11 tips to impress a date with a home-cooked meal
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Top tips to help you get your cook on.
Inviting someone around for a romantic meal is a classic way to win them over with some great food and a bit of charm. It’s a chance to enjoy an intimate moment in a relaxed setting. Plus, you get to do something nice and (hopefully) impress them with your skills.
So what if you don’t have skills? Well, it’s not as hard as you think once you find a recipe that you can follow. We’ve come up with a simple guide to walk you through the dos and don’ts of cooking for a date. Now all you have to do is decide what you’re cooking.
1. Keep it simple
Don’t try to do too much. Doing a simple dish well is much more impressive than messing up a complicated recipe. You don't need 27 ingredients in a dish to blow them away.
2. Don’t cut corners on your ingredients
A basic recipe is one thing but don’t skrimp on the important stuff. A simple dish with great ingredients is far better than making something complex with poor quality ingredients. Splash out on the good stuff, whether that’s a fillet steak, a whole duck or just a better quality of cheese for the crackers.
3. Have one “wow” dish
If you’re going with a starter, main and dessert, make sure one of them has a bit of a wow factor. One memorable or interesting course will elevate the entire meal. Maybe push the boat out with something like lobster for the starter. It doesn’t have to break the bank – You can pick up a whole cooked lobster in Lidl for just €7.49 for instance.
4. Prep is your friend
Cooking for someone is about more than just food. It’s about entertaining them in an intimate setting. So you can’t ignore them while you fight with the grill. You need to be talking, listening and charming – even if you’ve a niggling suspicion that something is about to go on fire. Take the pressure off by prepping as much as you can before they arrive.
5. Some cheating is OK
Nobody expects you to be Gordon Ramsey. If you’ve busted a gut on the first two courses, most people will let you away with a shop bought dessert. Just have it ready to go in the fridge rather than opening the packet in front of them. It’s only optics but it helps. And this is no time for ice-cream and jelly – pick up some deluxe desserts like these chocolate tarts for €2.49 from Lidl.
6. Know your audience
Cooking an impeccable coq au vin is pointless if your date doesn’t eat meat. Likewise, you don’t want to murder them with chilli just to demonstrate how well you can handle hot food. Ask what they like before the date but, more importantly, find out what foods they hate or if they have any allergies. Take allergies seriously. The chances of a follow-up date will dwindle if the night ends with a trip to the ER.
7. Do a practice run beforehand
Now you may be a natural chef who can instinctively prepare any meal from a recipe but most people aren’t. Avoid cooking something you haven’t cooked at least once before. You want to see if there are potential issues with the recipe when the pressure is off. The last thing you want is to hit a serious stumbling block when you’re mid-date.
8. Don’t kill your guest
Most people will forgive a bad pasta sauce but they tend to hold a grudge if you give them food poisoning. So wash your hands after handling raw meat or poultry, make sure any seafood is in date and have a phone-a-friend on standby if you’re not sure that something is cooked. And, if the Simpsons has taught us anything, it’s that serving blowfish is best avoided.
9. Tidy up
The greatest meal in the world won’t win your date over if it’s been cooked in a pigsty. Your steak may be perfectly cooked but that won’t matter if your date has a pair of dirty socks directly in their line of vision.
10. Get rid of your housemates
This isn’t going to end well if Jimmy spends the entire evening watching the football and drinking beer in the corner of the room. Pay them, beg them or threaten them – just make sure you have the place to yourself to avoid making it awkward for your guest.
11. Don’t panic if things go pear-shaped
OK, so imagine it’s all gone horribly wrong. Don’t ruin the night by flying into a chef rage or going into a huff. Hopefully, you’ve enough drinks to pass the time and a takeaway number on hand just in case. Have a laugh at your own expense. Showing grace in the face of failure is a chance to show them how you react to adversity.
For more dinner date inspirations for the festive season, check out the Lidl website.
Brought to you by Lidl.