Updated 2011-04-15 00:49:53 ID=642:1

© 2011 The Romantic Table
©2011 The Romantic Table, Stuffed Cabbage 2011-04-03 16:54:10:285
©2011 The Romantic Table

Stuffed Cabbage - And you don't need to buy higher-priced cuts of meat. Actually the cheaper cuts have a better flavor for this dish!

April's Recipes - A Reason to Celebrate!

It is April. Tax time is near. But also so is Easter and-Springtime's best fruit, calmer weather, good seafood available and noticeably warmer temperatures for enjoying outside activities. This month's four recipes take all the above into account with delicious dishes that are easy to make and stay on a budget.

For those that adhere to the Lenten diet of abstinence, we've got three new recipes that take that into account. The first is a Fettuccine with Smoked Salmon and Cream Sauce. This is so good! And so easy to make!

For this recipe, you only need a half cup or so (if cooking for two) of smoked salmon. Most grocery stores have smoked salmon for sale in the refrigerated seafood sections. Trader Joes offer several styles of smoked salmon at affordable prices. In fact, because smoked salmon keeps well, this is one recipe you can almost have on hand for anytime.-All you need is a little butter, cream, lemon and brandy --and if you've got a little Italian parsley all the better!

©2011 The Romantic Table, Sand Dabs Florentine Style 2011-04-03 16:57:40:286
©2011 The Romantic Table

Sand Dabs Florentine Style, local Sand Dabs poached in white wine, then served baked on a bed of lightly-cooked spinach and covered with a light Basamella Sauce
Our next Lenten entree is made with one of the Central California Coast's local fish: Sand-Dab Florentine Style. This is a little more involved but oh! is it worth it! You poach the Sand dabs in white wine that's on a bed of lightly-cooked spinach and covered with a light Basamella Sauce (one of the basic Italian fundamental sauces, that you should know if you've been reading our website.)--And then topped off with a little Parmesan Cheese.

Our next recipe is one that was a favorite of Frank Sinatra's when he'd return from a heavy traveling concert schedule and be tired of heavy meals. As rumored in several books and cookbooks, he'd request a simple light tomato sauce with basil or oregano on penne pasta. This too is a fundamental light Italian red sauce.

In the summer, when really savory basil is available, I use that for its seasoning alone with garlic of course. But in the winter -when only store-bought basil is available, I like to substitute for the basil, a little dried oregano and a little bit of Italian parsley for seasoning.

©2011 The Romantic Table, Penne with Tomato Sauce,  2011-04-03 17:00:28:284
©2011 The Romantic Table

Penne with Tomato Sauce, a simple light tomato sauce with basil or oregano on penne pasta
The trick to making this sauce is to either use fresh tomatoes (in the summer) or in the winter use good canned tomatoes in their juices -but don't use the juices - just use the whole tomatoes and then lightly chop (or pulse for a just a few seconds in the food processor.) You need the texture of the tomatoes--not a heavy sauce!

Our fourth--and final recipe offering this month is Stuffed Cabbage Rolls. Almost everyone has had these in the past. This is our recipe. The neat thing about this recipe is that it gets better if made a little in advance and the cabbage rolls have enough time to soak up the flavors of the homemade tomato sauce. And you don't need to buy higher-priced cuts of meat. Actually the cheaper cuts have a better flavor for this dish! My filling uses both beef and pork along with sauteed onions, garlic, cooked white rice, Italian parsley and eggs.

This year when I made these, because of bad weather and harsh growing conditions, the cabbages were the most expensive items! This recipe makes sixteen large-sized cabbage rolls. --So it's very inexpensive for a crowd.

There you have it --your gastronomical itinerary for the month. So roll-up your sleeves and get cooking! The end of next month --May -Summer begins and it will be a whole different milieu of ingredients and wine and food festivals to tantalize and and savor. --Perhaps one of the year's best months to be alive here on the California Central Coast!

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A tip from Sue!

The Practical Cook

At the heart of great cooking is a practical cook. Don’t experiment with a new recipe for company.

Use tried and true recipes for those occasions so you can reduce your worries and enjoy the meal and entertaining.