Updated 2010-02-01 16:21:22 ID=584:1

© 2010 The Romantic Table
©2010 The Romantic Table, Party Wings Romantic Table Style 2010-01-31 22:56:46:247
©2010 The Romantic Table

Party Wings Romantic Table Style are marinaded overnight in our own sweet-sour with a kick light marinade and baked in the oven for thirty minutes or so. When they're almost done, they are lightly broiled for a little crispiness.

February's Fun Recipes for Entertaining

We may all be in the "February Funk", but February's two festive holidays, Valentine Day and Mardi Gras, gives us reason to perk up and cook up some fun and tasty treats --Central Coast Style!

It's February and we're all starting to get into the "February Funk." We are tired of all the winter weather and starting to get a little cabin-fever. We're frustrated and getting down right bored and uneasy. We need something to snap us out of this melancholy.

The third week of February offers two festive "holiday-excuses" to cook up some fun for family and friends. Sunday, February 14th is Valentines Day. Tuesday, February 16th is Mardi Gras. This month's Central Coast recipes will be ideal for serving on such occasions.

For Valentines Day we have a delicious little cake that is a "Buttermilk Tea Cake." It takes about fifteen minutes to mix up and then another fifteen to twenty minutes to bake. It was known to my family as "Mrs Gates Buttermilk Cake," I never knew just WHO Mrs. Gates was (other than an old friend of my grandmother's!). But Oh! Is it ever so good!

©2010 The Romantic Table, Buttermilk Tea Cake 2010-01-31 20:43:27:245
©2010 The Romantic Table

Buttermilk Tea Cake is a two-layered eight-inch cake, frosted with a simple butter cream-vanilla icing made from confectioners sugar, butter and cream.
Buttermilk Tea Cake is a classic two-layered tea cake. This is a delicious cake, especially so when served with tea or coffee. Whenever I bake it, it brings back memories of leisurely afternoon days of past and the laughter of my grandmother and her lady friends dressed in their finest, sitting and gossiping around the dining table for an afternoon spot of tea.

It is frosted with a simple butter cream vanilla icing made with confectioners sugar, butter and cream. This recipe is also one of my favorite birthday cakes and its buttermilk flavor actually intensifies as it ages. So keep that in mind and make it a day ahead if you like. To celebrate Valentines Day, we sometimes bake it in a heart-shaped form (as pictured here). But for ease in baking and slicing though, I recommend just baking it in eight-inch round cake pans.

This year, two days after Valentines Day we have another excuse to gather friends and family around on February 16th for Mardi Gras. For this we're showcasing one of our long-time favorite ways to serve chicken to a group of guests, our chicken "Party Wings Romantic Table Style." It's a recipe that's really manageable and not too messy. We've made these party wings for gatherings when we know that there will be no formal seating arrangements. Serving chicken this way is very convenient if the guests are standing and moving around.

Because these little poultry gems are NOT fried or smothered in a barbecue sauce, I irreverently refer to this recipe as "naked chicken drummettes." They are marinaded overnight in our own "sweet-sour with a kick" light marinade then baked in the oven for thirty minutes or so. When they're almost done, they are lightly browned under the broiler for a little extra crispiness, then served on a serving platter or bowl. We offer two dipping sauces to complement the wings, a spicy one made from the concentrated marinade, and a mellow Gorgonzola sauce. I know you'll like them!

©2010 The Romantic Table, Chicken Stew Chiapas Style  2010-01-31 20:57:08:246
©2010 The Romantic Table

Chicken Stew Chiapas Style is made with zucchini, onion, potatoes, carrots, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, rosemary and a secret ingredient - Prunes!
Another festive recipe this month is Chicken Stew Chiapas Style. It is based on a recipe that is served in Chiapas, Mexico. Mexican food from that region is not hot, but rather very savory and flavorful utilizing a wide variety of vegetables and fruit. This stew is SO good! It's a chicken stew that's made with zucchini, onion, potatoes, carrots, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, rosemary and a secret ingredient - Prunes! The flavor is absolutely out of this world! I love this recipe so much, one year I had it for my "birthday dinner!"

The thing to do when you make this, is to make enough for having it twice. -The flavor even gets better the second time you have it! And though it takes a few hours to cook to be really good, you can rationalize the prep-time if you spread it out over two meals. Serve this with some crusty bread to slurp up the gravy and a nice salad and you've got a meal worthy of your best friends!

Finally, we offer this month a festive pasta using Bucatini pasta (which is shaped like a thick spaghetti with a hole down the center-like a straw.) For kicks we simply call it Bucatini Southwestern Style because it has the flavors of the Southwest -sauteed uncured bacon, onion, chili powder, cumin, oregano and a little crushed red pepper flakes in a thick tomatoes sauce that's been simmered for thirty minutes or so. When tossed with the bucatini, it is so savory and will please your heartiest males out there. It's a very satisfying pasta sauce that can be mixed up quickly. It's another "pasta from the pantry" that you can have on hand for emergencies!

I hope by now you're feeling the urge to break out of the "February Funk", and these recipes ideas have perked you up a bit and you're getting game to try them for yourself. Just think, by the end of this month, we've got more things coming round the corner in early Spring such as fresh strawberries, artichokes and the weather (at least out here in the West) will be starting to get Spring-like.

In the meantime though, gather some friends and family around and celebrate what we DO have! Enjoy!

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A tip from Sue!

An easier way to pound your meats and poultry

Been frustrated by plastic wrap that won't stay as you pound your meats? Save yourself some grief by using an extra plastic bag from your grocery store's meat or produce counter. Simply place the breast of meat inside flat between the top and bottom of the plastic bag, laying flat and pound away.