Yes, tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and yes, since it is a universally acknowledged date night, that is one reason I'm writing this post. However, as Anjali noted earlier today, she thinks (and I agree) that gestures of love are far more special on a day you're not being pressured to do it. So, this really goes out to all the nights — tonight, tomorrow, next week — you and your special someone wanna heat things up in the kitchen.
Cooks can be very territorial creatures. They know how they like to work, move, chop, and season. They know their favorite tricks and techniques. This may make for a terrific meal at the end of the night, but it's not so great for fostering a romantic, let's-make-and-share-this-food-together vibe. (Plus, if you alienate your partner in the process, you may be eating that meal alone. Just sayin'.) So here are a few simple tips for making cooking with your significant other a fun, flirty adventure:
1. One of you should be the sous chef: To avoid stepping on each other's toes, pick a sous chef. The sous chef is in charge of prepping all the ingredients - washing, trimming, chopping. Having specific assignments means you each can own a part of the meal while simultaneously letting go of the things you don't have control over. Hmm... there's a life lesson in there somewhere.
2. Cook a new recipe. This is particularly important when one of you is the primary cook in the relationship. Picking a new recipe ensures that the main cook doesn't inadvertently step in to show the other "how it's done." ("But I never mean to, it just happens!" Been there, done that, friend.) A new recipe will put you both if not on the same level, then at least a little closer. It's also fun and healthy to try something new together. If you mess it up, you mess up together.
3. Have a great playlist. I'm not even going to say it has to be a romantic playlist. Go ahead and sway to Frank Sinatra if you want, but if fun. or vintage Justin Timberlake gets you more jazzed about cooking together, but all means.
4. Pour the bubbly! Treat yourself by popping a bottle of Prosecco while you cook. It's fresh, fruity, and perfect to sip on before a meal. Plus, bubbly wine is inherently celebratory and good-feelings-inducing. Toast each other at the start of cooking and then enjoy it throughout the evening. Our wine expert Mary loves Prosecco from Zardetto, Mionetto, Bisol and Voveti, while Faith favors the Soligo Prosecco ($15), which she calls "really delicious, a little creamier than cheaper Proseccos I've had, and it smells of apples."
5. Have something to snack on. I could say the reason for this is because, as Cher said in Clueless, anything you can do to draw attention to your mouth is good. But really it's so you don't become hangry, especially if you're taking a long, luxurious time in the kitchen (while sipping Prosecco the whole time - see above). Try Marcona almonds, roasted pistachios, spicy shrimp, or a few slices of chorizo or prosciutto.
What are your tips for a successful date night in the kitchen?