Scallops and Roasted Corn Salsa

Scallops: delicious to eat, easy to cook, and perfect for portion control.  After a trip to BCN Taste & Tradition (a really fantastic Spanish restaurant in a 1920’s home in Houston’s Museum District), I have been in the mood for Spanish flavors and spice, especially paired with seafood.  (You can see my eats at BCN Taste & Tradition photographed below, including a cod dish with red bell pepper sauce… yum!)  Nothing inspires me more to cook than a delicious meal.  As with all my recipes, this started off as a fun experiment, and turned into a lovely meal where I combined seafood and Spanish flavors as I experienced at BCN.

IMG_1219

Ingredients:

  • 2 corns
  • 1 can of spicy black beans
  • ½ red bell pepper chopped
  • Ground cumin
  • Crushed Red Pepper
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Heavy Cream
  • 10 scallops (ideally never frozen – this is hard to find but sometimes exists at Whole Foods. If they were previously frozen, try to cook them the same day or next and don’t freeze again).

Roasted Corn Salsa:

  • Cut the corn off the cob (I promise this corn tastes so much better than the canned corn)
  • Heat a pan to medium heat (like 5 or 6 out of 10)
  • Add olive oil
  • Add corn to the pan and stir, allow the corn to “roast” or blacken just enough to get a smoky flavor (taste!)
  • Add chopped red bell pepper and continue stirring
  • Add cumin and crushed red pepper to taste (I like mine spicy and smokey)
  • Add salt & pepper to taste
  • Add 3 TBSPs of cream (this will create a saucy consistency… you can add more if you taste and want something creamier)
  • Add 2/3 of the can of black beans, drained (I used “spicy black beans” so they already have some added flavor, drain the can because you don’t need the “can juice”)
  • Stir and taste
  • Take pan off heat and cover to keep warmIMG_1650

Scallops:

  • Heat pan to medium-high heat (7 out of 10 for example)
  • Add olive oil to pan
  • Pat dry scallops, and salt each side of scallop
  • Place scallops in pan (enough room so they are not touching and you can turn them)
  • Cook each side for 1 and 1/2 mins (be precise)
  • Scallops should be golden on each side
  • Remove from pan
  • Add a touch of salt

Place the scallops over the plated corn salsa and enjoy!  I plated 2 scallops for myself (35 cals each without the salsa of course) and 3 scallops for my husband.   Put the rest in containers with the corn salsa for meal prep throughout the week, so you can show off at work about your cooking skills.  

Once you learn how to perfect scallops, you can keep coming up with all sorts of interesting combinations!  Or you can sear a few scallops with a small steak for a surf and turf meal.  I have been wanting to make a Japanese inspired scallop dish, I am thinking soy sauce, avocado, jalapeno, and maybe even some mango or citrus… I’ll keep you posted ❤

Pictures from my incredible meal at BCN Taste & Tradition are below.  Follow me on instagram at @eatsbyPK for updates on restaurants and recipe ideas!

 

Burrata on Everythang.

This is not a recipe really.  This is about a philosophy – a Burrata  Philosophy.

At restaurants I am often drawn to the Burrata appetizers.  In part, all this time, it was because I rarely eat Burrata.  It is not your everyday cheese.

On one of my routine trips to Whole Foods, while wandering around just taking it all in (yes, I do that), I came across the container of Burrata. I picked it up for closer observation; the cheese ball, floating in that murky water, hanging like a cloud.  Could this really be as delicious and delicate as the Burrata I get at restaurants?  I was skeptical, but went for it.  And wow.  WHAT HAVE I BEEN DOING ALL MY LIFE without eating store-bought Burrata!?  And then I realized, I need to change my philosophy on Burrata; Burrata can be had on my dining table, or better yet on my couch while watching Bravo (snuggled up with my cat).  I do not have to reserve the indulgence for restaurant dining. 

Wait a Minute….What is Burrata Cheese? If you are new to Burrata cheese, it is an exquisite Italian cheese.  The outer-shell is fresh mozzarella but the inside is cream and mozzarella making it full of moisture.  When you cut it open, the creaminess oozes out like cutting into a poached egg and revealing the yolk.  If you don’t like a moist texture you may not prefer this.  It has a distinct cream taste, and almost quenches your thirst like milk. 

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 9.24.12 PM

I tried Burrata on a number of salads.  Photographed below is kale, apples, a touch of balsamic, and Burrata.  The apple and Burrata played together perfectly.  

IMG_3914

It is tomato season so I also grabbed a huge heirloom tomato while in the produce section.  I made this tomato salad, dressed with olive oil and fresh basil from my balcony garden, and of course a huge portion of my Burrata.

IMG_3901

The Buratta came in one large ball, but I did not hesitate to slice it and eat it in portions.  I kept the portions in the water and container that it came with.  Also, I ate it all within 3 days as recommended after opening it. 

This simple item, which is usually quite expensive at restaurants, can easily enhance your homemade salads and meals. 

I will be seeing Burrata in my fridge more often and will share more Burrata recipes with you as I practice The Burrata Philosophy. 

The Sausage, Egg, and Cheese: The Holy Trinity of Breakfast Sandwiches

Every Sunday, I get the most severe Sunday Blues.  As you can imagine, the “Sunday-Funday” concept is totally over my head.  I wish I were that cool.  But, biting into a delicious sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit sandwich makes me feel better – it is the comfort food of breakfast/brunch.  

Lucky for me, Blacksmith in Houston, Texas, makes THE perfect sausage, egg and cheese biscuit.  

The photo below features the amazing sausage, egg and cheese biscuit ($7), their croissant with marmalade and creme fraiche ($4), and the kale salad ($3 for small).  This delicious meal, shared between me and my fiancé is affordable and so satisfying.  The sausage is flavorful and juicy!  The biscuit is buttery yet crumbles in your mouth.  And of course, the egg has a runny yolk that runs all over the biscuit… yum.  

11168578_667620073369729_5080574319943089770_n

Blacksmith is not your average coffee shop.  A number of the items are crafted by renowned chef, Chris Shepherd of Underbelly and Hay Merchant.  Although Shepherd is more famous for Underbelly, Blacksmith is my favorite work of his.  I just love the simple eats done well.  Warning: seating is some times hard to get.  Check out the rest of the menu below:  

1-0f875474a7

Finally, you don’t have to leave your house for a breakfast sandwich that will soothe your Sunday Blues.  Try making a sausage, egg, and cheese biscuit at home.  Disclaimer: It won’t be as good as the fresh biscuits at Blacksmith.  

Ingredients:

  1. Biscuits (the kind in a roll that you bake, I recommend these to avoid all the artificial stuff) Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 5.35.45 PM
  2. Ground breakfast sausage from Whole Foods is pre-seasoned
  3. Eggs
  4. Cheddar sliced
  5. Butter 

Recipe:

  1. Bake the biscuits per the instructions on the wrapper. 
  2. Shape the sausage into palm sized patties (about 2cm thick) (the folks at Whole Foods will do this for you if you ask them to). 
  3. Heat a non-stick pan to medium high heat.  Apply 1/2 tea spoon of olive oil to the pan. 
  4. Cook the sausage, allowing each side to brown. 
  5. When the biscuits are done, let them cool down a bit, halve them with a knife (making the top and bottom) and put cheese on the top side. 
  6. Bake the top 1/2 biscuit that has the cheese for 2-3 minutes (until cheese melts)
  7. Butter the other 1/2 biscuit.
  8. Place the sausage aside once it is cooked.
  9. Crack your eggs directly into the non-stick pan to prepare them sunny side up (you can even use the same skillet as the sausage. 
  10. Assemble in the following order: Buttered Biscuit, Sausage, Egg, Cheddar Biscuit. 

IMG_3386

PK, she’s a steak & potatoes girl

I didn’t grow up eating steak and potatoes.  With a vegetarian mom, the classic dish of “steak and potatoes” was a rare exotic meal that I sometimes experienced if I went to my best friend’s house for dinner. 

After moving away from my hometown, and no longer having access to my best friend’s mom’s steak, I had to find steak at restaurants (again, not something I did growing up).  As a college student, this meant eating steak at Chili’s or Outback Steakhouse.  As I graduated from college, and graduated from food made mostly in a microwave, slowly but surely, I earned my way into amazing steakhouses, and my love for a medium rare filet mignon grew bigger and bigger… and so did the check.  

Then, my brother-in-law showed me that steak can be made at home, pan seared.  My mind was blown.  My steak obsession took a new journey as I begin to experiment with my own techniques for my perfect steak.

So here’s the recipe for steak & potatoes PK’s way:

Ingredients:

  1. Two 8oz (or smaller) filets (Learn more about eating grass-fed as opposed to grain-fed – you are what you eat, and if you are eating a cow that eats unhealthy grains, you are eating unhealthy grains…)
  2. Potatoes (I prefer using a smaller variety, red potatoes, purple potatoes, or fingerling potatoes all work well) 
  3. 4-5 Rosemary stems (ideally from your own herb garden)
  4. 1 Garlic
  5. Olive oil
  6. Salt & Pepper

Potatoes:

Cook these first, they will take much longer than the steak.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Chop potatoes into bite size shapes.  Each individual serving should be about a handful of chopped potatoes. 
  • Toss in a bake pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt & pepper, fresh garlic gloves (about 4 peeled and chopped), and some fresh rosemary (de-stemed and chopped finely). 
  • Bake for 20 mins, while you make your perfect steak.

IMG_3365

Steak (medium rare):

  • Set your steak out beforehand so it can drop to room temperature.  Steak cooks better that way.
  • Cover steak generously with olive oil and evenly with salt.

IMG_3375

  • Get a grill pan (or normal pan) heated to medium-high heat.
  • When you place the steak on the grill pan, it should start to sizzle.
    • Cook each side for 3.5 minutes (7 minutes total).  Use tongs to turn steak (it only really needs to be turned from side to side one time, you can maneuver it around the pan to get a nice brown on some corners if you have to)
  • Add 2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and 2-3 rosemary stems (cook for one minute).

IMG_3376

  • Place each steak individually in foil, with the garlic and rosemary, and pour on any oil remaining from the pan.  Place each pouch in the oven, and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes.  This will let the flavors get fully infused into the steak.  Add some butter if you want to be indulgent (optional, I usually go without).  

Remove the potatoes from the oven, remove the steak from the oven, and plate!  Make sure you taste test your potatoes, you don’t want to serve them raw.  

If you like your steak medium, cook longer on the pan.  The trick is to keep the heat medium-high (not too high), so you do not over-cook the outside and leave the inside under-cooked.  Experiment until you find the perfect temperature for you.

Knowing with certainty that the steak is cooked to the right temperature is still something I struggle with – there is a fun and resourceful way to use the palm of your hand to determine if the steak is cooked, which you can learn about here.

Plating tip: let the steak cool down a bit, so when you cut into the steak it doesn’t “bleed” and make a red mess on your plate.  IMG_3378Also, this Gordon Ramsey video will walk you through this process, minus some of my personal revisions. 

ROASTED OKRA SPEARS: SNACK, APPETIZER, SIDE DISH


IMG_3368

These Okra Spears are so easy, and can easily make a great appetizer, snack, or side dish.  If you are looking for a healthy replacement for your chips or french-fries consider this option. OR, if you are stumped for a healthy veggie side dish, this goes great with just about anything.

So here we go:

  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • get some Okra from your grocery store or farmers’ market.  Okra gets sticky overtime, so I recommend cooking it closely after you pick it up to avoid the stickiness
  • wash the okra, cut off the head of the okra, and then cut it long ways to make pretty spears. (pictured above)
  • place the okra in an oven safe baking pan or dish (spread them out evenly so they aren’t crowded)
  • drizzle olive oil, salt & pepper, paprika, and if you like some more spice a drizzle of red crushed pepper

IMG_3370

  • place in oven for 15 minutes, don’t let them get floppy! (check on them at least once, to see how they are browning and to toss them a bit)
  • Serve while hot! Like french fries. 😉

IMG_3377

Figs? Figured em’ out.

I impulsively picked up figs from the produce section at Whole Foods this past weekend. You don’t see figs at the grocery store all the time; figs are in season in June.  They were five dollars, so admittedly, a some what expensive food experiment.  But, food “experiments” are essentially what I call cooking, and what this blog is all about.  Curiosity about food can help you become a better cook and a better eater. 

My exposure to figs until now was mostly limited to the well known Fig Newton (let’s be honest, does anyone really LOVE Fig Newtons?).  As it turns out, figs are BEAUTIFUL.  What a great way to enhance your dish visually, nutritionally, and of course deliciously. 

IMG_3371

Figs have a light natural sweetness, a unique texture, and not much tartness (like fruits or berries).  I found them easy to add to all sorts of meals as seen below. 

Friggin’ Good Grilled Fig Salad

IMG_3373

I mostly ended up eating them raw, because I found them delicious but on night one, I wanted to make them a bit savory.  To accomplish the grilled figs photographed above, do the following:

  1. Halve the figs.
  2. Glaze in olive oil and add salt.
  3. Place on grill pan (or on the grill if you have one) seed-side down.
  4. Use tongs to remove once lightly browned and grill lines have formed.

The grilled figs were the highlight of this salad, almost like a grilled protein.  The salad otherwise included butter lettuce, sunflower seeds, goat cheese, just a tiny bit of balsamic vinaigrette, and a touch of olive oil.  I carefully dressed the lettuce first and added the figs on top so their delicate texture would not get disturbed when tossing. 

Figs atop a Short Stack

IMG_3432

The next morning, I made pancakes, admittedly out of a box, and added fresh bananas and figs.  If you are going to eat a ton of sugar for breakfast (i.e. pancakes) you might as well add some of the better sugars and nutrition that come with fruits!  Before throwing the fruit on top, I tossed it with a pinch of sugar and pinch of salt (salt enhanced the flavors a bit). 

For boxed pancakes, I tried out Madhava, a brand that focuses on natural sweeteners, organic ingredients and ancient whole grans (spelt and Kamut® Khorasan Wheat).  I can’t say with certainty that these are “better for you” than any other boxed pancake mix, but I think they taste great and at least you know you are eating good ingredients.

Figs + Leftovers Salad? Go figure!

IMG_3426

As the weekday craziness begins, it gets harder to relish in the joys of food and cooking.  But, tonight I made a lovely salad from leftovers in my fridge.  A perfect addition was the last of my figs. 

The rest of this salad had leftover chicken breast from my dinner entree over the weekend, leftover oven roasted purple cauliflower (side for my chicken), goat cheese, salt, and olive oil.  When I put cheese on my salads, I try not to use dressings; the olive oil also should be used very lightly.  Cheese is already so flavorful, and dressing + cheese often leads to a surprisingly unhealthy salad. 

how MATCHA do you love MATCHA?

IMG_3115

After posting on my instagram (@eatsbyPK), about my favorite homemade matcha green tea latte, and getting a lot of love (likes), I decided it was worthy of a full blog post.  Thanks for the love my instagram world.  So here’s the full scoop on matcha green tea including: What is it? How to make it? Why HOMEMADE is the way to go?

What’s Matcha?

First of all, matcha is different from other teas, because it is a fine powder made from tea leaves.   When you normally drink tea, you let the leaves steep and toss the leaves, but with matcha, the powder disintegrates into your tea, and you get all the benefits of the tea leaves.

I get my matcha from David’s Tea.  My first visit to David’s Tea was in Quebec, Canada on a memorable trip with my sister back in 2012.  We stumbled on David’s Tea coincidentally.  David’s Tea is like Teavana in that it focuses on a variety of teas, but the vibe is more playful and it is A LOT more affordable.  As a Texan, I mostly order online and my sister has gifted to me more David’s Tea to supply my tea-addiction (sometimes enablers are doing the right thing).  I got my matcha years later  from the location on Bleeker Street in New York City, also an adorable storefront location.  But wherever you are… the world is at your finger tips, and you can order online.  (ahh, the beauty of online shopping). 

How to make a matcha green tea latte at home:

  1. HEAT your water to 165 F degrees.  I have a genius kettle (purchased on amazon) that heats water to the correct temperature depending on the type of tea, but if you are not obsessed with tea-related gadgets, just remember green tea should be less hot than black tea. 
  2. WHISK a half tea-spoon of matcha powder into your cup of hot water (leave some room for milk, I suggest at least a 3/4 ratio for a latte).  You can use a real whisk, or a specific matcha whisk, or worse case scenario, just vigorously use a fork.
  3. MILKIFY your matcha with your favorite milk or milk substitute.  Stir some more to get some frothiness.  Sweeten if you need to.  To heighten the experience, drink from your favorite mug, wear a comfy sweater, and pet a cat .

Why homemade is the way to go? 

Matcha has health benefits, like antioxidants, but if you are buying matcha from a cafe and do not know what is going into it, you could be loading up on unnecessary sugars. 

Compare the Starbucks matcha green tea nutrition label, with the David’s Tea nutrition labelThe one at Starbucks has as much sugar as a can of soda!  This is because their matcha powder is loaded up with sugar. 

I am all about moderation, so if you go to Starbucks for your matcha green tea latte fix, just call it what it is, a guilty pleasure, and enjoy it even more.  But you can easily make one at home, and reap the health benefits of matcha instead of buying a sugar rush.