Okay she has a fish and seafruit allergy so forget anything from the sea. Pasta are out because of the sauce, you have to be way to careful and you can't be making sure not to stain yourself while on a date you want to be staring at her eyes not at your food after all! Fries are not very elegant to eat unless you cut them... Well I am lacking ideas, I do not have an oven as some of you know but if you have any menu ideas I'd love to hear them! The starter will be a soup, I've got that sorted out already but what about the main course and pudding? Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks!
Ideas for 'Non-Messy' romantic food for a second date at my home?
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How about boeuf boorgignon or coq au vin?
you can make it in advance, so no real need for cooking while you are with your date (and if you get carried away: It tastes better the next day anyway)
Life is too short to drink bad wine
Life is too short to drink bad wine
On our second date, my now-husband invited me over to his apartment and I brought a picnic dinner. He already had loads of huge pillows on the floor (that's because he didn't own a dining table!), so we spread out the table cloth that I brought with me and we had a great time . We had a nice bottle of wine, cold (more like room temp) boneless-skinless fried chicken, orzo salad with grilled veggies (be sparing with the vinaigrette that can be messy), some fruits like grapes, cut up and screwed melon (that you may or may not feed to one another ), maybe some berries would be nice with a thick Greek-style yogurt sweetened with honey for a non messy dip would be nice too.
Oh, wait a minute, you've already decided on soup to start, hmmmm
A cold cucumber or gazpacho served in a beautiful mug?
Anyway, I think that would be romantic...
I'm not sure where you are, it may be nice to snuggle indoors, oops, I mean get to know one another better.
Of the two of us, my husband was the first to invite the other (me) to a home made dinner- he lived in a sort of group situation, in a two-story house in Cambridge, and it was a meal with the whole houseful of flatmates, all grad students, (there were 6 others if i remember right) - so nothing "romantic" there supposedly. But he clearly had cooked all day. THAT was what was most romantic about the whole thing, that he would do that. Little mattered what it was he made (timballo di pasta, carne alla pizzaiola, potato croquettes, roast peppers) though it was very good. It was the idea that he would go through all that trouble for me. Little mattered whether he was sauce-splattered or that the dinner was not ready when it was supposed to be, or that there were a bunch of other people there for the meal (it put less pressure for everything to be perfect, which makes it all much easier) or anything else. Make sure to have occasions to laugh.
I think you should be less worried about the formal aspects of it. Go watch the old movie Tom Jones for a very good take on how sensual eating a huge meal can be, especially with the hands. Go for the fries (how many people get to eat them made at home any more?) and eat them with your fingers. Look like you've been cooking all day (and do it) which will make her feel very special. That's one woman's take on it. (And if she is hung up on everything being perfect then maybe you got the wrong girl!)
(P.s., see, Siduri always gives the same advice to those who would seek "eternal life" - make every day a delight)
Don't you need an oven for that? I think Julia Child says you need an oven.
As we discussed in the other thread, you do not need an oven. Braising can be done on the burner, using a low flame.
While I'd be the last person to knock the idea of food being romantic, I think you're approaching this backwards. Romance comes from the people, and the circumstances, and the mood. Food can contribute to that, but is not the root of it.
Anyway, a couple of comments:
First, pasta does not have to be messy. Sure, if you're thinking strictly in terms of red sauce, it can be. But there are numerous pasta dishes that involve light, non-drippy sauces. The downside to pasta as a main dish is that it can lie heavy on the stomach---and there's nothing romantic about that.
Romantic food is often on the unctious side. That's one reason it so often involves seafood. But you can find ways around that. And, given your cooking equipment restrictions, you have to take that into account when planning your menu---you want to spend your time with her, rather than minding the stove.
That said, I would put together a series of dishes that are either prepared ahead of time or which, essentially cook themselves. One of the many benefits of braises is that they reheat so well. Thus, if she and you get involved in other activities, just turn off the heat until laters. And I'd include a stage where she can help---not because you need the help, but because of the togetherness it engenders. F'rinstance, you can prep the salads ahead of time, but she can dress them.
So, that said, here is a possible menu:
Appy: Stuffed dates.
Soup: You've got that covered.
Salad: Orange and red onion with cumin vinaigrette
Main: Coq au vin, wild &white rice timbales, steamed asparagus
Dessert: Store bought. You're in Pais, for God's sake! Let the nearby baker take care of this. Something creamy, I would think.
Ah, I remember the first meal I ever cooked for my now-husband. He's greek so I of course I cooked lamb chops. I wasn't too good in the kitchen back then so I roasted them in a pan with potatoes, garlic, and lemon and a simple salad. Fruit for dessert. He loved it.
For dessert I agree with KY, if you're in Paris you should head straight out to a good patisserie and make us jealous. Or if you really want to make something go simple. Panna Cotta is perfect and easy and luscious.
I may be crazy but nothing is sexier than red meat. A beautifully grilled steak would win my heart over in a second. Especially if it is served with a sexy mushroom risotto. The patience it takes to stir and stir and stir builds the anticipation of coaxing the starch out of those rice kernels.
The salad should be simple but keep it bright and green with a citrus dressing and by golly KYHeirloomer - raw red onion on a 2nd date? Raw onions shouldn't be introduced until at least the 6th date!
Raw onions shouldn't be introduced until at least the 6th date!
Aw, shucks. I didn't know there were rules.
Of course it's been half a century since I was on a second date, so I guess I can be forgiven that.
No, you can make any braised dish on the stove top. That includes coq au vin, boeuf bourguignon and all the other dishes I listed earlier. Julia child might have suggested you use an oven, but I don't think she said you NEED an oven? Not sure, I haven't read her books.
Keep things relatively simple and the portion sizes under control. Things look more romantic and professional if there's plenty of unused room on the plate. Have your service pieces ready to go. Cook from an organized mise en place, it will save time, mess and make you look better. A sprinkling of fresh herbs covers a multitude of sins. Don't cook beyond your abilities or your kitchen's.
Boeuf burguignon does better with more rather than less expensive cuts -- so maybe not the best idea. With love, respect and affection it's hard to imagine a worse combination than boeuf burgignon, asparagus and wild rice on the same plate. I might suggest asparagus as an appetizer, but it's out of season.
Have a decent (bought) pate, some nuts, cornichon, a bit of camember and sliced baguette ready to go when she arrives.
Make a cocktail or aperitif, her favorite. Hold your Gallic, male nose, and have the same. I've held my American nose on many occasions, there's no reason you should be immune. Nothing is more romantic than sharing.
Pot au feu should work well for you if you want something which can be prepared 90% ahead, plus it takes care of the soup course. If you can afford it (and I gather you can't) boeuf a la ficelle would be better still.
As long as we're talking about homey, old-fashioned do-aheads, how about chicken thighs Marsala (garnished with a potato/parsnip puree)? Marengo is yet another good choice, especially now that mushrooms are happening.
If you want to show off your skills, maybe schnitzel a paillard of chicken breast (side with spaetzle). Another simple chicken dish would be thighs "piccata" (with tagliatelle) which is seasonally appropriate while being summery and Italianate at the same time.
Poulet basquaise is ultra-seasonal, not too difficult to do, and my first suggestion. Don't forget the espelette. Trip to the Basques on a plate, with herbed, buttered rice.
For dessert, mousse au chocolat for sure. Chocolate is the way to a woman's heart... and more. Alternatively, buy baba au rhum and bring it home, or a tarte tatin. The break while you prepare the main course is a wonderful chance to take your time, talk, drink wine and be together. But you want dessert pretty much ready to go, or she'll fall asleep while you're making it. After making clearing the table and making it ready for dessert, whipping a creme chantilly garnish is enough of a show.
Appropriate wines, and... l'audace, l'audace, toujours l'audace.
Veal marsala was one of my standbys for these occasions: cook other stuff in advance; the veal takes a minute or two, the sauce makes a dramatic sizzle, and up you dish. Agree re aperitif and hors d'oeuvre, even for non-romantic dinners: it gives guests something tasty and takes pressure off you to deliver food quickly.
If it's nice outside, a little walk before dessert helps advance digestion and set mood.
Panna C: If I google "panna cotta Marcella Hazan" I get a page of one of her books with a recipe (I think this is precisely why cookbook authors worry about google books). So buy her books too, because she is the cat's pajamas.
How interesting that meat is so expensive in France. Unfortunately here in the U.S. meat can be quite inexpensive and many people eat it for every meal, I imagine that if it was a little more unattainable we'd be eating much less and have a better balanced diet.
I think BDL has a good idea about haivng something for when she arrives. Although I would have some very nice red wine instead of a cocktail, some very good cheese, salami, a nice bread, and some herbed butter. My very favorite french appetizer is a slice of baguette slathered with herbed butter (made parsley, dill, scallion, salt/pepper & a touch of lemon juice), topped with thinly sliced radishes and sprinkled with fleur de sel.
There's 5 million panna cotta recipes if you google it, haven't made one that I love so can't help there. Creme caramel or flan as you might call it is another easy dessert with a wow factor.
David Lebovitz has a nice Panna Cotta that I have made several times and its not difficult.
Poulet Chasseur is a nice dish, you can prepare this in advance. If there is a budget and you don't have the cognac....skip it and stay with the wine, serve with your choice of rice dish , salad, dessert.
Le Francais : May I suggest buying one red rose ? And don't forget to go for a walk after dinner....create some memories and then invite her back for dessert.....dessert should never be served right after a meal. That is something we anticipate.
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.
Réalisé avec un soupçon d'amour.
Petals, I'm such a fan of David Lebovitz foodblog, in my opinion the very best foodblog around, especially for desserts! And he's a a bit like you, Le Francais, an alien (american) in Paris.
If I had to organize this second date thing, I would go for utter simplicity and the reason is that both of you, Le Francais and petite copine, will be so nervous that your appetite will be minimal, well, for food anyway... Apero; bottle of bubbles will do.
I would dump the soup idea, go for a simple but tasty pasta dish straight away and end with a fantastic coffee, Godiva chocolates and a few macarons. Always end on a high!!!
Gnocchi or gnudi - that second one should set the mood just from the name alone, -with a brown butter sauce (brown the butter at med- med high, throw down a splash of water -- hopefully its at the right temp to simmer and emulsify the sauce).
Gnocchi and gnudi are somewhat time consuming to make but in my opinion are well worth the effort. There are plenty of recipes out there by one of my favorite is Andrew Carmellini's.
The first time I cooked for my girlfriend I made a starter of goat cheese and beet crostini with a rough pesto and for the main lemon-chive gnocchi with mushrooms and cream sauce.