RECIPE: looking for: date dinner - make him love me!

amriroseNovember 15, 2007

OK People - I'm cooking to impress and need your most succulent of menu suggestions. He's a keeper, and I'm completely smitten. I need your help.

My paramor and I will be flying up the Central coast of CA on Saturday for a lovely brunch and tour of Hearst Castle. We'll be back by 4PM or so - having cocktails at a birthday party, and coming back for a home cooked meal about 7:30PM. I plan to prep food on Friday for ease.

What should I make??

I'm considering Engagement Chicken (lots of lemon), a spinach salad with red onion and feta, and spagehtti squash tossed with butter, parmesan, s/p.


Help me out here - Love is on the line!!

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If this is a 'romantic' dinner, and it sounds like it might be, I'd say trash the onion salad idea!
To keep your chicken from drying out when you reheat it, don't cook it all the way and make sure it's covered very tightly.
Otherwise, sounds good.
If it was ME, which it's not, I'd find a good crockpot recipe that can cook while you're gone. The aroma will hit you in the face when you come in the door - what man doesn't like the smell of a home cooked dinner when he walks in!
Good luck this weekend!
Carol B

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 10:32PM
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Never met a man for whom the shortest way to"heart" was not a beautifully grilled piece of beef, simply baked or roasted potatoes a green salad with a sweetish dressingl, veggie of choice....the simpler the home made bread and apple pie.
This is a simple "throw together" meal....what could be simpler than a grilled steak, baked potato ( with sour cream) salad, good bread and pie.
Save the chiffonade and the duxelles and the au vin for when you have more time. The way to impress him is with a wonderful "man style" meal with no apparant effort on your part.
Linda C

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 11:13PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Is there any way of finding out what his 'Favorite' Meal is? That would impress me..[g]. If not this time, then the next time. If doing that is not an option, I would go along with Linda on the 'beef' idea. I have been married for many years and after all this time of cooking steak is still right at the top of my DH's favorite list. Potatoes and asparagus would be his favorite [but not mine], and anything with chocolate for dessert would be the most romantic. To be eating late after cocktails, I would keep the meal smaller and eliminate the salad and bread or have a salad and no veggie. I would also keep the potato small.

If you feel like this meal is more simple than you were thinking and not impressive enough, then go for a big finish with the dessert. Prepare a truffle. I have never seen anyone who is not impressed with one. It is pretty simple too if you don't make your own cake. All you have to do is cook a package of pudding and whip cream. Then you layer chocolate cake, the pudding, the whip cream with crushed up heath bar. It is a pretty intense dessert so you might want to keep the serving sizes on the beef and potato small and a small serving of truffle goes a long way.

Have a great time!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 5:53AM
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I agree.......... Id do a nice Rib Eye on the grill Barefoot Contessas Creamed spinache (prep day before cook while having a pre dinner drink) baked potato with sour cream and chives (this can be baked ahead and just warmed) and for salad id do the Iceberg Lettuce wedge with homemade chunky blue cheese dressing (againg prep before put on plate a cover with Saran Wrap) and for dessert Apple pie with a good vanilla ice cream (Prep the pie before and put into the oven when you sit to eat the aroma will surely permiate the house)........99.9% of men love steak and this is the ultimate MAN MEAL!!!!!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 8:00AM
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Do you know his favorites? Think about what he orders when you dine out. I'd stay away from any flavors you aren't positive he likes. I'm not a feta fan so that would turn me off right there.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 8:07AM
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Thanks all -
I have no idea what his favorites are at this point (but I aim to find out!)
Steak, love it. Unfortch, my backyard is being rehauled right now, and I have no access to my grill. Is meat really ever as good seared on the stove top? Anyone have a sure-fire way to cook it stove or oven? Fillet mignon? Maybe with a spaghetti squash? Recipe anyone? Or with saute mushrooms, and a green veggie....
I like the idea of keeping it small, unheavy, and satisfying.
I'll steer clear of the onions in a salad, Carol!
Apple pie! Or apple crisp.....hmmm

BTW - this guy knows his food. He's a fireman and their main cook at the station. Oh the pressure!
Thanks again everyone!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 10:11AM
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Here's a pan seared steak....and very good and very impressive....

2, 3, 4 or whatever 6 to 8 ounce beef filets mignon, at room temperature
(let sit out for at least 30 minutes before beginning prep work)
kosher salt
black pepper
clarified butter
cognac or brandy
Maytag blue cheese crumbled (about 1/2T per serving)
coarsely chopped walnuts (about 1T per serving)

pre-heat a cast-iron skillet that's large enough to
hold all the steaks at once (or two smaller) over the burner set on High-High-High for at least 15 minutes, You MUST use cast iron for this - anything less will
burn or warp. Do not use stainless or aluminum, and only use porcelinized
cast iron (like Le Crueset) if you don't mind permanent black stains.

While that is preheating, season the filets with a pinch of kosher or sea salt and
a generous dose of freshly ground pepper - all pressed into the meat, both

Next, toast the chopped walnuts in a dry sauté pan over medium heat for 3-5
minutes - until they begin to brown.

When the pan on the grill is BLAZING hot (showing a little gray ash) , dip the filets in
the butter on both sides (pour a puddle onto a plate - this is why they
must be room temp. If colder, the butter will congeal and stick to the
plate you set them back on and stay there, and the steaks will stick and
burn to the pan) and CAREFULLY drop into the hot pan. They will smoke like
a three-alarm fire as they cook. be sure your vent fan is on.

Let them cook on the first side about 2 minutes, then turn over and cut the
heat to Medium (a 1"
thick filet will take about 4-5 minutes on the second side) Then dump about 2 T of brandy or cognac per serving into the pan and
ignite with a long match or lighter - wait for the flame to subside and
then remove the steaks to a warmed plate tented with foil to keep the
steaks warm.

Then, add enough brandy to the pan to be sure you have enough to "sauce"
each steak, flame again if needed to burn off the alcohol, and cook until
it just begins to thicken and get syrupy - scrape the pan with a wooden
spoon or spatula as you do. Then, add in the blue cheese and walnuts and
stir until the cheese is melted. Remove the pan from the heat, plate up each steak and pour a little sauce over each and add a
portion of the nuts. Serve and enjoy.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 11:25AM
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If this doesn't do it, nothing will! This is a yummy recipe - good luck - and please let us know about the romance! (BTW the notes on the bottom are not mine, they are the chef's)

MQ's Steak Diane for Two
Mark Bittman, New York Times
2 6-ounce beef fillets, cut from the tenderloin (filet mignon), preferably not too lean
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot or onion
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or to taste (I added 1/2 t. extra because dh likes it)
½ cup heavy cream or half-and-half
Lemon juice to taste, optional
Chopped fresh chives or parsley leaves for garnish.
1. Flatten fillets a bit with the palm of your hand, the back of a skillet or a small mallet; they should be about 1 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and a lot of pepper. In small skillet, preferably one just large enough to hold fillets, combine oil and tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. When butter foam melts, sear steaks on both sides, just until browned, no more than 2 minutes a side. Remove to platter.
2. Wipe pan clean with towel; add remaining butter over medium heat, with shallot or onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in mustard, Worcestershire and cream. Add some salt and a fair amount of pepper. Stir once or twice, then taste and adjust seasoning.
3. Keeping mixture at a steady simmer, return meat and accumulated juices to pan. Cook, turning two or three times, until meat is done to your liking, just 1 or 2 minutes a side for medium-rare. Remove to a plate, and add lemon juice, if using, salt and pepper to the sauce as needed. Spoon sauce over meat, garnish with chives or parsley, and serve.

Closely related to steak au poivre, and best made with truffles (isn't everything?), it is about as straightforward, simple and impressive a high-class dish as you can make. If you and your date are meat eaters, you cannot go wrong with this.
The process is easy, nearly foolproof, and gives you a few options. Though you can follow this procedure with almost any tender cut of beef (and with chicken breasts, if that direction appeals to you), it's a perfect treatment for tenderloin medallions (filet mignon) for two reasons. Tenderloin doesn't have much flavor of its own, so there's nothing to overwhelm with this rich, flavorful sauce. And it is supertender, which makes it a nice cut for a juicy, saucy dish in which you're going to use a knife.
A couple of options: You can cook some mushrooms  preferably wild, but shiitakes will do nicely  along with the shallots, and add a touch of garlic as well, if you like. And you can add a tablespoon or two of Cognac to the cream sauce and ignite it for a bit of a show. But I doubt you'll taste much difference or note a change of behavior; for that, you're better off drinking it.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 11:27AM
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You all are the best! Thank you for your suggestions and recipes - I'm off to the shops, and back for housecleaning and food prep.
I'll report back on the menu and romance....
Will let you know the wedding date - you're all invited!! :)

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 1:17PM
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If hes a fireman (I no many a NYC fireman) not only can they cook they can eat Good Luck and enjoy yourself

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 7:59PM
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For my own 2 cents, unless you "know" what he likes and dislikes already, stay away from what picky people would consider yucky - and by that I mean spagetti squash. I like it, but I know my DH would HATE it!

My husband's friends always told him if HE didn't marry me - THEY would. LOL

But to attract DH, I stuck with a strict meat/potatoes/vegetable menu, then added to it as I got to know him...and somehow his bachelor friends also ended up at our place for suppers lol.

If this is a first meal, I say slow cooker roast, potatoes & fresh baby carrots (keep a stand by of canned peaches & cream corn just in case), then all you have to do is make gravy with the juices and VOILA! Top off with a nice white wine and a peanut free dessert that you can make ahead (unless you know he doesn't have peanut allergies).

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 10:01PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Unless you know what they like, it's all guessing. My dh loves vegetables and dislikes red meat. The stereotypical meat and potatoes is just that, a generalization about men that does not apply to all by any means. Dh orders vegetable plates all the time and would like spaghetti squash. But I understand the generalization too....

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 11:10PM
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I would go with the Steak Diane and some potatoes. A nice salad with onions would be great if you both have the onions. Most of the men I've known prefer a creamy dressing rather than an oil and vinegar or balsamic type. And I've never met one who didn't like a homey banana pudding. You can get fancy later on.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2007 at 8:31AM
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I believe it was Julia Child who said "Never try out a new recipe on company". My sage advice would be to make the meal that you prepare the best for him. Keep it simple and easy.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 8:30AM
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OK we need an update here. How did it go? I made my wife some kind of pineapple chicken or something a long time ago while we were dating. It was never repeated but it worked because we liked each other.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2007 at 8:18PM
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Pat, I never read Julia Child and I always try new recipes when we have company. Used to drive my husband and son crazy but I don't recall ever having a disaster.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 9:13AM
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If you really want to impress him, serve a small prime rib roast. It will cook quickly (about 1 hour). Serve this with small red potatoes coated with olive oil and rosemary and asparagus. Make a little jus with the pan drippings. Not only will the meal be delicious, it is simple to make even for the first time.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 10:02AM
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the first thing I fed my husband to be was a tuna sandwhich with alfalfa sprouts. He never let on that he didn't like it a bit. So don't worry.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2007 at 6:38PM
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So what happened????

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 6:35PM
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Oh! All good, Kathleen! The filet mignon seared on the cast iron and oven roasted with an herb butter was to die for, roasted asparagus (s/p), and small red potatoes with rosemary - I made mini apple pie for dessert.
It was magical! We've been on several dates since, and love is in the air!!

I'm hosting a holiday party for 30 on the 8th and now needing suggestions for heavy appetizers. We're officially "BF/GF" and now need to impress guests with food - the BF is a done deal!
Thanks again All!!

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 12:15AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Wow! That certainly was fast! lol You must have really made an impression with your cooking skills. [g] I have a feeling it might have been a little bit more than that though. :-) So has he cooked for you yet?

Heavy appetizers...hmmm..we are not really much for appetizers here, so I think my suggestions will be pretty run of the mill. Just what we like to eat when someone else is doing the party...shrimp cocktail, scallops wrapped in bacon. Mini chicken quesedillas w toppings to dip in. Marinated chicken on sticks, celery with cream cheese. Veggies dipped in ranch dressing.

Hope that gets the ball rolling for you and Congratulations!!


    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 8:05AM
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Although this appetizer if far from elegant I make them all the time for gatherings (as I will for Dec 8 cocktail party if I didnt my friends would literally KILL me!!!) Hearty white bread (like pepperidge farms) crust removed smear with room temperature Philly cream cheese cut bread in half to get 2 triangles fold each triangle in half so cheese is inside wrap a piece of bacon (i get 3 wrap pieces from 1 slice of bacon) wrap bacon around triangle and secure with a toothpick bake in a 350 until bacon is cooked and bread is turning golden....Trust me I can never make enough of these..Weird to me...but highly requested

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 8:33AM
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This thread has lots of great ideas and links to other threads with tons of appetizer ideas and recipes

My favourite choices are

Stacked pizza (great dish crappy name basically layers of phyllo with Parmesan between and then lightly topped with sliced tomatoes cheese and herbs)


Antipasti platter (roasted peppers, salamis, cheeses, olives, hot pickled peppers etc.)

Meatballs in mini buns (one meatball to a bun)

smoked salmon, cream cheese onions and capers of rye rounds

Stuffed Mushrooms

Salt baked mini potatoes stuffed with goat cheese

Palmiers with Honey Mustard and prosciutto

Mini Crab Cakes with a remoulade

Selection of good (make that great !) cheeses and olives served with rustic breads.

I have recipes for all if anything crabs you.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 9:32AM
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My all time favorite appetizer is so ridiculously easy it is embarassing... Take mushrooms, remove stems, fill with room temp Boursin / Alouette herbed cheese, place on a tray covered in foil that has been sprayed with cooking oil... Spray mushrooms lightly with oil, and bake at 375 for about 20-25 minutes until soft and cheese is brown on top... They are divine!!


    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 12:49PM
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I know you've already had your special date, but wanted to share this recipe for Bolognese Sauce, published in O Magazine, February 2007 -

"Learn to make this sauce, and find a man worth cooking it for, in that order.

Make a meal that will leave him hungry, not for sex, but for you!

This sauce will smell better than anything youÂve ever smelled before. Make it only once a year, and keep him hungry! Great for special occasions and wonderful in the fall when itÂs cool.

This sauce takes a lot of time  it should simmer for four to five hours  but it does not require much skill or effort. Once the vegetables are chopped, all thatÂs left to do is add ingredients and stir. This gives you plenty of time to shower, tidy up your home, and do whatever else you need to do to prepare for your dinner guest.


1 medium onion
1 large or 2 small carrots
2 Â 3 stalks celery
1 ounce pancetta, very finely chopped
1 lb ground beef (not lean)
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
Pinch allspice
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes w/ juice
1 lb pasta, such as rigatoni
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for grating

Finely chop onion, carrot, and celery. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over low heat, cook pancetta until all fat is rendered and pancetta is just beginning to brown. Add chopped vegetables; raise heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and soft.

Add ground beef, breaking it up with a spoon, ¼ tsp (to start) salt, plus pepper and allspice. Cook until meat is brown.

Add milk. When it begins to simmer, reduce heat to low and cook at a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally until milk has mostly boiled away, about 30 minutes. Add white wine and cook as with milk, until it has mostly boiled away. Add tomatoes and juice; bring to a simmer. Cover pot, reduce heat to low, and allow sauce to cook very gently at barest simmer, 2.5 to 3 hours. Season to taste with remaining salt.

Just before sauce is done, bring a pot of water to boil, salt it generously and boil pasta according to package directions. Drain, mix with a third of sauce, the serve with remaining sauce on top with lots of grated Parmigiano cheese. Makes 4 cups sauce."

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 2:47PM
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First, I am a guy! My favorite pickie food is whole pitted dates wrapped in GOOD bacon and secured with a toothpick and baked. God are they good.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2007 at 5:44PM
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I forgot to come back and look!
Glad everything went well!!!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 4:10PM
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