Sunday, June 21, 2009

3 great finds in and around SLO...

A kidless weekend found us at the beach house in Los Osos. Arriving late Friday night, we were up Saturday morning wandering SLO. Stopped in at an honest to goodness coffee house, Linnea's, where we had a latte and an au lait, along with a really yummy scone. This place has a laid back vibe that reminded me of my old haunts in Denver - Cafe 13, Paris on the Platte & Muddy's.
A bit more wandering down the block and we noticed this place, Bel Frites. It wasn't open yet, but they had 2 things on the menu - frites and Belgian beer. Ok, we'd have to come back. So we walked around the block, looked at fancy British motorcars, and arrived back. There are traditional sauces and different spice sprinklings that come with the traditionally prepared (blanched then fried) frites. We spoke with the owner while waiting for our order, he was a college professor and this is his retirement. We decided he was definitely the most educated fry cook you will meet!
What a treat! I had traditional (sea salt) with a roasted red pepper aioli, and he had spicy cajun with chipotle mayo. And Wittekirke Belgian white beer to wash it down. What a great stop!!
Walked around a bit more, had some salty asian fusion rice bowl things before deciding on a movie time, and then hit the remodeled (yay! clean bathrooms) Frog and Peach for a few beers. Movie was The Hangover, which we heartily recommend. I haven't laughed that hard since Something About Mary.
Then for dinner, TripAdvisor pointed us to Sylvester's right around the corner in Los Osos for burgers & onion rings, which we took back to the house and enjoyed with some Loring pinot while watching the Dodgers win. What a fun weekend!! Next weekend, Hanford.. to pick up the Rabbit.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Keeping it short (like me)

Everything is better with a poached egg on top.. oh, and bacon.. and croutons:

And from the new Jacques Pepin, a yummy popover with jam:

Better yet, there is a brisket in the Cookshack as I type!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Extra mega cheap Hobo Monday

Ok, I feel shame for not participating in TNS's monthly throwdown of cheap eats, and this month was extra challenging. I was going to make this, but stupid Boursin cheese costs $2.99 which is half of my budget of $6.00 for 4 servings (yes, I know our family is 3 people which should limit me to $4.50, but some people that are not me love leftovers for breakfast or a snack after school or work, so I always plan on 4 servings - does that make me a cheater?).

So I decided on this cheese and onion tart, which I made a while back in a convection toaster oven when my range died. This time I made the crust myself (saving the $1.99 on Pilsbury). Every ingredient was a pantry ingredient so I spent no money.
What? It doesn't work that way? Ok.....Onions, I always have - but for arguments sake they were about $1.50 (I think $3/lb last time I bought the big ones), maybe less. A block of sharp cheddar which was $3.72, I used half of it, shredded ($1.86). Flour, butter, salt, pepper, dry mustard, thyme, milk - all pantry staples. One egg, $.08 (.99/dozen). That's $3.44 for the tart. And, I think it looks better this time than with the prefab crusts.

I used a 1/3 bag of "Italian" salad mix ($1.99/bag, so $0.67), 1 roma tomato ($.50) and pantry oil, vinegar, salt & pepper for a salad.

So, even for 4 servings (which 3 people ate with leftovers), I'm at $4.61. You can only buy 3 soft tacos and a Coke at Del Taco for that.

Wishing for some sunshine!

In a continuation of playing with the new toy, we (well, actually he) smoked some chickens Friday night in the previously mentioned Cookshack Smokette -

don't they look great??

Now, I'm generally not a fan of BBQ, grilled or smoked chicken, but this was phenomenal. It was cooked all the way through, but still moist and juicy. They didn't need any sauce whatsoever. Just great. Perfect with some greens & bacon. Excellent for leftovers as well.

Would have been even better if it was warmer than 60 degrees outside. Some of you are familiar with what we here in Southern California call "June Gloom/May Gray" - basically maybe the sun peeps out of the low clouds and mist for a few minutes in the afternoon, or maybe not. Much of this weekend was the "maybe not" part of that equation. I know, it's a rough life when we get 72 degrees in January, but when it seems like grilling & BBQ weather but you have to put on a sweatshirt? I know, remind me of this rant when it is 90 in 3 weeks....

Sunday, the sun did peep out, and I felt like with the new range and the new smoker, we had been neglecting our old friend the Char-griller. So I pulled out Mario Batali's Italian Grill for some inspiration, and went with the grilled lamb chops "scottadita" (meaning burnt fingers because you will want to pick them up and eat them) and some grilled artichokes. I really really liked the rub for the lamb - mint, lemon zest, sugar, s&p whirled in the food processor until like coarse sand. It went great with the yogurt & cumin (despite the fact that I didn't buy goat yogurt and didn't toast my own cumin..), which added a "honey" component to the flavors. The artichokes were pretty good, but I didn't really simmer long enough, and they needed more oomph or seasoning (or just plain old butter & mayo, hehe).
The Hitching Post in Buellton & Casmalia in the Central Coast of CA has the BEST grilled artichokes, I need to figure out what it is that is sooooo good (aside from buying their "secret seasoning" of course).

Anyhow, looking forward to another week of the fog - we actually had a bit of drizzle this morning - and the weekend in Los Osos!