A Rocken Good Time!



It is a dim and only partially-full night at the restaurant. Caryn and Matt sit at a small table in the bar area. Their glasses are empty and very little evidence of their comforting pretzel burgers can be found on their plates. They both, however, cannot refrain from snacking on the rest of the truffle fries.


I’m stuffed.


Me too.

She pops another fry in her mouth.


Are you gonna ask him?


I already told you no.

Matt pops two or three fries in his mouth.


Aw, come on! I’ll buy you dessert.


I hear they have a worthwhile chocolate pudding cake, but I’m really full.

The WAITER returns to take their plates. Caryn and Matt scramble for the last of the fries.


Anything else?

Caryn scrunches her face and whispers under her breath.


Ask him!


Just a check, thanks.

Caryn instantly switches gears and puts on her brightest smile for the waiter.


I don’t suppose you would part with the recipe for the pretzel rolls.

The waiter laughs and back-peddles.


Uhhhhh…I don’t know. Chef Hans is gone for the night.

Caryn sulks.


Maybe next time.

She nods as the waiter leaves and then she glares at Matt.


A lot of help you were.


I’ll get the tab to make it up to you. You can pay the valets.

Caryn accepts this concession for a moment. Matt hands the waiter some cash when he brings the check.


Wait! The parking is more than my burger!

Rockenwagner Brasserie

Sit at the bar because the five-dollar Happy Hour menu is a downright steal! The pretzel burger deserves to be called famous and simply must be served with their extra crispy french fries.

2435 Main Street

Santa Monica, CA 90405

(310) 399-6504

Happy Hour:

Sunday-Friday 5:30PM-7:00PM

This entry was posted for April’s Dining Out: Bar Fly theme over at The Delicious Life.

Salads Vegetarian

Chop, Chop: Chopped Salad!



Caryn digs deep into the fridge and pulls out several tupperware containers from the back. She examines the contents skeptically. Lauren enters and tosses some papers on the counter.


Here. I need you to fill these out so we can add you to the movie’s payroll.

Caryn grabs a few more items from the fridge. She closes the door with her foot.


Is production starting soon?


Well, yes. But he won’t be needed for a couple more weeks.

Caryn unloads her arms by a cutting board.


So I won’t be needed for a couple more weeks either?

Lauren licks her teeth under her lips as she eyes Caryn.


Right. Something like that.

Caryn empties the contents of the tupperware on the cutting board. She begins chopping a pile of vegetables with her chef’s knife.


You know, there’s not much to do on a movie set. You’ll probably get bored after the first week.

Caryn shrugs her shoulders as her knife settles into a steady rhythm.


I feel badly that he’s dragging you into this. Someone with your talents probably has much bigger aspirations than cooking from the kitchen of a trailer.


I’m sure I’ll be okay.

Caryn starts hacking away at a carrot. Lauren looks down the bridge of her nose at the bits of vegetables.


Suit yourself. But you better hurry up with that. He’s been asking for his lunch for half an hour.

The sound of the knife stops abruptly as Lauren walks out. Caryn pops a piece of carrot in her mouth and resumes chopping.


Always nice chatting with you.

Chopped Salad

Vary this salad by including or substituting any number of ingredients: corn, blanched green beans, sweet peas, grilled chicken, avocado, fresh basil, fresh dill, green onion, fresh spinach, iceberg lettuce, red or yellow peppers. It’s also nice with a seasoned vinaigrette.

2 medium zucchini, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, finely chopped

2 roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped

1/2 cup hearts of palm, finely chopped

1/2 cup garbanzo beans, finely chopped

1/2 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped

1/2 cup baby corn, finely chopped

4 cups baby greens, finely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Toss all ingredients in large bowl with enough dressing to lightly coat vegetables.

Serves 2 large salads or 4 side salads.

Buttermilk Dressing

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 TB. sour cream

1-1/2 tsp. onion powder

1-1/2 tsp. garlic salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/2 tsp. parsley flakes

1/4 cup buttermilk

Stir together mayonnaise, sour cream and spices until smooth. Stir in buttermilk until desired consistency is reached.


Chocolate Cream Pie!



Caryn stirs hunks of dark chocolate in the bowl of a double boiler. A rich, creamy custard waits patiently for its lavish counterpart to melt. A prepared crust anticipates the wedding from the counter.

Miss A.’s strappy, high heels tip-tap on the tile as she enters in a silky dress held on her body only by two capellini straps. Her eyes glance toward the pie crust as she takes a compact out of her purse. She dabs her perfect skin with the light powder.


We’re going out after the premiere. I guess no one told you.

Caryn is mesmerized by the melting chocolate.


That’s okay. This won’t be done for hours–

Mr. R. strolls in wearing a purposely faded t-shirt and dark denim jeans. Miss A. stiffens at his appearance.


What are you wearing? We’re going to be late.

Mr. R. watches Caryn fold the smooth chocolate into the custard.

MR. R.

I really don’t feel very social today. I’m not going.


What? We have reservations at Ago’s!. You love their lobster risotto.

Mr. R.

I especially don’t feel like the scene at Ago’s.

Miss A. snaps the compact shut.


Don’t be ridiculous. The car is waiting.

Mr. R. leans against the counter, not about to budge.


Fine. Do what you want.

Miss A. shoves the compact in her purse and storms out. Mr. R. chuckles to himself.

MR. R.

Nothing special for dinner, Caryn. Something light.

Caryn nods and smiles to herself. Mr. R. heads out the door only to turn back around.


Oh, and a piece of that pie.

Chocolate Cream Pie

This dressed-up pie certainly won’t invoke memories of the one you had at a roadside diner during the family vacation to Florida. Use Valrhona’s Manjari Chocolate (64%) and you could serve it to the most discerning of critics, only to be met with overwhelming success.


Loquacity and Loquats!



Caryn’s Honda screeches to a halt and she hops out, but her coat belt catches in the door and she gets yanked back.



She struggles with the belt to no avail. When she finally pulls it free, her bag and all its contents go flying. It lands off the driveway, spilling everywhere. Caryn growls and slams the car door closed.

She is crouched down, picking up her stuff when Lauren comes out of the house with her cell phone plastered to her ear.


Yeah, what a prima donna! He’ll be the only one on set with a personal chef, that’s for sure.

Caryn gasps, but Lauren does not see her in the shade of a large tree. Lauren sits in the leather seat of her shiny, black Mercedes and swings her stiletto’d heels in.


Oh, believe me. I’ll take care of her. She’ll be miserable before she even gets there.

She closes the door, ending Caryn’s eavesdropping. Lauren peels the car out of the driveway as Caryn falls back and sits with her legs stretched out under the tree. She sighs and looks up at the sky.

Her view, however, is blocked by the heavy branches hanging just above her head. For the first time, Caryn notices that she sits under a tree loaded with ripe, golden fruit. Her dismay is immediately replaced with wonder.


What do we have here?

Loquats Poached in a Light Apple Syrup

More delicate than poached pears, loquats can be served as a light dessert or used as a garnish to other confections.

1-1/2 cups apple juice

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

40-50 peeled loquats, cores and seeds removed

1. Bring apple juice, sugar and cinnamon to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

2. Add loquats and simmer until soft, 3-5 minutes. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 4.


Exchange Over Eggs!



Mr. R. reclines with his coffee and newspaper. Lauren is occupied with a very large stack of papers. A yawning Miss A. comes in just as Caryn is serving individual ramekins of creamy eggs to each place setting. She plops her actress body in a chair and helps herself to the fresh fruit salad in the center of the table.

Caryn turns to leave just as the air is broken with the bass of Mr. R.’s voice.

MR. R.


Caryn stops. Mr. R. continues without looking up from the paper.


Would you be interested in traveling with us on this upcoming movie?

Lauren and Miss A. simultaneously inhale. Caryn casually shrugs her shoulders.



MR. R.

Good. Lauren will hide you in the budget as my assistant.

Lauren whips her head toward Mr. R., her jaw hanging loosely on its hinge. Mr. R. turns the page of his paper.

Caryn spins around on her heels and exits, but not before shooting an ever-so-slight smirk in the direction of the ladies.

Creamy Baked Eggs

4 eggs

2 TB. butter

1 large leek (or 2 small), sliced thinly

1 TB. fresh rosemary, chopped

1/4 cup + 4 tsp. heavy cream

salt and cracked pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat. Lightly butter 4 small ramekins (about 4 oz. each) with some of the melted butter from the skillet.

3. Add the leeks and rosemary to the skillet and cook until leeks are soft, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 cup of cream and simmer until the cream is slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Divide the leek mixture into the four ramekins. Carefully break an egg in each ramekin. Drizzle 1 tsp. of cream over each egg to cover. Lightly season.

5. Place ramekins in a hot water bath and bake for 12-18 minutes, depending on desired firmness of yolk. Be careful not to overcook; when whites are just set, yolks will be soft. Remove ramekins from bath and serve.

Serves 4.


Mood Lifter: Cherimoya!



Dishes and serving platters are lined along the edge of the counter, waiting to serve the evening’s fare. Something fragrant simmers in a large pot. Freshly cleaned spring vegetables lay near the skillet that will bring them to life.

Caryn sits at her table, away from the stove that will soon call her. A heart-shaped, green fruit is sliced open before her. She picks up her spoon and is about to scoop out the creamy, white flesh when Mr. R. enters from the dining room.

He doesn’t seem to notice Caryn as he takes a bottle of water from the fridge, but in one swift movement, he spins around to face her.

MR. R.

What’re you eating?

Caryn winces at the abrupt inquiry.


A cherimoya.

MR. R.

A what?


Some people call it a custard apple.

Mr. R. is silent, deep in thought about something as he looks at the fruit. Caryn waits skeptically until he suddenly snaps out of it.

MR. R.

Can I try it?

She attempts a smile.


Oh, yeah. Of course.

Mr. R. opens a drawer and shuffles through it. Caryn gets up and opens a different drawer. She hands him the spoon she pulls from it. He accepts it without a word.

She returns to the table and gives him half of the fruit. They scoop around the seeds and fill their spoons with sweet pulp.

Caryn chews slowly, trying not to watch her mercurial employer. He swallows his first bite and softly nods his approval before plunging his spoon back into the fruit.

Mr. R. devours the cherimoya in silence and is gone as quickly as he appeared. Caryn pauses for a second to make sure he doesn’t come back and then finally exhales.


I’ve heard a cherimoya best described as a cross between a banana and a pineapple. In California, they can be found in farmer’s markets and some grocery stores between November and June. Once the fruit is ripe, I like to refrigerate it until cold and then eat it like ice cream.


Sweet Tamara and Her Lemon Tamale!



The aisles are crowded with CUSTOMERS rudely shoving their carts past one another. It is a mad house, and it’s not even Saturday.

In one of the endless book aisles, one WOMAN tosses a cookbook aside and continues on her way. She bumps Caryn with her cart as she passes but does not apologize. Caryn wakes from her cookbook reverie and checks her watch.



She peels her loaded cart into a checkout lane behind PATRICK DUFFY, wearing a handsome Hawaiian shirt and clogs.


Caryn rolls the cart outside and glances toward the snack bar line, which is easily twenty deep. After checking her watch again, she sadly heads into the parking lot.


Caryn is on her way when something catches the corner of her eye. She immediately spins the car into an illegal u-turn.


The few tables in the small, but colorful restaurant are filled with satisfied PATRONS. Caryn heads straight to the counter where a YOUNG MAN smiles warmly at her.


Can I take your order?

She stares at the chalkboard behind him.


I’ll take one Calabazita, one Spinach-Mushroom, one Jalapeno Cheese and…which chicken one do you like best?

The man turns around to look at the board.


Um, Chicken Verde. No! Family Chicken.


I’ll take one of those. And two Lemon. No, one Lemon, one Cinnamon Sugar.

He makes final notes on the paper and takes it to the cash register.


Wait, just make that three Lemon.

He pauses for a second to make sure she’s done. Caryn smiles sheepishly and he finishes ringing up the order before heading to the back.

Off to the side, another OLDER MAN is stuffing some fresh masa into a corn husk. King Crab shells are piled next to him. Caryn looks at the board again to reconsider, but it’s too late. The young man returns with her order, packaged in little brown boxes.


Caryn sits at a red light and eyes the boxes next to her. She gives in too easily. As the light changes, she grabs one with a sticker on the plastic that reads, “Lemon.” She carefully unwraps the warm tamale while attempting to steer.

Another red light. Caryn seizes her opportunity to bite into the fragrant, barely-sweet tamale. She is not disappointed.

Tamara’s Tamales

Marina Plaza

13352 Washington Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90066

(310) 305-7714


Mon-Sat 10:00AM-8:00PM

Sun 1:00PM-5:00PM

The Calabazita tamale has zucchini, tomatoes, onion, garlic, white corn, and jack cheese.

The Family Chicken tamale has chicken, tomato, potato, zucchini, green chile, olive, and raisins.

Tamara has over thirty tasty creations from which to choose. Shipping within the U.S. is available.


Movie Night: Java Brownies!



Caryn, in cozy pajamas, lies on the opposite end of the couch as Matt, dressed like an Abercrombie model. Love Actually plays on the television and a plate of half-eaten brownies is placed conveniently in front of them.


Do you think he’s attractive in person?

Caryn studies Andrew Lincoln’s face.


Oh, yeah, I’m sure he is. But I haven’t met him.


Not him. Your boss.

She pulls at a chewy brownie.


I guess.


You guess? That means yes.

Matt steals another brownie himself.


Whatever. I doubt he’ll be my boss much longer. He’s about to shoot another movie.


No retainer while he’s away?

Caryn laughs. Matt licks chocolate off his fingers.


Oh well. You make a mean brownie, but you weren’t really qualified for the job in the first place.

Caryn scowls at Matt.


You know, I sometimes wonder why a guy like you has such a penchant for romantic comedies. Aren’t you late for another date?


Shh! Here’s my favorite part.

If refrigerated, these brownies are quite a chew. Room temperature keeps them right at the brink of melting.

Java Brownies

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter

8 oz. good, bittersweet chocolate, chopped

2 eggs

1/4 cup Starbucks Coffee Liqueur

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In large saucepan, melt butter and sugar. Remove from heat and add chocolate, stirring until melted. Whisk in eggs until combined. Stir in liqueur. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Pour batter into greased 13×9-inch pan.

3. Bake until toothpick inserted in center is sticky (not clean), 15-20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Pour ganache over brownies when cool.


1/2 cup heavy cream

6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup Starbucks Coffee Liqueur

1. Heat heavy cream in saucepan just until boiling. Remove from heat and add sugar and chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in liqueur. Set aside to cool to room temperature.


Cause for Celebration: Roulades!



Caryn carefully cuts through a golden chicken breast rolled with basil and goat cheese peeking out the seam. She neatly plates each spiral slice atop a silky, light-brown cream sauce and steps back to examine the dish.


Mr. R., Lauren and Miss A. are assembled again around the long table dressed for an elegant dinner. They are joined by Miss A.’s friends. Caryn serves the plates as Lauren finishes pouring the wine.

Lauren holds up a glass.


Well, here’s to a fantastic new endeavor!

Miss A. enthusiastically lifts her glass.


To our best movie yet!

Caryn looks up from serving, unable to hide her surprise at the news, but no one seems to notice. Mr. R. lifts his glass to the others, forcing an almost believable smile.

MR. R.


The dinner guests sip the wine and take their forks to the roulades. Caryn refreshes water glasses.


I think it’s going to be a long shoot. Too bad you won’t be able to take your chef with you.

Mr. R. swirls some wine in his mouth, watching Caryn leave the room.

MR. R.

We’ll see.

This entry was designed for the Paper Chef #5 using the following ingredients: goat cheese, sherry vinegar, prosciutto and green garlic. This sauce is nicely tart and would work well with a variety of roasted meats. Inspirations: a cider cream sauce in The Gourmet Cookbook and Emeril‘s skillet-to-oven technique.

Chicken Roulades with Sherry-Vinegar Cream Sauce

4 chicken breasts, 4 oz. each

4 oz. prosciutto

4 oz. herbed goat cheese (try Cypress Grove!)

16-20 large basil leaves

salt and pepper

2 TB. vegetable oil

1 TB. butter


2 TB. butter

1 TB. green garlic, minced

1/2 cup sherry vinegar

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream

1. For the sauce, melt butter in heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until tender, about 2 minutes. Add sherry vinegar, bring to a boil and boil until reduced by half, 5-7 minutes. Add chicken broth and boil until mixture is reduced by half, about 12-15 minutes. Add cream and boil until thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. Set aside to thicken.

2. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

3. Place chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound to a 1/4″ thickness. Turn breast to smooth side down. Season top with salt and pepper. Cover breasts with a single layer of prosciutto. Crumble goat cheese evenly over prosciutto. Top with a single layer of basil leaves. Tightly roll up chicken breasts to pointed edge. Secure with toothpicks.

4. Heat oil and butter in large, ovenproof skillet. Add chicken and lightly brown on all sides, 3 minutes total. Place skillet in oven until cooked through, 15 minutes.

5. Remove chicken from oven and remove toothpicks. Let stand 5 minutes. Slice into 4 equal slices. Serve slices on top of sauce on individual plates.

Serves 4.


To the Point: Strawberry Scones!



Mr. R., Lauren, and Miss A. are meeting with a DIRECTOR, dressed casually in jeans and a baseball cap. There is no shortage of smarmy AGENTS in the circle as well.

Caryn sets down a dish of warm scones with the icing still dripping down the sides. Mr. R. immediately grabs one and returns to his slump in his chair. Miss A. wears a perpetual smile as she listens, but keeps a distrustful eye on Caryn.


Of course this would be a fabulous collaboration for everyone involved.


I’m glad you think so.


Okay, let’s get to the point. Let’s talk numbers.

Caryn finishes setting up some coffee cups and quietly sneaks out.


Caryn has barely begun to tend to the baking remnants when the door swings violently open and Mr. R. storms in with Lauren confidently on his heels.

MR. R.

I never said that I wanted to do this movie!


Don’t worry. We haven’t signed any contracts. We’re just talking.

MR. R.

It doesn’t matter! I don’t even like the script.

Caryn inconspicuously slips to the other side of the kitchen.


Look, it really isn’t the time to be discussing this. Do you want to blow the whole deal?

Mr. R. sighs and looks out the window.

MR. R.

I just wish I was allowed to make my own career decisions for once.

Lauren opens the door again.


We’ll talk about it later.

Mr. R. reluctantly follows her out, leaving Caryn alone to ponder her own career decisions.

Strawberry-Yogurt Scones

2 cups flour

3 TB. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

4 TB. butter, cold, cut into 1/2 in. cubes

3/4 cup chopped strawberries

3/4 cup plain yogurt


2 TB. half and half

confectioner’s sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Stir together dry ingredients. With a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in strawberries. Stir in enough yogurt to be able to form dough into a ball (up to 3/4 cup).

3. Turn dough onto floured surface and with floured hands, knead a few times. Press dough into a rectangle, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Fold rectangle into thirds, like a letter. Press dough into 9-inch round. Cut into 8 equal triangles.

4. Place scones into scone pan or on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Remove to rack to cool.

5. Whisk confectioner’s sugar into half and half, adding more sugar until desired consistency is reached. Frost scones while warm.

Makes 8 scones.