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Cooking Dinner for Two - Need Inspiration

A friend is coming over for dinner after work on Friday and I cann't think of anything to make. She has unusual allegy to various seeds mainly starting with "C" (cumin, corriander, etc.), canola oil and some other things. She also does not like fish\shelfish very much and I do not eat pork... So, I thought something beef or chicken but have no ideas where to go from here. I want the dinner to be easy enough so that I spend less time in the kitchen and more with her but still tasty and special. Please help!

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  1. do you own a grill, esp a charcoal grill? if so, make pizza dough the night before (or cheat like i do and buy frozen dough), have it rolled out super thin. have every topping you would want chopped and ready to go. then grill pizzas. it takes nearly no hands on time at all after your prep is done, its super fun, it taste wonder, and nothing is sexier then eating food with your hands!

    2 Replies
    1. re: charles_sills

      Thank you, wonderful suggestion but unfortunately I live in an apartment - no grill. Guess, I could bake a pizza in the oven but it does not sound as much fun as the grilled one does.

      1. re: herby

        oh thats too bad. and unless you have a pizza stone, pizzas in regular kitchen ovens dont turn out all that great. the greek idea below sounds great.

    2. I would go for Greek. Probably chicken breasts marinated in olive oil, garlic, oregano, lemon, salt and pepper. Marinade overnite and grill or broil.

      You could also do Greek lamb with the same recipe, being sure to cook only to medium rare. I use the marinade I mentioned on the small thick lamb chops from Costco. I sear them in a cast iron pan and finish in the oven.

      Either can be served with a Greek salad (or just lettuce with Feta and olives and tomato with a V&O dressing) and perhaps some pita bread.

      1 Reply
      1. re: travelerjjm

        Nice suggestion, Travelerjim, thank you! I am not sure if she likes lamb, kinda think she might not, but chicken she likes for sure.

      2. Herby, if you have "The Essential New York Times Cookbook", Feb. 2011 COTM, on page 465 is a wonderfully tasty Breaded Chicken Breasts with Parmigiano recipe. It's very easy and quick to prep and cook. The coated breasts are fried in a skillet. I found the on-line recipe at the NYT site:

        http://events.nytimes.com/recipes/470...

        When I made these I used peanut oil and 1 teaspoon of dried tarragon instead of the 1 tablespoon of fresh. That worked out well and we loved the final dish. I served a simple salad on the side... a fine accompaniment.

        1. Indonesian Ginger Chicken is one of my go-to recipes for guests and I recommend it so often that I feel like a broken record. But it is easy and delicious. You can cut the recipe in half. Served with rice and a salad or vegetable, it makes a nice meal.

          http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

          And this rice is good, but plain rice works just as well because the sauce from the chicken is so good.

          http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/in...

          4 Replies
          1. re: valerie

            I can vouch for Ina Garten's Indonesian chicken recipe. Made it when The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook was COTM and we Loved it...

            1. re: Gio

              I just made the Indonesian chicken recipe tonight after reading this thread (Well, I started marinating last night). Very good, especially considering how easy it is.

              1. re: mountaincachers

                This is off topic a bit, but thought I would add...After making the Indonesian chicken, I had leftovers. I blended about a cup of cilantro, a few tablespoons of the sauce, a few tablespoons of peanuts, 2 cloves of garlic, and some crushed red pepper to make a pesto. Then used it to make a pizza with the pesto, shredded chicken, chopped scallions, and cheese. Yum.

            2. re: valerie

              Thank you, Gio and Valerie! Both recipes sound great - I copied and saved both and will try them soon. For Friday I think I will go with Terrie's bouef bourguignon suggestion + garlic mashed potatoes, salad to start and a small dessert to finish + a nice bottle of Cab and we are set for an evening of chat and laughs:) We both need this as we are caring for a sick friend who is not going to get better...

            3. If you have time to cook the night before, you could expand your options. Braised beef short ribs or bouef bourguignon is great on a cool night and most of the cooking can be done the night before. Just remove the cold layer of fat that rises in the fridge overnight and rewarm. Serve with polenta or garlic mashed potatoes and a salad.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Terrie H.

                Oh, Terrie, this sounds so very yummy. Not sure if I have a good recipe (not at home now) - do you have one to share? I prefer to cook the night before - I could have everything ready and heat up gently on Friday.

                1. re: herby

                  Herby, I'm so sorry that I didn't see your request until just now! I use a recipe from an old cookbook from The Four Seasons (1971!) that I inherited from my aunt. I couldn't find it in a brief search but will be happy to post it here when I'm at my PC.

                  1. re: Terrie H.

                    Please post! I still have the meat that I bought planning to make "the bouef" and need to use it up before it goes bad on me.

                    1. re: herby

                      Here is the recipe, herby. I know that there are a gazillion recipes out there for fabulous Boeuf Bourguignon, but this has been my go-to since I started cooking.

                      One the interesting differences in this one is that it calls for pork belly, not bacon or salt pork. When I started cooking, you couldn't find fresh pork belly, so I used blanched bacon. I used to make a big batch of beef stock every fall and froze portions to use in recipes like this where it makes a big difference, but I don't have the freezer space anymore. A low salt, premade version is ok, but I use only a 2-cup (or 14 oz. as they are these days) amount and make up the liquid difference with more wine. I use black pepper instead of white, and add the carrots directly to the pot with about 1/2 hour left to cook. I often saute pearl onions and mushrooms in butter to serve with, and can't help but serve it with mashed potatoes, though buttered noodles work well. Sorry for all the sidebars - it's an oldie but goody and everyone has their own take on the dish. Hope it helps!

                      Boeuf Bourguignon
                      From The Four Seasons Cookbook, 1971
                      Serves 6

                      4 lbs. top round cut in 1-1/2 inch cubes (I prefer chuck)
                      4 oz. pork belly, diced
                      1/3 cup oil
                      1/3 cup chopped onion
                      1 tsp minced garlic
                      2 tsp tomato paste
                      1/3 cup flour
                      2-2/3 cups red wine
                      2-2/3 cups beef stock
                      1 bay leaf
                      1 3” stalk thyme (or ¼ tsp dried)
                      1 TBL salt (no indication of what type, but I use Kosher and salt to taste)
                      1 tsp freshly ground white pepper

                      Brown pork belly in the oil, then the beef. Add onion and garlic. Stir until brown. Add tomato paste and flour and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and stir well. Cover and cook over low heat for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Remove meat to serving dish and strain sauce over.

                      Serve with 1-1/2 lbs. carrots, halved and cooked in boiling water to cover.

                      1. re: Terrie H.

                        Many thanks for the recipe and the "side bars", Terrie. I am making it tonight - about 2.5 lbs of beef - had to adjust quantities but left the herbs/spices quantities pretty much the same, well... maybe upped some a bit:) Smells amazing and the sauce (that I can't stop tasting) is super yummy! I made mashed sweet/yellow potatoes and will take both for lunch to work tomorrow.