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URGENT!! Need help as I am Cooking meal for a girl, I'm 17, please help

Hi, I am cooking a meal for a girl this weekend and need some help as i can't choose what to make. I want it to be tasting amazing and looking stunning. I am quite a good cook and want to find a new reciepe that I can try that others have done before. All suggestions welcome. Budget isnt too limited but nothing that will take some serious looking around to find for the reciepe.

-Needs to look colourful or really impressive
-Needs to be fairly simple to make
-Needs to be something that can be eaten reletively easily.

Thanks for your time so far!!

P.S. I may have told her I am a better cook than I actually am so your help is very needed!

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  1. All right, the Chowhound gang is here to help!
    First....what does this girl like....what have you seen her eat out, or at school, etc? Any restrictions, like is she a vegan?

    1 Reply
    1. re: pinehurst

      also allergies, religious issues, etc., etc.

      Now...go though your existing recipes -- this is not the time to make something you've never made before (and it sure isn't the time to reach higher than you're able!) Nothing impresses like a stellar fail...but not in a good way.

      What do you know how to make now? What's your "specialty" that friends and family tell you is really good? There's a good chance that you've got something you already do well that we can help you dress up with garnishes, sauces, etc., to knock it out of the park.

    2. More questions for you... sorry, we gotta ask questions before we can give answers. What meal are you cooking (breakfast, lunch, dinner) and what is the setting (at home, picnic, party, etc)? How formal or casual do you want to be, and how romantic (assuming this is the point, at least eventually)? How well equipped a kitchen do you have access to? Also, does she like to cook? And can you give us some examples of things you can make well, just so we have an idea of your style and ability?

      4 Replies
      1. re: MelMM

        It will be a Dinner and the setting will be at home. I want it to be a casual but with a touch of formality as I dont want to look like I dont care that much. Romance wise, I'm trying to impress her but not trying to make it obvious that I love her or anything haha.

        The kitchen is rather basically equipped but if equipment is need it can be bought. I have until sunday night.

        She does cook, but not much, so a meal that has taste and good presentation will impress her as she will understand what goes into it but i wouldnt say she is passionate about food.

        All my cooking at the moment is rather basic food for myself with low presentation and pure function for fueling my sport. I can cook pretty much all meats and have done quite a few using different methods, grilling, frying etc. Recently made this http://www.chow.com/recipes/30381-sis... .

        I am leaving myself sometime before she comes over so that i can practice this dish a few times to nail it before i make it for her.

        Thanks for your help guys, much appreciated so far!!!!!

        1. re: BigcookLittlecook

          Okay, so when a friend who a non cook was cooking for the first time for a new girlfriend (now wife) she called me for advice and pulled off an really good, pretty and easy meal that impressed. I told her to make broiled sea scallops using this recipe topping and serve it over sauteed baby or other spinach: Adjust the quantity and timing to your servings: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/heavenly... Works great on any fish. It's very easy, not much time away from your guest. Add sides if you think you need them, but this is all we have, no starch, when we eat it. Serve some apps, maybe cheese and sparkling wine pre meal, and have a great dessert. A day ahead, you can make a boule de neige (recipes online), unmold it and whip fresh cream after dinner before serving. Whatever you make, hope it's a great evening!

          1. re: BigcookLittlecook

            I was thinking that setting up a couple of fondue pots with a delicious cheese mixture along with crisp vegetables....crusty bread....bread sticks might be fun and entertaining.Then a chocolate fondue with cubes of cake...cookies...fruits for dessert.My idea of romance and sexy after I watched Rocco DeSpirito consume fondue on The Best Thing I Ever Ate:) Pure Food Porn! J/K but fondue seems simple yet it is appealing to the eyes if you arrange things nicely and it sort of encourages "Ohhhs and Awws" and interaction while enjoying it. The other thing that would be delicious and looks pretty are crepes.Savory and sweet. You can practice making the crepes and some sauces.Anything goes with the fillings.Someone else suggested pasta. I agree that is a good option.Tortellini with pesto and cheese...a crisp salad and maybe crusty bread. I make shish ka bobs.I do them in the oven and on the grill. Simple colorful and tasty....again fun to eat.You can serve pita bread and salad. I serve mine on a bed of rice with side sauces and a huge salad full of fresh vegetables. Maybe fresh fruit for dessert like berries with vanilla ice cream or sweet ice cold pineapple slices.

            1. re: Lillipop

              it's over -- see below. (Went well, though!)

        2. Chicken with a Grilled Vegetable Assortment

          Red or Yellow Peppers
          Green and Yellow Squash/Zucchini
          Potato/Sweet Potato

          Grilled Chicken or Pan Roasted Chicken

          1 Reply
          1. re: fourunder

            I'd go one further on this. Roast or grill a chicken (cut up should work) with a rub of coriander (the spice, not fresh cilantro), cumin, cinnamon, pepper, etc. You can also put a thread of saffron in the pan with some stock if you're roasting it in the oven. Serve it with aforementioned roast vegetables and couscous.
            For the couscous: Instant couscous is fine. It takes all of ten minutes to make. Put raisins and pine nuts or slivered almonds into the pot with it. Then put it in a bowl or platter in a nice cone-shaped mound and sprinkle cinnamon over it in a little design.
            And there you go--easy, exotic, sophisticated, and pretty.
            Good luck!

          2. re: MelMM

            It will be a Dinner and the setting will be at home. I want it to be a casual but with a touch of formality as I dont want to look like I dont care that much. Romance wise, I'm trying to impress her but not trying to make it obvious that I love her or anything haha.

            The kitchen is rather basically equipped but if equipment is need it can be bought. I have until sunday night.

            She does cook, but not much, so a meal that has taste and good presentation will impress her as she will understand what goes into it but i wouldnt say she is passionate about food.

            All my cooking at the moment is rather basic food for myself with low presentation and pure function for fueling my sport. I can cook pretty much all meats and have done quite a few using different methods, grilling, frying etc. Recently made this http://www.chow.com/recipes/30381-sis... .

            I am leaving myself sometime before she comes over so that i can practice this dish a few times to nail it before i make it for her.

            Thanks for your help guys, much appreciated so far!!!!!

            P.S. Shes not vegan

            1 Reply
            1. re: BigcookLittlecook

              make that for her!!!! I would smother my guy in kisses if he made that for me !

            2. My first thought was pasta. You can make the sauce in advance and get it just right. It will only improve having a day or two to hang out in the fridge. Be mindful of the type of sauce though and the shape of pasta (no long noodles!). You can serve a lovely green salad as a first course. If you can find edible flowers, all the better.

              Make sure to have some nibbles when she arrives. Chunks of parm and fresh figs come to mind, or another cheese and ecoutrements. Good luck!!

              21 Replies
              1. re: Christina D

                YES! that is a really good idea, all of it. What sauce do you reckon has the most impressive taste after maturing for a few days?
                Thanks Christina

                1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                  Ragu bolognese is classic, gets better with time and is one of the most delicious things you'll ever eat. Follow this recipe to the letter and you can't go wrong: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ma... (PS, if you use canned tomato paste instead of the stuff from a tube, 1/2 of a 6oz can should do the trick).

                  1. re: biondanonima

                    Ragu is a great idea. If your lady likes lamb, Food & Wine Mag recently had a recipe for lamb ragu with strozzapretti that was easy, gorgeous and fantastic. If you can't find strozzapretti pasta, gemelli or fusilli are easier to find and would be perfectly suitable.


                    Also, I *love* the idea of having her help. Cooking together is very romantic. ;o)

                    1. re: Christina D

                      I think Bolognese is the way to go. The reason is that you can (and should) make it 1-2 days ahead and let the flavors develop. When you reheat just add a bit of liquid to get the texture right. You won't have to worry about having a disaster come dinner time.

                      If you want to cook together before eating, you can focus on a second thing like an hors d'oeuvre or a dessert. (Chocolate mousse is always a good idea)

                      there are a number of good bolognese recipes with different variations. the mario batali one is pretty good. one thing i would do is try to get a variety of meats instead of only beef.


                      1. re: calumin

                        Agreed on the bolognaise. It's really hard to mess up and you'll probably be a bit flustered getting the meal ready on the night, so anything that can be made ahead is going to help you. Also, love the edible flower salad, that's inspired.

                        Good luck champ.

                        1. re: Samuelinthekitchen


                          It's an incredibly colorful & dramatic dish, wonderfully tasty, and surprisingly easy to make. The Cooks Illustrated version is pared down and streamlined, incredibly simple and delicious.

                          There are a few specialty items, though nothing too crazy. You don't say in what part of the country you live-- where I am in Los Angeles, these items are easy to find.

                          Arborio rice (a short grain, starchy rice, which makes the paella creamy). If you can find Valencia rice it's better, but the Italian Arborio is much easier to find in supermarkets. DO NOT substitute a regular long grain rice (uncle bens or whatever). A starchy, short grain rice is essential to this dish.

                          Spanish chorizo is a dried, smoked sausage (think pepperoni), not like the fresh Mexican chorizo. This is the brand I like to use in Paella, though it is slightly untraditional:

                          If you can't find real Spanish chorizo, try to find whatever dried Italian salami you can find- ideally it will be smoked, and not spicy. Otherwise, get whatever you can.

                          And as for wine (I suppose you'll need your parent's help to get this...) try to get a dry Spanish white Rioja. They sell this at Trader Joe's very inexpensively. As for the saffron, if you have a Penzey's spices near where you live, they have an incredible selection of very fresh, high quality spices at great prices. Otherwise, most supermarkets carry some kind of saffron, but the quality will likely not be as good.

                          Lastly, hopefully you have a good quality large soup pot with a heavy bottom, or an enameled cast iron pot. If you only have a cheap pan, you will need to be very careful that the rice does not burn. This type of pot is ideal:

                          Without further ado...


                          - 1 pound extra-large shrimp (21/25), peeled and deveined
                          - Salt and ground black pepper
                          - Olive oil (NOT extra virgin-- it burns/smokes too easily)
                          - 8-9 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
                          - 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs , each thigh trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise
                          - 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips
                          - 8 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
                          - 1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
                          - 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained, minced, and drained again
                          - 2 cups Valencia rice or Arborio
                          - 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
                          - 1/3 cup dry white wine
                          - 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
                          - 1 bay leaf
                          - 1 dozen mussels, scrubbed and debearded (google for advice on this
                          )- 1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
                          - 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
                          - 1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving


                          1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon garlic in medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.

                          2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer peppers to small plate and set aside.

                          3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty Dutch oven; heat oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add chicken pieces in single layer; cook, without moving pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn pieces and brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer chicken to medium bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add chorizo to pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl with chicken and set aside.

                          4. Add enough oil to fat in Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice and cook until grains are well coated with tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return chicken and chorizo to pot, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until rice absorbs almost all liquid, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from oven (close oven door to retain heat). Uncover pot; scatter shrimp over rice, insert mussels hinged side down into rice (so they stand upright), arrange bell pepper strips in pinwheel pattern, and scatter peas over top. Cover and return to oven; cook until shrimp are opaque and mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.

                          5. Optional: If soccarat (rice that cooks to the bottom of the pan and becomes brown and crispy) is desired, set Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, rotating pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning. IF YOU'RE USING A CHEAP POT WITH A THIN BOTTOM, BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN THE RICE.

                          6. Let paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle with parsley and serve, passing lemon wedges separately.

                          7. If You're Using a Paella Pan
                          A paella pan makes for an attractive and impressive presentation. Use one that is 14 to 15 inches in diameter. A 14-inch ovensafe skillet will work as well, but do not attempt to use anything smaller because the contents will simply not fit. Follow the recipe for Paella, increasing the chicken broth to 3 1/4 cups and the wine to 1/2 cup. Before placing the pan in the oven, cover it tightly with foil. For soccarat, cook the paella, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after about 1 1/2 minutes for even browning.

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            I think paella is really difficult to get right, although it most certainly is delicious!


                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                              Read the recipe-- it's incredibly streamlined, and not fussy at all.

                              Mr Taster

                            2. re: Mr Taster

                              Linguica is a good subsitute for chorizo if you go this route.

                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                I think this is a wonderful idea, and your recipe looks solid. Except I do see a small problem with item 4 in the instructions, where you say, "Return chicken and chorizo to pot, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally." You don't say how long to do this. Perhaps you could clarify for the OP?

                                I'd also like to add that other seafood could be substituted for the mussels and/or shrimp, if they can't be found. Clams for mussels, for example, or scallops for shrimp.

                                I think this should be within the ability of the OP and probably (from what little we know) to the taste of his date. It is certainly impressive, and has the advantage of being almost a complete meal. Add a salad, and a dessert, and you are good to go.

                                As for dessert, I would like to offer up this recipe for a simple chocolate mousse: http://leitesculinaria.com/74504/reci...
                                Simple, easy, delicious, and can be made in advance, which, IMHO, is a really good quality in a dessert, especially in the OP's case, since he will know in advance if he has a good product.

                                1. re: MelMM

                                  I couldn't possibly say how long it will take for his stove (which will be different than mine) and his pot (which will be made of different materials and of different thickness than mine) to bring the liquid to a boil. It will vary, so he'll just have to hang out and watch... he shouldn't be walking away from the pot at that point anyway!

                                  The paella makes for an amazingly dramatic presentation. Bring the covered pot to the table, remove the lid and voila.... a red pinwheel of bell peppers! Little green polka dots of peas! Beautiful yellow of the saffron rice! And those black mussels, freshly steamed and opened, lunging upwards out of the pot, as if they are beckoning you to eat them.

                                  Mr Taster

                                  1. re: Mr Taster

                                    My point was, once it comes to a boil, how long do you boil it? I take from your reply that perhaps as soon as it comes to a boil, he is to move it to the oven. That is not clear from the recipe, and is the clarification I was seeking for the OP.

                                    1. re: MelMM

                                      That's exactly right. Once it comes to a boil, put the heavy cast iron lid on and transfer to oven.

                                      The reason the recipe was written that way was not to cook the rice at boiling temperatures, but rather to ensure that the person at home was cooking at the same temperature of the person writing the recipe.

                                      Since water always boils at the same temp (assuming you're not at altitude), bringing the heavy enameled cast iron pot to a boil and transferring to a preheated oven is an elegant way of minimizing the x-factors that can make the same recipe work for one person and fail for another.

                                      Mr Taster

                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                        That certainly makes sense to me, but I felt the recipe as you wrote it needed to be clarified for the OP, as it specified to boil, stirring occasionally, but didn't specify at what point it should be transferred to the oven. Keep in mind, I'm nitpicking, because the OP is young, and I want the recipe to be as foolproof as possible. But I do think your idea is excellent, and the recipe, with that clarification, is well-written and solid.

                                2. re: Mr Taster

                                  Mr. Taster - just my opinion, but the quantity of your ingredients is enough to serve several people. A pound of shrimp, a pound of chicken, half a pound of chorizo AND rice - that is a lot of food for two - unless the intention is to have leftovers.

                                  When I make paella for two, I'll use 1/2 dozen prawns (21-25 count prawns are a pretty hefty size), two boneless chicken thighs, 1-2 links of chorizo, and then cut the portions of the remaining ingredients in half. Because I like mussels, I would use a dozen.

                                  The other thing I would be inclined to do is to cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces if only for ease of eating.

                                  I have a preference for bomba rice mainly because it will absorb more cooking liquid. There is a less likely chance of the rice getting soggy and achieving that layer of soccarat a bit easier. If the OP does have a paella pan, the dish could be done in a 10-inch pan. For a thinner layer of rice, a 12-inch pan would also do.

                                  1. re: AntarcticWidow

                                    You are absolutely right, AntarcticWidow. It does make a very large quantity of paella, but with that quantity and intensity of colors and aromas it does make an awfully dramatic presentation (and lots of leftovers for a proud mom & dad).

                                    As for the rice, he does say that getting specialty ingredients could be difficult so arborio is probably his best chance. But if you've got a Spanish specialty shop nearby, then by all means get Bomba'd!

                                    Mr Taster

                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                      He does say that he wants to practice this recipe several times before Sunday. That's a lot of paella several times over. Does it freeze well? :-).

                                      That having been said, I'm personally very tempted to try this recipe!


                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                        I must have missed the OP's comments about difficulty getting specialty ingredients. Time to clean my glasses 8-)

                                        Luckily, I do have a Spanish specialty shop in my area. If you have a Sur la Table store within your radar, they may carry Bomba and/or Valencia rice (the ones in our area do), as well as paella pans at a reasonable price.

                                        Just trying to come up with suggestions to help make the OP's special dinner "extra special". I am a paella lover many times over!

                                        To try and answer TDQ's question ... I've never tried freezing paella before. The rice, chicken and chorizo might be okay, but personally I would fish out the seafood.

                                        Mr. Taster, what do you think?


                                        1. re: AntarcticWidow

                                          I agree. The shrimp will overcook and turn gummy when you reheat it, and the mussels won't even last the next day in the fridge, let alone stand up to the trauma of freezing.

                                          Mr Taster

                            3. re: biondanonima

                              I agree that Ragu bolognese is fabulous. My favorite recipe is in the Sept/Oct 2001 edition. It always comes out exactly the same way and looks just like the picture. This recipe is a step by step one that sounds harder than it is. I am actually going to recommend going a step or two further than the sauce and make the Lasagna Verdi al Forno. Lasagna with green pasta and bechamel sauce. OMG. This is incredible and easy to serve because it is all in one pan. You need the Ragu sauce. A cinch. You need spinach lasagna noodles. I follow the recipe for homemade spinach noodles and again, it has always come out perfectly. You can make it with a rolling pin. You don't have to cut the noodles in pretty rectangles. My guess is that you won't want to go here and that's fine. Buy good quality spinach lasagna noodles. You will also need about a cup of freshly grated excellent parmagiano-reggiano cheese. Do not buy the stuff in the green can! Finally, you need a bechamel sauce. Tht is a thick white sauce made with butter, milk or cream, flour, salt and pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Get all these things together and then assemble as the recipe shows you. So easy. So heavenly!

                              For an easier meal, you can indeed make a good roasted chicken. I agree with others here that it can be difficult to get it right. But there is an excellent recipe in Epicurious for a salt baked chicken. All you need is a 2-3 pound chicken, kosher salt, kitchen twine (or dental floss or thread) pepper and a blow dryer. The key to this chicken is that it must be as dry as possible. No steam. No butter. No lemon. You will not need it.

                              So preheat oven to 450. Wash the chicken and dry it within an inch of its life. Use paper towels inside and out, then get out your blow dryer. When the chicken is dry, sprinkle kosher salt and a little pepper all over it. You want to be fairly free with the salt -- you will see the grains on the crispy skin when it is done. There may be a point when you can over salt. Use judgment. Pat the salt into the skin of the chicken. Put chicken on rack in roasting pan. Truss it. That means pull the legs together and tie them with string. The breast will be more tender. Tuck the wings under the bird. YOu might want to give it another blast with the blow dryer but if salt comes off, replace it. Then, pop the chicken in the hot oven, close the door and leave it for 50 or 60 minutes until done. This is a pretty high temp and your kitchen might get smokey but open windows and turn on a fan. This chicken is always really tender and juicy. Because there is no steam, the skin browns a rich deep golden color and stay's super crispy. When I make this, people who know what is coming hang around the oven and often just attack the chicken when it comes out. The legs come right off, meat slips off the bone, breast is really moist, the whole thing has the most wonderful flavor. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare before you put it in the oven.

                              But sometimes chicken can be hard to eat. I always avoided ordering chicken at 17 when I was on a date, because I wasn't used to eating it with a knife and fork. I avoided spaghetti too because it is too easy to drop noodles and sauce all over yourself.

                              My final and perhaps tastiest recipe. Steak au Poivre with mock bordelaise sauce. Very easy and very impressive. Take two beautiful rib eye steaks and cover them with cracked black pepper. Do not use finely ground pepper or it will be too spicy. Get a big frying pan, a good one if you have one. Turn the burner on medium high. Melt a little oil and butter together in the pan. You need the oil to keep the butter from burning. Pat the steaks, pushing the cracked peppercorns into the meat. Salt them. Place them in the pan, not touching each other. Let them sizzle. I like my steaks medium rare or rare. You need to google the cooking time depending on the thickness of the steaks and your preference for doneness. Turn the steaks. They will have a nice brown crust. I don't leave them in as long on the second side because I start to panic about overcooking them. Get the steaks out a little before they are done and plate them. Cover with foil. Do not wash the frying pan, you will need it again and you want the brown bits.

                              Now for the bordelaise. You will need someone to get you some red wine. You need a 14 oz can of tomato sauce. You need a 14 oz can of rich beef broth. Put equal parts of these three ingredients in a saucepan and simmer until slightly reduced and somewhat thick. This works beautifully. Absolutely delicious. Actually, you should make it before you cook the steaks.

                              Get out some dijon mustard, heavy cream, brandy and butter. Melt a little butter in the original frying pan. Add about two teaspoons of dijon mustard, maybe two tablespoons of brandy and stir. with the butter. Pour most of the bordelaise, or all of it if you want, into the frying pan and stir the dijon mustard and butter with the sauce until combined. Scrape up the brown bits while you are stirring. Simmer the sauce, then add about 1/4 cup of heavy cream. You can use half and half. Stir that but don't boil. Then, add the steaks. You don't want them swimming in the sauce, you just want the sauce to come up about halfway. Pour the juice from the plate into the sauce. As soon as the steaks are heated the dish is done. Spoon the beautiful sauce onto a plate for your date, place the steak on top of the sauce and maybe drizzle a little sauce on top. I like to serve this with mashed potatoes and a green vegetable. This recipe I learned as a waitress at Sage's on State in Chicago years ago. We prepared it tableside.

                              When I was 17, I made myself a long hippie caftan with a hood and a big v neckline. Invited my boyfriend to dinner. My parents let us have the family room. Set up a table with flowers, tablecloth and candles. I made seafood newburg. That is another easy one. Impressive. But nothing to it. Buy puff pastry shells. Most recipes for seafood newburg are the same. Scallops, shrimp, maybe lobster -- a few things but not too much. Cream. Probably wine. A little nutmeg. Everybody loves it.

                              Oh what the heck, go for it and make a chocolate souffle for dessert! Just kidding. Fruit and cheese is one of my favorites. You could buy a good box of chocolates and put those out with the fruit and cheese.

                              Good luck!

                        2. Also, she is a big fan of rice if that helps with any ideas for recipes.

                          1. Souffle is impressive, inexpensive, and easy to make if you are comfortable making a béchamel and whipping egg whites. Of course, this depends on your answer to the thoughtful questions above. You could serve it with a pear, candied walnut and arugula salad, with an end-of-season berry tart for dessert.

                            1. This is one of my favorite meals and with loads of fresh tomatoes and basil in now it would be perfect. Plus you can put the sauce together early in the day and only have to throw the pasta in at the last minute. Would be great with a Ceasar Salad and a great loaf of bread...I would suggest garlic but maybe not!! LOL!

                              LINGUINE WITH TOMATOES AND BASIL

                              4 RIPE LARGE TOMATOES, CUT INTO ½” CUBES
                              1 CUP CLEANED FRESH BASIL LEAVES, CUT INTO STRIPES
                              3 GARLIC CLOVES , PEELED AND FINELY MINCED
                              1 CUP PLUS 1 T OLIVE OIL
                              2-½ t SALT
                              ½ t FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER
                              1 ½ LBS. LINGUINE




                              SERVES 4 TO 6
                              What ever you decide have fun!

                              1 Reply
                              1. Big Hint: Have her help cook. It will give you two something to talk about and an activity to share.

                                I would suggest one of the following main courses:

                                Roasted whole chicken - Leg quarters are even easier but the whole chicken looks nicer.
                                Shrimp Scampi - it is highly advised that you find out if she has any allergies especially to sea food.

                                For the side dishes I would go with baked potatoes or a rice pilaf
                                and one of the following:
                                green beans

                                The roasted chicken, baked potatoes and a salad are probably the easiest and safest. Remember, you want to show that you can cook but you don't want to show her skills up by a wide margin.

                                If you wish to make a dessert, the easiest pie in the world is a key lime pie. Here is my recipe. You can make it a day ahead. No need in doing any of the fancy variations or the raspberry sauce. You will have enough to do.

                                KEY LIME PIE

                                1 EA 9” graham cracker pie shell
                                1 EA 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
                                4 EA egg yokes (whites not used)
                                ½ cup key lime juice (I use Nellie & Joes brand)

                                Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
                                Combine milk, eggs and lime juice.
                                Blend until smooth
                                Pour filling into pie shell and bake for 15 minutes.
                                Let cool on a baking rack for at least 10 minutes before refrigerating.
                                Just before serving, top with whipped cream.


                                Put lime or orange zest in whipped cream.
                                Serve with raspberry sauce (recipe below) (I highly recommend this option.)
                                Triple the recipe and put in spring form pan
                                Garnish with lime slices or maybe sugared lime slices

                                Raspberry Sauce:

                                1 pint raspberries
                                ¼ cup sugar
                                3 ounces water
                                1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
                                2 tbls lemon juice

                                In a medium saucepan on medium heat, combine the raspberries, water, sugar, cream of tartar, and lemon juice. Stir the sauce to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook the sauce until it comes to a slight boil. Then remove the saucepan from the heat and add the contents to a blender. (I ust use an immersion stick blender.) Blend the sauce until smooth. Pass the sauce through a strainer or cheesecloth to remove any seeds.
                                Pour into a squeeze bottle and refrigerate.


                                Add 1-2 tbls of orange or raspberry liqueur.
                                For thicker sauce, add ½ cup seedless raspberry jam.
                                (I do both, usually with orange liqueur.)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                  Personally, and as someone who is a fairly accomplished cook, I find roasting chickens/game hens to be very easy to do poorly and REALLY difficult to do well (and Julia Child agrees!) Besides, there's nothing easy to eat about a game hen. I like the bolognese idea, but - as others have said - I think your guest is going to be so thrilled and so happy and so flattered that you're cooking for her that you could get away with Kraft Dinner. The fact that you're NOT getting away with Kraft Dinner is the reason we all love you. Best of luck and we'll be thinking about you Sunday!

                                2. Chicken Cordon Bleu is very easy and is something that looks like it required more effort than it does. I started making Beef Wellington when I was about 17 and I wouldn't consider that difficult, either. You can skip the foie gras if its too pricy or might be too much of a risk of her not liking it since not everyone does. The duxelle can be made a day ahead of time and stored in a tightly covered container in the fridge until the night you're cooking. Anything you can do ahead of time will give you more time (and less stress!) when your guest is there.

                                  Risotto is not hard as long as you pay attention and you mentioned that she likes rice. A nice rich homemade stock makes all the difference in the world when making risotto.

                                  1. A recipe I like a LOT is this, from Giada DeLaurentis--it's shrimp and rice (you said the lady like rice), super flavorful and comforting.


                                    Have some fresh parsley on hand to chop and garnish the top with.

                                    This would go well with a nice salad with some "sharp" elements...romaine with a lemon vinaigrette dressing, perhaps a handful of slivered almonds, shavings of pecorino romano cheese. Keep it simple for dessert...a good vanilla ice cream and berries with a Pepperidge farm pirouette cookie is lovely to the eye and the tongue.

                                    1. Ok here's a game plan. Have a nice drink for her (like sparkling lemonade with raspberries) ready to go along with a nibble so if neither if you are anxious for dinner to start. The nibble can be cheese straws made with puff pastry. Or apple slices that have been sauteed in butter served on toast with a white cheddar cheese. Something small. Then a salad as the first course. Then a rice pilaf and a protein. It could be fish, sauteed shrimp, it could be seared chicken breast (I think steak might be a bit too try-hardy). And for dessert chocolate mousse. Something that would keep well in case you two wanted to linger over dinner making eyes at each other.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: Dcfoodblog

                                        Yes ! Definitely do the chocolate mousse! Easy, make ahead, rich and sexy. That's what I was going to suggest. As for the dinner, I have a recipe for braised lamb shanks that is killer plus it makes it's own side. Easy, can't overcook, no flustering about the kitchen with someone watching, just fabulous aroma when you open the door....

                                        1. re: dianne0712

                                          Dianne, can I have the recipe for lamb shanks? My family loves lamb. Me, not so much...but I will make it for them.

                                      2. Cornish game hens might do the trick.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: calliope_nh

                                          Thank goodness; I thought nobody was going to suggest cornish game hens. Ragu bolognese, along with the other excellent ideas, can be somewhat clumsy to manage at the diner table and (IMO) without wine at the table it leaves something to be desired.
                                          Split the game hen down the center (neck to tail) and wash out the cavity very thoroughly.
                                          Dry the halves thoroughly and set the aside; covered.
                                          Break up a few lengths of spaghetti into pieces about 1/4 inch long.
                                          Melt a few tablespoons of butter in a pan and, when the butter begins to foam, toss in 3 tablespoons of slivered almonds, some chopped onion (I's use about half a small onion here) and two or three tablespoons of uncooked rice along with two tablespoons of spaghetti. You can use brown rice, wild rice, white rice, or whatever you prefer but don't use something like Basamti.
                                          In a large and deep pan, saute that mixture until the rice and spaghetti become lightly browned, then pour in a cup (+/-) of preheated chicken stock (chicken broth will do just fine but the stock/broth needs to be heated to the boiling point before adding to the pan - careful, it may want to bubble up on the sides of the pan - that's why you're using a large deep pan.
                                          Bring it all to a boil and reduce the heat; continue to cook over low heat until the rice/pasta is al dente, stir in a tablespoon of tomato sauce, then remove from heat and cool.
                                          Mix together some butter and your choice of herb (oregano works fine, basil is to die for).
                                          Stuff each sage hen with the previously prepared rice/pasta mixture, brush with the butter herb mixture, the make an aluminum foil "tent" to cover each of them and place on foil covered baking sheet, breast side up, in a 350 - 375 degree oven for about half an hour. Then remove the "tent" and put them back in the oven for another 20 - 30 minutes to brown. Check the meat at the leg joint to be sure there is no pink in the meat and that the juices run clear.
                                          Serve by slicing the breast meat very thin and placing it atop a serving of the stuffing on each plate. Don't serve it on the bone - that's too informal.
                                          Forget about the wing but try to remove the leg intact and lay it next to the breast meat. Top with a little chopped parsley. Serve along side a salad made of well washed baby spinach, chopped hard boiled egg and a bacon/vinaigrette dressing.
                                          You can cheat on the dressing with a box of Rice-A-Roni but I wouldn't. It's just not the same.
                                          P.S. A lot of us remember 17; best of luck romeo.

                                        2. my mom used to make a simple but delicious salmon we all loved. you cook the salmon (bake, grill, or in a pan) in a foil boat with salt pepper and a squeeze of lemon. the sauce is just a reduction of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar. it goes great with a baguette or rolls warmed gently in the oven, and simple steamed or sauteed green beans with slivered almonds.

                                          also, a pretty salad (greens, fresh or dried fruit, and a nice cheese like crumbled goat or something, and a nut or crouton) makes almost any dinner seem fancier!

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: chartreauxx

                                            I too was going to suggest salmon en papillote (but in parchment rather than foil). It's like having a little gift as your entree. Simple, elegant, delicious.

                                            Have fun and good luck!


                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                              P.S. try to do a practice/trial run or two of your dinner so you'll have the timing down, etc.


                                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                                Oh! Mine was just to cook it; not to serve it in :-) that wouldn't be very pretty, foil on the plate! My mom always served a piece of salmon with the sauce drizzled on it, no package on the plate.

                                                1. re: chartreauxx

                                                  Ah, okay. But, you can serve it in the parchment paper. I think it's very dramatic. Like I said, it's like being presented with a little present.


                                            2. I always find roulades are great on presentation. Flatten out some boneless chicken breast, spread with goats cheese and roasted peppers and roll up to create a spiral when you slice the chicken. Serve with a Mediterranean style couscous and a little drizzle of pesto.

                                              Or you can take the same idea and use flavours that you like and know are good.

                                              1. Look up Rachel Ray's Lazy Stuffed Greek Chicken (might even be on youtube). Totally simple, very impressive and DELICIOUS!

                                                1. I'd be tempted to go with fairly simple but delicious, rather than something frou-frou.

                                                  For example, do steak with a demi-glaze and red wine sauce (or blue cheese, if you don't want to cook with alcohol), a mixed green salad with home-made vinagrete, pasta with a simple but delicious tomato sauce and freshly grated parmesan (or home-made pesto), and roasted asparagus with shaved parmesan. Serve with a sparkling water and tart juice mix. For desert, chocolate brownies with vanilla ice cream (make the brownies, buy a good quality ice cream). The salad dressing can be made ahead and the greens washed, as can the pasta sauce, and the asparagus can be prepped to go in the oven. To cook at the time, set the sauce to heat, boil the pasta, cook the steak, and shove the asparagus under the boiler - they will all cook fairly quickly, particularly if you splurge for fresh pasta.

                                                  Marcella Hazan's simplest tomato sauce is amazing - I can give the recipe if needed.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                    I was going to suggest this recipe - http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

                                                    It's one of our favourite date night dinners - easy but so tasty... serve with a green (depends how adventurous you guys are, we like rapini the best, but could do chard or even broccoli) - just steamed and tossed with a bit of salt, olive oil and lemon juice. Also some sort of potato, mashed with the steak resting on top maybe...

                                                  2. Are you guys serious????
                                                    The lad is 17 years old. If some girl is interested enough to come over for dinner, PB&J would be enough to get her to swoon.
                                                    Make something that you already know you can do without getting her sick has to be the number one goal.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: zippypinhead

                                                      thank you. Thought I was the only one with that thought.

                                                      1. re: zippypinhead

                                                        I too was sort of thinking, she's probably finding this as "finally, not a 'pizza date' but a grown-up-ish one!"

                                                        keep it simple and something that lets you stay confident. pay attention to the tips folks have said about pacing so it can be leisurely (re: easy nibble, salad, entree). and keep the dog in the yard while the food is out.

                                                        it does not have to be a knock out this time. just heartfelt (and edible, although sometimes errors are good for a laugh...)

                                                        that you are trying is the important part.

                                                        and yeah like LaLa your Sisig looks like something I want to try making one day.

                                                      2. Ideas:

                                                        1. Simple pasta with red sauce & salad.

                                                        2. Spaghetti Carbonara... bacon, olive oil, eggs, parmasean, spaghetti and onions, just make sure you don't let the spaghetti or bacon/olive oil mixtures cool at all before you toss them with the egg/cheese mix because that's what cooks the eggs. Add thawed frozen peas or chopped parsley or sliced green onions if you like. Serve it with a simple green salad.

                                                        3. Chicken leg/thigh pieces, brined for an hour, drained, rinsed and dried then seared in an oven-safe frying pan until they are deep brown on one side, flipped over and transfered to a hot (425) oven for 10-12 minutes (done when no blood comes out when you cut in).

                                                        4. Grilled steaks. Ribeye is fatty, flavorful and tendor. Steam some broccoli, bake a couple of big potatoes and you've got a classic.

                                                        Oh yeah, and if you want to really impress her, make sure you effortless and cheerfully clean up your kitchen after you're done.

                                                        1. I don't have a meal suggestion. I just wanted to say that you seem like a considerate young man and I am sure she will be very impressed with your effort. What a wonderful gesture! Best of luck to you!


                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. To Any Beginning Cook Who Wants to Impress: 1) Remember the KISS rule: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Don't get yourself into a mess. 2) Find out about lies and dislikes---don't serve something the person is allergic to! 3) Chicken is usually a safe bet as most people like it. 4) Here is a tasty way to fix it that is generally liked: Buy pieces of chicken (split breasts, legs, thighs, leg-thigh combinations). Lay them in a baking dish or pan. Sprinkle them very generously with soy sauce and garlic powder (NOT garlic salt as the soy sauce is salty). Make sure both sides of the the chicken are covered with the soy sauce and garlic powder. 5) Bake this at 350* for 1 hour. After the first 30 minutes, add some canned pineapple to the pan. 6) Heat Uncle Ben's little packages of rice in the microwave. 7) Serve this with salad and bread. 8) For dessert split a pint of a nice ice cream like Hagen-Daz, some fancy flavor.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Querencia

                                                              While I'm right there with you on 1-3 --- anybody who can master the Filipino sizzling pork recipe (which he said he did recently, and linked above) shouldn't have to stoop to microwave Uncle Ben's.

                                                            2. I agree with the few posters above on the primary thing to remember is keep it simple. To add to that, I'd simply make something she's very familiar with, but the best she's ever had.

                                                              Here's the first thing that comes to mind:

                                                              1. Caprese salad - super easy and fast but very good with beautiful colors and presentation

                                                              2. Chicken alfredo (made with Parmigiano-Reggiano) buttered, toasted Italian or French bread - ridiculously easy and fast, but tastes fantastic

                                                              3. Lemon sorbet - again, really easy to make and you can make it days in advance

                                                              As far as presentation goes, for the chicken alfredo, simply chop some fresh parsley and sprinkle it on the top. Trust me, it'll wow her.

                                                              For the lemon sorbet, slice off the very ends of a lemon then cut it in half through its equator. Clean out the insides then sit on a small plate using the sliced off end as a flat seat for the lemon. Fill with a scoop of the sorbet then garnish with a mint leaf. Again, super easy, but very nice.

                                                              See the attached pictures for inspiration.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                                                Sorry. I tried to edit my previous post to add this photo, but this 1990s forum won't let me do that.

                                                                1. re: 1POINT21GW

                                                                  +1 on 1Points menu; caprese can be plated ahead, as can dessert (you can freeze the sorbet in the lemon 1/2's after filling, and they can wait until your ready).

                                                                  You could prep your chicken and alfredo sauce ahead if you want, and all you have to do is quick saute chicken, mix in sauce and quickly cook (fresh!) pasta for 2 minutes. You will look like a kitchen God to her as she will wonder - how did he make this yummy dish in 5 minutes?

                                                                  You might add mushrooms, slivered red pepper, or asparagus pieces to alfredo for color and variety.

                                                                  Little cookies with the sorbet. Sparkling water to drink with a slice of lime and cucumber.

                                                                  Best of luck! I was an avid cook when I was 17, and loved to make dinner for boyfriend or friends. It was very appreciated. Please come back and tell us what you do and how it goes!

                                                                2. Choose a meat. Commit to it.

                                                                  I think steak is relatively easy... season with salt, cook one side, flip, cook 2nd side, done.
                                                                  You can also roast a chicken in the oven, rub olive oil and salt on the outside, stuff it with lemon/onion/spices.

                                                                  Most important of all: Practice a few times. You are bound to screw up on the first try.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: andrew_eats

                                                                    if steak is chosen, a chimmichurri sauce (a parsley pesto) is an easy accompaniment, off-the beaten track and best done in advance anyway

                                                                  2. I'm sitting in the roast chicken or cornish hen camp. It's simple, fuss free, can't go wrong and always looks amazing brought to the table. It implies a lot of effort...without actually making an effort. Then it's up to you what you serve on the side. A crispy salad and roast potatoes (cooked at the same time as the chicken) or a loaf of fresh crusty bread and butter would look wonderful, taste sensational and make you look like a star. The great thing about roast chicken too, is that you bung it in the oven and leave it there - no fiddling about, just that gorgeous smell wafting out to greet this lovely lass at your door. The salad can be made in advance and dressed just before serving (and I too loved the edible flower salad idea!).

                                                                    For a dessert that is simple, massively impressive, tastes divine and seems like hours of slavery has gone into it I have always made truffle torte. You can make this the night before (it needs 8 hours to set) and turn it out on the day. You will need:

                                                                    A cake tin (about 20 - 23cm)

                                                                    1lb good quality dark chocolate (70% Lindt is good)

                                                                    1 pint double cream (I think in the US that's heavy cream?)

                                                                    5 tablespoons of liquid glucose (should be in the baking aisle in the supermarket)

                                                                    75gm (3oz) amaretti biscuits (Italian almond biscuits)

                                                                    5 tablespoons of black coffee

                                                                    OPTIONAL: Berries for decoration - personally I like to decorate it with strawberries as it looks pretty and taste yummy, but you could use any you like. If you can't get berries, just some cocoa for dusting will be fine.


                                                                    Line the base of the cake tin with baking paper. Crush the amaretti biscuits and sprinkle evenly over the base of the lined tin. Now you need to melt your chocolate, liquid glucose and coffee altogether. You can do this either in the microwave (just check and stir every 30 seconds so as not to overheat chocolate) or in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Take care not to tip the water over and keep stirring the chocolate mixture until smooth. Remove from the heat once all melted and set aside for 5 minutes to cool. While the chocolate mixture is cooling, in a separate bowl beat the cream until it's slightly thickened. Then fold half of the cream into the chocolate mixture, once that's combined fold the chocolate mixture into the remaining cream. When all of this is smooth, pour the mix into the tin over the amaretti crumbs, smooth the surface of the chocolate and put into the fridge for 8 hours or overnight (or even up to 2 nights in advance!). When you're ready to decorate just run a knife around the edges of the tin and turn out on to a plate. DON'T PANIC!!! This torte is VERY well behaved. Now you can decorate it with berries, or dust it with cocoa, or even just leave as it is. Just make sure it stays either in the fridge or somewhere cool. Serve in small slices as it is very rich. Sit back and bask in admiration of your uber awesome cooking talents :)

                                                                    Good luck!!!

                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                    1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                      heavy cream is similar to double cream, but sadly not quite the same. but would prob. work fine. <edit> LCBC is in the UK so the possibilities of cholesterol laden dairy products are probably unlimited. (smirk)

                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                        but at 17, probably has the cardiac plumbing to consume such products to excess without much worry.

                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                          or the time to address the effect(s) anyway...

                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                            It's really time to put the saturated fat myths to bed!!!

                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                              Damned right! It's not the butter, it's the bread!

                                                                          2. re: hill food

                                                                            It's all good, Hillfood, I since discovered too that LCBC is from the UK so no problems hunting down the delicious, cholesterol laden goods. In fact he would be able to get some of the most superior double cream this planet has to offer.

                                                                            With the exception of New Zealand, perhaps. But don't tell the Kiwi's that :D

                                                                            1. re: TheHuntress

                                                                              TH - you are SO territorial! yikes, it's like the Texas and Oklahoma rivalry in the US.

                                                                              I don't know much of NZ's dairy, but I do like their lamb.

                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                not as good as Australian lamb, but yeah, it's okay.

                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                  Haha, our Southern partners are beating us Aussies at so many great things, that to keep our ego intact we can't bear to let them know how good they are. But ya, NZ has fabulous dairy, excellent wine and incredible seafood. I tend to eat local lamb, but I don't doubt theirs is good, too.

                                                                          3. Since you said she likes rice I would suggest using a boxed rice. I love the Near East brand, the Spanish Rice is my favorite, and its very easy to make, just follow instructions on the box. I would serve this with a protein either baked salmon or chicken or grilled filet mignon. It is crucial with filet mignon that you do not overcook or undercook it so if cooking steaks is not your thing, stay away. I would serve this with a salad or steamed green beans, something of the like.

                                                                            Another idea would be to make gourmet hamburgers. Use beef or buffalo meat, an interesting cheese, have all the fixings, and good buns (like challah rolls) Serve with an interesting salad (greens, apple, blue cheese, celery with a balsamic vinaigrette is a good combo)

                                                                            If you go with the pasta and sauce as previously mentioned maybe use a tortellini or ravioli, there are many good ones in the frozen section.

                                                                            For an easy dessert just get her favorite ice cream and garnish it with some fresh cut strawberries or a fruit that goes with it. Or you can make homemade ice cream sandwiches, using chocolate chip cookies from the bakery section of the grocery store.

                                                                            Good luck!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: WhatsEatingYou

                                                                              if she likes rice because it's a part of her family culture, the poor guy's never going to have a chance if he serves boxed rice.

                                                                            2. I agree that you should keep it simple and like the various chicken/pasta suggestions. If you know she eats pork, pork tenderloin is also a simple meat to prepare: remove silver membrane, sear in a pan then bake in 400 F oven for 15-20 minutes. Variations are endless: you can smear curry paste (Patak's is great) for an indian-style meal, with basmati rice and green beans for instance, or dijon mustard covered with thinly sliced prosciutto around the tenderloin for a slightly more elegant version. Both are equally easy to prepare. If you go the prosciutto way, you can place thinly sliced firm apples to the roasting pan and serve them alongside.

                                                                              Whatever you end up making, I'm sure she will be impressed.

                                                                              Let us know how your meal turns out :)

                                                                              1. How about a risotto? If she likes rice, she'll like risotto. And you can add all sorts of stuff to it. Great for table presentation, too.

                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                1. re: nedh

                                                                                  Risotto? I would never suggest someone spending ~45~1 hr on a side dish, especially the first time putting a meal together for a guest.

                                                                                  1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                    I disagree. Risotto is easily a main dish and if he times it right, he can add some pageantry to the evening by showing off his cooking skills in finishing up the risotto as she's arriving. Demonstrating the cooking process (the last few minutes in this case) is a part of the fun.

                                                                                    1. re: nedh

                                                                                      Well I agree its not a side dish but how do you spend a few minutes finishing it? The way risotto is traditionally made, you're standing at the stove for 45 minutes adding broth and stirring. Kind of not much going on. I don't understand how you would prep this dish and then just finish as someone was arriving unless she's incredibly punctual. If she's early, you're just standing at a pot stirring. If she's late, its over-cooked mush. Timing is important for the dish to come out well.

                                                                                      1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                        there are short cuts for risotto, essentially par-cooking and later finishing in the last 15 minutes or so. but that's cheating and can't be as good as the proper kind. an insult to someone's Nonna somewhere.

                                                                                2. I think the Cornish hen people are giving you horrible advice, personally. You're on a date and you're both young, so you're going to be pleasantly nervous and awkward and wanting to impress each other, so the last thing you want to do is serve something messy and difficult to eat. Cornish hens can slide all over and easily end up on your lap. In fact, I'd rule out any chicken dishes with bones.

                                                                                  If you have access to a grill, see if you can get your hands on some good ribeyes or filets, rub them with a little kosher salt and cracked pepper, and grill them lightly. You can melt bleu cheese on them if she's into that.

                                                                                  For sides, you can't go wrong with a classic salad (maybe a nice blend of greens, tomatoes, cucumbers), and you may want to have things on hand like croutons, hard-boiled egg slices, shredded or crumbled cheese, and a few dressing options (maybe a creamy one and a vinaigrette). Leave off the raw onions. You both will thank me.

                                                                                  You can make baked potatoes to go with the steaks (rub them with EVOO and kosher salt first) and have butter, sour cream, shredded cheese, and even crumbled bacon ready to go. Mashed potatoes are tasty, but they may remind her of Thanksgiving and family time, which isn't romantic. And garlic mashed potatoes are definitely out. (Once again, you'll both thank me.)

                                                                                  Since she likes rice, you can make rice pilaf instead, with orzo pasta, or even dazzle her with couscous. The larger round pearls of couscous are much better than the little grainy kind -- I forget which brand sells that kind in a cylindrical canister, but I recommend it. In that case, you can make the couscous with a low-sodium chicken or even vegetable broth for extra flavor, and serve it with a garnish of diced tomatoes and cucumbers for color and something cool to go with the hot stuff.

                                                                                  For a dessert, get an idea of what she likes in advance, if she's a chocolate girl or a fruit girl (most people prefer one or the other for their desserts). You can never go wrong with cheesecake, and that can satisfy chocolate and fruit people, depending on how you garnish it!

                                                                                  Trust me on this. And I'm rooting for you, player.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                                                    This gal is really lucky! I'm also going to suggest risotto. It is actually really easy to make, but you have to serve it immediately. A combination of fresh and dried mushrooms is my favorite and always a big hit. I suggest having a non alchohlic drink ready along with olives, or maybe a cheese plate and a baguette to start. Good luck with the date!

                                                                                    1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                                                      oh Lou, we're ALL rooting for this guy! but w/o prior knowledge I'd leave cucumbers out of any dish. they don't like some of us in uncomfortable ways that would affect the rest of the evening.

                                                                                      1. re: fourunder

                                                                                        hmmm...interesting, especially because a 12 yo would be 17 now!

                                                                                      2. It has to be easy and pretty much done when she arrives. You want minimal fussing around in her presence.

                                                                                        Canneloni with salad is a nice choice.

                                                                                        Make it look easy. Look like a pro.

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. re: sal_acid

                                                                                          I agree with this, which is why I like the salmon en papillote. You can prepare the little packets ahead of time and pop them in the oven at the appointed time. They don't need any additional fussing.


                                                                                        2. It doesn't sound like half the advice here is giving any thought to the OP. Suggesting he spend the majority of his efforts on last minute details is ludicrous. It only makes sense to do as much preparation in advance so cleanup is done and all he has to do is pull it from the oven and serve.

                                                                                          Again, check out Rachel Ray's Lazy Greek Chicken. It's super simple, can be prepared in advance and ready to pop in the oven upon her arrival ~ ready to serve in ~1/2 hour. A side of roasted seasonal vegetables and he's good go go. Prepare an apple crisp in advance (Ina Garten's is quick and easy) and pop that in the oven when the chicken is pulled out and desert will be nice and warm and can be served with ice cream.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                            I agree. After decades of being led astray by pretentious (for me) menus, I have come to my senses and now try to keep it simple. A baked chicken dish, a salad or roasted vegetables and some bread make it easy to entertain. They can make the salad while the chicken cooks and have a good time talking. And, of course, an apple crisp for dessert.

                                                                                          2. Ok Dude, while there are a lot of suggestions like roasting some fowl or making pasta, I say that’s all the wrong approach. Way too complicated. Easy to make, but as someone else said, hard to do well. Your girl is going to be there and you will be running all over the place trying to time stuff, plating stuff or just plain stuffing stuff. You want to look like you have everything under control. You want to show her that you are the cool guy that you are who can also cook. Last thing you need to be doing while she is there is spending time focused on the food when you should be focused on her. So everything has to be ready to go the moment she shows up, but won’t suffer for waiting. You want to prep it all and not have a mess in the kitchen. Again everything is under control. So what I am telling you to cook is short ribs.

                                                                                            Go out and buy short ribs, ideally boneless but no problem if they have bones. If they have are on the bone, easy to cut it off. You want the thick ones, at least an inch of meat. Two per person. Trim them so they are the same size rectangles. Buy some potatos and baby carrots. Real baby carrots, not the big ones that have just been cut and shaped small. Haricot verts if you can get them, otherwise regular string beans are fine.

                                                                                            Start the day before. Season ribs with salt and pepper. Sear the short ribs in a hot pan with olive oil until they develop a good brown crust on all sides. It will splatter like crazy but don’t worry you will have plenty of time to clean up. Set the meat aside and pour out the excess fat. Deglaze the pan. I would tell you to use some wine if you can get it but assuming that at 17 you don’t have access to booze, use some beef stock. Now add aromatics to the pan. What you choose is up to you – onions, carrots, celery, fennel, it’s your chance to make the recipe your own. Herbs and spices can make it European (thyme, garlic, rosemary), Asian (soy, ginger, garlic), Latin (coriander, lime, garlic). You get the idea. But lots of garlic. Nestle the ribs back in the pan. The liquid should come up about half way up the meat. Cover it. Put it in the oven set at 350. Check it in an hour and every half hour after. What you’re looking for is you can put a fork into the meat without any resistance. You want it tender but not falling apart. Take the ribs out and strain the juices through a sieve and toss out all the cooked up veggie mash. Take the juices and pour over the ribs, cover and put it into the fridge.

                                                                                            Clean up the kitchen. Go to bed.

                                                                                            Next morning, take the meat out and remove and discard the hardened fat. Put it back in the fridge.

                                                                                            Put pot of water on stove and turn heat up to medium high. Peel carrots and 2-3 potatoes. Cut potatoes into 1 inch pieces. If you bought regular string beans, french them. That means taking a paring knife and cutting them right down the middle along the seam on the beans. Don’t worry about this being a lot of work. You just need to do 6 per person – 12 beans. You can handle that. If you got haricots, just wash them.

                                                                                            Get a bowl with ice water. Add a big pinch of salt to the now boiling water. Drop the beans into the boiling water. After one minute take them out and cool in the ice water. Drain and dry and put them on a plate. Drop the carrots into the water for 2 minutes. Cool, drain and dry. Onto the same plate. Stick the plate in the fridge. Drop the potatoes into the water and cook until you can stick a knife into them without resistance. Shooting for tender, not falling apart again. Drain the potatoes and mash’em. Add plenty of cream and butter. Cream and butter because you’re making these with love. They potatoes should have a velvety texture. If you want to get real fancy, force them through a sieve to remove any trace of lumps. These go into the fridge.

                                                                                            Clean up the kitchen. Take a nap.

                                                                                            Wake up. Shower. Get dressed. You have a white apron? If so get it out and have it hanging in the kitchen somewhere.

                                                                                            Hour before your date arrives, set the oven to 250 and set the table. Take the short ribs out of the fridge, nuke’em and put them covered into the oven to keep warm. Nuke the mashed potatoes and place them covered in the oven. Take the beans and carrots out of the fridge and leave out to warm up to room temperature. Put 2 plates in the oven to get hot.

                                                                                            When its time to eat, take your lady into the kitchen. It will smell great and there won’t be any evidence of cooking. Put on the apron – folded rakishly in half and tied around the waist. The strap does not go around your neck! Take a towel and pull the now hot plates and ribs and mash out of the oven. Place a scoop of potatoes off center on the plate. Place two ribs on each plate with an end just set in the mash. Take a spoon and drizzle the sauce over the plate, ribs and mash. Place beans and carrots on each plate. Enjoy!

                                                                                            I think this will be the best execution strategy for you. Its easy. Tastes fabulous. You’re all done when she shows up and the dish will not suffer for the reheating and waiting time. Enjoy!

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Bkeats


                                                                                              Simple, delicious, and the stove will not be the focus of the dinner. KISSing, not cooking!

                                                                                              Reminds me of the first dinner I ever cooked for my girlfriend: Mushroom caps stuffed with (real) crabmeat (cooked them in a bit of chicken stock -canned- don't tell her - in a covered saucepan) for appetizer, fillet mignon pan seared, sauce sort of marchand de vin made by sauteing chopped shallots in the pan and reducing a cup of the red Margaux we drank with the meal, steamed fresh green beans, an unmemorable starch (I don't remember what it was, but now I'd just make rice and garnish it with pistacchios and yellow raisins), purchased small pastries for dessert. It must have worked, as we just celebrated our 41st anniversary.

                                                                                              1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                This is brilliant!

                                                                                                Now all you need is dessert. She's a girl, so she probably likes chocolate. Any kind of dense/flourless chocolate cake can be made a day in advance -- it will be better for having "cured." Then just plate, add some whipped cream (whipped earlier in the day) and some fresh berries and she'll swoon. If you want to get fancier, a chocolate pot de creme is delicious and can (in fact, must) be made in advance.

                                                                                                1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                  One change: Saute the blanched beans and carrots in some butter at the last minute to warm through. Put toasted almonds on top if you like.

                                                                                                  But brilliant plan.

                                                                                                  1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                    Bk - that pacing is a really good approach for whatever the intended dinner.

                                                                                                  2. This has been my go to recipe when I have Guests over and don't want to work.


                                                                                                    Served with basmati rice it make for a nice presentation.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. Ok my friend I breezed over all the posts thus far and I don't believe I have seen this one suggested yet. If you are intersted I will follow up with some quick and easy directions to follow but rest assured this is almost a fool proof dish to make. Even if you don't make it perfect the ingrediants involved it will still taste good!!

                                                                                                      Penna or rigattoni in a Vodka sauce. If you are having a girl over and you are going to cook for her do a little flambe' action.......real men play with fire !!!! You will impress her and it is silly easy to make. According to the lighting in your kitchen if you can dim or kill the lights especially around the stove when you light the vodka on fire....it puts on a VERY impressive show.

                                                                                                      Let me know if you have the nerve and interest and I will jot down a few very easy steps. You can make it just mixing already prepared items. You can do it !!!!

                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: mike0989

                                                                                                          Swipe some from the parent's liquor cabinet?

                                                                                                          1. re: mike0989

                                                                                                            Really -- let's not openly suggest illegal activities....there are some states where it's even illegal for a 17-year-old to COOK with alcohol.

                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                Ok ok ok ok.......my over zealous side of trying to impress the young lady over shadowed my common sense!! My offer is hereby withdrawn, good luck son !!! Sorry.

                                                                                                            1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                              Uh I wouldn't encourage a teenage boy to show off with alcohol and fire...

                                                                                                              1. re: Hobbert

                                                                                                                I would. After giving him the advice that if the fire gets out of control, the immediate action required is to plop the lid of the pan down to smother the fire. Don't flambe in a pan without a lid that fits well. That said, I would also posit that playing with fire might be more apt to impress another guy than a girl. She will be impressed by the effort made to cook a nice meal, and by the deliciousness of the meal, but probably not so much by fireworks.

                                                                                                              2. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                                                What are the steps for the vodka thing? For future recipes

                                                                                                                1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                  BcLc - be aware of what's overhead, use a good glove (I like the OveGlove brand) don't over do it and have a full box of baking soda at hand just in case.

                                                                                                                  and if one is going to do the flambe thing, one may as well use a liquor that will influence the flavor.

                                                                                                              3. The experienced among us know the lad can't lose. If he completely messes up the meal, he will still be the boy that tried to cook for her. I doubt that has ever happened to her. As a bonus, they will be able to laugh about it for years. His stature will go way up in her eyes.

                                                                                                                If it is a big success, she will be very impressed, tell all her friends about it and his stature will go way up in her eyes.

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                                                                  Basically this. The OP's biggest risk is leaving himself a whole lot to do after his guest arrives, which could leave her bored or having to watch an hour or two's worth of frustrated cooking. As long as the meal is mostly or completely ready when she arrives, even if it's not the best food ever, the OP will be in good shape.

                                                                                                                  I like the suggestion for bolognese for that reason - it's perfectly fine to cook it the day before and just heat it up and make some pasta for dinnertime. It's basically impressive, looks good with a few leaves of basil thrown on top, isn't too easy to mess up, and isn't too far out there in case she's a bit picky.

                                                                                                                  For another option, just about any braise gets better the day after, and leaves you with nothing to make last minute aside from an accompaniment or two if desired (some nice, creamy polenta is pretty easy, and a few veggies can thrown into the braise when you reheat it). And I know if I was 17, I'd have a hard time resisting the calls to flambe something, good idea or not.

                                                                                                                  As for dessert - this one is fairly easy, appeals to just about everybody, and can be made in advance:
                                                                                                                  The cherry vodka sauce is only one option - just about any cherry or raspberry sauce can be substituted, and most are easy and can be made in advance (and also provide you with a last minute opportunity to flambe something if the OP is like I was at 17). Want to include the guest? Have her whip some cream.

                                                                                                                  Chocolate mousse is a good alternative. A little harder to get perfect, but less work.

                                                                                                                2. BicookLittlecook, I strongly suggest you follow Bkeats instructions for short ribs and veggies and Hank Hanover's recipe for Key Lime Pie. These are all makeahead and will put you and your girl at ease in the kitchen. Good luck.

                                                                                                                  1. OMG people! What are you thinking??? A 17 year old preparing food with alcohol, lighting fires! Cornish game hens sliding all over the plate, trying to cut into/carve it gracefully? Making sure not to over cook them. Risotto? Seriously? Standing over the stove stirring CONSTANTLY for 45 minutes, plus the extra time to saute' the shallots and any other ingredients PLUS, any decent risotto has white wine in it. Certainly NOT a main dish. Ribs? Really? I doubt the girl would appreciate trying to eat them with a fork and knife which leaves eating them like a caveman, risking getting sauce all over her face, fingers and possibly clothes. I can assure you, a young girl would not be impressed with ribs outside of a backyard barbeque.

                                                                                                                    The idea of a mousse for desert sounds nice. Giada has a lovely, quick and simple chocolate mousse with orange scented whipped cream. What girl wouldn't LOVE chocolate!

                                                                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                                                                    1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                                                      Heaven forbid. Young men have gone to war at that age, but flambe? Goodness no. Some of our grandmothers, or great grandmothers, were married at that age, and butchering their own chickens and rabbits for dinner. But serve something with bones? Unthinkable. Lighting fires, using knives... 17 year olds of both sexes have done this for ages, until we got so overprotective we think our young adults can't do what 10-year-olds did 50 years ago. I sure hope your post was tongue-in-cheek.

                                                                                                                      Oh, and the Elizabeth David mousse recipe I posted a link to is sublime, and easy, and yes, has raw eggs in it. How dare I suggest such a thing to a minor? But it is much more authentic, and yet simpler, than a Giada recipe based on whipped cream and mascarpone.

                                                                                                                      1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                        Those young men headed to war had some training...not Internet advice on how to set vodka on fire :) Just keep it simple and enjoy each other's company.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                                                        Why would one have to eat boneless short ribs like a caveman?

                                                                                                                        1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                                                          Braised shortribs are not like eating 'ribs', scoutmaster. They are fall apart tender - like elegant beef stew arranged on a plate with sauce. WONDERFUL suggestion, actually!

                                                                                                                          I do tho, like chocolate mousse better than key lime pie, and just as easy or easier. Certainly more elegant

                                                                                                                          1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                            Ginger, chocolate mousse may be better now that I really think about it. Most everyone does love chocolate. Here is a great and easy recipe I got from Chowhound that we absolutely love.

                                                                                                                            Aunt Wini’s Dark Chocolate Mousse

                                                                                                                            Here it is! This stuff's amazing, especially for how ridiculously easy it is to make. operagirl @ Chowhound

                                                                                                                            Rich Dark Chocolate Mousse by Wini Harris

                                                                                                                            2 eggs
                                                                                                                            2 Tbsp. sugar
                                                                                                                            1 package Nestle Chocolate Chips (6 oz)
                                                                                                                            1 oz square unsweetened Baker's chocolate (cut up)
                                                                                                                            3/4 C. hot milk
                                                                                                                            1 tsp. vanilla

                                                                                                                            In blender - beat all together - hot milk will melt chocolate
                                                                                                                            Pour into small mousse glasses or pot de cremes.
                                                                                                                            Chill 24 hours or freeze until firm, then refrigerate.

                                                                                                                            NOTE: Made this December 30, 2010. Delicious. Had it for dessert on New Year’s Eve. A family member crushed up some Oreos to top hers and that earned a thumbs up! Think it would be great with chopped pecans and homemade whipped cream on top, too.

                                                                                                                            Because we were concerned that the eggs might cook, this is how we went about preparing it: put eggs and sugar in blender and beat. Then added chocolate chips and square (used Ghirardelli’s brand in both) and vanilla. Heated milk in microwave until hot (I think it was about 1 minute). Put lid on blender with the middle knob removed. Turned blender on and very slowly poured hot milk into it through the hole. We did not put in individual glasses, but into a medium sized bowl and chilled for 24 hours.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Wtg2Retire

                                                                                                                              I dont mean to be picky and while this dessert maybe very good, it's not chocolate mousse. Fundamental part of making a mousse is separating the eggs, beating the egg whites and then blending the egg whites into the rest of the mixture to lighten it and give it loft. Your version wouldn't have the lightness that the term mousse is referring to. It's more like a chocolate pot de creme.

                                                                                                                              Check this link for a classic version of Julia Child's recipe

                                                                                                                              1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                While it may not meet the tecnical definition of a mousse, it is still very good. And, it looks like a mousse.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                                                            I know others have already chimed in, but Scoutmaster have you ever had braised short ribs? If not, please try my suggestions. Melt in your mouth tender and yes you eat it with a knife and fork. Some of the highest end fine dining places in NYC serve short ribs to their female customers who are dressed to the nines. No mess at all. Also would never eat this dish at a backyard BBQ. Though no reason you couldn't

                                                                                                                            1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                              I dunno about the short ribs, while yes a knife and fork operation, in this day and age of distorted self-image, only the OP can determine if she (a presumably 17-ish YO gal) would enjoy that.

                                                                                                                              it is a good Winter dish, but some might see it a bit 'heavy'

                                                                                                                            2. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                                                              I think this kid is probably a pretty good cook based on what he said he has cooked before. That being said... I am always amazed at the dishes people will recommend for a beginning cook.

                                                                                                                              I don't think he should have the entire meal cooked and ready when she walks in. Her friends will say and she will suspect that he had his mommy cook it and then leave. The nice thing about a date (or whatever this is) where the guy cooks is it gives them both something to do, something to talk about, something to work together on. Bonding.... right?

                                                                                                                              He just needs something simple that he has cooked before. It doesn't have to be perfect. It would be nice if it turned out nicely, though. I'm sure it will. He seems to be fairly experienced cook.

                                                                                                                              I have been teaching my 7 year old grand daughter to cook for a couple of years. I think everyone"s forgotten what someone can accomplish at a very young age. I'm a little afraid but, soon, I am going to start her on dealing with the dangerous stuff... Knife skills and cooking on the stove top. I will have to find a way to go very slowly and carefully because if I screw up the wife will have my head.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Scoutmaster

                                                                                                                                There are some really nice mousses made with melted chocolate and pureed silken tofu that are really not fussy. Very easy, just get a block of silken tofu and put it through the blender, then fold in a bar of melted chocolate (melted in a double boiler). Put into cups or bowls the day before and let set in the fridge. I made a really nice version with a little brown sugar and garam masala (an indian spice blend) added to the tofu before the chocolate, and a little coarse salt sprinkled on it before serving.

                                                                                                                              2. This girl is so lucky that you are cooking for her!

                                                                                                                                I agree that a simple pasta dish is a great idea.

                                                                                                                                Here's a simple steak recipe that is excellent and not hard to make:


                                                                                                                                Maybe a chocolate molten cake for dessert topped with raspberries? This has always wowed my guests and is sinfully easy.

                                                                                                                                You could make the cakes together as they have to be eaten right out of the oven.


                                                                                                                                1. As an alternative. Here is a simple pasta dish from Pierre Franey I've made numerous times


                                                                                                                                  1. BigcookLittelcook - you have to post what you made and how it went. Curious minds want to know.

                                                                                                                                    1. OK, I'm Italian and have a son who, at 17, wanted to cook for his girlfriend, but he had NO cooking experience. But for you...Here's an easy but delicious recipe but make it only if you want her to fall in love with you...and you can make the sauce ahead of time. (A day or two).

                                                                                                                                      Pasta with Clam Sauce (for one pound of linguine or capellini--cook it al dente!)
                                                                                                                                      In a small pot, heat about 1/2 cup of a good olive oil (extra virgin)
                                                                                                                                      Saute in the warm oil, about 3 chopped garlic cloves...DO NOT let them burn or you have to toss the oil. When they become fragrant--
                                                                                                                                      Add a good couple of handfuls of chopped Italian parsley. It will sizzle. Cook for a couple of minutes. You can add a half teaspoon of red pepper flakes if you want things spicy.
                                                                                                                                      Add a can (14 oz?) of chopped clams...don't drain it first...this helps make the sauce.
                                                                                                                                      Add the juice of one lemon. Add about a teaspoon of salt and teaspoon of black pepper (or to taste.)
                                                                                                                                      Let this simmer about 10 or 15 minutes. Shut off heat and add half a stick of butter to make the sauce creamy. It's done! About the time it takes to boil the water and pasta, your sauce can be done. It's sacriligious, but you can top it with grated Romano or real Parmesano cheese. If you want to, reserve half a handful of chopped parsley to sprinkle over the top for color. Serve with an arugula salad (with shaved parm and lemon/olive oil/salt and pepper dressing, crusty bread and your choice of dessert. Good luck!

                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                      1. re: MaryCK

                                                                                                                                        This is exactly what I waa thinking! Delicious and not heavy!

                                                                                                                                      2. I think Asian dishes are so fragrant, colorful and delicious. And not difficult. They are sexy and mysterious and a great conversation starter.
                                                                                                                                        Maybe try Vietnamese Spring Rolls(they are not fried) very light and fresh. And a stir fry with local veggies or a noodle soup. Have a wonderful time Jake!

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: absolince

                                                                                                                                          VN rice paper rolls are freaking seductive, but you can't make them too far in advance or they stick and do require some hand coordination. but if light and flavorful is wanted... easy nibble and salad in one.

                                                                                                                                          or on a Euro note, Salade Nicoise.

                                                                                                                                          but I think we've overwhelmed the guy with ideas.

                                                                                                                                        2. This is very sweet and romantic!

                                                                                                                                          1. Here's some real advice. More than anything else, girls like to show off to other girls. So make her something that will make her friends jealous. Something that sounds French and sophisticated. Creme brulee. That's easy to make. She will get a kick out of telling her friends you made her "creme brulee." If they ask her "what's that?"--all the better. YWIA

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: aventinus

                                                                                                                                              if it all turns out well and good, and there's a positive reaction, then maybe some other day bring a small thing you made (not too soon or too much, as this is all just an aspect of you and not your identity).

                                                                                                                                              but even that may be too much.

                                                                                                                                            2. How about takeout?

                                                                                                                                              Just kidding.

                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                              1. re: sr44

                                                                                                                                                a 20 piece McNuggets with 3 different sauces. Splurge with some fries, too.

                                                                                                                                              2. well alot of good choices. so hears mine.

                                                                                                                                                look your butcher straight in the eye and order a utility standing rib roast 1 rib thick bone in, and dont blink. tke this home and get 2 cups olive oil splurge on good stuff not evoo just plain. mix your 4 favorite spices 1/4 cup each and whist with the oil smear it all over the meat and marinade. 1 rib should take about a hourish at 350 (you just made por mans prime rib)

                                                                                                                                                the salad mainly romain with redicho or a mix green with spinach, split a lemon and squeez it all over the lettes befor serving and have premade or homade salsa for the salad dressing. yes its wack but dang tasty and she will remember it like nothing else (hey you put salsa on your taco lettus)

                                                                                                                                                the rice is super simple 2 water to 1 brown rice litle butter and salt cover and slide inthe over under the standing rib.

                                                                                                                                                ohh mix all kinds of veggies in the pan with the roast, squash zuchini pumkin turnup rutabega celry onion peppers go produce nuts their all good roasted.

                                                                                                                                                no what you have done is cooked your main with veg and a base of rice for the meat all done in one hour. served a simple but unforgetable salad, and seriously ben and jerry's for desert ask her mom her favorite and just pretend its your favorite too.

                                                                                                                                                1. Also, you have GOT to let us know how this goes.

                                                                                                                                                  1. Thank you guys sooo much for all your help! I'm not going to lie, I am very overwhelmed by the huge support of this site. I have narrowed the results down and am going to look in my local shops for the best ingredients and options.

                                                                                                                                                    Of course I will tell you guys how it goes and If i have the chance I will try and sneak a picture of the dish and show you how it turned out.

                                                                                                                                                    For all that have contributed, shared views and helped I couldnt be more grateful too you, and to the people that have wished me luck I just want to say thank you as I am going to need it.

                                                                                                                                                    Jake Hill
                                                                                                                                                    Lots of love to you guys for your help.

                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                      I'd like to suggest that you have the table set before she comes. Use cloth napkins and borrow a low round glass vase for the centerpiece. Trader Joe's or any grocery store will have a reasonably priced bouquet. I'd choose roses and cut the stems short. If you do this a day in advance they will open up and look very pretty. Remember, she's coming to have dinner with you....the meal isn't nearly as important as you are.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                        Jake, you'll do great. Remember, you can keep coming back and ask questions, especially if you have questions about ingredients as you shop for them or while you're doing your trial run or any advance cooking. You might need to start a new thread that starts with "Help!" or something like that if you're in the middle of cooking and you want to attract the attention of the entire home cooking board and not just the people in this thread. There are almost always great cooks hanging out on the boards who can answer a question that pops up.


                                                                                                                                                        1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                          Oh no! I got into this too late. Have been happily typing away. That's okay. YOu can make the Lasagna Verde al Forno or the Steak au Poivre another time. LOL

                                                                                                                                                        2. Do you have a grill you can use Bigcooklittlecook? I have a simple, basic suggestion that she should love. Part in the oven - part on the grill. Everyone loves grilled food.

                                                                                                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jeanne

                                                                                                                                                            Yepp, i have a grill i could use. I agree, grilled food always is loved.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Jeanne

                                                                                                                                                              Great BCLC - one more question - do you have access to Costco? (sounds nuts - but their beef is really good).

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Jeanne

                                                                                                                                                                Im in England but I'm sure i could pick up some good beef somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                  Jake - you're in the england. That means you can have wine with the dinner! Don't forget the wine. Assuming that you come from a wine drinking family and mom/dad buy it for you.

                                                                                                                                                                  ETA: Are you being ironic about being able to pick up some good beef in england? Land of the beefeater? Had a chuckle about that.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                                                                      I know that. My point is that he is in England. I used to work there. It's ok for 17 yr olds to drink in England. Cant buy it but can drink it. My son was good in the UK and France when it would have been illegal in the states. We would go out to eat and the servers would pour a glass for him as long as the parents said it was ok and it was perfectly legal.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                                        Europeans tend to be more sensible, in general. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                        Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                          So Wisconsinites are more sensible, as well?

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                            If said Wisconsinite incorporated alcohol into their kid's lives in order to give it context and meaning, sure then they're sensible when it comes to educating kids about alcohol. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                            Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                              My grandfather was a wine taster. We were offered wine or liquers from the age of 5 onward at home, with our meal. None of us went through a secret teenage drinking phase because we could have it when we wanted it. I remember having a really bad day in grade 9 and crawling through the door saying "gin!" My mother made me a gin and tonic. No one in our house ever got drunk. Ever.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                can't help but wonder if the 1st "it" in that sentence refers to "alcohol" or "kid's lives".

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: danna

                                                                                                                                                                                  You clearly mistook what I said, but that's still no reason to be snarky. We were given a slash of wine in our cups, if we wanted and I asked my mother for a drink ONCE. I was the only teenager around who didn't drink at parties and never stole liquor from the parents cabinet. It wasn't forbidden fruit. We were always taught to respect it and never over indulge. All those other kids had been forbidden alcohol.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                                                                                    (I think danna was trying to be funny...that's the way I read it, anyway.)

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                      Not to mention responding to Mr. Taster.

                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                      Then how about some beef shish kabobs? Thread chunks of tenderloin onto bamboo skewers that have been soaked in water. Do a variety of yellow, orange and red bell peppers cut into chunks, cherry tomatoes, red onion and mushrooms that have been marinated in olive oil, salt and pepper on other skewers. Grill and serve with rice pilaf, a green salad and some crusty bread. Simple and delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                      I agree that the chocolate mousse is a great dessert idea.

                                                                                                                                                                2. I'm really looking forward to how this turns out. I'm so excited!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. You mentioned that she likes rice so why not a simple lemony risotto topped with a shrimp scampi-type of preparation? You can make it with all stock (broth) if you didn't want to use wine. It would present beautifully, and is not difficult. Search Epicurious for recipes. Good Luck!

                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: letsindulge

                                                                                                                                                                      Also, don't feel like you have to make dessert. It is totally fine to focus on the main course and buy something like 2 individual tarts. Most of us aren't pastry chefs!

                                                                                                                                                                    2. David Leiberman has a good cookbook called Young and Hungry for just such an occasion (and many more that a young aspiring cook might run into). Loaded with easy but impressive recipes, and broken down by event - date night, tailgate party, etc.


                                                                                                                                                                      (and I +1 for the suggestion to do a variety of grilled veggies and chicken - very easy, very colorful and impressive. good end-of-summer seasonal meal when a variety of different veggies are just starting or ending their season).

                                                                                                                                                                      1. Well, I'll throw in my 2 cents. Since you said she loves rice, how about a Chicken Tika Masala served over either basmati or jasmine rice? That way it will be ready ahead of time and you can just dish and eat.

                                                                                                                                                                        I've made this before (but I added about 2 Tablespoons of Lt. Brown Sugar to the sauce, and although not authentic, you can even add peas to give it more color)

                                                                                                                                                                        Also if you want her to see you cook, make a colorful salad with a couple of grilled scallops as a first course. And I agree with others about a chocolate mousse.

                                                                                                                                                                        Most of all, enjoy each others company and have fun. Can't wait to hear how it goes.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. Best of luck to you Jake! Whatever you cook, some fresh flowers and clean linen napkins (which can still be done casually) will really take things up a notch.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Aren't you thoughtful. This is very sweet. I have an idea or two for you, one of which is Pollo al Mattone, aka Chicken seared under a brick. The secret is to spatchcock the chicken (remove the breastbone) so that it will lay flat. You'll be needing a new brick, wrapped in foil as well. Just stuff herbs, butter, garlic (minced) under the skin, and saute the bird in olive oil, using the brick as a weight to keep it flat. Turn after 20 minutes, and repeat with other side. You could start with an antipasto that you purchase; breadsticks, a little wedge of Parmigiano cheese, some proscuitto and salami, olives, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts...you get the idea. After antipasto you could move on to a small green salad w/ basil vinaigrette, which is easy enough to make; and then the chicken with a rice dish that you've prepared in advance, or some orzo cooked in stock with aromatics; yum. A simple green veg. would be nice with this; maybe some sauteed spinach w/ garlic. And dessert; why not a beautiful fresh fruit tart that you purchase, or a couple of mini-pastries from the bakery so that she has a choice? Whatever you do, enjoy enjoy. Very sweet.

                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                              You mean backbone, right, not breastbone? When you spatchcock a chicken you remove the backbone and crack the breastbone (sternum) to flatten it. At least, that's how I do it.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                Yep, my bad. :) Thanks for catching it.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. How fun!

                                                                                                                                                                              Here's an idea for a salad... it's different, tasty and I haven't met a gal yet that didn't enjoy a good salad LOL

                                                                                                                                                                              I like butter lettuce, but you can go with a spring mix or other tender greens. Iceberg or romaine not so much.

                                                                                                                                                                              Top it with mandarin orange segments (clementines), black olive slices, small red onion rings, some crumbled bleu, gorgonzola or feta, some toasted sunflower seeds or pine nuts, and a nice vinaigrette dressing. I used Newman's Own (original) for years until I started making my own.

                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                  Bleu cheese=double not great for romance.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                    I've always thought that blue cheese enhances the romance. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                                                      y'know, I haven't seen any bleu-cheese-and-onion breath mints lately....

                                                                                                                                                                              1. What mood are you going for? Upbeat? Romantic? A nice mix of music would be good.
                                                                                                                                                                                What does she like?
                                                                                                                                                                                Now, mind you, I'm 40-something so these are all "classics"

                                                                                                                                                                                Legend (Best of Bob Marley)
                                                                                                                                                                                Avalon (Roxy Music)
                                                                                                                                                                                Under the Table and Dreaming (Dave Matthews)
                                                                                                                                                                                Nothing Like the Sun (Sting)
                                                                                                                                                                                Talking Book (Stevie Wonder)
                                                                                                                                                                                Torches (Foster the People)
                                                                                                                                                                                Rio (Duran Duran)
                                                                                                                                                                                A Love Supreme (John Coltrane)

                                                                                                                                                                                and anything by Adele

                                                                                                                                                                                Please promise to tell us how it goes.

                                                                                                                                                                                9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                                  Adele? All of her hits are bitter songs about heartbreak. Admittedly, I haven't listened to the rest of her albums - Someone Like You is enough for me to categorically avoid her when romance is in the air.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                                      Roxy Music works for me. in that vein Orchestral Moves in the Dark fits.

                                                                                                                                                                                      but that is all kind of 80's retro

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hill food


                                                                                                                                                                                        Let's not forget, folks, that this is a 17-year-old in the UK.

                                                                                                                                                                                        His musical taste is very likely quite different to ours, to understate it rather significantly.

                                                                                                                                                                                        Find out what the lady in question likes. And play it.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                          yah this is all too subjective to bring dinner music into the mix. flavors and technique are sort of timeless but music?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                            LOL, this thread is such fun! A lot of parents here? My 21 year old is in college. He is jealous jealous jealous of the music from my era -- Stones, Yes, Beatles, Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Zepplin, Goodman, Prine...but he knows a huge amount about modern music that I have never heard of. Radiohead, Fleet Foxes, the Decemberists (I think this is some of that depressing Celtic music -- very dark), then back to VAn Morrison, Dire Straits, Sarah VAughn, Andrew Bird (might be good dinner music),

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                              Many of the musically-minded kids of the current young generation enjoy music for itself, not for what it represents....your kid and mine do this, for example...sort of taking it at its own merit and not worrying about what might be cool or current.....very refreshing. I have enjoyed going to a few concerts with my son over the years where we both enjoyed the music - much different from when I was his age. Very refreshing. But OT, ha.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                                                          Good list. I recommend Khia My Neck, My Back.

                                                                                                                                                                                        3. One last thought...keep things light; don't place all of your hopes and desires upon this one evening. Just relax and enjoy the food and company. You are young and there will be many more dates in your life!

                                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                            Wise, sandylc, wise. First meal I made for the then-single Mr. Pine was a disaster (I was 19, he was 26) culinary-wise. Time did heal some wounds (including my badly sliced thumb during prep--entailed an unexpected ER trip for stitches). We've been married for over 35 years, so the 1st meal isn't the total relationship prognosis. Best wishes, BigcookLittleCook, and please do give us a full review (well, as full as you'd tell your parents) on Monday! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                              Had it gone well, you might not have remembered much about it!! It makes for a great story, this way...

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                                                                                                the parents? we're not the parents! we want the whole story (actually no, on the internet that's a bad idea and could backfire really badly) so yeah Pine is right.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Should I tell you now or should I wait for the day after and tell you all the details of the meals?

                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh, do tell; everyone will be back to see it in jigtime. Glad it was successful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Tell us now what you are planning to cook, please!! We want to know, and we may be able to give you some last-minute tips. Then of course fill us in after to let us know how it all went.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MelMM

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think we should let him be at this point. He's gotten tons of input, and you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen...


                                                                                                                                                                                                    (one of my favorite books as a kid


                                                                                                                                                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Don't you worry. Any guy that will cook for you is A1 ! You'll be fine and you don't even know that you've already scored major points by just asking. She accepted so you're golden.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Oh my gosh! Just saw this post and was giddy reading through it! Ahhh....to be 17 again! I cannot wait to hear about your menu and how everything went!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I've been following this post from the start, but I can't remember if anyone said this: The best bit of advice (cooking wise) I can give you is to roll with the punches. Don't get upset if everything doesn't go perfectly.... think on your feet and just keep on truckin'. A simple roast chicken with rice pilaf and sauteed or grilled zucchini..... pasta with a ragu or other sauce and a green salad.... a seasoned and roasted pork tenderloin with scalloped potatoes and green beans... anything you cook will impress her.... as long as you keep your cool :) I wish you the best of luck (not that you'll need it!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: kubasd

                                                                                                                                                                                                        ^^^ THIS. ^^^ Rolling with the punches and not looking to have everything perfect is a must. It'll keep you more relaxed AND more able for you to enjoy the evening yourself. Believe me, she'll be impressed. Like REALLY impressed that you went to such an extent to make such a wonderful evening enjoyable for her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Easy...chicken piccata with a side of angel hair pasta. Perfect beginner's dish. Easy to make, looks elegant, and a 17 year old girl will probably enjoy the flavors.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Good luck Jake! The most important thing is that you have a fun time, and try and make sure she is comfortable and enjoying herself - ultimately, that is all that really matters. Enjoy!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: AussieBeth

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thank you! I tried to make some creme brulees yesterday, didnt go so well but had great fun with a friend talking about the disaster. So im ready to have fun no matter what happens, i think that is probably the most important thing

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                              "So im ready to have fun no matter what happens, i think that is probably the most important thing"

                                                                                                                                                                                                              ya got that right, sport.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                try the crockpot creme brulee from a year of slowcooking's blog. http://crockpot365.blogspot.com/2008/...

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. My daughter says this is the cutest thing ever! Hope it turns out well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thank you very much! I hope it goes well too

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Don't stress! Pop back in here if you have questions or any crises in preparation. And of course, please report back after the date and let us know how the food was received!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  How old is your daughter? Maybe there's hope if Jake's flame sputters out?


                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. We've moved a tangent about background music to the Not About Food board at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/868801

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. My 17 year old daughter says absolutely no foods that make the girl look messy while eating--no long noodles to come slapping her in the face, no greasy stuff she has to pick up with her hands to eat. And no huge, irreducible portions like a super buff chicken breast on steroids she'll feel guilty leaving behind. Remember that if this girl likes you, she probably wants to impress you, too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    To recap: neat foods, small portions (she can have seconds if she wants), and big CLOTH napkins. I'll leave the brilliant recipes to my fellow hounds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My daughter has far fewer rules, but she is 22, and a recent grad, so........there's that. I said "carbs" might be a problem, but she was all "meh". He had her at posting on chowhound, with "urgent" in caps.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      BTW, son is nineteen and seems to score points with that frozen Ore Ida breakfast stuff, where you add the eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Also, If your daughter is ever in the UK then tell her i would be happy to cook for her. I have a job as a chef now in a restaurant so the dishes are getting more advanced.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            At 17, either is impressive to me. Usually washing dishes at that age!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That sounds great! But forget her; what about me? Jk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I asked her if that was creepy, and she said yes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I told her I said jk, and asked would that fix it, and she said no.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But you can't delete posts here, so....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            NEwaY, BEST WISHES! Unless you are really fifty something, like me...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I was going to say that too. Spaghettit was always my worst nightmare on a first date.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dianne0712

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            arggh. i remember eating pizza w/ a fork and STILL getting it in my braces.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. This is absolutely the most darling and thrilling thread I've ever read on this site. GO JAKE! And PLEASE let us know how it all turns out!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: mynamehere

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm not sure if I would call this thread "darling" or "thrilling", but maybe we can agree on "entertaining"? It reads, with a few exceptions, like a bunch of women romanticizing the entire concept and basically projecting themselves into the couple. Nonetheless, it was a fun Saturday morning peruse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            As a one time seventeen year old boy cooking for a date (I actually first did it at fifteen), my advice would have been twofold. First, cook that dish you posted and cooked before. Nothing ever tastes as good the first time you make it as it does subsequently. Moreover, you may have ironed out some of the kinks by now, which will help with the nerves (both about the date and the prep).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Second, and most important, just f*cking be cool. No matter what, Jake, be f*cking COOL! Timings off? Just chill. Something's burning? Don't panic - open a window or show her outside for a minute. Get it? It's more about you than the food - trust me. Having her accept the invitation is more than half the battle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Y'know, I was going to suggest cooking the dish he posted but then I thought maybe the odd piggy bits could be offputting for this particular occasion...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Second, and most important, just f*cking be cool. No matter what, Jake, be f*cking COOL! Timings off? Just chill. Something's burning? Don't panic - open a window or show her outside for a minute. Get it? It's more about you than the food - trust me. Having her accept the invitation is more than half the battle."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This. 1000 times this. If Jake thoroughly messes up the dinner but is sweet and funny and relaxed about it, he will probably have a very good date.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Best advice yet, for cooking and life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Ok so the agreed night is Thursday this week. There were some problems of the weekend that had meant i couldnt do it but it is now on for thursday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Awesome, BcLc. Just lie chilly, my man. Be yourself. Clearly she likes you or she wouldn't have accepted your lovely invitation. It's going to be fine. Trust yourself; ask for help here if you need it, and have a fantastic time. I know we'll be looking forward to a full report, that is if you feel like sharing. :)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dinner will be great.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. This is one of my favorite threads of all time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      WTG BigcookLittlecook! I have two sons 20 and 22. One of them also loves to cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You got some great advice and recipes. My advice is to either cook something you have cooked before and are comfortable with or something you can cook ahead so the kitchen etc is clean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Good luck and don't forget to let us know how it goes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      p.s. My vote is either for the meal you linked to that you had cooked before or the bolognese....LOL, who doesn't love italian :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. One of the things you should strive for is to make it appear effortless. Don't put yourself in a situation where you're scrambling around at the last minute trying to get everything to come out together and on the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My suggestion would be a simple menu of food that doesn't require a lot of last minute preparation. For example, prepare and plate salads and desserts in advance. A simple caesar salad will keep nicely without getting soggy. One of my favorite company desserts is a whole pear poached in red wine and dirzzled with red raspberry preserves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I like salmon as an entrée because it's very forgiving. Bake it for 15 minutes and serve with a simple lemon butter sauce. Drizzle olive oil on fresh broccoli or asparagus (or both) and put it in the oven at the same time as the fish and they'll both be done together. Angel-hair pasta topped with freshly-grated Asiago cheese makes a great accompaniment. Do not use any kind of pre-grated Kraft cheese in a plastic container.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I know I'm late to this thread - but I gotta put my two cents in - JAKE - you're a doll - and any young lady should be thrilled to be in your life.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          here's my never-fail, go-to dessert idea. Some might call it trite, but it's easy to do ahead, takes time to eat, is FUN to eat, and has endless variations.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          chocolate fondue - and any combination of fresh or dried fruit, nuts, cake, cookies, marshmallows for dipping. the fondue base [chocolate and heavy cream with a wee bit of brandy, cognac, or a fruit liquer] can be made a day or two beforehand, and reheated [i tend to refresh it with a few more drops of booze].

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          you don't need a fondue pot - just ladle some into small cups and serve the dippers on the side, or laid out on a nice plate [i usually do two plates - one with the fruit, and the other with the rest of the stuff]. I'll leave the rest to you ...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          whatever you decide, ENJOY!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          oh. and you can have the rest of the fondue over ice cream the next day, assuming there's any left

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I don't think you need any more ideas than you've already gotten, but I just wanted to say GOOD LUCK! I think what you're doing is adorable (I mean that as non-condescendingly as possible) and I can't wait to hear how it turned out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. How about Make your own personal pizzas
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Make the No Knead Pizza dough ahead of time
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              and have all the fixings prepared ahead
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              you each can play and compose your individual pizza masterpieces together
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Food DATE extraordinare for 17-somethings!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: few

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Jake probably has already set the menu for tonight, but your idea sounds great for the second date. Laid back and fun!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. There are quite a lot of advanced recipes in this thread for a 17 year old novice cook!. Go with the shrimp scampi and serve it on top of angel hair pasta with garlic and oil sauce. It is easy, basic, and your girl will be very impressed. You can easily cook the scampi in one dish in the oven quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Shasty

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  did you read the recipe that he linked to and said he prepared? This is not an entry-level cook, even if he's only 17.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Let us know how the date went. I hope the girl recognized what a special thing you are doing. If she doesn't I guarantee there are many CH moms ready to let you cook for their daughters.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    (Geesh-to be young again!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. This is an incredibly interesting thread and I probably am too late for the occasion. But I have some comments. Don't touch paella unless you have the right equipment. It isn't hard to make, but you need a suitable pan and a burner in a suitable size. I wouldn't go for Cornish game hens as they are fussy to eat. Roasting a whole chicken is not hard, but unless you are comfortable carving it, stay away from it. Pasta entrees can be fun. And your ragu Bolognese can go from simple to very elaborate. Jaimie Oliver gives a simple version in his Food Revolution book. Come to think of it, you could do almost anything in that book and have a good meal you could be proud of. Something fun and colorful, but not hard, is curried chicken with lots of condiments: chutney, chopped nuts, toasted coconut, diced tomato, diced celery, diced onion, sweet pickle relish, fried bananas. It isn't authentic--it's an old navy dish based on Indian influences. But it is festive and easy. Or take a rotisserie roasted chicken, strip the meat up and mix it with a white sauce, cooked onions, mixed vegetables from frozen and a bit of seasoning. Put the hot mixture in a baking dish and top with rounds of biscuit dough on top--like the Pillsbury biscuits in vacuum packs--and bake for an easy chicken pot pie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    FK,you're not to late to the party.It was rescheduled for Thursday,today.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Father Kitchen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A few issues with your post:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      > Don't touch paella unless you have the right equipment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Kind of a strong warning. Paella pans are a specialty cookware item with only one primary use. Dutch ovens are great for so many things- and although I've never been able to get the proper layer of soccarat with my 7 qt. round Le Creuset and anemic gas burner, but that doesn't mean the paella I made (with recipe above) wasn't absolutely delicious, and it made for a brilliantly dramatic presentation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      >> Roasting a whole chicken is not hard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Clarification-- roasting a whole chicken BADLY is not hard. Roasting a whole chicken well (where the breast remains equally as juicy and nearly as flavorful as the thigh) is extremely tricky, unless you have either a great deal of skill or a proven recipe at your side.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      >> Put the hot mixture in a baking dish and top with rounds of biscuit dough

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Remember, he's in Britain, and is therefore likely to interpret "biscuit dough" as "cookie dough". Also, he is and is unlikely to find American style Pillsbury biscuits anyway.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sorry, I did not catch on that the original post was from Britain. However, Jamie Oliver's book gives what we call a biscuit topping for stews. Actually, I don't think roasting a whole chicken well is hard. Cooks' Illustrated and a lot of other sources give reliable recipes. Marcella Hazan has a wonderful one for chicken with two lemons. Oliver's recipe works well too. Cooking a stuffed chicken may be a little more tricky.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I still stick by my warning about paella. I've cooked it in a paella pan. A large skillet would do. But fairly even heat control in the pan is pretty essential, which is probably why your Creuset pan performed well. But would you recommend doing paella for the first date? I am glad to know that Mr Taster did well with his Le Creuset. I've also seen it done in the oven. But I wouldn't recommend anything so tricky to a nervous cook. Actually, the Mayan mother of a college pal used to make a wonderful dish that I've never found in any recipe source. She would cook the rice and some onions in oil, as for an arroz blanco but then put fish and/or chicken pieces and/or pork pieces in with the rice plus squash and broccoli, maybe some peppers, add broth, and cover it tightly and bake it. She's serve it with oven roasted yams and frijoles.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyhow, my hats off to all you who cook and have shared this information.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Hi, Jake, you made me smile, remembering the sweet agonies of youth. I'm pretty sure that most of us on this board have been in your shoes--and, occasionally, still find ourselves in somewhat similar predicaments decades later, i.e., wanting to impress without too much stress.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Listen, if you want to look and feel cool, make something you've done successfully before. If possible, choose something you can make ahead. It's no fun sweating bullets five minutes before your guest arrives, wondering if something is going to turn out okay or not. You already have an advantage over most guys since you are a good cook. What dishes do you do well? Focus on those and work on presentation: the simplest things look impressive when they are nicely presented. Even a very plain brown braise of chicken or beef looks great with a few sprigs of parsley and a few cherry tomatoes. Have some fresh herbs, like mint and parsely, and some non-toxic flowers on hand to dress up the platters and that should suffice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If you want to try something new, try it before the big day. And it would help to find out what your guests like and don't like--even perfectly cooked truffled sweetbreads might not please someone who doesn't eat offal. It helps to remember that, ultimately, cooking for other people is about pleasing them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That said, here's a sample of what I would have enjoyed when I was in college (and still would, today) that might meet your criteria:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Appetizer: smoked salmon slices sprinkled with capers and finely chopped sweet onion, served with creme fraiche and toasted brioche;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Main course: a classic boeuf bourguignon or Emeril's (yes, Emeril! Darn good recipe; skip the Essence.) Chicken Normandy; or a whole fish stuffed with herbs and baked in salt, if cooking with alcohol is not an option;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Dessert: David Lebovitz' Salted butter caramel ice cream over chocolate cake or a brownie, or a Baked Alaska, flambé-ed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Good luck, and enjoy your dinner!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. OK .....it's now 02:24 FRIDAY all of us are now ??? lots more than a wee bit curious and anxious for a dinner report

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Well Wishes,fair to say from all

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Hi Guys and girls,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Thank you so much for everything. Dinner went amazingly. It literally couldnt have gone any better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For dinner I made a simple linguine with Lobster and a fine tomato sauce. It was simple and didnt take too much time to prepare. The lobster was tricky initially and then I had it nailed by the time date night came.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It tasted amazing, looked striking and was great as the linguine contrasted with the deep red tomato sauce and the white of the lobster.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          For desert I made a simple raspberry sorbet with one side scoop of champagne sorbet. Again the colours were a nice compliment. The pinky/purple/red of the Raspberry and the white of the champagne with a small green mint leaf on top of the 2nd scoop of .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Music wise- I found some nice gentle music to play which went down well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ingredient list attatched;
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 tbsp olive oil

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 garlic cloves, chopped

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 green chilli, chopped

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          200g baby plum tomatoes, halved

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 tbsp chopped fresh flatleaf parsley

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          100ml roughly of white wine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 cooked lobster tail, chopped

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 tbsp chopped fresh chives

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          salt and freshly ground black pepper

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          250g/9oz linguine

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          lime wedges, to garnish

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Wow stellar menu and performance! That was one lucky lady, congrats on such a fab effort :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                BcLc - Sounds amazing. What a great job! We're all so happy for you. Is that a dish you had made before as well? Glad it all went well. We have been thinking of you :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well done! I hope there's a second date forthcoming from such a wonderful dinner! Or maybe the first date is still going on.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'd eat that. but I would suppose middle-aged weirdos are NOT your type.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    sounds good and easy and simple to pace. clever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Great job!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hopefully, she cooks for you the next time around.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. P.S. sorry for the slow reply. Has been a busy weekend ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              that's okay - you've had more important things to pay attention to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Very happy for you! Keep us updated...we're rooting for you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Brilliant! All your crew on Chowhound are happy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. have been going out with the girl ever since, everything is going well, thank you all for your help. xx

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Congratulations, and good luck, she is lucky to have you!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nice update! Daughter say's " awwwwwwwwww! good for you!".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Exciting! Hope you guys have a great Christmas together :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks for coming back to report -- it makes me smile to hear you won your girl's heart!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: BigcookLittlecook

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I've been grinning for a while now. Good job, BigLittle!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Favorite post and thread ever!