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First home-cooked meal for that special someone.

Male cooking for female. Delicious, not pretentious, while still showing a degree of culinary know-how. Any ideas would be much appreciated!!

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  1. Love to suggest something ... but don't know what you cook or like to cook or what your special someone likes to eat.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

      i was just about to say the same thing...what are her preferences? and assuming you'll be eating the meal as well, what are yours?

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        Special someone might not be the best phrase to use here - as "some chick I'm dating" didn't sound quite right. This will be our third date. We met in a club so we haven't spent enough time together for me to ascertain what she is into food wise. I do know she is into food, and likes to cook herself. She ordered filet mignon on our first date, and seemed somewhat wine savvy.

        I eat and cook everything I can get my hands on.. Not to say that I am an expert in all said areas. I am familiar with classic French cooking, but with a recipe I can cook just about anything reasonably well. Sorry I dont have much else to offer, thats why I am having trouble making the decision myself..

        1. re: ZeTerroir

          Make a steak, salad, and the richest, most decadent chocolate dessert that you can handle. Make it a French dessert. Third date is where you get lucky, right?

          1. re: 512window

            I have to agree with 512window; impress on the dessert. You know she likes beef as evidenced by the filet order. Stick with it but make something simple and comforting. There are a lot of braise references. If she's a fan of filet, short ribs may come off too fatty. Maybe a braised brisket over mashed potatoes (or polenta) with a nice salad and a beautifully prepared dessert?

            1. re: Dee S

              Chocolate souffle. Very impressive, very chocolaty, and very easy (basically a lot of stirring). I use the recipe from the Payard cookbook; here's a link to a similar one by him: www.foodandwine.com/recipes/chocolate... the NY Times also posted a simple chocolate souffle recipe recently: www.nytimes.com/2009/02/11/dining/111...
              As Bittman points out, you can make the souffle batter (batter?) earlier that afternoon and refrigerate it until you're ready to bake it. I've used it in similar situations and it's served me well.

    2. Something you like and do well. Don't experiment.

      Ask her if there is anything she *doesn't* like.

      But, do what you know. Then no panic.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Cathy

        I'm with Cathy here. I cooked for a lot of dates in my single days (hey, I still do most of the cooking for me & my wife) and she's right, do NOT try something you've never made before. Stick with something that you know you always get right, even if it's fairly simple. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed she'll be.

        Also, put a little thought into the presentation, make it look nice - most people don't put a lot of effort into plating at home, but it always impresses.

      2. Artichauts a la grecque or salade de chou rouge
        Huitres a la florentine or beignets de cervelle

        Consomme printanier or soupe l'ail

        Anguille en pochouse or al la creme
        or sole meuniere

        Le veau froid or cotelettes de mouton Pompadour
        or canard rouennais or pigeonneaux en salmis

        Points d'asperges vertes or carottes glaces au beurre or haricots mange-tout sautes en beurre

        Pain de Genes or apricots meringues Clairette (for which you also need the Genoa)

        4 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          I like it - I like it alot.. But I fear something like this might start crossing the pretentious line. A meal like this might make an average cook feel uncomfortable about possibly cooking for me at some point. I could see doing something like this together in the future and making it fun, but it might be a little much for the first run.. Any thoughts?

          1. re: ZeTerroir

            Might be right. You just got me thinking French and what I might do! Anyway, how about some J Pepin sorts of dishes? Mussel and tomato soup; fusilli with escarole, eggplant, and olive; skillet duck; apple gallette. Simple, home style, fewer courses.

          2. re: Sam Fujisaka

            Mon dieu, Sam, Anguille en pochuse!?
            Was a tad worried with "or_al la creme".... as its a first date afterall (well, third).

            I would agree with most of the posts, especially the short ribs the day before, as that's what I'm doing RIGHT now (house smells great and its -17* out).
            I'd only suggest to save some prep and try to get her in the kitchen as well - now that's sexy....

            1. re: porker

              Well, at this moment and to keep it simple I'd be inclined towards: artichauts a la grecque and maybe, just maybe the beignets de cervelle (if I were cooking for the you and the hounds who replied earlier), consomme printanier, sole meuniere, canard rouennais, haricots mange-tout sautes en beurre, and apricots meringues Clairette.

          3. Something stewed/braised. Like braised beef short ribs or lamb shanks. Preparing it the day before will give you a chance to make sure the seasoning is correct & tastes perfect. Next day you can skim the fat off the sauce and reheat it and make a vegetable and a salad. The braise will taste better the next day and you won't be freaking out with the prep work before/while she gets there.

            1 Reply
            1. re: laguera

              I was thinking along the same lines. Red wine braised short ribs over polenta. You won't have to slave over the food and can visit w/ her. I just think of short ribs and polenta as so warm and comforting and intimate. Here is a link to my now favorite short ribs recipe as recommended by jfood and chef chicklet a few months ago: http://www.esquire.com/features/recip.... Add a salad and a big red wine and voila.

              If not, what about coq au vin since you are familiar w/ the french classics?

            2. How about seared scallops? Fast, easy and delicious. You can serve it with a ratatouille and either rustic baby potatoes or polenta. You could make a nice plating. I would like to think this is a simplistic gourmet meal that's impressive but not "too much" for a third date.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Jacey

                Just *please* check for a seafood allergy (or nuts, or cillantro, gluten, ect. fot that metter)!

                1. re: enbell

                  I would have thought that someone with an allergy would be bright enough to say... But assumption etc..

              2. Since you are familiar with French, start with gougeres and champagne. She will think you are a genius. Then I like the coq au vin idea or a nice veal stew that you can do before hand and serve with rice or simple boiled potatoes to sop the sauce. and chocolate pot au creme...alot can be done ahead ( gougeres, stew and dessert) and you still will have an elegant meal ...good luck and let us know if there is a date #4 ...

                1. I would resist the temptation to cook a grand tour de force for a first home cooked meal for her. I mean, what do you do for an encore, right? So I'd stick with something that is simple, yet extra special because it is so fresh and top quality. And these dishes are always the true proof of a cook anyway. So for a main course, maybe something like a mahi mahi steak or wild caught salmon with fresh dill. "Butterflied" Cornish hens or young chickens with a simple pan sauce enriched with some diced shallots and white Vermouth are really good. For a first course, a soup can be interesting instead of an hors d'ouvre. Then if you want to include a little something with extra flair, dessert is -- in my opinion -- the best place to do that. Sort of let the meal build to a crescendo. Bananas Foster aren't all that difficult if you have a chafing dish, or a reasonable facsimile. Or if your'e a neat cook (I'm not, and NOBODY goes into my kitchen after dinner!) you could even do them stove top. Or if you want something you've done ahead, chocolate dipped strawberries are good. If you have a great dessert you do really well, then here's the spot for it. Be kind to yourself (and to her) by doing a menu that is as unstressful as possible to prepare and that will allow you to relax and enjoy her company. Have fun!

                  1. Here's what I've been served by men who were trying to impress:

                    ** Roasted game hen with Trader Vic's BBQ glaze accompanied by (purchased frozen) stuffed baked potatoes and petit pois. There were other nice things which I don't recall. What I do remember was him deftly cutting the bird in half with a pair of handsome poultry shears. I had never seen anyone use poultry shears before and resolved to get a pair for myself.

                    ** An Italian guy showing up with a bag of thinly-sliced veal and some wine and mushrooms and whipping up a platter of scallopini.

                    ** A pal inviting over a small group and making beef fondue, with several marvelous accompanying sauces -- bearnaise plus I don't know what.

                    ** Salmon, caught by himself, proudly set off with spinach souffle (probably Stauffers) and wild rice.

                    1. Subtly sexual. Oysters, asparagus, caviar, chocolate and champagne. Google aphrodisiac foods and good luck! And if on Valentine's Day, make sure you have a heart on for her!

                      21 Replies
                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        Oooooh... You are SOO wicked! What's not to love?

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Ok. Thanks hounds. Here is my menu.

                          gougeres - champagne
                          soup d'ail (soup first or gougeres?? same time??)
                          braised short ribs on polenta with asparagus - big red wine here
                          maybe a sorbet?? - ive never been a big dessert guy - an admitted fault - :-(

                            1. re: ZeTerroir

                              Sorbet? SORBET?
                              C'mon, get real.
                              Are you lighting a fire, or putting the freeze on?
                              Buy exorbitantly expensive chocolates, if you don't like to do dessert. All you have to do is eat one, to keep her company. She'll eat the rest, and love it. Can't guarantee she'll love you, but it's a plan.

                              1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                Ya your right.. perhaps a plate of assorted good chocolate - maybe with some berries??

                                1. re: ZeTerroir

                                  Now you're cooking!
                                  (any pun intended) ;->
                                  p.s. Don't be lured by strawberries, get the best raspberries you can find, maybe a dollop of softly whipped heavy cream?, chocolates accompanying.

                                  1. re: ZeTerroir

                                    Or chocolate mousse or a chocolate pots de creme. Very easy to make and you can also make that in advance. Can serve it with the berries & cream too if you want.

                                    May I also say that IMO asparagus is a very spring-like veg to serve with wintry short ribs. I know not a lot is in season right now, depending on where you live, but if you need a green veg, maybe swiss chard or escarole or braised endive OK not green ,but at least lettuce-y)? Also easier to pair with the wine. Asparagus is tricky with wine anyway, and with a big red it might clash.

                                    1. re: laguera

                                      I have to second the pots de creme. I am not a big dessert person but these are seductive.....,

                                2. re: ZeTerroir

                                  Gougeres first while you are chatting and lighting candles etc ...it's fingerfood then sit down for soup..and if its gotta be sorbet get the passion fruit

                                  1. re: ZeTerroir

                                    Am I the only one who thinks that garlic soup might be not-the-best idea... delicious, but (potentially) odiferous?? I might go with something picky for while you hang out in the kitchen... some nice bread and cheese or olives and bread... something casual and fun. Soup can also be weird to eat in front of another person you don't know well.

                                    Love the comfort food main.

                                    Agree with the Tsarina on the sorbet (too chilly)... even something picked up from a great patisserie (if you have a local fave) might work if you're not a dessert guy. There are dead easy recipes for things like pudding cakes which are also comfort food-y hits.

                                    Please tell us how it goes!!

                                    1. re: Rabbit

                                      I agree We have a rule in our house and it is the forbidden garlic soup or camping in the spare bedroom for the night...once was enough ( and it wasn't me )

                                    2. re: ZeTerroir

                                      as long as the discussion's already gone part of the way there....

                                      Do NOT serve asparagus if you're hoping to have some post-prandial indoor sports. Seriously. The scent/flavor it imparts - NOT ideal.

                                    3. re: Passadumkeg

                                      A heart on for her?? Am I the only one seeing the underlying meaning here or was that intentional??

                                        1. re: ZeTerroir

                                          Of course that was intentional...don't know if anyone picked up Sam's
                                          "or_al la creme"....

                                          Chocolates? Perhaps have a nice port to go along.

                                          1. re: porker

                                            Yes I was thinking a dessert wine of some sort..

                                            1. re: ZeTerroir

                                              If you want to blow her socks off (and maybe a few other things too) a great bottle of Sauternes is a dead on guarantee! And if you ever get really really serious, then make it a bottle if vintage Chateau d'Yquem. That's a memory for a lifetime.

                                            2. re: porker

                                              lol I saw that, thought at first it was a spelling error, then realized there was no way Sam would make a mistake like that unintentionally ;)

                                              I 2nd chocolates, good quality truffles perhaps, and while I prefer dark, I'd suggest getting a few types and champagne might be cliche but I do't know a girl who doesn't appreciate the effort :)

                                              1. re: maplesugar

                                                I'm sure I am in the minority here ... I would appreciate a good brownie and a nice bottle of red wine. I am definitely not a fancy desert girl and champagne I'm not. But I would applaud the effort.

                                                But a lot of my friends of very similar. I guess a good simple home cooked meal appeals more to me in a home setting like that in a beginning relationship vs the fancy setting. But like I said just me. I'm sure I'm in the minority.

                                                And any guy who does all that ... I still give kudos too!

                                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                                  My guess is that your view is probably more common than not outside of chowhound. This is a new relationship and you're less likely to go wrong with a nice, simple meal than trying to go all out with fancy ingredients and other "romantic" ideas that could easily go wrong. I think if a guy goes with something he really likes to cook and has made many times, a girl would really appreciate it.

                                        2. I say skip the overtly sexual oyster and chocolate thing, it may put too much pressure on her, as she will already be in your home, away from her element. You don't need the menu to reek of a planned seduction. I had a great "third date" at a man's house where he cooked while I watched. I got there, he poured a fabulous glass of Bordeaux and we chatted while he got to work! He sauteed chicken thighs with capers, tomatoes and olives, served a saffron risotto, and tossed some baby lettuce with a homemade vinegarette. For dessert was some fabulous cannolli he picked up in Little Italy. It was not a theme dinner by any means, but since we were just getting to know each other it was very low-key and very, uh, comfortable...

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: kathrynanne

                                            Another woman agreeing with Kathryanne.

                                            Honestly, when I read the seduction menu I thought it was funny...but in regards to me participating? Well, kind of creepy...and presumptive. Perhaps it's a better menu for a woman to make for a man because, that's all y'all want anyway, right? ;-)

                                            I think simple but elegant is the way to go. Although its always about the food, in this case it needs to be almost about the food but really about her and making sure she's having a good time...and making sure that the chemistry is there and building on it. This is not the time to be worry about your souffle falling.

                                            1. re: kathrynanne

                                              Yet another woman agreeing with Kathrynanne.
                                              But of course the way to my heart is with a cannolli!!!

                                              1. re: kathrynanne

                                                I think it sort of depends on the man, doesn't it?
                                                Oysters, champagne, caviar and chocolate with the right man is, well, exhilarating nevermind sexy. I really didn't care how long I used to (happily married now) know the guy.
                                                Let's face it....the right food in the right circumstance is paramount.

                                                1. re: kathrynanne

                                                  Concur--it's too obvious, too trite, etc...I'd do pasta with either smoked salmon, salmon, or chicken, and vegetables, and a salad

                                                  1. re: kathrynanne

                                                    Nice call, more low key, comfortable, comfort food, simple but still good.

                                                  2. Hope I don't duplicate ...

                                                    I would make a fresh spring greens salad with some fresh pears, pecans, dried cranberries, very simple, crumbled gorgonzola cheese and a simple olive oil vinaigrette. I can post the recipe if you want. Nothing hard. Quick and easy.

                                                    Then a nice linguini topped with chicken marsala.

                                                    Very easy and simple. Elegant and great. Not too much but very simple and if she eats mushrooms it is great. One of my favorites.

                                                    For desert I would melt some good ice cream, add some crunched up heath or snickers bars and some peanuts, re freeze, Serve with a heated amaretto and chocolate sauce and a cookie. It sounds too simple, but from a girls stand point. Everyone likes ice cream. It is simple not too over done. You don't want to look like you know it all, still elegant and still a bit gourmet.

                                                    I would appreciate that over a big gourmet meal any day. It tell me you are human, normal, simple and can enjoy simply things in life, but ... can also enjoy the better things. For this I would go a bit easy.

                                                    A good braised pot roast, loin is also a good move. This is just my favorite meal. My husbands favorite valentine meal and I have made it for several catering meals ... dates and engagement parties and just get togethers. Always is a hit.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. re: xanadude

                                                        Thanks, I personally like comfort food, but still a bit unique, Don't scare the girl, some don't like as many different things as some chow hounds. I like to make something satisfying but comforting. Easy to eat, something she would know, pleasing but still shows off some cooking ability. A nice wine, but don't spend a fortune, be reasonable. A nice salad simplistic, nothing too far out. Make sure you ask what type of dressing she likes unless you already know. And a simple light desert. Don't load up. Impress but be comforting.

                                                        Lots of ideas here ... FYI ... getting too fancy unless she is a very good cook would turn me off. It wouldn't impress me the right way. But like I said, just me

                                                        A first date meal for me, I would love to go fishing, catch fish, then come home together and cook the fish together ... make a great recipe and then enjoy with a nice bottle of wine, a movie, walk on the beach and then desert with a desert wine. Very enjoyable by the way ... But I am a outdoor girl. Impression is not how much or how fancy but the thought that goes into it.

                                                    1. Start with a classic martini. Go with the gougeres, then Pasta alla Puttanesca with a big, red wine and salad and finish with bear claws and a dessert wine; perhaps tawny port? Have some chocolate laying around.
                                                      Only you know how subtle (or not), you can be with dinner. Be yourself... Sounds like there's some chemistry, or why would she come over for dinner?

                                                      1. I'd make something that she doesn't have to worry about how she looks while eating it. No salad that can get caught in teeth, nothing too drippy (sensual is one thing, messy is another). For a 3rd date at a guy's house, no woman wants to feel that she's dessert.

                                                        I like the short ribs/polenta idea.

                                                        1. An update. Went to my local high end grocery store - saw they had veal ossobuco on sale. Went with the classic recipe there, white wine sauce braise with gremolata. Skipped the polenta went a simple mashed potatoes with gruyere. Started with a simple baby arugula salad with halved grape tomatoes and paper thin shallots, pear infused vinaigrette. Finished with sharing a few chunks of great chocolate on a chopping board and a knife. Served champagne with salad, a steel cask chard with the veal, and port with the chocolate.

                                                          Must have been ok - as her initially very heavy plate ended with nothing but a bone, void of the marrow even. Nice.

                                                          Thanks for all the advice.. The absence of asparagus in this situation was indeed a good idea. :-)

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: ZeTerroir

                                                            Thanks for reporting back. And if the girl likes marrow, she must be a keeper! ;-)

                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                              I know she sounds like she likes good food. And I love the casual Chocolate chopped up with a knife. Very intimate.

                                                          2. I'm glad it worked out. for what it's worth, I would have suggested duck, and asparagus or spinach.

                                                            And that's not even an aphrodisiac thing, I just think they go together. Love asparagus.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: Soop

                                                              I love asparagus too, but as mentioned before - any potential results of the meal, might have been effected odor wise.. if you get my drift..

                                                              1. re: ZeTerroir

                                                                Score! Bravo, Ze Terroir. :)

                                                                Did you say you served the veal with a chardonnay? Hmmm, despite a white wine braise, I've always had my osso bucco w/ a rustic red. Valpolicella being one of my favorites.

                                                                1. re: lynnlato

                                                                  I was torn on this.. but decided the delicate buttery flavor of the veal would go better with a chard - although i cooked it in a sauv blanc.

                                                                  1. re: ZeTerroir

                                                                    Smart on the asparagus, I got it that you got it and she got it too.