by Kim Dannies
With guests coming and going, planning meals that feel special can be pretty challenging this time of year. To really score with your crowd, consider this menu of shrimp scampi, harvest salad and almond macaroons. Much of it can be prepped ahead, and it pulls together beautifully with bread and wine for a festive evening.
Do ahead: combine 1 cup of walnuts with 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Cool. Shred 1 cup Cabot cheddar cheese. Dressing: combine 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup sherry vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, pinch of S&P. Shake until thickened.
Compose the salad: add 8 handfuls of fresh arugula to a salad bowl. Add some nuts, the cheese, and a diced apple. Toss to mix in dressing. Serves 6.
Ina Garten’s shrimp scampi
Make garlic butter one day ahead. In a small bowl, mash 12 tablespoons softened butter with 4 cloves minced garlic, 1/4 cup minced shallots, 3 tablespoons minced parsley; 1 teaspoon minced rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 large egg yolk, 2/3 cup panko, a pinch of salt and pepper each.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Peel, devein and butterfly 2 pounds (12-15) shrimp in the shell, leaving the tails on. Place the shrimp in a bowl and toss gently with 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Starting from the outer edge of a 14-inch oval gratin dish, arrange the shrimp in a single layer cut side down with the tails curling up and towards the center of the dish. Top shrimp with garlic butter. Bake for 10-12 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Boom-Boom’s almond macaroons
These freeze beautifully. Mix together 14 ounces of sweetened coconut, 14 ounces of unsweetened coconut, 1 14-ounce can of non-fat condensed milk, 1/4 teaspoon of almond and vanilla extract, each and 1 cup toasted chopped almonds. Mix well and shape into 20 “Hershey kiss” shapes. Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Microwave 2 cups of chocolate chips for 45 seconds, stir in 2 teaspoons of canola oil. On a fresh cookie sheet lined with parchment paper, drop a teaspoon of chocolate into a pool and set a macaroon on it. Drizzle a little chocolate over each top.
Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three twenty-something daughters. Archived Everyday Gourmet columns are at kimdannies.com. Kim@kimdannies.com.