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Chocolate Chip Macaroons

(qty: many)

  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 2 7 oz bags of sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 ¼ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 13/ cup plus 1 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 – convection setting.

Place a piece of parchment on a large baking sheet (or lightly butter and flour)

Lightly toast the pecan halves. Cool and rough chop

In a large bowl, combine the coconut, chocolate chips, flour, salt and pecans. Add the condensed milk and stir until evenly moistened.

Mound a tablespoon of the mix and the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until a light golden brown.

Roasted Red Pepper, Parsley and Caper Salsa

This is what I like to call the gift that keeps on giving. Wonderful to serve on a crostini, over fish, beef, chicken or pork. Keeps quite a while.

  • 3 lg red bell peppers
  • 3 tbs Italian parsley, chopped
  • 3 tbs capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1 ½ tbs garlic
  • 2 tbs EVOO
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

Turn broiler to high. Place whole peppers on a cookie sheet and slip under broiler. Char peppers – turning them as they blacken (about 5-7 minutes). Remove from oven and put into plastic or paper bag. Close tightly and set aside for 15-20 minutes. Peppers will steam and loosen skin. Gently peel charred skin off. Halve pepper and clean out seeds. Do not rinse. Chop pepper into small pieces.

Chop parsley. Finely chop garlic.

Combine peppers, capers, parsley and garlic. Add EVOO and balsamic vinegar. Season to taste and let rest. Even better if you can make a day ahead. Serve at room temperature.

Homemade Mayonnaise

Once you taste homemade mayo – the store-bought jar will be crossed off your list forever. It is so easy to make and can become the basis for so many great things…….

Homemade Mayonnaise

  • 1 egg, room temp
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup Canola Oil

In food processor, blend egg, mustard, lemon juice, spices and sugar. Very, very, very slowly and with motor running, drizzle oil into food processor bowl. When mixture emulsifies – you have a basic mayonnaise.

Aioli
Add fresh garlic cloves to taste. Stir into mayonnaise. Serve as a sauce for fish, on warm roasted veggies or on blanched fresh veggies.

Citrus Aioli
Add lemon zest and fresh lemon juice to taste. Orange juice and zest or lime juice and zest are great options as well.

Wasabi Mayo
Add Wasabi powder to taste. If you use wasabi in a powdered form, be sure to make into a paste with water. Stir into prepared mayonnaise. Add a few drops of soy sauce and fresh lemon juice to taste.

Roasted Red Pepper Mayo
Roast peppers and puree with garlic. Stir into prepared mayonnaise.

SCALLOPS GRILLED WITH BACON AND PESTO

(serves 8 as a starter, 4 as an entree)

  • 8 strips thick-cut bacon
  • 8 dry sea scallops (about 1½ pound sea scallops)
  • 8 fresh rosemary sprigs (each 3 to 4 inches long)
  • 3-4 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs prepared pesto
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Lay bacon out on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake bacon for about 10 minutes (you do not want it crisp – just pre-cooked). Let drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

To prep: If needed, remove the crescent-shaped muscle from the side of the scallop. Strip the bottom 2” of leaves off the rosemary sprigs.

Wrap a piece of the pre-cooked bacon around the scallop and anchor it with a stripped sprig of rosemary. Prepare the remaining scallops the same way – placing them in a baking dish.

In a small bowl, mix the extra-virgin olive oil with the pesto, juice from one half of the lemon, salt and pepper. Drizzle this over the entire scallop. Let marinate for 15 minutes (not too much longer or you run the risk of “cooking” the scallop with the lemon juice.)

Set up the grill for direct grilling. Brush and oil the grate. Grill the scallops until cooked through – 2 to 3 minutes per side. Squeeze the other half of the lemon over the scallops. Serve at once.

INSIDE OUT “DOLMAS” SALAD

(Serves 8)
I like this Fresno-perfect dish at room temperature as a salad or hot as a side to a Greek-inspired chicken, pork or lamb dish. Grape leaves are available at Middle Eastern markets.

  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 ½ cups long grain white rice
  • 2 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup preserved grape leaves
  • 1 tbs brine from grape leaves
  • ¼ cup or more fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup raisins (I like golden)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill

In a large soup pot, heat oil and gently brown pine nuts – about 4-5 minutes. Meanwhile rinse grape leaves to remove the brine and shake off excess water. Remove large stems and then rough chop the leaves. Stir in rice, broth, leaves, brine, ¼ cup lemon juice and raisins. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover. Simmer until liquid is absorbed – about 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and fluff rice. Add pepper, onions, parsley, dill and more lemon, if needed.