One of my favorite things about the fall is being able to hang out inside guilt-free. As soon as the rain starts, I whip out my slippers and couch blankets and get ready to dig in for several months of indoor comfort.Now that fall has er, …fallen, it feels just right to cozy up inside with someone special and warm your belly with a delicious dinner.
Whether you’ve been dating for a while or you’re just getting to know someone, putting in the effort to make them a meal really shows that you’re into them. Staying in and making something together is one of the most intimate and romantic dates I can think of. You can keep your playroom Christian Grey, I’ll take the spatula!
That being said, some of us out there aren’t super familiar with the culinary arts. Chiffonade? Ramekin? Huh? Cooking for someone else can be a bit high pressure if you’re not that confident in the kitchen, but never fear! I’ve got your back when it comes to great recipes that are guaranteed to impress. The ones I’ve chosen here range from “easy peasy” to “ambitious,” so pick your poison, and start steaming up the windows!
1) Easy peasy: Charcuterie and Cheese Board
Not so much a ‘recipe’ as an assemblage of ingredients, a Charcuterie board is one of my favorite things to make when I’ve got someone coming over. It involves no cooking, and sounds impressive when you offer it. Not to mention, its the perfect thing to nibble at when you’re curled up on the couch together. Pick your favorite meats and cheeses (splurge on a couple fancy ones!), throw out some baguette or nice crackers, a couple grapes, a fruit chutney or savory jam, and you’re good to go!
Find some great ideas here:
2) Getting warmer: Apple, Onion, and Bacon Pizza
Homemade pizza is an underrated gem in any cook’s repertoire. Sure, ordering in can be convenient sometimes, but you can do better for your date night! Delivery is not nearly as romantic as tossing a circle of dough in the air for your partner while Dean Martin’s “That’s Amore” blasts from your iPod speakers. Home making your pizza is also criminally easy, especially if you use pre-made dough from a bakery or grocery store. Just stretch, top, and slide in the oven for 20 minutes! The trick to making it special is to get creative with your ingredients. Here, bacon, onion and apple combine hearty fall flavors in the perfect pie to share between two.
Check out this recipe for inspo: http://www.mygourmetconnection.com/recipes/main-courses/pasta-pizza/bacon-apple-cider-caramelized-onion-pizza.php
3) The training wheels come off: Wild Mushroom Risotto
A chantrelle or porcini risotto is a perfect celebration of the rustic richness of fall, when many wild mushrooms are just coming into their season. Despite what you might have been lead to believe, risotto is really easy to make. It doesn’t involve the exact measuring of other rice cooking wizardry, and is therefore infinitely more error-proof. Sauté some onions and mushrooms in a pan, add your arborio rice, maybe some lemon zest and herbs, slowly simmer while stirring in the stock over a half an hour or so, finish with an obscene amount of parmesan cheese. Perfection!
Here’s an excellent recipe to follow:
4) The most ambitious: Mussels. Or clams. Sauteed in white wine. With butter.
He will swoon.
Fall is actually the perfect season for shellfish because they do well in colder water. (A good rule of thumb is that the season for shellfish is any month with an “R” in its name.) Mussels may seem high maintenance, but are actually super straightforward to make. They even give you a clear sign by opening up when they’re done, so you don’t have to worry about overcooking them! Just sauté all your ingredients in a big pan, add your mussels and white wine, and cover for about 10 minutes to steam them open. Finish the broth with a little butter, and some herbs, and serve with crusty french bread!
Find a great recipe here:
http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/mussels-with-white-wine (Forget the aioli if you want to keep it simple)
Some handy tips to keep in mind: Make sure to rinse your mussels in fresh water before cooking to let them spit out any sand or grit they might be holding onto. Also, don’t forget to “debeard,” your mussels, (really quick and easy, but you can find super helpful videos on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uttfm2dbHeM to guide you). Finally, always toss away any mussels that don’t open during cooking – better safe than sorry!
Happy fall feasting!