Whether you count yourself as one of the luckily employed or you are in a period of transition, there is one fact that the recession has not changed: Dating is expensive. But according to Matt Moore, the author of "Have Her Over for Dinner: A Gentleman's Guide to Classic Simple Meals
," there is probably no better environment to demonstrate your sense of confidence and determination to a woman than in the kitchen.
And, he adds, an evening at home is likely to cost about half of what you'd expect to pay at any restaurant.
Still not sure how to pull it off? We asked Mr. Moore to provide the perfect menu, from appetizer to dessert, for the bachelor chef entertaining a lady. The following meal focuses on using simple preparation to turn quality ingredients into outstanding dishes sure to impress any woman. Plus, you don't have to convince her to come back to your place afterward.
Appetizer: Pan-Seared Sea Scallops With Infused Garlic/Basil Oil
The garlic-and-basil oil can be prepared up to a week in advance and kept covered at room temperature. A slight drizzle of this oil over this dish will enhance the sweet natural flavor of the scallops. Be sure to pat the scallops dry before cooking, as moisture will prevent the scallops from having a nice sear.
1/2-cup extra virgin olive oil, plus two tablespoons
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 handful fresh basil, stems and leaves
1 lb. large sea scallops
Preheat a small pot over medium low heat. Add 1/2-cup of oil, garlic and basil into the pot. Allow mixture to heat for 8-10 minutes, reducing heat if garlic or basil begins to cook. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Strain oil into a sterilized container, discarding the garlic and basil. Next, preheat a skillet over medium-high heat. Season scallops with salt and fresh-cracked pepper. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of oil into the skillet, followed by the scallops and cook undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, flip and continue to cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until scallops are firm to the touch. Place scallops on a serving plate and drizzle with infused garlic/basil oil. Garnish with any remaining basil leaves. Serve.
Salad Course: House Salad With Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
The flavors and colors in this quick salad are absolutely outstanding. Serve alongside a toasted baguette if a heartier version is desired.
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce, loosely packed
1 cup shredded red cabbage
1/2-cup shredded carrots
1 vine-ripe tomato, finely diced
1/4-cup crumbled blue cheese
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 pinch kosher salt
Fresh-cracked pepper, to taste
Layer the first five ingredients, starting with the romaine lettuce and topping with the blue cheese, into a serving bowl. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. When ready, drizzle the dressing over the entire salad and toss to coat. Serve.
Main Course: Flat Iron Steak With Oven Frites
A play on the French bistro classic, steak frites. The flat iron steak is a relatively new cut of meat that's known for being affordable, yet tender and big on flavor. Pair with cabernet sauvignon, merlot, Syrah or a Côtes du Rhône. Also goes nicely with amber ales or darker porters and stouts.
1/2-cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 large 12- to 16-oz. flat iron steak
2 large russet potatoes
1/4-cup red wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped for garnish
At least one hour before cooking, add 1/4-cup of oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic into a large Ziploc bag. Season steak liberally with salt and pepper and add to bag. Marinate up to one day in advance, keeping in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise, then quarter each half until you have 16 wedged fries. Toss the wedges in 1/4-cup of oil, kosher salt and fresh-cracked pepper to taste on a baking sheet. Spread potatoes into a single layer and roast 35-40 minutes, shaking on occasion until the potatoes are tender, brown and crispy.
Meanwhile, with 15 minutes of cooking time remaining on the potatoes, preheat a cast-iron (or heavy-bottomed, oven-safe) skillet over medium high heat. Remove steak from bag and shake off excess marinade. Add steak into the skillet and sear for 4-5 minutes on one side. Flip steak and add to oven with potatoes for another 4-5 minutes until internal temperature reads 135 degrees F for medium rare/medium, or cooked to your preference.
Remove steak from pan and set aside on a cutting board to rest for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, add the same skillet back to the stove top over medium high heat. Add ¼ cup of red wine to deglaze the skillet, scraping up any of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon.
Simmer for one minute, add butter, and remove from heat. Begin slicing steak, across the grain into thin slices. Remove potatoes from oven and plate next to a generous portion of the sliced steak. Drizzle the red wine pan sauce over the sliced steak and garnish with a sprinkle of parsley over the entire dish. Serve.
Dessert: Nutella Brownie Sundae
If there's any area where inexperience can prove troublesome, it's with desserts. For that very reason, keep your desserts simple. There's nothing wrong with relying on a few store-bought ingredients to transform a hassle into something more along the lines of an assembly. Pick up a few brownies at your local bakery and you will have this ready to go in no time.
2 brownies, store-bought
Nutella hazelnut spread
Vanilla bean ice cream
1/4-cup hazelnuts, crushed
Chocolate syrup/fudge, warmed
Spread a thick layer of Nutella over the top of each brownie. Place the brownie on a serving platter and top with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle crushed hazelnuts over the top of the ice cream and drizzle with warmed chocolate syrup. Serve.
Trying this menu out on a real-life girl? Let us know
how it goes.