Thursday, March 22, 2012

SLODOCO

SLO Donut Company- San Luis Obispo, CA


SLO Donut Company (affectionately called SLODOCO by students and locals) I'm confident to say serves up some of the best donuts you will ever eat.  While they serve up some pretty darn good classics (you can never beat a buttermilk old fashioned), what they're really known for is their selection of unique, premium donuts.  Their maple bacon bar, while not the most original idea, is well executed and one of the top sellers.  But beyond that, they do have other donuts that I think are way better, such as the Nutella donut, the lemon filled, and chocolate peppermint.  The boysenberry jam one is also my favorite...  Or should I rephrase that and say that every donut there is my favorite.  There's even a DIY toppings bar with an assortment of frostings and toppings.


old fashion = TFC's favorite


you know something's up when people are here on a friday night


My friends and I stopped by on a whim on Friday night, and after I sprang for a blueberry donut,  within seconds after taking a bite wish I had gotten two.  The inside was moistly decadent yet deceptively light at the same time, and was chockfull of blueberries.  I also appreciated the fact that the cakey donut by itself was slightly undersweetened so the simple glaze could shine through.  That and a hot chocolate only set me back around 3-ish dollars.


A few weeks later before coming home for Christmas break I stopped by to buy a dozen to give as a gift for a local auto shop that inspected my car for free (Complete Automotive).  While I was there, I bit the bullet and bought a dozen specialty donuts to bring home for some taste testing :).  6 went for my house, and the other 6 to my cousins.



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Baked Crab Stuffed Shells

Another long term throwback- this dish I made for Christmas!  Usually I try not to experiment too much when it comes to cooking for holidays, but I just had a hankering to make stuffed shells, and I couldn't find a decent recipe anywhere for seafood ones.


Its hard to find something not to like about stuffed shells, especially ones doused in roasted garlic cream sauce.


As for the success for this dish I have to say it's a tossup- the diners loved it but frankly the flavor of crab was actually a bit too overwhelming in my opinion.

Baked Crab Stuffed Shells

This is what I vaguely remember as a recipe- this is the problem that arises when I shoot photos and then don't make a post about until over 3 months later

SERVES ABOUT 8

for the filling
1 1/2 bell peppers, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 pound frozen chopped spinach, thawed and wrung dry
1 1/2-2 cups of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup of grated parmesan
2 eggs
1/4 cup of minced parlsey
1/4 cup of minced basil
1 lb lump crab meat
salt and pepper to taste

roasted garlic bechamel
6-7 garlic cloves
olive oil
1/2 stick of butter
1/3 cup of flour
3 cups of whole milk
1 cup of cream
1 cup of chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

to assemble
1 pound of jumbo shells, parboiled (according to box's direction)
crab filling
roasted garlic bechamel
parmesan cheese

To make the filling, in a saute pan over medium high heat, saute the bell pepper, and onion in some olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper, and after 5 minutes add the garlic and cook until the vegetables are softened.  When tender, add the chopped spinach and boost the heat to high for a couple minutes to evaporate any of the excess water from the spinach.  Let vegetable mixture cool completely

In a large bowl, combine together the vegetable mixture, ricotta, parmesan, herbs, and eggs.  Gently fold in the crab meat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For the bechamel, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the garlic cloves on a sheet of tin foil and drizzle liberally with olive oil.  Wrap into a package and roast for 45 minutes or until the garlic is brown and tender.

In a saucepan heat up the milk, cream, and chicken stock.

In a separate saucepan melt the butter, and add the flour to form a roux.  Slowly add in the hot milk mixture one ladle at a time, whisking constantly.  Add the nutmeg.  Cook on medium high heat until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.  Add the roasted garlic cloves and puree with an immersion blender.  Season with the salt and pepper and stir in the parmesan cheese. 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

To assemble, ladle some of the bechamel on the bottom of your baking dish.  Stuff each shell with the crab mixture and line the pan.  Pour the remaining bechamel on top, and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Bake for twenty to thirty minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbly.  Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cape Cod Chopped Salad

(Final)ly Done


My second quarter of college has just ended.  Another week of sleepless nights is in the books, along with yet another round of horrendously poor late night snacking and munching.  But more importantly however, is the fact that there's no more financial accounting class! (although I do have managerial accounting to look forward to next quarter.)

flower in a field

As a special mini celebration, the apartment next door and I cooked dinner on Friday before we all left for home Saturday morning, and consisted of pissaladiere, fried polenta cakes with a vegetable ragu, steamed artichokes with mustard garlic mayo, and profiteroles.  If you're suspiciously asking yourself where the meat was, I myself as a reluctant Catholic observed the rule of no meat on Fridays during Lent, and half of the diners there were already vegetarian to begin with. 

I have to say, it's amazing to have a week off and have absolutely nothing important to do, leaving me time to do things such as...

a schnazzy photoshoot in the middle of a creek.

Disconnected
... and leaving me time to catch up with all the blogging I haven't been doing these past few months.  Seriously, I think I owe an apology to my readers for totally failing at keeping up with you guys!  Hopefully this spring break I'll write enough posts to last for all of next quarter.  

the ensemble shot

I think my salad making skills has evolved over the years.  When I first started making dinners, salad was always an afterthought compared to the main course, and usually consisted of a head of iceberg doused in a bottle of that gloppy day-glow italian dressing from Kraft.  Steadily I moved on to romaine with bottled Caesar and boxed croutons, and now I'm at the point where I'm busting out the organic greens, homemade vinaigrettes, and tedious fix ins.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Summer-y

(Note: Sorry for the fat gap between posts)

As of now I'm falling into the temptation that becomes most students' folly, and that is looking outside your window... Because you see, right now the "summer feeling" has overtaken San Luis Obispo, where the sun naturally wakes you up at 6 am and shines through a cloudless sky all day until it sets at 7 pm in a fiery blaze.  It's hard to stay inside and study when you have this waiting outside for you:



 a light morning hike

summer-y

Looking outside makes me wish it would just be spring break already- where productivity drops to zero percent and all I do is just stay in the kitchen, cooking and throwing needless parties in the backyard (and not caring how Blogger f*cks up the fonts on all of my posts!#^$%#!). 


 I think it's kinda been a tradition to always have spinach artichoke dip at some party during the summer.  I mean, who doesn't like cheese and cream and fat mounded atop fried tortillas?  I've adapted the recipe over the years, because believe it or not, the original was way more fatty than this.  It's all about "moderation" everyone.


Hot spinach dip is the only way to go, because it semi-doesn't way you down in the way the cold, globby, mayo-based knorr dip works.  All fine by me.


For an appetizer, this dip can kind of be a pain to make, and has a lot of ingredients, which is why you're rewarded with such a monstrous quantity.  It's worth it everyone... Now go throw a summer party in your backyard.

 
conquer

Spinach Artichoke Dip 

modified from the California Pizza Kitchen Cookbook

MAKES 1 1/2 QUARTS
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of butter
1 large (2 cups) yellow onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons of minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of half and half (or milk if you're scared)
2 tablespoons powdered chicken base of chicken bouillon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 teaspoon of sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper
1/2 cup of all purpose flour
1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1 tablespoons of sriracha or any other hot sauce
3/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 cup of shredded monterey jack cheese
16 oz of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and wrung dry
2 (14 oz) cans of artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/2 cup of sour cream

In a large pot, sauté the onions in the olive oil over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes until softened and slightly brown.  Add the minced garlic and red pepper flakes to the onion; lower the heat to medium and sweat for 2 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a separate sauce pot heat the chicken stock, half & half, chicken base, nutmeg, sugar, and black pepper over medium low heat.  


Add the flour to the onion mixture, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until a paste forms.  Slowly, add the hot half and half mixture to the roux on ladle at a time, stirring after each addition until it is completely absorbed by the flour.  Add the lemon juice and sriracha, and cook for 2 more minutes.

Reduce the heat to low.  Stir in the parmesan and monterey jack cheeses.  Once they are melted, fold in the spinach, artichokes, and sour cream.  If desired, pour into a baking dish, top with more cheese, and broil right before serving.