Jun 1, 2009

Dinner for Two

You’ve met a cute fella – now what? Why not invite him over for a sexy, simple, delicious meal that’ll show him what a fabulous catch you are? Nothing too fancy or fussy… prepare easy, man-friendly food with big flavor. And nothing too heavy! You don’t want him so full that he needs a nap after dinner… especially if you’re dessert!

The Menu
Roasted Broccoli

The Shopping List
Assuming you have:
Olive Oil

You’ll need:
Rice (Arborio rice makes great risotto but it’s not a requirement)
Chicken Broth
Steak (Hanger or Flank are my favorites)
Parmesan Cheese
Fresh Herbs: Basil, Rosemary, Thyme

Clockwise from top left: humble ingredients yield a decadent risotto, fresh flavors give broccoli a big boost

The Game Plan
Keep the evening casual…no special canapés or cocktails. Offer him a beer or a glass of wine when he arrives and if you need more time to finish dinner, put out what I like to call The Man Trap – sliced Italian salami, any kind of cheese and crackers. I’ve used this trick more times than I care to confess… the combo is always a hit and he’ll think you’re a cool chick. Trust me.

Risotto has really become my go-to dish. It’s the simplest ingredients and so, so easy to make but the results are decadent and mind-blowingly good. I’d use the same basic recipe I first wrote about here. You can start it first and once it’s ready just put a lid on the pot and keep it over really low heat until everything else is finished.

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about Ina Garten’s Roasted Broccoli recipe – and they’re all well deserved, it’s fantastic. You can find it here. I didn't include the pine nuts called for in the recipe and it was still really great. If you’re not sure he’ll like broccoli or want to make it even easier on yourself, serve a great Caesar salad. You can buy the dressing (I would!), just be sure to top it with big shavings of good-quality parmesan.

I like to use a hanger steak and the ones sold in grocery stores are so much bigger than restaurant cuts – you’ll easily be able to share one. Bring it out of the fridge about twenty minutes before you’re ready to cook & let it sit out – you don’t want to put it in the oven cold. When you’re ready, brush the meat with olive oil, sprinkle liberally salt & pepper and add some chopped fresh rosemary or thyme. Place it on one end of a large baking sheet & prep the broccoli. Roast the steak & broccoli on the same pan – it’ll keep clean up to a minimum.

It’s actually a great idea to clean up as you go – it’ll give the impression that this was all effortless. Plus, nothing ruins the mood like a pile of dirty dishes!

If you have a grill and are so inclined – fire it up and grill the steak. Or better yet, ask him to be in charge of the meat. It will give him something manly to do and a chance to impress you with his fire skills…

If you’re sticking inside, roast the steak and broccoli at 425 degrees, pull the steak out after 10-12 minutes and let it rest on a cutting board while the broccoli finishes it’s 20-25 minute time in the oven. When the broccoli is browned and crispy at the ends, pull it out, toss with the toppings called for in the recipe, slice the steak, pour two glasses of red wine and serve everything up!

When dinner’s over and its time for dessert, pull out a bottle of good scotch and suggest a move over to the couch. After that, you’re on your own… this isn’t that kind of site!

A few tips about ambiance:
1. You can have ONE candle lit if you want. One candle creates a mood, too many more than that and not only will you have created a fire hazard, but it will be totally overwhelming – you don’t want to come on too strong or make your house look like a catholic altar.

2. Put away the girly stuff. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, stuffed animals, cheesy romance novels (you know you have one), and tampon boxes. These things freak men out, just hide them.

3. Put on some music, something that will fade into the background and nothing too sappy. Seriously, put down the Sade CD. I think 60’s soul is perfect, but then I’ve always had a soft spot for Otis Redding…sexy without being too obvious.

p.s. – Big thanks to my friend Jeremy for bringing home the Italian parmesan pictured above – it’s incredible.

No comments: