Take Back the Kitchen: 3 Great Meals to Impress a Date

by Brett & Kate McKay on December 9, 2009 · 44 comments

in Cooking, Dating, Food & Drink, Relationships & Family, Travel & Leisure

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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Matt Moore, author of the cookbook: Have Her Over for Dinner.

Ever since man created fire, we have been searching for new and better ways to prepare food. With regards to culinary evolution, our society has come quite a long way since the early days of roasting raw meat over open flames. Yet somewhere along the way, men lost their place and confidence in the kitchen.

Blame it on progress, or blame it on convenience, the fact remains; most men cannot cook. Sure, we might stand guard over the grill on Labor Day weekend or have a few ‘signature dishes’ up our sleeves, but collectively, our overall culinary knowledge and skills are limited. Even with the advent of ‘food television’ and popular shows like Top Chef, our interest in food is more focused around entertainment rather than on expertise. To be brutally honest, most of us were raised by a generation where cooking was not a central activity in our household, and if it was, it wasn’t done by the man of the house. Beginning in the late 1950’s through today, modern conveniences drastically reduced the need to possess culinary skills. The long lost sound of the dinner bell has been replaced by the sound of kids slamming car doors to meet Daddy at the neighborhood chain restaurant.

In my experience, there is still one element that can get men back into the kitchen: women. Put simply, women love a man who can cook. There might be a few women that don’t like the idea of a man cooking for them, but I’ve yet to meet them. If you are looking to impress a date, avoid over-priced restaurants and stand out amongst the crowd . . . have her over for a dinner date at home.

Before you start taking reservations at your dining room table, I must confess: I am not, nor do I pretend to be a chef. Over the years I’ve listened to the needs and wants of regular guys when it comes to food. The underlying sentiment is always the same. “Give me clear, easy recipes that feature ingredients that I can buy anywhere.” My culinary approach is based on using simple preparation to turn quality ingredients into outstanding meals.

One of the greatest traits of the male persona is our affinity for taking things to the extreme. Whether it’s our career goals, a workout plan, or that fully restored ‘69’ Chevelle that’s sitting in the garage, we always shoot for the max. This trait however can cause trouble in the kitchen. We tend to live by the “more is better” approach to cooking. If we’ve ever heard or seen an ingredient used in a particular dish, you can bet the house we will find a way to incorporate it in some form or another. I’m not here to criticize, but a salmon fillet doused in soy, mustard, lime, chipotle, garlic, and oil just seems like overkill, if not a bad combination. Instead of investing countless dollars into marinades and seasonings, stick to fresh, quality ingredients. After all, great ingredients speak for themselves.

With that concept in mind, I’m here to encourage you to embrace your roots and get back into the fire (kitchen). You don’t need expensive equipment or a grocery list of ingredients to create exceptional meals. The kitchen should be a place where you can demonstrate your sense of confidence, precision, and preparation to that lovely lady.

I’ve laid out three meals that put the control in your hands. You decide what works best based on your schedule. In the past, I’ve found that most guys struggle when trying to put together an entire meal. In light of that struggle, I’ve offered up an array of ideas for appetizers, salads, and desserts to go along nicely with each entrée. I’ve also given you a few thoughts on pairing a particular wine or beer with the meal. Just remember; keep things simple, relax, and let the compliments (and her admiration) start rolling in.

Weeknight Date: Quick and Easy

  • Appetizer: White Bean Crostini
  • Main Course: Pan Seared Salmon with Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus

White Bean Crostini – Quick and easy, these work great served either hot or at room temperature. If you need a shortcut, check out the bakery section in your grocery store for toasted French bread slices.

½ Loaf French Bread, cut into ½ inch slices
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Cup Canned Cannellini or Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed
¼ Teaspoon Rosemary, finely chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced
1 Pinch Kosher Salt
¼ Cup Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lay out bread slices on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil and season with fresh cracked pepper. Place pan in the oven and bake, 7-8 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Meanwhile, combine remaining olive oil with the next four ingredients into a food processor and process until mixture is smooth. (If not using a food processor, use a mortar/pestle, or simply combine items by placing in a bowl and mashing with the backside of a large spoon or masher for a more rustic consistency). Remove toasts from oven and spread with a thin layer of the bean mixture, followed by a light sprinkle of cheese. Serve.

Pan Seared Salmon with Roasted Potatoes and Asparagus – Fresh, simple, and clean. Pair with a California Chardonnay, an Oregon Pinot Noir, or a light Lager of your choice.

Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
¾ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 lbs Petite Red New Potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
1 Lemon
2 Teaspoons Fresh Rosemary
½ lb Fresh Asparagus, ends trimmed and rinsed
2 6-8 oz Salmon Filets, skin removed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large baking dish, season potatoes with salt, pepper, ½ cup of olive oil, rosemary, and the juice from ½ lemon. Place potatoes in the oven and roast until fork tender, about 40-45 minutes. Next, lay out asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet; drizzle with 2 tablespoons of oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat each spear. In the last 15 minutes of cooking the potatoes, preheat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and season salmon filets with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Add asparagus to oven and roast for 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, add 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet followed by the salmon filets; cook, undisturbed, for 3-4 minutes. Squeeze the juice of remaining ½ lemon over the top the filets; flip. Cook filets for 2-3 more minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees F; remove from heat. Plate potatoes in the center of the plate, and rest the salmon filets and asparagus at each opposing side. Serve.

Weekend Date: More Time and Effort

  • Appetizer: Tomato, Red Onion, Cucumber and Feta Salad
  • Main Course: Pork Chops with Black-Eyed Pea Risotto and Sautéed Spinach
  • Dessert: Baked Apple Crisp a la Mode

Tomato, Red Onion, Cucumber, and Feta Salad – This “salad” works great because it can be prepared in advance and left in the refrigerator while you complete the rest of the meal. Allowing this dish to ‘sit’ will also allow the flavors to meld together; however, don’t let it go for more than two hours, as the vegetables will lose some of their crispness and become soggy.

2 Vine Ripe Tomatoes, quartered
¼ Small Red Onion, thinly sliced
½ Cucumber, thinly sliced
¼ Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 ½ Teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
1 Pinch Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
¼ Teaspoon Dried Oregano

In a serving bowl, combine tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, and feta cheese. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and whisk thoroughly until well combined, or emulsified. Pour dressing into the serving bowl with the other ingredients and toss well to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve, keeping up to two hours.

Pork Chops with Black-Eyed Pea Risotto and Sautéed Spinach – There’s a lot going on in this Southern meets Italian eclectic dish. Make sure you read through the entire recipe and sequence before you get started. Caramelize the onions, then concentrate on the risotto (it takes constant attention), and finally finish things off with the pork chop and spinach. This is comfort food at its finest. Pair with Pinot Noir, Amber or Pale Ales.

½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 8-10 oz Bone-In Pork Chops
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Yellow Onion, sliced into thin rings
1 Cup Arborio or Short Grained Risotto Rice
6 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Can Black Eyed Peas, drained
4 Cups Fresh Spinach Leaves, loosely packed

At least one hour before cooking, add ¼ cup of oil, balsamic vinegar, and garlic into a large Ziploc® bag. Season chops with salt and pepper and add to bag. Marinate up to one day in advance, keeping in refrigerator. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a preheated skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion slices into the skillet and cook slowly, stirring on occasion, for 20-25 minutes until tender and caramelized; remove onions from skillet and set aside on a plate. Meanwhile, in a separate pot over medium low heat, add chicken broth to heat through. Next, add the last 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a new skillet over medium high heat. Add rice into the skillet and stir to coat the grains in oil. Toast rice, stirring on occasion, for 2-3 minutes until the grains begin to become opaque. Add 1 cup of broth to the toasted rice and bring to a simmer for 1-2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and stir constantly, adding 1 cup of broth at a time as the rice begins to absorb all of the liquid (Note: All of the broth may not be used). Continue in this manner until mixture becomes slightly firm, yet still creamy (30-35 minutes); add the black eyed peas into the mixture to heat through. In the last 10 minutes of cooking the risotto, reheat the skillet used for the onions over medium high. Remove the chops from the bag and shake off the excess marinade. Add chops to the skillet and cook, undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, flip and cook for another 5-7 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F; set aside to rest. Next, add ¼ cup of remaining broth (or water) into the same skillet to deglaze the pan, scraping up any of the browned bits from the chops and onions. Immediately add spinach into the skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach is wilted; add onions back into the skillet to heat through. Begin plating by placing a generous serving of risotto in the center of the plate. Next, top the risotto with a bed of the onion/spinach mixture and finally rest the pork chop on top. Serve immediately.

Baked Apple Crisp a la mode – This dish is quick and super simple. If preparing in advance, keep the apples from browning by adding a spray of lemon juice over the cut flesh. Pop this in the oven as you serve dinner and it will be ready just in time.

2 Large Apples, Golden Delicious or Granny Smith
4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter, in 1 tablespoon increments
2 Teaspoons Brown Sugar
½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
¼ Cup Bear Naked® Apple Cinnamon Granola
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wash and dry apples, slice in half, and remove core and seeds using a spoon or knife. In a baking dish, carefully arrange apples flesh side up. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar and cinnamon and top each half with 1 tablespoon of butter. Bake until apples are tender and bubbly, about 30-35 minutes. Remove apples from baking dish and plate 2 halves in each serving bowl. Drizzle any remaining butter or juices over the top followed by a sprinkle of granola. Serve with vanilla ice cream on the side.

Special Occasion: When It’s Time to Impress

  • Appetizer: Sautéed Shrimp Cocktail
  • Salad: Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese and Pancetta
  • Main Course: Grilled New York Strip Steaks with Garlic Butter and Yukon Smashed Potatoes
  • Dessert: Grilled Peaches with Ricotta and Honey

Sautéed Shrimp Cocktail – A play on the traditional shrimp cocktail by sautéing the shrimp and serving while still warm. The warm shrimp with the cool cocktail sauce makes for a nice contrast.

4 Tablespoons Ketchup
½ Teaspoon Horseradish
1 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
1 lb Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail on
1 Clove Garlic, minced
1 Pinch Kosher Salt
Fresh Parsley, for garnish

In a small mixing bowl, combine ketchup, horseradish, and the juice from ½ lemon, mix until well combined, cover and place in the fridge. Next, preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil and red pepper flakes; sauté for 30 seconds. Add shrimp, garlic, and salt; sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add the juice of remaining ½ lemon and continue to sauté until shrimp are firm and bright pink, 1-2 minutes. On serving plate, add a generous portion of the cocktail sauce in the center of the plate. Arrange shrimp around the perimeter of the plate and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve.

Spinach Salad with Blue Cheese and Pancetta – Pancetta can be found in the deli section of most grocery stores. It has a flavor profile similar to that of bacon. I like using pancetta because you can buy just what you need, and nothing goes to waste.

4 Slices Pancetta, thinly sliced
1 ½ Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Pinch Kosher Salt
¼ Teaspoon Fresh Cracked Pepper
4 Cups Spinach, loosely packed
¼ Small Red Onion, thinly sliced
¼ Cup Blue Cheese, crumbled

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until crispy and fat has rendered, turning once, 5-6 minutes. Remove pancetta from heat and place on paper towels to drain excess fat and cool. In a separate mixing bowl, add vinegar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and whisk until incorporated. In a serving bowl, toss dressing with spinach leaves and red onion. Garnish with pancetta, gently broken by hand, and top with crumbled blue cheese. Serve.

Grilled New York Strip Steaks with Garlic Butter and Yukon Smashed Potatoes – Be sure to splurge on some quality steaks on this one. A local butcher or an organic grocer will probably have the best selection. Serve with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Amber Ale, or Porter.

1 Stick (8 Tablespoons) Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
1 Clove Garlic, finely minced
1 Teaspoon Fresh Parsley, finely chopped, plus more for garnish
2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
Kosher Salt *
Fresh Cracked Pepper*
¼ Cup Heavy Cream
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 8-10 oz New York Strip Steaks, at room temperature

Preheat grill over medium high heat. In a small mixing bowl, combine two tablespoons of butter with the minced garlic and chopped parsley; mix until incorporated and place in the refrigerator to set. Next, heat a large pot of water over medium high heat. When water comes to a boil, add potatoes and boil 11-13 minutes, or until fork tender; remove from heat and set aside. Liberally season both steaks with salt and pepper on both sides and add to the grill over direct heat. Cover and cook, undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, then turn the steaks at a 45 degree angle and cook for another 2 minutes. Flip steaks and move to indirect heat until internal temperature is 135 degrees F for medium rare/medium, about 3-4 more minutes depending on the cut; remove from grill and set aside to rest. Meanwhile drain potatoes, allowing the steam to evaporate. Add potatoes back into the same pot with the remaining 6 tablespoons of butter and cream. Using a potato masher, mix and mash until all of the ingredients are incorporated and mixture is smooth without large lumps. Season potatoes with salt and pepper to taste. Plate a generous portion of potatoes in the center of the plate and rest the steak at one side. Add about a tablespoon of the garlic butter on top of each steak and garnish dish with any remaining chopped parsley. Serve.

Grilled Peaches with Ricotta and Honey – Another simple dessert with great flavors. Keep the grill on low after cooking the steak to cook off and clean the grate. The peaches can be prepped in advance to have this dessert turned around quickly after dinner.

1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
2 Teaspoons Brown Sugar
½ Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Large Ripe Peach, halved with pit removed
2 Tablespoons Ricotta Cheese
Honey
Mint Leaves, for garnish

In a small microwave safe mixing bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Place the bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds on high, mix well. Carefully cut all the way around the side of the peach and twist to remove the pit, using a spoon to dig out the pit if needed. On a lightly greased grill over medium high heat, place the peach halves cut side down and cook for 3-4 minutes over direct heat. Turn over peaches, generously spread with the sugar and cinnamon mixture, and move to indirect heat; cover and cook, 10-12 minutes. Remove peaches from grill and serve on individual small plates. Top each with a tablespoon of ricotta cheese and a drizzle of honey. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

For more recipes that will win over your date, check out Matt’s book: Have Her Over for Dinner.

What are your go-to meal ideas for impressing a date? Share your recipes and ideas with us in the comments!

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kraig Hoekstra December 10, 2009 at 12:27 am

My girlfriend is vegetarian so most of these ideas wouldn’t work for us. Probably her favorite that I’ve made for her is Eggplant Parmesan.

2 Torrey December 10, 2009 at 12:29 am

Matt these are great recipes. My wife still brags to her friends about how impressed she was when I cook for her while I was dating. It works guys.

3 Greg M December 10, 2009 at 2:57 am

Great recipies. I do all the cooking for the family on the weekends, so I am really looking forward to Saturday and Sunday rolling around.

4 victor December 10, 2009 at 3:40 am

What is so interesting about this “men can’t cook” is that chefs have always predominantly been men! Cooks and chef are 90% of the time men! (don’t quote me on the percent). Men can cook, and always have been able to cook. Boys can’t cook, if your a man then your self suficient, therefore you can cook. Men can cook.

5 Bernie December 10, 2009 at 4:58 am

Ha, as Kraig said, you’re SOL with these recipes if you’re trying to impress a vegetarian.

Actually, being able to throw together a nice vegetarian meal should only take a single go-around for successful wooing.

6 Dave December 10, 2009 at 6:35 am

Pan seared salmon? That’s like playing Russian roulette unless you know two things for sure:

1. Does your girl or boy actually LIKE salmon? Plenty of people do not, and salmon isn’t one of those things people tend to dislike just a little.

2. Is your apartment going to stink to high heaven after you’re searing? Smelly ain’t sexy.

7 LB December 10, 2009 at 7:48 am

One of the the few things I consider a ‘deal breaker’ in a relationship is if the girl is a vegetarian or vegan. Or a picky eater) It invariably results in attempts to convert me, and that will never happen, so it just adds unnecessary strain to the relationship. Note, this is a personal preference and I’m not saying anyone else should avoid vegetarians/vegans AT ALL.

As to the menu specifics, find out what the girl likes and dislikes first, common sense.

Am I giving gastronomically inclined relationship advice to strangers on a blog? Time for a large cognac.

8 Thad December 10, 2009 at 8:00 am

I have to say that one way that I *won* my wife is that I cooked for her on her first date. I took into account that she was trying to lose weight and made her a three-course luxury meal that fit Weight Watchers. We started with some baked vegetarian won tons (which, if you have never made them, are actually fairly easy to make). The main was a baked chicken parmesan, with potatoes and soy-glazed broccoli. The dessert was a frozen treat (and, was in my opinion, the biggest failure of the meal). Cooking is definitely a skill that all men should have, especially when they want to impress women!

In addition, my wife loves seared salmon and we have never found to smell to be an issue, as long as your kitchen is well-ventilated.

9 Steven December 10, 2009 at 8:21 am

In my experience as a late-thirty-something not-married-yet man, precious few modern women have taken the trouble to learn much about or gain much confidence in the kitchen. If you want to eat healthy and well at home, you better learn to cook. And yes, because modern women are not very comfortable in the kitchen, it is easy to impress them with even mild culinary skills. If you can keep two or three stove burners going and remove something from the oven all without burning and making a horrible mess, and it tastes good to boot, she will be quite impressed.

10 Joshua December 10, 2009 at 8:57 am

Good advice. I’ve always been amazed at how simple some of my favorite meals are. Using fresh ingredients goes a long way (i.e. avoiding packaged, box meals).

There is nothing like telling my wife that she is “banished” from the kitchen for the night and then preparing a special meal just for her. Always a winner.

11 Matt Moore December 10, 2009 at 9:30 am

Thanks for the comments. Just a quick note to let those concerned know that the book has several options for vegetarian friendly meals. I agree, @Dave that it’s best to check in advance if certain items are a “no-no”, and with that in mind the book runs the gamut on offering items featuring seafood/pork/chicken/beef/vegetarian/etc options. Enjoy!

MM

12 Rob December 10, 2009 at 10:32 am

I have to admit I very rarely cook. Not because I can’t but because I don’t have to. My wife LOVES cooking and she does an exceptional job with it, thus I haven’t had to do anything other than the odd meal here and there.

This may inspire me to make a meal more than once in a blue moon.

13 Nick December 10, 2009 at 10:41 am

Great post, and I can’t wait to try some of those recipes. I do the cooking at home and my wife always tells me how grateful she is and that it’s delicious (even when I know it’s not). Take the brownie points when you can.

A quick and easy standard that I go by is chicken parmesan with pasta and vegetable of choice. Simple ingredients, easy prep, and tastes great.

14 JaneZ December 10, 2009 at 11:15 am

Great post. It’s true guys: be able to cook a few dishes. Doesn’t have to be fancy. It’s what separates the men from the boys. Vulnerability and helplessness are not the same. My dad has been the family cook for years and it’s a pretty powerful role. Plus, cooking is fun – you can trade ideas with friends, experiment, receive praise, eat healthfully, have an outlet for your compulsiveness, and if you lose your job (it happens), you’ll still feel like you’re contributing. Also try pressure-cooking; for soups and stews, even for the novice it’s hugely gratifying eg: 5 min prep, 10 min cooktime, and voilà, a flavorful dish.

15 Chemical Erik December 10, 2009 at 11:27 am

I find dishes that can be mostly prepared ahead of time tend to work very well for dates, or romantic evenings with the wife for us married guys. This approach allows you to spend more time paying attention to the woman of interest and less time paying attention to cooking.

Chop vegetables for salads before the date/evening begins. Roasts and stews make good main dishes, just serve with a nice complimenting side – roasted potatoes, wild rice, crostini, etc. Parfaits make impressive but quick desserts. I like fresh fruit and creme fresh, a nice change from typical overly sweet deserts or just plopping ice cream on a pie.

Just ask youself if she’ll be more impressed you doing something for her, or paying attention to her and you’ll know which way to go on this. Personally, my wife wouldn’t consider it romanitic to watch me work away in the kitchen all night never giving her my undivided attention. I know that’s not all women, but wanted to throw something out for those in similar situations.

16 Ryan G. December 10, 2009 at 11:31 am

I surprise my girlfriend every once in a while with a nice homecooked meal after class (we are both in college). I think I’ll try one of these recipes next time I surprise her.

17 Alex December 10, 2009 at 11:39 am

great ideas!

i’ve never been a fan of shrimp cocktails because cold shrimp wierds me out a bit. I never thought to heat the shrimp, but serve in the same manner. How novel!

Thanks AoM.

18 Bryan December 10, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Grilled Peaches with Ricotta and Honey

Add some freshly cracked pepper to the Ricotta cheese. Won’t be disappointed.

Also try Dates with the Ricotta and Honey.

19 Kyle Uhlig December 10, 2009 at 12:24 pm

I would highly recommend the show “good eats” to any guy, Alton Brown turns his cooking show into a comedic science show about cooking. It certainly held my interests over other shows. and unlike everyday italian, I can focus on the food……not Giada.

This has been a great series of articles though, men need to have a good sense of the kitchen about them to ensure independence. I can surely attest to the powers of culinary aptitude when trying to woo a woman. One thing I do to make the most impact is I never talk clearly on if I can cook. After the first couple dates when she feels comfortable coming over to your place for the evening, tell her you want her to come over for dinner and a movie. If she asks about the food just say “oh I’ll find something to put on the table.” Then pull out one of your almost best recipes (save the best for the really special evening). Then you’re a guy who can not only cook, but it also hits her with that little bit of mystery over if there are any other skills you’re hiding.

Also learn to make one type of soup really, really well. When shes sick and you make your awesome chicken noodle or vegetable soup for her. Man, do you want to talk about some getting serious points, especially if her mother or sister is visiting to check up on her, then you have the precious family points.

20 Andrew December 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm

My wife always enjoyed it when I cooked for her while we dated and she still loves it when I cook for her now. I do 75% of the cooking in our house and she loves that about me. The recipes you posted look fantastic and I’ll have to try them.

Another fantastic idea, especially for married men, is to be able to cook a proper breakfast. Homemade biscuits, pancakes made from scratch, fresh bacon, eggs, etc. It takes some effort, and a little pre-planning, but I love the experience of waking my wife up and having a fully cooked breakfast waiting for her.

One other tip: If your wife/girlfriend has a mother, grandmother, etc., that cooks well then ask them for recipes. It’s a huge score for a man to secretly get a beloved family recipe and prepare it well.

21 True Love December 10, 2009 at 2:46 pm

I was thinking it’s the women who should be impressing men with their cooking skills.

22 Mr Miyagi December 10, 2009 at 4:42 pm

I just feed my gal sausage.

23 Pete Miller December 10, 2009 at 10:30 pm

I highly recommend the movies made by Chef Todd Mohr. His movies explain cooking method so that with a knowledge of how to cook, the ingredients are up to one’s own creativity. From learning how to sautée, I can use the one skill to make Italian, Mexican, or even Indonesian food with very little effort. His presentation is for the person with an average equipment and little to no experience.

24 steve December 11, 2009 at 1:23 am

I didn’t really appreciate cooking until I was on my again after my divorce. My kids got tired of going out to eat, and preparing food out of a box. Today, after some cooking classes the only place they want to each is at dad’s house. It’s blast give it try.

25 Michael December 11, 2009 at 2:51 am

For the last dessert listed, mascarpone cheese would be a much better choice. It is very similar to ricotta, but it has a small amount of sweetness that would lend itself to the dish.

What I tell all of my non-chef friends is this: Embrace Italian cuisine! It’s very simple and very filling, so you do a lot less work in the kitchen (I’m not talking spaghetti and meatballs, guys, so do a little research). Avoid traditional French cuisine unless you are prepared for a challenge.

Also, women find culinary talent appealing, but nothing is sexier than a man who can pull off desserts. Every man knows his way around a grill, but a man who can deliver a delicious pear tart or red velvet cake is a rare find.

26 lauren December 11, 2009 at 4:01 am

I wish my husband knew how to cook! He can’t use the microwave without asking me for help. And, these recipes are much harder than anything I’ve ever cooked.. so these would definitely be a huge learning curve for him.

27 Vincent December 11, 2009 at 11:24 am

Great post. I completely agree with the point and I am a living example that women are ALL very impressed by a guy who can cook. Especially if you don’t brag about it. My opinion would be to always be on the lookout for easy but also distinctively tasty recipes.

Try this one out, it has always been a COMPLETE success:

Chicken banana curry, 2 persons
Fry 2-3 big onions, sliced in really thin cubes, in a frying pan. Cut approx. 400grs of chicken breast in small pieces (the size of a mouthful). Put them in the frying pan. When they’re cooked, add a sliced banana, then add coconut milk in the mix, so that only the upper tips of the meat pieces are visible. Add, according to your taste (I’d say a large quantity is great), some curry powder (DO NOT use readymade curry). Let it bubble away for approx. 15mn, stirring from time to time. Just before serving, add another sliced banana (so that some banana slices will be cooked and others will be raw – very playful).

You will have been cooking fluffy white rice at the same time.

10, 000% approval rate among both sexes. Enjoy !

28 Charlie H. December 11, 2009 at 11:27 pm

I purchased this book hoping to improve my very minimal cooking skills. I must say that unlike other recipe books, Have Her Over For Dinner is really easy to follow. Mr. Moore does a great job of teaching you how to prepare the dishes by talking you through it as though he’s standing beside you, rather than just listing steps with complicated terms. I made one of the special occasion dinners for our anniversary and my wife and I were both really really surprised at how well it turned out. I highly recommend this book if you’re like me and want to improve your skills and broaden your capabilities. I really like how this book has so many options you can mix and match, and I REALLY like the pictures. So many cookbooks are like novels, but this one is full of pictures showing you preparation shots, final products, and ingredient selection.

All in all a great cookbook!

29 mtts December 12, 2009 at 10:30 am

While it’s good to have some recipes up your sleeve, the better, and, I would suggest, more manly thing to do is to familiarize yourself with the principles of cooking rather than trying to memorize a laundry list of dishes.

Harold McGee’s “On food and cooking” is easily one of the best books to help you do that.

30 Grey December 13, 2009 at 11:33 am

wow, now these are some really great and looks easy recipes that i can use! really, i’m one of those guys that can only conjure up a disaster in the kitchen and nothing else, lol. will try to cook! starting with the pan seared salmon! :P

31 Living with Balls December 14, 2009 at 4:52 pm

Thanks for the advice. I’ve been spoiled by a lifetime of Mom’s cooking. So I really need to learn how to cook more.

32 Cole December 14, 2009 at 9:10 pm

Great post! Being able to put together a good meal has definitely helped me out in my marriage. Another quick recommendation for additional recipes and cooking tips is from a blog I follow entitled foodwishes.com. Chef John there posts free step by step video recipes that have helped me create some dinners my wife loves. To me it seems easier following a recipe and learn new techniques by watching someone else do it first. Again a great post!

33 Adam Garratt December 15, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Excellent post!, I love cooking, all I seem to watch on TV is the good food channel, i’m always trying new things. A few things I would like to point out for anyone buying fresh ingredients is to make sure they are fresh and of good quality, heres some tips:

1. When buying fish make sure it is fresh by giving it a sniff, it should smell like the sea, not a horrid ‘fishy’ smell, also the eyes shoul be crystal clear and not cloudy.

2. All except pork and chicken should be hung for 3 weeks in my opinion, most supermarkets don’t do this, so it is worth going to a good bucher for your meat, look out for the colour, you can tell its been hung if it is a dark ruby colour, not like the bright red you would find in stores, also if you can,press your finger gently into the meat, if it leaves a depression then thats another sign of quality, and make sure the meat has a god marbling of fat through the flesh.

3. Veg. The general rule of thumb with veg is firmness, have a good feel and make sure they have a good solid feel, asparagus can be tested by bending a piece in half, if it snaps with a nice thwack its fresh, if it bends like a rubber band, put it back. If you go to a greengrocer you will more than likely find alot of the veg is out of shape and nobbly with pock marks etc, this is a good sign of an quality grocer, the veg are in there natural and most flavoursome state.

Buy organic whenever you can, make sure your beef,lamb is hung for at least 3 weeks, and check your ingredients are as fresh as possible, you will find they taste much better than the rubbish supermarket alternative….trust me i’m british, and one thing we know about is meat haha, hope this helps some of you. Thank you.

34 Ian December 16, 2009 at 12:54 pm

for those of you who are concerned about burning/ruining salmon by searing it….i would suggest watching your heat (medium) and use 2 tbsp of butter instead of oil. this will prevent burning the oil (and your fish) and its easier to control your internal temperature (i prefer my salmon at a med rare).

35 Adam Garratt December 16, 2009 at 4:59 pm

In relation to the comment above, it is actually better to use a mix of butter and oil together, butter caramelises the fish, but the oil stop the butter from burning and tasting acrid and bitter.

36 kmetzaholic December 17, 2009 at 2:11 pm

This is an odd post to me – most of the people I know can cook well, and none but one do it for a living. Both my wife and I are avid cooks and we sometimes toss a coin to see who gets to do the dinner. Other times it is whoever did the food shopping or is inspired to take on the prep and serving. Often we share kitchen duties (but this takes practice and great communication skills so you don’t cramp each other’s style or techniques). We live in a semi-rural area with few good eating out options (and no kids), so perhaps that helped both of us to master putting good healthy food on the table every day.
But yes – ask your date what she does and does not like before surprising her with something she may not care for, regardless of the effort and execution…

37 Bob December 17, 2009 at 3:25 pm

…if you can figure out how to impress my wife, let me know.

38 gil March 11, 2010 at 2:55 pm

thanks for this post. i made the salmon last night, and it turned out delicious. it was the first big meal i have made myself. the directions were perfect.

39 sire April 10, 2010 at 11:21 pm

I still don’t get the “pancetta vs bacon” part. You can buy only the pancetta you’ll be needing, so you won’t have any unwanted leftovers, and that’s ok. But does that imply that you can’t buy the exact amount of bacon you want? Does bacon only come in bulk?

40 sire April 10, 2010 at 11:24 pm

For fresh fish, look for crystal clear eyes and red gills. Red gills mean one- or two-day fresh. Fish only smells foul after at least one week since dead (if kept refrigerated).

41 sire April 10, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Also, chicken should be yellowish, not pinkish in colour (meat is tinted yellow if chicken are fed corn, and stays pinkish if they’re fed shitty feedstuff). Eggs should go right to the bottom if put in water, the fresher the egg the more it sinks. If the eggs are several days old, their tips go up. If a week old, they float. If two weeks old, you should do shopping more often.

42 Chef Kevin April 10, 2010 at 11:52 pm

Yes, I too would like to remind all men out there that the profession of Chef is a predominantly a male one. (this is true throughout recent history as well) I am not saying that women cannot be Chefs- (my wife is one as well) Men Can and Should Cook! Men take the lead in the kitchen! Cook good whole foods for your families and friends!

43 Jess August 8, 2013 at 9:20 am

You should probably include in the preamble that it’s a good idea to find out if there is anything your date doesn’t eat before you decide on the menu. Nothing is more embarrassing than serving up a chunk of animal flesh when your date is vegetarian. Very real hazard.

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