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Need menu idea

ChicagoJohn

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Gents,

I met a lovely woman this weekend who (to my surprise) went to culinary school and started her own catering business. After things went well I asked her out and was brazen enough to request that she tag-team a meal with me.

The kicker: She told me that I need to assemble the menu and she will assist me in cooking. I was hoping she'd do the menu and instruct me what to purchase. This is a lot of pressure.

I haven't a clue what to do. I love to cook and cook a lot, but usually I'll browse some recipes and choose something I like. Perhaps modifying it as I go for my own tastes and making variations of it.

I have a gas range, grill, and quality cookware so I think we're covered in the tools department. I just need some ideas on your favorite meals. Fall/Winter themed ideas would be great too.
 

ChicagoJohn

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I'm leaning towards a mussle dish b/c I do love them and don't know how to properly cook them.

I'd also like to learn how to chop really quickly like chefs do. So if we could chop something that'd be key. I'm leveraging this as a learning experience as much as a date.

Courses...just one. A main and a side.
 

freespirit

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Maybe start with a soup. A butternut squash soup, somehting that takes a little time to bake and simmer so you have more time to talk and learn with her. Maybe next a rack of lamb with a pistachio crust, maybe some garlic mashed or buttermilk mashed potatoes and some veggies braised...aren't artichokes in season around now, some braised artichokes?

I think all of these will give you two time to talk, you to learn, and a great meal in the end.

Be sure to tell us what you ultimately decided to go with.
 

Gus

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I have a lot of chef friends. They are happy when anybody cooks for them. Don't put too much presure on yourself. Select something that you have cooked before and can do well. My advice is to concentrate on the over all setting-flowers, a nice wine, good ingredients, nice music, a scented candle or little votives, etc and just cook your favorite dish. Have a fun time. Who knows, maybe she will cook breakfast?
 

freespirit

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Originally Posted by pocketsquareguy
a scented candle

I would say no to the scented candle. It would/could over power the aroma of the food and wine if it is in the kitchen/dinning room. The bedroom however, that is all fair game.
 

Piobaire

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If she's a culinary school grad, consider foie gras, with a nice presentation. Or, maybe something like a nice scallop cerviche? Something that will let her know you have an expanded culinary sense.
 

kwilkinson

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Originally Posted by ChicagoJohn
I'm leaning towards a mussle dish b/c I do love them and don't know how to properly cook them.

I'd also like to learn how to chop really quickly like chefs do. So if we could chop something that'd be key. I'm leveraging this as a learning experience as much as a date.

Courses...just one. A main and a side.


Mussels are incredibly easy. Seriously, once you do it once, it seems so easy.
First off, the most important step is buying really good mussels. If you're in Chicago, I absolutely love Dirk's Fish & Gourmet. It's at 2070 North Clybourn. I don't think you could buy a bad mussel from them, but check and make sure they're alive. They should be closed when you get them. If one of them is open a bit, smack it on it's head or against a table. If it doesn't close up immediately, then don't use that mussel.

Try to buy them the day you'll be making them, so you know they're fresh.
They need to be scrubbed in cold running water. What I like to do is soak them in water for 15 minutes, then scrub the shit out of them, then soak them in a new bowl of water for 15 minutes, then scrub them again. Repeat this process until after soaking them, the water is relatively clear.
Then you need to remove the beard, which is a little fiber that runs between the shells.

To cook the mussels, just do this:
Steam some finely minced shallots in a bit of olive oil in a decent sized saute pan or sauce pot. Once they're sweated (this just means to cook until they lose some of their moisture and become transluscent), add some chopped parsley. If you like hot, add some jalapeno or a pepper before the parsley
Then, add the mussels. Once they're in, add in a quarter cup of white wine. Cover the pan so that the mussels can steam. When they're open, they're done. If some take longer to open, then remove the others and let the slow ones cook. Mussels are absolutely divine if cooked right, but absolutely terrible if overdone.
Once all the mussels are done and out of the liquid, strain the liquid into a saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil, and add some chopped parsley and a tblspoon of butter. Swirl the liquid until the butter is melted. Season it to taste with salt and a little bit of lemon juice.

That's all.


I'd rather do a scallop dish with some risotto, but that's how you make mussels if you want.
 

lpresq

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1) Appet: Wild greens w light vinaigrette
2) Main: Pan Roasted scallops with grilled asparagus on roasted red pepper puree
3) Dessert: Vanilla Custard w/ Caramel Sauce

or

1) Appet: a) Serrano Ham Bruschetta w/Manchego cheese OR
b) Seasonal Vegetable Soup w/ saffron broth
2) Main: a) Lamb Chops w/ pan roasted asparugus/broccolini OR
b) Seafood Paella
3) Dessert: Creme Brulee
 

Piobaire

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^ Nice work Kwilk. Don't forget some crusty bread to shove in the bowl and sop up the cooking juice with
 

kwilkinson

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Originally Posted by Piobaire
^ Nice work Kwilk. Don't forget some crusty bread to shove in the bowl and sop up the cooking juice with


I prefer moules et frites myself. Especially if the fries are cooked in duck fat.
 

Piobaire

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Originally Posted by kwilkinson
I prefer moules et frites myself. Especially if the fries are cooked in duck fat.


You're just getting too fancy for me there bud. I'm fresh out of duck fat.
 

ChicagoJohn

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Originally Posted by kwilkinson
I prefer moules et frites myself. Especially if the fries are cooked in duck fat.


LOL a foodie friend of mine suggested the same. But then questined the frying process. "Frying dead UN-SEXY. You'll both smell like a Popeyes"
 

kwilkinson

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Originally Posted by ChicagoJohn
LOL a foodie friend of mine suggested the same. But then questined the frying process. "Frying dead UN-SEXY. You'll both smell like a Popeyes"

hahaha... sounds exactly like a chef instructor we have at CHIC. Everything is either "sexy" or "un-sexy." Although once, I took a dish that was deemed "sexy" and added bacon to it and got the reply of "Mantastic."

Anyway, if she works in the industry and went to culinary school, I can only imagine that her nose is dead to the smell of frying grease and it shouldn't be a problem. Besides, good food is worth the stink it might create.
 

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