Josh Ayers

I once heard that women think the sexiest thing a man can do is cook. No, not sport a nice set of abs, rescue someone from a burning building or show off his keen sense of humor. Ladies want a man who knows his way around the kitchen, not just to the cereal aisle in the market. Yet it was a few generations ago when people believed the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. So which one is it?

I’m a bit more traditional. I feel most comfortable appointing him sous chef rather than being swept away by my own Bobby Flay. However, I can’t say that I wouldn’t absolutely melt if I came home to scallops simmering in a cream sauce, a chilled glass of Gewürztraminer and him in an apron. Either way, cooking together is a way two people can show how they feel about one another. Whether friendly, romantic or just plain convenient, it’s always more fun to cook with someone and for someone.

I still claim that food was the way to my man’s heart. This cute guy sat next to me in class. We started talking and then hanging out. Then he got a cold, so I offered to come over and make him chicken noodle soup. Now I get to call myself his girlfriend.

So for all of us wanting to show how we feel, eating in is the perfect way. Restaurants can be romantic, but they’re also noisy and pricy. Nothing says “I totally dig you” like recreating a neighborhood bistro or fancy steakhouse in your own, rented, P.O.S. apartment.

Once you’ve invited your guest, the next most intimidating part is choosing a menu. But don’t worry, I have a fool-proof one that will convince them to stay for dessert. Show off by turning into Ruth Chris by serving a perfectly grilled steak with white wine mushrooms and roasted asparagus (which are aphrodisiacs, I may add). And we all know this evening will deserve a little indulgence. Little berry cobblers are so easy and are one of my favorite desserts. You can get them ready before your date comes over and just throw them in the oven when you sit down to eat dinner. All gooey and warm, they’ll be the sweetest ending to your romantic meal.

Besides you and your date, the steak will be the main focus of the meal, of course. Now you can choose the trendy fillet mignon, but I have found that when just grilling it at home, the best flavor comes from a nicely marbled New York or boneless rib-eye steak.

I asked the chef at a trendy steakhouse in San Francisco for a tip on cooking steak and I have to agree with him. Bring the steak to room temperature about 30 minutes before you cook it (maybe just before that special someone shows up). Season it generously with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a grill pan over high heat until it begins to smoke a little then drizzle a bit of olive oil on the steak so it doesn’t stick to the pan. Cook the steak for about eight minutes on each side for a one-inch thick steak medium rare.

Whatever you do, don’t cut the steak! I know it’s tempting to check for doneness, but cutting the steak releases all those juices. Instead, when the steak has reached the correct temperature, take it off the pan and let it sit for ten minutes. It’s the perfect time to start your asparagus and then sneak in a little make-out session before dinner!

My biggest tip is to invest in a meat thermometer. That way you can cook your steak to a perfect temperature. You can find a gorgeous one at William-Sonoma online for only $20. It may seem like a lot for a silly kitchen gadget, but just think, that’s how much a steak dinner costs when you eat out! The thermometer can be used for just about any meat and will guarantee moist pork chops and no more dry chicken for dinner.

Guys, ladies will be so impressed when you show her your soft yet manly side by making her a four-star meal. And ladies, if you’re looking to impress him, I don’t know one man who would turn down a juicy steak.

Mushrooms with White Wine
4 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic
1 lb button mushrooms, wiped clean (not washed) and sliced
1 cup white wine
Juice from half a lemon
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

1. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and salt, and cook until onions are fairly soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Chop and add garlic, cook 30 seconds but do not burn.
2. Toss in the sliced mushrooms and stir regularly. Cook until all liquid from mushrooms is gone.
3. Add the wine and ignite. Cook until all the alcohol is burned off.
4. Remove from heat and squeeze juice from lemon on top. Add parsley and serve hot with steak.

Roasted Asparagus

Bunch of asparagus
Splash of extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425øF. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil for easy clean up.
2. Wash asparagus and trim bottoms.
3. Line asparagus in single layer on baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. Add salt and pepper.
4. Roast in oven until tips are golden and crispy but stems have not gotten completely soft yet, about 10 minutes depending on
oven. Serve hot or room temperature.

Berry Crisps
This is my favorite dessert. Better than any pie or cobbler. I just use whatever berries I have in my freezer and whatever cookies I have in my pantry.
Bag of frozen berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Crisp topping, recipe follows

Place the frozen berries, sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 cup of the crisp topping into a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine. Divide the mixture evenly between 2 (7- to 8-ounce) ramekins. Top each ramekin with 1/2 cup of the remaining crisp topping. Place the ramekins on a sheet pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is browned. Allow the crisps to cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Crisp Topping:
1 cup flour
2/3 cup brown sugar or granulated sugar
1 chopped nuts (I like pecans)
1 cup crushed graham crackers
1/2 cups oats (optional)
4 ounces unsalted butter, cubed and chilled

Pulse all dry ingredients in a food processor or blender. If you don’t have those, put them in a large Ziploc bag and smash with a rolling pin, old can of soup . whatever isn’t too violent. Mix in the butter with your hands until the mixture looks grainy.

Sinead Brennan is an agricultural business senior and Mustang Daily food columnist.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *