Date Night Dinners: May 2008 Archives

I made this pasta in a cooking class for bachelors that I taught. I wanted something that was fairly inexpensive (cheap vodka works fine) and had a romantic feel to it. The bachelors kept telling me about how they made it for their dates and they loved it.


500 grams of pasta
1 and a half tablespoons of butter
Olive oil
1 onion (chopped)
1 and a half cups of whole canned tomatoes (diced)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Fresh thyme (about 4 sprigs)
250 ml of cream
¼ cup of vodka
Fresh Basil
Parmesan cheese

1. Heat oil and butter in pan. Put onion in butter and sauté until transparent.

2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and thyme. Cook while stirring, until the liquid
disappears (about 10 minutes).
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3. Add cream, vodka and Tabasco until thick (about 3 minutes).
4. At the same time, cook pasta according to directions.
5. Mix with sauce and top with basil and Parmesan if desired.

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cooking class and valentine's day feb 2008 287

Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Burger These are easy to prep and easy to impress. The pistachio spice rub adds lots of flavor and the aioli mellows the heat. Mint and ripe grape tomatoes make this a fresh and satisfying meal. However, I wouldn't recommend them for a "first date"... unless you consider seeing your companion with half a burger shoved into their mouth exciting.

A great wine pairing for this would be a White Burgundy, a Sauvignon Blanc, or a steel-fermented Chardonnay of some kind. Your date likes beer instead? How about a Pilsner or Hefeweizen?

Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Burgers

24 oz ground lamb (or 18oz lamb stew meat and 6 oz ground pork)
1 cup pistachios (shelled)
1 tsp fresh ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp fresh ground coriander
pinch cayenne
salt and pepper
olive oil

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 small sweet onion, sliced
handful of fresh mint
handful of flat leaf parsley
2 tsp raw sugar
2 lemons, zest and juice

1/4 cup mayo
1 clove garlic, minced

4 rolls (potato, brioche, or other sweet roll)

  1. combine tomatoes, onion, torn mint, torn parsley, 2 Tbl olive oil, juice of one lemon, salt, and pepper (to taste) in a medium bowl; allow to rest at room temperature
  2. mix mayo, zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1 lemon, garlic, salt, and pepper (to taste) in a small serving dish; set aside
  3. pour pistachios into a seal-top bag and smash till ground coarse (I recommend a rolling pin) or use a fancy food processor; add spices and spread out on a plate
  4. heat a 10-12" skillet on med-high heat
  5. if ground lamb is unavailable you can grind lamb stew meat in a food processor till medium-coarse, then combine with ground pork; form 4 patties, approximately 6oz each and season with salt and pepper; press into the pistachio mixture to coat
  6. add about 3 Tbl olive oil to the skillet; place burgers in pan (don't overcrowd) press and cover very loosely with a lid to avoid splatter; cook approx 5 min or till deeply browned; flip and finish 4 min (check for doneness here- medium to medium-rare is preferable for good quality lamb); remove to a paper towel to rest
  7. halve and toast rolls if desired; spread aioli on both sides, place your burger, add the salad on top, and serve with a large napkin.

Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Burger

Shnitzel is quick, easy and filling. I love bringing these to picnics because they taste so good cold. The Japanese Panko bread crumbs add a crispier texture than regular bread crumbs.


About 4- 6 pieces of thin boneless chicken breasts
2 eggs
salt and pepper
1/2 a cup of flour
1 cup of Panko Bread Crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs, coarser than regular bread crumbs)
oil for frying

1. Mix two eggs with two tablepoons of water.
2. Set up work station in this order:
1 plate with chicken, 1 plate with flour, 1 plate with egg, 1 plate with bread crumbs.
3. Add salt and pepper to flour.
4. Heat a tiny bit of oil in non-stick pan. (You can deep- fry if you prefer)
5. When the oil is hot, dip chicken in flour, shake off excess, dip in egg, dip in bread crumbs (make sure to coat both sides)
6. Fry for 2-3 minutes on each side.

You can just keep adding more ingredients as needed. No need for exact measurements. I prefer them thick but my husband likes them thinner. To make them thinner, pound the chicken with the back of a glass before you start the dipping process.

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