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What Would You Cook for a First Romantic Dinner ?

OK what would you cook (for a man) for a first real deal romantic dinner date in your home? Here's what I know in terms of parameters. I know he likes steak, chicken, salmon and sweet potatoes for sure. Nothing can be deep fried. He likes southern food in particular. A mixed salad is also a good idea. OK so what would you make knowing all of this? Oh and in case you were wondering, the idea here is to make this man go over the edge in love, if such a thing can be accomplished in a single meal :)

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  1. how about a lime glazed, seared salmon, served over mashed sweet potatoes?

    also, i've had this recipe waiting in the wings, in my epicurious recipe box for ages. i haven't gotten around to making it yet, but it does sound fantastic:

    perhaps start with a salad and then profiteroles for dessert (they're far easier than they seem), served on a single plate with two spoons.


    1. I know it's summer and all that, but the dish that comes to mind is Fall Apart Lamb Shank with Chocolate Almond Piccata from the Slow Meditteranean Kitchen. It is hands down the most delicious dish to ever come out of my kitchen. If my husband weren't already my husband this would have been the dish to convince him.

      I don't have the recipe on me, but if you want it, I can paraphrase it for you when I get home.

      1. jfood's thoughts:

        there are two things you can do between arrival and serving.
        1 - enjoy your time with your date
        2 - enjoy your time with your pots and pans
        Hopefully 1 outweighs 2

        So how do you spend time with date (over a glass of wine and some good apps) and have a romantic dinner.

        Braising is the key. It is almost impossible to overcook a braise. the longer it cooks the better it tastes.

        So jfood would recommend a braise, either chicken (coq au vin), short ribs, osso bucco, something that can linger in a 300 degree oven and is not controllingthe tempo of the night. Likewise make some polenta, some mashed sweet potatoes, some mashed regular potatoes and place in a casserole and leave in the oven as well to keep warm.

        Then when the moment/timing is right you are not scurrying and suateeing and grilling and all that. All you need are plates, some potholders, some serving utensils and a "please join me for the next course."

        7 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          I would have to agree 100% with jfood- Another really yummy idea is penne with vodka cream sauce- Some nice crusty bread and a mixed green salad- I have an outstanding recipe if your interested... This too can wait on you (make the sauce ahead of time) and 10 min. before your ready just boil your penne. I love the profiteroles idea for desert. maybe with some vanilla ice cream in between and chocolate sauce drizzled over the top! YUMM!! I would have some wonderful cheese out to nibble on before dinner (brie for sure) with nice crackers. maybe even make a belini to start! :)

          1. re: gastronomy

            I also wanted to tell you about the first meal i cooked for my husband when he came over for the first time. It was a fluke that he came by so i was really preparing this meal for myself and at the last min. he came over- however it worked out well because he loved the meal and dropped down and porposed.... (okay not quite it was 2 years later) but you get the point! I made chicken breast stuffed with bacon and feta baked in the oven. Roasted Potatoes and salad rounded out the meal. Simple good food. :)

            1. re: gastronomy

              Braising some thing is definately in my thoughts. Also, I am planning make as much as possble 1 day in advance. So braised meats reheat well. Or perhaps stewed chicken pieces etc.

              1. re: Ora

                braised meats and dark meat chicken are better the second day. be careful on the white meat chicken. experience is that the white meat tends to get stringy.

                  1. re: jfood

                    duck legs confit are great for something like this. dead easy, you can make them days ahead of time and people think they're terribly complicated.

                    i finish them with pomegranate molasses and serve with polenta or couscous and a sharp green, like arugula.

            2. re: jfood

              "So jfood would recommend a braise, either chicken (coq au vin), short ribs, osso bucco, something that can linger in a 300 degree oven and is not controllingthe tempo of the night. "
              Plus, the smell of your apartment/house will be SO good when he walks in the door, he can't help but fall in love with you!

            3. Great question, because you want it to be good, but you don't want it stress you out too much, or take too much prep time while your guest is over.

              What always works for me in times like that is my mother's filet of beef tenderloin. And, as a guy, I can tell you there is no faster way to a man's heart than filet of beef.

              The meat is so good all you need to do (other than pay for it, which kind of sucks) is make sure you don't over cook it. But I also suggest some type of coating for the beef, which will add some flavor andhelp seal in the juices.

              My mom's recipe uses a combination Asian spices -- sambal manis, sambal oelek and a think, sweet soy that I think is called kitjap manis (I don't have my recipe with me). The combination of these sauces is spicy, but a thin coating of them on the beef browns up beautifully, seals in the juice, and doesn't overwhelmed the beef.

              With something as impressive, tasty and filling as beef tenderloin, you don't need much else. I'd make a big colorful salad in advance. Then maybe cube some nice potatoes, coat them in oil and get them ready for roasting, also in advance of your guest arriving. Get the beef ready too, simply by tying it to form a strip of uniform thickness and coating it with the sauce. Make up some side bowls of dill and goat cheese to sprinkle on top of potatoes after roasting, and bang, your done until after your guest arrives. When he gets to your place, you can throw the potatoes in the oven. Then when you are almost ready to eat stick the meat in. Have a good bottle of red open and ready to go.

              Warning: You better really like this guy, because he'll be hard to shake after this meal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: gmunno

                I also go with a tenderloin. My standard prep is to make a spice rub (garlic, fresh herbs from the garden, salt, black pepper - could easily use southwestern spices) and lube up the roast with olive oil and then cover in spices. Roasting time can vary but I serve it medium rare. When I made this for my BF I served it with a horseradish cream sauce, creme fraiche mashed potatoes and haricot vert. He swooned, and hasn't left my side since. ;)

              2. I have a couple of things that I like for romantic dinners: first, things eaten with the hands, and things eaten from a common dish. So I would probably start with artichokes with vinagrette or melted butter or a mini goat cheese 'fondue" to dip things into. Then I like steamed mussells of some kind of bouillabaisse to eat with wonderful bread. I would finish with pots du creme or littel molten chocolate pudding cakes.

                I have to say that the comments about braising are very true and if you decide to go in that direction, and he likes southern food, grillades and grits might be well received.

                1. Okay it might be old school but it did work. I made Coquilles St. Jacques. I don't remember what else I made long ago. He still talks about it and wonders why I never make it anymore... good question! Hey there's that cheese and seafood thing. I love this dish!
                  They were easy to prepare in advance, pushed them in the oven they looked quite impressive upon serving if I do say so might self.

                  He loves scallops so I had found that out earlier, so its good to find out likes and dislikes. I think crabtinis or shrimptinis are very nice for romantic starters.
                  And keeping the meal lighter if you can.

                  1. He doesn't sound fussy, so I'd stay away from fussy foods (much as I love mussels, this would be too fussy to eat). Osso bucco sounds like a great dish, plus two types of mashed potatoes -- sweet potatoes and plain or pesto. Salads are great but they make a dull beginning. Try an antipasto platter or else bruschetta. It's corn season. Have you considered a fresh corn soup? It would be wonderfully sweet and somewhat southern.

                    1. Surf and Turf,

                      Perhaps a couple of nice filets, or an even nicer Porterhouse, and some lobster tails, or king crab legs.

                      1. I'm in agreement with jfood that it's most important you make something that allows you to enjoy the time before the meal with the man instead of the pans. Another way you could go would be roasting a chicken or some game hens. If this guy likes southern food he would definitely appreciate a roast chicken, mashed or roasted sweet potatoes and a blueberry pie for dessert (or you could go more sultry with dark chocolate tarletts, etc... all can be made ahead). The first meal I ever made for my bf was a roasted chicken with roasted root vegetables (all one big pan... yessss), bread and salad and I baked a pie the night before. It made my whole apartment smell great and with everything either in the oven or the fridge by the time he came over I was able to enjoy a glass of wine and a nice snack beforehand with him.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: LAcupcake

                          Yes, I had the whole roast chicken idea in mind as well. Love the idea of throwing the root vegetables in the pan...this is on the short list of options.

                          1. re: Ora

                            I have yet to meet a man who would turn down a nicely grilled steak (see: NYT article about dating and steak). Marinate it in red wine with soy sauce garlic and herbs, then grill. Serve with two types of mashed potatoes (very important! -- it looks impressive) and side of vegetables.

                            1. re: merlot143

                              Hmm. This is spot-on except for the two types of mashed potatoes; speaking as a man who no, no, certainly would NOT turn down a nicely grilled steak: one type of mashers would be fine, thanks. Two would actually kinda freak me out a little bit....

                            2. re: Ora

                              The roasted vegetables are great (as is anything that practically prepares itself) but another really lovely idea would be to serve the chicken over large croutons (I've seen this done in a couple of bistros as well as an episode of the Barefoot Contessa). They soak up the pan juices that run off the cut chicken and the whole presentation pairs really nicely with more seasonal vegetables like heritcot verts or an heirloom tomato salad (again, all able to be prepped ahead) and nicely ended with a fruit pie or maybe even a large shortcake to share (can you tell I love dessert? I plan my meals around desserts). Have fun and good luck!

                              1. re: Ora

                                I agree with the roasted chicken -- I'd go with the Zuni recipe. And some mashed potatoes, and maybe green beans. You want delicious without fussy. And a cobbler or crumble for dessert, or if you have time, a pie. You want the guy to feel comfortable and satisfied.

                                Incidentally, I was thinking about the first meal my husband ever cooked for me -- chicken tikka masala with the masala sauce from a jar, over basmati rice. We had candles stuck in empty 2 L coke bottles. And I was head over heels.

                            3. I braised these green chile and chipolte beef shortribs this weekend: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

                              and served them over this recipe for cheddar corn grits:

                              They paired together quite nicely with a Spanish red wine. I put the rub on the ribs two days ahead of time (though one will work) and then cooked them one day ahead, cooled, and then reheated the night of the dinner. The presentation of a short rib on top of the grits with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro was very easy to do and yet looked like a restaurant plating.

                              A cool sorbet or ice cream for dessert would finish the meal off nicely in this heat.

                              If you go with a different main dish, I've also made these Bourbon smashed sweet potatos for Thanksgiving and they are a delicious variation on the side.

                              1. I made the following for one of my first dates with my boyfriend- Smoky Shrimp & Cheesy Grits (http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sm...). Pretty easy and straightforward to put together; I did it with a simple salad (made some fresh buttermilk dressing), and served it with angel biscuits (you could sub sweet potato biscuits given his penchant for them). I did a flourless chocolate cake, but to be honest, we were so stuffed from the shrimp 'n grits, we barely made a dent!

                                1. Thanks to all for the suggestions. I ended up making a small roast chicken with carrots, parsnips and onions in the pan. Garlic & oil pasta. A mixed salad with balsamic vinegrette to start. It went very well.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Ora


                                    Let us know what and when he cooks for you! The first meal my husband made for me was a can of tuna and a can of corn mixed with pasta and mayo. Served hot, with red wine. I'm amazed I didn't run screaming from the building.


                                    1. re: funkymonkey

                                      LOL. I don't think my guy can cook honestly. He, too, seems to always be eating a can of tuna fish.

                                  2. ditto to jfood, with an addendum:

                                    Ask him to help you do something in the kitchen.. maybe prep the salad, pour the wine, while you're cooking... anything to get him in the kitchen with you.

                                    Nothin' sexier that cooking together..

                                    Nothing better than showing of a new date how fab and glam you are in the kitchen

                                    And no better way to suss out his chow worthiness. If he balks at tossing a salad, or can't manage a corkscrew, then he is SO not the man for you!!!!