rub discreetly on the rim of a co-worker's drinking glass to spice up the afternoon...
There is a lot of really good suggestions here, and maybe this is a cop out, but I decided to go with Willy Wonka and make chocolate truffles. After all, most people love chocolate. I am also bringing peanut butter and jelly cups (like Reese's but with jelly in them as well), chocolate covered strawberries, peanut butter and pretzel marshmallows, so if you are in Friendship Heights on Saturday around two...you might just want to stop into Bloomingdales.
As much as I love Julia Child, and definitely see the relevance, the bulk of her recipes cannot be demonstrated in fifteen minutes with one portable burner and twelve inches of prep space.
I am really surprised no one suggested pastrami on rye from "when harry met sally"--that was my very first thought...
I understand that people post recipes that I wouldn't like or ever make (including a rib recipe I saw that called for ribs and a bottle of KC masterpiece), but in particular, I have been disheartened by baking recipes that have no sense of proper proportion. I found one donut recipe which turned out atrocious. So, I cut out 3/4 cup flour, 1 tsp baking powder, and add another tbsp of butter, and voila, amazing donuts.
The thought had crossed my mind, that this person found a recipe, and in order to not be accused of plagirizing, just changed ingredient amounts at random...just a thought...
breading for french toast
my first experience with Indian food was an all you can eat buffet when I was about 19. I have been addicted to samosas ever since.
One last thought, if you have the kitchen space for it (and this isn't a first date). Have your mis en place ready, and have him help prepare the meal with you--now that's my idea of a good date.
I suppose I have a slightly different perspective than most, as I'm a professional chef. Needless to say, most of the women I attract are far more interested in me cooking for them than cooking for me. That having been said, I've always appreciated the effort, and never critiqued.
My advice to you:
1. Buy quality ingredients--if you can, get your produce from the farmer's market. If you are making pasta, go to the Italian deli and buy the fresh made.
2. If you cook anything heavy with garlic, I would strongly recommend something minty for dessert. After all, you wouldn't want your date refraining from a thank you kiss because his breath reaks.
3. Keep it simple. Anyone is going to be more impressed with a well-cooked simple meal than a poorly cooked complicated one.
4. I vote against the meatloaf--to me that conjures up mom. Personally, I love nothing more than a stir-fry with really fresh vegetables, and a light sauce (not a cloyingly-sweet Kikoman sauce). Or some fresh shrimp (not "thawed for your convenience" shrimp). If you haven't had fresh shrimp (and most people haven't--that stuff at the grocery store is generally previously frozen) they will be a revelation.
5. I also vote against anything with beans or collards or probably even beer too (though I love all three)--there could be awkward consequences. A liquor drink that pairs with the meal or a nice wine adds elegance.
6. Lastly, if you make something seasonal, I think that shows a depth that most home cooks don't have.
I will be starting out from Chinatown, but we are hoping to hit Central Park and/or MoMA
I like to grind it up and use it as breading for fried chicken.
If any of you watched the original Iron Chef (Japan), you probably realize that there were always actresses and other non-foodie people on the show. Shouldn't part of the challenge be to impress everyday people? I think it's a far greater challenge to please both ends of the spectrum, than to simply focus on food-obsessed people. After all, that's what real chefs have to face on a daily basis, particularly hotel chefs.
This is an interesting question which Ruhlman addresses in his "Reach of a Chef." I think the frustrating part for professionals like myself is that in order for one usually to reach the celebrity status, they generally must forgo that which makes them famous in the first place. This, in turns, leads people to begrudge them their ability to cook. Even Bourdain had to recant and admit that Emeril was an extremely talented young chef who utilized his charisma to establish an empire. I think the real question is: when a chef becomes a celebrity, is he really still a chef? Not to argue semantics, but (and I know most avoid the word because it sounds pedestrian by comparison) shouldn't they really be celebrity cooks or just plain celebrities? After all, aren't Emeril/Bourdain/Colicchio (these days) more of an entertainer than anything else? Particularly Bourdain and Colicchio who don't even cook on tv.
Not to upset you further, but I made leftover sliders in honor of thanksgiving with a thick turkey slice, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce (yes, Oceanspray jellied) on a mini brioche bun.
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