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Dinner to impress female date, zero prep time

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She is from a class in university and we studied together a couple times and I asked her over for drinks...

So last Sunday she came over for 'drinks' at 530 and we have smoked salmon apps on the roof teracce then I made spicy chicken breasts and while they cooked we made a nice salad and simple balsamic vinaigrette. We had great conversation (but I didnt want to flirt with her at all so she would feel comfortable since it was our first time really getting to know eachother (not talking school/studying and she was in my apt); she is low twenties and Im upper twenties) and she ended up leaving at around 1am. It was easy to put together since I premade baguette toasts with cream cheese and the salmon on them the morning of.

She wants to come over for drinks after our final on Monday. I cant decide what to make, and I actually have exams 9-12 and 1-5pm (the later is our mutual one) which means I have no prep time the morning of.She likes to eat everything and I know she likes sparkling wine. I was thinking that I could get a bottle of prosecco and am unsure what to pair it with for an app...would it be ok with bruscheta (I can make the mix the night before I guess?) .

For the main was thinking of a giant shrimp pan fried in butter and sriracha and really small high quality steak (by then the bottle of great red wine should open) and fingerling baked potatoes coated (precooking) in cayenne, chili, cumin, sesame oil, soya, maybe some herbs de provence and either a small salad or asparagus..... I was considering mussels for the main since they are so easy but I cant make fries at home and I dont think it is great food for a 2nd/3rd get-together...any alternative or suggestions are appreciated!

Thank you

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  1. Pasta,simply dressed with pesto. A light salad with oil and vinegar. And your bruschetta. You probably won't be that hungry.

    5 Replies
    1. re: emglow101

      Pesto is an uncomfortable thing to eat in a new relationship, you're guaranteed to have it in your teeth.

      1. re: weezieduzzit

        How so when it's made into a paste ? Then adding your olive oil.I use a mortar and pestle.

        1. re: emglow101

          The risk is too high- why take the chance of making someone self conscious instead of relaxed?

          1. re: weezieduzzit

            OK, I see your point.It worked for me.

        2. re: weezieduzzit

          Agree, and the garlic!

      2. Totally ok to make the bruschetta topping the day before. Your dinner ideas sound lovely. I would have no qualms serving a dry prosecco with the bruschetta or shrimp. Frankly, I would serve sparkly wine with everything, but that's a different thread. :)
        As for mussels, why not serve them on a 2nd or 3rd get-together? It's a great way to find out whether or not your guest's eating style is similar to yours. Just be prepared with lots of napkins, spoons for the broth, bread, etc.
        Actually, mussels, bread, salad... would be pretty easy, and low-prep.

        1. For an appetizer, melon wrapped in prosciutto to accompany the prosecco.

          You could assemble a lasagna the day before, then bake after your exam. Only a salad and maybe some crusty bread and good butter to complete the meal. Steak and shellfish are high-end choices and better delayed until the relationship is more established.

          You don't need a rich dessert after lasagna. Vanilla ice cream topped with fresh berries or whatever other fruit is in peak season. Or fresh pineapple slices topped with brown sugar and broiled, then drizzled with rum, and a few almond cookies.

          2 Replies
          1. re: greygarious

            I agree with every bit of the above. As an alternative dessert, how about affogato? Unless she doesn't drink coffee, it's foolproof, and a slightly more bitter companion to the gelato than berries.

            1. re: greygarious

              I think lasagna is way too heavy for this time of year, and a lot of girls would never dream of eating it, especially in front of a potential boyfriend

            2. I appreciate the great feedback so far... though I should have mentioned that unless it is winter and I am making meatballs I don't eat much pasta, and since I dont have much experience making lasagna it would take me a fair amount of time beforehand. Im not really sure why...and its so simple but I dont think it is right.

              I think everyone agrees that
              -brushetta could be a good starter with prosecco (this is the one I plan on getting which I like http://www.saq.com/page/en/saqcom/vin...)

              For the Main
              -small fillet with a shrimp
              -mussels
              -I like making wenierschnitzel but I dont think that is date food

              Dessert:
              I personally dont think I really need one ... I have some cheeses etc

              PS the other wine will likely be Osoyoos Larose unless someone can suggest similar but cheaper .. I served it last time and she adored it and actually recognized it which most of my dates definitely would not (and to those who are skeptical I highly doubt she is using me for my wine lol)....

              4 Replies
              1. re: kpaxonite

                Do you know that she doesn't care for desserts? Speaking as a female (albeit many years past my twenties), I almost always have a hankering for a little sonething sweet after dinner. Doesn't have to be anything big or elaborate - strawberries, some quality chocolate or bakery cookies (a handful of M&Ms will do in a pinch).

                1. re: kpaxonite

                  Desert can be "coffee & couch" lol!

                  1. re: kpaxonite

                    Okay, understand your reservations about pasta. I do want to reiterate my thumbs up to greygarious' earlier comment.

                    If a guy I'd been casually seeing made me surf and turf with a filet and giant shrimp on our 2nd date, I would think "gee, he's got it bad for me". (NB: this has never happened to me :-) but that is what I'd think). If that's the impression you'd like to give, rock on! You are clearly a foodie and she seems to be as well, but if a guy in college made me a torta espanola, that would be enough.

                    Also, it doesn't hurt to have an emergency pint of gelato in the fridge.

                    1. re: kpaxonite

                      Why not some kind of light thin crust pizza with a nice salad and a nice bottle of red wine?

                    2. The prosecco would be great with a simple cruidites and dip. Since you have so little prep time i suggest you have her cook with you? Just say "i was thinking we could just make dinner at my place- are you ok with spicy food?" Then pick up amd semi prep the shrimp or steak (both feels like overkill) and then you can make the fingerlings and aspargus and salad together. All those flavors on the potatoes sound overwhelming, maybe simplify to one or two. A homemade vinegrette for the veggies will impress her. A good store bought gelato for dessert maybe.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                        Good call. Just to be clear when I wrote "a giant shrimp" that is what I meant... Like one giant shrimp on each dish... not a plate of them.

                        I was thinking of actually getting her to walk to the (very close) grocery store after our exam since she likes to make coq au vin I told her she owes me for a beer I bought her yesterday and suggested she make me dinner but at the same time dont want to put her on the spot.

                        1. re: kpaxonite

                          if it's summer in your neck of the woods, i wouldn't want lasagne either, and any kind of long pasta isn't something many can eat with elegance so not great date food. (rule of thumb: if you wouldn't order it confidently at a business dinner, it's not good date food.)

                          i think the prosecco with bruschetta sounds like a great start. you could also poach the shrimp the day before and serve it chilled with a lemony aioli.

                          for the main--

                          i'd do either buttery shrimp, OR some steak with the potatoes. with apps, you could serve steaks that are only 4-5 oz and not spend a fortune. mussels can be drippy and not everybody likes eating with their hands, so again, not a first date dinner. asparagus is out of season for me, so i'd do local zucchini or green beans right now, simply, with butter and lemon.

                          as for the osoyoos larose, we don't get a lot of canadian wines my way, but i have had its sister from bordeaux, gruaud larose, and like it a lot!

                          some fresh berries might be all you need for dessert, or cheese if you like going that way. not every female has a sweet tooth, myself included. you also don't want to stuff the poor thing into a food coma.

                          as for instead asking her to make coq au vin? lol. it's a wintery dish, it takes a long time to cook, and that would be a bad bait and switch to me. invite her over for dinner then spring the surprise that she's the cook? if she wants to cook for you, at her place, she'll offer. :)

                          have fun!

                          1. re: kpaxonite

                            I think you should do your shopping ahead of time,(it feels too familiar this early) and if/when the date goes as well as we suspect it would only be natural that she would invite you to hers for dinner next. A semi-joking "so when are you going to teach me your famous coq-au-vin?" Would work with me ;)

                        2. Alton Brown's short-ribs made in a slow cooker so you don't have to watch the main cook once it's in. Serve over wide egg noodles with steamed peas on side or incorporated into the ribs.

                          For apps, baked brie with selection of crackers or a piece of warm bread from a bakery picked up earlier in the day, and fresh strawberries.

                          For dessert, baked pears stuffed with honey/walnut/graham crumb mixture. Drizzle a bit of caramel sauce with a mint leaf for dessert.

                          These things all give almost 0 time to cooking and prepping and 100% of the time with the lady - that's the point.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Rigmaster

                            I would not eat ribs on a date, that's married people food!

                          2. You didn't say whether you have a grill, but this could be done indoors on a pizza stone, though I prefer the smoke you get from the grill. The day before make dough or buy a good flatbread. Caramelize a large onion (doable the day before) and make a pizza with smoked gouda, thin sliced tart apple slices and the onions. I spread the onions over the dough like a jam, add the apple slices and then shave the cheese over it all. Add a sprinkle of olive oil fresh ground pepper and grill or bake. Delicious and rather light. And maybe get some fresh peaches to grill and serve with good ice cream for dessert. Really easy and delicious and the pizza would go great with the prosecco.

                            1. OK, I'm either going to be the buzzkill or the voice of reason. This all sounds very elaborate and over the top for when everyone is worn out from finals and the end of summer. You may freak her out by setting the bar so high that she doesn't know how to reciprocate. Why not do a nice relaxed "picnic" dinner after the final? Lovely bread, cheese, fruit, chocolate, sparkling wine, etc. Set a pretty platter, with a flower... It allows for winding down from the stress of finals, and is a very relaxing setting for conversation and whatever you hope to come next. Save the elaborate dinner for further into the relationship and a day when you actually have time to do all the cooking.

                              9 Replies
                              1. re: arashall

                                So much yes. Just buy a few munchies and set out a little app spread. You served chicken before which is pretty safe, but, speaking for myself personally, I barely eat shrimp - an occasional nibble here and there depending on prep, and oh, do I not like mussels!

                                Unless you are very sure of what foods she likes and doesn't like, it can be a sad double whammy of serving food to a guest that she can't/won't eat and going to a lot of work for food left uneaten.

                                1. re: arashall

                                  yeah, thats where i was going too. pasta salad, roasted cauliflower, cheeses, fruit , bread, wine, olives, pate.

                                  Girls like to eat but dont like people to notice how much they eat, with a smorgasboard they can pick.

                                  Making the effort counts a bunch. Once I had a woman, totally out of my league, stop by and i made her tomato soup from scratch and a perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

                                  And then i got to make her breakfast.

                                  1. re: arashall

                                    Agree with arashall. You'll definitely want to relax after a day of finals. I had a boyfriend come by for dinner and he was completely shocked that instead of a regular "dinner" I had a spread of several different, interesting cheeses, grapes, apples, a couple of different crackers, mustards and cold meats. Paired with wine or a choice of some fun beers. I didn't have to do any "cooking" other than slicing the cheese and meats. We weren't overstuffed after the meal and ready to fall asleep to digest. He was really surprised but said he really enjoyed it. He's requested we do that for dinner numerous times afterward, so I think he meant it.

                                    1. re: Firegoat

                                      Lately I do a daily "Happy Hour" for my husband, and it's turning into his main meal of the day. Hummus, guac, salsa with chips, assorted cheeses with crackers or Italian bread, some type of antipasta platter or tomato and mozz with pesto...it varies a bit day to day but it's healthy, plus it's fun!

                                      1. re: coll

                                        I totally agree with this coll. We eat a lot lighter, we keep a fun mix of cheeses and meats around we don't eat nearly as much or as heavily.

                                        1. re: Firegoat

                                          And so easy to throw together. If husband is still hungry, I throw a sandwich together after, but he never eats more than half of that now. Every day is like a party around here!

                                      2. re: Firegoat

                                        Like Firegoat, hubs and I bonded over what we called an "indoor picnic." Various good quality sliced meats and cheeses, crackers and/or hunks of fresh bread, olives, fruits, a few condiments, and whoosh, we were married a month later (that's another story, however). Years later, we moved into an apt. owning no furniture and we frequently had "pizza picnics" on the floor till we got settled in (another story, too).

                                        1. re: pine time

                                          the op wants to "cook". he clearly enjoys it.

                                          i don't see how bruschetta and broiled steaks are all that labor-intensive.

                                          when i was single, i could count on one hand the number of guys who cooked to woo me. it was always appreciated. ahem.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            Agree and understand the desire to "cook" myself. Just thought that in this case, (post exam, short time table) the simple might be the way to go.

                                            Then bring out the big guns.

                                    2. "She wants to come over for drinks after our final on Monday"

                                      Drinks, pizza, and cool clean sheets!!

                                      Have Fun!

                                      1. Boil a couple of artichokes the day before. Chill and serve with mayonnaise (preferably home made).

                                        Toss a rack of lamb spread with stone ground mustard and herbs of your choice in a hot oven. Start rice at same time. Nuke a bag of haricots vert and toss in a mixing bowl with butter and S & P. Stir some saffron into the rice while there is still a small amount of liquid. The rice and lamb will be done about the same time.

                                        Serve the artichokes with prosecco with the artichokes and PN that you opened and put in the fridge as you started the lamb with the main course.

                                        Bibb lettuce in very little white wine vinaigrette for salad course.

                                        Dessert can be most anything since it isn't a super heavy menu, but at the moment I am going with Nutty Buddies because they are in my mitts.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: tim irvine

                                          as much as i love artichokes, they are not something everybody likes eating in front of others.

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            How sad for them...

                                            ;0)

                                        2. I love the food suggestions, but I agree with Uncle Bob and Arashall. Keep it simple because there's no time to cook. Most of us who like to cook like to show off a bit, but this isn't the time. You'll both be tired (especially you--two final exams). Save the fancy cooking for the next date. Concentrate on her!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: gfr1111

                                            I tend to agree...I would keep a more elaborate meal for another date, it's formal somewhat.

                                          2. the melon and prosciutto sounds excellent, melons are at their peek. why not a really thick single prime strip steak, sliced 1/4 " thick and served with chimichurri sauce. grilled asparagus and a lentil pilaf vinaigrette with feta. the steak and asparagus both on the grill at the last minute, med rare and the pilaf and melon course way ahead of time

                                            1. One idea: Caprese salad with crusty bread for dipping (use the best olive oil, tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella you can get).

                                              For accoutrements: nothing sexier than a perfectly ripe peach, IMHO.

                                              Also, you could make or buy a good quiche or frittata or Spanish omelette--all in a family of foods that are great at room temperature. I'd serve with some green beans, lightly salted and buttered.

                                              1. If she came over to study, had dinner with you, stayed till 1AM offerred to cook for you, and is coming back, those are clues. I would suggest getting her input as to what you could cook together and run with it. She is not going to suggest sonething beyond her (and your) ability, nor something she does not like. Due to te time constraints of the exams, I would make it something simple and quick. The shrimp and fingerlings will work. Both cook quickly.

                                                1. what about some tortellini in a gorgonzola sauce? you could use the sauce over the steak too.

                                                  1. How about a voice of reason? Me! Since you BOTH have finals that day, seems to me that cooking, whether she helps or not and whether it's easy or not, is simply NOT the way to fly unless you plan on wearing your Superman cape all evening long, and you KNOW that thing is too hot to wear in the kitchen!

                                                    Certainly you have imagination enough to come up with something unusual, cheap (only people poorer than students are monks!), and fun. If McDonald's allowed BYOB, I'd suggest there with your bottle of prosecco! Then there's Chinese take-out picnic in a park. Surely it's not THAT cold in Quebec yet? If drive-in movies still existed, I'd suggest one of those with a bucket of fried chicken and the prosecco. A stroll to a hot dog cart? It's the companionship that will make or break, and if she doesn't understand being "laid back and easy" after finals for both of you, then do you REALLY want a second date? Go and have fun! And if all goes well, THEN you can inviter her over on the weekend and cook your socks off! '-)

                                                    1. Make whatever is light and not difficult--make it together (and yes, ask what she wants). She will understand. to be honest: academics matter. Don't let them become secondary to a 'possible' relation.

                                                      Why am I (rudely) suggesting this instead of something elaborate? -- I recently had a man go "all-out" for our second date, and while the dinner was nice, it was clear he was extremely nervous to be hosting and extremely out-of-his-comfort zone with the dishes.. while that was nice (maybe even some would call it charming (ahem, verging on pathetic)), it came off as over-the-top when coupled with some of the things that he said (super gushy words/sentiments.. hello, this is the 2nd date..).
                                                      I am not saying YOU would be nervous especially if she has already been over, and you sound very functional in the kitchen--but if you have exams and this is yet the beginning of a 'potential relationship,' then consider giving yourself a break.

                                                      Regardless--enjoy and all of your above suggestions sound delicious (as long as she eats meat, OH avoid mussels!, and as long as she does not have allergies).

                                                      1. I agree with others that said a stress-free dinner post-exams sounds best. The fewer things you have to do when you get home, the more time you'll have to spend together.

                                                        I love the idea of a rooftop picnic. Using your ideas as a jumping off point, here's what I would do:

                                                        To start, I'd serve the Prosecco with potato chips. This may seem crazy but potato chips and sparkling wine are a match made in heaven. To make this special, purchase a bag of the thicker cut kettle cooked chips. These are especially good if you warm them. You can zap them in the microwave for 30 seconds or, lay them on a baking sheet and dust them with some freshly grated parmesan then stick them in a 400° oven for 5 mins or, under the broiler.

                                                        For your main, I'd make all the dishes ahead, set up your serving dishes and cover them with saran wrap then all you need to do when you get home from your exams is take your dishes out of the fridge. If you purchase a nice steak and cook it ahead then you can slice it and arrange it on a platter. I'd also cook the shrimp ahead and add them to the platter just prior to serving. Your potatoes also would be lovely at room temperature. To switch it up a bit you could make a make a roasted potato salad instead if you wished. A simple Dijon Vinaigrette would be perfect and not too heavy. For veggies, I'd go with some antipasti like some roasted peppers, artichokes and olives that you could pick up at your grocer's deli.

                                                        For dessert, how about biscotti and ice cream? Summery and no fuss necessary.

                                                        1. Going back to grad school days, I'm guessing you don't have too much time to prep beforehand, especially with two long finals on one day? Do something simple like greygarious's suggestion of prosciutto and melon and then maybe chocolate covered strawberries (because chocolate after an exam for most women is a winner). Then, if it goes well, head out to dinner or order in. If you want to cook, then a poached shrimp and roasted vegetable (whatever is fresh where you are) salad and crusty loaf of bread or couscous. Just keep it simple and not heavy. A too heavy meal with that many spices in the heat of summer isn't romantic.

                                                          1. She said drinks... unless she is a foodie, all of this is over the top. What would be wrong with ice cream sundaes, banana splits? The only cooking necessary is to heat up a little chocolate sauce. Ice cream is very sensual.

                                                            I think somebody needs to check out 9 1/2 weeks before their date.

                                                            7 Replies
                                                            1. re: GraydonCarter

                                                              Icecream+wine= disgusting.

                                                              This girl had been over for dinner a week earlier and asked to come back when we met up[ for drinks in the middle of the week- thats a pretty good sign I wasnt pushing too hard.

                                                              It is very possible to make dinner for someone and for it to not be over the top as long as you are confident in what you are doing and don't look like you are trying too hard.

                                                              For those of you who are interested, it went really well. Thank you for all the great advice and I will make sure I read it again next time I have a date over for dinner. We ended up having prosecco and bruschetta on my rooftop terrace while I left little potatoes bake in the oven with some sesame oil and when we were done I made some green beans and two 6 oz. steaks from the market. I had some crudites but my fatigue must have got the better of me and I completely forgot about them until the next day. I really don't understand why some people seemed to think it would be difficult to do there isn't much that is easier to cook than a steak you just have to turn over one time haha. I picked up some ice cream and Quebec blueberries and raspberries on your recommendation to have dessert and when I offered dessert she said she was full and doesn't really like dessert, neither do I :)

                                                              It is pretty hot here (37c with the humidity today) which is part of the reason I didn't want to make anything too heavy but if it was wintertime I think lasagna or even a great stew made the day before would be lovely.

                                                              Those of you who said I would be tired were right. I only had 1.5 hours of sleep the night before but I somehow managed to pull through and of course she was understanding.

                                                              Another idea I especially liked was to put together a charcutterie and veg platter ; that would have made for a great night. Hmm... maybe when she gets back from Poland next week.. ;)

                                                              1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                Bravo!

                                                                1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                  Good to hear. Sounds like a great meal that wasn't too time consuming or take too much prep. BTW, maybe it's a good sign you left something out. The first meal my husband made for me (I was just impressed he could cook, and doubly impressed that it was excellent), he also left something out. Maybe smitten? We've been married over 20 years.

                                                                  1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                    Yay! You could totally do a rooftop terrace picnic with the veg and meats platter idea.... And maybe a little port for "dessert"

                                                                    1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                      well done!

                                                                      good luck on the next date!

                                                                      1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                        Impressive and smooth!

                                                                        1. re: kpaxonite

                                                                          I think that she will remember that meal all of her days. I am glad you stuck to your guns. Good job!

                                                                      2. Everyone needs at least one chic throw together house specialty. Here are some quickies I can think of:

                                                                        --Joe's Special (burger, onion, spinach, egg toss together)
                                                                        --Veal scallopini
                                                                        --Oyster stew
                                                                        --Pasta carbonara