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Aug 22, 2006 10:04 PM

help me impress my bf!

i will be cooking for my bf for the first time (yikes!). i am not much of a cook but he is a great cook (i know, i am a lucky gal). i need a great menu (not too difficult to make) to impress him (although we are past the impressing you stage) or just put a smile on his face. appetizer, salad, main course (with side dishes), dessert, accompanying wine/cocktail. no chocolate in the dessert, and light on the dairy on all plates.

i am willing to travel to little delis and farmer's markets to get any ingredients near santa monica, ca.

thanks in advance!!

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  1. That's such a broad question, it's hard to know where to start.

    Okay, here's where to start: don't make all of it yourself. Buy some prepared dishes for the appetizers and/or salad and/or sides. Think about what some of your favorite prepared foods are and come up with a theme. Maybe you know a place that makes great tabbouleh, so you could do an Eastern Mediterranean themed meal: a plate of spreads for an appetizer, lamb for a main, baklava (which you can also buy) for dessert. Or maybe you have a favorite Italian deli. You get the picture.

    The other thing is: choose dishes you can make in advance, to take the pressure off and let you relax. You don't want to be so stressed out from cooking that you don't enjoy the evening with your BF. Maybe an All-American meal with chili you can make in advance, cornbread, green salad, etc. Or build a meal around a favorite dish you know you can make well. Put your efforts into the "showy" parts of the meal: a strong entree and a fabulous dessert (there was a thread a few days ago about non-chocolate desserts with lots of ideas). And wine, lots of wine!

    Good luck!

    1. Ruth's advice is excellent. I'd suggest a roasted chicken. It's easy and it's not something that has a lot of "last minute" steps (other than carving). As sides, maybe some simple roasted potatoes (you can roast them in the oven with the chicken). Any seasonal vegetable would be great. You can do some ahead of time and serve at room temperature. Here is a reliable recipe. You can substitute your favorite vegetables -- red peppers, eggplant, zucchini, etc.

      1. Another possibility: it's wild Pacific salmon season and poaching a salmon in white wine with some seasonings and herbs is really easy. What's more, if your timing isn't perfect and the salmon is finished before dinnertime, no problem--it's just fine at room temp. You can make a blender mayonnaise if you (a) have a blender and (b) feel ambitious--chop up some fresh herbs, parsley/dill/tarragon/whatever and stir them into the mayo and spoon it over the fish.

        Inexperienced cooks often worry about coordinating everything so the dishes are finished simultaneously. In fact almost everything can be "held" for at least 15 minutes, and roast meat and poultry actually improve if allowed to rest after coming out of the oven.

        Also: hand him a large vodka martini the minute he comes through the door. A tipsy guest is an easy-to-please guest.

        1. thanks everyone! very helpful advice. lots of alcohol, and something low maintenance so i could actually enjoy the meal. the problem here is that he cooked a delicious mediterranean meal for me before, and a roast chicken - i was trying to go for something different. the salmon might be a good idea..

          thanks again!

          1. I'd agree with Ruth's initial suggestions. Keep it simple, don't try to prepare complicated dishes for all of the courses, and make things you can prepare in advance, even the day before if possible. If it were me I'd probably do a plate of cured meats, olives, almonds ect for the appetizer (in any event things you can purchase), its nice to have things for him to nibble on in the event that things don't time out well. Arugala or baby greens salad with shaved parmesan, toasted pine nuts, shaved fennel or some fresh zucchini ribbons and a lemon/garlic/olive oil vinagrette. Super easy, you can have it all set to go in the bowl and just toss it with the dressing at the last minute. I like the idea of some sort of main dish roasted in the oven, but I would avoid having to carve a chicken in this situation it can be messy and difficult if you're not used to doing it. It can also be tricky to tell when roasted chickens are done if you haven't made them many times before. Raw chicken is not romantic. A roasted pork loin is much easier to carve and time and would still go great with roasted potatoes which can be done in the same pan and make ahead seasonal veggie sides such as those farmersdaughter recommended. A dish with roasted chicken pieces that have been marinated overnight might also be a good option. I'd close it out with a fresh fruit gallette which is super easy to make if you can roll out a circle of pie crust, or have a good supplier for refrigerated pie dough.

            Happy Cooking!