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Dec 9, 2008 08:08 AM

Need relatively easy delicious recipe to impress a date!

I am trying to get more into cooking, so at the moment my cooking skills are pretty basic. I've offered to cook for a guy I've recently been dating, and I'd like to make him something delicious that would be difficult for me to mess up. I know a lot of people have their kind of "go-to" recipes for purposes like this, and since I am such a new, inexperienced cook, I don't have one yet. I was hoping maybe some of you could share. Thanks so much!

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  1. What *kind* of food does he like, and would you like to do? Something "homey" or more "four-star"?

    I don't know too many guys who don't love a good meat loaf, and a baked potatoe, and I'm sure you could do a fine job with that. But if you'd like something more "gourmet-ish", let us know.

    1. Seriously nothing easier than a steak. You can start with basic sear on the pan, than finish in the oven, with nothing more than olive oil/butter, salt, and pepper.

      Then, there's lots of easy ways to make that basic recipe really fancy, like steak au poivre.

      1. I've got a bunch of stuff at home that I put together for my nieces when they came to our house for a weekend's worth of cooking lessons. I'll look for some basics when I get home from work tonight.

        Any dietary restrictions that you know about? I'm thinking of a very simple version of chicken saltimbocca (involves bacon, capers, lemon) that would go well with buttered, parsleyed noodles and fresh spinach sauteed in garlic and oil.

        1. Roast chicken, mashed potatoes and a veg is a great dinner and easy- let me know if you need tips. Spaghetti carbonara is fast easy and yummy, paired with a salad and some bread, you are set. The most important thing, is dont stress and have fun. If you stay together, and as your skills improve, you can look back fondly on your first home cooked meal together. there are few things nicer than making dinner for someone you are about, so he will be happy no matter what!

          4 Replies
          1. re: cassoulady

            I like both those ideas, and am also happy to share any tips. Also, I made some wonderful mashed potatoes this weekend from the Goin book and she specifically says that you can make them ahead of time, refrigerate, and reheat - which I did. Would be happy to post the recipe if you like.

            1. re: MMRuth

              I would be interested in that recipe for sure. I often make them ahead but really only like 30 min ahead then just keep on low, so I would love to see your recipe.

              1. re: cassoulady

                I found the recipe on line:


                I only used one stick of butter, not two!

          2. Thanks for all the suggestions so far! No dietary restrictions that I know of... as far as whether to do "homey" or more "four-star"... I guess kind of in between, if that makes sense. Neither of us are big steak/red meat eaters, although the steak does sound simple and delicious! I was thinking more along the lines of fish with a nice salad or something?

            6 Replies
            1. re: sf850

              If it's fish you want, then take a look at this recipe. The effort:reward ratio is definitely in your favour. Hubby and I just love this for it's simplicity and elegance. Looks great on a plain white plate. It even comes with wine pairing suggestions. We drink soave with this dish and find it complements perfectly. Don't skip the oven warming part. It brings the internal temperature up just enough that you maintain a rare tuna steak, but give it a warm middle.

              1. re: sf850

                If scallops are easy to find in your area, they are a great choice. If you just dry them off, add salt pepper and dredge them in flour, you can sear them in a skillet with a litle butter and oil. Literally a min or two per side. Then you can take them out, add a little white wine to pan, simmer, then add butter and lemon juice and parsley and pour over scallops.

                1. re: cassoulady

                  Personally, I think scallops are chancy for an inexperienced cook wanting to make a first impression. There is just a point when they are right and then they become tough. And, if they aren't "dry" scallops, and instead have been treated with a solution, they won't brown properly. I think salmon or another fish is much safer!

                  1. re: MazDee

                    What if she did Coquilles St. Jacques? It's relatively easy and delicious

                2. re: sf850

                  Fish and salad is a great idea. I'd do oven-poached fish, fennel and rucola salad, and good bread.

                  For the fish, get a couple of thick pieces of good fish from your local market. Wild salmon would be good, but don't go any more bland than snapper. Put the pieces in a baking dish, add a little whole, flat-leaf parsley, and one or two shallots cut in half, and some capers. Add half water, half white wine until it comes about half way up the fish. Cover and bake at 350 until it's done. That will probably be about 20 min, but you should check on it. Ask your fishmonger how to tell when the particular fish you got is done, but generally it's done when you can easily flake the sections apart with a fork. Pick one of the pieces to poke and prod at, and make that one yours.

                  When the fish is done, remove the parsley and shallots from the poaching liquid, pour the liquid off into a saucepan, and re-cover the fish. Reduce the poaching liquid over high heat, stirring, until you have about two or three teaspoons of liquid. Stir in two tablespoons of butter, and you have your sauce. Put the fish on each (warmed!) plate, then pour half the sauce on each one.

                  For the salad, I'd thinly slice fennel, toss with (well-washed) rucola and toasted almonds.

                  1. re: sf850

                    When I saw the title of your post, I immediately thought of baked fish. It's about as easy as it comes.

                    Place filets on aluminum foil or parchment lined oven pan. I'd coat each filet with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If you like, you could lay a few thin slices of lemon over top or sprinkle w/some paprika for color or both.

                    Bake filets (skin side down) on a rack in the middle of the oven for 10 min per inch of fish @ 400 - 425.

                    That seems too simple, I know, but truly, that's all there is. I'd just be sure to do a "test" run on yourself first.

                    If the fish is thinner and "flakier" by nature (talapia, snapper, etc), go at 400 degrees. For "meatier" fish (salmon, tuna, swordfish, etc), go at 425. At the end of the cook time, remove, insert fork into the center and give a slight twist to check for complete doneness throughout. It should be flaky. If not, put it back into the oven for another 4 or 5 min.

                    Depending on where you live, finding a good fish may cause you the most stress. Be certain you start with the freshest of fish that you can find and wait until the last minute to make your purchase. Do not buy it more than 1 day in advance. Even at a highly reputable store, the fish monger/butcher should not take offense if you ask to smell it before it's wrapped. It should not "smell" like anything, most assuredly it should NOT have a strong/any fishy smell. If it does, pass it up and go elsewhere.

                    After cooking, garnish with lemon juice or wedges, capers - whatever you wish. I'd keep the sides simple and buy frozen from a quality maker such as Bertolli, Stouffers, etc. Good luck!!!!