To celebrate Bryan’s birthday, we went to Big Bear last weekend for a short getaway. Because of the El Nino year, we are hoping there would be lots of snow in the mountain. Bryan and I were both very excited, since we don’t get to see much snow. Even though it wasn’t snowing, we still got to see snow piles everywhere and play on them for a bit. I had my first try on snow tubbing. Incredibly fun! I thought I would be scared, but it was nothing like that. Just pure fun! Here is a GoPro video of Bryan and me snow tubbing:
Another thing we enjoyed in Big Bear was the wild animals. We saw a few cute chipmunks, gorgeous Stellar’s Jays, and noisy woodpeckers. One morning, we were awoken by a loud and steady hammering noise. We got up and looked out the windows, but there was nothing. It was 7am on a Saturday. It can’t be construction. We kind of felt like the noise was coming from the chimney, but it was hard to tell. When I got close to the chimney, I heard bird chipping as well. I told Bryan jokingly, “maybe it is one of those woodpeckers that we saw yesterday… Hahaha!” Since it was freezing cold outside, we didn’t go out to investigate. It stopped after 15 minutes. Bryan went on the internet and did some researches. Guess what?!?! It was a woodpecker! I wish we have gone outside to check it out. The woodpecker must be adorable! The sound was exactly like the video below:
We had a great trip. We really enjoyed the beautiful nature, fresh air, and snow, but we miss the busy noises and all the amazing foods from the city as well. I don’t think we can live in the mountains, not even for a week. We belong to the busy city!
Because we were out-of-town for Bryan’s birthday, I decided to make him something fancy for dinner. Scallops are easy to cook and doesn’t take much time. They are great for special occasion. These seared scallops are paired with a smokey red pepper sauce. Roast the bell pepper on the stove over open fire until nicely charred. Remove the skin and blend with white wine and chicken broth until smooth. Reduce the sauce until thickened. It is little smokey, garlicky and sweet. With the simple garlic couscous, this dish was perfectly balanced.
It may seem like there are a lot of component in this dish. But everything can be whip together quickly. Even for a fancy meal like this, you can definitely finish this within an hour. Enjoy!
Seared Scallops with Roasted Pepper Sauce and Garlic Couscous
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 pound sea scallops
– 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
– fresh chives (optional garnish)
– ground black pepper
Roasted Pepper Sauce:
– 1 large red bell pepper
– 1 garlic clove (peeled and smashed)
– ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
– 2 tablespoons dry white wine
– 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (cut into small cubes)
– ground white pepper
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 garlic clove (minced)
– 5 ounces pearl couscous
– 1¾ cups water
– ½ teaspoon salt
– zest from ½ lemon
– 1 teaspoon lemon juice
– 1 teaspoon fresh chives (finely chopped)
- Rinse and dry the bell pepper. Turn the heat to high on the gas stove, place the pepper directly on the fire. Roast until blackened on all sides, about 10 minutes. Place the pepper in a heatproof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 15 minutes.
- Run the pepper under cold water. Rub to peel the blackened skins. Remove the stem, seeds and membranes.
- In a blender or food processor, combine the bell pepper, garlic clove, chicken broth, and wine. Process until smooth. Transfer the puree to small pot. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and reduce for 12 – 15 minutes. Reduce to medium-low heat. Gradually stir in the butter cubes until melted. Season with salt and white pepper. Cover with a lid and keep warm.
- For the couscous, in a small pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the couscous, water, and salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium heat. Cook uncovered for 8 – 9 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and chives. Season to your taste. Cover pan and remove from heat to keep warm.
- For the scallops, remove the small side muscle. Rinse with cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
- In a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season the scallops with salt and pepper. Once the oil starts to smoke, add the scallops and cook until golden brown, about 1½ – 3 minutes. Turn the scallops over. Add the butter. Cook until deep golden brown, about 1½ – 3 minutes.
- Scoop a few tablespoons of sauce on serving plates. Place the couscous in the middle of plates. Plate the scallops. Garnish with chopped chives. Serve immediately.
- You can also roast the pepper in the oven. Roast in a 500˚F-oven until blackened on all sides, about 30 – 40 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Scallop cooking time may vary depends on the size.
(Adapted from MyRecipes.com)