Updated 2011-12-13 20:52:55 ID=658:1

© 2011 The Romantic Table
©2011 The Romantic Table, Christmas Pear and Pomegranate Salad 2011-12-13 20:45:58:316
©2011 The Romantic Table

Christmas Pear and Pomegranate Salad is one that's perfect for Christmas and New Years dinners

Decembers Celebrations! -But Also a Time to Slowdown!

December is here and so is the rushed hustle and bustle of the holiday celebrations. But dinnertime is the one part of the day we should mentally put our "Christmas-timers" on hold and collect ourselves and enjoy the warm morsels in front of us, and get back to the real meaning of sharing with one another. December's recipes will offer a little something for everyone!

Our first recipe is a delicious one-and one perfect for the chilly cold nights of December: Chicken Thighs with Baby Portabello Mushrooms. This is served on a bed of Chestnut Fettuccine or you can substitute any other wide noodle. More and more stores are starting to carry unusual pastas. The Chestnut pasta is really unusual and makes such a nice presentation. It's also delicious on Polenta. Oh is this good! And if you have a food-processor it's pretty quick to put together. You start by first flouring then browning the chicken thighs. After you brown the chicken and set it aside, you quickly saute the thinly sliced white onions, garlic, thyme and mushrooms, then deglaze with first dry Marsala, then reintroduce the chicken back into the medley, add some salt and pepper and then deglaze that with white wine and simmer for a half hour or so.

©2011 The Romantic Table 2011-12-13 20:18:55:313
©2011 The Romantic Table

Chicken Thighs with Baby Portabello Mushrooms, served on a bed of Chestnut Fettuccine make an unusual and such a nice presentation. It's also delicious on Polenta.
While the chicken is simmering, you start your pasta water and cook the chestnut pasta or any other fettuccine until al dente, drain and and then serve topped with the Chicken thighs and mushrooms. Serve with a nice salad and a glass of wine and you're all set for a piece of flavor-euphoria that will reset you for another day and make the next Christmas chore a little easier.

Our next recipe this month is Penne with Broccoli, Golden Raisins and Walnuts. This is our recipe that's loosely based on one that's an old classic from the southern part of Italy. Almost everyone will like this recipe combination --be it used as a nice side-dish or as the main pasta course.

This recipe combines the flavors of sauteed white onion, diced cooked ham, broccoli flowerettes, golden raisins, and chopped walnuts --all cooked in walnut oil and mixed with penne pasta. In the original recipe, in place of ham and walnuts it called for anchovies and pine nuts. Here in California it's hard to find really fresh-tasting pine nuts so we prefer the delicious taste of fresh California walnuts, and we think the strong flavor of the anchovies over-powers the nice fresh favors of the broccoli, which the ham does not. You really must try it! You'll be surprised how well this combination of flavors hit the spot! And it's gorgeous to look at well!

©2011 The Romantic Table 2011-12-13 20:56:16:314
©2011 The Romantic Table

Penne with Broccoli, Golden Raisins and Walnuts is our version of an old classic recipe from the southern part of Italy.
A new salad recipe this month, Christmas Pear and Pomegranate Salad is one that's perfect for Christmas and New Years dinners--with its colorful red and green ingredients.-This is quite an eye-appealing salad! And oh so easy to put together!

Using our Pomegranate Vinaigrette that you already know about, you put a sliced Star Crimson Pear (or Red D'Anjou pear) on a bed of Arugula and Radicchio, topped with a few chunks of Blue Stilton cheese, pomegranate vinaigrette and pomegranate seeds. Oh so good!

An easy side-dish we have for you is simply Braised Napa Cabbage with Pancetta and Fennel. For those of you unfamiliar with Napa cabbage, it's much milder than its green or red cabbage cousins. Napa cabbage is sometimes also called Savoy Cabbage.

©2011 The Romantic Table, Braised Napa Cabbage with Pancetta and Fennel 2011-12-13 20:44:32:315
©2011 The Romantic Table

Braised Napa Cabbage with Pancetta and Fennel goes especially well with duck, goose, or game.
This recipe is especially good with duck, goose, or game. And it's so easy to make! Just saute the Pancetta in olive oil, add in the cut Napa cabbage, add in some white wine and Fennel seed, cover and simmer for just a few minutes. What a great combination!

Our "Blast from the Past" recipe this month is Sweet and Sour Onions . Using Cipolline or small pickling onions it is a great side dish for a major holiday dinner or buffet.-A nice contrast of flavor.

Sweet and sour onions is a very traditional Italian way to prepare onions.They are great as a side dish or part of an antipasto. This recipe is from Lazio. All regions of Italy have their own variations. In the South they will sometime add a little raisins and pine nuts to the dish.

The secret is to slowly roast the onions with a good quality balsamic vinegar until they take on a nice bronze coloring. The traditional Lazio recipe calls for some butter in the recipe, a little stock for the first braise and to serve the onions hot or warm. If you are going to serve the onions chilled (our favorite way), omit the butter. Check out our recipe to see if it fits into your menu. It's delicious!

There you have it, four new recipes to try this celebration-packed month, but remember ---I'll try to remember too! ---SLOWDOWN and savor each mealtime together!

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A tip from Sue!

If rushed, prepare your ingredients in advance.

If you know you’ll be rushed at cooking time, pre-measure out as many of the ingredients as you can, and arrange them by the cooking order of the recipe.

If it’s going to be more than several minutes before you actually start making the dinner, be sure to cover the perishable ingredients with plastic wrap or place in containers and put them back in the refrigerator to hold until you are ready.