Food is, and always has been, a great way of bringing people together. Whether it’s a quick bite, a culinary feast, or a laid-back lunch, cooking in your own home is a wonderful way of getting to know someone – plus, it’s easier to fit into a busy schedule than planning a big evening out. I’m away a lot, travelling and eating for work, so when I’m in London my flat is my haven and I want to spend as much time in it as possible – and there’s nothing better than sharing my space with someone special. I’m a feeder by nature, so cooking for a date is something I love doing. What you choose to cook can reveal much about your personality and is an instant conversation-starter. You get to know your date, their likes and dislikes in a fun, informal, way. I love swapping stories over a few glasses of wine in a relaxed environment and cooking for someone gives me the opportunity to show that I’ve been listening as I can tailor my menu to my date’s specific preferences.
Here are my top three recipes to satisfy any date – be they a vegetarian, fussy eater or a love-it-all foodie.
For a vegetarian
If my date is a vegetarian, I’ll make soft tacos. They’re quick, easy and very tasty – plus, the bean chilli can be made in advance so you can spend more time chatting rather than cooking. It’s also a great dish for sharing. If you keep all the ingredients in separate bowls, you and your date can make your tacos together at the table.
Soft tacos with kidney bean chilli, smashed avocado and homemade salsa
- One pork tenderloin
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon tarragon, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup fortified wine (port, sherry, marsala)
- 1/4 cup single cream
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 200g cherry tomatoes on the vine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt and black pepper to season
- 1 large sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
- 10g butter
- Salt and pepper to season
- Pre-heat oven to 170c. Place tomatoes in a baking dish, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 40 minutes or until soft.
- Add oil to a baking dish and heat up on the hob. Add the pork tenderloin and fry on all sides until sealed, then place in oven for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the sweet potato to boiling water and start cooking.
- Remove pork from the roasting dish, place on a plate, cover with foil and put aside. To create a sauce, take the now-empty roasting dish, put it back on the hob and deglaze with fortified wine. Mix in the cream, tarragon and mustard.
- Drain the sweet potato (make sure they’re soft), mash up with the butter, then season with salt and pepper.
- Cut the pork into medallions, place on a serving dish and add sauce.