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EASY GAZPACHO

8 tomatoes, seeds removed

1 large cucumber, peeled

2 green bell peppers, seeds removed

1 slice bread, torn into pieces

1 clove garlic, sliced

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1-1/2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon salt

1 to 2 cups tomato juice

Hot pepper sauce (to taste)

Roughly chop the tomatoes, cucumber, and peppers. Combine with bread, garlic, olive oil, vinegar and salt in a food processor or blender. Puree at high speed until consistency is soupy, but chunky. Stir in tomato juice to desired consistency; season with hot pepper sauce to taste. Yield: 6 servings.

WILD RICE VEGETABLE PANCAKES

4 ounces wild rice

1 cup julienne carrots

1 cup julienne celery

1 cup julienne white onion

3 scallions, chopped

2 eggs

1/2 cup flour

Salt (to taste)

Pepper (to taste)

Olive oil (for frying)

Boil the wild rice in 2 quarts of lightly salted water until very tender and most of the grains have burst open, approximately 40 minutes. Drain, reserving liquid, and cool the rice by spreading it on a platter.Mix the rice with the carrots, celery, onion, scallions, egg, and flour. Season with salt and pepper.

Add a few drops of rice-cooking liquid to help the mixture stick together. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place quarter-cup mounds of rice mixture into the pan; shape them into pancakes.

Cook without moving them until the pancake is brown on the first side and are visibly cooked around the edges, approximately 5 minute. Next, flip the pancakes with a spatula, and cook until lightly browned. Blot excess oil. Serve. Yield: 6-8 servings.

BAKED SCALLOPS AND MUSHROOMS

2 pounds scallops

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1 small onion, chopped

4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups rich milk

1/2 cup or more of broth used to

cook scallops

Salt (to taste)

Black pepper (to taste)

1/2 cup sherry

1/2 cup buttered bread crumbs

Thoroughly wash scallops and add enough water just to cover the scallops; bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid broth. Cool, then cut scallops in half. Sauté the mushrooms and onion in butter. Add flour and blend until smooth; add milk and scallop liquid and season with salt and pepper. Add sherry and cook slowly until thickened. Mix in scallops and turn into buttered oven dish. Cover with buttered bread crumbs and bake in 350° oven for 30 minutes. Yield: approximately 6 servings.

BROILED EGGPLANT WITH MOZZARELLA

1 medium eggplant

Salt (to taste)

12 ounces fresh mozzarella

1/2 recipe Garlic-Herb Marinade

(recipe below)

Black pepper

Trim off the ends of the eggplant and peel off the skin with a vegetable peeler. From the larger end, cut four 3/4-inch thick slices. Place the slices on a sheet pan and sprinkle lightly with salt. Let the eggplant sit for 1 hour.Next, slice the mozzarella into 1/4-inch thick pieces. Leave the cheese at room temperature for the same hour. About 20 minutes before serving, preheat the broiler. Absorb excess moisture from the eggplant, and brush the slices lightly with the garlic-herb marinade. Season to taste with pepper and broil until browned on both sides and eggplant is soft, about 5 minutes per side. Remove from the broiler and place the eggplant on a platter and surround with the slices of mozzarella cheese. Spoon the garlic-herb marinade over the eggplant and cheese and serve. Yield: 4 servings.

Garlic-herb marinade:

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh

rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh

oregano leaves

1 tablespoon finely minced fresh

thyme leaves

Peeled cloves from a 1-1/2-ounce

head of garlic (about 12 cloves, whole)

Combine all ingredients; let marinate at room temperature for at least 3 hours before using.

ONE-BOWL CHOCOLATE CAKE

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Peanut butter frosting (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350

°. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, milk, butter, eggs and vanilla. Set mixer to low speed and beat until dry ingredients are moistened. Increase speed to high; beat 3 more minutes, until smooth.

Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center of layers comes out clean. Cool layers in pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Loosen layers from side of pans with a small knife, and invert onto racks; let cool. Yield 12 servings.

Peanut butter frosting:

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1 package cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups confectioners’ sugar

2 to 3 tablespoons milk

In large bowl, with mixer at medium

speed, beat butter, peanut butter, cream cheese, and vanilla until smooth and fluffy. Add confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons milk. Beat until blended. Increase speed to medium-high; beat 2 minutes, or until fluffy, adding remaining 1 tablespoon milk as needed.

To ice cake: Place 1 cake layer on cake plate; spread with 1/2 cup frosting. Top with remaining layer. Frost side and top of cake with remaining frosting.

CINNAMON AND SUGAR RING

3 cups all-purpose flour

5 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

6 tablespoons butter

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Sift and mix together dry ingredients, cut in butter; pour milk over ingredients and mix to form a soft dough. Place dough on a floured board and knead 10-12 strokes. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to approximately 1/4-inch thickness. Brush dough with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll and shape into a ring. Gently slice through the dough in sections to give the ring a petal effect. Sprinkle top with cinnamon, sugar, and pecans. Bake at 350

° for 35 to 40 minutes, or until evenly browned. Yield: approximately 6-8 servings.