My boyfriend and I have decided to spend Christmas together, only the two of us since our families are far away... So I am not only struggling what to buy him as a Christmas gift .... but planning The dinner is driving me nuts. He is a foodie, eats at the best restaurants in NYC /World all the time and he is extremely picky (not an easy one) He says eh will be happy with whatever I cook but I am also a perfectionist.. Its Christmas I want to cook something great BUT I would hate to spend all day cooking as well.. Can you tell I am all confuse? suggestions?
Make reservations! Go over the list of available restaurants, their menus, prices, etc. with your BF and select something. Then make plans for before or after for a movie, a walk by the Tree, or in the Park if the weather is nice. Find a restaurant you already like or one in another borough that will make it more interesting. Check open table for possibilities. Make it a special day, not just a special meal. The average price posted for prix fixe around town is now running between $100 & $125 pp before alcohol, tax & tip. Make the choice of restaurant & paying the check and the rest of the outing your Xmas gift to him. Consider - does he really want to spend the day with someone who has driven herself crazy?
What were celebratory meals for him as a child? Are there special foods they would have at christmas or culturally significant dishes for him?
An impressive yet not too time consuming meal could be a beef wellington- just use smaller pcs and make individual wellingtons. A side of hasselback potatoes looks pretty and is delicious, and a side of wilted greens or roasted veggies.
Or you could do a boulliabase, which is awesome since it cooks fairly quickly and is a one pot meal. A nice aoli and toasty bread is all you need with it
That is a fantastic idea Ttrockwood! Thank you so much I am checking my recipes right now. He grwep at a orphanage so I have no idea how celebrations were for him since he hates talking about it and I dont ask. It makes him sad.. He will be happy with whatever I cook!
it's wonderful that you are starting new traditions together. You are right that whatever you make he will appreciate and will be delightful in comparison to those years in the past.
Think of things the two of you have eaten together and loved, or if you want ideas -- i'm currently menu planning for my family's visit. I am contemplating either a beef tenderloin with gorgonzola sauce or ham. we are likely to do ham for Christmas dinner and the beef for Christmas eve. If I were doing a meal just for two, I would consider great steaks (fillet, ribeye, strips…whatever you prefer) seasoned liberally with salt and pepper and a bit of garlic, seared in cast iron and finished in the oven, accompanied with your sides of choice -- i like roasted cauliflower and brussell sprouts. Served with a big beautiful red wine. for starters, maybe something seafood like shrimp cocktail or warm crab dip (very rich and decadent….good for a holiday)…paired with champagne.
or for uber-traditional -- you could find a very small ham -- glaze with a mix of dijon mustard and apricot preserves. accompanied by potatoes au gratin and something green (green beans, kale), or whatever else suits your fancy.
for non-traditional, consider a paella. My favorite is a Valenciana style make with chicken thighs, chorizo and seafood (I use clams, scallops and shrimp, sometimes lobster tail). for me, this dish is very festive and befitting a special occasion. for starters you could make some sangria and a few tapas -- pan con tomate, gambas al ajillo (garlicky shrimp); or for very low effort -- simply some great sliced salami and a chunk of manchego cheese with membrillo (quince paste). If sangria is not your thing, cava would be festive to start.
Or maybe a boeuf bourginon with spaetzle or egg noodles. with a salad with some persimmons and hazelnuts.
Planning a dinner for 2, as opposed to a group, you have infinite options. If you have a theme, featured ingredient or idea that resonates with you, let us know and that may spark some more ideas.
The biggest mistake I see in relationships is that everyone always feels they have to do something extremely special, go out to the best restaurants....or cook something great. Sooner or later, you can't keep it up and you can only go downhill from there. It's a better idea to grow into likes and share the journey
Let me let you in on a secret. If you don't overcook or burn it, it will be great.
cook something in your comfort level, or what you do best. Nothing beats a simple Roasted Chicken, or Beef Roast. Concentrate on your sides. After all, that's basically what every family has anyway....if you want to jazz it up....take something simple and add to it...e.g. Mac & Cheese....use different cheeses, add shaved truffles or incorporate some lobster.
A beef filet only takes minutes to cook, that along with some jumbo shrimp and a couple of sides wouldn't be much work.
Or perhaps get some thick pieces of a good quality fresh fish and broil it. Chilean Sea Bass is one of my favorites.
Julia Child's recipe for holandaise sauce is dead simple, and can make stuff like steamed asparagus kinda classier when spooned over it.
Porchetta is relatively easy to make too.
duck confit. dry rub it tomorrow, cook it tuesday and you'll just have to reheat it on christmas day. i like the basic ruhlman technique.
morrocan carrot salad and black lentils with a bit of pancetta. crusty bread.