three recipes to satisfy any date

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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.

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Soft tacos with kidney bean chilli, smashed avocado and homemade salsa

Ingredients

Bean chilli

  • 380g kidney beans
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 70ml good quality vegetable stock
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • Half teaspoon cocoa powder

Salsa

  • 4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Half red onion, roughly chopped
  • Handful coriander
  • Salt and pepper to season

Smashed Avocado

  • 1 ripe avocado, mashed with
  • Handful chives, finely chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Soured cream and grated cheese to serve
  • 6 pre-made tortillas, heated

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the celery, garlic, onion, and chilli. Fry until soft over a medium heat.
  2. Add the tomatoes, kidney beans, vegetable stock and cocoa powder. Cook for a further 3-5 minutes, until all the ingredients are warmed through.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the sauce is reduced.
  4. In separate bowls mix the ingredients together for the salsa and avocado.

For a fussy eater

If I’m eating with someone less adventurous about their food choices, I’d opt for something classic like roast chicken with potatoes and salad. I’d pop the chicken into the oven as soon as I get home, leaving me enough time to set the table and get changed. Roasting a chicken also has the added benefit of making my flat smell very inviting and, as there’s very little last-minute prep to be done, I can spend more time away from the hob and with my date.

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Roast chicken with lemon and spring onion potatoes and salad greens

Ingredients

Roast chicken

  • 1 small chicken
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sea salt

Potatoes

  • 350g new or Anya potatoes
  • 2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 3 spring onions, chopped

Salad

  • 1 packet pre-washed salad greens
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Pinch salt and pepper

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METHOD

  1. Preheat your oven to 190c, rub the chicken all over with olive oil and season with sea salt.
  2. Tear the leaves off 6 sprigs of thyme and scatter over the chicken. Cut the lemon in half and place into the cavity of the chicken along with the rest of the thyme.
  3. Place chicken in a roasting dish and put it in the oven for an hour and 15 minutes.
  4. Just before the chicken is due to come out of the oven, boil the potatoes until soft and mix together the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven and let it sit for ten minutes.
  6. Drain potatoes, place in a bowl, stir in dressing and spring onions.
  7. Make salad dressing, add to salad greens.

For a foodie

If I’m cooking for a date who’s as into their food as I am, I’ll always go for a pork tenderloin because it’s simple but is sure to impress. I’ve swapped out the traditional sage for tarragon and the balsamic tomatoes add a pleasant kick. This dish is a great way of showing off your culinary skills to a fellow foodie. It can also be a great conversation starter, sparking discussions about other foods you both love or the tastiest meals you’ve tried from your area.

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Mustard and tarragon pork tenderloin with mashed sweet potato and roasted balsamic tomatoes

Ingredients

Pork

  • 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

Tomatoes

  • 200g cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and black pepper to season

Sweet potato

  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 10g butter
  • Salt and pepper to season

METHOD

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Meanwhile, add the sweet potato to boiling water and start cooking.
  4. 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.
  5. Drain the sweet potato (make sure they’re soft), mash up with the butter, then season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cut the pork into medallions, place on a serving dish and add sauce.

This post was produced in partnership with Stylist and Match.com

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