Thursday, October 29, 2009

Zucchini Cakes Smothered In Blue Cheese Dressing With Pork Spare Ribs

I've been seeing quite a few foodies making the zucchini cakes lately, which has had my mouth watering for them. So, I finally took the plunge and decided to make them last weekend and serve them with our barbecued spare ribs. I had also recently seen a recipe for homemade blue cheese dressing over at Noble Pig's website and knew I had to try it. I knew it would be addictive and totally fabulous and it is. So, I decided to smother my zucchini cakes in it and it was the perfect pairing. It didn't matter what the main dish was or even that there was a main dish. It's that's good.

I wish I could get better pictures but the lighting in my kitchen is terrible ever since we began using the government mandated fluorescent light bulbs. I think my refrigerator puts out more light than one of these babies. I hate them and they don't even work in some of my lamps. Originally, we used indoor floodlights in each of the ceiling light pockets, which made my kitchen the brightest room in the house. Thanks to the government sticking their nose in our business, we will all soon have to use these ridiculous light bulbs.

Okay, so I could rant forever about that, but won't. Let's get to the food, shall we?

Zucchini Pancakes:


4 to 5 medium size zucchini (about 1-1/2 lbs.)

3/4 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

4 cloves of garlic, minced

3/4 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup grated onion

1/4 teaspoon pepper


1. Trim and coarsely shred zucchini (you should have around 5 cups). In a large bowl, toss zucchini with salt. Place zucchini in a colander. Place a plate on top of zucchini and weight it down with cans. Let drain for 15 to 25 minutes. Discard liquid.

2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In the large bowl, beat together the eggs and garlic. Stir in flour, Parmesan cheese, onion and pepper until just combined.

3. For each pancake, spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of the mixture onto a lightly oiled griddle or heavy skillet, spreading to form a circle. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until golden brown. (Reduce heat to medium-low if pancakes brown too quickly.) Keep pancakes warm in the preheated oven while making the remaining pancakes.

4. If desired, serve with sour cream, thick blue cheese dressing, or ranch style dressing.

Blue Cheese Dressing:
Adapted from Noble Pig, who adapted it from Wine Spectator


2/3 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup buttermilk (not low fat)

juice of 1/2 a lemon

3 cloves garlic, crushed

4 ounces of blue cheese, crumbled

Kosher or sea salt


1. Place the sour cream, mayonnaise, buttermilk, lemon juice and crushed garlic in the bowl of food processor. Add the blue cheese last. Pulse until combined, making sure to keep the mixture slightly chunky. (Alternatively, mix the ingredients in a bowl with wooden spoon or whisk.) Season with Kosher or sea salt, pulsing or stirring gently to maintain the texture. The mixture should be thick but pourable. (Stir in more buttermilk if mixture is too thick.)

2. Spoon the dressing into a pouring vessel and refrigerate one hour and up to 3 days. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Penthouse Restaurant Atop The Huntley Hotel, Santa Monica... Another Review

You can click on any of the pictures to see full size, so click away...

On Sunday (during our trip to Santa Monica) our daughter had a soccer game she couldn't miss and was likely going to play another after that (if they won, which they did), so we were on our own for Sunday Brunch. That meant I could take my sweet time getting ready without anyone getting mad at me or irritating me by constantly prompting me to hurry.

We had reservations for Brunch at The Penthouse Restaurant which sits atop the lovely Huntley Hotel. It was also the first day of Restaurant Week in Los Angeles and surrounding areas. We had rather forgotten about that little bonus so we were pleasantly surprised.

During Restaurant Week in L.A., every chef is scrambling to put out their very best cuisines, with a Restaurant Week Special Menu and mostly affordable prices. Of course, you can still order off the regular menu if you don't find something you like, but you'd be crazy to pass up the amazing food at affordable prices. Everyone offers more affordable delicacies during RW.

Since we were on vacation, Mr. Snoots ordered a vodka martini up, while I was bit more adventurous and had the Aperol Smash which consists of:

(Hand Pressed Green Grapes & Fresh Local Organic Mint Kissed With Ketel One Vodka, Aperol Italian Bitters & Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice), which was quite tasty.

Mr. Snoots had the Caesar Salad and the Salmon, which were both truly delicious. I chose to order the Sirloin Burger with Arugula, tomatoes and crispy fried onions, served with the most delicate little french fries ever. I almost ate the entire burger, which is unusual for me. I usually can't finish a burger of any size.

For dessert (which is included in the $22.00 Brunch Special) Mr. Snoots had the Molten Chocolate Devil's Cake (with dark Grand Marnier chocolate) and I chose the Vanilla Creme Brulee (with Madeleines and fresh fruit). It was a total food orgasm, trust me. And the views! The views from atop the Huntley were more than spectacular. They were truly breath taking.

Aside from the fabulous food, I was absolutely certain that the guy sitting behind hubby was a famous rock star. Did I consume any martinis? Well, ummm, yes, I did. So, you might not want to believe me on this celebrity sighting either. However, go ahead and click on the image for a larger view. Perhaps you recognize him. Apparently, martinis impair my vision as well as my already sketchy ability to spot actual real celebrities. Anyone recognize him? Yeah. Me neither.

Once we were finished we went walking around the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade, which I found to be a delightfully cutting edge, trendy area filled with great eateries and places to shop. They also have all these incredibly beautiful, multiple topiary of dinosaurs that were also shooting fountains, which truly fascinated me. We did a lot of *window shopping* and *people watching*, with which we were more than happy.

It wasn't long before the martinis forced us to retreat to the hotel room for naps. Whew! What a splendid light bulb above my head that turned out to be. We were thoroughly refreshed by dinner time.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Steak Rockefeller And Corn On The Cob With African Bird Pepper Salt

Since the ears of corn were on special at the local market, I went for it with great vigor. They were offering the corn for 10 ears for $3.00, which is quite the bargain around these parts. Knowing we couldn't eat it all at once, I cooked the rest of the corn, cut it off the cob, and stored in freezer bags so that I can use them later on in corn chowder.

I chose the two youngest ears of corn for us to have with our dinner, which in my opinion, are the sweetest and most tender. Honestly, sometimes I can even eat it raw. Yes, it's that good. It's especially good when slathered in butter and sprinkled with a premix of salt and African Bird Pepper, which really gives the corn a major kick.

As usual, I fired up the charcoal grill and when the coals were just right, I threw those bad boys on the grill. I cooked each filet approximately 4-5 minutes on each side for a perfect medium rare.

While the steaks were cooking, I made the Spinach Rockefeller which was ready at the time the steaks were ready. The recipe follows:

Spinach Rockefeller Snooty's Way:


1 large bag of baby spinach, pre-washed

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup of green onion, finely diced

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 pinch of dried thyme

salt and pepper, to taste


1. Toss the first four ingredients into a saute pan over medium low heat for 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the thyme and salt and pepper, to taste.

3. When topping the steak with the spinach mixture, sprinkle a little more Parmesan over the top and serve.

This is a really quick, easy, yet elegant dinner. Enjoy!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wolfgang Puck's Chinois on Main in Santa Monica... Yes, Another Review

While still on our trip to Santa Monica, we had the great pleasure of having a really excellent dinner at this little gem of a restaurant. They serve Asian Fusion cuisine, which we are totally crazy about. The wait staff is quick and attentive. The drinks were perfect. And, the food! The food was divine.

This place really is bustling and packs in the patrons, local or otherwise. Amazingly, this restaurant has made it successfully for the last 25 years, which I think is a record in most places, even L.A. It's located on Main Street, which is another trendy, upscale area of Santa Monica.

So, we started our dining adventure with an appetizer of Moo Shu Shells with Pork Belly & Hoisin Oolong Tea Sauce, served with julienne vegetables. It was my first time to try anything pork belly, but I adored it. The flavor is incredibly good.

Next, we tried their Soft Shell Crab served with fried spinach and a lovely cilantro sauce. Now, we are huge fans of soft shell crab, which of course, makes us very critical about how it's served. I have to tell you that we enjoyed it more at Chinois than any place we've ever had it, which is a lot of places. It was light and crispy and the sauce is simply amazing.

Mr. Snoots and I both had the Shanghai Lobster, which was cooked to perfection. I can't possibly describe the taste, but the flavors were fabulous and I won't soon forget that delicious lobster.

Our daughter chose to have the Grilled Szechuan Beef with spicy shallot cilantro sauce and she loved it. She said the beef was cooked precisely to her liking and the sauce had just enough kick to make it interesting and not overpowering.

Unfortunately, our daughter had to dash off to a party, so we didn't get to indulge in dessert. It's just as well since we were already comfortably stuffed. Had we eaten anything more I'm afraid it would have uncomfortably over stuffed. However, we all agreed that Chinois was a fantastic dining experience and we highly recommend it to anyone who likes Asian Fusion.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica on Ocean Avenue... A Review

On our second day in SM we met our daughter for lunch at a little spot on Ocean Avenue called The Blue Plate Oysterette, which is relatively new and not yet critiqued to the point of overkill. This delightful little find was packed to the gills for lunch, so we were offered seats at the counter (bar) or wait for a table outside for 20 minutes. Naturally, we chose the bar/counter and were ultimately thrilled that we did. Sitting at the counter allowed us to see the inner workings of a well run kitchen as well as amicable rapport among the owner, manager and employees. I have seldom witnessed this and consider it somewhat of a phenomenon. Frankly, we were all impressed.

Had we chosen to sit at a table we would have never had the great privilege of almost feeling as if we were part of the action... the magic, as it were. And it was a magical experience, really. First of all, our hostess was very warm & personable, which is an unusual trait at trendy restaurants in L.A. and the surrounding areas. She was the one who actually told us that she personally preferred the counter, so I was all over that in a heart beat. We all fell into speechless shock after meeting our waitress, who was as good at her job as she was friendly and beautiful.

The restaurant is extremely small with an exposed kitchen where we had front row seats. As I recall, there are perhaps 6 to 8 seats located at the counter. The wait staff performed their duties almost as if they were performing in a ballet. It was quite something to see. You could just feel the rapport among the staff and it was infectious.

Oh - right. And, we had food. We started out sharing a half dozen Canadian British Columbia oysters called Fanny Bay oysters, which are tiny and my favorite, as we watched one of the chefs grate our fresh horseradish. We each had crazy delicious different tap beers (which I should have had the sense to write down but didn't), as we continued to watch the action in the kitchen. Although they were all aware of our presence they never (not one) broke their focus on the task at hand. One man was grating the fresh horseradish and making the lovely hot cocktail sauce, another was cooking the entrees as his assistant made sauces and helped the chef finished the dishes and plate them. Then there was the man over on the left side who was making the most perfect strawberry tart ever. The wait staff weaved in and out of the crowds of people with the ease of cats. It was almost like watching a Broadway show about a restaurant, except no one sang or danced.

 As an entree I had the fresh Fish And Chips, which was truly the best I've ever had. I almost forgot to take a picture before I devoured it all.

Mr. Snoots had the mussels in lemon, white wine, and garlic sauce, which he was crazy about.

Our daughter had the fish tacos that she said were the freshest she'd ever had. In the end we were all so completely stuffed that we couldn't bear the thought of having dessert, which I now regret.

I highly recommend this little pearl of a local Santa Monica eatery and hope that you have as great an experience as we did. If not, don't be afraid to give it another try. Everyone has a bad day now and then. I'm certain that this hot spot has very few days like that. Also, it overlooks the ocean. However, we had our eyes on the action in the kitchen, thanks anyway.

Out of 5 stars, we give this Santa Monica dining establishment 4-1/2 stars.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Lobster Restaurant in Santa Monica, California... A Review!

Mr. Snoots and I just returned from a week in Santa Monica, California and visiting our daughter, who works in the movie industry. Our first night in town we had reservations at The Lobster and I'd just like to say that we were all thrilled with our meals. We were even thrilled with our seemingly hallucination inducing martinis. I thought I saw Helen Mirren and Huey Lewis, although neither celebrity sighting panned out. Martinis + aging is never an attractive combination. However, I must admit that it did keep the dinner conversation interesting.
Our dinner at The Lobster was quite lovely and I would highly recommend it to anyone who plans to go to SM.

During our visit, we invited our daughter's roommate along to The Lobster, which made for great company. We all ordered their Caesar Salad, then she ordered the Lobster & Manila Clam Chowder with applewood smoked bacon and fresh thyme. The daughter and hubby each ordered the whole steamed lobsters, which they were totally happy with. I chose the lobster tail special, which I forgot to take pictures of, given that I had a second martini and was seeing stars. I'm fairly sure that it was divine, from what I can remember.

 The unfortunate side was that I hate when a meal is rushed and this meal was rushed. Clearly and unabashedly. However, seeing that I'm the only person within my realm that eats slowly and enjoys dinner conversation, they were able to whisk my unfinished plate of food away before I was able to protest. (Yes, it was probably the slow reaction after 2 martinis.)

Did I raise a  generation of children who scarf their food without witty table conversation or what? No. I believe my husband is responsible for that travesty. A stranger would surely think they had all been raised in prison, where one needs to eat within a matter of moments. Not me. I prefer to take my time. Clearly, I've been accustomed to eating cold food for years. I'm a Mom. I should be living in Spain or some place more suited to my lifestyle.

However, I live among heathens... I'm just saying.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Chicken Tetrazinni Remix.... Or How To Make A Whole New Meal Out Of It

The last time I made Chicken Tetrezzini I had enough for three small casseroles, which was so great! However, the two of us found that we could only eat like half of each casserole, so I decided to change it up a bit the second night.

All I did was mix in one can of diced tomatoes and a couple of small cans of sliced black olives, a bit of cayenne pepper, and stick it in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes at 350* and serve with a tossed salad and garlic bread. It somewhat extends that I-don't-feel-like-cooking-today thing for a whole other day, which is never a bad thing. And trust me, this is so delicious!

Adjust seasonings to personal taste. You can do the same with each of the casseroles you make, which really is nice to have in the freezer for those days that you don't care to cook.