This meal is so fast and easy that even if you usually use your oven to store shoes and your refrigerator as a beer locker, you can still put this all together with minimum of time, effort and kitchen equipment. The trick is to take shortcuts that don’t diminish taste, put a personal twist on basic dishes to impress your date with your culinary sophistication, and have a good bottle of wine on hand to smooth the preparation process. Whether you are short on counter space or lacking room for many appliances, there is no time to fret! Here are some great hacks to get you through this meal and help you plan out what you will need next year, whether that be a double oven or a waterfall island addition from your local marble supplier!
Hack 1: Cheese plate with dried and fresh fruit, nuts, crackers and bread: Can you unwrap some cheese and open a box of crackers? Then you’re 95% of the way there! Buy three cheeses – different textures and colors are nice, such as a brie, a sharp cheddar and bit of bleu cheese, and arrange them on a plate. Add some crackers – not saltines! – some country bread cut into smaller pieces, a handful of dried apricots, walnuts, fresh grapes, and a sliced apple, and mound them around the cheese like a Dutch still life. As long as you don’t pile things into neat little bundles, it’ll look artistic. Add a knife for the cheese.
Go big with a whopping porterhouse steak for two, seared on the stove and seasoned with fresh herbs, garlic, and a
knob of butter. Mouthwatering! You just need a couple of simple sides to compliment this gorgeous piece of beef. Check out this step by step guide: https://natashaskitchen.com/pan-seared-steak/
Hack 3: Chop a pint of cherry or grape tomatoes in two (these little tomatoes can be counted on for big flavor in the depths of winter.) Drizzle some balsamic vinaigrette dressing over the tomatoes to add to your gourmet cred (Paul Newman makes a good Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing – no need to make it from scratch).
Hack 4: You need a baked potato – but not just any baked potato! Make a Hasselback potato, which is an easy way of cutting the potato into thin slices, but not all the way through. As it cooks, the potato will open up like an accordion, making room for a lovely dollop of store-bought Greek tzatziki that you were clever enough to add, instead of more-ordinary sour cream.
Hack 5: Complete the meal with a nice French baguette, warmed in the oven for a few minutes to a nice crunch, and serve the bread with olive oil and sea salt. Your +1 will be SHOCKED at how well laid out this perfect meal is!
Last but DEFINITELY not least, Dessert:
It would be easy to buy a cake or a pint of ice cream, but you’re here to impress, right? How about fresh raspberries in a hot caramel sauce, with a little butter cookie on the side? Couldn’t be easier: the raspberries are covered with a light dripping of hot caramel sauce, which you can make for yourself (four ingredients), or you can buy caramel sauce and heat it in the microwave. We can’t tell you how heavenly those two flavors are together – raspberry and caramel.
And finally, Hack 7: buy a box of little butter cookies and microwave a few cookies for twenty seconds just before serving. Use it as a garnish with the raspberries and caramel. Then finish with coffee, maybe a little brandy? We think you can take it from here!
A few local spots we would like to highlight for your fresh ingredients are:
- Piggly Wiggly- grocery store with great wine prices
- Andy’s Farmers Market- fresh local produce
- Cajun Cleaver- GREAT selection of meats
- Farm Stand- Cheese Shop
- Big Spoon Ice Cream- Best ice cream for that dessert!
If you are stumped on kitchen space this year and it has you wanting a bit more, we are here to help at Cutstone Co., your local marble supplier, to ensure you have a countertop big enough for the 2022 Valentine's day spread, or even a perfect date night celebrating the ones you love, we know you are already prepping for!