cooking for a new beau for the first time! help!
A man I have been seeing is coming over for our fifth date, and it is the first time I will be cooking for him. I want to make something impressive, but that doesn't scream "I spent all day making this." He's a pretty decent eater; I'm not too worried about him not liking any certain flavors. But I'm having trouble figuring out the most date-worthy meal.
Don't go all out. Make something fairly simple, comfort food, something you've made before that you're confident about, something that won't require you to spend frantic last-minute moments in the kitchen. And finish it off with something chocolate.
Don't know where you are or what the weather might be expected to be there. Will it be too hot for meat loaf and mashed potatoes? What about a paella or cioppino for two? Tell us more about yourself and what you like to cook and our recommendations might better hit the sweet spot.
We're in Brooklyn, so I'd say it's probably too warm for any cold-weather foods. I think I'd like to do a main with a couple sides, instead of a one-disher like paella. As for what I cook, I'm pretty flexible and comfortable in the kitchen, though I make some especially mean mashed potatoes. The only limitation might be that I don't have access to a grill right now. Otherwise, the kitchen's fully stocked.
If you do killer mashed potatoes, I'd say go with them. The hell with the weather. They'd pair well with roast chicken, which is always a man-pleaser. For a second side I'd do some combination of vegetables cooked with bacon. French beans? Corn? Peas? Some variation of succotash? Whatever looks great at the market. All pretty simple comfort foods that should be very satisfying and hit all the I'd-like-to-hang-out-here-more-often buttons without seeming as though you put too much effort into it.
With no grill, that means cooking indoors. Do you have air conditioning? It's really hot where I am (Madison, WI), and I roasted a chicken tonight which was a BAD idea temperature-wise (I don't have air conditioning), although the chicken came out deliciously.
I agree with those who say, keep it simple. Assuming you have air conditioning, I would probably do an appetizer of blanched and chilled asparagus (which can be done in advance), wrapped with proscuitto, or proscuitto and melon. For the entree, you could do steaks in a cast iron pan on the stove, served with your killer mashed potatoes, and a nice green salad with a simple vinaigrette. Or, instead of the green salad, you could do a caprese salad, as tomatoes are getting good right now. Another option would be a whole roast chicken -- if done well, it's impressive, and goes great with mashed potatoes :-)
If it is hot in your apartment, and you don't want to heat it up further, the recipe linked below for poached salmon with fingerling potatoes and tarragon sauce is really delicious, and can be made entirely in advance. I'd do it with frozen wild salmon from Trader Joe's instead of fresh farmed salmon, as I'm avoiding farmed salmon these days, but the recipe itself is a very good one, especially when you don't want to have to cook last minute:
End it up with fresh strawberry shortcake or a summer fruit tart. I love chocolate, too, but fruit is at its best in the summertime, so it would be more seasonal and fun to go with a fruit-based dessert. If not the traditional strawberry shortcake, something like the summer berry tart recipe linked below would work great:
Do you have any clue as to his favorite foods?
I agree with the posters who have already advised to go with something you are very comfortable with making. If you are at your ease, the whole evening will be more pleasurable for both of you.
As well, any part of the meal you can make ahead of time will leave you less frazzled and anxious, as well as show your organizational skills. Roast Chicken is one of my standbys, and if you make it frequently, I would suggest you really cannot go wrong with that. You can roast some fingerling potatoes and garlic on a baking sheet underneath the chicken, then all you really need to do is toss a mixed green salad!
Never, and I repeat, NEVER let a new beau know you can cook. Cooking may be the way to a man's heart, but if you start cooking for him now, that is all he'll want and you can forget him taking you out for a nice dinner!
Save the cooking for when the relationship is getting serious. At the point where you REALLY believe this man will be in your life for awhile, then "pretend" to start learning to cook. He can be amazed at how you take to your new skill and will be impressed that this effort was all for him.
I have a pat line when a new man asks what I like to make... I tell him coffee and reservations.
Trust me, this is good advice. You'll have plenty of time to cook for him if he's the right one.
I appreciate the sentiment and, Lord knows, none of us want to be taken for granted, but cooking was how I first got my husband's attention. He told me later that his internal reaction was " MAN, she can cook! This on might be a keeper.
Now every evening as I cook dinner he sits with me and we share our day ( and occasionaly chops, mixes and opens jars. Nine years later he still let's me know, after every meal, that he is grateful for my skills and still remembers that first meal I cooked for him.
It was in the fall so I made chicken breats with onions and Calvados, mushroom pilaf and Bananas Foster for dessert.
I knew he was serious because the next week he had made new lights for my poor dark little kitchen so I could see better when I cooked and he could see what he was eating.