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Tag Archives: cooking

How to Cook Scallops

Learn how to Sear Sea Scallops like a Pro

Scallops are the prefect food for singles. They are fast and easy to cook and very healthy. But often my friends say they are intimidated by trying to cook these pearly white discs of sweet, deliciousness, often getting mixed results. The best way to cook scallops, especially if you have a busy schedule is pan-searing them over hot heat with some simple flavors. When seared correctly, scallops are creamy, sweet and carmelized on the outside.

I prefer the large scallops, which are usually available in most grocery stores. The added benefit is that these mollusks are what I like to call “power foods” because they are made up of at least 50 percent protein, low-calorie and loaded with magnesium and potassium.

Pat dry scallops, season and sear for 2 minutes per side. Photo by Christine Willmsen

Pat dry scallops, season and sear for 2 minutes per side. Photo by Christine Willmsen

You will not only impress yourself but any date or friends you are entertaining. Add the scallops to pasta, rice or sautéed vegetables.

In my next video I’ll show you a recipe and how to cook Squid Ink Pasta with Seared Scallops to truly take advantage of this healthy and easy seafood.



Lights, Camera and Action – the Seattle cooking competition is underway

Today is the day, I’m competing in a reality cooking competition called Kitchen Circus at Rover’s in Seattle. I’ve been creating recipes, practicing my heart out and struggling with a cold, all at the same time. But this Solo Cook is ready to take on the two other contestants today and tonight. We will chop, blend and boil in the professional kitchen and serve food to 45 guests at this amazing Seattle restaurant. As I get ready for makeup and hair – I’ll let you in on a little secret.  No – I can’t tell you what I’m cooking yet or what course I’m preparing. But I can say that there are two emotions stirring in my belly and neither is related to hunger. I’m excited and nervous. As The Solo Cook I’ve been tailoring meals and food experiences for one person. Cooking an amuse bouche and one course for 45 people is a challenge and I’m ready for it. Stay tuned for details of the competition itself.



A live cooking competition at a Seattle restaurant – an opportunity I can’t pass up

This home cook is ready to play at Kitchen Circus

When I heard the news that I made it as a contestant for Kitchen Circus, a live cooking competition at the renowned Rover’s restaurant in Seattle, I jumped up and down with excitement like a little girl. Then I got nervous.

If you ask my friends what I’m passionate about they will tell you food and journalism. While being a hard-news reporter almost pays the bills, food fills my heart. I’m always chatting about food, creating new recipes, reading about food and, of course, eating it any chance I can get. That’s also part of the reason why I started this blog The Solo Cook.

So when I heard about the Kitchen Circus contest, I thought why not take it to the next level – right?

Why not challenge myself by stepping into a professional kitchen and cooking an incredible dish live and on camera – oh and for 45 people. So with nudges and encouragement from my friends, I submitted an application and a home video that talks about myself and shows me cooking an Italian fish dish.

Live Audition Nerves

To my surprise I made the first cut. But then I faced a live audition filmed at the restaurant, and I had no idea what to expect. Occasionally, I appear on local and national television stations, speaking about investigative stories I’ve written, but being on camera for this was different. I wondered what Chef Thierry Rautureau was going to ask me and how he would test me.

At the live audition, Chef Thierry Rautureau asked me questions about why I should compete in Kitchen Circus.

At the live audition, I met other potential contestants who equally loved cooking and I felt more at ease. As the camera rolled, the affable Rautureau peppered me with hard questions. On top of that – at the same time – I also had to separate an egg’s yolk and white, and later mince a shallot. I honestly don’t recall how I answered some of the questions. But soon the camera seemed to fade and there I was just chopping and chatting with Rautureau.

I must have impressed the chef and the crew because now I’m one of nine contestants who are up for the ultimate challenge. I will cook an appetizer, main entrée or dessert for at least 45 people; competing against two other home cooks during a Nov. 20 dinner at Rover’s. You can count on me channeling my competitive and creative streaks that night. Until then I will be obsessed with food and sharing that journey.



I’m a contestant in a live cooking competition – Kitchen Circus

This girl is taking food to another level as a contestant in a live cooking competition

This time, I’m not cooking just for me. I’m cooking for 45 people. I’m so excited to announce I’m a contestant on Kitchen Circus, a live cooking competition at Rover’s restaurant in Seattle. This competition challenges home cooks, like myself, to step into a professional restaurant kitchen and see if we can handle the heat. Kitchen Circus is organized by Thierry Rautureau, who owns and operates Rover’s and Luc restaurants.

Kitchen Circus contestants were announced recently and I’m one of nine (the last one on the right) who will be headed into Rover’s kitchen to compete.

Yes, this is hardly the type of cooking I’ve focused on with The Solo Cook blog. But what you may not know about me is that I often hold large dinner parties for friends and family. There is no doubt, this will stretch my cooking skills and creativity.

I am one of nine contestants chosen to compete, based on my application, video and live audition. I’ll tell you more about my live audition in upcoming posts. On Tuesday, Nov. 20, I will prepare one of a three-course meal for guests at Rover’s. I will have to prepare an appetizer, main course or dessert. Then, at the end of the night, guests will choose one home cook as the winner who will move on to the finale.

When I discovered I was one of the Kitchen Circus contestants, I literally jumped up and down like a little girl. I hope to bring my passion and love of food to a dining room full of guests at Rover’s. In the next couple weeks, I’ll be obsessed with food. I’ll be dreaming of food, taking notes on homemade recipes and trying out different meals on friends.

You, too, will be a part of this fun journey. I plan on sharing my Kitchen Circus experiences along the way.

You can follow the competition on facebook.

For more information about the Kitchen Circus competition, check out the press release.



Compound butter adds a boost of flavor

Butter it up Babe

Compound butter incorporates herbs like parsley, thyme and oregano.

Who doesn’t love butter? It’s fantastic to cook with and tastes great on just about anything.  But guess what – you can jazz it up by making compound butter. This is great for single people who don’t know what to do with the extra herbs from the store and those who want to add something quick and rich to a dish.

You only need a couple of herbs to make compound butter.

A compound butter, also known as buerre composé in French, basically incorporates herbs or other ingredients to flavor it. Compound butter saves a single person the hassle of always finding herbs to cut and add to a dish. This time-saving method allows you to have flavor-packed butter ready anytime.  I hate it when I buy expensive herbs from the store for one recipe, and then they go to waste days later because I never did anything with them. Next time you have extra parsley or any other herb, make compound butter.

Hot in the Kitchen

Finely chop two tablespoons of fresh herbs like parsley, thyme and oregano.

Making a compound butter is easy. Just let a stick of butter, 8 tablespoons, soften by taking it out of the refrigerator. In the meantime, chop two tablespoons fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, chives or oregano and any combination of them. Be creative by adding other spices and herbs to your compound butter.

Mash herbs into soften butter with a fork.

Mix or mash the herbs and butter together with a spatula or fork. Use wax paper or plastic wrap to mold the butter into a cylinder, covering the butter and twisting the ends.

Wrap butter in wax paper or plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

The butter can last for months in the freezer and weeks in the refrigerator. Anytime you want to cook with it, just pull it out of the refrigerator and slice a couple pads off.

I love a dab of compound butter on my steak or mixed in with garden vegetables. The compound butter I added to my green beans made them glisten and taste rich.

The dinner below uses only one pan and is perfect for one. I sautéed green beans with garlic and topped it with compound butter. After I removed the beans from the pan, I cooked tilapia (you could use any white fish) for about three minutes until translucent.

Next week I’ll highlight a Hot Spot restaurant for singles.



Sautéed green beans with melted compound butter is a great side to white fish like tilapia.