Barefoot Contessa aside, many of us can fall into ruts, both when it comes to our romantic lives and our cooking. My partner sometimes gets back from work late and recently, I realized he almost always sees me in my pajamas with baby spit up on my shirt. Romance. She’s alive and kicking in my life. As new parents, we are dancing the dance of frantically feeding ourselves while tenderly feeding our baby. However, the other night I came downstairs to jazz music playing, a meal carefully plated, and two chairs waiting. It was like a scene from my life before, and damn, it made me step up my game. It is amazing how a meal can make your date (or your long term-partner) look at you a little differently. The effort alone tells the person that you see them and you have interest in conversing with them. If you want to set the mood, get a great playlist, dim the lights, and try one of these meals that are guaranteed to impress your date (even if your cooking skills are subpar).
Meals to Impress
Tapas For Two. One of the big problems with cooking for a date is that lots of food can lead to lots of bloating. Bloating is the nemesis of nookie (you can quote me on that, although I swear I have better quotes). One way around this is to create a series of small plates. Whether you are doing chips and guac with taquitos, or bacon wrapped dates with a cheese board is your call. You can even reheat some frozen appetizers, plate them in an artful arrangement, uncork some bubbly, and call it a day. The trick is not to pretend to be someone you are not. The trick is in the effort.
Risotto with scallops. This is a one-two punch. Risotto may sound fussy, but really all it asks of you is that you have mastered the art of stirring. Don’t let it stick to the pan is the main rule and in no time flat, creamy deliciousness will be on your table. If even that sounds too complicated, you can Google “no stir” or baked risotto, because the Internet is nothing if not versatile. Garnish with some scallops that you have lightly seared. These mollusks are undeniably expensive, but also so easy to make. A little seasoning and their buttery richness will complement the bite of rice. Just be sure not to overcook them, because you work hard for your money and you don’t want to see it literally go in the garbage.
Brown butter and --. The nutty lavishness of some deeply brown butter will put you in your date’s good book, when truly you have heated up butter until it begins to foam and darken. Not rocket science. Also known as beurre noisette, it is important to swirl the pan and not to leave the butter alone. Ladle over gnocchi or douse it over veggies. It doesn’t really matter. It’s butter.
Your grandmother’s/mother’s recipe. If you want to date successfully, you have to sometimes be vulnerable and often be honest. Sharing a part of your family tradition with your date, especially if you have never done so before, is the culinary equivalent of courting. If the person who made the recipe originally is still alive, they will undoubtedly be pleased that you noticed their labour and desire to recreate their magic. You have made two people happy in one.