Is Cooking Important to Dating?

When I first started this little blog, one of the main reasons was because I was single and had a passion for food. Part of me thought that showcasing my mad cooking skills would help me find a lady.

Dating and Cooking

Look at the perfect couple… [puke]

Ironically enough, I met a girl shortly after I hit “publish”, but it had nothing to do with this site. Awesomely enough, she’s a great cook and sharing our love of food is one of the things that has made us work so well together. (Awwww….)

We were talking recently about whether or not either of us could date someone that doesn’t cook or have the same love for everything culinary. I had an ex that had a difficult boiling water, and she shared a story about an ex that loved Applebee’s. But, I don’t think I could date someone that didn’t know how to make something more complex that sauce-out-of-the-jar spaghetti or just-add-meat Ready Meals.

For me, cooking is a hobby and stress relief. I’ll spend hours watching the Food Network, reading cookbooks, reviewing restaurant reviews, and also putting together meals. Some say that food is fuel, which is true, but cooking is about sharing. That’s really what I want to do, is share cooking with someone.

What are your thoughts? Could you date someone that doesn’t cook?


How to Make Crosshatch Grill Marks

I love grilling. I can’t stay it plainly enough: I love grilling.

While I enjoy braising, frying, baking, & roasting, it just seems that grilling is quintessentially the manliest way of cooking food. Nothing is cooler than open flame.

Cross-Hatch Grill MarksAnd one of the coolest parts about grilling is the grill marks. If people “eat with their eyes first”, a good cross-hatching of grill marks tells those eyes that this is going to be some tasty goodness. The best part is that making these marks is probably one of the easiest parts about grilling.

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Think of your grill like a clock. On my grill, the grates run 12-to-6.
  2. When you’re ready to put the meat on the grill, lay it diagonally across your grates. In my case, that means 1-to-7.
  3. A quarter of the way through your cooking time, rotate the meet 90-degrees. This means aligning the steak 11-to-5 now. You’re not flipping yet, only rotating.
  4. When you flip the steak, repeat the process.
  5. Voila! Cross-hatch grill marks.

Some additional advice:

  1. Make sure the grill is HOT. Don’t just throw on the meat when you start it up.
  2. Make sure your grates are clean. Brush down the grill before & after every use, and it doesn’t hurt to use some vegetable oil to prevent sticking.

Mushroom Risotto Recipe

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Not risotto...

On a recent date night, I decided to really pull out the stops and make risotto as part of the meal. Having never actually made a risotto before, I was a bit nervous since it is always talked about in hushed tones, as if it is The-Dish-That-Must-Not-Be-Named.

But, I was fearless and remembered that Alton Brown had once made it on an episode of Good Eats. Thanks to the power of the Internet, I found his risotto recipe and a clip of the show to help me.

I did make some changes: I didn’t use asparagus, mostly because I didn’t want to have to deal with stinky pee for the night. I also didn’t use the nutmeg, lemon zest, or fresh parsley… mostly because I forgot to pick them up while grocery shopping.

Also, because I was only cooking for two, I only used a cup-and-a-half of rice and only needed 4 cups of broth (I actually used stock – again, a shopping issue). In retrospect, I would reduce the amount of wine used in the future.

But, the end result was fantastic. The risotto was creamy, the rich was perfectly cooked, and the flavors of mushroom, cheese, onion, and wine were well balanced. Plus, it really impressed my date.

Here’s the clip from Good Eats:

Valentine’s Day Dinner

I was lucky enough to have a dinner invitation for Valentine’s Day this year, and my date blew me away with three-course, wine paired feast. Apparently this girl was trying to impress me.

1st Course – A tomato & shrimp bruschetta, served with a dry pinot grigio.

2nd Course – Petite filet mignon with a blue cheese cream sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans. We killed a bottle of Peju Cabernet Sauvignon with dinner.

3rd Course – Chocolate covered strawberries with prosecco.

Chocolate covered strawberries

Color me impressed.

Easy Lasagna Cures Everything

One of the most powerful food memories I have from growing up was after one of my grandparents passed away. In the days that followed, friends and neighbors would stop by the house to offer their condolences, and many brought food for our family. From pasta to casseroles to cookies, our home was suddenly flooded with one of the most intimate forms of human affection: food sharing.

If you pause to think about it, food sharing is one of the most selfless acts that a human can do, which is why it is the basis of so many parts of our lives. Weddings, birthdays, courtship, and celebrations seem to always be marked by people gathering and breaking bread together. Food sharing has been the focus of many anthropological studies and has raised many evolutionary questions about how this altruistic behavior originated.

Easy LasagnaSo, when I learned of a loved one spending some time in the hospital, I immediately wanted to show how I cared for them and their family. While flowers and cards are nice, I remembered the way I felt opening the fridge as a kid and seeing those gifts of food. Because I knew the family would be spending long days at the hospital, and that grocery shopping and cooking would be a low priority, I decided to make a lasagna.

Despite being Irish, I feel like I cook a mean lasagna. While many Italian purists will likely turn up their nose at some of my ingredient choices, I feel like my finished product will stand toe-to-toe with Nonna’s lasagna. Plus, mine is easier to make.

Easy Lasagna Recipe

1 lb ground beef or sausage (I prefer hot Italian sausage)
1 package No-Bake lasagna noodles (I like Barilla)
15 oz. ricotta cheese
1 32 oz jar of sauce (I like Francesco Rinaldi)
1 can of diced tomatoes (preferably in sauce)
2 cups Italian cheese blend (something like Sargento’s 6 Cheese Blend)
2 cups of shredded mozzarella
2 eggs
salt, pepper, garlic power, basil, oregano, crushed red pepper to taste

For assembly, I simply followed the directions on the back of the Barilla box. Brown & drain the meat. Combine eggs, ricotta, and blended cheese. It’s at this point that I’ll add my dried herbs and seasoning. I really like crushed red pepper, so I’ll had a solid teaspoon. I also combine the sauce and tomatoes in a bowl, and I’ll add some olive oil.

Then layer in a pan according to the box directions and bake. Protip: spray the underside of the aluminum foil with non-stick spray; this will keep the cheese from sticking to it and peeling off. I personally like to had another handful of cheese after I remove the foil. I’ll also had parsley to the top for some color.

The cheese on top is gooey, the flavors marry well, and it is one of those dishes that not only holds up well as leftovers, but seems to get better a day later.