Wine glasses

Cooking to impress

Everyone appreciates a good cook, and prowess in the kitchen can certainly help impress your date – but that doesn’t mean you need to go overboard with complications. Simple, beautifully cooked and presented food that don’t take too long to make or you can prepare in advance are perfect.

As long as you’ve got a good selection of knives, boards, pots and pans (like those we list on this very site), then you should be fine with these recipes, and they are ideal whether you are being a Badults or cooking for loving date-night with your spouse.

You can make the panna cotta and sauce in the morning and leave it in the fridge, just heating up the sauce to serve, and leaving you stress free to cook the other two courses. Each course should only take you 10-20 minutes, so plenty of time for the romance.

Starter – Seared scallops with herb-infused butter

Ingredients

  • 300g scallops, side muscle removed
  • Salt and black pepper to season
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 2 sprigs herbs (such as tarragon, lemon thyme, or sage)
  • Half a lemon

Method

  1. Heat oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat
  2. Season scallops with salt and pepper and cook for about three minutes or until deep golden brown on one side
  3. Add butter and herbs to the pan and turn the scallops
  4. Continue to fry the scallops until cooked through or about three minutes, basting them regularly with the butter/herb oil
  5. Serve the scallops with a little of the sauce from the pan and a squeeze of lemon

Main – Lemon pepper shrimp linguine

Ingredients

  • 120g linguine pasta
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 150ml chicken broth
  • Juice from 1/2 medium lemon
  • Zest from 1/2 medium lemon
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 250g fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Method

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, cook the linguine until al dente and drain
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, or about one minute
  3. Reduce the heat and add the chicken broth, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and a generous amount of black pepper. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by about half
  4. Add the shrimp, butter, parsley and basil into the sauté pan. Cook for a few minutes, until the shrimp is opaque and fully cooked. Add in the linguine and cook an additional 90 seconds, stirring to make sure the pasta is well coated

Dessert – Vanilla panna cotta with raspberry sauce

Ingredients

For the panna cotta

  • gelatine leaves
  • 250ml milk
  • 250ml double cream
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways, seeds scraped out
  • 25g sugar

For the sauce

  • 175g sugar
  • 175ml water
  • Splash cherry liqueur
  • 350g raspberries

To serve

  • 4 sprigs fresh mint

Method

  1. For the panna cotta, soak the gelatine leaves in a little cold water until soft.
  2. Place the milk, cream, vanilla pod, vanilla seeds and sugar into a pan and bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove the vanilla pod and discard.
  3. Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, then add to the pan and take off the heat. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved
  4. Divide the mixture among four ramekins (spares for tomorrow!) and leave to cool
  5. Place into the fridge for two hours, until set
  6. For the sauce, place the sugar, water and cherry liqueur into a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved
  7. Take the pan off the heat and add half the raspberries
  8. Blend the mixture until smooth using a hand blender, and push it through a sieve to leave a thick sauce
  9. Add in the remaining raspberries and stir
  10. To serve, turn each panna cotta out onto a serving plate. Spoon over the sauce and garnish with a sprig of mint

Photograph by Simon Sees