Updated 2012-09-24 00:07:29 ID=669:1

© 2012 The Romantic Table
©2012 The Romantic Table,Stacked Eggplant with Basil Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella 2012-09-14 23:58:54:343
©2012 The Romantic Table

Stacked Eggplant in a Tomato Sauce with Basil Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella is not only filling and healthy, but economical as well

A Hot September Brings a Hastened Grape Harvest and A Need for Easy Refreshing Recipes

Boy have we ever been hit with another hot month here on the Central Coast! Vineyard owners are nervously hurrying to harvest their grape crops before they turn into raisin crops. With all this hot weather and stress we need some comfort food. To fill that category, we have three new recipes that will not only energize and refresh you, but also give you a taste of more flavorful meals to come as we go further into Autumn with hopefully a little cooler weather.

The past couple of months we've seen a lot of uncompromising hot weather, and boy! are we sick of it! We need some relief!

We've got three new recipes that should get our minds off the weather, and re-energize our bodies and souls.

The first recipe is aptly named, Pan-fried Harvest Chicken with Red Grapes and it incorporates freshly-harvested red grapes that add a complementary and very seasonal taste to the comfort-food favorite flavor of the chicken. The technique for pan-frying the chicken is based on my family's way of cooking at my family's restaurant, the Country Cousin. Our specialty Pan-fried Chicken, which we were well known for, was NOT deep-fried! It took 25 minutes to cook, but it was so delicious it was worth the wait. A side-note, the famous slow-food chef of Berkeley's Chez Pannise Restaurant, Alice Waters, got her start in "the restaurant business" at my family's seasonal Drive-In on the shores of Lake Michigan in Michigan City, Indiana!--Small world!

©2012 The Romantic Table 2012-09-14 23:55:18:342
©2012 The Romantic Table

Pan-fried Harvest Chicken with Red Grapes incorporates freshly-harvested red grapes that make a complementary taste to the comfort-food flavor of the chicken.
To make the chicken, first you salt and pepper the chicken pieces, dip in egg, then flour. You saute the pieces in extra virgin olive oil, in batches if necessary. When lightly browned, you finish the chicken in a 350 degree oven. While the chicken is finishing you make the sauce by reducing down white wine with the chicken's pan juices with fresh thyme. Add lengthwise- halved grapes to the finished sauce and wow! What a delicious flavor combination! Even "super-chefs" admit that a good-quality pan-fried chicken is hard to beat! When served with some quick-cooking Fregola- A Toasted Couscousor Golden Orzo with Saffron and a fresh vegetable or even some cooked frozen peas this meal turns into a banquet!

This time of year, we're usually fortunate to have some of late-summer's best eggplant available. My husband and I conjured up this recipe while we were fantasizing how we could use this vegetable in an easy-to-make recipe that would be not only filling and healthy, but also economical. We call our eggplant creation Stacked Eggplant with Basil Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella. The only time-consuming preparation part of this recipe is the time it takes to quickly salt and pepper, coat and saute the half-inch eggplant rounds and make a simple Basil Pesto in your food processor while your tomato sauce simmers. Then it's mere stacking the different pieces of the "eggplant puzzle" and baking for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Trust me, it's Mediterranean-styled comfort food at it's best --and healthy too! This recipe also reheats and freezes very well, so if you make enough, you're able to have another delicious meal later.

©2012 The Romantic Table, The Orange Freeze 2012-09-15 00:01:42:344
©2012 The Romantic Table

The Orange Freeze was another of "The Country Cousin's" most popular items when the weather got hot.
With all this miserable hot weather, we decided our last new recipe should be for our Country Cousin Orange Freeze sherbet-based dessert drink, another one of "The Country Cousin's" most popular items. People who still remember this dessert-drink mention when hot weather arrives at their place, they always think about those old fashion Freezes and just how much they liked them. So since we're ALL "heat-fatigued," even though we're nearing Autumn, we NEED such a drink! So here it is!

Our "Blast from the Past" recipe this month, since it's still so hot, is a non-cooked sauce Savory Summer Pasta. When it’s hot we try to keep the kitchen and house as cool as possible. This is one of our favorite non-cooked sauces. –The only thing you have to heat is the pasta water for the shells pasta, which doesn’t require too much time. (You can also cook the pasta in a pot on your grill outside.)

You make this sauce ahead of time so it’s real easy to throw the final details together later at mealtime. This makes great use of midsummer’s ripened fresh tomatoes and basil.

Let's hope sometime in the near future -hopefully in a week or two, we'll get out of this miserable hot stretch of hot weather and be able to get on with more traditional ways to cook and work while still being able to enjoy the bounty of late summer's best-of season produce and recipes. Enjoy!

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A tip from Sue!

Cooking with onions and garlic

When your recipe calls for both sauted onions and garlic, saute the onions first - they take longer to soften. Then when the onions are almost softened, add the garlic.The garlic doesn't need very long to become fragrant - and you don't want to burn your garlic and turn it bitter!