkin to us. The different varietals and what you can make with them. Next, as a group, we prepared the Pumpkin Lasagna.

For the lasagna we scooped and mashed a roasted sugar pumpkin. While one person was scooping, another was beginning a Béchamel sauce that would be the base of the lasagna. Then we layered the pasta with the sauce, mascarpone cheese, pumpkin puree, fontina cheese, and dotted with salty thin proscuitto. We were taken through the recipe step by step. The process was interactive and fun. The result was a decadent, bubbly, and creamy lasagna. It was so rich, so delicious, so perfec
tly oozing with pumpkin.

While our lasagna cooked we divided into little groups to prepare one item from the menu. I got the Sweet and Sour Pumpkin. Our sugar pumpkin was too hard to work with so we roasted it before cubing it. We also, added a can of organic pumpkin puree, which is not included on the original recipe. Next, we placed the cubed roasted pumpkin and canned pumpkin in a skilled over medium heat, sprinkled with garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar and red wine vinegar. Our Sweet and Sour Pumpkin turned into a dip rather than an entrée, but it was a pleasant surprise. We toasted up so pita chips to scoop the hot pumpkin mash and it was bursting with flavors. It is similar to a babaganoush in texture, but with pumpkin instead of eggplant, and a few flavorful sour notes from the vinegar and spices. Garnished with fresh mint, this recipe if beautiful and appetizing. It would be a perfect Fall party starter.

While I did not participate in the other recipes from start to finish, everyone in the class was able to watch and help each other with their recipes. The Pumpkin Seed sauce was fragrant and light. The Curried Pumpkin soup was smooth and comforting. The Pumpkin Tiramisu was a pillowy pumpkin custard layered with gingersnaps brushed with brandy, need I say more.

the sweetest dog and her name was Pumpkin!

When everything was finished cooking, we sat together and enjoyed the afternoon’s work. Everything came out perfectly – and I’m not just saying that because we cooked it. I left full from all of our creations, but more than that I left with new skills and new friends. I can’t wait for the next LA Food Works class!

Fresh From the Market: The Gastrobus

A new farmer’s market has sprung up in my neighborhood. This excites me to no end. While I love the Hollywood farmer’s market on the rare occasion that I get a Sunday away from the restaurant, it is so much more satisfying to be able to enjoy the morning walking to a farmer’s market right in my neck of the woods.

The Los Feliz farmer’s market is nestled in a small parking lot behind the legendary Dresden Room. Compared to other farmer’s markets around Los Angeles, like those in Hollywood or Santa Monica, this hidden gem is small and charming. There is a sweet fragrance in the air and its quaint size is so much more appealing than the busy hustle bustle of the larger markets. There is a peace here, a sense of calm that allowed me to fully enjoy the beauty of the market on a Sunday morning. Small as it is, this farmer’s market still has everything one would need to fill a weekend shopping basket. There are fruit vendors galore, an abundance of greens, a specialty mushroom man, a fresh egg merchant, hand crafted soaps, fresh juices, flowers and more. On my first visit a few weeks ago, my favorite part of the market was the big bright Gastrobus parked right in front.

The Gastrobus differs from the other trendy LA food trucks because their ever-changing menu is created based on what is available at the market on any particular morning. Each week the chef on board this restaurant on wheels finds what is seasonally perfect and delicious to create a simple tapas-style brunch menu. R and I were more than happy with what we ordered.

The corn flapjacks were plump orbs of sweet and savory goodness. The corn was crisp against the light dough. It was sprinkled with thin scallions and fresh farmer’s cheese, which gave it a delightfully light finish.

The homemade sausage was a mound of salty, well-seasoned meat. It was thick and hearty.

The French toast with fresh peaches and plum jam was sticky and sweet. The toast was fluffy and moist, the peaches tender and plump, and the jam coated all of the flavors together.

I am happy to report that on my second visit this weekend, my neighborhood farmer’s market is beginning to grow. There were more happy faces and purveyors, but the market still maintained its peaceful air. Lucky for us, the Gastrobus was still parked right in front.

True to form, today’s menu at the Gastrobus had a different offering. I was happy to find my favorite corn flapjacks so I eagerly ordered those. In addition, we ordered the persimmon beignets with ginger and sugar and the pear almond pancakes.

The beignets were not as I had imagined. Rather than being a hot chewy deep fried confection, the batter was stuffed with a crisp chunk of persimmon. Being a doughnut lover, I was sad that my beignet was not all dough but the beignet was still pleasantly delicate and folded sweetly into each crunchy bite of persimmon.

The almond pear pancakes were soft and fragrant. The pancakes’ components were tender sweet pears in a nutty batter crowned with caramelized pear slivers. And they were magical.

Eat fresh, eat local, and support your neighborhood famer’s market.

A Cheeseburger Wednesday Edition– Umami Burger Los Feliz

My friend Mike likes to eat cheeseburgers on Wednesdays. I have grown to love it too. While I enjoy a burger any day of the week there is something so special and satisfying about eating a cheeseburger on Wednesdays with Mike. Wednesdays will be henceforth known as Cheeseburger Wednesdays.

This post is dedicated to Mike and to cheeseburgers – It is the Cheeseburger Wednesday edition of LetMeEatCake.

Last Wednesday we enjoyed our cheeseburgers at the recently opened Umami Burger. Umami Burger resides in the former home of the late Cobras and Matadors in Los Feliz.

Living in Los Angeles, the burger capitol of the world, it is not hard to find a burger joint at every corner. Formerly relegated to the domain of fast food, the cheeseburger has now acquired an elevated status. Cheeseburger components now include gourmet condiments, organic greens, and artisan cheeses. Cheeseburgers are now bigger, more exotic, and even more stylish.

Umami Burger demonstrates how a seemingly ordinary dish such as a cheeseburger can be magically transformed into something magnificent with a few well-selected ingredients.

Umami Burger offers a mouthwatering selection of cheeseburgers.

The Manly Burger is a perfectly seasoned ground beef patty with gooey melted beer-cheddar cheese atop a pillowy bun, and sprinkled with smoked salt onion strings and bacon lardons. The bun was so delicate with each bite it became one with the burger. Need I say more?

R and I gave Umami another visit this week to try more of their delicious burgers. This time we chose the Port & Stilton Burger with Stilton blue cheese and Pocas port-carmelized onions, and the signature Umami Burger with a parmesan crisp, roasted tomatoes, shiitake mushrooms and carmelized onions.

Nothing beats the Manly Burger. While the eponymous Umami Burger was good, the bun got soggy too fast, the parmesan crisp lost it’s crunch, and the roasted tomatoes dominated the other flavors.

The restaurant also offers a variety of fries to accompany your burger. I tried all three versions- Hand Cut Fries (triple-cooked), Sweet Potato Fries, and Thin Fries. The
Hand Cut fries were thick wedges of potato reminiscent of biting into a hot mashed potato. The Sweet Potato fries were no different then any other variety of sweet potato fries at other gourmet burger spots. The Thin Fries were too salty on both occasions. My side dish recommendation is the Malt Liquour Tempura Onion Rings. They were thick, flavorful and understated. They we consumed so rapidly by the table I did not have a second to photograph their glory.

Happy Cheeseburger Wednesday!

Los Moles

In an effort to enjoy everything LA has to offer, R and I decided to spend our Sunday afternoon exploring Olvera Street, a historic marketplace reflecting Mexican and Lation culture and traditions. Olvera Street is located in Downtown Los Angeles, at what is known as the general site of the birthplace of the city of Los Angeles. Fortuitously, today at Olvera Street it happened to be La Feria De Los Moles- a fair celebrating the moles of Oaxaca. Mole means ‘sauce’ or concoction’, it is a complex thick sauce of spices used as the base for dishes around regions of Mexico. La Feria De Los Moles celebrated the most popular moles, those of the Mexican states of Puebla and Oaxaca. The streets were alive with people enjoying the crisp Fall weather, the live Oaxacan music, and the countless food stands eager to serve all of the hungry mouths. I wanted to eat everything in sight, I wanted to try it all, but my feeble stomach would not oblige. I enjoyed a small taste of the plethora of foods at the fair.

There are a multitude of mole variations. We tried two dishes with mole negro from La Guelaguetza. The mole negro is a blend of chilies, nuts, seeds, spices, and Oaxacan chocolate. We enjoyed a mole negro con pierna de pollo which was chicken covered with mole negro over rice. We also tried the taquitos covered in mole negro and topped with fresh onion and queso fresco.

The mole had a rich bold fl
avor. The sweet, smooth chocolate married well with the subtle heat from the chilies and spices.

We were too full to enjoy the giant tortas filled with seasoned meats but we enjoyed watching them being made.

The traditional clayudas con todo tipo de carne was an incredible site to behold. The sheer size of it was astounding. It is a giant flour tortilla served open faced and topped with a black bean paste, cheese, and crowned with grilled meats and fresh radishes.

There were endless variations of aguas frescas and an array of sweet breads from churros to conachas.

The half moon shaped pastillito was soft, sweet, and delicious with a subtle milky flavor.

For dessert we enjoyed platanos fritos with sweet cream sauce. Hot and fresh, coated in sweet cream, it was the perfect bite.

For the road we grabbed a candied lime stuffed with shredded coconut. For $1 I had to know what this confection was. It is called fruita cubierta and there are many variations on this candied treat. Nibbling on this chewy candy I realized that this is what it would taste like if you could bite into a Sprite. It was sweet but still tasted fresh. I loved it and I will be coming back for more.

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You can visit Guelaguetza at

3014 W. Olympic Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006

M-F 9am – 10pm. Sat 8am – 11pm.
Sun 8am – 10pm

* for more Los Angeles activities or restaurant recommendations please email me theletmeeatcake@gmail.com

Rock-Not-So-Well VT

I never blog about places I don’t like… until now. I was attracted to Rockwell VT when first reading a brief write-up about in the LA Times. Rockwell VT is a new neighborhood spot and everything about it was alluring – I can walk there, and they have interesting specialty cocktails, a gorgeous outdoor setting, and food. I was so excited to try the Rockwell I was ready to fall in love.

My first cocktail was The Autumn. Not so much. More like a tropical summer. Overly sweet raspberry “puree”, basil and lime. Palatable, but nothing special.
The Gemini – I’m not a fan of infused liqour and here was a perfect example of why: the mandarin blossom infused vodka used for this cocktail dominated the entire flavor composition of this drink. I could taste orange and nothing else.
The Addison was my favorite of the cocktails because it was the one that was not overly sweet. Gin, cucumbers, dill and lemon – I enjoyed it.
My friend spotted this can of Kern’s behind the bar! For such a nice place, touting a cocktail list like they do, you would think they would use fresh ingredients. Disappointing. One would also think $13 would get you a drink in a glass. Not so – Rockwell serves all of their overpriced drinks in plastic cups.
The menu sounded great – or so I thought. We ordered their flatbread, which was actually a pizza. It was basic and uninteresting. We also ordered the Kobe sliders with a blue cheese fondue. The brioche bun was delicate, the meat dry, and it was generally unimpressive, especially for the price.
I want to love you Rockwell, I do, but you didn’t live up to the hype. To be fair, this is a new bar. There are many kinks to work out like inadequate seating and flighty service. Hopefully, the next time I visit there will be improvements to it all.