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Archive for Food Holidays

RECIPE: Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

May 31st is National Macaroon Day. Here, David Lebovitz, renowned pastry chef, blogger and author of cookbooks, shares his recipes for chewy, chocolaty macaroons.

First, some macaroon history:

  • MAC-A-ROON is the English name for the Italian almond meringue cookies (maccarone, mah-cah-ROW-nay) first made by monks, possibly in the 13th century. They most resemble today’s amaretti cookies, with a crisp crust and a soft interior, developed at the court of Savoy in the mid-17th century. Since almond flour made them kosher for Passover, Italian Jews embraced the recipe.
  • COCONUT MACAROONS were developed in the Jewish community as a variation to the original recipe. They became a popular year-round cookie outside of the Jewish community as well.
  • MAC-A-RONS are the French version, delicate meringue cookie sandwiches filled with buttercream, ganache or jam. They were created at the beginning of the 20th century by Parisian baker Pierre Desfontaines Ladurée, had the idea to join two meringues and fill them with ganache.
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    All three versions are gluten-free.

    Who first thought to dip coconut macaroons in chocolate? It isn’t known, but we thank them.

    Here’s a detailed history of macaroons and macarons.

    RECIPE: CHOCOLATE-DIPPED COCONUT MACAROONS

  • Be sure to use unsweetened coconut (medium shredded coconut or coconut flakes), which is available at most natural-food shops and online.
  • You can prep the dough up to a week in advance, or freeze it for future use.
  • Prep time is 30 minutes, cook time is 25 minutes.
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    Ingredients For About 30 Cookies

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1-1/4 cups sugar (10 oz./315 g)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2-1/2 cups (9 oz./280 g) unsweetened shredded dried coconut
  • 1/4 cup (1-1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces (60 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
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    Preparation

    1. STIR together the egg whites, sugar, salt, honey, coconut and flour in a large fry pan. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, scraping the bottom as you stir. When the mixture just begins to scorch at the bottom…

    2. REMOVE from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. At this point the mixture can be chilled for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 2 months. When ready to bake,

    3. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Using a spoon and your fingers, form the dough into 1-1/2 inch (4 cm) mounds and arrange them evenly spaced on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until deep golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

    4. LINE a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Melt the chocolate in a clean, dry bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Dip the bottom of each macaroon in the chocolate and set the cookies on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, 5 to 10 minutes.

     

    Coconut Macaroons Chocolate Dipped

    Macaroons On A Silpat

    Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

    Coconut Macaroons Chocolate Dipped

    [1] Dipping in chocolate. Who gets to lick the bowl? (photo courtesy David Liebovitz). [2] A Silpat baking sheet protects the macaroons from over-browning (photo courtesy Silpat). [3] Bet you can’t eat just one (photo courtesy Burdick Chocolate). [4] Dipping the tops in chocolate may cause drips, but there are no sticky fingers from holding a chocolate bottom (photo courtesy The Fosters Market Cookbook).

     
    Recipe originally posted on Williams-Sonoma.com.

      

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    TIP FOR MEMORIAL DAY (OR JULY 4th) WEEKEND: Red, White & Blue Recipes

    Red, white and blue colors are not just for July 4th. Memorial Day is an equally patriotic holiday.

    Memorial Day honors the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military.

    Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War (1861 to 1865), which saw the largest loss of life of any American war. An estimated 620,000 soldiers died in the conflict—roughly 2% of the U.S. population, in addition to countless civilians.

    By the late 1860s, Americans in various communities had begun holding springtime tributes to the fallen soldiers, decorating their graves with flowers and reciting prayers.

    In 1966 the federal government declared Waterloo, New York, the official birthplace of Memorial Day. It first celebrated Memorial Day on May 5, 1866, and was selected because it hosted an annual, community-wide event, during which businesses closed and residents decorated the graves of soldiers with flowers and flags.

    Memorial Day became an official federal holiday in 1971. Each year on Memorial Day a national moment of silent remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m., local time. [source]
     
     
    MEMORIAL DAY RECIPES

    Even if you’re spending a quiet weekend at home, you can celebrate Memorial Day with a patriotic bite or two. Here’s a group of recipes to bite into.

    Some are so easy that all you have to do is put the ingredients together: no cooking.

    You can use the same red, white and blue recipes for Independence Day and Labor Day, which honors the contributions that American workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.
     
     
    MEMORIAL DAY BREAKFAST RECIPES

  • Red Velvet Pancakes (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blueberry Muffins (recipe)
  • Poached Eggs or Egg White Omelet With A Side Of Red & Blue Berries
  • Yogurt Parfait With Star-Shaped Toast (recipe)
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    MEMORIAL DAY SIDE & MAIN DISH RECIPES

  • Apple Ginger Cole Slaw (recipe)
  • Blue Cheese & Red Vegetables (recipes)
  • Chilled Raspberry Soup With Blueberries(recipe)
  • Firecracker Macaroni & Cheese (recipe)
  • Patriotic Cheeseburger (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Potato Salad (recipe 1 and recipe 2)
  • Star-Shaped Sandwich Skewers (recipe)
  • Tomato & Mozzarella Skewers (recipe)
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    MEMORIAL DAY SNACK RECIPES

  • American Flag Crudité Plate (recipe)
  • American Flag Fruit Skewers (photo)
  • Bacon Flag Pizza (recipe)
  • Cheese American Flag (recipe)
  • Marshmallow Pops (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Ice Pops (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Popcorn (recipe)
  • Stuffed Celery (recipe)
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    Red, White & Blue Yogurt Parfait

    Red, White & Blue Fruit Skewers

    Patriotic Sangria

    Patriotic Drink

    COULDN’T BE EASIER: [1] Yogurt plus berries. For fun, cut star-shaped toast with cookie cutters (photo courtesy Smuckers). [2] American Flag fruit skewers (photo courtesy [the former] Stix Mediterranean Grill | NYC). [3] Layer white sangria or pink lemonade in a pitcher with berries. You can find the recipe on the Svedka website). [4] Cocktails or mocktails, from Cosmos and Pomtinis to pomegranate juice mocktails (photo courtesy The Clean Dish).

     

    Red, White & Blue Cupcakes

    Patriotic Dessert

    Patriotic Naked Cake

    WHO WANTS DESSERT? [5] Add a simple cupcake garnish (photo courtesy Go Bold With Butter). [6] Ice cream with sauces, berries, even a blue macaron serving as the top and bottom of an ice cream sandwich (photo courtesy Vandal | NYC). [7] Just bake the layers, and top with red, white and blue (photo courtesy Good Eggs).

     

    MEMORIAL DAY BEVERAGE RECIPES & PRODUCTS

  • American Amber Ale
  • Chandon July 4th Limited Edition Sparkling Wine
  • Any sparkling wine with a splash of red liqueur, such as Alizé Red Passion or Remy Martin Red Berry Infusion (first the liqueur, then top with the wine).
  • Red, White & Blue Ice Cubes (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Layered Cocktail (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Sangria With Cocktail Option (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Layered Shooter (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Lemonade & Hard Lemonade (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Limited Edition vodka bottles, like this one from Svedka.
  • Red, White & Blue Sorbet Float (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Tequila Shooters (recipe 1 and recipe 2)
  • Spicy Hot Lemonade
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    MEMORIAL DAY DESSERT RECIPES

  • American Flag Cookies (recipe)
  • American Flag Brownie Ice Cream Cake (recipe)
  • American Flag Pie (recipe)
  • Blueberry Cherry Pie With Stars & Stripes Top (recipe)
  • Oreo Cookie Balls (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Cheesecake (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Cupcakes (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Frosted Layer Cake (recipe 1, recipe 2,
    recipe 3)
  • Pavlova (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Grilled Angel Food Cake (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Parfaits (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Shortcake (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Tartlets (recipe)
  • Red, White & Blue Whoopie Pies (recipe)
  • Starfruit
  • Triple Berry Biscuit Shortcake (recipe)
  • Stars & Stripes Toll House Cookies (recipe)
  • Strawberry & Blueberry Parfait (recipe)
  • Red Velvet, White & Blue Cupcakes (recipe)
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    MORE MEMORIAL DAY RECIPE IDEAS

  • More Recipes 1
  • More recipes 2
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    TIP OF THE DAY: National Hummus Day: Try A New Brand!

    Hope Black Garlic Hummus

    Salad-Topped Hummus

    Chocolate Hummus

    [1] Black Garlic, one of 11 delicious flavors of Hope Hummus (photo courtesy Hope Foods). [2] One of our favorite ways to serve hummus: topped with salad ingredients and, as a lunch dish, with a hard-boied egg (photo courtesy Shayla | NOLA). [3] Woo hoo, chocolate hummus (photo courtesy Hope Foods).

     

    May 13th is International Hummus Day.

    Over the last two decades, hummus has evolved from a mezze at Mediterranean restaurants to the hottest, most nutritious dip and spread at supermarkets nationwide. It’s the darling of nutritionists, nutritious and versatile, and a better-for-you snack.

    Hummus is Arabic for chickpea. The more long-form name for what we refer to as hummus is hummus bi tahina, chickpeas with tahini. Tahini is a paste made of toasted, hulled sesame seeds, which can been joyed as a dip on its own.

    The recipe for hummus is simple: chickpeas, tahini and seasonings (including garlic), mashed and puréed*.

    THE HUMMUS RENAISSANCE

    Two decades ago, the hummus available in the U.S. was the classic: plain. If you didn’t order it at a restaurant or live near a neighborhood with an international market that carried it, you made your own the recipe is easy, once you found a store with tahini).

    But since the hummus renaissance, stores have been sagging under the weight of so many brands and so many flavors. We’ve counted more than two dozen flavors among different brands. Our personal favorites: horseradish and black olive, which we found at Trader Joe’s.

    But, we like everything. So we were very pleased to receive samples of a new brand from Hope Foods. If you head to the website now, you can enter to win a year’s supply of hummus.

    HOPE FOODS ORGANIC HUMMUS

    There are 11 flavors of hummus. We tried three of them, all especially delicious.

    First, the consistency is wonderful, like well-mashed homemade hummus.

    While we enjoy the ultra-smooth texture of big brands like Tribe, we welcome the return of toothsome texture, like Grandma used to make (if your grandma’s ancestry was in the eastern Mediterranean).

    Second, the flavor selection is a bit more interesting, with black garlic, Thai coconut curry, and spicy avocado hummus (the most popular flavor).

    The line is preservative free, certified Gluten-Free, Non-GMO Certified, OU kosher and USDA Organic. There’s a store locator on the website.

    HOPE HUMMUS FLAVORS

    Currently, the line of hummus includes:

  • Black Garlic Hummus
  • Jalapeño Cilantro Hummus
  • Kale Pesto Hummus
  • Lemon Peppercorn Hummus
  • Original Recipe Hummus (nice and peppery)
  • Red Pepper Hummus
  • Spicy Avocado Hummus
  • Sriracha Hummus
  • Thai Coconut Curry Hummus
  • Plus, Dessert Hummus

  • Dark Chocolate Hummus
  • Dark Chocolate Coconut Hummus
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    While we haven’t had Hope’s chocolate hummus, we have had other brands: Thumbs up!

    The company also makes guacamole, which we have not yet tried.

    “Spread” the word!
    ________________

    *Some brands also add olive oil.

     

    THE HISTORY OF HUMMUS

    Chickpeas, sesame, lemon, and garlic have been eaten in the Levant† for millennia. Though widely consumed, chickpeas were cooked in stews and other hot dishes. Puréed chickpeas eaten cold with tahini do not appear before the Abbasid period (750 to 1517 C.E.) in Egypt and the Levant.

    The earliest known recipes for a dish similar to hummus bi tahina are in 13th-century cookbooks from Cairo.

    Some food historians believe it appeared a century earlier, prepared by Saladin, the first sultan of the Ayyubid dynasty (1174–1193); and if so, it was more likely created by a cook in his kitchen, the idea of the warlord Saladin-as-cook being tough to swallow.

    Recipes for cold purée of chickpeas without tahini, but with vinegar, oil, pickled lemons, herbs, spices (but no garlic), appear in medieval cookbooks; as do recipes with nuts vinegar (though not lemon), but it also contains many spices, herbs, and nuts. [source]

    Whomever and however, we’re grateful that it came to be part of our [almost] daily diet,

    ________________

    †The Levant is an English term that first appeared in 1497. It originally referred to the “Mediterranean lands east of Italy.” The historical area comprises modern-day Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Syria. Among other popular foods, Levantine cuisine gave birth to baklava, balafel, kebabs, mezze (including tabbouleh, hummus and baba ghanoush), pita and za’atar, among other dishes that are enjoyed in the U.S. and around the world.
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    WHAT IS/ARE MEZZE?

    Mezze (MEH-zay) or meze is the singular form for a number of small dishes served in the Middle East to accompany drinks (add an “s” for the plural form in English). In some countries, an assorted mezze plate is served as an appetizer.

    Each country has its favorites. The ones most often found in the U.S. are:

     

    Mezze Platter

    Hummus Platter

    [4] A mezze plate in California: babaganoush, feta, hummus, olives, pita and a local touch, pickled carrots (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [5] Hummus itself is gluten-free, but not the pita. This gluten-free hummus plate from Glutino Foods offers other options.

  • Babaghanoush, mashed eggplant mixed with seasonings.
  • Dolmades can take many forms. In the U.S., they’re usually Greek-style: grape leaves stuffed with rice, chopped mint and lemon juice (these are also called sarma). In some countries, eggplants, peppers and zucchini are stuffed, often with the same ingredients plus minced lamb.
  • Falafel, a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both.
  • Fattoush – salad made from several garden vegetables and toasted or fried pieces of pita bread.
  • Feta cheese or other local cheese.
  • Halloumi cheese, sliced and grilled.
  • Hummus, a dip or spread made from cooked, mashed chickpeas.
  • Kibbeh, a mixture of bulghur, minced onions, finely chopped meat, and spices. Depending on the region, it is shaped into balls or patties and fried, baked, cooked in broth, or served raw (tartare).
  • Souvlaki, bite-sized lamb cubes, grilled on a skewer.
  • Labneh, strained yogurt that is more tart, like sour cream.
  • Tabbouleh, bulgur wheat, finely chopped parsley, mint, tomato, green onion, with lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings.
  • Taramasalata, a carp roe dip based whipped with lemon juice and olive oil. Sometimes, mashed potatoes or bread are added to stretch the recipe. We buy the Krinos brand, which does not add fillers.
  • Tzatziki, a dip made from plain yogurt, chopped cucumber with finely chopped garlic and mint leaf.
  • Yogurt.
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    They are typically served along with Greek-style olives and pita, or other flatbread.

    MORE HUMMUS

  • Beyond Dipping: More Ways To enjoy Hummus
  • Black Garlic Hummus Recipe
  • Carrot Hummus Recipe
  • Hummus Sushi
  • Make Your Signature Hummus
  • Rancho Gordo Hummus Recipe
  • Turn Plain Hummus Into Flavored Hummus
  • 20 Ways To Make A Hummus Sandwich
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    TRIVIA: National Egg Month

    May is National Egg Month, a time for some consciousness-raising.

    We look for Certified Humane eggs and don’t mind paying the premium for them. You’ve no doubt heard the horror stories of mass egg production.

    We buy from Pete and Gerry’s whenever we can: eggs produced on small family farms with a commitment to the humane treatment of the chickens.

    Pete & Gerry’s eggs are also USDA Organic, OU kosher and B-Corporation Certified: committed to sustainability.

    They shared these fowl facts with us:

  • There’s no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs. The color of the egg is actually determined by the color of the hen!
  • Young hens produce smaller eggs. The medium-size eggs come from pullets, hens that are less than a year old.
  • The smaller the egg, the thicker the shell. This makes them easier to crack (no fragments to fish out) and, for hard-boiled eggs, easier to peel.
  • What creates a double yolk? In a young hen that is just learning how to lay eggs, two eggs merged before the shell was formed.
  • All eggs aren’t equally flavorful. Aside from freshness (e.g., farmers market eggs), the tastiest eggs come from free-range hens they have real access to grass, where they can peck for worms and other insects that contribute to the flavor.
  • Fresh water, the space to roost and access to earth so they can dust-bathe are also essential. Cage-free and conventional hens spend their lives crammed together indoors. Cage-free hens aren’t confined to sit in a tiny cage, but are crammed onto the floor of a building with no room to move.
  • What’s the deal with cholesterol? In the 1980s, news warned against the consumption of eggs for people with high cholesterol. But the new news is, research has returned to the side of egg consumption. Don’t steer clear of eggs because of cholesterol. (If you have an issue, consult with your healthcare provider).
  •  
    That’s good news, because…

  • The egg is a nutritional powerhouse, with 7 grams of high-quality protein, iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids, including the disease-fighting antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin and the macro-ingredient choline. Yes, there are 5 grams of fat, but only 1.6 grams are saturated fat (types of fat). And all for just 75-78 calories per large egg.
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    Now for the fun trivia:

     

    Natural Hens' Eggs Colors

    Tufted Araucana Chicken

    These eggs are all natural in color. The colors come from different breeds of hens. Those breeds don’t produce eggs as economically as breeds that produce white and brown eggs, so they are not sold commercially, except by some farmstands (photo courtesy The Egg Farm). [2] This tufted arcauna chicken, originally from South America, lays pale blue eggs (photo courtesy Awesome Araucana.

  • Why are eggs sold by the dozen? In England and other European countries from as early as the 700s and continuing until around 1960, the Imperial Unit System was used. There were twelve pennies to a shilling, which meant that an egg could be sold for a penny, or a dozen eggs could be sold for a shilling, with no change-making required.
  • By the Elizabethan period (1550-1600), selling eggs by the dozen was the standard practice. The English who emigrated to North America brought the system with them. Other countries have their own standards.
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    TIPS

  • To crack an egg: The best technique is to tap it on the counter, not on the rim of the bowl. You’ll avoid fragments, splinters, or whatever you call those exasperating little pieces that drop into the bowl.
  • To check if an egg is fresh or stale, raw or hard boiled: Just spin the egg on the counter. If it wobbles, it’s raw. If it spins easily, it’s hard boiled. A fresh egg will sink in water, a stale one will float.
  • Egg sandwiches: A fried egg sandwich with bacon was popular in our youth. These days, one of our go-to quick meals for breakfast, lunch or light dinner is a sliced hard-boiled egg sandwich on rye toast. We buy the eggs pre-boiled and peeled (a great time saver!) and use an ever-changing variety of seasonal fixings (a favorite: roasted red pepper (pimento) with baby arugula) and mayo flavors. For weekend brunch: a slice of smoked salmon.
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    THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF EGGS

    If you think of eggs as either white or brown, check out the different types of eggs in our Egg Glossary. There are 10 choices in chicken eggs alone!
     
    SOME EGG-CELLENT LINKS

  • Egg Salad Recipes & The History Of Egg Salad
  • How To Make The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg
  • Egg Nutrition
  • Quail Egg Recipes
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    RECIPE: Shrimp, Corn & Zucchini Flatbread

    Shrimp Flatbread

    Arugula Pizza

    [1] Shrimp flatbread from SeaPak. [2] No matter what type of pizza or flatbread, we toss fresh baby arugula on top when it emerges from the oven (photo courtesy Purple Carrot).

     

    Shrimp is America’s favorite in the fish and shellfish category. Of the 15.5 pounds consumed by Americans each year, shrimp accounts for 4 pounds.

    (Dudes: 15.5 pounds per capita per year is way too low. Americans eat nearly 50 billion burgers a year, which translates to three burgers a week for every single person. That’s a lot of beef.!)

    For National Shrimp Day, May 10th, we whipped up this easy shrimp flatbread using frozen Shrimp Scampi from SeaPak.

    Nicely seasoned in a butter, garlic and red pepper sauce, you don’t need to add any more flavor to the shrimp.

    One way to enjoy shrimp, more often, and more affordably, is to look to the freezer section.

    While we always buy fresh shrimp for, say, a shrimp cocktail or plateau de fruits de mer.

    But in a multi-ingredient dish—like this flatbread, coconut beer batter shrimp, shrimp fra diavolo, shrimp pad thai, shrimp salad sandwich, and so on—where the shrimp is integrated with other flavors—the frozen shrimp can do just as nicely.

    RECIPE: SHRIMP, CORN AND ZUCCHINI FLATBREAD

    Prep time is 15 minutes; cook time is 15 minutes.

    Ingredients For 6 Snack Servings Or Two Lunches/Dinners

  • 1 12-ounce package of SeaPak Shrimp Scampi
  • ½ cup frozen or canned corn kernels
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • Bench flour*
  • 1 16-ounce ball of pizza dough (fresh or frozen/thawed)
  • Cooking spray
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • Optional: ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 lemon
  • Optional garnish: baby arugula, fresh basil
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    ________________

    *Bench flour is simply flour sprinkled on the work surface (once upon a time called a work bench).

     
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 450°F. Prepare the frozen scampi according to package instructions (7 minutes in a skillet). Add the corn and zucchini to the pan and stir occasionally.

    2. LIGHTLY flour a work surface and press the dough into a large rectangle.

    3. TURN a baking sheet upside down (so the bottom is facing up) and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Transfer dough to the bottom (sprayed side) of the baking sheet. Use some of the sauce from the scampi to brush over the top of the dough, and pierce the dough with a fork to avoid large air bubbles.

    4. BAKE for 12-15 minutes. In the last 5 minutes of baking, remove the pan from the oven, cover with the optional mozzarella, and use a slotted spoon to drain the shrimp mixture, reserving the scampi sauce in the pot. Spread the mixture over the flatbread. Top with the shredded parmesan cheese and return to the oven. Bake until cheese begins to melt.

    5. SLICE the lemon and squeeze half into the scampi sauce. Pour into a small bowl to use for a flatbread drizzle, dipping sauce or even a salad dressing.

    6. TOP the pizza with the arugula or basil and bring to the table.

     
      

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