Updated 2011-05-16 03:02:35 ID=643:1

© 2011 The Romantic Table
©2011 The Romantic Table, Rigatoni with Eggplant, Mushrooms and Thyme 2011-05-05 21:18:38:288
©2011 The Romantic Table

Rigatoni with Eggplant, Mushrooms and Thyme, is pretty easy to make-and delicious.

The glorious month of May is here!

May is finally here! One of my favorite months to be living here on the California Central Coast. May is also one of the best months for fresh fruit, comfortable temperatures to enjoy those picnics and barbecues and gorgeous flowers and greenery. May is also the month of Mothers' Day and Memorial Day which signals the official start of summer. With that in mind we've got some recipes that will lend themselves to the season and be fun to try.

A month or so ago, I had a taste for something with mushrooms and eggplant, but I was so frustrated because the groceries stores weren't getting any eggplant due to the poor weather and late winter-conditions. Then finally a couple of weeks ago, the stores started showing eggplant again so I had had fun in the kitchen concocting this savory recipe -and satisfying my taste-bud!- This recipe, Rigatoni with Eggplant, Mushrooms and Thyme, is pretty easy to make-and delicious. It's SO mellow-definitely a "comfort-food style meal!" Just picture the combination of caramelized white onions with garlic, eggplant, brown mushrooms, thyme and a little cream with pasta- then topped with Parmesan cheese! All you need to complete the picture is a salad and a nice glass of red wine.

Since it's May, this is the beginning of the picnic-season and no better way to have a delicious side salad than our recipe for Cole Slaw-Paso Robles Style. Loosely inspired by the the former grand old restaurant Joshua's, our cole slaw is made using green cabbage rather than their restaurant's recipe called-for red cabbage. (Personally we think that green cabbage is more tender and is much more delicate and easier to digest.) We also use a fresh fennel bulb that's shredded along with the cabbage, as well as black raisins. The fresh fennel really lightens-up the mixture and the raisins give it a nice sweet crunch interspersed amongst the fresh veggies. For the vinaigrette, I go back to my "roots' and basically use the recipe that my grandmother taught me for making a good sweet-sour dressing: apple cider vinegar, granulated sugar, extra-virgin olive oil and a little salt and pepper. I also add a little dried fennel to boost the fennel flavor. It's a slaw that I could eat a couple times a week!-And because it doesn't have any mayonnaise or dairy products, you don't have to worry about it going bad if it's not refrigerated constantly.

©2011 The Romantic Table, Cole Slaw-Paso Robles Style 2011-05-05 21:08:37:287
©2011 The Romantic Table

Cole Slaw-Paso Robles Style. The fresh fennel really lightens-up the mixture and the raisins give it a nice sweet crunch interspersed amongst the fresh veggies.
Another recipe we showcase this month is our recipe for Chicken Divan. This recipe REALLY stretches those hard-earned dollars. It's a great recipe for families or those on a budget. It starts with using leftover chicken meat. We usually use a store-bought rotisserie chicken. We eat the dark meat for one dinner with slaw or a salad then the breast meat, we save for the Chicken Divan. This recipe uses for its base, thawed and lightly cooked frozen spinach, then topped with a layer of spaghetti interspersed with chicken bits and Basamella Sauce then topped with Parmesan cheese and a dusting of dry breadcrumbs then baked in the oven for twenty minutes or so. Oh is this GOOD! The recipe for Chicken Divan will easily feed six. --That's why this is such a budget-saver! It's based on a rotisserie chicken that costs only five dollars---but you get EIGHT servings of food out of that little 28 ounce chicken! Imagine what you could do with a larger chicken or even a turkey!!!

©2010 The Romantic Table, Country Cousin Fresh Strawberry Tart 2010-05-03 20:37:48:256
©2010 The Romantic Table

Country Cousin Fresh Strawberry Tart with a Shortbread Crust.
Since this is May, you've GOT to take advantage of the glorious strawberries that come from our county. The strawberries by Mothers' Day are usually at their peak tastiness. So if you want a spectacular dessert, you can't do better than our homemade Fresh Strawberry Tart. It's MY personal favorite of this good-fruit season. In fact, I usually request this dessert in lieu of a traditional birthday cake for my birthday. If you're going to be serving a crowd, you might want to make the Strawberry Shortcake-Central Coast Style. It's a lot easier to handle --and make for a bunch but with the same great fresh taste!

Now that the dirge of winter and early Spring are behind us, we can still enjoy our family and friends while minimizing gas-mileage by staying put and staying on-budget -by picnicking in our beautiful countryside and and letting "our hair down" and enjoying some of the California Central Coast's best tastes and scenery while staying "on-budget!"


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A tip from Sue!

Stoves and Ovens

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to choose your major appliances, I recommend a gas stove-top and an electric oven.

A gas stove-top is much more versatile than an electric one because it has infinite heat options.

An electric oven is better than gas because it has more even temperatures for baking and heating.